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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “Liberals, This is War” by NYT columnist Chafrles M.Blow: Liberals can get so high-minded that they lose sight of the ground war. Yes, next month it is important to prove to the rest of Americans, and indeed the world, that Trump and the Republicans who promote and protect him are at odds with American values and with the American majority…But, catharsis is an emotional response and an emotional remedy…Liberals have to look beyond emotions, beyond reactionary electoral enthusiasm, beyond needing to fall in love with candidates in order to vote for them, beyond the coming election and toward the coming showdown…Folks, Kavanaugh is only one soldier, albeit an important one, in a larger battle. Stop thinking you’re in a skirmish, when you’re at war.”

Regarding the proposals to impeach Kavanaugh or pack the Supreme Court to restore ideological blaance, Charliie Savage writes in his aticle, “On the Left, Eyeing More Radical Ways to Fight Kavanaugh” in The New York Times that “Either step would be an extraordinary violation of constitutional and political norms. No justice has been removed through impeachment. And a previous attempt at court packing, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after a conservative-dominated Supreme Court rejected important parts of his New Deal initiatives during the Great Depression, is broadly seen as having been misguided…Either step would also face steep odds. Some Republicans would have to go along for them to work: a court-expansion bill would need the support of 60 senators to overcome a filibuster, and while a simple majority of the House could vote to impeach, removal would require two-thirds of the Senate…Still, even the political pressure of the threat might make some of the conservative justices more cautious. While Congress rejected Roosevelt’s court-reform bill, the court changed course while lawmakers were considering it and started upholding New Deal laws — a move called “the switch in time that saved nine.”

At The American Prospect, Paul Starr notes another way-down-the-road potential Supreme Court reform: “Democrats should also seek to negotiate long-term constitutional reforms of the Court, though these would not address the immediate challenge they face. One such reform is to limit Supreme Court justices to a single, 18-year term, with those terms staggered so that an appointment comes up every other year. Winning the presidency would then mean getting two Court nominations per term. Fixed terms for the Court would reduce the tendency toward self-perpetuating majorities that results from justices deciding to retire only when a president of their own party is in office.

You gotta like the title of the David Atkins post, “Bipartisanship is Dead. Time for Democrats to Embrace Their Inner McConnell” at The Washington Monthly. Atkins writes, “McConnell more than any other person is responsible for the destruction of bipartisan norms. He exerted unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s legislation and nominees, crucially including Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland who never even received a hearing from McConnell’s Senate. McConnell enabled Russian interference in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump by threatening to deny it and call it a presidential abuse of power if Obama-era law enforcement agencies exposed the plot. And now, of course, McConnell has made himself responsible for a mockery of a Supreme Court confirmation process, abusing his power to hide and limit evidence and testimony about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual abuses and blatant perjury…Instead, Democrats will need to embrace their own inner Mitch McConnell…it will be just as important to secure structural initiatives that will make it difficult for Republicans to continue thwarting the will of an increasingly progressive majority. That is precisely what McConnell would do if a man of his instincts and temperament were serving the public welfare and society’s marginalized, rather than corporations, the wealthy and the privileged….Among these fixes would include but not be limited to:

1) Making election day a federal holiday, and perhaps moving it from Tuesday to a weekend.

2) Pushing a majority of states to sign onto the National Popular Vote compact.

2) Securing statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico, thereby securing representation for those citizens while limiting the overrepresentation of rural white conservative states in the Senate.

3) Limiting gerrymandering and voter suppression by states in whatever ways are constitutionally possible, including by pressing for non-partisan districting commissions, automatic voter registration, full vote by mail systems, paper ballots with paper trails and more.

4) Securing responsible immigration reform and a rapid pathway to citizenship.

5) Adding more justices to both the appellate courts and Supreme Court.”

And David Leonhardt writes in his NYT column, “Get Angry, and Get Involved: The midterm elections are the smart way to make your influence felt” that “The only good solution to this mess involves fighting for democratic principles. In concrete terms, this means turning your attention away from the Supreme Court, for now, and toward the midterm elections. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh is over. The midterms are not, and, one way or the other, they will change Washington. Either President Trump will be emboldened — to fire Robert Mueller, take away health insurance and so on — or he will be constrained. There is no election outcome that preserves the status quo.”

Some statistics for Democrats to ponder, from Hunter Schwarz’s “How millennials could kill politics as we know it if they cared to” at CNN Politics: “Defined by Pew as those born between 1981 to 1996, millennials make up about 22% of the US population, and at some point between November’s midterms and the 2020 election, they’re expected to surpass baby boomers as America’s largest living generation. They’re a massive voting bloc, capable of setting policy priorities and swinging elections…In Congress, there are currently only eight millennials in the House and none in the Senate, according to Quorum, a public affairs software company. And millennials’ vote at lower rates than older generations. In 2016, just more than half of eligible millennials voted. In 2014, less than a quarter voted…Today, the average American is 20 years younger than their representative in Congress, Quorum data found…Politically, millennials are the most independent generation. They’re the least likely to see big differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, and a March Pew poll found 44% of millennials identify as independent, while 35% identify as Democrats and 17% as Republican.”

