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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

An excerpt from “What Friends Owe Friends: Why Washington Should Restrain Israeli Military Action in Gaza—and Preserve a Path to Peace” by Richard Haas at Foreign Affairs. “The case for the United States working to shape Israel’s response to the crisis and its aftermath rests not just on the reality that good if tough advice is what friends owe one another. The United States has interests in the Middle East and beyond that would not be well-served by an Israeli invasion and occupation of Gaza, nor by longer-term Israeli policies that offer no hope to Palestinians who reject violence. Such U.S. aims are sure to make for difficult conversations and politics. But the alternative—of a wider war and the indefinite continuation of an unsustainable status quo—would be far more difficult and dangerous….The United States should urge Israel, first in private, then in public if necessary, to orient its policy around building the context for a viable Palestinian partner to emerge over time. By contrast, Israeli policy has, in recent years, seemed intent on undermining the Palestinian Authority so as to be able to say there is no partner for peace. The aim should be to demonstrate that what Hamas offers is a dead end—but also, just as important, that there is a better alternative for those willing to reject violence and accept Israel. That would mean putting sharp limits on settlement activity in the West Bank; articulating final-status principles that would include a Palestinian state; and specifying stringent but still reasonable conditions the Palestinians could meet in order to achieve that aim….Getting there would require a U.S. willingness to take an active hand in the process and show a willingness to state U.S. views publicly, even if it means distancing the United States from Israeli policy. ” And if Biden’s leadership can make a significant contribution to peace in the Middle East, it will provide a boost to his image as the adult in the room when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

In “The House GOP Is Irretrievably Broken” at The Nation,  Joan Walsh suggests a new approach for Dems: “No Republican is likely to get 217 votes from Republicans only. Everybody in that party hates everybody else, and some of them seem to hate everybody. The next speaker will have to be elected with Democratic votes, perhaps just a handful of moderate defectors. If a GOP candidate gave Democrats some concessions—bigger roles on committees, a way to avert a government shutdown in November, calling off or at least slow-walking the bogus Joe Biden impeachment inquiry—maybe they’d win more than a handful of Democratic votes, but they’d almost certainly lose even more Republicans….I’ve said this many times: In a sane world, reporters and pundits would be hammering Republicans about one solution that should be obvious: that five or so Republicans join all 212 Dems and back Speaker Hakeem Jeffries. People laugh at me when I suggest that, but here’s my point: Of course it’s virtually impossible given the current political gridlock. But it’s not the job of reporters to be cynical and rule out solutions; it’s their job to posit solutions and ask why they’re not on the table….If Republicans do find a sacrificial moderate—some are surfacing Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, one of McCarthy’s most loyal lieutenants—you’ll hear the pundit class bleating for Democrats to make him speaker. As I was writing, former Meet the Press host David Gregory, now a CNN analyst, proved me right, telling Poppy Harlow: “I actually have my eye on Democrats. How long are Democrats going to stand by in the world of identity politics, and zero-sum politics, and not be part of any solution?” There is not even a GOP speaker nominee yet, but Gregory thinks Democrats are part of the problem anyway….I’ll be here pushing the obvious solution—that some combination of Republicans in districts Biden won and those about to retire break ranks and join Democrats to elect Jeffries as speaker. It’s highly unlikely. But it shouldn’t be. The media has helped create the climate in which it’s unthinkable.”

“Last week, I wrote a column puzzling why no mainstream Democrat is challenging President Biden for the nomination, given the strong demand among Democrats for a different and younger nominee.”  Jonathan Chait writes at New York magazine. “It remains mysterious to me.”….Dan Pfeiffer offers a reasonably strong response that still fails to satisfy my curiosity. Pfeiffer, a former aide to President Obama, argues that the main challengers are largely unknown. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, Georgia senator Raphael Warnock, and Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker “were mentioned but still have relatively low name ID among the Democratic electorate,” in a CNN poll. He concludes, “a primary challenge would be a massive longshot with potentially devastating consequences for the primary challenger and the incumbent.”….I think that argument may capture why private polls might not show an alternative standing a strong chance to beat Biden. And perhaps it would also explain why challengers have stayed out of the race — if they are surreptitiously taking polls and finding Biden holds a commanding lead, which some insiders have speculated but remains unknown, they would sensibly decide not to run against him….But I think this misunderstands the nature of such a race. Name recognition is extremely important in an ordinary presidential primary. Contested primaries typically involve a lot of candidates, and a big component of winning is getting the media to give you a lot of coverage so voters think of you as a contender. 2020 had an enormous field of contenders, most of whom never received serious coverage…But a race with one main contender against Biden would have a different dynamic. (This assumes the contender had a credible background, such as having won statewide office or some other well-established record.) The campaign would draw a lot of media attention. Name recognition would pretty quickly cease to pose a major obstacle. The question would be whether the candidate could look to Democrats like a better candidate than Biden….Yes, it’s early, and yes, the polling has limited value this far from an election. An improving economy offers a highly plausible scenario for how the dynamic of the race could change for the better….That said, I can’t escape the conclusion that Democrats are treating a highly risky plan as though it were a safe one, locking themselves in to a single-track strategy, and leaving themselves little recourse if the plan falters.”

Harold Meyerson writes in “Investing in Disinvested AmericaThe Biden administration’s manufacturing subsidies are disproportionately flowing to red states and districts” at The American Prospect: “Like Lyndon Johnson once he became president, Joe Biden has deliberately sought to build on Roosevelt’s New Deal legacy. He is surely the most pro-union president since FDR; he is reviving the long-overdue regulation of big business; his social proposals in the Build Back Better bill of paid sick leave, affordable child care, and free community college would have extended the social provisions of the New Deal; and his commitment of funds and tax credits to revive America’s industries and infrastructure has clear echoes of Roosevelt’s public investments….That those commitments of funds also have a specific regional focus, though, isn’t often viewed as a central feature of Bidenomics. A Washington Post article from this August headlined “5 Key Pillars of President Biden’s Economic Revolution” said that the five were: Run the economy hot; Make unions stronger; Revive domestic manufacturing through green energy; Rein in corporate power; and Expand the safety net….,Those are indeed five key Bidenomics pillars. But there’s a sixth, or, at least, a crucial addition to the one about reviving domestic manufacturing: Locating that revival in regions that private capital has long abandoned….I don’t for a moment think that the Biden people believe investments of any size will enable Biden to carry South Carolina, Tennessee, or other solid-red states in 2024. I do think they believe it can help him in swing states like Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina, and add an insurance point or two in a state like Michigan. That said, most of his campaign jaunts have been to states and districts where he can claim credit for a new plant springing up. Even if he’s in the reddest of red states, the thinking goes, his message can seep across state lines and may swing some votes that really matter….By revitalizing communities with the shops and eateries and everything needed to serve a new workforce, these projects, if they continue to spring up as they’ve done so far, can bring new life to Disinvested America. Placed alongside Biden’s pro-union actions, his campaign against monopolies and overpriced medications, his as-yet-unrealized plans to help families navigate child care and sick leave and the costs of college, his resurrection of American industry and the places from which it fled affords him just one more way he can answer the question of Which Side Are You On….Biden has yet to convince most Americans—especially those whose local economies will benefit the most from those policies—that he is, in fact, very much on their side. His resurrection of American manufacturing comes with no guarantee of electoral success. But in its long-term effect on American well-being, as Biden once famously said, it’s a big fuckin’ deal.”

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