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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Democratic consumers should take a look at David Leonhardt’s NYT column “The Corporate Donors Behind a Republican Power Grab,” which notes that Walgreens “has allied itself with Wisconsin’s brutally partisan Republican Party. That party is now in the midst of a power grab, stripping authority from Wisconsin’s governor and attorney general solely because Republicans lost those offices last month. The power grab comes after years of extreme gerrymandering, which lets Republicans dominate the legislature despite Wisconsin being a closely divided state…A few weeks later, Walgreens donated $1,000 to Vos. Over the summer, it donated another $6,000 to the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. A couple of weeks before Election Day, the company gave $1,000 to Fitzgerald. These donations weren’t simply a matter of spreading money around. Walgreens did not donate to state-level Democrats this year, as it has in the past…The sums here may not be enormous. But neither are the budgets for local campaigns. Even more important is the message that Walgreens is sending to politicians: We don’t care if you undermine democracy, so long as we get to keep our tax break.'”

“Are these political shenanigans norm shattering?,” asks The New York Times Editorial Board, concerning the GOP post-election power grabs in WI, MI and NC. “Absolutely. They’re obnoxious and cynical, too. And it is regrettable that one political party in particular is so insecure about the merits of its ideas — and the concept of representative democracy — that it feels the need to push a political system under strain even further toward extremism…Part of what makes the moves in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina unusual is that all three states can have lame duck sessions of their legislatures in the first place. Most state legislatures don’t meet throughout the year and so don’t have the chance to thwart the will of voters after an election. If they did, this sort of thing might be more common.”

Are Republicans abandoning democracy?” by E. J. Dionne, Jr. in his syndicated Washington Post column. Dionne explains, “Especially after last week’s court filings in the ongoing investigations of President Trump, his critics have good reason to focus on the threats he poses to democracy and the rule of law. But the president is not alone in his party…In case after case, Republicans have demonstrated an eagerness to undercut democracy and tilt the rules of the game if doing so serves their ideological interests. The quiet coup by the GOP-controlled legislature in Wisconsin is designed to defy the voters’ wishes. It reflects an abandonment of the disciplines that self-government requires.” Dionne adds that “The Democrats won the popular vote in State Assembly contests by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent but emerged with only 36 seats to the GOP’s 63…The party’s efforts to lock in power regardless of election outcomes also eerily echo some of the behaviors of anti-democratic politicians abroad.”

In his Washington Monthly article, “How Will a Recession Affect the 2020 Election?,” David Atkins writes that “for potentially the first time in American history at least since the Civil War, it is possible that underlying economic conditions may not be quite the predictive factor they once were…The problem for Trump and the Republicans is that they already didn’t have much margin to begin with. Winning the electoral college without the popular vote is a fairly difficult feat, and it requires no small amount of luck. Republicans have done it twice in the last six cycles, but doing it again will be difficult. The 2018 midterms demonstrated that Trump has alienated large groups of voters who may have supported him previously, especially upscale suburban voters, those with college degrees, and a large number of Obama-Trump switchers who seem to be coming back home to the Democratic Party. Trump will have the advantage of incumbency, but as we have seen that advantage has shrunk. The economy may not be quite the factor it used to be, but even a small effect would be devastating given the headwinds faced by the GOP.”

WaPo’s David Weigel has an impressive statistical update on the Midterms elections. Among his findings: “Here’s the scorecard, starting with the state of the parties as compared with their status after the 2016 elections…House popular vote margin: Democrats by 8.6 points, as calculated by the Cook Political Report. That’s the largest popular vote margin for any party since 1974. Not since 1930 have Republicans lost control of the House — not just lost seats, but handed the gavels to Democrats — by as wide a margin as they lost it this year.” Weigel’s tally: Senate: 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats and independents (R 1);  House: 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans (D 41); Governors: 27 Republicans, 23 Democrats (D 7); Attorneys general: 26 Democrats, 24 Republicans (D 4); State legislative chambers: 61; Republican, 38 Democratic (D 8); State “trifectas”: 23 Republican, 14 Democratic (D 7).

Democratic office-holders and candidates who want to win support from those high-turnout senior voters should read United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard’s “Workers Petition Congress: Protect Our Pensions” at Blog for Our Future. As Gerard writes, “The total number of workers at risk is 1.2 million. In my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), 100,000 are threatened…Now, they’re vulnerable because 8 percent of multiemployer pensions are collapsing. This is not the workers’ fault. Often, it’s not even the employers’ fault. It’s because of economic forces that couldn’t be predicted and Congressional decisions to deregulate Wall Street and ignore trade violations…Loss of a pension strikes fear in the hearts of workers who shaped their lives around the covenant between them and their employer that they would receive in retirement compensation they deferred while working for decades.”

“Across the country, women who mobilized around the 2018 midterms are now mobilizing to make sure that the so-called Year of the Woman is not just that — one year,” writes Kate Zernike in The New York Times. “They want the energy that surged with the women’s marches after President Trump’s inauguration and powered a Democratic wave in November to continue not only through the 2020 presidential campaign, but until women make up at least the same proportion among lawmakers that they do in the general population…And for all the victories this year, women will occupy just 24 percent of seats in Congress come January — nowhere close to their proportion among voters or in the population, which is just over 50 percent…polls have shown women shifting their party identification to the Democrats by wide margins, and at least one analysis of exit polls showed that women of all education levels moved toward the Democrats on Election Day — even working-class white women who helped elect Mr. Trump.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin explains why “Senate Republicans are responsible for the most unethical and incompetent administration ever.” Rubin presents a devastating litany of Trump’s appointments disasters to date, and observes: “We shouldn’t be surprised that the least qualified president in history — with a long record of bankruptcies, refusal to pay his bills and schemes such as Trump University — should select unqualified and ethically challenged advisers and/or retain those whose ethical misdeeds and incompetence become apparent once in office. However, we cannot blame Trump alone for lousy appointments and staffing the government with unfit characters. The Constitution provides a check on the president’s ability to put shady characters in positions of power. It’s the current Republican Party that rejects that role and decides its job description is to enable Trump’s worst instincts. Just as House Republicans proved themselves incapable of fulfilling their oversight responsibilities, Senate Republicans prove themselves incapable of fulfilling their advice-and-consent duties.”

“Looking at voter turnout in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and throughout the Midwest and South, what we have learned is that, yes, there are real progressives in rural communities. And Democratic voters, too. We also learned that for statewide candidates, attempts to become more conservative in order to reach Republican voters who might vote for them are largely fools gold—you might attract a few, but the number of progressive voters you lose ends up nullifying those gains…In the primary, I worked to stay as neutral as possible. However, I could see the polling data and had a pretty good idea where the race was heading. In talking to communities, I received the same message…We risk creating a divide in this party for absolutely no reason. It’s a divide that insists that rural Democratic registered voters are vastly different than any other kind of Democratic faithful, anywhere in the country. It’s rubbish. — From Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in rural America by Chris Reeves at Daily Kos.

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