Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Democratic Party-- Which Way?


Last month, Justice Democrats commissioned an important report, The Future of the Party-- A Progressive Vision For A Populist Democrat Party by Sean McElwee. You should read the whole thing at that link. The short version: "The Democratic Party is at a crossroads as the 2018 election approaches."
Generic ballot polling, historical trends, and recent special elections suggest that Democrats will perform well in November, likely enough to take back the House of Representatives.

But which Democratic Party will take the House?

Will it be a Democratic Party ready to combat plutocracy, white supremacy, and militarism, or a Democratic Party ready to be complicit in continuing the policies that have harmed so many Americans? While pundits debate the future of the party, the Democratic Party’s base is united around policies that would create a fair economy for all, racial justice, and gender equality. Still, many in the party leadership and wealthy donor class express concerns that such policies will endanger the party.
The report shows that a pivot toward the "center" is poison with the Democratic primary electorate, that marginal voters and nonvoters support key progressive policies and could form a durable base for the Democratic Party and that many Democratic incumbents are failing their constituents by opposing progressive policies with broad-based support.

These are the key findings:
The Democratic base is ready for multi-racial populism.

• Democratic primary voters want aggressive government action: More than 90 percent of Democratic primary voters support a tax on millionaires and increased regulation on banks. Eighty-six percent of Democratic primary voters support a government guarantee of health care. Eighty percent support the government taking actions to reduce inequality.

• Democratic primary voters increasingly reject racism:

Eighty-five percent of Democratic primary voters support a path to citizenship, and nearly 1 in 5 believe that it should not involve any penalties. For the first time since it’s been polled, a majority of white Democrats are more likely to blame discrimination than “willpower” for racial inequality.

It's time for a new nonvoter revolution.

• Nonvoters preferred Clinton to Trump 53/44.Full turnout would have lead to a Democratic Presidential victory in 2016.
• Nonvoters and marginal voters are more supportive of progressive policies. For example, 68 percent of nonvoters support increased regulation of big banks, compared to 52 percent of consistent voters.

Democrats can win elections without rejecting their base.

• The general public supports key, over-the-horizon Democratic priorities, from marijuana legalization and ending mandatory minimums to a $15 minimum wage and single-payer health care.
• Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage are popular in purple states across the country.

Democrats are not representing the progressivism of their constituents.

• Many Democrats reject policies supported by the general public in their states and districts.

• Ninety-two percent of Democrats in the House represent districts where modeled support for repealing the Hyde Amendment is greater than 55 percent, but only 70 percent of House Democrats support repealing the Hyde Amendment. 
• Sixty-seven percent of Democrats in the Senate represent states where modeled support for Medicare for All is greater than 55 percent, but only 33 percent of Senate Democrats support Medicare for All.

This is one point that we often grapple with at DWT: "Democratic Politicians Falsely Believe Voters Are Less Progressive."
Politicians from both parties dramatically overestimate the conservatism of the voters they represent.

Academic research suggests that Democratic politicians may vote more conservatively because they fundamentally misunderstand the electorate. Political scientists David Broockman and Christopher Skovron surveyed 3,765 politicians and compared their views to modeled support for policies in their districts. They find that politicians from both parties dramatically overestimate the conservatism of the voters they represent. Another study examined party leaders, who often determine which candidates will end up running and who will gain the party’s backing. They find that Democratic Party leaders were far more likely than Republicans to favor centrist candidates and that leaders in both parties overestimated the conservatism of the electorate. In another study, political scientists Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger, and Leah Stokes surveyed senior congressional aides as well as public opinion polling and find that these staffers “had a more conservative picture of their constituents’ opinions than the constituents actually expressed in polls.”

However, there is hope; research from political scientists Daniel Butler and David Nickerson suggests that when politicians are given accurate polling about their constituents, they move to align their policies with constituents.

Examining policies such as the minimum wage and racial justice, as well as tax policy, we find that Democrats are wrong to target the mushy middle. In fact, there is durable and consistent support for even over-the-horizon progressive policies across the country. Voters reject mandatory minimums, which have inflamed mass incarceration. Voters also reject the Hyde Amendment, an unnecessary limitation on a woman’s right to choose. Voters are more than ready for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on climate change and new investment in infrastructure.

