washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Get over yourself because “The Cake Is Baked. Deal With It. Stop moaning about replacing Biden and Harris. This is the 2024 Democratic ticket, whether you like it or not,” David Faris writes writes at Slate. The title is a bit misleading because the article is only about Biden replacing Harris, which clearly ain’t happening. As Faris, explains: “Like most recommendations brought to us by op-ed columnists with too much time on their hands, casting Kamala Harris aside is a dreadful idea—not only because it has almost zero chance of actually happening, but because it would clearly cause more problems than it would solve….“Maybe the president should dump the veep” is a Beltway parlor game as old as time. Or at least as old as the writers doing the speculating. There were calls for George H.W. Bush to replace Dan Quayle with Colin Powell in 1992, and gossip that George W. Bush would toss the gruff Dick Cheney overboard in 2004. Before the 2012 election, some thought that Barack Obama, reeling from his historic “sh ellacking” in the 2010 midterms, should eighty-six then–Vice President Biden and replace him with his 2008 rival, Hillary Clinton. In 2019, D.C. was rife with rumors that Mike Pence would be sacked as Trump’s running mate for former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley….Not to give away the ending to Titanic here, but none of these incumbents cashiered their vice presidents. No elected incumbent in the binding primary era that began in 1972 has switched running mates before standing for reelection….it is hard to imagine a core Democratic constituency that Biden can less afford to deliberately alienate than Black women, who gave the president an 81-point margin in 2020, according to exit polls—especially at a time when pollsters keep warning that turnout among voters of color is one of the president’s worst potential problems….If Democrats are worried about her favorability ratings, they should remember that the best thing they could do for them is to somehow boost Biden’s.”

Salon’s “Just lean in, Joe: Biden needs to embrace his old age: The Ronald Reagan strategy is not working. It’s time for Biden to get serious about his biggest vulnerability” by Jason Kyle Howard makes some good points. As Howard writes, “Despite his numerous attempts to embrace the subject with humor, such as his jokes at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in April, a decrease in concern about his age has not been reflected in polling numbers….Instead of joking about it, hoping the chatter will dissipate and dismissing concerns out of hand, Biden should follow the lead of his predecessors and give an address on aging, one that will kick-start a national conversation that is much needed, not only in our politics but also in our personal lives…. Kennedy and Obama knew that the central question voters had about their candidacies was this: can I come to terms with, can I accept, what I most fear? In their speeches, both had the confidence to allow themselves to, as the Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark observed about Obama, become characters in narratives about religion and race. They had the confidence to act as mirrors for the public. Whether he likes it or not, Biden now occupies the same position. He reflects the declining conditions of our aging parents and grandparents, as well as fears for our own mortality. Like Kennedy with religion and Obama with race, Biden should refuse to allow such a complex, vital topic as aging to be reduced to a caricature created by fear….Everyone ages differently, and Biden could point to the stories of everyday Americans who continue to lead active and productive lives well into their late 80s and 90s. Sometimes, he should say, age actually is just a number….Crucially, he should also make a pledge to never lie or conceal information about his health, which would serve as a contrast with Trump’s most recent apparent lie about his health….Confronting his age head-on in a national address could serve to remind voters what they liked about Biden in the first place, and what polls indicate still resonates: his candor. For decades, he  has constructed his political image as an unfiltered straight-shooter who “stands up for what he believes in.” From the infamous “big f**king deal” observation to Obama at the Affordable Care Act signing ceremony, to pre-empting his boss by endorsing marriage equality in an interview in 2012, Biden has often been able to cut through the political noise with frankness. Leading a national conversation on aging would maintain his brand of candid talk.”

Ari Berman has a warning at Mother Jones, in his article “New Report: One-Third of States Have an Election Denier Overseeing Elections: The movement to subvert American democracy is far from dead.” As Berman observes, “Twenty-three election deniers in 17 states serve as either governor, attorney general, or secretary of state, according to a new report released this week by the States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for fair elections. That means a third of the country has an election denier in statewide office overseeing their elections….According to the group, three election deniers are running for president—Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and California radio host Larry Elder—while a number of other GOP presidential hopefuls have amplified false claims about the 2020 election. Five election deniers are on the ballot in key statewide races in Louisiana and Mississippi this year….Based on misinformation spread by far-right conspiracy theorists, nine GOP-controlled states have withdrawn from the Electronic Registration Information Center, an interstate partnership that helps make sure voter rolls are accurate by comparing voter registration data among states….  In Wisconsin, Republicans in the state Senate voted Thursday to oust the nonpartisan administrator of the state’s elections commission, Meagan Wolfe, in a bid to give election deniers and conspiracy theorists more control over how elections are run in the state. (The state’s attorney general is challenging the move in court, claiming Republicans don’t have the power to remove Wolfe because she was not formally renominated by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.)….In North Carolina, Republicans are on the verge of enacting two bills that would undermine fair elections. The GOP-controlled legislature passed one bill last month that undercuts Election Day registration, gives voters less time to cast ballots by mail, and expands voter challenges. The legislation was inspired, at least in part, by conservative activist Cleta Mitchell, one of the architects of Trump’s effort to overturn the election. Another bill that is close to final passage would prevent the state’s Democratic governor from appointing a majority of members to state and county election boards and lower the threshold needed to redo an election….In Texas, the GOP-controlled legislature voted in May to abolish the position of election administrator and give the GOP-appointed secretary of state the power to take over election operations exclusively in Houston’s Harris County, the most populous blue county in the state….“In some states, legislators are taking all sorts of steps to make life harder for trusted nonpartisan election officials, including firing them and stripping away their power,” Lydate says. “All fueled by conspiracy theories. This is just one piece of an entire election denier industry. It’s in state legislatures, on the campaign trail, in the media. It’s a whole movement that puts lies above free and fair elections, and we have to call it out everywhere we see it.”

In “With democracy on the ballot, the mainstream press must change its ways,” Margaret Sullivan writes at The Guardian, “The big problem is that the mainstream media wants to be seen as non-partisan – a reasonable goal – and bends over backwards to accomplish this. If this means equalizing an anti-democratic candidate with a pro-democracy candidate, then so be it….Add to this the obsession with the “horse race” aspect of the campaign, and the profit-driven desire to increase the potential news audience to include Trump voters, and you’ve got the kind of problematic coverage discussed above….It’s fearful, it’s defensive, it’s entertainment – and click-focused, and it’s mired in the washed-up practices of an earlier era….The big solution? Remember at all times what our core mission is: to communicate truthfully, keeping top of mind that we have a public service mission to inform the electorate and hold powerful people to account. If that’s our north star, as it should be, every editorial judgment will reflect that….Headlines will include context, not just deliver political messaging. Overall politics coverage will reflect “not the odds, but the stakes”, as NYU’s Jay Rosen elegantly put it. Lies and liars won’t get a platform and a megaphone….And media leaders will think hard about the big picture of what they are getting across to the public, and whether it is fair and truthful. Imagine if the New York Times, among others, had stopped and done a course correction on their over-the-top coverage of Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign. We might be living in a different world….Can the mainstream press rise to the challenge over the next year?….“When one of our two political parties has become so extremist and anti-democratic”, the old ways of reporting don’t cut it, wrote the journalist Dan Froomkin in his excellent list of suggestions culled from respected historians and observers….In fact, such both-sides-equal reporting “actively misinforms the public about the stakes of the coming election”….The stakes really are enormously high. It’s our job to make sure that those potential consequences – not the horse race, not Biden’s age, not a scam impeachment – are front and center for US citizens before they go to the polls….As Amanpour so aptly put it, be truthful, not neutral.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.