Wednesday, August 08, 2018

In Elections, We're Better Off With Bold Colors Than Pale Pastels


Probably never

It doesn't happen that frequently that we get to test political approaches in the real world and see actual results. Something that I expect to help vulnerable red state Senate Democrats: backing policies that are popular with voters. Something that I expect to hurt vulnerable red state Senate Democrats: playing the Republican-lite game before the election.

Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was in the House before a Hail Mary pass and a lunatic Republican candidate thrust him into the Senate. Donnelly was House Blue Dog and an unremarkable backbencher who spent more time worrying about how to keep his career going than how to serve his constituents. His voting record was a stinker but... better than a Republican. That still describes him. Just this morning Donnelly said he supports giving Trump billions of dollars for his border wall this fall. "I’m fine with providing him some more. I actually voted for border wall funding three different times." He has a solid "F" from ProgressivePunch and his crucial vote score makes him the 4th worst Democrat in the Senate. Only Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) have worse records. Indiana has more Democrats though-- and the least toxic PVI:
Alabama: R+14
West Virginia: R+19
North Dakota: R+17
Indiana: R+9
Remember, Obama actually won Indiana in 2008. He took 1,374,039 votes (49.85%) to McCain's 1,345,648 (48.82%). And of Indiana's 92 counties, Obama won 15 of them, almost all the big ones. He won Donnelly's own congressional district by 10 points. The state isn't as cemetery for Democrats, despite Hillary's devastating loss to Trump in 2016. Hillary won only 4 counties and Trump won the state 1,557,286 (58.8%) to 1,033,126 (37.9%). Donnelly behaves as though he were the senator from Alabama, West Virginia or North Dakota though. He's pretty gutless. Rather than embracing popular progressive programs, he plays the Republican-lite game.

Keep in mind that Bernie won the Indiana primary in 2016-- 335,256 votes (52.5%) to Hillary's 303,382 (47.5%) and the only reason she walked away with 47 convention vote to his 44 was because Wasserman Schultz-- as she did across the country-- rigged it for Hillary... regardless of what Democratic voters said they wanted.

On Monday, Donnelly took a gamble-- disappointing Indiana Democrats in the hope of pleasing moderate Republicans and independents by rejecting single-payer healthcare. Stupid move. Single-payer is very popular and he will de-motivate Democratic and independent voters with gaining a single Republican. He's an idiot. He also rejected the idea of replacing ICE with an organization that doesn't kidnap children. In his interview he bragged about voting with Trump 62% of the time.

OK, now the other side of the coin, a report from Sylvan Lane for The Hill yesterday, Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau, the point being that some of the Senate's most vulnerable Democrats-- though not Donnelly-- are siding with Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in a fight with Señor Trumpanzee over his controversial pick, Kathy Kraninger, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Heitkamp (ND) and Tester (MT) are sticking with the Democrats-- and the best interests of their constituents-- on this one.
The move carries some risk for Tester and Heitkamp as Trump and the GOP seek to tie centrists running in red states to liberal leaders in their party, including Warren.

It also suggests that moderate Democrats, after battling Warren over legislation rolling back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law earlier this year, are wary of another fight with the powerful senator and her allies on one of her signature issues.

The Senate Banking Committee is expected to vote on Kraninger’s nomination when the Senate reconvenes next week. Republicans quickly coalesced around Trump’s pick, an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and most Democrats are expected to oppose her.

Kraninger, who was nominated in June, is likely to be confirmed along party lines for a five-year term as director of the CFPB, empowering her with almost exclusive authority over the agency’s budget, regulations and enforcement actions.

Former CFPB assistant director Quyen Truong, now a partner at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, said Kraninger “could fundamentally change the way the bureau operates.”

The loudest opposition to Kraninger has come from Warren, a member of the Banking panel who is credited with designing and staffing the CFPB from when she was an adviser to former President Obama.

Aides to five other Senate Democrats on the Banking Committee, including Heitkamp and Tester, said they will vote against Kraninger. The panel’s minority has been united in its skepticism of Kraninger’s qualifications.