Data from the 2016 American National Election Studies further confirm that Democrats can run unabashedly pro-choice and pro-climate campaigns. ANES asks respondents to place themselves on a scale from 1-7, with 1 being “Some people think the federal government needs to regulate business to protect the environment. They think that efforts to protect the environment will also create jobs” and 7 being “Others think that the federal government should not regulate business to protect the environment. They think this regulation will not do much to help the environment and will cost us jobs.” Fifty-eight percent placed themselves on the 1-3 side, 20 percent at 4, and only 22 percent on 5-7. According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies 2016 survey, 58 percent of adults agree with the statement, “Always allow a woman to obtain an abortion as a matter of choice.”

"Since Democrats in DC decided that the way to win is to pretend to be Republicans, we have lost over a thousand legislative seats nationally" said Levi Tillemann (CO-06). "Voters want someone with real principles who they know will fight for them, not for corporations, millionaires, and DC insiders. Our campaign for medicare for all, requiring millionaires and billionaires to invest in America (not just their stock portfolios), and moving to 100% renewable energy by 2035 is resonating because people know it's what I actually believe and people know it's what's best for the country."

Yesterday, John Herrick, writing for the Colorado Independent noted that Diana DeGette is facing progressive primary challenger Saira Rao who wants to shape the future of the Democratic Party. Saira told him that "Blue isn’t working. We’ve got to go true blue." A former Hillary voter, she's broken with the corporate establishment side of the party and "says corporations are buying votes from Democrats through campaign contributions. As part of her campaign, Rao has pledged to not take any money from corporations. And so far, she has narrowly outraised DeGette this year pulling in $255,000 to Degette’s $240,000."
DeGette says one of her proudest accomplishments while serving as a representative is the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which increased funding for disease research. Congress passed the bill and it was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2016. This legislation helped DeGette earn the Jacob K. Javits Prize for Bipartisan Leadership.

But liberals seem uninspired by consensus making. Rao points out that Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sanders of Vermont claim the law eased regulations and was essentially a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry. One of DeGette’s top donors this year is AbbVie, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company. ...Rao’s supporters also criticized DeGette for having voted for Hillary Clinton as a superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention when Sanders won the Colorado caucus.
These comments from some the Blue America-endorsed candidates about the Democratic Party came from a post asserting that the Democratic Party would be doing better if they had some discernible economic policies that voters identified with them. Alan Grayson was the first up to bat: "Polls show that voters-- not just Democrats, voters-- overwhelmingly favor a minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, universal healthcare, Social Security and Medicare increases, lower taxes on working people, etc. You have to wonder how long Democratic 'leaders' are going to continue to wear the hair shirt." Last night he added "Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do the voters. A vacuous Democratic Party is a loser Democratic Party. The voters are shouting, 'please-- stand for something!'"

"I feel like I’m being completely unoriginal" Paul Clements (MI-06) told me, "but still it should be said: people don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for. I’ve heard it time and again at house parties and Democratic events around the district. I’ve given my stump speech so many times: (besides Trump) economic inequality is the issue, money in politics the cause, yes fix taxes and raise the minimum wage but we need to fix the basics: health care for all, education, and criminal justice. Then I fudge a fourth one, calling it a forward looking economic policy, and include renewable energy, energy efficient technologies, agricultural research, and major infrastructure investments. Then, oh, of course, we have to deal with climate change or all of this is off the table. The details matter, but you can probably pretty much fill them in. I know that these planks and more are in the last Democratic Party platform, but, seriously, so what? The Democratic Party does not have a clear agenda and people don’t know what it stands for. I think the agenda should address the basics. It should speak to economic inequality. But at least there should be a vision, there should be a program, so in house parties and such we don’t have to do all the work."

