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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

David Leonhardt cuts to the chase in his column, “The People vs. Donald J. Trump: He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?” in The New York Times: “He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing…The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?” Leonhardt recommends that House Dems conduct “a series of sober-minded hearings to highlight Trump’s misconduct. Democrats should focus on easily understandable issues most likely to bother Trump’s supporters, like corruption.”

The Next Two Years Are About Democracy Itself,” argues E. J. Dionne, Jr. in his Washington Post column. “The contrast between the diversity of the Democratic side of the House (by gender, race, ethnicity and religion) and the visible homogeneity on the Republican side has been much noted. It was genuinely thrilling to see how free elections can allow citizens to bring about so much transformation in such a short time. And this new House was the product of the highest midterm turnout since 1914, back when all citizens aged 18-21 and most women and African-Americans were denied access to the ballot…It is thus appropriate that the new majority gave the hallowed designation H.R. 1 to the bill they presented Friday with the purpose of expanding democracy while pushing back against corruption. The headline aspects of the legislation took aim at Trump era sleaze, including a requirement that presidential candidates release their tax returns, and tightening of White House ethics rules…But the guts of the bill are all about making our system more democratic: automatic voter registration along with limits on voter purges and other methods that states use to block access to the ballot box, especially for minorities and the young. It would also ban contributions from corporations controlled by foreign entities…Central to the proposal is a new campaign-finance system designed to limit big money’s power in elections. It would create a series of incentives, including matching funds for donations of $200 or less, to encourage candidates to rely on small donors rather than the typically self-interested generosity of the wealthy…At this moment of trial for all who treasure democratic institutions, the world could use an example of politicians whose solutions to our problems involve more democracy, not less.”

Another Post columnist, Jennifer Rubin agrees in her column praising H.R.1 and its principle author rep. John Sarbanes. Rubin also notes that “The sheer size and scope of the bill may be an obstacle to passage, so Democrats, at some point, may want to break up the effort into manageable chunks so voters know exactly where their representatives stand — for example, on requiring the president and vice president to release 10 years of tax returns, or on knocking down barriers to voting. That can be sorted out later, however. If the House passes all or most of the items in H.R. 1 and sends them to the Senate, voter may begin to ask: Why are Republicans going along with Trump’s unethical practices and why do they want to suppress voting?”

In her New York Times op-ed, “Middle-Class Shame Will Decide Where America Is Headed: Who can appeal to the people who feel the most like they’ve gotten a raw deal?,” Alissa Quart, author of “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America,” writes, “what I have called the “middle precariat” vote — or what could be called the anxiety vote — gave us this president, and now it has also given us a Democratic House. It is a powerful force…Any Democrat who wants to win the White House in 2020 is going to need to harness the power of these voters. Indeed, the race has very much started, including the recent announcement of a presidential campaign exploratory committee by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has already started to emphasize how the middle class is “hollowed out”…the frustration that comes from people who find themselves slipping down the economic gradient is one of the most powerful untapped resources in American politics today.

“Compromise, common sense and listening to all sides of an issue don’t seem like countercultural values. Certainly, in the home I grew up in they weren’t. My parents belonged to separate political parties, and those values were part of the air I breathed. But in my state’s Republican Party, such values have become increasingly difficult to find. And that’s why I’ve decided to leave the party…I want to work with other moderate, pragmatic leaders on policy that helps remove bureaucratic hurdles and helps government better serve Kansans rather than having to constantly disavow rhetoric designed to divide people. I can do that in the Democratic Party,” writes Kansas State Senator Dinah Sykes in “Why I left the Kansas Republican Party,” her Washington Post op-ed…”My change to the Democratic Party has already shown me reasons for optimism. I have found that I am respected, my opinion is valued, and open discussions are encouraged. I see a future in which sound policy is valued above scoring cheap political points.”

