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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Jill Leovy has an important article, “The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper: Barbara Simons believes there is only one safe voting technology” at The Atlantic. Leovy writes, “According to the Department of Homeland Security, those [Russia’s] efforts included attempts to meddle with the electoral process in 21 states…In September, after years of effort by Simons and the nonprofit she helps run, Verified Voting, Virginia abandoned the practice…Simons believes that the failure to heed her warnings has left states in grave danger, with too many potential weak points to shore up before hackers do succeed in altering an outcome. It is not a theoretical vulnerability, Simons told me. “Our democracy is in peril. We are wide open to attack…Many of the leading opponents of paperless voting machines were, and still are, computer scientists, because we understand the vulnerability of voting equipment in a way most election officials don’t…By Verified Voting’s count, 13 states, including populous ones such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, still have paperless voting. Given the thin majorities in Congress, that leaves more than enough machines to allow hackers tremendous power to influence American politics. And all 50 states use computerized scanners for vote counting—few of them with sufficient postelection auditing to detect manipulation. Mandatory audits, in the form of hand counts of randomized samplings of ballots, are essential to protect against invisible vote theft, Simons believes. In an unaudited system, malicious code could easily go unnoticed…“There’s no malware that can attack paper,” Simons said. “We can solve this. We know how to do it.”

Regarding voting in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf just “ordered counties planning on replacing their electronic voting systems with machines that would maintain a paper trail, hopefully guarding against interference in a future election,” reports Lulu Chang at Digital trends…“This directive will ensure that the next generation of the commonwealth’s voting systems conforms to enhanced standards of resiliency, auditability and security,” Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres said in a statement…Pennsylvania is not requiring all counties to throw away their equipment yet, however. Rather, the directive only applies to counties that are already in the process of switching systems — those counties will be required to buy new machines with the paper backup addition.

Michael Scherer’s “Election contrast in the Trump era: Republican pugilists vs. Democratic pacifiers” at Post Politics paints with a broad brush in defining the tonal differences between candidates of the two parties this year. He cites some examples to make the point that Republicans are generally deploying more warlike rhetoric in their messaging, while Democrats project themselves as the “pacifiers.” Some of this is overstated — Senator Tami Duckworth (D-IL), for example, though not up for re-election this year, recently called Trump “a five-deferment draft-dodger” and “cadet bone-spurs.” But overall, Scherer is right that Republicans are still trying to project themselves as more ‘pugilistic.’ Many Democratic candidates are betting that most persuadable voters are feeling the effects of Trump-fatigue and what Jesse Jackson once called the ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ of Americans politics. But Dems who strive to be perceived as “reconcilers,” instead of “pacifiers,” are likely on the right tonal track.

Jonathan Allen sees a toughening of Democratic messaging tone in his NBC News post, “Democrats debate: Get personal with Trump or take the high road.” Allen cites Duckworth’s comments, and then notes reent remarks by Terry McAuliffe and Nancy Pelosi: “Within the last few weeks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of trying to “make America white again” with his immigration plan, and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he’d flatten Trump if the president got in his physical space.” Allen quotes one of the more perceptive new Democrats, who cautions, “I don’t think we’ll win a street fight with Trump in slinging accusations back and forth,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif. “That didn’t work out so well for Marco Rubio. Instead of being consumed with attacking Trump, we need to be consumed with solving the real problems of the citizens and nation we represent.”

Ed Kilgore probes the thorny question, “Is Democratic Cooperation With Trump Depressing Supporters?” at New York Magazine.” Kilgore explains, “Projecting oneself as the proud member of the uncompromising anti-Trump resistance just isn’t an option for members of Congress from areas that were and remain pro-Trump enclaves. Yes, senators like Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Joe Donnelly, and Claire McCaskill need an energized anti-Trump “base” to turn out for them. But it’s not going to be enough. And exhibiting a frustrated willingness to work across party lines — which is really what Senate Democrats have mostly been doing, along with trying to form a coalition with those Senate Republicans who are fighting Trump on immigration — is going to be more effective than heading to the barricades…Those Democrats who are in public office have to pick and choose moments of loud opposition, and sometimes even have to sound conciliatory. Yes, if anyone voting in November doubts Democrats are the anti-Trump party,  that’s a problem. But snarling and snapping every minute until then is probably not necessary to maintain confidence in the Donkey’s bite.”