Goal ThermometerJames Thompson is the progressive Democrat running in the Wichita-centered 4th Kansas district. His primary is August 7. And then he'll be facing right-wing Republican Ron Estes. He's all about the issues that Democrats need to speak to the voters about. Here's what he told me today:
When I was homeless and struggling to make ends meet I didn’t give a damn about the stock market, I was worried about putting food on the table and keeping a roof over the heads of myself and my baby brothers. The stock market and trade agreements are important parts of our economy, but until Democrats get back to protecting the kitchen table economy it will be hard to pull people back into the Democratic Party. Before people can care about things outside their own circle, they must feel confident in their own financial situation, which means they must have a stable job with a livable wage. That means a guaranteed jobs program and affordable healthcare and education. It means expanding Medicare and Social Security not cutting it. It means taking care of the farmers who feed us. It is the basic hierarchy of needs. Democrats as a party need to return to being FDR Democrats looking out for working people rather than corporate shills for Wall Street. We must remember that this is a government not of corporation interests, but a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We can get there, we just need to keep moving forward with electing progressives.
Sam Jammal, running in Orange County against a pack of carpetbagger multimillionaires who are trying to buy the seat, is also a progressive trying to talk with the CA-39 voters about issues. "Democrats win," he said, "if we have a positive economic message focused on lifting up the middle class. This means focusing on the cost of prescription drugs, student debt, housing affordability and creating good-paying jobs so families can enter the middle class. We won't win by just being anti-Trump. We also won't win if our campaigns are not focused on people's pocketbooks. The reality on the ground is that families are still struggling. We need to be identitied as the party that actually has a plan for lifting people up."

Kara Eastman, the progressive Democrat who won her primary against a Blue Dog last Tuesday, was victorious, in large part, because she campaigned on issues that real people are excited about. "It is time for policy makers to put people first. Common sense policies that prevent illness, ensure families can make a living wage and provide jobs should be at the core of what elected officials want to accomplish. Raising the minimum wage (which is actually supported by 74% of Americans) is one federal policy that would have a huge ripple effect in the nation. Universal healthcare (also supported by more than 60% of Americans) would also boost the economy by freeing employers from the shackles of being in the healthcare business. In addition, investing in infrastructure such as replacing lead service lines and creating green and healthy housing would create jobs while making our children healthier and safer."

Over in Maine, Jared Golden, a proud working class progressive who understands what solidarity means, is running for Democratic nomination in a June 12th primary. "If America had its priorities straight we could fix our economy. We need to fight for a fair tax plan that doesn’t give away trillions to the wealthy-elite and multinational corporations that aren’t investing in America. Take that revenue back and put it to work rebuilding American roads, rails and bridges. We need to stand with unions for better pay, and healthcare and retirement benefits. And renegotiate and reject bad trade deals that undermine wages and safety for workers. We need to stop allowing corporations and billionaires to waste so much capital on buying elections, so they can instead put that money to work on Main Street, creating jobs and paying people their real worth."

Tom Guild is running in the Oklahoma City Metro and he's warning the party establishment that progressives are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, not just corporatists. "Channeling what President Lyndon Johnson said decades ago, 'I’d rather have people inside the tent pissing out, instead of outside the tent pissing in.' If we don’t support progressive ideals and policies, too many progressives who are registered as members of the Democratic Party, will be outside the tent when the November election arrives. This lack of enthusiasm among our foot soldiers will be fatal to many of the party’s candidates. Independents who identify with the progressive movement will lose interest and opt out of the process. This seems to happen in Oklahoma and nationally in election after election. To maximize our turnout, we must chart a progressive course, support progressive proposals, and maximize the support of our progressive base. Paraphrasing President Harry Truman, if voters are forced to choose between a Republican and a Democrat pretending to be a Republican, they’ll pick the Republican every time!"

Ricardo Franco is the progressive Democrat up against Devin Nunes in California's Central Valley (CA-22). But, of course, there's also a conservative-- a very, very conservative-- establishment Democrat in the race as well. Ricardo read the Justice Democrats report and told me what he thought about it and how what it uncovers impacts his own race:
This report and recent election results throughout the country have confirmed what we hypothesized last summer: Progressive policies are what it takes to mobilize the Democratic base and swing over independents and Republicans. In my opinion this is because progressives speak directly to the issues affecting working-class Americans rather than traditional party politics.

When I started this campaign I was told I was too progressive to win. Now another Democratic candidate has adopted my platform and moved more towards the left. The centrist Democratic candidate in our race refused to even appear on television last night with another Democratic challenger and myself because they are presumably too afraid of going on the record on any issues.

Across the country we have seen progressives win elections and beat out establishment Democrats. In addition to having a winning policy, progressives are also proud of who they are and not afraid to stand for what they believe in. It's this combination of policy smarts and strong moral character that is leading progressives to victory.

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At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Democratic Politicians Falsely Believe Voters Are Less Progressive."

