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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what
Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

Read the Memo.

American Business Has the Power to Stop the GOP Assault on Democracy – Here’s a Strategy to Make Them Do It.

America is now well on its way to creating an electoral system that functions like Mexico’s during its era of one-party rule.

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

As the 2022 and 2024 elections approach Democrats have responded to their declining working class support by proposing variations on one or another of two strategies that they have advocated ever since the 1970’s.

Plausible Strategy for Surge of Immigrants

Democratic officeholders and candidates who plan to run in 2022 and 2024 need to face a simple, brutal fact – many will lose their next elections and will return control of government to the GOP if they do not offer a more plausible strategy for reducing the surge of immigrants at the border

Democrats in 2022 and 2024 will lose elections without a strategy.

The culturally traditional but non-extremist working class voters: who they are, how they think and what Democrats Must Understand to regain their support.

By Andrew Levison

Read the Memo.

The Daily Strategist

June 25, 2022

Edsall: Which party’s extremist wing is more destructive?

One of the frequently-heard critiques of current U.S. politics among the general public and many commentators is that extremists of both parties are blocking the good that would otherwise be politically possible. New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes the damage done to each party and to democracy in general by the “extreme wings” of the two major political parties. He shares some lucid insights from top political observers, including:

Two scholars who have been highly critical of developments in the Republican Party, Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, co-authors of the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” were both far more critical of the MAGA caucus than of the Squad.

Mann was adamant in his email:

The MAGA Caucus is antidemocratic, authoritarian, and completely divorced from reality and truth. The Squad embraces left views well within the democratic spectrum. What’s striking about the MAGA Caucus is that they are closer to the Republican mainstream these days, given the reticence of Republican officeholders to challenge Trump. We worry about the future of American democracy because the entire Republican Party has gone AWOL. The crazy extremists have taken over one of our two major parties.

The MAGA group, Ornstein wrote by email, is composed of

the true believers, who think Trump won, that there is rampant voter fraud, the country needs a caudillo, we have to crack down on trans people, critical race theory is an evil sweeping the country and more. The Squad is certainly on the left end of the party, but they do not have authoritarian tendencies and views.

‘Caudillo Republicans’ could be a catchy buzz term some Democratic campaigns use to describe their adversaries. Edsall continues,

Ocasio-Cortez, Ornstein wrote, “is smart, capable, and has handled her five minutes of questioning in committees like a master.”

William Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings and a co-author with Elaine Kamarck, also of Brookings, of “The New Politics of Evasion: How Ignoring Swing Voters Could Reopen the Door for Donald Trump and Threaten American Democracy,” wrote by email:

How does one measure “extreme”? By two metrics — detachment from reality and threats to the democratic process — the nod goes to the MAGA crowd over the Squad, whose extremism is only in the realm of policy. I could argue that the Squad’s policy stances — defund the police, abolish ICE, institute a Green New Deal — have done more damage to the Democratic Party than the MAGA crowd has to the Republicans. President Biden has been forced to back away from these policies, while Republicans sail along unscathed. By refusing to criticize — let alone break from — the ultra-MAGA representatives, Donald Trump has set the tone for his party. A majority of rank-and-file Democrats disagree with the Squad’s position. There’s no evidence that the Republican grassroots is troubled by the extremism in their own ranks.

I asked Galston what the implications were of Marjorie Taylor Greene winning renomination on May 24 with 69.5 percent of the primary vote.

He replied:

Trumpists hold a strong majority within the Republican Party, and in many districts the battle is to be seen as the Trumpiest Republican candidate. This is especially true in deep-red districts where winning the nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. A similar dynamic is at work in deep-blue districts, where the most left-leaning candidate often has the advantage. Candidates like these rarely succeed in swing districts, where shifts among moderate and independent voters determine general election winners. In both parties, there has been a swing away from candidates who care about the governance process, and toward candidates whose skills are oratorical rather than legislative. I could hypothesize that in an era of hyperpolarization in which gridlock is the default option, the preference for talkers over doers may be oddly rational.

They may be talkers rather than doers, but if, as currently expected, Republicans win control of the House on Nov. 8, 2022, the MAGA faction will be positioned to wield real power.

Liberal Democrats make a worthy point in arguing, no matter what AOC and the ‘squad’ actually say, believe or do, it will be distorted by the right-wing echo chamber. The squad members have to rep their constituents, even if they are to the left of most swing voters. Centrist Dems also have a good point in urging lefties to stop feeding the Republican propaganda machine and to take Democratic midterm prospects into more consideration. Democrats may not have the message discipline or echo chamber of the GOP. But surely Dems can make a better effort towards party unity.

Teixeira: Why Dems Must Get Tough on Crime

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

Maybe Not a Sister Souljah Moment

But a Chesa Boudin Moment might just do the trick! My latest at The Liberal Patriot.

“The crushing recall of San Francisco’s stridently progressive District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, crystallizes just how much trouble Democrats are in on the crime issue. When voters in San Francisco—San Francisco!—throw a progressive Democrat out of office for failing to provide public safety, you know Democrats have an urgent need to assure voters that they are in fact determined to crack down on crime and to dissociate the party from approaches that fail to do so.

This is a wave that has been building for some time. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the nationwide movement sparked by it, the climate for police reform was highly favorable. But Democrats blew the opportunity by allowing the party to be associated with unpopular movement slogans like “defund the police” that did not appear to take public safety concerns very seriously.

At the same time, Democrats became associated with a wave of progressive public prosecutors who seemed quite hesitant about keeping criminals off the street, even as a spike in violent crimes like murders and carjacking sweeps the nation. This was twinned to a climate of tolerance and non-prosecution for lesser crimes that degraded the quality of life in many cities under Democratic control. San Francisco became practically a poster child for the latter problem under Chesa Boudin’s “leadership”.

So the voters kicked him out by a wide 60 percent to 40 percent margin. According to one analysis, about 40 percent of the votes for recall came from majority white areas of the city while 60 percent came from majority nonwhite areas. Based on the neighborhood pattern of voting and pre-election polling data, it seems clear that Asian voter support for the recall was particularly strong.”

Read the rest, as always, at The Liberal Patriot.

