Sunday, May 07, 2017

If The DCCC Disappeared Tomorrow, The Dems Would Win 60 Seats In 2018. With The DCCC, Maybe 30


One of last week's media themes was that the Obamacare repeal Ryan and Trump finally forced through the House will cost the Republicans control of Congress. We must have written a dozen posts along those lines since Wednesday-- and everyone else has been too. Alex Isenstadt had a good one in Politico over the weekend about how the midterms are all scrambled now, "jeopardizing Republican lawmakers across the country and potentially endangering the party’s longstanding grip on the chamber. More than a dozen senior Republican strategists, lawmakers, and potential candidates expressed varying degrees of concern over the political implications of the health care push. Some predicted that House members would face a fierce backlash from voters, while others said the party had erred badly in rushing through a bill that lacked broad public support. The vote, combined with President Donald Trump’s record-low poll numbers and rising public dissatisfaction with how Republicans are wielding power over the federal government, has produced a cauldron of instability for the party, which is holding onto a 24-seat edge in the House. There is also the weight of history: In every midterm election since 2002, the party in the White House has lost congressional seats."

Goal Thermometer I don't put much credence in the "weight of history" per se, but the forces that result in most presidents' parties losing in the first midterm after election are in force join a huge way now and likely-- all things being equal-- to result in the lost of several dozen Republican House seats, more than enough to force Ryan to hand over the speaker's gavel to Pelosi. But all things are not equal. The DCCC is as venal and incompetent and corrupt as ever, unable to learn from any of the serial catastrophes of the last decade. Their recruitment strategy alone-- which elevates self-funders, Republican-lite candidates and identity politics-- will cost the Democrats many seats. Jonathan Martin wrote in the Times yesterday that "Democrats were in an eight-year defensive crouch under Mr. Obama, and they will have to overcome their recent dysfunction and division to make the sort of gains they are hoping for. But they are viewing 2018 differently. For three House cycles, Democrats operated within the narrow confines of a Republican-friendly map, hunting for the bare number of seats required to win the majority. Many pick-up opportunities were hardly noticed. Last year, the Dallas district of Representative Pete Sessions, a veteran Republican, went for Mrs. Clinton, an indication of shifting demographics and suburban political sentiments. But Democrats had failed to field a candidate." He only scratches the surface of the shambles the DCCC has fallen into. Writing for Jacobin yesterday, Jacob Bacharach went much deeper into what ails the Democratic Party and threatens their ability to effectively battle the GOP. "Democratic Party elites don’t have ideals," he wrote. "They just need you to be scared of the Republicans."
The Democratic leadership looks hardly different than it has for my entire adult life, a grim and aging collection of Clinton apparatchiks totally secure in their sinecures-- all the more so because the only time the party ever does use what power it has, it’s to quash any discontent from its base or its leftward flank. It would be tempting to call it a zombie, but a zombie is living dead; a zombie is compelled by a lustful, powerful hunger. A zombie is all appetite-- it is more than alive. The GOP is a zombie. The Democratic Party is a ghost-- diaphanous, spooky, and utterly unable to interact with the actual world. At best, it can rattle the pots, or leave a little trail of slime.

The ACA, which may or may not die in the Senate, only ever made sense as an intermediate step toward a universal provision of health care. It was a big, ugly, ungainly, cobbled-together thing that, for all the partisan paeans to its wonderfulness and indispensability, never really worked very well.

The part that did work was Medicaid expansion. In other words, the part that worked was the single-payer program that the Democrats so ardently refused-- continue to refuse-- to endorse. Supposedly the party of incremental progress, they seem to view each increment as the final end state of civilization and history. America Is Already Great, and all that. In order to sell progress as incremental, a series of steps in a journey of miles, there must be some destination in mind, a vision of a truly better society, an ideal. But the Democrats don’t have ideals; they just need you to be scared of Republicans.

Well, fair enough. Republicans are scary, though given the alacrity with which the Democrats rushed to praise Donald Trump for blowing up another little piece of Syria, you have to imagine that this relative terror is a matter of proximity, that the farther you get from the border, the more it appears that the American government moves with an awful unanimity of terrible, singular purpose.

Anyway, the thing about the health care debate, such as it is, is that while every Democrat voted “no,” no one bothered to articulate a compelling alternate vision. Republicans want to kill you! Yes, yes-- look, life is a conspiracy against itself; we’re all gonna die. You become inured to this sort of thing after a while.

What we want to hear is not that the seas are rising (the Republicans!) and we’re gonna die alone (the Republicans!) and tumorous on the street because our chemo costs $50,000 every half hour and a hangnail is a preexisting condition (the Republicans!). What we want to hear is that there can be a better world, that through collective endeavor we can as a people feed our poor, care for our sick, and find at least some better balance between our rapacity and the health of our planet. Instead we get negation; we get Trump is a meanie and Paul Ryan wants to eat your kids, which does not get the 40 percent of people whose boss is a meanie and who can’t pay their deductibles to the polls.

The specter of Democrats literally singing in the halls of Congress because they imagine that more than a year from now they’ll reap some reward from the GOP’s pettiness and failure to construct any real alternative system is just despicable. Who are these people? Even if the bill dies in the Senate, even if they take the House in 2018... Liberals accuse the GOP of forgetting about people, of sacrificing public good to the cruel idols of their idées fixes, but it’s the ostensibly liberal party that is actually abstracted from the human mass; it’s Nancy Pelosi for whom this whole thing is just a career.

The Republican Party steers the ship of state toward an iceberg, and from below decks, Steny Hoyer gleefully cackles that this sure is gonna reflect badly on the captain. Grab your life vests people, though they may not save you, because the water’s real cold.
Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster, told the Times yesterday that "Any Republican member of Congress in a seat that the president won by less than 10 points who isn’t concerned needs to be concerned"-- and that's 80 House seats. 80. As everyone now knows, Ryan and the GOP leadership "felt squeezed between the rising popularity of the Affordable Care Act and the demands of their conservative base. In the end, they wagered that it was riskier to not fulfill their pledge to repeal the law-- including some widely unpopular provisions like the mandate to obtain coverage-- than to upend the medical care of millions of their constituents." New NRCC Chair Steve Stivers told The Times that "We have to keep our own base excited because off-year elections are about the base. We need to show them accomplishments." The calculus is very different for a decisive number of Senate Republicans.

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At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The healthcare crater wouldn't cost the Rs more than maybe 10 seats. And with the DCCC on the case, they might actually pick up a couple.

Wild-eyed optimism won't win either.

By next year at this time, this vote will be long forgotten. And the only thing that would cost Rs seats by then will be votes for the opposite of killing old, sick people.

The voters who elect Rs WANT THESE PEOPLE TO BE KILLED. These assholes would vote for the orange-utang all over. And they'll proudly vote for the same misanthropes who voted their hate.


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