Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Only Way The GOP's "Socialism!!!" Message Will Work Is If They Can Spook The Democratic Establishment-- Which Is Not That Far-Fetched, Given The Wretched State Of Party Leadership


The roots of my political beliefs come from my grandfather, who arrived in New York as a young teenage refugee from virulently anti-Semitic Czarist Russian. He didn't have any money but he brought his work ethic, his admiration for education and his socialism with him. When I wasn't even a teenager myself he told me something I never forgot: "the only thing worse than a Democrat, is a Republican." He was a socialist his whole life but there were two Democrats he revered: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Republicans ceaselessly attacked FDR and his policies as "socialism" and even "communism" and the more they attacked the worse their own party and its candidates were treated by the American people. It's almost like the voters were trying to send the Republicans a message, not even a complicated one.

When the Republicans decided their electoral strategy would be to call the Democrats "socialists" in 1932, FDR defeated incumbent president, Herbet Hoover 57.4% to 39.7% with a 472-59 vote rout in the electoral college. (FDR lost 6 states-- Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Delaware). That same year, the Republicans lost 101 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate, flipping both bodies. Two years later, the Republicans were shrieking, "See? We warned you; they're nothing but a bunch of socialists." That was a good midterm for the Dems as the GOP shed another 14 seats in the House and 10 more in the Senate. Imagine-- just 25 Republicans left in the U.S. Senate. How sweet does that sound?

The GOP decided the best strategy to use to defeat Roosevelt in 1936 would be to show voters how horrible his socialist policies were. That didn't work out so well for them, as Alf Landon wound up losing every state but Maine and Vermont-- 8 electoral votes to Roosevelt's 523. The landslide was 60.8% to 36.5%. The Republicans somehow managed to lose another 15 seats in the House, which then had 334 Democrats to 88 Republicans. In the Senate, 5 more seats flipped red to blue. There were only 17 Republicans left to fight socialism.

In 1940, Roosevelt put an actual socialist, Henry Wallace, on the ticket as his running mate and managed another landslide-- 10 points in the popular vote and 449-82 in the electoral college. Having picked up some congressional seats in the 1938 midterms, the Republicans lost more in each House in 1940. Four years later, the GOP was certain their "socialism!!!" would finally work. It didn't. FDR was reelected to a 4th term with 432 electoral votes to Thomas Dewey's 99. And once again-- his coattails were strong: 20 more Dems in the House. The Senate remained at 58 Democrats to 37 Republicans.

I don't recall if the Republicans kept calling Truman a socialist too, but in 1948 he beat Tom Dewey too-- 303- 189 electoral votes, even with Strom Thurmond winning 4 states, that would otherwise have gone to Truman, as a Dixiecrat. The Republicans expected to make big gains in Congress that year-- but lost 9 Senate seats and a cool 75 House seats.

Democrats understood that all that red-baiting wouldn't work and they embraced the New Deal, Social Security, minimum wages, and everything else the GOP was whining about and helped the voters that that was what Republicans meant when they screamed "Socialism!"-- as well as fire departments, police departments, paved roads and... well, civilization.

Do the Democrats still have it in them? We'll soon see because there's no doubt that is exactly how the GOP and their media allies plan to paint the Democrats this cycle-- all Democrats, not just progressives. They are already shouting that right-wing Blue Dogs are socialists. It's hilarious and the moron Blue Dogs deserve it. In the NY Times Friday, Jeremy Peters' article, With Polls and Private Meetings, Republicans Craft Blunt Messaging to Paint Democrats as Extreme, warned sleepy Democrats about what's headed their way. "Republican leaders," he wrote, "are sharpening and poll-testing lines of attack that portray Democratic policies on health care, the environment and abortion as far outside the norm, in hopes of arming President Trump with hyperbolic sound bites-- some of them false-- asserting that Democrats would cause long waits for doctors or make killing babies after birth legal. The blunt messaging underscores one of the biggest challenges facing Democrats as they try to defeat the incumbent president: the need to define themselves and their ideas before Mr. Trump and his conservative allies do it for them."

