Saturday, July 10, 2021


After Democrats regained control of the White House and Congress, liberals started to feel hope ... but now the usual cycle is repeating.
A pro-Biden super PAC has issued a dire warning to Democrats: Voters are largely clueless about the big policy measures they’ve passed and on which their 2022 electoral hopes rest.

The message, delivered in a late June strategy memo by Unite the Country, advised Democrats that they could face midterm losses unless they took a more aggressive approach in touting the president’s $2 trillion Covid-relief bill and defining his infrastructure proposal.

“Unfortunately, the [American Rescue Plan] and these other proposals remain worryingly undefined in the public consciousness and voters are primed with misinformation that helps Republican justify their opposition,” the memo reads. “Democrats must communicate much more aggressively to define success for the ARP and to explain why it is important to pass the American Jobs Act and the American Families Plan.”

The memo, obtained by POLITICO, was based off of a series of focus groups conducted in battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Democratic ideas -- as usual -- are popular, whether or not people know they're Democratic ideas.
The United the Country memo had some welcome findings for Biden in addition to the warnings. Their focus groups found strong support for cutting taxes by expanding the child tax credit, with the PAC describing the policy as “a home run even among the most hard-core” Trump supporters. Those queried also supported corporate tax hikes and were concerned that corporations didn’t pay their fair share — a point that Biden has made time and again and a proposal he is likely to incorporate in a Democrat-only spending plan to come alongside the bipartisan infrastructure proposal.
But Democrats aren't saying, as loud as possible, that they're the party of these ideas, so instead they're being defined this way:
A growing number of Democrats are ringing the alarm that their party sounds — and acts — too judgmental, too sensitive, too "woke" to large swaths of America.

Why it matters: These Democrats warn that by jamming politically correct terms or new norms down the throats of voters, they risk exacerbating the cultural wars — and inadvertently helping Trumpian candidates.

... Moderate and swing-district lawmakers and aides tell Axios' Margaret Talev and Alayna Treene that the party could suffer massive losses in next year's midterms if Democrats run like Sen. Elizabeth Warren is president.
(In 2020, Warren rejected the slogan "Defund the Police," but never mind.)

Digby is right to argue that one of our major parties should fret about being seen as extreme, and it isn't the Democrats:

But many voters can't "see the real threat" because Democrats won't campaign on the message "Republicans are the real threat." Brian Beutler is right about the GOP's assumption that it can get away with backing sedition (and other unpopular ideas, like sabotaging the president's vaccination campaign):
... Republicans think they’re unlikely to face a penalty for their ghastly behavior today.... they expect that Democrats will try to make [the election] about policy, and that they’ll be able to swamp policy appeals with critical race theory or whatever the culture-war flavor of the month happens to be next October.

But what if they did pay a penalty?

I’d wager that the January 6 insurrection polls terribly basically everywhere and that discouraging young people from getting their COVID-19 shots is only popular in the fringiest of communities.

For Republicans to suffer politically for embracing these things, though, Democrats have to make them. To treat these liabilities less as side shows than as the actual thematic center of the election. To stop hiding from the culture wars and actually win them.

It would take a little creative thinking, and a modest tolerance for getting down in the mud; but the goal should be to make Republicans pay a price for venturing down the road to cultishness and political violence directly, rather than through a parallel referendum on health care or the minimum wage.
For instance:
President Biden could award the cop who was left no choice but to shoot Ashlii Babbitt the medal of freedom. He could even invite Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell to the ceremony. (... Biden could ... bestow the award in absentia and anonymously. “This hero unfortunately can’t be here, as a deranged, un-American element has credibly threatened violence, but we can’t let the brave conduct we witnessed go uncelebrated blah blah blah.”)
I know this seems to contradict my earlier argument that hearings on January 6 are an exercise in futility -- but that's because the hearings will be conducted in the hope that a Perry Mason moment will arrive and we'll learn something about the riot that we don't already know, something that will lead to a reckoning for a culprit or culprits who are evading justice now. That's highly unlikely. Republicans will use the hearings to lie, obfuscate, stonewall, and distract. Justice won't prevail.

We already know what we need to know about January 6: Republicans did it and Republicans are glad they did it. We should take those facts and weaponize them. We're not going to get more than that, and we don't need more.

So Democrats are bad at selling their policy differences with Republicans, and Democrats also allow Republicans to portray them as extreme when Republicans actually are extreme, a message Democrats won't campaign on. That's going to have terrible consequences in the 2022 midterms.

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