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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps,” Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write at The Hill,  “While President Biden‘s Build Back Better Act still has a tough road in the Senate, House Democrats have already begun holding a series of roundtable discussions, site visits, in-person and virtual town halls and news conferences across the country highlighting individual pieces of the roughly $2 trillion package….The idea is to break it up into smaller bite-size chunks — things like child care, climate change, education, health care and help for seniors — that will make the 2,135-page bill easier for voters and constituents to digest and understand how it directly impacts their lives….”There are some challenges. I think we never messaged effectively the American Rescue Plan. I think we have to do it bit by bit,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior member of the Ways and Means and Budget committees who is planning separate events focused specifically on child care and students….“So given the size and scope of the bill, the messaging of it cannot be done in a day or a week,” he said. “It’ll have to be spread out, and do it with people whose lives really will be affected by what we do.”….Vulnerable Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a mother of three, has done local TV interviews focused on her top priorities in the bill: universal preschool and the one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit….And at a Phoenix pharmacy this week, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) joined patient advocates at a health care-themed news conference, highlighting how Build Back Better empowers Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some prescription drugs, expands Medicaid coverage and allocates $150 billion for home care for seniors and people with disabilities…..[Rep. Sean Patrick] Maloney recently gave a pep talk to colleagues at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where he unveiled internal polling numbers showing that Democrats are only 2 percentage points behind Republicans in a generic ballot across battleground districts — suggesting his party has plenty of time to make up the difference if they message Build Back Better effectively.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne explains why “The hypocrisy argument on the filibuster is itself phony,” and notes, “Because every Republican senator voted against the Freedom to Vote Act last month — and all but one opposed even debating the John Lewis voting rights bill this month — no bill that would do anything worthwhile can reach the 60-vote threshold required to overcome the filibuster….Reforming the filibuster is the only way Democrats can pass the voting guarantees favored by civil rights groups and democracy advocates. It’s the only way they can undo the voter suppression and election subversion laws that have been passed in more than a dozen GOP-controlled states since 2020. It’s the only way to dismantle wildly partisan gerrymanders…..No Democrat or progressive whohas flipped on the filibuster is pretending they didn’t. They are quite clear in saying versions of what the Senate arch-traditionalist Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said in 1979: Rules that seemed appropriate in the past “must be changed to reflect changed circumstances.”….The loudest critic of changing filibuster rules now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was happy to junk the filibuster in 2017 in his quest to pack the Supreme Court with conservatives. Seems pretty hypocritical to me.”

Dionne continues, “There are two big reasons why senators should vote to reform the filibuster, no matter their past views. The first is institutional: What started out as an unusual practice to extend debate has become a routine method for blocking the will of the majority. To put it starkly: Abuse of the filibuster is wrecking the Senate….A 2020 report from the Brennan Center for Justice nicely summarized just how radical the shift has been on the use and abuse of the filibuster. “There have been as many cloture motions in the last 10 years (959),” wrote senior fellow Caroline Fredrickson, “as there were during the 60-year period from 1947 to 2006 (960).”….But the core reason the filibuster must be reformed is the moral imperative of passing bills to defend democracy. It confronts multiple challenges: to the right to vote; the right to have votes counted without political interference; and the right of voters to select their representatives — and not have politicians do it by drawing wildly partisan district boundaries….Should Democrats, including President Biden, allow these things to happen by claiming that the filibuster renders them powerless, they will be guilty of a more profound hypocrisy. If it fails to act, the party that won power in 2020 as the bulwark of democracy and civil rights will be saying that these commitments matter less than fealty to an outdated, dysfunctional practice that has been altered repeatedly in pursuit of far less noble goals.”

Some comments from David Pepper, former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman and author of “Laboratories of Autocracy,” during his interview by David Neiwert at Daily Kos: “…There were a lot of people who rigged these districts in 2011 after Karl Rove was very sadly adept at targeting statehouses to flip….Ohio is this glaring case study of what happens when you’ve had that for a generation, but sadly, Missouri or Tennessee or Florida, they’re all seeing the same thing as Ohio is….It was on the third time of trying they succeeded in getting rid of the week where people both vote and register at the same time. It took them three tries. But if there’s never accountability, they just keep pushing and pushing….We often have one bad cycle, we quit, we fire everybody, we start over. Stacey Abrams told us, even when she lost her governor’s race for a lot of reasons that she explained were really illegitimate, she gained progress in that loss. She registered people. She fired up people, and that progress carried over to ’20 in a way that we turned Georgia blue, just like running in every single statehouse district in every state. You’re going to lose most of those races. We know that, but we should celebrate the fact that we’re running in every district because every one of those candidates will register voters….They will have higher turnout, and maybe in two or four years, if they do it again, and we’ve seen this in states like Virginia, they win the next race….So we’ve got to define it as a long game, and that means you see progress even in tough years if you’re doing it right, and we’ve seen that in Ohio. We’ve seen that in other states, and the other thing we got to do—back to the broader politics—there are multiple elections that impact democracy.”

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