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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“Democrats have recruited, nurtured and funded dozens of veterans aiming to unseat Republicans in November,” report Dan Merica and Annie Grayer in “‘Country over party:’ Democrats turn to veterans to take back the House“at CNN Politics. “The strategy cuts against the common Republican attack that most of the military leans red and Democrats want a less robust military, a refrain repeatedly pushed by President Donald Trump…A key force behind the effort has been Seth Moulton, a 39-year old congressman from Massachusetts and former Marine Corps officer. Through his political action committee Serve America, Moulton has backed veterans running for House seats across the country, elevating people like Feehan, Chrissy Houlahan in Pennsylvania and Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas…The number of veterans in Congress has been on a steady decline ever since the 1971, when an astonishing 72% of member of Congress and 78% of Senators were veterans. The current veteran representation in Congress has hovered around 20% for almost a decade, a historic low for the deliberative body.”

Paige Winfield Cunnngham puts the SCOTUS fight in sharper focus in “The Health 202: These are the five senators to watch in the Supreme Court nomination fight,” and observes: “…Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are back in the spotlight as the Senate gears up to confirm a new Supreme Court justice. Along with three Democratic senators from red states — Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), all of whom are up for reelection this year — they make up the five senators whose votes will most aggressively be courted in the knockdown fight over President Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy…Assuming Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, can’t make it to Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will have a one-vote margin to confirm Trump’s nominee for the high court, who is expected to move the court significantly rightward on a host of issues from abortion, to gay rights to voting issues. So McConnell either needs all 50 Republicans on board with his plan — with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence — or he’ll be depending on the support of two Democrats if Collins and Murkowski defect. Both women did vote to confirm Justice Neil M. Gorsuch last year — but the stakes were significantly different then. Gorsuch replaced the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, while Trump’s next nominee will replace Kennedy, the court’s longtime swing vote.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “This is the fight of our lives. Here’s how we win it,” brings the strategy into focus: “With Republicans in control of the Senate, the odds favor anyone President Trump picks to fill Kennedy’s seat. But as the mass mobilization to preserve the Affordable Care Act demonstrated, progressives can win battles in the Senate if Democrats hold together, and if a handful of Republicans are convinced that going along with their party will have high political and substantive costs. There is no choice but to mobilize…Moderate and liberal voters who had not weighed court appointments heavily in their ballot-box decisions may do so now that the threat to Roe is not theoretical but real. This could also further boost turnout among women strongly opposed to Trump, whom Democrats are counting on this November.” In addition to winning over Republican Senators Collins and Murkowski, “Democratic senators will have to stay united, and opposing a Trump pick could be difficult for those on the ballot this fall in pro-Trump states. That’s particularly true of three who voted to confirm Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and who, along with Collins and Murkowski, met with Trump last week: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia…They need to be prepared to make a broader argument about how the lives of the people they represent will be affected by the radical nature of conservative jurisprudence.”

From Deva Woodly’s article, “An Electoral Vision for Black Lives: If the Democratic Party really wants to engage black voters, it should take its cues from the organizers already on the ground.” at Dissent: “Research shows that the Democratic Party is growing less white, and further, that white Democrats are increasingly concerned with racial justice. In 2009, 81 percent of black Democrats, 50 percent of white Democrats, and 49 percent of Latinx Democrats agreed with the statement “the country must do more to give blacks equal rights.” A Pew survey taken last fall showed that those numbers have dramatically increased, now 90 percent of black Democrats, 80 percent of white Democrats, and 76 percent of Latinx Democrats believe that advocating for racial justice should be a top political priority. This shift in opinion did not come out of nowhere. It is the result of movement work—a nearly four-year push, via mass direct action and purposeful social media campaigns highlighting stories and images of the unjust murder that black people endure at the hands of police (including when their fellow white citizens use the police as a weapon). The broader public awareness and protest campaigns of the movement are ongoing and simultaneous with the electoral work, each making it more possible for the other to succeed.”

Also at Dissent, Adam Gaffney discusses Canada’s journey to health security and frames the “Single-Payer or Bust” health care reform movement: “By providing a single tier of coverage to all, regardless of wealth or station, with automatic enrollment, comprehensive benefits, and no cost-sharing, single-payer provides a distinct—and more egalitarian—vision of universality. Although the analogy is loose, this can be seen as a sort of universal healthcare “from below.” In contrast, a patchwork approach to universal coverage, which incorporates a privatized hierarchy of different levels of coverage, without comprehensive benefits, with varying degrees of cost-sharing, perhaps undergirded by a restored government “mandate” to buy insurance, can be seen as a type of universal healthcare “from above.” And it constitutes a far narrower vision of universal coverage that falls short of the full universality that our fractured and increasingly unequal society urgently requires.”