Not.At.All. This is the Party telling us how we are expected to be. We are expected top stop interfering with the moves the Party leaders keep initiating and meekly accept their choices for us.

"You have to wonder how long Democratic 'leaders' are going to continue to wear the hair shirt."

Wake up, Alan Grayson! You have been to the Big Show twice now, and hopefully will be again. Democratic 'leaders' will do what they are paid to do, which is to ensure that even if "democrats" win, Republicans still rule. How many times have we seen "democrats" flock to vote for GOP legislation to ensure passage? The Haspel confirmation was just one of the latest betrayals of the American People, and it won't be the last. Not even for this year.

Paul Clements (MI-06) needs to wake up. Party Leader Nancy Pelosi openly announced the 'democratic' Party stands for: 'We're Capitalists, and That's Just the Way It Is' [start at about 3:00 to skip the opening blather]

James Thompson, progressive Democrat running in the Wichita-centered 4th Kansas district, sees the truth: "Democrats as a party need to return to being FDR Democrats looking out for working people rather than corporate shills for Wall Street."

Sam Jammal, running in Orange County CA-39, also sees the truth: "We need to be identitied as the party that actually has a plan for lifting people up." He knows that Pelosi's capitalists are not at all interested in that issue.

The other candidates cited in the article also see reality. The "democratic " leaders still do not, and won't. But they have the money behind them. They will do anything and everything to ensure that if Party hacks don't win nominations, then the GOP will win the election.

Follow the Money is still great advice. The corruption of money remains the driving force in the "democratic" Party, and will until people stop falling for the lies and the platitudes and vote for someone who is NOT a corporatist regardless of Party affiliation.

At 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link to Pelosi's comment referenced above:

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A whole lotta horseshit for the purpose of keeping the status quo and lesser evilism.

"Democrats can win elections without rejecting their base."

Yes and no. First, you have to have the following epiphany: their true base is the money. As long as the money allows 'crap candidates to lie about favoring progressive issues, then they CAN win while not rejecting the money. The problems occur when the 'craps have some power and then they reject their voters by serving their base. In 2010 after 4 years of that, 15 million voters stayed home thus denying the 'craps the power to unilaterally serve their base. Fortunately for their base, the Nazi party also serves them, so everyone wins... except 300 million American dipshits.

"Academic research suggests that Democratic politicians may vote more conservatively because they fundamentally misunderstand the electorate."

OH, like the academic research paid for by big tobacco for decades that suggested that tobacco was NOT addictive and even GOOD for you?
The truth is the pols vote for the money because they take money as bribes in exchange for those votes. And in both chambers of congress, when they have relevance, the leadershit that takes the mostest bribe money and butters the caucus with it, dictate policy as tyrants. This is why Kucinich's articles of impeachment against cheney and gonzalez never saw the light of day -- Pelosi ordered them spiked. This is why max Baucus was named to "lead" the 5 Rs and 1 D and some lobbyists in crafting Obamneycare. Most morons think the democraps wrote it. The lobbyists did.

"people don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for."

Actually people do know. They stand for the money. period. If you ignore all the talk and other pandering (party platforms) and objectively peruse ONLY the past 38 years of democrap 'accomplishments' and bipartisanship, you see a single thread: service to their donors. You also see vows to NOT regulate (banks most notably) nor incarcerate for criminal acts (ditto) nor interfere with monopolies.

To anyone who gets excited because some "progressive" candidate runs and maybe even wins, I remind you what happened when Dennis Kucinich tried to be progressive; what happened when Bernie tried to run as a progressive; what happened when the democraps had +65 in the house and 60 in the senate. You're getting excited over nothing. again. still.


At 9:27 PM, Anonymous SaveAmerica said...

Democrats already have Done enough damage to this damn country witth their radical agendas. We need REAL PATRIOTS to support TRUMP. No RINOs, No Dems!

At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) by 'center', you mean the far right.
2) they've been there since the DLC, led by Clinton, moved them there by corrupting the party from the top down.

it is my sincere wish that the voters actually do abandon the 'other' right wing party. In elected government there has been a wide vacuum from the center to the left for 35 years that has not been filled because voters have been too stupid and servile to the party that repudiated FDR, HST, JFK and LBJ in 1981.

If they do abandon them, it would be their first sign of sanity in over a generation.

DWT, epiphany yet?


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