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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

NYT’s Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson report that “Democrats still plan to make a wide-ranging anticorruption and voting rights bill their opening legislative priority,” along with legislation to end the GOP’s government shutdown. “They will introduce the first bill of the Democratic House — which includes changes to campaign finance law, outlaws gerrymandering, and restores enforcement authority to the Voting Rights Act — on Wednesday, followed with a marquee unveiling ceremony on Friday on the steps of the Capitol…House Democrats, who take control on Wednesday, are weighing three approaches to getting funds flowing, none of which would include additional money for President Trump’s proposed wall along the southwestern border.”

In his NYT column, “The New Fight for Democracy,” David Leonhardt notes promising initiatives for electoral reform in several states: “…Republicans in many states also pushed to make voting more difficult. They closed polling places, reduced voting hours and introduced ludicrous bureaucratic hurdles — like requiring Native Americans who have no street address to have one in order to vote…In Florida, 65 percent of voters — which means large numbers of Democrats, Republicans and independents — approved a ballot initiative restoring the voting rights of people who had been convicted of a felony. In Missouri, 62 percent of voters approved a law to reduce corruption and gerrymandering. Pro-democracy initiatives also passed in a few other states. At the federal level, House Democrats have promised to make electoral reform the subject of the first bill they offer, after taking control next month…This country has the beginnings of the pro-democracy movement that it needs.”

Alex Shephard has a warning for Democrats at The New Republic, noting that “the idea that Trump has a political advantage over Democrats on the broader issue of immigration is not so easily dismissed. Support for the border wall, while still a minority of Americans, recently hit an all-time high. Although Trump’s fear-mongering over the migrant caravan failed to block the blue wave in last month’s midterm elections, there are reasons to believe that immigration will be a potent, even decisive issue in 2020, just as it was in 2016…And then there’s the question of where Democrats stand on the issue—which isn’t entirely clear. They’re betting that Trump’s radicalism makes them the de facto party of reasonable immigration policy. But the risk is that the opposite will happen: that in the absence of a clear, affirmative message from Democrats, the public will see Trump and the Republicans as the ones doing something rather than nothing to address America’s broken immigration system…This is still largely the Democratic position on immigration: “common sense” border security measures, and some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It’s no accident that Schumer keeps bringing up 2013’s Gang of 8 bipartisan reform bill, which failed to pass: The Democrats’ immigration policy hasn’t really evolved since then. While some innovations have cropped up, notably “Abolish ICE,” the party’s position on immigration remains opaque. They’re against Trump’s policies, to be sure. But it’s rarely clear what precise policies the party supports.”

“A sprawling field of potential Democratic presidential candidates is simultaneously confronting the need to raise staggering sums of money — and to do so under demands from party activists to curb many of their traditional sources of campaign cash,” reports Matt Viser at The Washington Post…Most of the candidates will probably run on a package of proposals to restrict money in politics and would support legislation to help overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited spending by outside campaigns…But several are going beyond that, responding to demands that they spurn outside assistance from independent groups or cease accepting donations from employees of specific companies, among other strictures. The fiercest battle so far has been over whether candidates should accept money from those employed in the oil and gas industry — one seen as acting contrary to the party’s position on climate change.” Viser notes that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) are expected to reject PAC funding, while Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and others will accept it.” Most of the other possible presidential candidates have not yet announced their campaign’s policy on funding.

Re the shutdown, Paul Waldman argues at The Plum Line that “the only answer may be for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, to ignore President Trump. Act as though he doesn’t exist and this has nothing to do with him. By which I mean that members of Congress should shut their ears to Trump’s tweets and threats and fulminations, pass something that House Democrats and Senate Republicans can live with, and then dare Trump to veto it. Because I doubt he has the guts…He’ll have to agree to something eventually, but the only way forward might be to cut him out of the process until the end, then force his hand.”

In his Washington Post syndicated column, “There is much to fear about nationalism. But liberals need to address it the right way,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. highlights a key distinction, noted in new book, “The Nationalist Revival” by John Judis: “Globalization married to rapid technological change has been very good to the well-educated folks in metro areas and a disaster for many citizens outside of them….Judis sees the rise of nationalism as a reaction to “the illusions and excesses of globalization…He proposes a useful distinction between “globalism” and “internationalism.” He’s against the first but for the second. Globalism, Judis argues, “subordinates nations and national governments to market forces or to the priorities of multinational corporations.” Internationalism, on the other hand, accepts that nations may sometimes have to “cede part of their sovereignty to international or regional bodies to address problems they could not adequately address on their own…friends of liberal democracy need to keep two ideas in mind at the same time…On the one side, they should not automatically cast those who worry about the decay of national sovereignty as reactionaries. On the other, they must continue to insist — and urgently so in 2019 — that American patriotism and the defense of constitutional democracy are one and the same.”

At Talking Points Memo, Kyra Lerner reports on “The Powerful Role Confusion Plays In American Elections,” and notes: “As laws making it harder to vote spread across the country, an additional and often unnoticed barrier comes with them: confusion. Georgia wasn’t the only state that created chaos and uncertainty at the ballot box. Similar scenarios played out this year in parts of Missouri and Florida. Two of 2018’s most competitive gubernatorial elections may have swung on voter confusion…The United States’ byzantine election system is governed by overlapping rules on the county, state, and federal levels. Elections in different states and even different cities are held on different days, with polling places in varying locations and voting hours that change from one year to the next.” Lerner adds that confusion over voter identification requirements, court rulings, broken voting machines, ballot design and provisional ballots, implemented by poorly-trained poll-workers frequently takes a sugnificant toll on voter turnout. Lerner suggests same-day registration and automatic voter registration as two effective remedies. On a grand scale, Democrats would be wise to launch an energized public education campaign to explain the electoral reforms of H.R. 1, their top  legislative priority.

Political strategist Robert Creamer explains why “America Isn’t As Polarized As You Think It Is” at HuffPo. Among his examples: “82 percent of Americans think wealthy people have too much power and influence in Washington…78 percent of likely voters support stronger rules and enforcement for the financial industry…82 percent of Americans think economic inequality is a “very big” (48 percent) or “moderately big” (34 percent) problem…76 percent believe the wealthiest Americans should pay higher taxes…87 percent of Americans say it is critical to preserve Social Security, even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by the wealthy…61 percent of Americans ― including 42 percent of Republicans ― approve of labor unions…78 percent of likely voters favor establishing a national fund that offers all workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave…According to a CNBC poll, 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for All…The vast majority support progressive solutions. This is true even when it comes to immigration. A Harvard-Harris poll found 73 percent of the population supports “comprehensive immigration reform.” And a CNN poll found that 83 percent want to protect Dreamers, the young immigrants brought to the country as children…It turns out that what is necessary to end political polarization is not milquetoast compromises with the political right. It is standing up straight and fighting with everything we have to make American policy come into alignment with the views of ordinary Americans.”

Writing in The Atlantic, Edward-Isaac Dovere flags “10 New Factors That Will Shape the 2020 Democratic Primary,” including: the Democratic National Committee last week announced that there will be 12 official primary debates. Each will mix frontrunners with back runners, attempting to put anyone who meets a basic set of qualifying criteria on equal footing…They won’t have to wait long to start their arguing: The DNC schedule has the first two debates set for June and July, less than 200 days away.” Devere notes also that “There’s never been a presidential primary race with more than one female candidate. There’s never been a presidential primary race with more than one black candidate. There’s never been a presidential primary race with more than one candidate running from the left of the base.” All of that is about to change with more than 20 Democratic presidential candidates expectedto join the fray.”

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