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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Chandelis Duster reports at CNN Politics that “Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar called for immediate action from Democrats in the wake of the US Supreme Court allowing Texas’ restrictive abortion law to stand and said the filibuster should be abolished in order to codify abortion rights protections….”Now and over the next years, we just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place,” the Minnesota Democrat, who has previously come out against ending the filibuster to address issues like voting rights and climate change, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday….”I do not believe an archaic rule should be used to allow us to put our heads in the sand — to use Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor’s words — to put our heads in the sand and not take action on the important issues,” Klobuchar said, calling the Texas law and the Supreme Court’s response “an assault on women’s health.” Duster notes that “even if a bill on the issue were to pass in the House it is likely to face hurdles in the Senate where Democrats hold a narrow majority and 60 votes are required to break the filibuster. There is no indication 10 Republican senators would side with them on the issue.” While Klobuchar has supported abolishing the filibuster before, she may be amplifying her support for it, now that the lines on reproductive rights are more starkly drawn on the Supreme Court. As one of the most influential Senators of the Democratic center-left, Klobuchar will be a key player in filibuster reform, if and when Dems near the actual senate majority threshold on the issue. The moral argument for filibuster reform was strong based on voting right alone, long before the High Court ruling on Texas abortions. A potentially-powerful coalition for filibuster reform composed of women’s and voting rights advocates at both the state and national levels looks increasingly like an idea whose time is arriving.

Voting rights and pro-choice activists have generally supported each other’s causes, verbally in the past. But could a more formal coalition lead by the two groups have a more significant impact? Instead of just giving verbal assent to each other’s causes, what might happen if the two groups took a more synergistic approach and pooled resources, engaged in joint media events, fund-raising and stepped up joint lobbying? For too long, pro-democratic groups have focused narrowly on their particular reform projects, often with limited results. Imagine what could happen, for example, if Sens. Sinema and Manchin had to frequently meet with voting and reproductive rights activists in their home and Washington offices. Martin Luther King, Jr. provided some useful guidelines for the creation of such productive alliances: “A true alliance is based upon some self-interest of each component group and a common interest into which they merge. For an alliance to have permanence and loyal commitment from its various elements, each of them must have a goal from which it benefits and none must have an outlook in basic conflict with the others….If we employ the principle of selectivity along these lines, we will find millions of allies who in serving themselves also support us, and on such sound foundations unity and mutual trust and tangible accomplishment will flourish….But the scope of struggle is still too narrow and too restricted. We must turn more of our energies and focus our creativity on the useful things that translate into power.”

As with many issues, you can cherry-pick polls on abortion and frame questions to score points for either side. But the national polling evidence that the Texas legislature has gone too far in restricting abortions of compelling. As Amelia Thomson-Deveaux writes at FiveThirtyEight, “According to the polling we have now, the answer is far from clear. On the one hand, a majority of Americans have consistently said that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that established a constitutional right to abortion, should not be overturned. But many also support a wide range of specific restrictions on abortion, some of which contradict the Supreme Court’s standards for when and how states can regulate the procedure. That said, public opinion hasn’t really shifted on the issue even though abortion access has steadily eroded in wide swaths of the country over the past 10 years. But the fact that the Texas law directly attacks abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy — when the procedure is both most supported and most common — could galvanize public outrage in a way that past restrictions have not…For decades, Americans have broadly opposed overturning Roe v. Wade — despite escalating attempts by anti-abortion advocates to turn public opinion against legal abortion. As the chart below shows, 58 percent of Americans were against overturning Roe when Gallup last asked the question in May, the same share who wanted to keep the case on the books back in 1989….According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, 19 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, while almost twice as many (32 percent) think it should be legal in all circumstances. But most (48 percent) fall in between, saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances….while Texas and other states have imposed plenty of other restrictions on abortion, this will cut off access significantly earlier than any other restriction since Roe was decided almost 50 years ago. And that’s the key distinction. Up until now, abortion restrictions have been fairly slow and piecemeal. But now women in Texas have lost access to abortion in most cases essentially overnight.”

You google ‘Labor Day,” and it’s depressing how many of the entries that pop up address store closings and grilling tips, and how few focus on the challenges facing workers, their families and the future of the labor movement. Many people probably don’t even know that the AFL-CIO has a new president, Liz Shuler – the first woman to lead the Federation and speak for America’s workers. At Politico, Eleanor Mueller reports on Shuler’s background and explores her vision. An excerpt: “Shuler is the organization’s first female leader, a historic moment for organized labor in the U.S. She will serve as the nation’s top union official until summer 2022, when the AFL-CIO’s 50-plus affiliates can gather for their annual convention to vote on a permanent successor….Shuler — who confirmed she will run for reelection in 2022 — said in an interview she hoped her appointment “signals that the labor movement is modernizing, and open to reflecting the change that’s happening with our country,” adding that “it is time for women to step up into leadership.”….”That’s what I hope to reflect: the hard work, dedication and tenacity of women all across this country and workplaces who are toiling behind the scenes and also leading strikes and picketlines, and for them to see their rightful place in this movement,” she said….Shuler’s confirmation comes at a crucial time for the federation and its 12 million members. With the union membership rate about half what it was in the 1980s, the organization is at a crossroads: Leadership must decide whether to maintain Trumka’s near-laser focus on passing the pro-union Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or to step into a broader role in support of the labor movement by pouring resources into building membership….”The most important thing we could be focusing on is unity,” Shuler said. “We have these 56 different unions around the table with different ideas and perspectives and cultures and opinions, and it’s our job to unify that into a force that’s undeniable for the rights and protections of working people in this country. We know that we can do that.” Restoring the strength of the labor movement should be a top priority for Democrats, who have benefitted from union contributions and political activism. Shuler brings both experience and a long-overdue focus on women’s issues in the workplace to help mobilize the new generation of America’s workers.

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