Trouble: Cheri Bustos, a brainless Blue Dog/New Dem is running the DCCC and, figuratively speaking, she pees in her pants every time a Republican says "boo." The Democrats couldn't have picked a worse chair for their election committee, as she's already proven with her anti-democracy agenda that has the DCCC nearly prohibiting primaries.
The Republican National Committee has already begun polling in 16 states to assess ways to discredit ideas like “Medicare for all,” which Senator Bernie Sanders proposed in a bill this week, and build on the party’s broader argument that Democratic candidates like Mr. Sanders are promoting an extreme socialist agenda. Social conservative leaders have met with White House officials to discuss calling attention to Democratic-sponsored legislation to loosen restrictions on abortion in the second and third trimesters, like one that passed recently in New York.

The recent focus on health care and abortion follows well-coordinated attacks on policies like the Green New Deal, which reduced the far-reaching climate change proposal to a punch line with jokes about cow flatulence and putting farms out of business.

Some Democratic strategists said they have been taken aback recently by how successful Mr. Trump and Republicans have been at setting the terms of the debate around liberal policy ideas. And they are encouraging their party to be more nimble and deliver a more concise and accessible message.

In a fight with Mr. Trump, they say, nuance is not usually the Democrats’ best weapon.

“What our side has to understand is that to fight Trump it’s a battle for definition,” said Celinda Lake, a top Democratic pollster who has been working with left-of-center groups on a strategy to counter the messaging campaign from the right.

“The Democrats will issue a 61-page white paper that nobody in their right mind will pass on to their friends,” she added. “He uses a one-sentence slogan, and his voters feel emboldened to share it, pass it on.”

Democrats say they expect an asymmetrical battle against an opponent who makes his own rules and possesses a singular ability to saturate the national conversation. This can cut both ways, especially on issues like immigration where his fitful threats to close the southern border may cast him as more of a crisis instigator than mitigator. In 2018, Mr. Trump’s alarmist warnings about the Central American migrant caravan and his exaggerated claims about immigrants and crime were divisive with many suburban voters and contributed to Democratic victories that helped the party win the House.

Still, the president’s purge of the Homeland Security Department this week signals his belief that strict immigration enforcement is a winning issue for him. And while the wall he promised in 2016 remains unbuilt, he will continue to look for new ways to hold a hard line on border security.

It is not clear whether any of the Republican messaging is having an impact on voters outside of the president’s so far unmovable base. But Ms. Lake said that as she surveyed likely 2020 swing voters, she was surprised to hear people in focus groups repeat false assertions made by the president and his allies-- that Democrats would end air travel in the United States and shut down dairy farms and beef production because of greenhouse gas emissions from cows.

“It’s amazing the number of people who would volunteer that,” she said. The actual language in the proposal calls for cleaner transportation and agriculture “as much as is technologically feasible.” The misperception about cows and airplanes originated with a now-retracted fact sheet published by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office that contained an ironic aside about getting rid of “farting cows and airplanes.”

Republicans said they also saw “Medicare for all”-type proposals as a way to give their rallying cries on socialism more substance and potency. Some plans, like the one put forward by Mr. Sanders, would largely eliminate private insurance plans, which Republicans have found is overwhelmingly unpopular with the kinds of voters they need to win back.

“The debate that’s going to play out in suburbs across the country is a choice between capitalism versus socialism,” said Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. “When Democrats talk about abolishing private health insurance, for example, most of my friends are on private insurance plans through their jobs or their husbands’ jobs. They don’t want to lose that. They don’t want to wait in line to get to the pediatrician.”

“Whichever Democrat wins the nomination will have to own their party’s socialist agenda,” she added. “That’s a debate that President Trump is eager to have and knows he can win.”

The Republicans’ data on voters from the 2018 midterms showed that coverage of pre-existing medical conditions was the top issue of concern. But here they face a serious disadvantage: They have no health care plan of their own.

But they have been testing messaging on health care with likely voters in the 16 states they believe will be the most competitive in 2020. These include ones Mr. Trump narrowly won like Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida, as well as those he won by larger margins but have tilted more Democratic lately, like Arizona and North Carolina. The R.N.C. found that when voters were told that “Medicare for all” would eliminate private insurance and create a government-run system paid for by higher taxes, independents, married women and union members disliked the idea by wide margins. Among married women alone, nearly 60 percent disapproved.

