Saturday, December 30, 2017

Yes, A Wave Is Coming-- But The DCCC Is Working Full Time At How To Minimize It


You may have read Sean McElwee’s stuff at The Nation or at Rolling Stone. He’s a sharp policy analyst at Demos and he gets stuff right. He’s no fan of the punditocracy labeling rightwing Democrats “moderates” or “centrists” instead of calling them what they are… conservatives, Republican-lite corporate whores or even racists. This week, when I saw a photo of Bill Clinton and the scumbag he thrust onto the national stage who has done so much damage to the Democratic Party, I knew I had to read his newest piece, “Nothing In Moderation-- Democrats Need To Move Farther To The Left To Regain Power.” He goes after the fat-headed Beltway pundits. They have spoken, he wrote, “and they know what voters want: moderation. Since the election, pundits have watched the right run off the rails while worrying that the Democratic Party might embrace moderately more liberal positions. In Alabama, pundits assured Americans that Sen.-elect Doug Jones couldn’t win because of his support for abortion choice. Pundits have lambasted progressives for being too far to the left on immigration, trans rights, abortion and climate change. On issues like abortion and immigration, Democrats have been warned that listening to the progressive base could spell doom. Writing in the Times, former Clinton advisor Mark Penn and former New York City Council President Andrew Stein warned of a party ‘mired in political correctness’ and ‘offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.’ Instead, we’re told, it’s time to pivot to the center. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who famously recruited centrist Democrats to run for office in 2006 and urged the party to achieve ‘record deportations’ under Clinton, told Politico in May, ‘The future, in a presidential election, a statewide election, or a congressional, is in the suburbs, where more moderate voters exist.’ The party seems to buy this myth. ‘Democrats See Conservative Blue Dogs as Key to Winning House,’ blared one Bloomberg headline from July, noting that the ‘party’s House campaign arm is now building close ties with the previously ignored Blue Dog Coalition.’” Music to the ears of someone advancing this thesis since Emanuel was in the midst of doing it! Did you know that the first time I publicly denounced Emanuel for what he was up to in 2006 I was denounced myself-- as a spy for Republicans!

I doubt he has the capacity yo understand any of this, but I sure hope someone at the DCCC who does, would explain it to Ben Ray Lujan, the current numbskull chairman, who depends on advice from none other than Rahm Emanuel and who hasn’t made a single right move since Pelosi appointed him, so she could tick off two identity politics “must haves” on her foolish list how to put together a catastrophically failed leadership team. (Lujan is legitimately Latin but the gay box doesn’t count because-- in 2017 and going into 2018 in a few days-- he’s still a ridiculous closet case, and that’s the opposite of being part of the LBGT community.
Polling data suggests that even on “hot-button” issues, like immigration, Democrats have the upper hand. In a the special election in Alabama earlier this month, voters overwhelmingly preferred Democrat Doug Jones to Republican (and alleged pedophile) Roy Moore on the issue of gay rights and, despite incessant warnings that abortion would drag him down, Jones pulled out a surprise upset by a comfortable margin.

Americans are increasingly accepting of reproductive rights, and opposition to them comes almost exclusively from white Evangelicals (a group Democrats gain little from courting). While Democrats have long cowered from discussing taxes, Americans are more and more supportive of hiking taxes to pay for services. In tracking public support for government, Pew finds that it has swung toward bigger government in the past year, with 48 percent in favor of more government with bigger services-- the highest in a decade-- and 45 percent preferring small government. (This is particularly surprising since Americans tend to prefer “big” government when talking about specific programs and small government when talking in generalities.) Pew also found that 50 percent of Americans support more spending on health care and 18 percent support cuts to health care. Similarly, 46 percent support increased spending on Social Security, with 6 percent supporting cuts, 58 percent support increasing spending on infrastructure with seven percent supporting cuts, and 67 percent support hikes for education spending, with 9 percent supporting cuts.

