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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Strategy White Papers

Defining Obama’s Political Strategy: Radical Pragmatism, Grassroots Bipartisanship and the Abandoned Center by Ed Kilgore

As Barack Obama prepares to take office on January 20, 2009, after a remarkable ten weeks of quasi-presidency, a debate continues to rage inside and outside his Democratic Party. Does this man have a firm ideology, a governing philosophy, or even a “theory of change?” Is he a “progressive,” a “liberal,” or a “pragmatist?” Is his rhetoric of “hope and change,” of “post-partisanship and common purpose” a core value, a political asset, or a smoke-screen? Is he FDR, or Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or something else entirely?
Read the entire memo here.

Planning Ahead for Democratic Victory in 2010–Setting Initial Goals and Objectives By Ed Kilgore

Although little more than a month has passed since the 2008 elections, Democrats are already beginning to look ahead to 2010.
For Democrats to continue their recent run of success, however, it is necessary that they do more than passively examine and evaluate the contests that lie in the future.
Concrete goals and objectives for 2010 need to be defined and specific plans developed for how these goals can be achieved. Limited resources have to be allocated and priorities established.
As a first step in this process, this TDS Strategy White Paper reviews the upcoming Senate, House and State-level elections in order to define a set of initial goals and objectives. A series of initial priority races are listed and a set of concrete objectives are defined.
Read the entire memo here.

How Democrats Can Keep and Expand the Support of the Younger White Working Class Voters who Voted for Obama in 2008 by Andrew Levison

While white working class voters as whole supported John McCain, there was a significant movement of younger white working-class voters to Obama. If this trend can be sustained by the Democrats in future elections, it could derail any Republican attempt to rebuild a Reagan coalition and eventually insure a stable long-term Democratic majority.
If the Democrats do not take prompt and energetic steps to support and reinforce this trend, these young voters could very easily shift back to their more traditionally pro-Republican stance within the next 18-24 months.
Read the entire memo here.

The Best Sound-Bites and Brief Quotes from the Democratic Convention in Denver

In modern politics it has become increasingly important to be able to present the Democratic perspective in either very brief, one or two sentence sound-bites or short, one paragraph summaries of major issues and perspectives.
In this kind of communication environment, having a set of sharply worded, succinct statements of the Democratic position on major issues becomes critical.
The speakers at the recent Democratic Convention produced dozens of first-rate sound-bites and short, one-paragraph summaries of this kind. TDS has brought together a large group of these quotes in a convenient format for use by Democratic spokespeople, citizen advocates and grass-roots supporters.
Read the entire memo here.

McCain’s Dirty Politics Attack — How Democrats Can Respond by James Vega

As veterans of George Bush and Karl Rove’s dirty politics gang have assumed top positions in the McCain campaign, his attacks on Barack Obama have rapidly degenerated into a replay of the dishonest “swift boat” smears against John Kerry.
This TDS Strategy Memo suggests how Democrats can fight back.

  • Part one analyzes “John McCain’s ‘Karl Rove style’ attacks on Obama and how Democrats can respond.”
  • Part two considers “How to attack John McCain — What Rove Would Do”

Read the entire memo here.

Military Strategy for Democrats — How the Democrats Can Argue with McCain and the Republicans about Military Strategy and Win by James Vega

Because of the number and variety of questions they ask on a single topic, the surveys produced by Democracy Corps provide Democrats with data of unique value. They make it possible to begin to visualize some of the larger political perspectives into which voters specific opinions are organized.
Read the entire memo here.

Obama and Iraq: A General Election Strategy by Bruce W. Jentleson

Iraq needs to be addressed as a three-dimensional issue: (1) the war itself and the need to shift emphasis from what Obama is against to what he is for, and not just the calendar for getting out but the alternative strategy for doing so; (2) Iraq as a measure of Obama’s overall foreign policy capability, particularly passing the commander-in-chief test without getting trapped into the “I’ll bomb, too” Democratic wannabe role; and (3) Iraq as a temperaturetaker as to whether this is another anti-military Democrat or someone who genuinely respects the institution, its people and its culture.
Read the entire memo here.

Military Strategy for Democrats: The Reality Behind McCain’s Claim That the Surge Has Succeeded by James Vega

This is an absolutely extraordinary claim. In fact, it could very easily be dismissed as just another of McCain’s increasingly frequent “gaffes” or “blunders” except that it has actually become a critical pillar of the basic Republican “party line”–one that is particularly emphasized by the Wall Street Journal and other Rupert Murdoch-owned media.
Until a few weeks ago the standard way this was expressed was that the US was “on the verge of success or victory”. In the last 10 days, however, the rhetoric has actually been ratcheted up to an even higher level. In a major Wall Street Journal op-ed commentary on July 16th–one titled “The New Reality in Iraq”–Frederick Kagan, Kimberly Kagan and Jack Keane, all major military analysts, made the following quite breathtaking assertion:
Read the entire memo here.