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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Amelia Thomson-Deveaux explains “Why Democrats Are Moving Quickly With Impeachment: A battle in the courts could spill into primary season” at FiveThirtyEight: “House Democrats are running out of time. With a little over three months to go before the beginning of primary season, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Monday that the House will hold its first formal vote of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Thursday, signaling that the investigation, which has taken place almost entirely behind closed doors so far, is about to go public. This is an important step in expediting the proceedings, especially if Democrats are trying to avoid an impeachment process that stretches into an election year. But it’s also a sign that even after a judge ruled that their investigation was legal, Democrats aren’t waiting on the courts to help bolster their inquiry…Democrats seem to think the information they’ve already gathered is damning enough to present to the American people without pressing for further testimony — and we’ll soon see whether the public will find their case convincing.”

“Why would President Trump’s hardcore defenders think the best way to defend a floundering leader is to hurl repulsive dual-loyalty charges at a decorated Army combat veteran who feels an obligation to tell the truth to Congress?,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. asks in his Washington Post column. “The vile assault on Vindman is designed to muddle a factual record highly damaging to the president. But it’s aimed at the Trump niche, roughly a quarter of Americans who will follow Trump’s lead on almost everything. This is a case of polarization and fragmentation reinforcing each other…The standard answer to such questions focuses on political polarization, and there sure is a lot of it going around: left vs. right, urban vs. rural, religious vs. secular, young vs. old, prosperous vs. left-behind, pro-immigrant vs. anti-immigrant…Polarization is deepened because many of these identities reinforce one another these days. To pick just one example underscored by recent studies from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Pew Research Center: Christian conservatives rally to the Republican Party while the secular are overwhelmingly Democrats…But another factor that we talk about far less is feeding the chaos: fragmentation…Taken together, polarization and niche politics make it very hard to forge the consensus required to solve problems and move democracies forward.”

“But is the Trumpist attack on Vindman really so unprecedented?,” Jeet Heer observes at The Nation. “There’s a long, sordid history of the political right hurling mud at soldiers in the service of partisanship. Nor should this surprise us. One of the core convictions of the political right is that they are the embodiment of the true America. If you start from that premise, then anybody who challenges the right, even a decorated soldier, is disloyal. Patriotism, in this view, can never be guaranteed by mere heroic service; it always has to be maintained by ideological fidelity…Trump’s critics are baffled by how Republicans who claim to love our troops can tolerate such cruel disrespect of soldiers and their families. But this misunderstands the nature of right-wing patriotism—or, rather, right-wing nationalism. For the right-wing nationalist, leaders like Trump are the essence of the nation, the living avatar of American identity…A figure like Vindman is useful for providing evidence for impeaching Trump, but the larger battle against Trumpism requires an articulation of a full-bodied patriotism that draws on shared ideals that go beyond individual heroism.”

Clearly it takes extraordinary political leaders to meet that challenge. One of the most inspiring Democrats shows how it is done in this clip:

But how do we get there? At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein quotes Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “It would be better for Democrats to “begin with where we have agreement,” she said. “Let’s not start with: ‘You have private insurance—forget about it.’” She wants to begin by bolstering the Affordable Care Act, adding a public competitor to private insurance, and restoring provisions in the law that Trump has weakened. “Maybe Medicare for All is a destination,” Pelosi said. “But it’s certainly not a starting point.”

Mother Jones columnist Kevin Drum agrees with the principle. In his post, “What If We Can’t Get Medicare for All?,” Drum writes, “Like most lefties, I would like the United States to adopt true universal health care. This has been my position for, oh, 30 or 40 years. However, I also accept the reality that this will never happen in one grand swoop. That’s why I was—and am—a big supporter of Obamacare, warts and all…So if I were president and had to propose health care reform that actually had some chance of passing, what would it be? I’d go with a two-prong approach: “Lower the Medicare age to 55” and “Add Medicare as a public option to Obamacare.” Drum concedes that “Perhaps Medicare reimbursement rates would have to go up,” but adds, “Employers could keep their current private-sector plans if they wanted to, or they could enroll their employees in Medicare. The federal government would make Medicare available at its cost.” Me, I’d throw in some language that protects homes and retirement assets from medical bill lawsuits.

In their article, “Election 2019 Mega-Preview: Political Conformity Seeks Further Confirmation: Looking ahead to next week’s elections in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia; House ratings changes,” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write that “Nationalized politics points to a Democratic edge in next week’s Virginia state legislative elections, and a Republican advantage in the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial races…Yet, there remains uncertainty in all of those key contests as local factors test the durability of larger partisan trends…Unrelated to next week’s action, we have two House rating changes to announce, both benefiting Republicans. The pending CA-25 special election moves from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic following Rep. Katie Hill’s (D) decision to resign, and Rep. Conor Lamb (D, PA-17) moves from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic…However, what appears to be a pending court-ordered congressional remap in North Carolina should benefit Democrats.”

Rafael Bernal reports at The Hill that “House Democrats aiming to flip six House seats in Texas in 2020 have commissioned a study meant to help the party increase the Latino vote…In a memo obtained by The Hill, consulting firm Latino Decisions outlined a strategy to pursue Hispanic voters who currently don’t vote, based on five focus groups conducted in Dallas and Houston…Hispanic voters nationwide have historically registered at lower rates than those of other demographic groups, leading to lower participation numbers…In Texas, that trend was partially reversed in the 2018 midterms, when Hispanic participation numbers approached presidential election levels; in some heavily Hispanic counties, participation rose nearly 300 percent over the 2014 midterms…According to Latino Decisions, there are 403,000 Hispanic residents who are able to vote but are not registered in the eight target districts, and 283,000 registered voters who did not vote in 2018…And Latino Decisions found Hispanic voters are responsive to “kitchen table” issues — particularly health care — but are also receptive to messages on President Trump‘s rhetoric, immigration policy and anti-immigrant violence like the August El Paso shooting, where a gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others.”

Casey Michel has some choice words about Trump’s assertion that ” I don’t care about politics, but I do care about corruption” at The New Republic: “Trump’s affection for chicanery is hardly a recent phenomenon. If one can stomach a re-examination of his pre-presidency days, his latter-day turn as a reality-television charlatan was preceded by a long career as a developer drenched in dirty money. This is a man whose business dealings with the corrupt and the crooked are legion; a man whose entire business model rested in large part upon attracting the stolen, illicit funds washing through, and propping up, America’s luxury real estate market over the previous two decades…Trump’s corrupt practices, predilections, and preferences are far too numerous to tally. But they all point in one clear direction: That any claim he makes to being concerned about kleptocratic cronyism in Ukraine is nothing but a cover for the unprecedented sacrificing of our national interests at the altar of the president’s political fortunes. Trump knows, lives, and breathes corruption, in every sense, and in every facet.”

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