Political Strategy Notes

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares some insights about the January 6th investigation: “Using less than two hours of prime-time television, the committee issued an urgent plea: Americans must understand the violence they saw on that winter day in 2021 as nothing less than what Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chair, called “an attempted coup.”….Attempted coups have authors, and with a steely, matter-of-fact eloquence worthy of history’s most able prosecutors, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair, indicted Donald Trump in every sense but the formal one….After watching Cheney pile fact upon fact and make connection after connection, the actual prosecutors in the Justice Department (and local prosecutors in Georgia) will have little choice but to issue the actual legal indictments that the treasonous conspiracy of Jan. 6 requires….The nation must be clear on this: Failing to achieve accountability for the Jan. 6 insurrection, in the courts and at the ballot boxes, will amount to issuing a license for the enemies of democracy to do this all over again….One man set this attempted putsch in motion. “President Trump,” Cheney declared, “summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”….It was devastating to see former attorney general William Barr on video calling Trump’s assertions “bulls—,” and to learn that the former president’s own data mavens told him they were false. Trump’s daughter Ivanka was on video saying she believed Barr, not her father….If holding Trump accountable is “partisan,” that makes standing up for one of the most conservative Republican vice presidents in history “partisan,” too. And if the story being told is “partisan,” why are so many of the credible witnesses Republicans?”

If you were wondering which Republican U.S. Senators are supporting the bipartisan gun safety reforms, read “Here are the 10 Senate Republicans who are backing the bipartisan gun bill” by Olafimihan Oshin at The Hill. The list includes GOP senators who are either retiring or not running in 2022: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas); Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.); Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); Rob Portman (R-Ohio); Richard Burr (R-N.C.); Mitt Romney (R-Utah); Bill Cassidy (R-La.); Susan Collins (R-Maine); Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). In short, none of them have anything to lose in 2022, except maybe some of their future NRA money. But it’s equally possible, if not more likely, that the NRA will reward those who are running in future years for their blockade of more substantial reforms. Brendan O’Brien of Reuters has a good summary of the ‘framework’ in “Factbox: What’s in and what’s out of the Senate’s gun-safety plan.” If you want to measure the Senate package against the much stronger House gun safety reform package, check out Kristin Wilson’s “House passes sweeping gun reform package though it’s unlikely to move in the Senate” at CNN Politics.

Over 40 Percent Of Americans Now Rate Gun Violence As A Top Issue,” according to Geoffrey Skelley and Hoilly Fuong, writing at FiveThirtyEight. They note, “There have already been 248 mass shootings this year,1 according to the Gun Violence Archive. At this point in 2021, there had been 258 mass shootings; in 2020, 173. Mass shootings are defined by the Gun Violence Archive as incidents in which at least four people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed, and they have been on the rise in recent years.It is often a select few mass shootings, though, that capture national headlines and spark outrage. Public opinion often shifts in favor of stricter gun laws after high-profile mass shootings, like the one on May 14 that killed 10 people in a racist attackin Buffalo, New York, and the one on May 24 that killed 19 children and two teachersat an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. …It should be no surprise, then, that the latest FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, which was conducted from May 26 to June 6 and went into the field two days after the shooting in Uvalde, found that concerns regarding gun violence had surged. Using Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel, we interviewed the same 2,000 or so Americans from our previous survey, and of the 1,691 adults who responded, 42 percent named “crime or gun violence” as one of the most important issues facing the country, up 19 percentage points from the first wave of the poll released in early May.2 This was by far the largest increase for any one issue we asked about, putting it behind only “inflation or increasing costs” as Americans’ top concern for the country….A solid majority of Democrats, 58 percent, named the issue as a top concern, up from 33 percent in early May, while 41 percent of independents said the same, up from 19 percent.3 Republicans also became more worried about crime and/or gun violence, but the uptick was much smaller, going from 19 percent in May to 29 percent now.”

Skelley and Fuong add, “Nothing changed quite as much as Americans’ concern around crime and/or gun violence in our poll, but there were a handful of other important changes regarding which issues Americans felt were most pressing for the country. Abortion, for instance, saw the second-largest change on net, likely thanks to increased media coverage of the issue in early May following a leaked draft Supreme Court opinionthat suggests the court might be ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973. Nine percent of respondents in our survey named it as a top issue, up from just 4 percent a month ago. That said, abortion isn’t the issue that Americans in our poll are most worried about….Rather, that distinction still belongs to inflation. Americans are most worried about inflation, with even more respondents (56 percent) naming it as a concern than in our last survey (52 percent). This was in large part driven by Republicans, as 75 percent cited inflation as a major concern, up from 65 percent a month ago. Independents were also somewhat more likely to name it as a concern, 56 percent now versus 50 percent in May. Roughly 40 percent of Democrats named inflation as a concern, but this barely changed from our previous survey….Finally, political extremism and polarization remained a top issue overall, ranking third behind inflation and crime/gun violence after ranking second in our last survey. We dug more into this issue, too, and Americans’ attitudes around political extremism and polarization in this survey, so we’ll examine those results more in-depth in an article early next week. But as we’ve outlined here, there’s no question that the big, topline finding in our second FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll is that more Americans are concerned about crime and/or gun violence — at least for now.”

Mike Pence Deserves Some Thanks, But No Medal, For Doing His Job on January 6

As the country refocuses on the horrific events of January 6, 2021, there’s renewed talk, but little real perspective, about Mike Pence’s refusal to overturn the 2020 election results. I tried to offer some at New York:

I am really glad, even grateful, that then–Vice-President Mike Pence didn’t obey Donald Trump’s order to use imaginary vice-presidential powers to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election on January 6, 2021. He was under a lot of pressure to do so from the Boss, whose other plays to stay in power had failed by then. The more we understand about what was happening that day, the clearer it is that everything else Trump did depended on Pence playing his assigned role. There were never enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Congress to overturn the recognition of Biden electors. And the mob Trump incited to attack the Capitol could not have done anything other than delay the inevitable for a day or two (or, as it happened, a few hours). So yes, Pence’s refusal to take a blatantly unconstitutional and perhaps even treasonous action mattered a great deal.

