Thursday, August 7, 2014

Advice for Democratic Candidates

Inspiring discouraged Democrats to get out and vote in the numbers that will prevent a repug tsunami is not going to be easy, but neither is it rocket science, if dems just concentrate on what's really happening.

Steve M:

So what can Democrats do? I think they have to start talking about why popular Democratic policies don't get enacted. The reason is that there are too damn many Republicans in Congress.

I think they have to say, "When you elect Republicans, they block any increase in the minimum wage. When you elect Republicans, they block every bill that would put people to work. When you elect Republicans, they block immigration reform. When you elect Republicans, they insist on trying to get the budget under control by cutting programs that people really need because they refuse to allow the taxes of the wealthiest Americans to go up by even one dime." And so on and so on.

Maybe you even need to explain the filibuster -- yes, on the campaign trail. Don't you think Bill Clinton could pull that off in a speech and still keep an audience's attention? Well, why should that be a unique skill? The president is a pretty good speaker, too, isn't he?

According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, 59% of voters are at least somewhat "disappointed" in the Obama presidency, including 24% of Democrats. Why is that? Partly it's because people thought he could do more. Well, most voters don't have a clear picture of why he can't do more. They need some Civics 101 so they'll understand. And they need someone to explain what the solution would be, even if it's highly unlikely to be attainable.

Why is it so difficult for Democrats to say that Republicans are the problem? Republicans have no problem blaming Democrats, and they're not punished at the polls for "divisiveness," at least in non-presidential elections.

Assess the blame where it belongs. Otherwise, voters just think that ineffectual Democrats are the real problem.
As Kevin Drum put it:
 Democrats simply don't consistently support concrete policies that help the broad working and middle classes. Half of them voted for the bankruptcy bill of 2005. They've done virtually nothing to stem the growth of monopolies and next to nothing to improve consumer protection in visible ways. They don't do anything for labor. They're soft on protecting Social Security. They bailed out the banks but refused to bail out underwater homeowners. Hell, they can't even agree to kill the carried interest loophole, a populist favorite if ever there was one.

Sure, Democrats do plenty for the poor. They support increases in the EITC and the minimum wage. They support Medicaid expansion. They passed Obamacare. They support pre-K for vulnerable populations. They expanded CHIP. But virtually none of this really benefits the working or middle classes except at the margins.

Now McElwee wants to use environmentalism to appeal to the working class. I'm all for that. But you don't have to play 11-dimensional chess to figure out how Republicans will respond. They'll say that Democrats want to raise your taxes. They'll say Democrats want to take away your plastic bags. They'll say Democrats want to make us all drive tiny cars or take the train everywhere. In coal country they'll say Democrats want to take away your jobs.

And then Democrats will wonder yet again why a big chunk of the working class votes for Republicans. It's a stumper all right.

Apologies for being peevish. But honestly, Democrats have done virtually nothing for the middle class for three decades now. They're nearly as reliant on the business community for campaign funding as Republicans. Can we all stop pretending that there's some deep mystery about why lots of working and middle class voters figure there are no real economic differences between the parties, so they might as well vote on social issues instead?

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