The OMB official has no direct experience crafting or enforcing financial regulations, and Democrats fear she will continue CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s massive drawback of the consumer watchdog’s oversight.

...[V]oting against Kraninger is seen as helping moderates shore up their Democratic support.

“Heidi probably feels that she’s in a position to cast a ‘no’ vote and appease Sen. Warren without too much disruption back home,” said a former Senate aide now advocating for financial firms on K Street.

Tester, Heitkamp and Donnelly faced harsh criticism from liberals when they voted with Senate Republicans on a Dodd-Frank rollback bill.

Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ranking member of the Banking Committee, led the Democratic opposition to that measure, backed by the majority of their caucus and a slew of progressive groups.

Supporters of the legislation said it was a targeted effort to ease unnecessary burdens on community banks and credit unions that were unnecessarily lumped in with big Wall Street firms under the Dodd-Frank law. Liberal critics countered that the bill would do irreparable damage and risk another financial crisis akin to the one that Dodd-Frank was meant to prevent.

Democratic divisions over the bill went public, with liberals and moderates accusing each other of exaggeration and dishonesty. Tension peaked when Warren rebuked fellow Democrats by name in a fundraising email ripping the rollback effort.

The Senate passed the Dodd-Frank rollback by a wide bipartisan margin in March, the House cleared it two months later and Trump signed the bill into law on May 24, flanked by Heitkamp and more than a dozen Republicans. Tester and Donnelly were not invited to the White House photo-op.
Let's take this one step further. I just read an essay at the conservative Weekly Standard by Jonathan Last, A Democratic Socialist Could Beat Trump, meant as a warning to Republicans, but also applicable to garden variety status quo conservative Democrats.

Last warns his readers that progressives "reject the notion that our way to victory is having a centrist, moderate right-leaning strategy that feels like we could peel off Romney Republicans, versus investing in communities of color, marginalized groups and progressive white people." His warns them that it isn't as crazy a notion as it sounds to the conservative mind. He was talking about conservative Republicans but I'm more concerned about conservative Democrats.
It has become an article of faith among Republicans that Trump will be very lucky if the Democrats nominate a radical progressive-- or maybe even a socialist-- to challenge him in 2020. That would assure his re-election, the thinking goes, because Trump won by converting disillusioned working-class white Obama voters in the Rust Belt precisely because the Democrats were already too far out of the mainstream. If Democrats double-down on their progressivism, then Trump might be able to win with two pair, instead of having to draw to an inside straight.

On the one hand, that makes a certain kind of sense. On the other hand, it’s hard to square this belief with the argument that conservatives have been making for 40 years: that the key to victory is bold colors, not pale pastels. Because if the bold colors strategy could work for Republicans, why couldn’t it work for Democrats, too?

Think about it this way: In the wake of the 2012 election, Republicans spent a lot of time on their own autopsy and came away with the conclusion that if they were going to be competitive again at the national level, they had to moderate their stance on immigration. Instead, the party nominated the biggest immigration extremist since Levi Boone. And he won.

But it isn’t just Trump. In 2008, Democrats had the choice between a centrist candidate and the second coming of Howard Dean. They chose the most liberal candidate available, and then Barack Obama won 53 percent of the vote and the biggest landslide since 1984.

...[L]ook at 2016: Most Republicans assumed that the easiest path to the White House was by winning Nevada, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Trump lost all three of those states, but picked up Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insists that for Democrats, “Our swing voter is not red to blue. It's non-voter to voter.”

There’s no reason to automatically assume that she's wrong, or that Howard Dean’s children will automatically suffer the same fate he did.

Labels: , , , ,


At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent report on why voting for the D is a waste of time, talent, and money if change is truly desired.

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why... cuz we're too goddamn stupid to realize that no matter what shade the candidate is, the P A R T Y is still neoliberal, fascist, corrupt and anti worker/women/immigrant/minority?

... Sure... let's go for those bold colors. The P A R T Y (read: the M O N E Y)would like our votes no matter which shade of blue it is.


Post a Comment

<< Home