Winning Progressive Message & Strategy

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The Double-Edged Sword of a Nationalized Race

I wrote this piece for Campaigns and Elections.  Check it out!

Nationalizing a race, whether a state primary or a House special election, can help a campaign raise money and recruit volunteers. But history and recent results demonstrate that this strategy comes at too steep a price.

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Trump Dispute On Wall Could Be an Implosion

I’ll make this short and sweet. Donald Trump’s campaign is built on three pillars:

  1. He will make foreign leaders fear and respect us, because he’s tough
  2. Relatedly, he will make great deals for America, because he can strong arm others
  3. Unlike “crooked Hillary” and the establishment, he will never lie to you, and will tell it like it is

In one news cycle, it is possible he has blasted those three pillars with dynamite.

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Trump’s New Message is a Winner. Here’s How Hillary Can Counteract It.

Donald Trump 9.0 was launched last night (or is it 10.0?  9.5? I lost track).

For a brief moment in time, fueled by a teleprompter filled with messaging from new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and campaign CEO, Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon, Trump had a narrative that finally worked.

To use a phrase of Trump’s, I hated to just give him credit for something, “believe me.”

Now, if he regresses to his usual self, he’ll say something horrible and the campaign will be caught up in a whirlwind of controversy.  But what if he doesn’t?  This new campaign message can work, quite effectively.  So, what should Hillary do?

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Trump’s Trapped

Donald Trump has inadvertently laid himself one hell of a trap.  In his speech today, he said:

The father of the Orlando shooter was a Taliban supporter from Afghanistan, one of the most repressive anti-gay and anti-women regimes on Earth.

I only want to admit people who share our values and love our people.

Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death.

This is similar to what he said right after Orlando:

The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans.

Obviously, he is referring to people from Muslim nations.  But you know what people have also violently targeted gays? Continue reading

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The Biden Decision and the Biden Legacy

Recovering a legacy is no easy feat. Just ask Al Gore.

The most active Vice President in history, at that point, Al Gore was the point person on some of the Clinton administration’s most successful efforts, like Reinventing Government, to pushing through some of its more controversial policies, like NAFTA. But all of that is rarely associated with him, anymore.

Even with all of his yeoman work on the environment, Gore is remembered for the 2000 election. It even is the opening line to most of his speeches, joking, “I am Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States of America.”

From launching a network (and folding it) to environmental work, Al Gore has remained active, but his political cache has suffered. Even with George W. Bush stealing the election, and Ralph Nader running as a Green, most people are aware of one cold, hard truth. It should never have been close. Al Gore screwed it up.

It’s unclear if any of the above is part of the equation, as Joe Biden decides whether to make one final run at the White House. But it should be. Continue reading

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Gaming Out Trump Nomination is GLORIOUS

“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

– GOP Loyalty Pledge (Emphasis mine)

Any person running understands (or will soon understand) that there is no Republican nominee until after a vote at the convention.  Nowhere in this pledge (which every GOP candidate for President has signed) is there any promise to not attempt to stop someone from getting the nomination, on the convention floor.

Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus knows it.  Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and other seasoned politicians, running for the GOP nomination know it.  Did Donald Trump know it?

This is what makes gaming out the nomination, and general election of Trump so wonderful, if you’re hoping for the GOP to lose.  Should Trump head into the convention with a plurality of delegates, or even a majority, there will be that one, last-gasp effort to stop him.

Graham, Bush, Walker, Fiorina, Kasich, Rubio, and more, joining, behind the scenes with Priebus, Speaker John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, and more.  Then, caught off-guard Trump, Cruz, possibly Carson, joining with Tea Party backbenchers looking to oust Boehner and McConnell, ready to fight it out on the floor.

This is your 2016 GOP Convention, if Trump walks into the building with the most delegates.

A floor fight ensues. Multiple ballots.  Fights between states.  Fights between delegates within states.  Here’s what it would look like.

When all is said and done, a bloodied, battered, and bitter GOP leaves that building, either with a nominee who has managed to lose every Trump voter, and Donald Trump tearing up the “pledge,”  or a nominated Donald Trump who is now more angry at Republicans, than Democrats.

Under the first scenario, the GOP Nominee is a dead man or woman walking, without the support of Trump voters.

Under the second scenario, Donald Trump, who has shown he cannot let go of a fight, spends 2016 tearing into Republicans. From there, many Republicans fall all over themselves to create distance from a Trump campaign that takes every opportunity to bash the party.  And Trump, in response, fights with them, too.

Imagine Lindsay Graham attacks Trump.  Trumps slams him back.  Someone asks Senator Rob Portman (who is in a tight Ohio Senate race) about it, and he defends Graham.  In response, Trump calls Portman a loser who shouldn’t get votes.  You can see where this leads.

The Party would be running two completely disparate campaigns.

Trump would be running his campaign, completely separate in tone and policy from the rest of the party.

GOP HQ wouldn’t talk with the Trump campaign, and vice versa.

Candidates would be taken by surprise by Trump proposals, and get asked if they support or don’t support their nominee’s agenda, on the fly.

To quote Peter Venkman it would be “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

I don’t believe in trickle down economics. But I do believe in trickle down politics.  The chaos at the top would hurt the entire GOP ticket, all the way to the point that the party would be in danger of losing the House, along with the Senate.

Sure, yeah, Trump would also target Hillary Clinton.  But he won’t be focused on her, as she largely stays on the sideline, and runs a positive campaign of issues and ideas.  Given the state of the race, why should she engage Trump, outside of the debates?  Essentially, she would be running half-opposed. That’s a good place to be.

Of course, maybe none of this happens, and the GOP rallies behind Trump, and walks out united behind him.  Maybe they’re so on the same team that Republicans are jumping to defend him and stand with him, in the wake of any utterance that comes out of his mouth — from commentary on women’s periods to statements about Mexicans to God knows what else.

Maybe.  But I don’t think that’s actually a more favorable scenario, for the GOP’s electoral chances.

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Progressives Rising

Piggybacking off my post from yesterday, Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo shows some other key victories for the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” in the new Congress.

The Democrats’ progressive wing is enjoying a renaissance since the party’s crushing defeat in the 2014 midterm election, chalking up victories and capturing the attention of congressional leaders on causes near and dear to their hearts.

Some of the change is structural. The election wiped out red state senators and House members in less progressive districts, reducing the new minority party to a more ideologically cohesive unit. The loss of the Democrats’ Senate majority also breaks a four-year holding pattern in which leaders had to cut deals with the conservative-dominated House, making it somewhat easier for them to stand or fall on principle.

“It’s very, very liberating,” said one Democratic Senate leadership aide.

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