Many who argue that Democrats need to move to the center say that they need to do so in order to take over districts that are currently held by Republicans. To test the idea that Democrats need to embrace the center to win over such districts, I reached out to political scientist Chris Skovron, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University who studies the way that political elites misperceive public opinions. Skovron used a modeling technique called Multilevel Regression and Poststratification to predict congressional district-level support for various policies. Rather than using national surveys, we can examine whether Democrats are right to move to the center in districts they are actually trying to win, and which pundits perceive to be moderate. Using this technique, Skovron modelled support for key issues and we calculated average support for a policy in the 91 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) target districts.

These districts range from Florida’s 27th (currently held by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring) which was won by Clinton by 20 points, to West Virginia’s 3rd, which Clinton lost by 50 points and where Democrats have fielded a scrappy outsider to run for the seat. To ensure that more liberal districts didn’t bias our results, we also examined preferences specifically in the last 11 districts Democrats targeted, which are far more Trump-friendly than the other districts.

Our results suggest that the punditry has erred greatly in encouraging moderation. We averaged support for each policy across the districts, to measure the average across the districts. In the average DCCC target district, fifty-nine percent of the public support allowing a woman choose whether she wants to have an abortion and 57 percent support a path to citizenship. More than half of individuals in the average district either strongly or somewhat agree that white people have advantages because of their skin and 73 percent support a higher minimum wage. Less than half of the public in the average district believe that the government should prohibit spending on abortion (the so-called Hyde Amendment).

In addition, these districts are favorable towards climate policy, with 64 percent support for a renewable energy mandate and 68 percent support for the Environmental Protection Agency regulating carbon in the average district. Far from running away from gun control, Democrats can safely support an assault weapons ban, which has support among 61 percent of individuals in thes average district. Democrats can abandon “tough on crime” rhetoric, because 63 percent support for ending mandatory minimums. Even examining only the most contentious districts, a progressive Democrat would be on the right side of all ten issues modeled.

What we discovered here is along the lines of what Skovron has found in past research. In a study from March, Skovron and David Broockman found that Democratic state legislators regularly underestimate how liberal their constituents are (as do Republicans, who believe their constituents are far more conservative than they are in reality). Democrats simply aren’t confident that the voters support them on policy positions that we typically consider liberal, especially in areas like gun control and abortion, despite extensive data suggesting voters agree with Democratic positions on these issues.

In another paper, Skovron and Broockman surveyed county party chairs and found that, while Democratic Party chairs favored moderate candidates, conservatives did not perceive this trade-off. Democrats believe that they can’t run liberal candidates and win; Republicans think they can run even the most radical conservative and still win. Forthcoming research from political scientists Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger and Leah Stokes finds similarly. They summarized their findings for The Outline: “Comparing a survey of senior Congressional aides with public opinion polling, we found that staffers from both parties often had a more conservative picture of their constituents' opinions than the constituents actually expressed in polls.” This suggests that the main limitation on the Democratic Party’s move to progressive policy is mostly internally, rather than externally, created. There’s little evidence to support that assumption that progressive candidates will lose races because they are too left-leaning.

Despite talk among the pundit class about the virtues of centrism, many of the candidates running in DCCC target districts aren’t campaigning with it in mind. I talked to Dan Canon, who is running for office in Indiana’s deep-red 9th district against Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, one of the few Republicans to under-perform Trump in the last election. Canon is a civil-rights lawyer who brought the landmark same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court in 2014 and sued Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for denying gay couples marriage licenses in 2015. This year, he brought a case against Trump for inciting violence against protesters. Canon has been talking about over-the-horizon ideas like universal basic income, but his central focus is universal health care and the opioid crisis, which he proposes alleviating partially with medical marijuana. Canon is also a high-school dropout who taught music for a living and is open about his past divorce.

“There are a lot of people who are middle-of-the-road but are suspicious of politicians generally, but Democrats have tried to court them with these sort of Republican lites, and we’ve never really had success with those sorts of candidates,” Canon told me. The right interpretation, he said, is that “people want real people to represent them, people who are committed to coming up with solutions here, rather than in D.C.”

When I asked him about what policies he was interested in, Canon brought up medical marijuana as an example of where the establishment has been lead astray. “There’s a Washingtonian idea of what’s going to play in Peoria, and that often is very different from what actually plays in Peoria,” he said. Canon is unabashedly pro-choice, and supports Medicare for All and a path to citizenship. These may not be considered “centrist” or “moderate” positions by the establishment, but they are supported by the voters Democrats want to win.

