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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The heat is on in Florida, where informed and articulate high school students are leading protests that have Republican politicians like Sen. Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott squirming in the headlights as they parrot the NRA party line. As Julie Turkewitz and Alexander Burns report at The New York Times, “In addition to the students amassing in Tallahassee, Democrats in Florida have vowed to make gun control a central campaign issue in 2018, and a national gun-control group is already targeting Mr. Scott with television ads that say he neglected public safety…The developing clash over firearms has the potential to define Florida politics in a critical election year, thrusting the state into the center of a stalemated national debate around gun violence and the Second Amendment. In a politically divided state where the National Rifle Association has held broad influence for decades — every governor for 20 years has been an ally of the group — even fierce supporters of gun rights now believe Republicans cannot afford to seem passive in response to gruesome scenes of violence.”

N.Y. Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney may have just nuked her prospects for re-election with her lame comment that “so many” mass murderers “end up being Democrats.” As Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, ” wrote on Twitter that she “owes America a sincere and abject apology.” And her expected Democratic challenger this year, State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, said in his own Twitter post that her “toxic rhetoric” was “a new low” and that “inserting politics into a national tragedy is beyond the pale & disgusting.” The NY-22 district was already considered a solid pick-up possibility for Democrats. Independents, moderates and Dems who are disgusted by Tenney can contribute to Brindisi’s campaign right here.

Here’s a Brindisi ad for the NY-22 race:

In his PowerPost article “For some Democrats running for Congress, a strategic navigation of gun issues,” Paul Kane notes that a number of Democrats running for House seats this year, including Connor Lamb, Paul Davis, Jeff Van Drew and Jason Crow, are taking cautious stands on gun violence prevention. Kane also quotes Adam Jentleson, a strategist at Democracy Forward, a liberal research group, who says “A tectonic shift is underway on guns. Democrats have tried making nice with the NRA and been burned again and again…More and more Democrats are coming around to seeing that there’s no upside to courting the NRA — they’re going to spend millions casting you as a gun-grabber regardless of your actual position, so what’s the point?”

Conservative apologists for Russian meddling in our elections are all bent out of shape because Twitter is putting an end to giving Russian bots free reign. As Jessica Guynn explains at USA Today, “Fake accounts on Twitter have been traced to a Kremlin-linked “troll farm” accused of inflaming political divisions on hot-button national issues such as gun control after last week’s Florida school shooting. According to researchers at the University of Southern California, conservatives retweeted Russian trolls about 31 times more than liberals and produced 36 times more tweets…An organization that tracks Kremlin-backed Twitter accounts — the Alliance for Securing Democracy — says such influence operations have remained active since the election, serving to amplify disputes bubbling on the Web. On Wednesday, #twitterlockout and #twitterpurge were the top and trending hashtags used by the accounts linked to Russian influence operations tracked by the Alliance’s Hamilton 68 project.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich’s post “The 18 (!) Governorships Democrats Could Pick Up This Year,” includes this observation: “If the much-ballyhooed “blue wave” does materialize this fall, it could be Republican governors who suffer the most losses…The other day, we ran down the seven governorships held by Democrats or independents that could fall to the GOP in November. Today’s list of vulnerable Republican seats is more than twice as long. According to qualitative assessments by nonpartisan handicappers — The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections,1 — only eight GOP-held governorships are completely safe in 2018.2 That leaves 18 Republican-held governorships in some degree of danger…”

Reasonable people can disagree about whether Rev. Billy Graham was truly nonpartisan, even though he was perceived that way by many, and certainly the mass media. His influence waned substantially in recent years, as he faded from the scene and his politically-strident son, Franklin Graham, became more of a right-wing public figure. But Billy Graham’s death does add a bit of a punctuation mark to the end of the era when most prominent evangelical leaders proclaimed their nonpartisanship and valued a semblance of moral rectitude in the political candidates they supported.

WaPo conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin takes a look at the political moment, and offers this take: “One can look at guns and dreamers as discrete issues, but they can also be seen as issues on which Democrats want to change the status quo, while Republicans would prefer a logjam. The GOP is a prisoner to its anti-immigrant base and to the NRA, both of which would love for nothing to be done on their respective issues. Democrats not only have substantive support for legalizing dreamers and toughening gun laws, but they can make the case that the GOP is thwarting the will of the people and is beholden to special interests. That is a dangerous position for Trump — who promised to shake things up — and his party to be in. By contrast, Democrats need to impress upon voters that they are the problem-solvers and have responsible, concrete solutions. In a midterm election, when the party out of office can capitalize on the White House’s failure to live up to expectations, Democrats have reason to be encouraged.”

Aaron Blake has an amusing peek at Trump’s “empathy deficit” at The Fix. Blake’s article features a photo of Trump’s enumerated notes for his “listening session” with high school students. As Blake notes, “Yep, right there at No. 5 is a talking point about telling those present that he was actually listening to them. After what appear to be four questions he planned to ask those assembled, No. 5 is an apparent reminder for Trump to tell people, “I hear you.”…Even No. 1 is basically a reminder that Trump should empathize. “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” the card reads. So two-fifths of this card is dedicated to making sure the president of the United States assured those assembled that he was interested in what they had to say and their vantage points.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    Best idea I’ve read so far:
    “Two simple changes to U.S. law, both things based in other laws that we already know and like, could solve most of America’s gun violence problem:

    1. Treat all semi-automatic weapons in a similar way under the same laws as fully-automatic
    2. Regulate gun ownership and usage the same way we regulate car ownership and usage.

    The Uniform Firearms Act of 1931 in Pennsylvania was the harbinger of the federal 1934 National Firearms Act, which brought an end to the widespread legal availability of fully automatic “tommy guns,” along with, later, silencers and sawed-off shotguns. But ownership of such automatic weapons isn’t really “banned”—it’s just a somewhat complex process to get permission to own and use them…
    These three things that we do for owners of cars are perfect to deal with our American gun problem.

    Registration and title – as a requirement rather than an option – would establish a clear chain of custody and responsibility, so when people behave irresponsibly with their guns they can be held to account.

    Having a shooter’s license be conditional on passing both a written and a shooting-range test would demonstrate competence and also insert a trained person into the process who could spot “off-kilter” people like the Parkland shooter. Taking a cue from most other countries, we could also require people to prove a need or sporting/safety use for a weapon.

    Today, if a car had run down mass-shooting victims, their families would be getting millions from Geico, et al. Because a gun killed them, they get nothing. This is bizarre in the extreme; we all end up paying the costs of gun violence.” Thom Hartmann


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