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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes about the Democratic challenge regarding congressional action on President Biden’s physical and social infrastructure legislation: “In times of turmoil, I often turn to Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), who doubles as an experienced lawmaker and a political scientist whose book “The Congressional Experience” is now in its fourth edition. A moderate with progressive instincts, Price is above all an institutionalist who believes that politicians in a democracy have a duty — to their constituents and their party — to govern effectively….“What is the moral obligation that comes from holding an office, of being a member of Congress?” he asked when I spoke with him on Wednesday. “The responsibility to understand that successful institutional performance is at least as important, perhaps more important, than fighting for your own particular positions….His solution to the current impasse? “Senators Manchin and Sinema have an obligation to the rest of us to state their position. It’s impossible for us to negotiate if they don’t either give a top-line number or say what they want to cut,” he said. “But if they do provide that, it’s then an obligation of progressives to show some forbearance, to support the physical infrastructure bill — which we should be proud of — and then negotiate on the larger bill.”…This is the only way to keep what began as a bracing effort at social reform from turning terribly sour.”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes, “In just the past week, the casualty count of Democratic priorities doomed by the filibuster has mounted; both police and immigration reform now appear to be blocked in the Senate, and legislation codifying abortion rights faces equally dim prospects. Simultaneously, the party has tied itself in knots attempting to squeeze its economic agenda into a single, sprawling “reconciliation” bill, because that process offers the only protection against a GOP filibuster. Meanwhile, legislation establishing a new federal floor for voting rights, the party’s top priority after the reconciliation bill, remains stalled in the Senate under threat of another GOP filibuster. And then, this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell raised the temperature even higher by leading a Republican filibuster that has blocked Democratic efforts to raise the nation’s debt ceiling….“On voting rights, budget, and reconciliation, potential economic calamity [over the debt ceiling]—this is a very clarifying few weeks,” says Eli Zupnick, a spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a liberal group advocating for ending the filibuster. “Our hope is this will culminate in Democrats finally realizing they cannot keep preserving this weapon that McConnell can use to derail their agenda and hurt President Biden’s ability to govern.””

Brownstein continues, “Democrats now have unified control of government but remain stymied on many issues by their refusal to confront the disaster of the filibuster. By the time a new generation of Democrats summons the will and consensus to reconsider the rule, the party could lose its control of government. Either scenario leaves them unable to pass the party priorities. Once that window shuts, it might not reopen for some time. If Democrats lose either the House or the Senate in 2022, it could take years before they again control both chambers and the White House—especially if they fail to pass voting-rights legislation counteracting the laws and congressional gerrymanders that red states are passing to tilt the electoral playing field toward the GOP….Given the parliamentary dynamics of the modern Congress on vivid display this fall, a Senate vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster seems almost inevitable in the next few years: It’s an anachronism in a system defined by greater cohesion within the parties and more conflict between them. The real question may be whether Democrats dismantle it themselves now, or watch as Republicans do it the next time they hold unified control of Congress and the White House.”

“If 90 percent of voters are choosing parties rather than candidates,” Democratic consultant Hal Malchow asks in his article, “How the Democratic Party’s campaign strategy is failing America” at The Hill, “why are we spending all of our advertising dollars to distinguish candidates? …Convincing a voter to cast a ballot for a candidate is a one-time decision affecting one election contest in one year. Getting a voter to move party allegiance might be a hundred times more valuable….If voters are voting straight tickets, then a change of party usually affects every candidate on the ballot. But the benefit is larger still. Analysis in states with party registration suggests that a decision to register with a political party is a decision that lasts in excess of 30 years. A Democracy Fund study showed that between 2012 and 2017, 13 percent of voters changed their party registration or, 2.6 percent per year. If that is the average party switching percentage per year, then the average length of a party registration would be 38 years. If an independent or a Republican becomes a Democrat, the decision could benefit Democratic candidates up and down the ballot possibly for three decades or more.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. MartinLawford on

    “Yes, we are blocking judges by filibuster. That is part of the hallowed process around here of the Founding Fathers saying the Senate is the cooling saucer. We do not work as quickly as the House. We are not as restricted as the House. That is how it was intended to be.” (Sen. Chuck Schumer, Speech On The Floor Of The U.S. Senate, 11/6/03)

    “Without the 60-vote threshold for legislation, the Senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the House, much more subject to the winds of short-term electoral change. No Senator would like to see that happen so let’s find a way to further protect the 60-vote rule for legislation.” (Sen. Schumer, Speech On The Floor Of The U.S. Senate, 4/07/17)
    “Well, I can tell you that would be the end of the Senate as it was originally devised and created going back to our Founding Fathers. We have to acknowledge our respect for the minority, and that is what the Senate tries to do in its composition and in its procedure.” (ABC, Sen. Durban Interview 1/21/18)

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