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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein sees three political trends deepening as a result of the Republicans decision to double-down on backing Trump, even after the Mueller report: “The electoral bet embodied in this choice is to bind the party’s fate tightly to Trump’s. His tumultuous presidency has accelerated and deepened three political trends that predated him. One is to solidify the Republican hold on what I’ve called the “coalition of restoration”: older, blue-collar, and evangelical whites. The second is to alienate the most ardent elements of the Democratic coalition: young people and minorities. The third is to weaken the Republican position with college-educated, white-collar white voters, particularly in the suburbs surrounding major metropolitan areas…The Mueller report may not dislodge significant elements of Trump’s electoral coalition, some of whom thrill to his behavior and others who accept it in the same implicit bargain as do Republicans in Congress. But it seems highly likely to reinforce the doubts of the nearly 55 percent of Americans who expressed unease, if not outright revulsion, about him as president through their votes for other candidates in the 2016 election and for Democrats in the 2018 House races.”

At Vox, Ezra Klein comments on Democratic strategy in the wake of the Mueller report: “As I understand the House Democrats’ plan, it’s to use the Mueller report to launch investigations, send out subpoenas, and hold public hearings. All of that could lead to revelations that tilt the public toward impeachment, it could prove that the public doesn’t consider these revelations important enough to merit impeachment, or it could simply inform the public to help them make a decision in the 2020 election…Either way, it keeps the focus on Trump’s crimes and his lies, rather than overwhelming that conversation with a debate over removing Trump from office at a time when there’s no prospect of marshaling the votes to actually remove him from office. It seems like a reasonable strategy to me.”

“Eight House Republicans, including the three from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, have been named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of incumbents expected to face tough re-elections, notes Simone Pathe at Roll Call. “Only one of the eight Republicans on the initial list is in a race rated a Toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The rest are in contests rated as tilting, leaning or likely to remain Republican. The eight endangered Republicans include: Michigan Rep. Fred Upton; Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon; New York Rep. Lee Zeldin; New York Rep. John Katko; Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick; Texas Rep. Michael McCaul; Texas Rep. Pete Olson; Texas Rep. Will Hurd; Texas Rep. John Carter; and Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

“To understand Pennsylvania’s fast-changing political geography, look no further than Tom Killion. After Democrats recently flipped six state Senate seats in the suburbs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Killion is one of the chamber’s last Republicans standing in those areas — and target No. 1 for Democrats in 2020…Located in Pennsylvania’s southeastern corner, Killion’s district is part of the heavily populated and politically moderate suburbs of Philadelphia. Once a bastion of Republican power, voter registration has shifted to favor Democrats over the past couple of decades, and Trump’s election seemed to accelerate Republican losses and bolster Democrats’ political activism there…Last year, the suburbs roared again , flipping three congressional seats outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to Democrats. Victories in state legislative races exceeded the expectations of Democratic strategists, and gave the party a majority of suburban Philadelphia’s seats for the first time in modern history.” Republicans are worried: “They’re so angry at Trump that they’re just pulling the straight D lever in the general election,” Killion said.” — from “As suburbs roar, Pennsylvania Democrats pick top 2020 target” by AP’s Marc Levy in The Morning Call.

Writing at npr.org, Ashley Lopez, Brett Jaspers and Sergio Martinez-Beltran have an update on GOP suppression laws, “After Democrats Surged In 2018, Republican-Run States Eye New Curbs On Voting,” which notes that “After high turnout in last year’s midterm elections propelled Democrats to a new House majority and big gains in the states, several Republican-controlled state legislatures are attempting to change voting-related rules in ways that might reduce future voter turnout…In Texas, state lawmakers are considering adding criminal penalties for people who improperly fill out voter registration forms. Arizona Republicans are proposing new voting rules that could make it more complicated to cast an early ballot. In Tennessee, GOP lawmakers are considering a bill that would fine groups involved in voter registration drives that submit incomplete forms…If enacted, these proposals could have an impact on future elections, especially in Arizona and Texas, where demographic and political trends are making both states more competitive on the national level for the first time in decades.” Read the article for more details on each proposal.

