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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Josh Marshall explains why “Politics Aside, Pelosi Made the Right Decision on SOTU” at Talking Points Memo’s Edblog: “Nancy Pelosi is clearly playing hardball by essentially disinviting President Trump from giving a State of the Union address at the end of January. It’s a good move in terms of political leverage and to make a point. But it’s good for a reason that goes beyond political posturing or negotiation. It’s the same reason it was a good thing that Democratic senators are refusing to move bills on non-budgetary issues until the shutdown ends…The President has deliberately, intentionally stopped the federal government from functioning, except on certain continuity over government bases, to force an issue that has little public support and which he’s unwilling to bargain over through a normal legislative process. That’s not okay and we can’t allow it to migrate into becoming normal. The foundational role of the federal government and the essential responsibility of those who run it is that it runs. It isn’t security or the general welfare or anything else. It’s to run it. It’s no different from the fundamental responsibility of the electrical utility, which is that the electricity works. It’s critical to preserve the reality that this is a crisis and really nothing can be discussed or dealt with before this crisis is addressed.”

Paul Glastris envisions “How Democrats Solve Their Geography Problem” at The Washington Monthly.  “The challenge is not only that Democrats have hemorrhaged support in economically declining rural areas. It’s also that metro areas in red and purple states, which generally support Democrats, haven’t been growing enough to offset those rural losses. Instead, growth in income and opportunity has overwhelmingly flowed to a handful of large metro areas on or near the coasts—precisely the places where Democrats are wracking up millions of “wasted” votes…Democrats can fix their geography problem, our latest issue argues, only by confronting this regional economic inequality. And the best and only way to do that is to reverse the national policies that caused the problem in the first place: the abandonment of antitrust and other measures that once ensured that every part of the country could compete economically, which has since enabled the rise of monopoly firms that cluster opportunity in a few lucky coastal megacities like San Francisco and New York…In the short term, committing to that path could help Democrats make inroads among the rural voters they desperately need to woo back…Over the longer haul, anti-monopoly policies could empower small and midsize cities to compete for business, economic growth, and residents—and take away the GOP’s geographic advantage for good.”

“It’s still hard to gauge how this might play out for the president politically—he appears to have no actual strategy—even as the suffering brought by a lack of pay comes into sharper focus,” Matt Taylor writes in “Trump’s Shutdown Is a Savage Assault on the Working Class” at vice.com. “But the saga is not playing well in swing districts and some of the key electoral turf where Trump peeled off working-class votes from Democrats to win in 2016. Class consciousness may not be at an all-time high in this country, and public employees have long engendered resentmentfrom Americans who may be angry at the decline of manufacturing and other industries. But the specter of a rich man deigning to shell out a few thousand bucks on fast food for college football players while public servants worry about putting food on their tables probably isn’t doing him (or the conservative movement he represents a freak mutation of) any favors…We’ll have to wait and see whether this ends up worse for those who aspire to do good for the country or the party that has embraced the “deconstruction of the administrative state” as a core philosophy. If nothing else, it’s increasingly obvious the shutdown isn’t some kind of coherent political gambit so much as an unadulterated expression of class rage from top down.

From “Credit Where It’s Due: Democratic Leaders Have Not Caved Like a Bunch of Weenies on the Border Wall” by Ben Mathis-Lilley at slate.com: “One of the criticisms of the Democratic Party that has been made approximately one billion times since Barack Obama took power in 2008 is that its leaders are too quick to compromise. From the decision to leave the “public option” out of the Affordable Care Act, to Obama’s offer to make cuts to entitlement programs in 2013, to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s agreement to “fast-track” the confirmation of judicial nominees in October 2018, a pattern has emerged: Dems bend over backwards to make concessions to Republican interests and talking points but Republicans never, ever return the favor…The border wall-shutdown standoff is exactly the kind of situation in which another Democratic fold would seem to be, er, in the cards. And yet not only have Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi not folded, it doesn’t seem like they’ve even thought about folding, despite some grumbling by new House members from swing districts. It’s gotten to the point where Donald Trump invited several centrist-ish rank-and-file Democrats to have lunch with him Tuesday without caucus leaders, ostensibly to woo and seduce them, but it didn’t work; none of them went. Democrats: Not in disarray! They also, per multiple polls, hold the significantly more popular position on just about every shutdown and wall-related question—and looking forward, an ABC-Washington Post survey found that respondents opposed Trump’s oft-threatened plan to launch the wall project via a declaration of national emergency by a blowout-level, mercy-rule 66–31 margin.”

In his post, “The Shutdown Is Hurting Trump’s Approval Rating. But Will It Hurt Him in 2020?,” Nate Silver argues at FiveThirtyEight that “Trump’s increasingly negative ratings match polling showing Americans growing concerned about the shutdown and disliking Trump’s handling of it. In a Marist College poll that was released this week, for example, 61 percent of respondents said the shutdown had given them a more negative view of Trump, while just 28 percent said they felt more positively toward him…So all of that sounds pretty bad for Trump. But will any of it really matter to Trump’s political standing, in the long run?..The glib answer is “probably not.” We’re a loooong way from the presidential election. And presidential approval ratings, as well as those for congressional leaders, typically rebound within a couple of months of a shutdown ending. A shutdown in October 2013 that caused a steep decline in ratings for congressional Republicans didn’t prevent them from having a terrific midterm in 2014, for instance.”