“The size of the Democratic advantage in the fight for control of the House is unclear with a month until the midterm elections,” warns Nate Cohn at The Upshot, “and there are recent signs Republicans might have improved their position, possibly because of the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court…The sheer number of highly competitive districts means a wide range of possible outcomes. Democrats could win in a landslide, or Republicans could run the table and narrowly retain a majority. Both possibilities are evident in data collected from The New York Times Upshot/Siena College surveys in battleground districts…With so many opportunities to win just a few more seats, it’s easy to see why the Democrats are considered favorites. And with so many opportunities over all, it’s easy to imagine how the Democrats could gain 40 or more seats. Even modest late movement toward the Democrats would topple many additional Republicans and potentially put an entire additional tier of seats into play…On the other hand, modest late movement toward the Republicans could give the party a chance to sweep a pretty long list of tossup districts. Any number of factors could push the race one way or another.”

Anna Maria Barry-Jester writes in her article, “Even People Insured By Their Employer Are Worried About Rising Health Care Costs” at FiveThirtyEight: “Polls show that once again, health care is weighing heavily on the minds of voters this election season. And that’s largely because voters think it costs too much. In August, nearly six in 10 Americans said they are very concerned about the rise in individuals’ health care costs. And just over a quarter of registered voters said that health care was the “most important” thing for candidates to talk about this election season (only corruption in Washington, with 30 percent, was cited as the most important issue more often). And the biggest concern under that giant health care umbrella? For a plurality, it was cost…That concern isn’t coming just from people who buy insurance on the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, even though that’s the group we hear about most often. People with employer-sponsored insurance are also paying more for health insurance and facing serious concerns about how they will pay their medical bills in the event they need care. A new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation helps explain why: Employees are picking up more of the cost, even when they are covered through their employer…In 2000, the average family with an employer-provided plan paid 25 percent of the total cost of an annual insurance premium. By 2018, it was 28 percent (down from 30 percent in 2017), according to the annual KFF survey.”

In his article, “Democrats’ Burgeoning Chances in the Rust Belt” in The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes, “For Democrats looking ahead to 2020, the most encouraging trend in 2018 may be the party’s renewed competitiveness in key races across all five Rust Belt states that keyed Donald Trump’s unexpected victory two years ago. Yet even that potential recovery can’t erase the magnitude of the challenge Democrats will face reclaiming those states from Trump in 2020—a trial that likely became even tougher after he announced a new North American trade deal this week…But perhaps even more encouraging for Democrats are the sprouts of recovery among working-class white voters—or at least working-class white women. In general, midwestern blue-collar white men still overwhelmingly favor Republicans in this fall’s contests. But in Ohio, the NBC/Marist poll showed Brown leading among non-college-educated white women by double digits, and Cordray trailing only slightly. In Wisconsin, those women prefer Evers narrowly and Baldwin by a 17-point margin. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, who are forcefully challenging Republican incumbents in two Iowa districts, posted stronger results among non-college-educated whites than almost any other Democrats in the recent House polls conducted by Siena College and The New York Times.

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    I liked the list and the 18 yr term idea. How about politicians and their favorite tv channels getting sanctioned for lying as well.

    In a war why not separate and slap a wet blanket on what the GOP thrives on? I think its their image along with what they imply they stand for. Its what appears to be what their base finds more compelling than say having health and happiness in their lives or what the left usually calls voting against their economic interests.
    Republicans cover everything they’re going to do by suggesting their voters can find community support in white nationalism, self respect in the worst of male strength, pride in the absence of a heroic spirit and discover the meaning of life in conspiracy theories. Those nice colorful working class left folks knocking on your door asking you what matters in your life trying to encourage you to vote are a threat to everything they stand for! So there’s pieces to take apart there re arrange and repair. Because its not what they’relooking for but where and how they think they’ll find it, perhaps.
    There are some holes in the GOP wall that could be explored as well but if pressed for time you could just knock some in there and carry on about how their existence is a detriment to the survival of white low-income, baseball cap wearing, city bus sized truck driving, sports/beer enthusiasts, semi-religious gender role traditionalists. That would be a McConnell.

  2. Harry Newman on

    “Some Republicans would have to go along for them to work: a court-expansion bill would need the support of 60 senators to overcome a filibuster, ”

    I don’t understand why any such a bill would be necessary. The Constitution only states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court”. Why is any other Senate action required? And, if a filibuster was possible, the majority could be lowered to 51.


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