But let’s not get carried away. As the House committee investigating January 6 prepares to launch public hearings, Jonathan V. Last (whom I greatly esteem) suggested in The Atlantic that Democrats could take away some of the partisan atmospherics of their inquiry by showing some serious love to Pence. And he means serious love:

“Congress can name a building in his honor. The House and Senate could propose nonpartisan resolutions recognizing Pence for his service to democracy. And then Joe Biden could give Pence the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Because while Pence may not be the hero you or I might have wanted, he was the hero America needed.”

Last’s basic argument is that if someone more subservient to Trump (if that’s possible) had been in Pence’s position, then … well, “it’s not clear what would have happened next,” as he puts it. I respect Last for acknowledging it’s not at all likely that the Pence-led coup Trump demanded would have worked. Had Pence tried to recognize fake Trump electors, he would almost certainly have been overruled by Congress. If he had instead abruptly adjourned the January 6 joint session to (as Trump kept putting it) “send it back to the states” … again, where would this have led? Congress could have called itself back into a joint session to do its job with or without Pence’s consent, and the machinery wasn’t in place for Trump to get the electors he needed from Republican legislators. The courts would have almost certainly intervened, and had Trump just refused to leave the White House on January 20 when it was time for Biden to take office, I think military intervention would have been a real possibility. So while Pence’s refusal to act might have saved the Republic from a crisis even worse than the one we experienced on January 6, let’s not credit him for saving the Constitution on his own. There were other protections in place had Pence played the toady.

Last also stresses Pence’s personal courage on January 6, and maybe he has a point. It’s true that some members of the mob looked at Pence as a traitor and might have done him harm if given the opportunity, as they threatened with their “Hang Mike Pence” chant. I’m in no position to judge whether the VP really was in danger that day; perhaps the January 6 committee will cast more light on that.

But didn’t Pence show great courage in defying Trump to begin with? Well, that’s less clear. It seems everyone he consulted while he wavered (and he clearly wavered), including former Republican vice-president Dan Quayle and greatly respected conservative legal scholar J. Michael Luttig, told him that of course he had no authority, constitutional or statutory, to do what Trump was asking. The only person telling Pence he did have the authority was Trump’s attorney John Eastman, whose specious arguments would have probably gotten him bounced from a basic constitutional-law course. Indeed, you have to ask yourself whether Eastman would have made this plea to anyone with less than Pence’s long record of intensely, almost religiously obsequious conduct toward Trump. So the veep’s own craven history led to the order he so bravely denied, which means he would come to any Presidential Medal of Freedom award with unclean hands.

It’s also relevant that Pence’s revolt against Trump was and remains extremely limited, as I noted when he got a lot of praise for tough talk about the “un-American” nature of Trump’s demands of him on January 6:

“Pence has a strong natural interest in limiting congressional or media scrutiny to the isolated events of January 6. Did he ever disagree publicly or privately with the foundation for an election coup that Trump laid for months and months by attacking voting by mail and claiming his ticket could lose only if the election were rigged? Did he remonstrate with Trump when he claimed an immensely premature victory on Election Night? Did he dissent from the strategy of frantically asserted and entirely bogus fraud charges by the campaign bearing his own name as well as Trump’s? Did he object to the self-certification of victory by fake Trump-Pence electors in December 2020? Indeed, did Pence do anything to get in the way of the attempted theft of the election until Trump called on him to accomplish it in a clearly unconstitutional coup with the whole world watching?

“If so, we haven’t heard about it.”

Last’s underlying pitch is that Democrats should be trying harder to separate Republican voters who don’t accept Trump’s authoritarian ways from the GOP he still dominates. That makes sense. Is Pence their role model? I certainly hope not since he never repudiated many of the terrible policies the Trump-Pence administration promoted. And as Ross Barkan recently argued, Pence may be a greater threat than Trump going forward, given his rich history of atavistic cultural and economic positions married to the Hoosier respectability that supposedly saved him and his country from perdition on January 6.

I’ll say it again: Thanks, Mike. I’m glad that, like most Americans, you managed to do your job without (on at least one fateful day) undermining its very purpose. We’re the better for it. But you don’t get a medal for refusing to lead a coup d’etat, and I hope you’ll have a few thousand more second thoughts about the president you served so fervently before applying for the same job yourself.


How Abortion Politics in PA ‘Burbs May Save Dems Senate Majority

Nobody knows for certain whether or not the January 6th hearings will have an effect on the midterm elections. But Democrats have good reason to hope that the pending annihilation of women’s reproductive rights by the U.S. Supreme Court may have an effect on the midterms. As Ryan Cooper writes in his article, “In Pennsylvania, Democrats’ Suburban Strategy Is Being Put to the Test: The party needs to turn out the suburbs and shore up its urban base. Republican anti-abortion extremism might help” at The American Prospect:

The fate of the Democratic Party’s national fortunes this year may well be decided in Pennsylvania. The state has been a bellwether for the last two presidential elections, which were decided by tiny margins—0.7 percentage points (for Trump) and 1.2 (for Biden), respectively. The governor’s race, state legislature, and a critical open Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Pat Toomey are all up for grabs.

In the pre-Trump days, these midterm races would have been a lock for Republicans. The party that wins the presidency has almost always lost power at all levels of government in the succeeding midterm—and the exceptions come during highly unusual circumstances, like the Great Depression or immediately after 9/11.

On the surface, the signs have not looked good for Democrats. Pennsylvania’s Republicans have recently had a big advantage in new party registrations, and they are energized around Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Rank-and-file Democrats are demoralized about Joe Manchin blocking President Biden’s all-but-entire agenda, and Biden’s approval ratings are in bad shape.

But Trump also catalyzed a major demographic and regional realignment in Pennsylvania, and national politics is more unsettled than it’s been in years, especially thanks to a feral right-wing Supreme Court majority that appears to be on the verge of repealing Roe v. Wade. Democrats just might have a shot, if they can fix their lagging performance in Philadelphia and hold on to the suburbs, or even better their margins there by winning upscale Republican and independent women appalled at the prospect of outlawing abortion.

