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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“He was a militant civil rights leader and a preacher of the Christian Gospel,” E. J. Dionne, J. writes in his Washington Post column. “He was a believer in racial concord and an agitator — in the best sense of that word — against the racism that permeated our institutions. He believed in the conversion of adversaries, but getting there often required confrontation and discomfort. King was far more a “both/and” figure than an either/or, yet the capaciousness of his worldview did not stop him from drawing clear moral lines.” And at Time, William J. Barber II writes at Newsweek, “As the nation honors Dr. King and the civil rights movement’s legacy, Democrats are hoping against the longest odds that they can unite to push back against an assault on democracy that the President calls “Jim Crow 2.0….The Beloved Community that Dr. King preached and organized toward wasn’t just an America where Black, white and brown could sit down in a restaurant together. It was the hope of a political system where the Black, white and brown masses could vote together for leaders who serve the common good….Jim Crow always had a purpose: preventing the multiethnic voting coalition that could create a more equal society….No one would put this much energy into suppressing our votes if a multiethnic coalition did not have the potential to change this nation. This MLK weekend, we must resolve to do what Dr. King noted our foreparents did during Reconstruction: unite and build a great society.”

From “Chuck Schumer’s Last Chance on Voting Rights: The talking filibuster is something the majority leader can produce—and it just might help democracy” by Bill Scher at Washington Monthly: “Democrats can’t pass their voting rights bills without bending or breaking the filibuster, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says they will try to do by next week. Exactly how is not clear. According to Politico, “Democrats are oscillating between voting on a talking filibuster or a carveout for elections reform.” Why are they torn? “Some Democrats want to preserve significant sway for the minority and prefer a talking filibuster. That would still allow the minority to gum up the Senate for weeks, but senators would have to hold the floor to do so to stop a vote at a majority threshold. Others prefer the carveout, which would allow a quicker majority vote but pare back minority rights too much for some.”….This is an easy choice if you know two things. One, Democrats don’t have the votes to change the Senate’s rules by majority vote. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona oppose such parliamentary hardball, with Sinema on Thursday forcefully declaring her support for keeping “the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.” Two, Schumer can bring back the talking filibuster without any vote at all….I’m not arguing that the talking filibuster is going to fix all the Democrats’ problems. I’ve shared my concerns about the potential unintended consequences of the talking filibuster, which are illustrated by the 1988 example. Just because you make the minority talk doesn’t mean the minority will budge. And when the minority can clog the floor, no other Senate business can be accomplished—no legislation, no executive branch appointments, no judicial confirmations….But right now, what is on the Democrats’ to-do list that’s so pressing? Build Back Better is stuck. Biden has 26 pending judicial nominations, but they can wait until the end of the year (so long as no Democratic senator dies from one of the nine states where the replacement could be a Republican). What better time to have a knock-down, drag-out?”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein writes, “With the Republican-appointed majority on the U.S. Supreme Court showing little inclination to restrain state actions—and in fact encouraging them through landmark decisions in 2013 and 2021 that weakened the federal Voting Rights Act—the failure to pass new national standards this year could clear the path for years of escalating GOP restrictions….Advocates also identify a second essential front: accountability for the efforts to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in the assault on the Capitol….frustration is growing at the failure of state and federal law enforcement to prosecute the Trump supporters behind a rising tide of physical threats against state and local election officials. (Reuters has documented more than 800 such threats in 12 states.)….with polls showing Trump’s continued appeal to the party rank and file, leaders such as Graham and Representative Kevin McCarthy quickly pivoted to stress the importance of making peace with the former president. Business groups quietly resumed contributions to the objecting legislators. (One study released this morning found that corporations have now donated more than $18 million to congressional Republicans who voted to reject the election results last January.)….Business leaders in states such as Arizona and Texas helped block some of the most extreme voter-suppression measures, and a nationwide coalition called Business for Voting Rights, which includes prominent companies such as Target, Google, and Dell, has endorsed federal voting-rights legislation. But none of the biggest national umbrella trade-business associations closely allied with the GOP, such as the Business Roundtable or the National Association of Manufacturers, has joined that effort; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a statement opposing H.R. 1 and instead called for a national bipartisan commission to study voting rules. As Kristol notes, “All the notions there would be a solid front, the business community, the Wall Street Journaleditorial page, the national-security people, saying ‘This is it,’ this is the moment when they step up,” have failed to materialize.”

In his New York times column, “The Gender Gap Is Taking Us to Unexpected Places,” Thomas B. Edsall shares some statistics and analysis that may have important implications for Democratic political strategy: “In one of the most revealing studies in recent years, a 2016 surveyof 137,456 full-time, first-year students at 184 colleges and universities in the United States, the U.C.L.A. Higher Education Research Institute found “the largest-ever gender gap in terms of political leanings: 41.1 percent of women, an all-time high, identified themselves as liberal or far left, compared to 28.9 percent of men.”….The data on college students reflects trends in the electorate at large. The Pew Research Center provided The Times with survey data showing that among all voters, Democrats are 56 percent female and 42 percent male, while Republicans are 52 percent male and 48 percent female, for a combined gender gap of 18 points. Pew found identical gender splits among voters who identify as liberal and those who identify as conservative….“Significant gender differences in party identification have been evident since the early 1980s,” according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, which provides data on the partisanship of men and women from 1952 to the present day….It’s clear from all this that the political engagement of women is having a major impact on the social order, often in ways that are not fully understood.” The data would be more useful if it included race and education. But it’s not too big of a stretch to infer that Democrats could benefit from having more women candidates, particularly those who can connect with working-class voters.

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Every time we get to a point like this, someone brings up the talking filibuster as a cure-all

    This is stupid.

    It means all 50 Democrats have to be on the floor at all times while Republicans can send down one guy for a few hours. If they take turns, that guy doesn’t have to come back to the floor for a couple of weeks. Furthermore, all of the TV airtime is saturated with nothing but the viewpoints (and lies) of the opposition.

    Unless you can require 40 Republicans to be on the floor at all times, the filibuster is intrinsically tilted toward the opposition. Talking turns a tilt into a list.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    “…it’s not too big of a stretch to infer that Democrats could benefit from having more women candidates…”

    It is even more obvious that the Democrats could benefit from having more male voters. Why don’t they have them and how can they get them?


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