Egberto Willies warns progressives that  “We must not allow the ‘Hillary-fication’ of Elizabeth Warren at Daily Kos. The GOP clearly wanmts to degrade Warren’s appeal, in large part because she is among the most savvy potential Democratic candidates on the all-important issues of financial reform and regulation, as well as how progressive Dems can win a larger share of white working-class votes. If they can reduce her to a wanna-be cliche, they hope they can trvialize her candidacy. As Willies writes, “The Pocahontas caricature that Donald Trump seeded is an issue that progressives must not allow to take hold and distract. The attack is a backdoor attempt to diminish her accomplishments without resorting to direct sexism. Some Democrats will see Warren as too anti-corporation, especially given her Accountable Capitalism Act. They will label her as too liberal and will likely attack her as they did Sanders, insisting that she is on the fringe…The media must be called out immediately as soon as it allows the Right to drive that narrative. Absent that, the story will metastasize, just like “death panels, throw grandma off a cliff” did with the Affordable Care Act. The media was instrumental in giving Hillary Clinton’s email issues legs it should never have had.”

“Democrats were elected in large part to provide a check on Trump’s corruption and shredding of democratic and institutional norms,” notes Greg Sargent at The Plum Line. “Trump’s blithe refusal to release his returns is basically a big fat middle finger aimed at our norms and institutions, and even in a sense a straight-out declaration that he can damn well do all the self-dealing as president that he pleases. You, the public, will never be the wiser…Yes, it will be very hard to get Trump’s returns, and yes, Trump will put up a protracted struggle over them. But this is a fight Democrats must wage, not to “get Trump,” as his defenders like to whine, but rather as a blow on behalf of the broader anti-corruption agenda that Democrats hope to stand for.”

WaPo columnist Dana Milbank shares a warning to Democrats: “If they can stay unified, they will be an effective counterweight to the Trump lunacy, establishing the Democrats as the party to be entrusted with governing. But if they are split by internal divisions, they could become an easy foil for President Trump, lose suburban seats that gave them the House majority and possibly hand Trump a second term…The country is on fire. This is the time for Democrats to be the grown-ups voters want…Democratic unity is what gives them the upper hand in the shutdown battle, as some Republicans openly question Trump’s strategy. Democratic unity also allows them to appeal to the large majority of Americans disgusted with Trump, as Pelosi did during her acceptance speech, uttering “bipartisan” seven times, praising George H.W. Bush and approvingly quoting Ronald Reagan on immigration…There was silence on the Republican side, now a shrunken sea of old white men. “You don’t applaud for Ronald Reagan? ” Pelosi taunted…A disastrous presidency has given progressives an extraordinary opportunity — if they don’t blow it by fighting among themselves.”

From “The House Democrats’ Best Path Forward: To counter Donald Trump, and to prepare for 2020, the Party needs to think big.” by Margaret Talbot at The New Yorker: “Still, whatever compromise is eventually reached to reopen the government, the best path forward for the Democrats as they take over the House of Representatives—the most effective way to counter the Administration’s frantic, unmoored agenda-setting, while also motivating voters for 2020—will be to pursue ambitious ideas. These could include the once utopian-sounding Medicare for All; a Green New Deal, to combat climate change while creating jobs; a national fifteen-dollar minimum wage; and a Voting Rights Advancement Act, to revive some of the protections that the Supreme Court eradicated in 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder…Such proposals are backed by the Party’s fired-up progressives, but not all Democrats in the House support them, and they are highly unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, let alone be signed into law by Trump. Yet they strike many people as fair and humane, if politically complicated. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, seventy per cent of respondents were in favor of Medicare for All…Even if such proposals can’t make it out of Congress this term, they can help form a blueprint for a future in which the Democrats control the White House or the Senate.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    About the DNA issue, I thought it was a great idea to address it early on. Its old news and the conversation is about her DNA test and family history, not what DT said.

    from 11/29/2018 at politico
    “We need to refocus our international economic policies so that they benefit all Americans, not just wealthy elites,” she plans to say. “At the same time, we must refocus our security policies by reining in unsustainable and ill-advised military commitments and adapt our strategies overseas for the new challenges we see in this coming century.”

    I like the sound of it but I’d like to hear what Elizabeth Warren believes are unsustainable and ill-advised military commitments as well as what the new challenges coming this century are.
    If she wins, what sort of obstacles does she believe would be standing in her way of achieving these changes and how does she intend to address them? How could people that support her vision help her out?

    I would also like to know if there are any plans to look at ways our government could encourage our weapons industries to take on a different business model.
    Is our government willing to support innovation that isn’t about death, despair and violating privacy? Can our foreign policy stop being outsourced to the highest bidder?
    Is it possible? If not, why not?


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