Salon: There is hard data that shows that a centrist Democrat would be a losing candidate
Economist Thomas Piketty wrote a paper about this in 2018, though the Democrats paid no attention
The surprising thing about older voters: they’re moving more to the left
The question is just how far.
Like any demographic group, voters 65 and older are no monolith. But there are certain characteristics that have come to define older Americans: that they’re generally more conservative, they really care about issues like Medicare, Social Security, and drug prices, and they vote. But advocates for seniors see an electorate actually more fluid than these tropes suggest. They’re also interested in what world they’ll leave for their grandchildren, from climate change to education access and income inequality. And broadly they’re shifting ideologically to the left.
“We have seen a shift since 2010 of older voters moving more Democratic than any other age group,” Richard Fiesta, the director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said. The question is, just how far left are they willing to go?
Republicans have relied on older Americans’ support since the 2000 presidential election. In 2016, 53 percent of adults 65 and older voted for President Donald Trump, who campaigned on protecting Medicare and Social Security and lowering drug prices. But those dynamics could be changing.
Republicans spent the first year of full government control under Trump attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a policy that would have weakened protections for preexisting conditions, and could have been more costly for older and sicker patients. And Republicans are backing a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions. Trump’s 2020 budget proposal included $25 billion in cuts to Social Security over the next 10 years. ...
And of course, Trump’s conduct in office has added an important cultural layer in this election cycle.
“Later in your life there is a very visceral desire to see the country be stable, to see it be decent,” Bauman said. “If I were Joe Biden, I would be running on return to decency because the Obama administration for many years represented that — a certain kind of decency that is clearly gone.”
New York Times - Thomas L. Friedman
The Answers to Our Problems Aren’t as Simple as Left or Right
The old binary choices no longer work.
The American body politic has experienced two big — and enormously revealing — shocks in the past month.
The first was political, administered by the Democrats’ first debates, which revealed a party whose leading presidential candidates were considerably farther to the left on some key issues — borders, national health care, treatment of illegal immigrants — than many mainstream Democrats, not to mention independents and moderate Republicans looking for an alternative to President Trump.
The second big shock was moral, administered by Trump’s supporters at his North Carolina rally last week. As Trump trashed Representative Ilhan Omar, who immigrated from Somalia, his supporters broke into chants of “Send her back!”
If you were in that audience chanting, or you’ve been rationalizing how people in that audience could have been chanting, or you were Trump giving 13 seconds for that chanting to echo across the hall and then across the country, you should be ashamed of yourself. That was un-American. It was something out of a 1930s German or Italian fascist newsreel.
Combined, the two shocks help to explain a new poll’s finding that a significant number of voters feel that no candidate speaks to them. This group is often called — usually with a sneer — “centrists” or “moderates.”
I’m in this group, but I prefer not to call myself a “centrist.” That label implies someone whose views are mush, situated between two clearly defined poles of left and right. My views are not mush. They just emerge from a different approach to politics.
TIME - Molly Ball
What Do the Democrats Stand For? Inside a Fight Over America's Future
They are both Democrats: Joe Biden, the 76-year-old former Vice President, and Ilhan Omar, the 36-year-old freshman Congresswoman. An old white man, with blind spots on race and gender and a penchant for bipartisanship; a young Somali-American Muslim who sees compromise as complicity. To Biden, Donald Trump is an aberration; to Omar, he is a symptom of a deeper rot. One argues for a return to normality, while the other insists: Your normal has always been my oppression.
How to fit those two visions into one party is the question tying the Democrats in knots. What policies will the party champion? Which voters will it court? How will it speak to an angry and divided nation? While intraparty tussles are perennial in politics, this one comes against a unique backdrop: an unpopular, mendacious, norm-trampling President. As Democrats grilled Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, on July 24, their sense of urgency was evident.
The one thing Democrats agree on is that Trump needs to go, but even on the question of how to oust him, they are split. Ninety-five of the party’s 235 House Representatives recently voted to begin impeachment proceedings, a measure nearly a dozen of the major Democratic presidential candidates support. The party’s leadership continues to insist that defeating the President in 2020 is the better path. Half the party seems furious at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not attacking Trump more forcefully, while the other is petrified they’re losing the American mainstream, validating Trump’s “witch hunt” accusations with investigations into Russian election interference that most voters see as irrelevant to their daily lives.
These divisions have come into focus in recent weeks. Two parallel conflicts–the fight among congressional Democrats, and debates among the 2020 candidates–have played out along similar lines, revealing deep fissures on policy, tactics and identity. A consistent majority of voters disapprove of the President’s performance, do not want him re-elected and dislike his policies and character. Even Trump’s allies admit his re-election hopes rest on his ability to make the alternative even more distasteful.