OK, maybe gas prices will influence more voters. But that doesn’t mean Democrats should abandon whatever advantage can be gained from the extremism of Republican Supreme Court justices. As Cooper continues:

….Philadelphia will likely be the place where the statewide races are decided in 2022. It’s the largest county in the state by a big margin, containing about 12 percent of the population, it is majority-nonwhite—41 percent Black and 15 percent Latino—and it appears to be up for grabs like no other similarly sized pot of votes in the state. If Republicans can turn out the Trumpy hinterland and continue to make headway among the nonwhite urban working class, as they did in 2020, then Democrats are toast. But if Democrats can hold on to their suburban and rural margins, or better them in the Philly suburbs, and revitalize their performance in the urban core, then they’ve got a fighting chance.

….In better news for Democrats’ chances (though not for the American people), the conservative movement has recently launched an all-out attack on reproductive freedom and LGBT rights that puts it on the wrong side of a supermajority of the American people. The draft version of an upcoming Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, which is reliably supported by about 60 percent of Americans, could tilt the electoral balance toward the Democrats.

Especially when Republican candidates like [Gubernatorial nominee Doug] Mastriano are taking the GOP ‘brand’ to even more extreme places.

….Sure enough, in a recent debate Mastriano said he favored banning all abortion at six weeks (which would mean virtually all of them), with no exception for rape, incest, or the life of the mother—a position supported by only about 15 percent of Pennsylvania residents….These developments give state Democrats, particularly gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, a powerful argument in their favor—especially in affluent suburbs, where this kind of gratuitous, atavistic cruelty drove voters away from Trump and where turnout is likely to be high. If Republicans take complete control of the state legislature and the governorship, they could well pass a total abortion ban, along with God knows what other deranged policy. A Governor Shapiro could at least block any such law.

“Nevertheless,” Cooper concludes, “it would be helpful for Democrats to make a positive argument as well. One strong argument for Fetterman would be that he could add one more seat to Democrats’ Senate majority, meaning that the party would no longer need to keep both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on its side for every vote. A clear, explicit promise that should voters provide Democrats with control of the House and two more senators, they will pass a national legalization of abortion and gay marriage would fit the bill. Better still would be a credible plan to pass the Biden agenda on health care, family benefits, or climate change should Fetterman win—just as the promise to deliver $2,000 checks helped deliver two Senate seats to the Democrats in the Georgia runoffs in 2021.”

Democrats have a duty to publicize the January 6th hearings, and they may get some short horizon benefit in the polls. But it would be folly to count on the hearings making much of a difference in the midterm elections in November. The threat to the right of women to have dominion over their own bodies, however, is likely to endure as a front page issue all the way to election day. Work it hard in PA – but also in other states, where senate races are close.

Political Strategy Notes

Politico’s media critic Jack Shafer shares some insights about the January 6th hearings that will begin tonight in his article, “The Democrats Plan a Full Media Blowout Over Jan. 6.” Shafer writes, “When you turn on your television Thursday night to watch the kick-off of the January 6 congressional hearings, you won’t get the usual over-lit, droning Capitol Hill proceedings to which you’ve become accustomed. Instead, the committee intends to mount a grand media event, to pinch a phrase from scholars Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, a publicity extravaganza orchestrated like a product launch or political campaign to engage, dazzle and obsess the minds of the masses….This is not to say the hearings will be without substance. To the contrary, everything we’ve been told so far about the committee’s findings indicates they will bring real proof of a conspiracy to subvert the election of Joe Biden and stage a coup to reinstall Donald Trump as president. Talk about the greatest political story ever told! But while ingesting the substance of the hearings, which promise to be nourishing, don’t overlook the platter on which it has been served. The committee has assigned James Goldston, former president of ABC News and veteran of Nightline, to present a slickly produced work of political entertainment, featuring live testimony as well as prerecorded segments, that will permanently cast the events of January 6 as an attempted coup. According to the New York Times, Goldston’s mandate is to fashion the hearing into six succinct episodes. Sort of like a bingeable Netflix series….Even without the show-making skills of someone of Goldston’s caliber, a congressional hearing like the January 6 committee’s would qualify for the rubric, and it would be as worthy of our attention as previously televised proceedings from Congress — Kefauver’s organized crime hearings, Army-McCarthy, Iran-Contra, Benghazi and the doomed-before-the-final-vote impeachments of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump (twice)….NBC, ABC, CBS, and the cable news networks have joined forces with Goldston to preempt their scheduled programming for the January 6 show, according to Axios’ Mike Allen, who broke the story of Goldston’s involvement. The timing of the hearings, just as summer rerun season starts, and the committee’s decision to present them as a “show,” couldn’t be more perfect from the television industry’s viewpoint. TV adores content that costs them almost nothing to air and attracts large audiences, media scholar Michael Socolow tells me, pointing to Trump rallies from the 2016 campaign….Even Rupert Murdoch intends to broadcast them, albeit on his less-watched Fox Business Network channel….Nobody should doubt the inherent newsworthiness of the January 6 hearings. Attempted coups matter. Nobody should seek to invalidate the hearings as a sophisticated media pageant before they convene. But the January 6 hearings deserve our advance scrutiny for the new ground they appear to be breaking. ”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein asks, “Is This the End of the George Floyd Moment?: The Los Angeles and San Francisco election results add pressure on Democrats to balance criminal-justice reform with public safety.” Brownstein observes: “Since the massive nationwide protests that erupted in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, the debate over crime and public safety in the Democratic Party has been dominated by urgent calls for reforming police departments and confronting entrenched racial inequities in the criminal-justice system. History might record yesterday’s elections in San Francisco and Los Angeles as the end of that moment….The decisive recall of progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, and the strong showing of the billionaire former Republican developer Rick Caruso against Democratic Representative Karen Bass in the Los Angeles mayoral primary, likely will pressure Democrats at all levels of government to rebalance their message on criminal justice going forward. The results in California—combined with the former police officer Eric Adams’s victory in the New York mayoral race last fall—send a signal to Democrats that, even in some of their most reliable strongholds, voters are demanding a shift toward policies to combat crime and restore public order….“What you are really seeing is the Democratic base in cities is asserting its fundamental moderate values of prioritizing safety,” says Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University….The rising public demand for safety doesn’t mean Democrats are about to abandon the cause of criminal-justice reform and return to the “tough on crime” ethos of the 1990s. But it might prompt more leaders in the party to pull back from policies that appear to prioritize reform over public safety—the perception that doomed Boudin and also has triggered an ongoing recall effortagainst Los Angeles County’s progressive district attorney, George Gascón.”