In Michigan’s 11th district, Fayrouz Saad is running to be the first Muslim woman in Congress. The 11th is a narrowly Republican district-- Trump won there by five points-- represented by retiring Republican Rep. David Trott. Saad doesn’t see embracing the center as a path to victory; she believes she can win over voters with progressive policy. “It’s progressive values that will bring the voters out to the polls,” she told me.

Goal ThermometerIn Pennsylvania’s 16th, a district Trump won by seven points, Congressional candidate Jess King is optimistic about her chances in 2018 against incumbent Rep. Lloyd Smucker. “Here in Central Pennsylvania, a lot of voters are just tired of watching SuperPACs pour some millionaire's money into our district, ginning up fear with TV ads while politicians rewrite the rules in D.C to favor the very wealthiest,” she told me. “So when we make our campaign about building an America that is truly for all of us and tell folks we'll fight for debt-free college and Medicare-for-all, people's ears perk up.”

After decades of watching the middle class get hollowed out by corporate interests and the Republican Party use racial divisions to sew resentment, it’s clear that voters are ready for something else. Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to offer it. The good news is that there are candidates are throwing out the centrist playbook and charting their own course.
A friend of mine just asked me why the Michigan Democratic Party appears dead to the world but hasn’t realized it’s dead and manages to continue functioning (albeit ineffectively and detrimentally to its own stated goals). It was a long conversation but we would up talking about the 32 counties that make up far north swing district MI-01. The was Bernie Country in the 2016 primaries. He swept the counties and that district. Voters were very clear they were looking for the kind of change Bernie was offering, not the status quo Hillary was offering. The 2 biggest counties in the district-- from which a plurality of votes flow-- are Grand Traverse and Marquette. Bernie crushed Hillary with 65% in Grand Traverse and 62% in Marquette. But on that same day, he also outpolled Señor Trumpanzee-- 8,091 to 5,891 in Grand Traverse and 5,530 to 2,524 in Marquette. Yes, yes, Bernie absolutely would have won Michigan in 2016, one of the states that slipped to Trump, had not Wasserman Schultz stolen the nomination for Hillary. But that isn’t my point. My point is that the zombie Democratic Party in Michigan (along with the DCCC, of course) is looking to replicate the Hillary “magic” with horrible conservative candidates, like Blue Dog Gretchen Driskell, New Dem Elissa Slotkin and a self-funding candidate/corporate lobbyist so terrible in MI-06-- George Franklin-- that he’s been financing incumbent Republican Fred Upton against progressives for years. The Michigan Democratic Party should turn the keys over to Indivisible Groups and shoot itself in the brain with a silver bullet and allow itself to be buried once and for all.

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At 6:41 AM, Blogger Daro said...

The issues are an after thought. First second and third are what the donors want and until you fix that, there will be no change. The DNC is playing you for a fool if you think they're actually debating whether to be centrist or not to win votes.

They HAVE TO exclude the progressive movement. Forever. Because newly up-and-coming Asians, South Asians, Millennials, Blacks, etc. etc. do not support Israel. They cannot be allowed in the building. Just ask Haim Saban et. al.

So the DNC needs their votes but not their voices. THat's why they've walked this weird, self-defeating line with Corporate democrats for over a decade now. And you're still being fooled as to the reasons. Sorry. It's AIPAC for the win. Left or Right.

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Our results suggest that the punditry has erred greatly in encouraging moderation. "

Why do leftists continue to ignore the fact that the media is no longer about facts? It is owned lock, stock, and barrel by conservatives who will do anything and everything to cement themselves in power. WE can see the blatant lying of FOX and other so-called news outlets, but if one listens and reads carefully to the rest of the media, one can see and hear the biases of the corporatists who own them.

Nixon went after the alternative media in the '70s because they were so mean to him. By pressuring their advertisers, he was able to run them all out of business. The Powell Memo strongly urged corporatists to take over the rest of the media and use it to advance only their goals. It took a few decades (and Bill Clinton's clearly hostile laws freeing up ownership limits) to achieve this.

