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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall quotes Harvard political scientist Ryan Enos on the political fallout of the anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade: “At first blush, the overturning of Roe certainly seems like it could be a mobilizing event: it involves a medical procedure that is extremely common and has been experienced by a large portion of women in the United States and could materially affect the lives of millions of people. In some states, it will be the rare instance of the state taking away a right that people have previously enjoyed. To my knowledge, this has not happened since Southern states moved to strip voting rights after the end of Reconstruction….Your typical voter has only a vague notion of the ideological composition of the court, let alone how it got that way. While the Republican hijacking of the court to push an ideological agenda seems like a grave injustice to many of us, understanding why this is an injustice takes a level of engagement with politics that most voters simply don’t have….A more likely way for Roe to matter is that the most active Democrats, those who donate money and volunteer, will be animated for the midterm. Democrats were so animated by Donald Trump that they brought an energy to the election in 2020 that was impossible for them to sustain. While this might return in 2024 if Trump is on the ballot, it was not going to be there in 2022 without a catalyzing force — overturning Roe might be that force.”

At The Daily Beast, Sam Brodey notes, “In the absence of tangible results, Democrats are attempting to turn the conversation to the hardline actions Republicans would take on abortion if they control Congress….Republican leaders and campaign organizations have largely been reluctant to amplify their anti-abortion views in the last week, Democrats believe they have more than enough material to work with in persuading voters that the GOP would embrace extreme measures….One Democratic aide said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remark that a national abortion ban would be “possible” under a GOP majority was “a gift for us.”…The party’s nominee for Senate in Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, ran Facebook ads saying that his “extremist opponent”—J.D. Vance—“supports the end of Roe.” Vance has gone so far as to state he does not believe there should be abortion access even in cases of rape or incest….A Roe rollback “gives us the opportunity to show the stakes of holding the House in a way we’ve struggled to do so far this cycle,” said one swing-district campaign aide….Regardless of how Democratic voters and donors respond to that pitch, the biggest fundraising shift brought about by the Roe news could be an unprecedented level of focus, and dollars, to often overlooked state-level races.”

“To suggest that the collapse of Roe could effectively inspire the sort of movement-building for the broader left that it has for the right is to misunderstand at once the class politics of abortion and the role it’s played within both parties, Natalie Shure writes in “The End of Roe v. Wade Won’t Motivate Democrats” in The New Republic. “As much as we might wish otherwise, the most plausible impact the end of Roe v. Wade will have on electoral politics is little to none at all….In short, the anti-abortion movement is class war disguised as culture war, and reproductive justice must entail not just the right to abortion but resource redistribution and funding of the sorts of universal programs that the far right has used issues like abortion to block. (Compare a comprehensive reproductive justice demand to the pro-choice movement’s political strategy, which in no small part amounts to giving money to corporate Democrats.)….Once you reframe abortion as a top-down class war, it’s easy to see why the fall of Roe won’t amp people up the way some expect it to. While higher-class women understandably see Roe as a powerful guarantor of their personhood and equal status with men, poorer women have already lacked Roe’s protections for a long time—and it’s unclear whether an oppressed population already long under political siege and less likely to vote will be thrust toward an epiphany by a SCOTUS ruling. In polls, the people who report caring most about abortion relative to other issues are young, progressive, educated, concentrated in cities, and of higher income—already one of the Democratic Party’s strongest bases. The moderate suburban voters some analysis predicted could be brought into the Democratic fold have largely already entered, in 2018 and 2020—and even if they disapprove of overturning Roe, polls suggest they may not care quite enough to prioritize it over other issues.”

From “The Truth About Inflation: Saudi Arabia and Russia fueled inflation, but Biden’s relief plan probably didn’t, and there are hopeful signs even with high prices likely to continue into 2023” by Robert Shapiro at The Washington Monthly: “While consumer prices rose 8.2 percent from April 2021 to April 2022, prices for energy commodities (mainly oil, natural gas, and coal) jumped 45 percent, fuel oil prices soared 81 percent, and gasoline prices increased 44 percent. Unsurprisingly, inflation is much higher for goods that need lots of energy to produce and transport, so prices have jumped 17.3 percent for cars and trucks, 9.4 percent for food, and 12.1 percent for large appliances. But services need much less energy, and over the past year, prices increased only 1.2 percent for doctors’ services, 1.7 percent for prescription drugs, and 2.1 percent for college tuition….The current inflation is not only about energy. Many economists emphasize the strong demand from the 2021 boom colliding with global supply chain problems in China and at American ports. The pandemic shook up the economy, and those effects have contributed to inflation….The bad news is that energy markets expect Russia and the Saudis to keep oil prices high well into 2023. Those oil prices will keep inflation relatively high in the energy-dependent goods that everyone uses every day, here and in much of the world—including European countries that provided much less pandemic-related relief. And fortunately, the recent jump in oil prices is likely a one-time event that may dog us for another year or so.” If Shapiro is right, Democrats shouldn’t waste too much time trying to fix inflation or justify Biden’s economic policies. Time is short anyway. Better to instensify Democratic attacks on their Republican opponents, who have coddled Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as price gouging corporations. A good mantra for Democratic midterm candidates going forward: “Don’t defend, attack fiercely and frequently.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Inflation, abortion, Ukraine, democracy, BBB, climate…once again Democrats are all over the place with messaging and no single coherent narrative or good spokespeople.

    • Martin Lawford on

      Victor, what would be the single, coherent narrative you say the Democrats need? J.P. Green’s essay argues that the Democrats should not waste time trying to fix inflation or justify Biden’s economic policies, but rather “attack fiercely and frequently.” Such a negative, mudslinging campaign, though, is likely to aggravate the political apathy John Halpin recently wrote about in The Liberal Patriot: “the widespread tuning out of politics by huge numbers of Americans who—with good reason—are disappointed, fed up, or just plain uninterested with what passes for democratic discourse today…“Our nutters will beat your nutters” is not a smart strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the disaffected masses. “

      • Victor on

        In the current context I would argue that the US needs to prepare for even more competition from Russia and China. Those measures require higher spending and a degree of sacrifice from consumers, taxpayers, corporations and the wealthy, as well as our Western allies.

        Democrats need to defend liberal democracy and the mixed market economy as the best system that has actually existed in human history. Accuse isolationist Republicans (and extremist lefties) of putting the US at risk like they did in WWI and WWII.

        We can argue that in a war context and in the context of Covid normal economics doesn’t apply because there is a need for more coordination on several fronts, specially supply chains that corporations (and Republicans) don’t want to bring back because they put profits before national security.

        Drive wedges between Republicans using Ukraine.


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