Brownstein continues, “It was a brief moment and an excessive swing,” Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank, says of the push to reduce incarceration and reimagine, or even defund, policing. After Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police, Marshall says, “we had this progressive reaction, and a lot of utopian thinking crept in. But the problem was to view a strong response to crime and public disorder through the narrow lens of racial politics. That missed something big, which is that low-income and minority communities are on the front lines of crime—they are the No. 1 victims. They don’t want police beating up on their sons, but they also don’t want to be ignored.” Polls in Los Angeles have shown high levels of concern about crime and disorder across racial lines.” However, brown stein notes, “Yesterday’s results do not represent a decisive lurch toward the right for these cities. In Los Angeles, Caruso was about five percentage points ahead of Bass as of this morning. But Bass remained close enough that many local observers believe she will remain highly competitive in November’s runoff, when the electorate will be larger and likely younger and more racially diverse. Also yesterday, Alex Villanueva, the scandal-plagued L.A. County sheriff who has become a hero to conservatives by blaming crime on “woke” liberal policies, was forced into a runoff that he might struggle to win after attracting only about one-third of the vote in the early returns. And young leftist challengers denouncing the police department and city efforts to clear homeless encampments mounted strong primary races against several centrist Democrats on the L.A. City Council, including Gil Cedillo and Mitch O’Farrell, with the latter likely headed to a runoff….Still, the results in the marquee contests—the San Francisco D.A. recall and the L.A. mayoral race—show how much discontent over crime and homelessness has shaken the political landscape in what are ordinarily two of America’s most liberal cities….Even if Caruso falls short in November, it would be a mistake for Democrats to ignore the message of his strong performance, combined with Adams’s victory last year and the backlash against Boudin and Gascón. All are reminders that, as Marshall puts it, most Americans believe “public order is the primary responsibility of government.” After yesterday’s primary results, it’s clearer than ever that in order to confront the criminal-justice system’s undeniable racial inequities, reformers must convince voters that they are equally committed to confronting threats to public safety.”

What are the prospects for gun safety reforms at the state level? Nicole Narea reports that “Red states aren’t following Florida’s lead on gun control” at Vox, and writes: “Republicans typically respond to mass shootings by loosening gun laws, not tightening them. But after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state became a model for how Republicans could implement gun control….Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law, later signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, that raised the age to buy long guns, including AR-15-style rifles, from 18 to 21; required a three-day waiting period between when a firearm is purchased and when the buyer can get access to that gun; allowed trained school staff to carry guns; and put $400 million toward mental health services and school security. It also created an extreme risk law, or “red flag law,” that can bar individuals who are believed to pose a danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms — a measure that has gotten increasing attention in the wake of the recent streak of mass shootings as a policy solution that could draw bipartisan support nationally and in other states….The Florida law is a guidepost for ongoing negotiations over gun policy in the US Senate, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX)….“The template for Florida is the right one,” Murphy told CNN on Sunday. “Sen. Scott, then-Gov. Scott, passed that law in Florida because it was the right thing to do, but also because Republicans saw it as good politics. We have to make the case for Republicans that right now this is good politics.”….Florida’s red flag law has been identified as a potential model for other red states. But at the moment, it doesn’t seem as though there is a critical mass of Republicans who are interested in enacting red flag laws in states that don’t already have them. That’s true even in Texas and Oklahoma, where Republican lawmakers haven’t budged in the wake of the Uvalde and Tulsa shootings.” However, “Today, said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, “Republicans have momentum, and I think that there’s just not a lot of interest in spending political capital on a gun safety bill, despite the fact that there are lots of reasons for it.” Democratic candidates in some congressional and state legislative districts may be able to get leverage from red state parents, who are fed-up with Republican candidates who cower at the NRA’s every whim.

Primary Shows California Democrats Mostly Need to Get Out the Vote

Having read some insta-reactions to the June 7 California primary that treated it as some sort of massive validation of right-wing law-and-order politics, I pushed back at New York:

The big headlines from yesterday’s California primary were unsurprisingly driven by high-profile contests in the state’s two most prominent cities — San Francisco and Los Angeles. And the results, with the recall of the highly conspicuous progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin in San Francisco and strong showing by ex-Republican developer Rick Caruso in the L.A. mayoral race, lent themselves to a law-and-order narrative — with an undertone of panic among progressives that the GOP wave expected to convulse the nation in November might extend even into deep-blue California.

Democrats don’t need to panic just yet; turnout in the primary was too low to sustain any excited interpretations. We won’t know the final numbers for a good while in a state that’s careful to count every vote (California allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to count if received within seven days and has generous procedures for “curing” faulty ballots). But with ballots received now at 19 percent of registered voters, the Golden State could challenge the record-low primary turnout of 25 percent in 2014. While low primary turnout is normally a danger sign for Democrats (and may be this year as well), it could just reflect a year when there were no red-hot statewide contests — a dampening effect compounded by the sense that California’s top-two primary system makes the first contest a dry run with few real winners and losers.

The idea that the primary showed a state convulsed with reactionary tough-on-crime sentiment is an overreaction to what actually happened on June 7. Boudin was happily tossed over the side by much of San Francisco’s Democratic political establishment — who regarded him as an embarrassing and not terribly competent outlier, not a national symbol of criminal-justice reform (as some have treated him). And while Caruso’s emergence as a freshly minted Democrat running a viable race for mayor of L.A. was startling, it took a ten-to-one spending advantage over Karen Bass to make the general election. His best shot at winning may have passed in this low-turnout primary; Bass should be favored to win in November.