Heather Digby Parton has a warning for Democrats at salon.com. Noting the decay of accountability since the Watergate scandal, Parton writes “I hate to say it, but the Democrats have been accomplices. Throughout this anything-goes evolution in our political culture, they have played their own brand of politics. They accuse the Republicans of being craven and unethical for enabling Donald Trump, yet when faced with scathing bill of indictment in Robert Mueller’s report, they are openly calculating whether doing their duty will work to their advantage or not. They have become partners in this scheme that allows the Republicans to sink to ever greater depredations, and always seem to find a reason not to stop them…We have reached a turning point in this ongoing crisis. If someone as obvious and inept as Trump can get away with all this, imagine what a competent authoritarian demagogue could do. Allowing Trump to just ride out his term and perhaps even win another one — which is entirely conceivable, I’m sorry to say — could be catastrophic. If Democrats refuse to take the risk of changing this dynamic once and for all, someone much smarter and stronger than Donald Trump is going to come along, very soon, and take advantage of the destruction of our political culture to fundamentally change our democracy in ways we will not be able to fix. At some point there will be no way to “right the ship” anymore. It will be sunk…If Democrats don’t take a stand this time, it’s very likely they won’t get another chance.”

Concern about the Trump campaign’s realtionship with Russians cerainly merits intense media scrutiny and reporting. But if you want to get up to speed on the disturbing relationship between Trump and  Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. read “The Other Collusion Scandal” by Paul Gottinger and Daniel Kelman at The Progressive. An excerpt: “During the first two years of his presidency, Trump’s foreign policy has lined up tightly with the interests of the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman. In a remarkable number of instances, Trump has sided with these two crown princes over his own State Department, intelligence officials, and even Cabinet members…Like Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have repressive autocratic governments with atrocious human rights records; however, unlike Russia, these two countries have enormous wealth and can operate under the cover of being U.S. allies.”

Among the many insights provided by Gene Sperling’s article, “Economic Dignity” at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas: “If we are to seek an economic metric worthy of serving as an economic North Star, it would have to analyze the cumulative impact of the economy and economic policy on human well-being. The 2009 Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance led by Joseph Stiglitz, Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi explicitly sought to start a global discussion of how best to measure quality of life and well-being, and not just GDP—a project Stiglitz and the OECD have continued. While there is no escaping qualitative judgements in defining an economic dignity goal, if we’re in search of a more meaningful metric, it would be an evolving “Economic Dignity Index” that looked at the various end impacts on human well-being: health care, college opportunity, second chances, affordable housing, environmental quality, and worker participation.”

in his article, “How to Win” at Dissent, Nelson Lichtenstein provides some instrucrive obseevations, including: “On the one hand, something is stirring in the land. The red-state teacher strikes, the Democratic sweep in the 2018 midterms, the Los Angeles teachers’ historic victory in early January, and the organizing success unions have enjoyed among millennial wordsmiths in media, both dead tree and on the web, testify to the spread of the union idea in even the most unexpected venues. In 2018 more workers took part in strikes than in any year since 1986. Fully 62 percent of Americans support unions, according to a recent Gallup poll, a number that has increased 14 points over the last decade…The 2018 election reinforced the critical role unions play in electing progressive, pro-worker candidates. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, union-household voters made up 25 percent of the electorate and helped sweep Democrats to victory up and down the ballot…Without unions to institutionalize them, waves of activism dissipate. The energy that went into the first Obama campaign evaporated after the thrilling election celebrations. The Occupy movement in 2011 fizzled when the tents cleared. And the contemporary anti-Trump resistance lacks an organizational structure independent of the people it has put into office. In contrast, effective trade unionism contributes not only to the mobilization of voters at the climax of a campaign season, but in the aftermath as well, when the political and organizational trench warfare continues in a large array of legislative chambers, administrative agencies, and community political institutions…”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Heather Digby Parton has the right idea but the wrong example. A better example is Barack Obama deciding to let criminal bygones be bygones from the Bush administration. I understand not wanting to derail your agenda, but you don’t swear an oath to an agenda. You swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. That’s first priority.

    And now we see what happens. If criminal behavior goes unpunished because we want to move on, the next time is worse. Bush the Younger’s crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan were far worse that Reagan/Bush the Elder’s in Iran\Contra. Similarly, Trump’s crimes are far worse than Bush the Younger’s.

    To stop this cycle, punishment has to happen. People have to go to prison. You’re not going to win an impeachment trial, so that won’t be punishment, in the end. But when Trump is out, if the next president does NOT pursue a criminal indictment against him, then the next Republican will be worse.

    Why not? You get more of what you want without paying a price.


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