Mr. Trump’s own approach at labeling Democrats has been inconsistent. He has yet to come up with the kind of indelible rhetorical device that he used repeatedly to brand his opponents in 2016. So far he has nothing like “Crooked Hillary,” “Little Marco’’ and “Low-energy Jeb,” which delighted many of his supporters two years ago.

But he has occasionally made graphic and false claims that Democrats support legislation that would allow “executing babies AFTER birth,” as he said in a recent tweet. During a meeting at the White House before his State of the Union address that included some conservative activists, Mr. Trump expressed amazement at comments by the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, who had to clarify his defense of abortion in later stages of pregnancy after activists accused him of saying doctors should be able to kill a baby born alive during the procedure.

“Can you believe this governor?’’ the president said, according to two people at the meeting, who said that he was surprisingly animated about the subject and vowed to keep mentioning it.

The Centers for Disease Control says such late-term abortions are extremely rare. Only about 1.3 percent of abortions in the United States in 2015 were performed in or after the 21st week of pregnancy, the agency reported.

But anti-abortion activists said the efforts in some states like New York and Virginia to remove certain barriers to second- and third-trimester abortions allowed them to present the issue to voters in a new and graphic light. Democrats have struggled to defend the new legislation; privately some say they are not being persuasive in explaining the health situations the bills address while the other side accuses them of condoning infanticide.

While polls show that Americans support allowing abortion in the first three months by wide margins, that support drops sharply when people are asked in general about the second and third trimesters. (They overwhelmingly support exceptions if the mother’s life is endangered.)

“We’re in a totally different environment,” said Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion rights and that plans to test messages on the issue with voters in the months ahead.

Democrats say they cannot let Mr. Trump and other Republicans go unanswered as they try to link the party to socialism-- a term that Americans view negatively over all-- and to extremism in a broader sense. That has been the motivation behind Republicans’ intense focus on two young, freshman members of Congress: Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman from Queens who calls herself a democratic socialist; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, whose criticism of Israel led the president and others to condemn her as an anti-Semite. Some of Ms. Omar’s most vocal defenders have been self-described democratic socialists.

Even if Americans say they like policies that are derivative of socialism, like Social Security, the term “connotes very clear imagery to people in a very dog whistle kind of way,” said Jefrey Pollock, president of the Global Strategy group, which advises Democrats on messaging. “Then they attach faces to it,” he added, “and I think it can have resonance, and it has had resonance.”

The effort on the right to elevate Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 29, as the most prominent socialist foil is something Democrats are watching, Mr. Pollock said. “She is, of course, six years away from being able to run for president. But they are still trying to make her the face of the party.”

...Democrats’ own research has found this approach to be effective with the Republican base, which can be more aware of liberal policies like the Green New Deal than liberals are. When Global Strategy Group and GBA Strategies surveyed Fox News viewers last month, they found that Republicans who watch Fox are more than twice as likely as all other groups to have heard about the plan than Democrats.

Their verdict? Seventy-seven percent of them are very concerned about the influence of socialism in the Democratic Party.
Over at Politico yesterday, Holly Otterbein pointed out that the Republicans tried using the socialist bullshit against the Democrats during the midterms-- and failed, losing over 40 seats. She wrote that "In Pennsylvania last year, Republicans tagged Democrats up and down the ticket as socialists or sympathetic to socialism: Gov. Tom Wolf, congressional candidates and state representative hopefuls all got the hammer-and-sickle treatment. The strategy was deliberate and coordinated, emanating from the state’s Republican Party chairman, Val DiGiorgio. But come Election Day, Democrats flipped three House seats and 16 more in the state General Assembly. Wolf easily won reelection, as did Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. 'Their attacks backfired,' said Democratic state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, a first-time candidate who won a GOP-held seat in the Philadelphia suburbs. 'They protested an event I was at and handed out fake $10,000 bills that said In Socialism We Trust with my face on it. They went really low, and it didn’t work.'... [I]f Republicans think they have a surefire winner with the socialism message in 2020, the Pennsylvania experience offers a cautionary tale, at least. Even Republicans who think they’ll have better success in 2020 concede the tactic wasn’t fruitful in the state last year."

