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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Washington Monthly, TDS contributing editor Andrew Levison proposes “A New Approach for Democrats: Instead of trying to be a single ‘big tent,’ what if the party took a page out of the parliamentarian playbook?” Levison, author of The White Working Class Today, writes, “While Democrats frequently pay lip service to the idea that their party is a “big tent” or a “broad coalition,” they do not seriously grapple with the implications of that view. If you accept the notion that, to win majorities, the Democratic Party must be a “big tent,” then the fundamental challenge facing the party is not one side or another winning a “battle for the soul of the party.” It’s overcoming the obstacles to creating and maintaining the broadest possible Democratic coalition…Consider how coalition management problems tend to be handled in parliamentary systems. Since World War II, there have been a variety of left-of-center coalitions in Europe and Scandinavia. These were composed of several distinct political parties rather than a single “umbrella” or “big tent” organization. Each party had its own distinct identity, including a formal, detailed platform and agenda, as well as a robust and structured system of internal debate and discussion. These distinct parties offered the larger coalition several advantages over an American style “big-tent” approach…Imagine what might happen if the Democratic Party abandoned its identity as an amorphous “big tent,” and instead became a more formal political coalition between two groups.” Read Levison’s article for an in-depth analysis.

Gabriela Resto-Montero reports at vox.com that “Overall, a majority of Americans oppose impeachment with only 37 percent saying they favor starting the process and 56 percent saying they oppose the idea,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Unsurprisingly, support for impeaching President Trump is divided along partisan lines…Most Democrats — 62 percent — support starting impeachment proceedings, and 53 percent of Democrats said they strongly believe the House should begin impeaching Trump. Almost every Republican respondent was against impeachment; 87 percent said they were opposed, with 78 percent saying they were strongly opposed. Independents weren’t largely in favor either, with only 36 percent saying they feel impeachment should begin.”

Sure, the Democrats must proceed with their investigations of Trump’s Russia collusion and justice obstruction. But Matt Ford makes a good argument that “Trump Is Building His Own Case For Impeachment” at The New Republic, arguing “Democrats are debating whether Trump’s actions over the past two years are enough to justify his impeachment. If they decide in the affirmative, they would need to convince America that his threat to the nation’s constitutional order is so great and immediate that the 2020 election is too distant to wait for the nation’s verdict. But Trump might beat them to it…The president doesn’t seem interested in disputing the Democrats’ portrayal of him beyond soundbites like “No obstruction!” If anything, he seems almost eager to prove them right.”

While the WaPo-ABC poll also shows a majority of the public expressing confidence that the Mueller report was fair, many progressives feel that Mueller caved in his conclusions. Bill Maher gives a blistering voice to this view in his latest ‘Real Time’ rant:

Also at Vox, Sean Illing interviews Duke political scientist Ashley Jardina about her new book,  White Identity Politics,   which mines data from a decade of American National Election Studies surveys. Illing notes that “Jardina claims that white Americans — roughly 30 to 40 percent of them — now identify with their whiteness in a politically meaningful way. Importantly, this racial solidarity doesn’t alwaysoverlap with racism, but it does mean that racial identity is becoming a more salient force in American politics.” Illing says “she believes America’s diversification has triggered a host of anxieties about who holds power and who does not, and what she thinks we can do to deal with the problems this anxiety has created.” At one pointy, Jardina notes, “Deep down it’s about this fear that America isn’t going to look like them anymore, that they’ll lose their majority and with it their cultural and political power. It’s also tied up in the belief that whites are experiencing discrimination now.”

In yet another Vox article, P. R. Lockhart warns that “GOP-led states move the war on voting to a new front: voter registration.” Lockhart writes, “Republican lawmakers in a handful of states have introduced measures that would impose stricter rules on voters and voter registration groups, a policy shift that voting rights groups and advocates say could have a chilling effect on upcoming elections and introduce a new wave of voting restrictions in the US…On April 25, the Tennessee state Senate voted to pass a measure that would impose fines and penalties on voter registration groups that submit incomplete forms to the state. And in Texas, legislators are considering a law that would punish people for errors on their voter registration forms or for voting if they are ineligible…The proposals have been strongly condemned by activists and civil rights groups, who argue that the measures are unnecessary and could hamper efforts to mobilize some voters.”

In their Politico article, “Democrats see Biden as wobbly 2020 front-runner: The former veep’s entry into the race opens a more confrontational phase of the campaign,” David Siders and Christopher Cadelago round up his assets and liabilities as a presidential candidate. Among his more important assets: “Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that “if the polls mean anything, there is a great reservoir of goodwill for him…I think Biden, by who he is and what he represents and what he has fought for his entire life, makes a very important contrast to Donald Trump,” Weingarten said.” But Elizabeth Warren, quoted in the article sees Biden as vulnerable on key issues of concern to working-class families, noting “Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies…How did Joe Biden raise so much money in one day? Well, it helps that he hosted a swanky private fundraiser for wealthy donors at the home of the guy who runs Comcast’s lobbying shop.”

So, “Who Takes A Hit Now That Biden’s In The Race?” the FiveThirtyEight stable of commentators shares some thoughts: “natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Maybe almost everyone is negatively impacted in some way, or maybe almost everyone except Elizabeth Warren…For the more moderate white Democrats, like Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, Biden is sort of running adjacent to their lane, if not actually in their lane…He also has a lot of the black vote, so Biden’s candidacy complicates the ability of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker to win South Carolina…If you’re Bernie, now you can’t really call yourself the front-runner. perry (Perry Bacon Jr., senior writer): For all the candidates who are making electability an implicit (O’Rourke, Jay Inslee) or explicit (Klobuchar, Tim Ryan) part of their campaigns, Biden is a very big threat…”

President Obama provided a moving tribute to one of his mentors, former Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who died on Sunday: “In Dick, I saw someone who wasn’t a Republican or Democrat first, but a problem-solver,” Obama said in a statement, “an example of the impact a public servant can make by eschewing partisan divisiveness to instead focus on common ground…For thirty-six years, Richard Lugar proved that pragmatism and decency work—not only in Washington but all over the world.” Though he could often be a tough conservative, Lugar displayed a striking spirit of civility that no other Repubican could match. His 2012 loss of his senate seat may have presaged the transformation of the GOP into the party of the ‘White Walkers’ we see today. We can’t really liken Trump to ‘The Night King,’ who doesn’t run his mouth all day and half the night. But Mitch McConnell’s offer to serve as “the grim reaper” for needed legislative reforms is close enough.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    I think Andrew Levison’s idea for coalition management is the way to go

    “Typically, Democrats seek unity by blurring distinctions and disagreements between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic coalition, seeking instead a kind of lowest common denominator. But, as the outline above paradoxically suggests, the way to enhance unity between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party might be to sharpen the distinctions between the party’s two wings rather than obscuring them.”

    “The existence of two formal groups within the party would allow both to more clearly distinguish and promote their distinct perspectives. And, once established in the minds of voters, these groups would force the GOP to attack them separately. A Progressive or Heartland Democrat could convincingly rebuff false GOP attempts to associate him or herself with proposals to which he or she did not agree by pointing to the national platform of his or her chosen group.”

    “The current mindset of a single all-encompassing struggle for “the soul of the party” has stifled the Democrats’ creative thinking. But a great many exciting possibilities come to mind when we liberate ourselves from the constraints of that mindset and begin to think about the task of managing a broad coalition instead.”


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