Thursday, February 02, 2017

2018: A GREAT YEAR FOR THE DEMOCRATS, OR MAYBE A TERRIBLE ONE

Mike Gecan, co-director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, thinks Democrats are setting themselves for a disaster in 2018:
... the new Trump administration ... has studied the game films from Wisconsin in 2011, when Gov. Scott Walker declared war on organized labor, the Democratic Party and the moderate wing of his own Republican Party....

The unions and their supporters responded to this play by organizing massive demonstrations and sit-ins in the capitol in Madison....

The demonstrations took on a life of their own. Their leaders then called a second play -- a recall of the governor....
Here was the problem. These defensive moves didn’t work....

The Trump team is following the Walker playbook, with some variations. Like Walker, it is running aggressive plays right from the start....

Second, it’s counting on the opposition to fall into the same trap that the Wisconsin opposition did -- to rely on massive demonstrations and to ignore the need to do hard, local, person-by-person organizing back in the local towns, villages and counties.
If Democrats keep protesting and never get around to organizing, they'll experience more failure at the ballot box, replicating what's happened to Democrats in Wisconsin, Gecan says.

Josh Marshall agrees on the importance of organizing for the 2018 elections, but he sees the potential for serious Democratic gains:
By any historical standard, President Trump is almost catastrophically unpopular....

By every standard, Trump is courting even greater unpopularity and sowing the seeds of an electoral backlash in two years....

I appear to be considerably more confident than a lot of other people I know that Republicans may face a big electoral backlash in 2018. But if it happens it will happen because of grassroots organizing in red states and the red parts of blue states. The cities are already overwhelmingly Democratic. The fight is really outside the major cities. Nor is it just geographical. Trump's power will be broken most on issues like health care - some mix of Medicare, Obamacare repeal, etc. These are issues that cut across the urban/rural divide....

Put me down as a gravity believer. I think the White House and the entire GOP are setting themselves up for a 2018 reckoning. But it won't happen automatically. It requires activation of the Democratic base, which is already happening with dramatic speed. Just as much it requires cutting into the non-big city territories with specific messages which divide Trump from his voters or potential voters.

... [The] true [Trump] believers [are] authoritarians who are energized by Trump's destructive behavior. But there are not that many of those people. A big chunk of Trump's voters voted for him in spite of their dislike. Those people can be carved away.
Me, I'm expecting an okay 2018 for Democrats -- not disastrous but not game-changing. I worry that the anti-Trump movement is replicating an aspect of Hillary Clinton's campaign that seems to have hurt her: It's all about what's wrong with Trump rather than what's good about voting Democratic. Attacking Trump is necessary, but Democrats need an alternative agenda and they need to make sure voters know what it is. There's plenty of time to work on that, but I worry that Democrats won't.

I also worry that the "but I could never vote for Hillary" problem might extend to 2018 Democrats trying to make inroads in what Marshall calls the "borderlands." In too much of America, voting Democratic is just unthinkable for white voters. It may be lingering racism from the Obama years or just effective colonization of even moderate minds by Fox News and talk radio. Democrats have to overcome that, and I hope they know how.

On the other hand, by 2018 we'll have had two years of what we've experienced for the past two weeks, and I think that could wear even a lot of moderate voters down. And it's possible that there'll be some mini-Trumps running for office as Republicans, if this report by BuzzFeed's Tarini Parti and Alexis Levinson is to be believed:
Well before President Trump’s inauguration, his top adviser Steve Bannon met with a few top-tier donors -- the kind of donors capable of writing million-dollar checks.

The message, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations, was that Bannon wants to use the 2018 midterm elections as the arena to test the political clout of Trump’s populist message.

“The days of [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell picking Republican nominees in Senate races are over,” Bannon has told the donors, according to sources familiar with the meetings. He also mentioned the US Chamber of Commerce as declining in influence, according to one of those sources....

[Bannon] he encouraged donors to starting giving to the outside entity created by Trump allies that was still taking shape at the time.

The group, a nonprofit called America First, officially launched this week.

America First will focus on issue advocacy, but could eventually direct fire on congressional Republicans who defy Trump’s agenda.
Parti and Levinson go on to express some doubts as to whether the Trumpers can seize control of GOP candidate selection -- we're told that one self-styled Trump clone, Kelli Ward, is struggling to raise the money she'll need to primary Arizona GOP senator Jeff Flake, a Trump critic.

We'll see how this all plays out. Will Trump's GOP be vulnerable in 2018 because heartland voters aren't financially better off and America doesn't seem safer? Or will Trump keep his head somewhat above water because he'll continue to be the guy who rages at whatever heartland whites hate? Will Democrats remember to organize in 2018 -- and if so, will they have a compelling message and good candidates? Will they still be fighting the Bernie-vs.-Hillary purist/pragmatist wars?