In addition, there were statewide races that didn’t confirm the “law-and-order spring” hypothesis. Appointed incumbent attorney general Rob Bonta should have been a prime target for tough-on-crime agitation. As The Appeal noted: “Bonta’s record on criminal justice reform, and his ties to groups doing the frontline work to transform prisons and policing, are stronger than either [Xavier] Becerra or [Kamala] Harris,” his two predecessors. (The former is Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary; the latter is his vice-president.) As a novice statewide candidate, Bonta could have been especially vulnerable, but in a primary against four opponents, he has received almost 55 percent of counted votes — a higher percentage than U.S. senator Alex Padilla and a bit below that of Governor Gavin Newsom. Bonta’s most conspicuous tough-on-crime opponent, Sacramento district attorney Anne Marie Schubert (running as an independent after ditching her Republican affiliation as impolitic), tried hard to tie Bonta to Boudin and his L.A. counterpart, George Gascón. Schubert was endorsed by several major law-enforcement organizations and a majority of her fellow county prosecutors, but she finished a poor fourth and is currently running 47 points behind Bonta — who will face one of two not terribly impressive actual Republicans in November.

In general, the overall California returns belie the idea that it was some sort of conservative-backlash election. The top-performing statewide Republican candidate, Lanhee Chen (known nationally as chief policy adviser to Mitt Romney in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns), made the general-election contest for state controller. But he did well mostly because he faced four viable Democrats and, at present, is only winning 37 percent of the vote. Chen has distanced himself from his national party and is running on a claim that California needs a non-Democrat in this position to avoid fiscal recklessness by the dominant party. He remains a long shot, at best, to break the GOP’s 16-year losing streak in California statewide elections.

At the congressional level, there’s no sign of an anti-Democratic wave so far. Candidates from both parties expected to make the general election have done so. Probably the weakest performances by incumbents were posted by Republicans David Valadao and Young Kim, who are both struggling a bit to put away challengers running to their right.

It’s a long way until November, and there are many dynamics that will shape the outcome — from inflation rates to gun-violence incidents, the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion rights, and efforts by Donald Trump to steal the spotlight. But California Democrats weathered Republican midterm waves in 2010 and 2014 quite well. And while California voters are expressing concerns about crime and (more prominently) homelessness and housing policy that may hurt some Democratic incumbents, talk of a law-and-order tsunami in the Golden State is premature. Like their colleagues everywhere, California Democrats should most urgently focus on getting their voters to the polls.



Why Dems Should Coordinate Political and Legal Strategies

There are no major surprises resulting from Tuesday’s primaries so far, so let’s take a look at strategic considerations for Democrats regarding the current U.S. Supreme Court. At The Boston Review, a couple of constitutional law scholars, Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath, co-authors of The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, share their observations in “Make Progressive Politics Constitutional Again: We must reject the legal liberalism that attempts to cordon off constitutional questions from democratic politics.” As Fishkin and Forbath write,

The Democrats are, for now, about two Senate votes shy of enacting a series of major reforms, from addressing climate change to protecting voting rights and making real progress in the fight to rein in the outsized political and economic power of the rich. But even assuming that the Democrats manage to enact such measures—overcoming our system’s many antidemocratic veto points, such as the Senate itself—the toughest challenge is still to come. The looming risk is that all such reforms may be unraveled by our archconservative Supreme Court. The Court has made the Constitution a weapon for selectively striking down legislation the justices disfavor. They are highly likely to wield it against laws that aim to repair economic or political inequality.

The Court can do this with near-total impunity today because many Americans accept the idea that the Supreme Court is the only institution with any role in saying what the Constitution means. Congress and other elected leaders, at best, can fill in the few blanks that the courts have left open. Rather than contesting the Court’s power to make highly questionable judgments about the meaning of the Constitution, most liberals today defend the Court’s authority. Their top complaint about the current Court is that it doesn’t have sufficient respect for its own precedents, which today’s majority is fast overturning as it lurches further right.

Noting that “liberals have contributed to conservatives’ success by imagining constitutional law as an autonomous domain, separate from politics,” The authors add,

There is no future for the liberal idea (never adopted by conservatives) of a sharp separation between constitutional arguments in court and political arguments outside the courts. The border between the two is too thin and porous. Arguments move across it both ways, with profound effects. Declarations by courts shape the terms of public debate and move the horizons of political possibility; arguments in politics shape arguments in court. We are all responsible for participating in debates about the meaning of the Constitution, and we ought to recognize the power of this shared commitment. In the long run, it can help us build a more egalitarian and democratic society than some of our elites, on and off the Court, would accept.

….We see at least three key battles. First, it is time for progressives to reclaim the First Amendment, contesting the way it has been weaponized as a tool to thwart egalitarian legislation in campaign finance and labor law. Second, we must reforge the link between racial justice and political economy, widening the constitutional lens through which we see questions of race beyond antidiscrimination law and voting rights, to include substantive issues of mass incarceration, health care, public investment, job creation, and wealth inequality. Third, we must bring political economy back into view in areas where liberals retreated from politics and ceded power to economists, such as in antitrust, monetary policy, and corporate law.

To challenge the constitutional claims of hostile courts, progressives must first persuade our fellow Americans that certain progressive ideas are deeply rooted in American traditions of constitutional argument. In pursuing these ideas, we are not transgressing constitutional boundaries but rebuilding the economic and political foundations of U.S. democracy.

Among the reforms Fishkin and Forbath suggest, “Lawmakers can also alter the political economy of running for office—and improve the prospects of candidates and movements with poor and working-class constituencies—by making it less expensive to run a campaign.” They note, further,

When law students learn about the New Deal and its defense of the industrial union today, they focus on the expansion of national power through the Commerce Clause. That was part of the story. But at the time, the era’s leading scholar of the Supreme Court, Edward Corwin, saw things quite differently. He saw a constitutional “revolution” taking place—not about the commerce power, but about the constitutional meaning of freedom. Safeguarding workers’ collective freedoms against private employers’ coercion—and guaranteeing “the economic security of the common man” through social insurance—were now “affirmative” governmental obligations….Unsurprisingly, for decades the remnants of this vision have been squarely in the crosshairs of conservative politicians and judges. Starting with the counterrevolution of the late 1940s, the “right to work” movement has waged an ongoing campaign of legislation and litigation funded and supported by corporate executives and employers’ associations, as well as by wealthy anti-union ideological activists, to destroy the New Deal vision of labor as a source of countervailing social and political power against oligarchy.

