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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Dems Can Win More Young Voters – Without Congress

Ed Burmilla shares some creative ideas for “How Biden Can Save Democracy From the GOP” at The Nation.

Experience indicates that, with few exceptions, midterm election outcomes are reliably linked to the incumbent President’s approval rate. Noting that “Biden’s approval rating has plummeted among younger voters more than among any other group. Sanctimonious lectures about the obligation to Vote Blue No Matter Who seem unlikely to motivate young people to the polls,” Burmilla advises:

“Federally reschedule marijuana and expunge federal marijuana-related convictions. Pitch it to timid moderates as boosting tax revenue and freeing up police resources to deal with serious crimes, if you must. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service conservatively concluded that “the President cannot directly remove marijuana from control under federal controlled substances law, [but] he might order executive agencies to consider either altering the scheduling of marijuana or changing their enforcement approach.” Surely all the Ivy League brainpower that makes up modern Democratic administrations can construct a plausible case for doing even more than the CRS is willing to advise. This is low-hanging fruit; the House has passed a bill along these lines. Yet Biden remains coy. Younger voters and communities most directly affected by the woefully unequal ways “justice” is doled out in this country are overwhelmingly opposed to our antiquated federal drug laws. Democrats have no path to victory without those votes. This doesn’t even rise to the standard of a tough choice; it’s an easy call, and long overdue.”

Also, strengthening worker leverage in collective bargaining could help Biden’s image and the Democratic brand with all workers, including the young. As Burmilla writes,

“Keep pushing with the National Labor Relations Board. The recent organizing success in the service industry signals the direction of the wind among the younger, mostly non-college-educated voters we’ve heard so very much about Democrats’ struggling to woo. The NLRB just recently called for an end to employer-mandated anti-union sessions. Keep going. Do more than give Amazon warehouse workers a pat on the back for their organizing efforts. Redefine the Reagan-era Meyers Industries standard of “concerted activities” that gives workers the right under the National Labor Relations Act to “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Interpretations of this vague phrase were narrowed to employers’ advantage in 2019; the current administration has the same powers today that the Trump NLRB had then. Close the numerous and embarrassingly obvious loopholes in Duty to Bargain, the fundamental concept that gives workers input into decisions made on their behalf by an employer. Currently, management can shutter a workplace and relocate it by fiat simply by claiming that work at the new location “varies significantly from the work performed at the former plant.” Upsetting the Chamber of Commerce by revising employer wish-list fodder like that is a risk worth taking today. Anti-labor sentiment exists in the electorate, but how many voters for whom that is a deal-breaker are not already voting Republican?”

In addition,

“Act on student debt. You’re tired of hearing it. You’ve heard all the arguments. A president staring down a 34 percent youth approval rating needs to suck it up and do it already. We are creeping toward de facto loan forgiveness anyway with the repeatedly extended deadlines for restarting federal student loan repayment. Even the person Trump put in charge of the issue calls for loan forgiveness, admitting that the overwhelming majority of student debt is never, ever being repaid and serves only to burden and discipline borrowers. And even the noted Marxist-Leninists at… Forbes note that Biden not only has the power to do this unilaterally but there are multiple ways he could do it. A choice between standing before young voters cajoling “C’mon, vote, man!” and “Look at what I just did for you, like I promised… Now it’s on you,” is no choice at all.”

Burmilla writes in his conclusion, “This isn’t guaranteed to work. But the strategy in which the threat is enormous and the response is timid is—historically, even logically—bound to fail. If the stakes are as high as we are regularly told, leaving bold options on the table makes no sense.”

3 comments on “How Dems Can Win More Young Voters – Without Congress

  1. pjcamp on

    Never underestimate the ability of any Democrat to pee their pants due to the thought that someone somewhere might disapprove of their actions.It makes perfect sense to write off the permanent Republican part of the electorate and wait for them to die.

    But they won’t.

  2. Maria Ferrera on

    It seems to me that the strategy of vote Blue no matter what worked in France. People weren’t crazy about Macron but they didn’t want LaPen to elected. Don’t see why that strategy won’t work here.

  3. Martin Lawford on

    Biden should forgive student debt in installments. That would make it more palatable to the voters who didn’t share in the debt forgiveness. The final installment should not be paid until 2025, to ensure that student debtors vote to continue the debt forgiveness plan in the next Presidential election.


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