Progressives have more to worry about from conservative Democrats-- who are rationalizing this to mean they have to avoid running progressives-- than they do from Republicans, who have been running around shrieking that the sky is falling for 80 years.

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At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The right decried for 8 years that Obama was a socialist and while the fable of the boy who cried wolf should apply here, what this really did was link Obama's Hopeless centrism to the ineffective, empty rhetoric of the bland politic. By linking the Blue Dogs to socialism the right will also effectively mis-define socialism. When Bernie and AOC speak real democratic socialism and the right actual listens to it, they won't recognize it.

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Short Bursts:

"Do the Democrats still have it in them? We'll soon see..."

WE have already seen. No, they do not have it in them, because the only fight they are willing to engage in is with the progressives, who are close to being democratic socialists or they have openly claimed the title.

"...[Democrats] (sic) need to define themselves and their ideas before Mr. Trump and his conservative allies do it for them."

Too late!

"Some Democratic strategists said they have been taken aback recently by how successful Mr. Trump and Republicans have been..."

Last time I looked, the rules for Calvinball were still available on the Inter Tubes. Then they might see if they can have spines installed before they play the game with the GOP.

". . . Celinda Lake, a top Democratic pollster . . . . she was surprised to hear people in focus groups repeat false assertions made by the president and his allies . . ."

And the democraptic Party thinks they are going to beat Trump when he has suborned their supporters like this??? Facts are as wasted on them as reading Socrates to cows. Actually, the cows might actually learn something while bovine-brained humans won't.

". . . [Republicans] face a serious disadvantage: They have no health care plan of their own."

WRONG! Alan Grayson revealed the details of that plan years ago: "Don't get sick, else DIE QUICK!"

"Democrats say they cannot let Mr. Trump and other Republicans go unanswered . . ."

But they do! Every! Day!

Lastly, I wouldn't have posted the Blacklisted cartoon. It would give the DCCC ideas that they would use to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Short ... good to see ya back. Took most of what I would have said before I got to it.

Once again, sheepdogging at its worst (read: most effective).

They don't have to spook the democrap PARTY, which, as Shorts above said nicely, is already quivering in a fetal position.

They have to spook only a couple points worth of the left electorate in any of 4 or 5 key states. And they're already doing it. I'm seeing a couple different ads on the teevee machine targeting older folks trying to scare the shit out of them by invoking (HORRORS!) memories of FDR's socialism and begging folks to go look at some web sites.

You see, once FDR and his democratic party took over for hoover and his party of unbounded greed, THEY, how to put this..., GOT SHIT DONE! And they kept getting shit done for all 4 of his admins, even after he passed away in '45. That was when it was the DEMOCRATIC party.

The difference today? The PARTY is the democraP party; which hasn't done a single thing for anyone but the corporate and billionaire donors since 1980.

The other, more important difference today? Voters are dumber than shit. Maleducated, genetically stupid, ignorant and having undergone their limbic training by decades of Nazi media (with NO opposition from anyone) plus the "sunni" Christian clergy.

Result: dumbest motherfuckers in the history of earth; ignorant; incapable of reasoned thought; and inculcated from birth with sanctified greed, hate, fear, greed and greed. Did I mention greed?

If the democrap party wanted to win from now to infinity, they'd revisit their "New Deal" approach to cajole some of the 90 million voters who haven't voted in decades out of hibernation. The Nazi high-water mark is probably the 62 million trump got in 2016. But that left close to 150 million who did NOT vote for the fat Nazi fuck.
Yet only 65 million made the effort to vote for the warmongering russophobic bankers' whore. Using math-n-shit... that left 80-90 million who don't vote.

But the democraps don't WANT to win. They simply want those corporations and billionaires to keep writing those checks. They still need to do the dance between their service to that money and their pretense of still being a party that gives a shit about people. Fortunately for that PARTY, the people are so fucking stupid that they'll believe everything the PARTY tells them and won't notice that everything they DO is the opposite of what they tell them.


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