Thursday, July 19, 2018

Common Sense for the Left

Theda Skocpol is one of the most astute analysts of the American left. She has an excellent interview with Tom Jacobs on the Pacific Standard website. Here is some of the advice she offers to those on left in the era of Trump:
On the Kavanaugh nomination:
"I...think Democrats shouldn't engage in extraordinary delaying tactics. The closer [the confirmation fight] gets to the election, the more time it eats up. The Democrats need to move to a broader set of arguments that speak to people's lives. Their task is to win a majority in the House of Representatives and hold onto as many Senate seats as they can."
On the Democratic base and the call to abolish ICE:
"At this point, the danger for Democrats is their most vocal supporters are concentrated on the coasts. But piling up votes in New York, Massachusetts, and California is not going to do it. Voters in those states need to recognize that they should not be waving around silly slogans like "Abolish ICE" that make it harder for Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to get their message across. It makes it harder to win those crucial seats.
If they keep their eye on the ball—such as emphasizing health care, which is a broad, cross-cutting concern—I think the Democrats have a good chance of taking the House of Representatives and holding their own in the Senate. But that's just the beginning. They need to take the presidency in 2020, and hold their own in 2022. Only then will the country's politics begin to shift."
On how to handle a conservative Supreme Court:
"[L]iberals in the past 50 years have been heavily invested in the presidency and the courts. That produces a style of politics that emphasizes expertise, professionally run advocacy organizations, and spending money on court cases. That has come at the expense of organizing in the states and localities. You have to have the ability to win elections.
That is the silver lining I see in this. I believe that has already begun to turn around. It's highly likely the Supreme Court is going to be in very conservative hands for the next 20 years. Well, maybe it's time for another round of tax-and-spend liberalism. Democrats need to make the case to the public that we need to spend more through the public sector to ensure opportunity and security for everybody. They can use both state legislatures and Congress to change the tax structure, and expand Social Security and Medicare.
If the Supreme Court eviscerates the Affordable Care Act's regulatory structure, the obvious next step is to let people buy into Medicare. That would be very popular, and there's no way the Supreme Court could overturn it. There are a whole series of things that could be done that would have a transformative impact. But you have to have legislative majorities to do that."
On grassroots anti-Trump groups:
"I think these are the key to revitalizing the Democratic Party outside of the most liberal areas of the country. It's not being led by Bernie Sanders people. These are middle-class women's networks, with some men in them. They turned around public opinion on the Affordable Care Act. They were behind Conor Lamb's victory, along with the unions. They're everywhere, and they have made a real difference. They're likely to be the key to congressional victories, if they happen....
A lot of them are progressive, but they're also pragmatic. They don't insist on the leftmost candidate. They'll get behind any reasonable Democrat. In many cases, they are revitalizing local Democratic parties. A lot are involved in voter-registration and voter-outreach efforts. They're certainly running new people for office."
On the limits of Millennial activism:
"There's a danger that young people on the left believe participating in a demonstration, or tweeting, is politics. It is, but it sure isn't going to make a difference. The only thing that will make a difference is people going to the polls this fall."
Stern words but basically correct. Eyes on the prize, people!
About this article
PSMAG.COM
Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol argues the conservative takeover of the federal government has a silver lining for liberals: It is inspiring more activism.

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