The New Yorker’s John Cassidy writes, “In terms of messaging, Ocasio-Cortez isn’t as much of an outlier as she might appear. Although many prominent Democrats seem to be talking mainly about Trump—to the point that they can barely see straight—that preoccupation is partly an artifact of the media’s focus. In a world of all Trump all the time, Democrats who bring up other things don’t get much coverage. The fact is that many Democrats are concentrating on the same issues that Ocasio-Cortez emphasized during her campaign: health care (she supports Medicare for all), housing, education (like Sanders, she favors free tuition at public universities), wages, and jobs (she has advocated for a federal jobs guarantee)….Listen to the speeches of Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio; or of Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia; or of Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Ted Cruz in Texas; or of Conor Lamb, who won a special election in western Pennsylvania earlier this year; or of Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot who recently won the Democratic primary in New Jersey’s Republican-held Eleventh Congressional District. To be sure, these Democrats are attacking Trump and talking about immigration and the Supreme Court. But their main focus is on promoting social and economic empowerment for people living in their districts.”

“We’re not moving off our long-held belief that House control is something of a 50-50 Toss-up, but our seat-by-seat handicapping is only getting better for Democrats,” writes Kyle Kondik at Sabato’s Crystal Ball.Today’s seven ratings changes are all toward the Democrats, and the overall ratings now show 208 seats at least leaning to the Republicans, 199 at least leaning to the Democrats, and 28 Toss-ups. To win the House under the current ratings, Democrats would have to win two-thirds of the Toss-ups. In the event of a good Democratic environment in the fall, that would not be unreasonable to expect.”

Want to Increase Turnout? Make It Easier to Vote at Home,” writes David Atkins at The Washington Monthly. “Both red and blue states have been implementing what is perhaps the most effective method of increasing voter turnout: mail voting. Counties and states that have moved to full vote-at-home programs have seen turnout increase, often dramatically….A new report prepared by Pantheon Analytics on behalf of our own Washington Monthly on the effects a mail-vote-only program in Utah shows significant turnout increases…In the 2016 general election, twenty-one counties in Utah administered voting entirely by mail, while eight counties administered traditional polling place-based voting. Using vote propensity scores to control for voters’ pre-existing differences in likelihood to vote, we show that the advent of vote-by-mail increased turnout by 5-7 points. Low-propensity voters, including young voters, showed the greatest increase in turnout in vote-by-mail counties relative to their counterparts in
non-vote-by-mail counties…There is much more information available at the newly created National Vote-At-Home Institute, including turnout improvements in North Dakota, Minnesota, Alaska, Nebraska, and elsewhere. Many other states including Maryland to Hawaii to Wyoming will be implementing similar programs.”

Sean Iling interviews David Faris, author of “It’s Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority” at vox.com and asks him what Democrats should do about the filibuster. Faris’s answer: “Yeah, I think they should eliminate the filibuster in the first month of the next Democratic administration, if it even survives that long. I think it’s another anti-democratic procedure in the Senate. We already have a constitutional framework that is deliberately difficult to work around to get policy change, and then you add a supermajority requirement in one of the two national legislatures? It’s just bananas. There’s no other country on the face of the earth that has a supermajority requirement to make routine legislation.” Iling and Faris discuss a range of other reforms in Faris’s book, including, packing the courts, creating more progressive states out fo California and statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    David Faris’s Congress-packing, Court-packing plan would fail for the same reason FDR’ did, only faster. When FDR proposed his plan, the Democrats had just won 334 House seats to the Republicans’ 88 and 74 Senate seats to the Republicans’ 17. FDR himself had carried 46 states out of 48. Yet, his Court-packing plan died an immediate death in spite of such a heavy Congressional and Presidential advantage because the electorate saw it for what it was, a power grab and a threat to the independence of the judiciary. Our political problem isn’t that DC and Puerto Rico aren’t states, or that California is still in one piece. Our political problem is that too many voters do not trust us and Faris’s proposal would aggravate rather than alleviate that problem.


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