At The Guardian, check out “Social Class in the 21st Century by Mike Savage review – the emotional effect of class” by Lynsey Hanley, who asks in the subtitle, “Are you ‘established middle class’, ‘technical middle class’ or one of the ‘precariat’? Today’s complex society demands new categories in the class-crazy U.K. Hanley adds “If there’s a single fact that illustrates the way social class works in Britain today, it’s in the opening pages of this startling book. Of the 161,000 people who initially filled in the Great British Class Survey, which ran on the BBC website in 2011, 4.1% listed their occupation as chief executive, which is 20 times their representation in the labour force. By contrast, precisely no one stated they were a cleaner. While it’s pleasant to have your status at the top of the social pile affirmed, it’s rather less so to be reminded you’re at the bottom…The coffin of class, to paraphrase Richard Hoggart, remains stubbornly empty.” It would be good to have an equally large sample share their views hereabouts. Further, writes Hanley, “Long-range social mobility, from bottom to top, is a feat summed up by the title of one chapter: “Climbing Mountains”…More common, argues Savage, is the short-range movement within the middle classes, enabled by the social and cultural capital accumulated through going to university…The rough/respectable divide retains a powerful hold on working-class relationships and self-awareness, and is exploited by politicians in election after election, while the new elite gets on with consolidating its hoard of economic, cultural and social capital.”

In his New York Times op-ed, “Democrats Can Win on Immigration,” Matt A. Barreto makes a convincing case and argues, “In their quest to retake the House or the Senate (or both), Democrats should not shy away from incorporating and welcoming immigrants into their own rhetoric. When Republicans embark on meanspirited immigrant bashing, Democrats should take notes from Harry Reid’s 2010 re-election victory in Nevada and Ralph Northam’s 2017 gubernatorial win in Virginia. Both Mr. Reid and Mr. Northam rebuffed racially charged anti-immigrant campaigns, standing up for Dreamers, and in the process winning over Latino voters alongside a coalition of progressive and moderate college-educated whites…Mr. Trump and his fellow Republicans are clearly gearing up for a similar anti-immigrant effort in 2018. But now the mask has been pulled off. Voters get it. Democrats have an opportunity to speak out strongly against bigotry. And in doing so, they have a path to victory in 2018 and beyond.”

Some provocative snarkage from the New York Times editorial “We’ve Got the Memo. Now What About Trump’s Tax Returns?,” notes: “Since the Republicans are now on board with greater transparency, they will no doubt push President Trump to release his tax returns, as every other major-party presidential nominee has done for the past four decades, won’t they?…How about the White House visitor logs, which the Trump administration started hiding from the public last year? Or, say, the names of all foreign governments and officials who have stayed — at their own or at American taxpayers’ expense — at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida or at his golf courses and his other businesses since he became president? Or the names of every foreign business with which the Trump Organization has a financial relationship, especially in countries where America has sensitive foreign policy interests, like China, India, Russia, Turkey or Saudi Arabia?…And, of course, Americans should have complete confidence now that congressional Republicans will demand complete transparency from all members of the president’s campaign, transition team and administration in describing their dealings with representatives of a foreign power that tried to swing our election — as well as from the special counsel who is investigating those efforts…The party that demanded the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails as a central plank of the 2016 presidential campaign must support all of this and more, right?”

Amid the latest round of Pelosi-bashing, Democratic organizer Dana Houle offers this assessment in her Washington Post op-ed “Nancy Pelosi is incredibly underrated.” Houle writes that “Pelosi is one of the most underrated American politicians of the past half-century. Her media and activist critics judge her competence and leadership almost entirely based on her performance in front of a microphone…Her strength is in what she does away from the microphones…Pelosi is a master vote counter — and more than most 20th-century congressional leaders, she has to be. Majorities are narrower, and to pass partisan legislation, or keep a unified opposition, leaders cannot afford to have many members voting against their caucus. When Democrats have been in the minority, she has kept her representatives in check, even as Ryan and his predecessors have had to pull bills from the House floor because they got the whip count wrong… Those who continue to underestimate her will continue to be mistaken. Don’t be surprised if she has another big act in her, as the Speaker who goes toe to toe with President Trump.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “Just like every American family, the Budget makes hard choices: fund what we must, cut where we can, and reduce what we borrow,” White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said in a statement.

    Trump is seeking a massive boost to the Pentagon to allow for a “ready, larger, and more lethal military,” the White House said in the preview.

    Officials said the budget would also prioritize border security — proposing to hire roughly 1,000 more patrol agents and immigration officers than its previous budget.

    The White House will ask Congress for a total of $23 billion in border security programs, reinserting Trump into the center of a fierce immigration debate on Capitol Hill.


    Just like every American family? Who has 23 Billion to spare nowadays? Cut where we can? Did he mean tax cuts? How much is that military parade going to cost? And does reduce what we borrow mean they’re just going to take what they want instead?

    The Budget aka “larger and more lethal” doesn’t sound like any family I know. Most American families would not prioritize purchasing weapons and hiring guards over food, clothing, shelter, health care and education for their children nor would they want to take any of that away from another family for the same.
    The Republican Budget Family would be a terrible neighbor. They should really have a chat with parents and teachers at public schools before they move in. Democrats could help facilitate this. It might only require some instructional videos. “How to get along with American families”
    Something with a theme of “we would rather our kids and students have a lunch than bring a gun. We would rather they be in good health than have our country embark on world domination and/or destruction.. etc”


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