….As today’s liberal justices stare down a far bolder and more sweeping antilabor intervention, insights about labor as a countervailing power are nowhere to be found. For lawyers focused on the action inside the Court, making such arguments in the face of conservative majorities might seem pointless. But this concern misses the role constitutional arguments play in public debate. They not only shape litigation but also send signals to the political branches and the people about what cases like Janus are really about—not speech, but constitutional political economy. Rebuilding a powerful progressive movement with a central place for organized labor requires forging a new understanding of the constitutional necessity of countervailing power—an understanding that will have to begin life outside the courts, but ultimately will reverberate both inside and out.

Looking to the future, they suggest:

There is a path forward. Democrats committed to labor law reform have gained power within the party. Not since Harry Truman vetoed Taft-Hartley in 1947 (a veto later overridden by the conservative Dixiecrat/Republican coalition) has the White House spoken about workers’ right to organize the way President Biden speaks about it. Although Democrats do not yet have the votes in the Senate, the House recently passed a sweeping labor law reform bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which aims to repeal crucial elements of Taft–Hartley and boost efforts to organize unions. Among other things, the PRO Act would expand the definition of work to ensure that organized workers in today’s fragmented workplace—from fast food franchise workers to “contracted” Uber and Lyft drivers, to home health care workers—can bargain with the companies who benefit from their work. The PRO Act would repeal some of the most crippling restrictions on the rights to strike and boycott, such as the ban on so-called secondary actions, which blocks workers who have some organized economic clout from aiding workers who don’t. As the House Education and Labor Committee puts it, the Act would enable “unions to exercise these basic First Amendment rights.” It is very encouraging that this view—that the Taft-Hartley prohibitions violate basic constitutional rights—is once more gaining strength in Congress.

Enacting transformative labor law reform will involve fierce and protracted battles, not only in the Senate, but in courts (where challenges are inevitable), in workplaces, and in the public sphere. Getting there will require both Democratic majorities committed to such change and considerable labor organizing and action on the ground. As in the 1930s, workers will need to exercise their rights to organize, strike, and act in solidarity in contexts where this is now illegal, in the face of judicial injunctions, fines, and jail time….Progressives will need more than the old liberal response that Congress has broad power under the Commerce Power to regulate the national economy, and that Congress has exercised that power to promote labor peace. Both in court and outside of it, and in legislative bodies from city councils up to Congress, progressives should work to show their fellow citizens that rebuilding labor is a constitutional necessity.

Fishkin and Forbath also address current legal concerns regarding racial justice and disproportionate corporate power to manipulate the economy, and conclude, “We must disperse political and economic power widely enough to ensure that economic opportunity is broadly shared and racially inclusive. These are not merely constitutionally permissible goals; they are constitutional necessities. Legislators and citizens who hope to reverse the present slide into oligarchy need to recover these arguments and deploy them to help rebuild the democratic foundations of our republic.”

Teixeira: Umm…About That Supposed Left Wing Great Replacement Theory

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Predictably, some on the right have sought to characterize the left as having their own equally noxious Great Replacement Theory and, as evidence, many have cited, well, me and my esteemed co-author John Judis.

This is baloney of course and both Judis and I were pleased to see Joan Walsh defend our honor in The Nation:

“There is, in fact, a great replacement theory, they now argue—and it’s been peddled by Democrats. They’re claiming it emerged largely from a book by two friends of mine: The Emerging Democratic Majority, written by Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis roughly 20 years ago.

“As Republicans flip from “We don’t believe in a great replacement theory” to “Hey, it’s real, but Democrats invented it!”—they routinely cite Judis and Teixeira….

Teixeira and Judis never promoted the notion that immigration, legal or illegal, was going to transform the Democratic Party. The growth of “ideopolises” was a bigger deal. If you can’t grab the book off one of your bookshelves, try this excerpt from The New York Times. And see if you recognize the book Ann Coulter and others are slurring.

The other reason I knew these lying liars are lying is that Judis and Teixeira aren’t ideologues. Their book didn’t advocate policy; it described trends.”

In addition, Ryan Mills at National Review had a good article about the controversy where he allowed me to defend our honor directly:

“In 2002, Ruy Teixeira co-authored the book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which posited that the changing electoral landscape — the changing voting behavior of women, professionals, and younger people, along with racial and ethnic demographic patterns — was poised to benefit Democrats. Teixeira told National Review that he and his co-author, John Judis, were merely pointing out clear demographic trends “That’s different from arguing that Democrats should consciously engineer and accelerate this shift,” he said. “We said not one word about that.”…

Teixeira said he doesn’t believe it’s fair to say that Democrats are intentionally engineering demographic changes to their political benefit. He called the great replacement theory “a pretty far right-wing constellation of ideas coming out of Europe.” But he said left-wing cheerleading of white decline has “certainly gone too far.”

Teixeira said that in their book, he and Judis were always talking about the “potential” for a Democratic majority. “I emphasize potential,” he said, “because we talked in the book about how it was necessary for these opportunities to be handled intelligently, for the Democrats to adopt a variety of what we called progressive centrism. And above all else, and we talked about this and everyone immediately forgot it, that you need to have a certain share of more conservative, white working-class voters still on board with your party, or the political arithmetic just doesn’t work.”

Teixeira has said a “dangerous misinterpretation” of his book helped elect Donald Trump.

Some conservatives have argued that Democratic crowing about declining white power and the weaponization of demographic change have alienated working-class whites. Teixeira said it also encouraged Democrats to act like they don’t need those voters.

“It encourages the lazy, counterproductive, and basically mathematically illiterate approach to the electorate where these idiots think that they can get by without paying attention to what more conservative or non-college white voters think,” Teixeira said.”

Both articles are worth a read and provide a solid rebuttal to attempts to recruit our book as a sort of lefty Great Replacement handbook.

