Thursday, November 02, 2017


Dave Weigel reports on a disheartening survey from a couple of Democratic pollsters:
Warning of a “weakening Democratic brand,” pollsters working for a progressive nonprofit are encouraging the minority party to run on a clear, populist platform in 2018 — or risk an election where voters don’t see them as alternatives to the Trump administration.

“Trump is hated, but he is not collapsing and is stable on many parts of his identity and job performance,” pollsters Stan Greenberg and Nancy Zdunkewicz wrote in a polling memo prepared for Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, a nonprofit organization. “Democrats must make the main choice in this election about how the Republicans in Congress have gone back on their promises on health care and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

The poll results ... revisit a pool of voters from the “rising American electorate” — young, diverse and less prone to voting — that was first studied in June. Since the summer, despite President Trump’s struggles, those voters told the pollsters that they’d become a bit less inclined to vote for Democrats in 2018. A 31-point Democratic margin shrank to a 21-point margin....

One of the best-testing messages mirrored what Democrats had said for years: “Trickle-down has failed and the richest need to pay their fair share of taxes.” They had just not said so effectively about Trump and Republicans in Congress.
I keep hearing that Democrats should either talk about economic issues or pitch their message to the emerging, more-diverse electorate -- but I don't understand why this has to be an either/or choice. Democrats who can't figure out how to do both should get the hell out of big-league politics, in favor of people who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Note that the voters surveyed were young and diverse -- and they responded well to an economic message. Enough Midwestern whites responded well to a message about a diverse America in 2008 and 2012 to elect Barack Obama twice. So find a way to get both messages out.

But please, please, please: Make the point that the Republican Party is the problem. The Republican Party has contempt for you if you're non-white or LGBT or if you're unemployed or need health care for a child with chronic illness or live downstream from a chemical plant. The key to changing America is not electing Republicans.

But what are we doing? We're fixating on Donald Trump and portraying him as an anomaly, not as the culmination of long-term trends in his party. We're cheering on supposedly brave Republicans such as Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, ignoring the fact that the entire GOP, including, on most votes, Corker and Flake, has circled the wagons to protect Trump. We're rehabilitating George W. Bush, which, as Ryan Cooper writes, is nuts:
The Iraq disaster killed 4,500 U.S. soldiers, something like 400,000 Iraqis, and radically destabilized the entire region. It led directly to the rise of ISIS and contributed powerfully to the Syrian Civil War. It was the worst foreign policy blunder in American history....

(And all this is leaving aside Bush's grotesque domestic policy record — the massive handouts to the rich, ... the wretched economic performance, letting New Orleans drown, and, of course, the world-shattering financial crisis.)

... Democrats polishing the Bush presidency turd ... badly misleads people as to the nature of the political fix America is in. Trump is not some aberration in an otherwise-normal political party. He is merely every despicable Republican impulse cranked up to 11 — only this time, he's so incompetent that he hasn't managed to actually achieve much. So let us stop pretending otherwise.
We're falling into the trap Hillary Clinton fell into: We're assuming that "real Americans" don't trust any idea unless it's ratified by a Republican, so we're seeking Republican validation for our opposition to Trump. That just reinforces the notion that Democrats aren't worthy of respect.

Democrats: Be proud of who you are, speak up for yourselves, and talk about what Republicans have done over the past few decades and how their extremism hurts ordinary people. The problem is the Republican Party, stupid.

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