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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Trump’s Immigration Meltdown

“The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages…What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities…And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide.” — from Paul Krugman’s New York Times column, “Return of the Blood Libel.”

Strong words from top GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, as reported by Dan Balz in his article, “A GOP strategist abandons his party and calls for the election of Democrats” at The Washington Post: “Trump’s election did not spell doom for the Republican Party,” Schmidt said by telephone Wednesday while traveling. “There’s a crisis of cowardice in the Republican Party that is profoundly un-American and, in my reading, unprecedented,” he said… “No one is prepared to lay down their political career to do what’s right to oppose the corruption, the assault on institutions, the nonstop lying, the assault on objective truth.”The reality is that our Founders always predicted that one day there would be a president like Trump, and that’s why they designed the system of government the way they designed it. What they never imagined is the utter abdication of a co-equal branch of government, which we’re seeing now.”

Balz writes further that Schmidt “cited Trump’s praise for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the horrific images of immigrant children separated from their parents on the U.S.-Mexico border,” which “finally tipped him over the edge.” Schmidt continues, “The definition of conservatism now is the requirement of complete and utter obedience to the leader.” Balz adds, “He said he came to see the Republican Party as living in fear of the president and, as such, “a threat to the American republic and to liberal democracy.” The party, he said, “is irredeemable…He called the party “utterly corrupted,” a force for “incendiary politics and crackpottery and a real threat to small ‘L’ liberalism in the U.S.-led liberal global order…The Democratic Party is called to be the sentinel of American democracy and liberty…It is beyond bone-chilling to consider what happens if that party fails in that task, in that duty.” Schmidt’s statement should prove useful to Democrats in their midterm campaigns.

Ronald Browstein notes at the Atlantic, “With several polls this week showing that roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family separation policy and images of distraught children dominating television, many congressional Republicans were openly seeking a way out. But, by any reasonable standard, Capitol Hill Republicans marched themselves into this quagmire by either actively endorsing, or failing to effectively resist, almost every earlier step Trump has taken to redefine the party around his insular nationalism.”

“Activists are organizing a nationwide effort on June 30 to protest the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the US-Mexico border,’ reports Jen Kirby at Vox. Also, “A #FamiliesBelong Together march is planned for Washington, DC, in Lafayette Square at 11 am on Saturday, June 30, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said Monday on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. Sister marches are expected in dozens of cities across the country.” The protest is “being sponsored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and MoveOn, and more than a dozen other groups.”

Separating Families At The Border Is Really Unpopular,” wrties Dhrumil Mehta at FiveThirtyeight. “We finally have a decent number of polls testing support for the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents from their children at the border. As of early Tuesday, four pollsters — CBS News, CNN, Quinnipiacand IPSOS — had released surveys; they found that about two-thirds of the American public oppose the policy, on average.” According to a FiveThirtyEight chart, “Respondents’ views on separating families crossing the border and holding children and parents in different facilities while they await trial”:

CBS News June 14-17 17% 67% 16%
CNN June 14-17 28 67 5
Quinnipiac June 14-17 27 66 8
IPSOS June 14-15 27 55 17
Average 25 64 12

The “Quinnipiac poll is among registered voters; CBS, CNN and IPSOS polls are among all adults. “Other” includes responses such as “don’t know,” “not sure,” “neither agree nor disagree” and “no answer.”

At Vox.com, Dylan Scott presents the case that “The tough Senate map for Democrats is looking a little less tough: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are moving in the Democrats’ direction.” As Scott observes, “Retaking the Senate in 2018 was always a tough climb for Democrats because they are defending 10 seats in states that Donald Trump won in 2016. But that difficult terrain is looking a little less daunting these days, as new polling has led some election forecasters to believe several of those states are actually quite safely in Democratic hands…Over the past few weeks, Democrats seem to have shored up their positions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has a double-digit polling lead on his Republican opponent; Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was always the favorite but now appears absolutely safe; and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — maybe the most vulnerable of the bunch and up for her first reelection in a state Republicans had been dominating — also seems to be on solid ground.” In one of the Senate races most likely to be affected by Trump’s incarceration of Hispanic children, Democrat Beto O’Rourke is down an average 9.0 percent in the latest Real Clear Politics polling average in his quest to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz — but the average does not reflect the attitudinal climate in the wake of Trump’s immigration meltdown.

When I first saw the Melania Trump jacket photos, I thought, “Don’t fall for it. This smells like a fake photoshop set-up.” But yikes, Snopes confirms that it is indeed real, and amazingly enough, Trump himself confirmed it with gusto in his latest tweet. I didn’t think FLOTUS would stoop quite that low. But it was a deliberate message, she is indeed totally supportive of her husband’s most inhumane policies, and she deserves the outrage she is reaping. Is the Trump p.r. team really so clueless that they think she can still get good press for her trip to Texas, while at the same time sending a “who cares” message to the xenophobic and racist parts of his base, wink, wink? Apparently yes. The Hill’s Morgan Gstalter notes that “CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers blasted Melania Trump as the “Marie Antoinette” of the Trump administration late Thursday amid speculation over the first lady’s sartorial choice earlier in the day.” But that’s unfair to Antoinette, since there is no evidence that she actually said ‘Let them eat cake.’

The last words of this edition of Political Strategy Notes come from syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr., who explains, “Civic and religious groups who have dedicated themselves to immigrant rights are unsung heroes of our moment. It’s encouraging that their work finally gained traction with the larger public. Politicians who spoke up quickly and forcefully — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was one of the earliest elected officials to move this issue to the fore — deserve credit…Journalists documented the administration’s systematic cruelty and dishonesty. Pictures and audio of suffering kids still have the power to awaken consciences. But this triumph will be short-lived if its lessons and the obstacles ahead are ignored…It should shame the GOP that polls released this week by both CNN and Quinnipiac found that, while two-thirds of all Americans opposed Trump’s family separation policy, Republicans supported it (by 58 percent to 34 percent in the CNN survey, and by 55 percent to 35 percent in Quinnipiac’s)…Trump’s power is enhanced, paradoxically, by the shrinking of the Republican Party. This was underscored in a recent paper by B. Pablo Montagnes, Zachary Peskowitz and Joshua McCrain of Emory University…An analysis of Gallup numbers for me by Peskowitz showed a decline in the proportion of Americans who call themselves Republican, from 32.7 percent before the 2016 election to 28.6 percent in its surveys from late May to mid-June…It’s tempting to see this episode as the first act in the unraveling of the Trump presidency. But the fact that it took such an extraordinary set of circumstances to bring this disgraceful moment to an end tells us how difficult the remaining struggle will be.”

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