Independents have valiantly tried to take up the cause, but now the left media is pleading with readers and listeners for money. It is all going to disappear at some point since there aren't enough left who care who have enough money to spare. Add in Ajit Pai's capture of the Internet to turn control over to corporatists, and there aren't many other options to oppose the ongoing propaganda which is causing too many Americans to feel like there is no way to defeat the monster.

Without a way to organize effective opposition to the increasingly corporatist DINO-Whig Party, they will continue to be the rear-guard for the increasingly fascist Republicans to eliminate all government which doesn't directly defend and protect corporate interests from We the People.

Remember: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance (of the people) is Strength (for the power elites).

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Wow. What a point, Anonymous. But it is not all about Israel, maybe just a small part. You are exaggerating - Israel is not THAT important. You are correct though in that GREED is at the center, sorry to say. It is all about MONEY, as it always has been since the year 1 of civilization. Money in and of itself overrides Israel by far.

Much of the Democratic Party is into enriching itself, just like the Republicans. Most of Congress is extremely wealthy. They crave the money from their corporate and financial supporters. They will not go progressive because that will alienate their big money backers. Rahm Emanuele, Bill Clinton, etc., became extremely rich quite rapidly from their political positions. I expect the same of Obama. It won't be all from speeches either, but from Wall Street and banking manipulations. Just look at Bob Corker, who has enriched himself by investing, very likely (definitely!) due to inside information obtained from his political position. How else could he consistently invest low and sell high? Really?

And yes, progressives, as usual, will have nowhere to go when there is a lousy centrist Democratic candidate running against a rotten Republican. That is what the Democratic Party counts on. Lesser of two evils. Though I have to say, in Trump versus Hillary, he was so fucking evil (and it was not even apparent at the time how evil) that it was extremely important to vote for her. Trump is bringing our whole country down, with the Republican Party assisting in pushing us off of the cliff.

The only hope is that progressives will run and win against the odds. But I think the odds are closing as so many Americans see what is really going on and how they are being screwed. Especially the younger generation - they don't want to be in debt for the rest of their lives and they would like to have decent jobs, a decent education and a decent planet. And us older folks would like health care and better infrastructure, too. The new tax bill may well push progressives over the winning post. People near me in NY are rather upset and worried that they will be screwed and may lose their homes.

Nancy Pelosi was right about this - even if the Dems take back Congress, changing things back or move to a better place will not be easy, will not be fast and will cost the country a fortune.

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daro, you're all over this. Thanks. Your focus on Israel is perhaps overdone. But it isn't wrong.

Greed, fear, hate, ignorance and stupidity all play a bigger role, though there certainly is a lot of overlap.

I'm amused, again, that DWT will post ANOTHER thorough indictment of the democrap machine while they continue to advocate making that machine bigger and badder.

It is delusion to think that your hand-picked few will enter at the bottom and EVER, much less quickly, have any influence with the decades-entrenched meme of greed at the top. The money has many very impenetrable firewalls installed to keep these newcomers from being numerous and influential. We saw several of those in '16.

Just remember 2009. Will repeating that congress make anything better?

It will not.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Daro said...

2 days ago.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, you lament lesser evilism, but you also advocate it? Cognitive dissonance?

You quote Pelosi? Must mean you are leaning toward MOS = lesser evilism uber alles?

Steven Hawking says that humans have, at the most, another century on this planet before we make it untenable. Reasons are much as I continue to repeat, leading with overpopulution. He advocates searching for other worlds to pollute and despoil. Perhaps he's already written this one off.

Do you see the us enjoying the total sociopolitical revolution that is necessary for saving our world within the next 50 years using your lesser-evilism? Or do you finally realize that the revolution cannot be conducted within the existing paradigm?

Please enlighten.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Daro said...

Sorry to harp on and sound like that guy but...

Mueller Names Trump’s Foreign ‘Colluding’ Power: Israel

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Webmaster said...

The sorry thing is, that some of these mainstream carpetbaggers will win due to being the unTrump candidate; not the candidate whose vision they endorse.

After the 2018 elections, failing a massive triumph, Dem wonks will likely continue to blame their lack luster outcomes on the stupid voters and not their failed and corrupt judgment.

It sure looks like 2018 will be the last gasp of Boomer control of democratic politics.


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