Politico Mag - Peter Canellos
What FDR Understood About Socialism That Today’s Democrats Don’t
He ruled at the height of government activism, but saw ideology as something to fear, not embrace. ...
In the four years just past, Roosevelt had transformed the purpose of the United States government, making it a constant companion in the lives of Americans. The Social Security Act of the previous year was merely the crowning achievement. Roosevelt’s initiatives, meant to curb the misery brought on by the Great Depression, directly funded millions of government jobs, employing everyone from photographers to brush-clearing conservation workers. To pay for this, he raised the income tax—which hadn’t even existed two decades earlier—to 75 percent on the highest incomes. The rich were subsidizing the poor, and that was A-OK with FDR.
The giant crowd bristled with excitement to hear their hero defend these policies. What followed was his so-called “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech, which historians rank among the greatest of his career, a tall order from the man whose oratorical roster included “nothing to fear but fear itself,” and “a day that will live in infamy.” But while those speeches perfectly captured individual moments, Roosevelt’s “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech came far closer to revealing his inner theories and motivations: Never before or after would he lay out his vision in greater clarity.
That vision included one truly insistent message: He was not a socialist.
Though he never used the term socialism in his speech, Roosevelt’s anger at those who accused him of ideological motivations, of applying an economic theory that was anathema to the United States, exploded from the lectern. In line after line, the fiery president defended his actions as pragmatic responses to the real, glaring needs of a changing society. The rich who criticized him, who cloaked their greed in an affinity for capitalism, were dangerously missing his point. He knew the ideological threats of communism and of fascism were real, and were overtaking democracy in European countries. An etched-in-stone commitment to the status quo would be an invitation to extremists everywhere. By fulfilling the government’s obligation to assist its people, he was instilling confidence in the American system. He was vindicating the Founding Fathers.
Now, in a time of far less suffering and little sense of economic crisis, some Democrats are embracing the very title that Roosevelt shunned. It is, in their eyes, truth in packaging. Their proposals sound much like Roosevelt’s: using the power of the federal government to create a fairer society, in which essential services are subsidized by higher taxes on the wealthy. But unlike FDR, they say that, yes, these programs amount to socialism. The Republicans who inveigh against them aren’t misstating their intentions, as Roosevelt claimed. The GOP may be dead wrong to demonize them—to turn a benignly descriptive word like socialism into a scare word—but, yeah, they’re socialists in pursuit of a socialist platform.
Also:Sanders, Warren join to fend off attacks from Dem moderates
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders haven’t been acting like rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’m with Bernie on Medicare For All,” Warren announced at the first debate in June.
“Elizabeth is absolutely right,” Sanders said at the second debate last month when Warren discussed trade and protectionism.
Far from elbowing each other out of the far-left lane of the Democratic primary, Warren and Sanders have jointly sought to fend off attacks from the more moderate candidates. The two progressives advocate for transformational change over incremental improvements to boost low- and middle-income Americans, backing policies of a massive scale such as Medicare For All and the Green New Deal.
Political experts say that, at this point of the primary, Warren of Massachusetts and Sanders of Vermont benefit more from working with than against each other.
It’s about strategy as much as principle, said Monica Klein, a New York-based Democratic consultant.
“One, it doesn’t bode well for either of them to attack the other because one of them will need the other’s voters,” said Klein, co-founder of Seneca Strategies. “And two, they both want a progressive, populist president, so it makes more sense for them to support that vision.”
Adding:Newsday: Biden, others argue the Democratic center will hold - and win
Politico: Swing-district Dems face blowback from progressive voters
An energized base is pushing moderates to the left, even as the lawmakers try to appeal to the middle.
New York Times - Michelle Goldberg
Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?
In a new book, the pollster Stanley Greenberg predicts a blue tidal wave in 2020.
Toward the end of his new book, “R.I.P. G.O.P.,” the renowned Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg makes a thrilling prediction, delivered with the certainty of prophecy. “The year 2020 will produce a second blue wave on at least the scale of the first in 2018 and finally will crash and shatter the Republican Party that was consumed by the ill-begotten battle to stop the New America from governing,” he writes.
It sounds almost messianic: the Republican Party, that foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce, not just defeated but destroyed. The inexorable force of demography bringing us a new, enlightened political dispensation. Greenberg foresees “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” and a Democratic Party “liberated from the nation’s suffocating polarization to use government to advance the public good.” I’d like to believe it, and maybe you would too. But should we? ...
Yet going into 2020, Greenberg believes that what he calls the “rising American electorate” — including millennials, people of color and single women — will ensure Democratic victory, almost regardless of whom the party nominates. “We’re dealing with demographic and cultural trends, but we’re also dealing with people that are organizing and talking to one and another and becoming much more conscious of their values,” he said.