I don't know what will happen in two years. I don't expect huge successes, but I think there could be some gains -- assuming, of course, that we have relatively fair elections at all.

7 comments:

Jimbo said...

The Senate may be gettable despite the large number of vulnerable Democratic seats if people see a need to put a brake on an out of control President and HOR. However, I see no (or very little) possibility of taking the HOR simply because the GOP has gerrymandered the living hell out of the majority of seats. I also don't think the situation will change in 2020 either because the Trump Administration and Congress will almost certainly doctor the census (and do it pretty openly too) to keep the HOR GOP majority near permanent. Also the red states always differentiate between their Congresscritter and the president so that dislike of Trump won't necessarily translate into Democratic HOR election gains(but could change the Senate). Of course, if we are plunged back into another Great Recession or worse, all bets are off.

AllieG said...

Since the 2016 election was thought to have been won by Clinton by everybody including Trump right up until about 8 p.m. Nov. 8, forecasting of the 2018 elections seems premature. I agree with you Steve that the constant barrage of Trump-generated fiascoes may just wear folks out. "Peace and quiet" is part of "peace and prosperity" for many voters.

Gerald Lillpop said...

It's only been two weeks wtf do you expect

pbriggsiam said...

Michael Gecan knows a thing or two about organizing. Nice source. It would be interesting if you updated your post to consider the dynamic of how protests lead people to come together.

I know you read Martin Longman:

http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2017/1/19/144313/683

Protests Are Their Own Reward"

"Protests tend not to accomplish anything right away unless they’re so menacing that the king wants to flee the palace. What happens more commonly is that they act as a great social networking event. Friendships and connections are made. People get organized. People get energy. We can do some of this with blogs and apps, but there’s nothing like people meeting likeminded people in the flesh.

So, the real story of the Pussyhat Revolution tomorrow won’t be in what gets broadcast on television. It will be what happens on the ground, on the subways, in the hotel lobbies and bars, as people come together to mourn and to share their fears, and to find their resolve. "

We've got:

Our Revolution
Indivisible
Justice Democrats
Brand New Congress

and a few more. Not to mention, I am seeing much more interest and attendance at the county Democratic Party meetings here in Washington County, OR (Portland suburbs).

I was just at a mosque last night in the SW suburbs of Portland where 1000 people attended. Police officials, elected officials, judges, ACLU Oregon, Immigration legal folk, district attorneys, FBI. 1000 people on a cold weekday night for several hours!

I'm not predicting but I sure necessary alliances are being built. My wife and I intend on being a part of all of this. 2018 is our ultimate goal - a new congress to block Trump and GOP agenda.

rclz said...

If Trump puts a tax on imports from Mexico and China I'm betting there are a lot of people who are going to lose their jobs. Those companies are not going to absorb the tax, they'll pass it on to the consumer who is not going to pay it unless it's for things they really need. A lot of what fuels this country is people selling stuff to other people. You put a big enough crimp in that and people start losing their jobs.

I predict between cutting the government payroll and screwing with trade wars, Trump will put far more people out of work than he'll ever create jobs for.

If that happens...then he could cost the GOP enough Senate seats for the Dems to take it back.

The courts are working on the gerrymandering but I don't think it's going to be worked out by 2018

Diane Rodriguez said...

Cynical though it may seem, too many people are just stupid. Lazy thinking has been encouraged by our 24/7 reporting on completely useless individuals that have made enormous amounts of money for things like sex tapes and being generally nasty, crazy and/or stupid to others in front of a camera. The actual human value of that Kardashian/West combo?

Until something lands like a large pile of steaming shit on a Trump supporter's lap, they will be blind to the nexus between the president's* and his sycophants' shredding of civil rights, his deals to sell the country to the highest bidder and no "good paying" jobs. Because...well there's a lot of flags and pins to be waved and worn to prove Patriotism! Bullying is seen as strength instead of cowardice, especially for all those people who can't confront their own navels and hate anyone who has a cogent thought, especially if its a person of color doing the thinking. Really, who actually understands why NOT having health care for everyone is a bad thing? That has to be the single most ignorant thought process of our time.

I am cynical. I'm hopeful that Steve's prediction is even a little right about the 2018 midterms. With voter suppression and the chaos of fake news, its a huge mountain to overcome and getting bigger. I am marching in protests and working on a campaign, but everyday it seems worse.

homelessonthehighdesert said...

Are we traveling under the assumption there will be elections in 2018 & 20?

Expecting the worst, rarely surprised.
Ten Bears