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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy notes

At The St. Louis Post-Dipatch, columnist Tony Messenger writes, “Already, scientists are pointing to climate change as a culprit to explain the expected record 50 inches of rain that might fall in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey, and the rising tide of water that is swamping and isolating America’s fourth-most-populous city…Perhaps Harvey, hitting hard in the conservative Gulf Coast of Texas, in the nation’s center of the oil business — which has funded climate change denial to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade — will turn the tide…Responding to massive flooding and the threat of climate change in the 1990s, leaders in the Netherlands, where much of the country is under sea level, have been waging a battle that would look foreign in St. Louis or Houston. They don’t build more levees, they give the water room to roam…Congress has an impending September deadline to renew the nation’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is currently about $25 billion in debt. Failing to plan for floods in the age of climate change, you see, is really expensive. It’s also deadly. That’s the story of the day in Houston…Today, we mourn the dead. Tomorrow, let’s honor their memories by pulling our nation’s collective heads out of the murky and dangerous waters of climate-change denial.”

Politico’s Elena Schneider and Austin Wright report that Democrats are targeting several Republican House members who are embroiled in ethics controversie. “Among the incumbents on their early target list are California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, whose ties to Russian officials have come under scrutiny and was once warned by the FBI that Russian spies were trying to recruit him; New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who faces an ethics complaintfrom an outside watchdog group over a letter that some perceived as targeting an activist; New York Rep. Chris Collins, whose stock-market investments are under investigation; Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assault for attacking a reporter; and California Rep. Devin Nunes, whose handling of classified information is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.”

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, writes at The Hill: “Some have charged that allowing anti-abortion Democrats to run in pro-life districts is a way of ignoring the wishes of the poor, women, and African-Americans. The evidence, however, shows that support for a small-tent strategy is found predominantly among affluent white liberals. One poll finds that just 7 percent of African-American Democrats support a small-tent approach, compared to 35 percent of white Democrats. Poor and working-class Democrats, likewise, are more likely to oppose an abortion litmus test than are Democrats in the highest income brackets. And fewer Democratic women favor exclusively restricting Democratic Party support to proponents of legal abortion than Democratic men do, rejecting this approach by a two-to-one margin…Most polls over the last decade show that between a quarter and a third of the Democratic Party identifies as pro-life.” Day’s bio notes that she “also advocates for policies to reduce abortion in America by providing more support to pregnant and parenting women and their families.”

But, in her article, “Hey, Democratic Candidates: Pro-Choice Women Are Your Base: Running an anti-choice candidate might pick up a few Republican votes—at the expense of turning off the party’s loyal voters,” Katha Pollit, columnist for The Nation, writes, “Only women are expected to let history roll backwards over them. Only women’s rights to contraception and abortion are perpetually debatable, postponable, side-trackable, while those who insist on upholding the party platform—and the Constitution—are dismissed as rigid ideologues with a “litmus test.” Party leaders can’t come right out and say so—in fact, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez has issued a statement declaring that abortion rights are non-negotiable…What tends to get forgotten by those who push for the Democratic Party to run anti-abortion candidates is that the party base is pro-choice. That is who votes in primaries, and that is who knocks on doors and makes phone calls and gets out the vote on Election Day. An anti-abortion Dem might steal some votes from the Republican candidate, but at the cost of losing the most ardent Democrats—who happen to be women.”

There is a profound difference between the “pro-life” advocacy of Democrats, who consistently support funding for policies that help take care of children and the conservative ideologues who don’t show much concern about children’s health once they are born. As Sister Joan Chittister, Order of Saint Benedict, has said, “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Emily Badger addresses a trend I’ve wondered about in her post, “Political Migration: A New Business of Moving Out to Fit In.” At The Upshot Badger cites Bill Bishop’s book, “The Big Sort,” which posits that Americans have been self-selecting since the 1970s into like-minded communities that are less likely to hold competitive elections…In a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of people who are “consistently conservative” and 35 percent who are “consistently liberal” said it was important to them to live in a place where most people share their political views. It is less clear, though, how many people actually act on that sentiment. Most movers are primarily concerned with job prospects and affordable housing.” However, adds badger, “One study that relied on the voter files of millions of people in seven states, by Wendy Cho, James Gimpel and Iris Hui, found that registered Republican movers show a preference for ZIP codes that are more heavily Republican than the ones they left. Democrats do the same, although to a lesser degree.”

“You could even argue pretty convincingly that impeaching and removing Trump would be very adverse to the short- and long-term interests of the Democratic Party. Why make some conventional Republican like Pence or Paul Ryan (the next in line) who has not bragged about sexual assaults or embraced racists or cozied up to Vladimir Putin or gone crazy on social media a sitting president? What horrendous public-sector policies or congressional initiatives would impeaching Trump torpedo? Why squander the opportunity to reap electoral benefits from a good backlash against Trump?” — from Ed Kilgore’s New York Magazine post, “No, Impeaching Trump Would Not Reverse the 2016 Elections.”

Democratic candidates and campaigns have an article to read at Foreign Affairs, “What America Owes Its Veterans: A Better System of Care and Support” by Phillip Carter at Foreign Affairs. Among Carter’s observations: “But despite some recent improvements, the VA and other federal agencies struggle to keep other promises to active service members and veterans after they come home. Aging bureaucracies struggle to meet the needs of a diverse and dispersed population. Educational and economic support programs fail to keep pace with the changing needs of veterans and their families. To fix these problems, the United States must rewrite the contract it strikes with its service members, building a support system that not only ameliorates their battle wounds and financial losses but also helps them thrive after their service in a twenty-first-century economy…..Without scaling back programs such as disability compensation and health care, which primarily ameliorate the harms of service, the government should expand benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and small-business financing, which can create enormous economic opportunities for those who serve. It should also find ways to leverage the enormous social capital that veterans develop during their service for economic and societal gain.”

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