But Kerry Eleveld points out that “Conventional wisdom is shutdowns don’t have electoral consequences. Trump’s shutdown is different at Daly Kos. “The key difference as this shutdown drags on is that real people are feeling real consequences and real anxiety, with no end in sight. Stories of furloughed federal workers selling personal belongings or dipping into their kids’ college funds in order to pay their bills are spilling out. Some government workers are making horrific life-or-death decisions like choosing between buying food and paying for cancer medication, or rationing their insulin. People who contract with the federal government face the daunting prospect of both covering bills now and never receiving backpay for the work they missed while the government was closed. In addition, everyday Americans are increasingly feeling the effects, with air travelers experiencing excessive TSA lines and farmers, for instance, not being able to get the loans they need to stay in business…this government closure doesn’t have the air of short-lived theatrics that shutdowns past did. Not only is the pain of it reaching further into the heart of America every day, but it reinforces the narrative that has surrounded Trump’s entire presidency: He’s an impetuous and volatile personality who’s disastrously ill-suited for the work of governing.”

Peter Beinart argues that “Nancy Pelosi Is Winning: She beat George W. Bush on Social Security privatization, and she’ll beat Trump on the wall” at The Atlantic. “As in 2005, high-minded centrists are urging Pelosi and the Democrats to compromise…A recent Bloomberg editorialscolded Democrats for wanting “to deny the other [side] anything that might be portrayed as a victory,” and warned that “the only alternative to compromise, now that power in Washington is more equally divided, is paralysis.”…But Pelosi knows that the alternative to Democratic compromise isn’t necessarily paralysis. It may be Democratic triumph. Trump, like Bush, has picked a fight that is popular with conservatives but unpopular with the public at large. Most Americans don’t think there’s a border crisis, don’t support a border wall, and blame Trump for the shutdown. As a result, Republican members of Congress are under more political pressure to back down than their Democratic counterparts, and the longer the shutdown continues, the more that pressure should grow.”

Despite all the polls about the shutdown indicating bad news for the GOP, “House Democrats are frustrated the shutdown is drowning out the rest of their agenda” Dylan Scott reports at Vox. “The shutdown is still an unwelcome distraction and a potential delay on getting to the hard work of moving legislation through committees and onto the House floor. Governing is about priorities and right now there is no bigger priority than opening the government…It is difficult to imagine House Democrats undertaking a major legislative push — like stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, a top campaign promise of many Democrats in 2018 — until federal workers are receiving their paychecks again…It’s not as if the House would have passed Medicare-for-all and a Green New Deal if not for the shutdown. Clearly leaders are taking a very deliberative approach to the coming year, setting up hearings on some of the big-ticket items that progressives want to address while at the same time pursuing more targeted legislation on issues where there is a broad consensus within the party…That behind-the-scenes work is still continuing. But they will have to reopen the government before they can truly take on the role of a full-throated new Democratic majority.”

Nathaniel Frank and Evan Wolfson make the case that “Trump’s Shutdown Is a Historic Opportunity for Democrats” at slate.com. They note that, “while Democrats may be poised to win the short-term political argument over the shutdown, the pain and suffering it has inflicted are part of a long-term right-wing strategy that’s older and broader than many people realize. That strategy involved a decades-long campaign to turn everything from the courts to the Congress to the country’s overall cultural character sharply rightward by stigmatizing forms of collective action—government, unions, even voting—that history shows are necessary counterweights to the greed of the powerful…This long-game effort calls for an equal and opposite strategy: something that will bolster the promising, if disparate, elements of the resistance—mass protests, diverse candidates, grass-roots door-knocking, bold policy ideas—by offering a sustained, deep story about the positive role government plays in American life. To change the narrative effectively, progressives should launch a long-term persuasion campaign designed to restore belief in government…Progressives should cultivate and deploy our best and brightest to share powerful stories of all that Americans have achieved through government: protecting food and water from pollution; building highways, dams, great cities, and a thriving middle class; expanding inclusion, equality, and freedom; literally reaching the moon.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    I totally agree, no negotiating with this bumbling puppet and his traitor party until the government opens, no matter what stunt he pulls today.

    I wish the media would stop trying to update us on the shutdown through 3rd party gossip about the dynamics between Pelosi and the president (and then they complain about their own reporting, Its just so childish!) Why are we supposed to care about any of this? Do these people realize whats happening? No, we’ll get that daily dosage of traitor Mitch McConnell’s smug smile and America’s endless supply of hyper melodramatic commercial social media poison and like it. Everything will be fine.

    Maybe Pelosi knew of a threat to the State of the Union address event. Maybe she was asked to come to Afghanistan? Maybe there’s an awareness now that the GOP has been compromised. They dont seem to care much about security anymore do they. There thing now is abuse and betray.
    Why wouldn’t anyone who was still interested in protecting this country prefer to talk to Nancy Pelosi?
    Too bad the only reaction to the way Obama was being treated by the Republican party was some fascinating commentary on racism in America. Did anyone consider the Republicans were actively turning against the United STates? Lets not get excited. Its just that Obama was black. Get a white person in there and everything will be fine!
    Hopefully its obvious to most people now that “starve the beast” or small government is code for overthrowing it. The GOP is probably taking bids on the White House right now. Very convenient ideology for Russia and the rest to sponsor. yay! dark money wins and squashes free speech from those weak Americans!

  2. Martin Lawford on

    A strong anti-trust plank in the Democratic Platform sounds like a good idea. Had we not allowed the banks to grow so large, especially through deregulation of interstate banking, they would not have been a threat to the economy which was the rationale for the gigantic taxpayer bailout. As it is, we have not only allowed them to grow larger, and hence an even greater threat if they fail, we paid them to do so. We will end up bailing them out again.


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