In her pbs.org post, “Would focusing on Russia probe help or hurt Democrats in the midterms?,” Jessica Yarvin writes:
…Some liberal groups see a danger in Democrats focusing too much of their 2018 messaging on the Russia probe, its ties to the Trump campaign, and issues like corruption in politics.
Priorities USA, another prominent left-leaning group, put out a memo last week arguing that Democrats should stick to an economic and health care-centric message in the months heading into the midterms…“When voters hear the Democratic argument on health care or on taxes and then hear the Republican side, they side with Democrats,” Priorities USA Communications Director Josh Schwerin said.
The group wrote in its memo that its internal polling shows Trump’s approval rating climbed four points since November, from 40 percent to 44 percent. However, specific policies, like the tax law Trump signed late last year, and the GOP’s repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, remain unpopular, the polling shows.
However, writes Yarvin, “In a report released last week, the influential liberal Center for American Progress group outlined several potential ways that Democrats could use the investigation and alleged collusion to their advantage this fall.” Further,
The CAP report cited several instances in which Russian money may have flowed to the Trump Organization through Trump’s business associates, including the real estate developer Felix Sater. Highlighting those connections could help build the case with voters that Trump can’t disentangle his work as president from his global business empire — an issue critics argue raises questions about corruption and conflicts of interest.
There is “a sense of out-of-control sprawling corruption that goes across a wide number of issues,” Jesse Lee, a senior advisor at the Center for American Progress, said in an interview.
The report describes “the fluidity with which Sater has shifted from real estate to geopolitics” and makes the case that “business relationships can be repurposed as pathways to foreign influence.”
There is ample polling data which indicate that corruption is a potent issue for assembling electoral majorities. This was true even before Trump, and it now looks like a huge gift staring Democrats in the face. Democrats also have a range of reforms to address corruption, including:
The report pointed to the DISCLOSE Act, which would ban campaign contributions from American corporations that have at least 20 percent foreign ownership. The bill was first introduced in the House by then-Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. in 2010. Since then., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has repeatedly introduced the legislation, most recently last July.
Trump’s particular corruption issues, along with the fact that McConnell, Ryan and other GOP leaders have produced zero reforms to address corruption, remain a glaring political reality. Their inability to enact any anti-corruption legislation whatsoever, despite the GOP’s “trifecta” majority, amplifies the case against Republican-driven corruption.
The Russia probe escalates the Democratic edge on the corruption issue even further. To fail to leverage this advantage would be gross political malpractice, though it should be thoughtfully balanced with other specific campaign issues and tweaked for each electorate.