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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his article, “Republicans Seize on Impeachment for Edge in 2018 Midterms,” Jonathan Martin writes, “As Republican leaders scramble to stave off a Democratic wave or at least mitigate their party’s losses in November, a strategy is emerging on the right for how to energize conservatives and drive a wedge between the anti-Trump left and moderate voters: warn that Democrats will immediately move to impeach President Trump if they capture the House. What began last year as blaring political hyperbole on the right…is now steadily drifting into the main currents of the 2018 message for Republicans…Democrats are divided on how to respond to the charge. Many top officials in the capital fear it is a political trap that would distract from their core message and possibly even boomerang to harm them in November. But other more progressive figures see impeachment as a rallying cry of their own to galvanize the left’s anti-Trump base.” It doesn’t seem like a very promising strategy for Republicans. All Dems have to do to sound fair and responsible is say they are waiting for the investigations to conclude before making any commitments, while Republicans do their party no good by reminding the public that their leader deserves is being investigated for both corruption and treasonous offenses.

“The American people are not going to get the vapors from a politician who is willing to acknowledge what they already know—that there are businesses out there harming them for profit…This strategy would solve another pressing problem for Democrats: Americans not knowing where the party actually stands. A 2017 Washington Post poll found that only 37 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party “stands for something.” This has been an acknowledged problem among elected Democratic officials. But a huge part of knowing what someone stands for is knowing what they stand against…A liberalism that once again decides to start making Americans’ lives better through better Internet, cheaper flights, free health care, or fairer banking won’t be able to avoid upsetting those industries. But whoever takes up this task and, through her policies, enrages telecom companies, airlines, drug companies, and banks, can quote Roosevelt as he finished that speech in Portland: “To the people of this country I have but one answer on this subject. Judge me by the enemies I have made.”” — from Jack Meserve’s “Name the Enemy: Liberalism isn’t just about proposing solutions. It’s also about defeating those who would prevent them” at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

Democratic campaigns looking for a way to connect with small business people should consider adapting Sen. Ron Wyden’s comments at a Friday press conference. As Angela Simaan reports at Common Dreams, “Small business owners are what drive Oregon’s economy forward. They need a simpler, fairer tax code to grow and thrive,” Sen. Wyden said. “Trump’s tax law did the opposite. Today’s report highlights how Republicans’ choice to slash taxes for multinational corporations will bring financial harm to the rancher in Eastern Oregon, the small restaurant owner on the Oregon Coast, and their employees and customers. It’s more proof that this administration will continue to enrich the donor class at the expense of the middle class.”

Gideon Resnick explains “How Beto O’Rourke Is Building a Digital Fundraising Army” at The Daily Beast: “…The Texas Democrat and his top aides placed a major bet on a novel strategy: they would dramatically break down the barriers between candidate and voter. O’Rourke would make heavy use of social media to essentially broadcast otherwise mundane daily functions. And he would treat the often-pesky task of campaign fundraising as an ongoing conversation rather than a plea for cash…So far, at least, O’Rourke’s bet has paid off, and it’s paid off big. The campaign announced this past Monday that it had raised an excess of $6.7 million in the first fundraising quarter of 2018 with more than 141,000 contributions. That number nearly matches the massive haul Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had in the first quarter of her 2012 campaign. In three of the four reporting periods so far, O’Rourke has outraised Cruz. And operatives and advisers are now confidently predicting that O’Rourke will raise the most online of any candidate in Senate history, building a formidable list of supporters along the way akin to that of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).”

“The immigration debate is a flashpoint into the larger divide between college-educated and non-college-educated white voters,” writes student columnist Derek Simshauser in his post, “Rethinking Democrats’ Strategy for 2020” in The Brown Daily Herald. “College-educated whites believe that immigrants strengthen the country by a margin of 52 to 35 percent; conversely, 61 percent of white working-class voters — defined by the study in question as whites who did not graduate from college and are paid by the job or by the hour — say that immigrants weaken the nation. William Galston of the Brookings Institute incisively notes the larger forces at work in these numbers: “working-class whites are experiencing a pervasive sense of vulnerability … on every front — economic, cultural, personal security — they feel threatened and beleaguered.” Trump won these voters by a much larger margin than Mitt Romney did in 2012 because he made immigration an issue of race politics, not of policy…Engaging in nativist and racist rhetoric on immigration is obviously a line in the sand that Democrats will not and should not cross. But the resonance of the immigration debate goes far deeper than other cultural issues in voters’ attitudes. The “Obama-Trump” voter, whose vote Democrats so badly covet, may not be persuaded by slight moves to the center from Democrats. And if the Democratic ticket ignores the progressive wing of the party on too many social issues, they risk alienating more voters from the left than they would win over on the right.”