In his polling and focus groups, he’s seeing that the reaction to Trump is changing people. “The Trump presidency so invaded the public’s consciousness that it was hard to talk to previously disengaged and unregistered unmarried women, people of color and millennials without them going right to Trump,” he writes. A few months after the election, he realized he could no longer put Clinton and Trump voters in focus groups together because indignant Clinton voters, particularly women, so dominated the conversations. “This turned out to be an unintended test of the strength of their views and resolve to resist,” he wrote.
That resolve to resist has led many voters to define their own beliefs in opposition to Trump’s. On immigration, for example, “every Trump outrage increased the proportion of Americans who said, ‘We are an immigrant country,’” writes Greenberg. Indeed, according to recent Pew data, 62 percent of Americans say that immigrants strengthen the country, while 28 percent, a near record low, see them as a burden. ...
His confidence will not be enough to lessen the insomnia that has plagued me since the cursed night when Trump was elected. But his book should be a corrective to the media’s overweening focus on the mulish devotion of Trump voters. Trump hatred is a much more potent force in this country than Trump love. There is one way, and one way only, that Trump may surpass Barack Obama. Though Obama was a community organizer, Trump could turn out to be much better at mobilizing progressives.
New York Times OpEd - Stanley B. Greenberg
The Republican Party Is Doomed
This is a transformational moment. Do the Democrats understand how to take advantage of it? ...
The financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 left the vast majority of working people and the Democrats’ base of African-Americans, Hispanics, single women and millennials shattered for years. They lost much of their wealth and were forced into new jobs that often paid less. Many faced prohibitive student debt. With wages stagnant for a decade, they were frustrated with the daunting costs of health care, prescription drugs, child care and housing. Yet in the main, Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton — and now Mr. Trump — hailed the economy’s progress, the millions of new jobs. But that was and is clueless. Mr. Trump will be the latest presidential candidate punished by the voters for not getting it.
The Democrats in the 2018 wave election did get it and made their biggest gains, compared with 2016, not in the suburbs — despite winning most of their new seats there — but in the rural areas and among white working class voters, particularly women. This pullback from Mr. Trump among white working class women in particular went further this year. As of 2019, he enjoyed only a single-digit lead with the voters who played such a big role in the 2016 surprise. In 2018, Democrats succeeded by attacking Republicans for attempting to repeal Obamacare and failing to lower skyrocketing prescription drug costs. They proposed trillion-dollar investments in infrastructure and battled to drive dark money out of politics.
Mr. Trump and the Republican Congress continued to seek the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, working both to make it fail in practice and to slash federal health care spending for seniors and the poor. That made health care the top reason for voting for Democrats in 2018, but it also revealed what has become a defining partisan difference: a Republican Party determined to destroy government outside of defense and a Democratic Party determined to use it expansively. ...
But this dam has burst. With Mr. Trump’s ever-escalating assault on government, the proportion of Americans who say that government “should do more to solve problems and meet the needs of people” surged to the highest level in 20 years. Democratic candidates who understand this political moment will push for a government that changes the country’s course, as it did under Democratic presidents after the progressive victories of 2008 and 1964 and especially after the 1932 triumph of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. ...
Democrats are seeking leaders who understand how transformative this election ought to be for both the Republican and the Democratic parties. The Democrats want a powerful, activist government after years of gridlock and political impotence. More than three quarters of them believe that sharper regulation of business is necessary to protect the public, that government benefits for the poor don’t go far enough, that racial discrimination still blocks black advancement and that stricter environment laws are worth the cost. Two-thirds believe that corporations make too much profit. They want a very different America from the one Republicans have forged.
When you combine Mr. Trump pushing moderates out of the Republican Party and the changing attitudes his rhetoric and policies have brought about with the Democrats’ pro-government fervor, you have a recipe for transformation. Democrats should be looking not just to defeat Donald Trump and the Republican Party, but to get to work building a bold era of progressive reform.
Vox - Matt Yglesias:
The 20-year argument between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren over bankruptcy, explained
A clash over a 2005 bankruptcy bill — and a broader contrast in worldviews.
On a granular level, then, both sides of the Warren/Biden argument can claim that some of their main predictions came true, and both sides agree that the bill had at least some good provisions and some bad ones.
But the larger clash of worldviews is as vital as ever. Biden’s 2020 presidential bid explicitly front-loads Trump and his aberrant behavior, casting the former VP’s aspirations in explicitly restorationist terms — Biden will fix what Trump broke. To Warren, by contrast, the system was broken before she ever entered the Senate and the real fight is to overthrow the nexus of special interest politics that reigned in Washington back while The Apprentice was in its first season.