Political Strategy Notes

In ‘know your adversary’ news, Matthew Sheffield reports in his Flux article that, “For decades, Republican consultants spent big to promote leftist candidates, now they’ve started creating fake ones: Instead of trying to build a majority, the American right has decided to divide and conquer.” Sheffield documents the sleazy history of GOP fronting fake and unelectable Democratic candidates, and writes, “It’s not currently known how large the GOP effort to put forward sham candidates in 2020 was, but the evidence from Florida and other states suggests that it is becoming an increasingly common tactic. A fourth ringer “independent” candidate, Leroy Sanchez, who ran in Florida’s House District 42 has been connected with the Senate candidate ring through a Republican lobbyist named Macy Harper. Sanchez, who is the brother of a top Florida Republican donor, received just under 7,500 votes for his non-candidacy, far greater than the 1,160 margin that enabled the GOP candidate in the race to win.” It appears Republican operatives are particularly interested in fronting g pro-weed candidates to siphon votes away from Democrats. As Sheffield writes, “Minnesota Republicans also tried the fake candidate tactic in 2020, according to Adam Weeks, a man who ran on the Legal Marijuana Now Party line. Shortly before he died in the September before the election, Weeks left a voicemail for a friend which said that he had been recruited to siphon away votes from Angie Craig, the Democratic candidate in the state’s 2nd U.S. House district. Despite his death, Weeks remained on the ballot and received nearly 25,000 votes. That was not enough to block Craig, but it made the race significantly closer than it would have been….Weeks was far from the only person apparently recruited by Minnesota Republicans to run on a pro-weed candidacy. In May of last year, Kevin Ne Se Shores, a blind and disabled veteran who ran in 2020 as a candidate on the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party line in the state’s 7th U.S. House district, said that he had been recruited to run by Kip Christianson, an employee of the Republican National Committee at the time. Shores said that Christianson paid his $300 filing fee, in addition to helping him get into the pot party’s primary election.” But in light of Republicans’ increasing reliance on fake candidates and their long history of trying to manipulate Black Americans and other progressive voters, electoral reforms are necessary.”

However, Charlie Cook explains why “Even in a Great Year, Republicans’ Winnable Seats Are Limited,” and observes at The Cook Political Report that “after three consecutive cycles of very aggressive, even audacious gerrymandering by both parties, the number of competitive districts is much smaller, arguably reducing the volatility….Another reason is that Democrats lost a dozen House seats in 2020. Just as the ‘A’ seat on an airliner is always a window seat, a party cannot lose a seat they don’t have….In modern times, big wave elections have tended to come from a party well behind in seats. Republicans’ House gain of 54 seats in 1994 was from a starting point of just 174 seats; their 64-seat pickup in 2010 was from 178 seats. When Democrats gained 42 seats from Republicans in 2018, they started with just 194 seats. Allocating the currently vacant seats into the column they had come from (and will likely return), Democrats hold 222 seats and Republicans 213, well above the GOP levels going into 1994 and 2010 and Democrats in 2006….Most current estimates of likely GOP House gains range from as low as a dozen seats (seven more than necessary for the barest majority) to about three dozen. The current outlook from David Wasserman, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter’s expert on the House, is a Republican gain of between 20 and 35 seats….Then again, caution may be in order in applying historic patterns from a period before partisan polarization became as extreme as it is today, with defections among partisans quite rare and pure independents exceedingly fickle and prone to buyer’s remorse.”

Li Zhou reports on the “House Democrats’ sweeping gun control package” at Vox, and notes: “Although lawmakers are currently on recess, the House Judiciary Committee returned Thursday for an urgent session focused on multiple bills intended to address the age limit for purchasing guns, the sale of large-capacity magazines, and firearm storage. During the markup, committee members approved the package, setting it up for a floor vote as soon as next week….This legislation — which will inevitably be blocked in the Senate — is an acknowledgment of the importance of this issue, and a way for Democrats to show voters that they are trying to take action in the wake of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma….As part of this week’s meeting, Democrats considered eight bills, which they’ve dubbed the Protect Our Kids Package. This legislation is in addition to votes the House will take on a federal red-flag law sponsored by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), which enables law enforcement to confiscate weapons from an individual who’s seen as a threat to themselves or others, as well as a markup it will conduct on an assault weapons ban. House Democrats also previously voted on two bills that would strengthen background checks for guns….The House actions are occurring in parallel with bipartisan talks in the Senate that are expected to result in a much narrower bill, if any at all. Earlier this week, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) met via Zoom to continue discussions about a possible deal that’s likely to center on “red flag laws” or background checks.” Many Democrats worry, based on previous experience, that the Republicans are running another ‘Lucy holding the football’ scam. But running out the clock may not work this time, since mass shootings are increasing alarmingly. No matter what happens with the senate negotiations, good on House Dems for at least setting a high standard.

In her article, “These Data Nerds Think They’ve Found the Climate Silver Bullet: Nonvoting Environmentalists: The Environmental Voter Project wants to turn infrequent voters who care about the environment into a force that can swing elections” at The New Republic, Lisa Featherstone writes, “Voters don’t care enough about climate, according to conventional wisdom. The best way to address climate change is for Democrats to win elections by talking about other subjects, consultants say. The problem with this political advice is that Democratic politicians, acting on the insight that voters don’t care, get into office and then don’t set a high priority on climate policy—because they want to be reelected….Put this way, it sounds like we have an almost unsolvable problem on our hands, one that could lead us to believe that representative democracy was incompatible with human survival. Conversations with liberals and progressives these days, especially those engaged in climate issues, are unfailingly gloomy. The right seems to be on a winning streak; relatedly, we’re all doomed. But what if there was a way out of this existential cul-de-sac?…The data nerds and activists behind the Environmental Voter Project, or EVP, think there is. They’ve got extensive research and proven results to support this crazy bit of optimism, and they’re using it to try to sway the midterms, a looming political event that most liberals are hailing with unqualified despair….The big surprise of EVP’s research is that far more nonvoters list climate as their top priority. And what that means, Stinnett says, is that turning nonvoting environmentalists (and “drop off” voters, those who have voted in presidential years but not otherwise) into voters could swing elections….Lots of environmentalists don’t need their minds changed. They need a behavioral change.” These people don’t need to be told to care about the environment. They need to be organized into voting….This year, EVP argues that “drop off” environmental voters alone could easily swing the midterms in Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire; the number of drop-off voters in each of those states far surpasses the margins of victory in the 2018 midterms and, in Pennsylvania, in the 2020 presidential race.” Read Featherstone’s article for more insights into how Dems can mine this vein.