At Vox, Emily Stewart reports that, “More Americans are hitting the streets to protest in the era of Trump.” As Steward notes, “According to a new poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation and released Friday, one in five Americans have protested in the streets or participated in a political rally since the start of 2016; and of those, 19 percent had never done so before…The poll was conducted during the first two months of 2018 — before the March for Our Lives protest that advocated for gun control in March. It found that more rallygoers are Democrats and independents — 40 percent and 36 percent, respectively — than Republicans, who make up 20 percent of attendees. Rallygoers report attending events to express their views on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to Trump. Of those who went to an event over the past two years, 19 percent did so in support of Trump, compared to 32 percent who protested against him…But whether new protesters will go to the polls for the November midterm elections remains to be seen. Eighty-three percent of rallygoers said they plan to vote in the 2018 midterms, compared to 62 percent of respondents overall.”

Silicone Valley visionary Jack Dorsey, co-creator of both Twitter and The Square, is getting buzz in circles overlapping both tech and politics for his enthusiastic promotion of an article by Ruy Teixeira and Peter Leyden in Medium. As Jon Levine explains at sfgate.com, “Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey came under withering fire Saturday after promoting an article touting the end of bipartisanship and urging one side — Democrats — to thoroughly defeat their opponents as California did in the early 2000s…The original piece, published on Medium by authors Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira, analogized our current political environment to the Civil War and suggested that Republicans needed to be “thoroughly defeated.”…“In this current period of American politics,…there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward. The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago,” wrote Leyden and Teixeira.“ At some point, one side or the other must win – and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated .” Dorsey has taken a lot of heat as a strong supporter of Democratic candidates, and he shows no signs of caving to conservative criticism. The California Democrats ‘big tent’ philosophy has strengthened the party in elections, while Republicans have demonstrated nation-wide that they have no interest in genuine bipartisanship, or even good-faith negotiations.

Conservative syndicated columnist George F. Will comes out strongly against felon disenfranchisement in his latest column, “There’s no good reason to stop felons from voting.” Will writes, “Intelligent and informed people of good will can strenuously disagree about the wisdom of policies that have produced mass incarceration. What is, however, indisputable is that this phenomenon creates an enormous problem of facilitating the reentry into society of released prisoners who were not improved by the experience of incarceration and who face discouraging impediments to employment and other facets of social normality. In 14 states and the District , released felons automatically recover their civil rights…What compelling government interest is served by felon disenfranchisement? Enhanced public safety? How? Is it to fine-tune the quality of the electorate? This is not a legitimate government objective for elected officials to pursue. A felony conviction is an indelible stain: What intelligent purpose is served by reminding felons — who really do not require reminding — of their past, and by advertising it to their community? The rule of law requires punishments, but it is not served by punishments that never end and that perpetuate a social stigma and a sense of never fully reentering the community…Again, who is comfortable with elected politicians winnowing the electorate? When the voting results from around the nation are reported on the evening of Nov. 6, some actual winners might include 1.6 million Floridians who were not allowed to cast ballots.”

Lula’s imprisonment – an attack on the working class globally” by Vashna Jagarnath in South Africa’s The Daily Maverick, provides a well-argued critique of the jailing of Brazil’s former president. As Jagarnath explains, “The imprisonment of Lula is a last-ditch attempt to crush Lula’s growing popularity ahead of the elections in October. Lula had intended to stand as a presidential candidate. The imprisonment of Lula…is an attack on the Workers’ Party, and the Brazilian left more broadly. It is an attempt to restore the authority of the white oligarchy…Even conservative statisticians concede that under Lula’s presidency over 40 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty. Under Lula’s stewardship Brazil created millions of jobs and unemployment fell from 12% to below 6%. Poverty fell by 27% due to pro-working-class reforms, including a raise in the minimum wage…With the “Zero Hunger” project more than 12 million families had three meals a day. In addition to this Lula invested heavily in education. The president who never had an opportunity to go to university built more universities and technical schools than any other Brazilian leader. In addition, he put in place badly needed affirmative action policies that allowed the poor and black population of Brazil to have a chance to access quality education, even at private institutions.” If Democrats win back the presidency in 2020, a top foreign policy priority should be pressing Brazil to release Lula.

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