Tolerance of gun violence is partisan; connecting the dots between big government and curing diseases
Tolerance of gun violence is partisan.
The Senate filibuster and the House sit-in -- both seeking a simple vote on controlling gun violence -- demonstrate the federal solution to gun violence is found exclusively through the Democratic Party.
There simply isn't a political path to reducing gun violence that includes the federal Republican Party in control of either the House of the Senate, because the overwhelming majority of Republican legislators oppose those laws on principle, consequences to communities be damned.
The myth of voting the person not the party is taking another hit. Now we Democrats need to close the deal and make a more explicit argument to voters and donors to embrace voting for the party, not just the candidates who happen to be Democratic. (In October, every candidate runs TV commercials that never mention their party. That's a mistake we make every cycle. If we want to win back the House and the Senate, we can't do it in 2016.)
I like it when people march or donate money to cure cancer or care for people with a disease, but I hope they don't vote for the small government Republicans who eliminate medical research and let insurance companies deny treatment to people with diseases.
Think about all the people marching for breast cancer or running in 5Ks for all the diseases that afflict people. There are tens of millions of them every year. And they are all personally much better off with the Affordable Care Act and Democratic policies than with Republicans who side with the insurance companies and reduce government investments including medical research.
Maybe some politicians get a little shy to say clearly that Democratic policies help to cure cancer while Republican policies make us wait longer for a cure and hurt families with horrible diseases (because patients can't buy health insurance with their pre-existing condition and they hit a lifetime cap of what insurance companies will spend on their health care so are on their own to deal with their cancer after that). But it's true. And someone should be focused on explaining to the families of those affected by cancer or other diseases exactly why Democratic policies like the Affordable Care Act literally save or prolong their lives over Republican continued and current opposition. People should take it personally when Republicans still want to repeal Obamacare. That means they continue to vote to make *them* uninsurable. And they are voting to cut off their health care by bringing back lifetime caps.
Isn't that a compelling, personal story that connects the dots for cancer patients and their families so they understand why they should identify as Democrats? So they can take it personally when Republicans are want to repeal Obamacare? I think so.
Think of it this way: there are hundreds of thousands of Republican voters who feel passionately about the importance of funding medical research to find a cure for cancer. These are easy targets for us. Have they ever considered that their votes and their passion are contradictory? I suspect their passion would trump their voting history and we can flip them over to our side if they understand they can generate far more medical research funding with a Democratic 'big" government budget than they can trying to raise money privately.
Here's my idea on how to reach all these millions of families (lots of whom are voting Republican because no one has made this pitch to them): build an online community of cancer patients and families who want to know about all the groups and 5Ks and marathons happening around the country to raise money for research and care. We create the national database and repository for all these events to raise money for research. We give them a chance to email Congress and ask them to fund medical research. And we explain quite clearly why Democratic policies are much better for our community of cancer patients and their loved ones than Republican policies.
Republicans largely get away with their destructive policies because lots of American voters, including well-educated ones, don't connect the dots between the faraway debate in DC and the real-world impact on their lives. Small government can sound attractive in the abstract, but not when it means the disease your husband or your daughter is battling doesn't get cured. Let's make it personal for people.
Maybe I’m selfish.
I want free health care. I want what people in every other developed country have: good doctors and hospitals without for-profit middlemen taking my $20 grand in premiums and deductibles and poor people going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills.
I want free college, just like K-12 is free. I don’t want to come up with 200 grand so my three kids can get a degree and I don’t want my kids to go into debt if I can’t come up with the money.
I want an end to child poverty in our country. I want waiters and landscapers and retail clerks to make $15 an hour, not $8 or $9, and I want free child care and universal pre-K so poor kids get support too.
I don’t want to endure another Great Recession like in 2008-9 because the too-big-to-fail, greedy, reckless banks brought down our entire economy. I want to be protected from their behavior by breaking them up.
Maybe it’s selfish, but I want Bernie Sanders’ program implemented, because it will make me (and you) better off.
And here’s the thing: we can implement all of it. We can elect Bernie Sanders president. And we can pass his agenda by electing a Democratic Congress this November with an additional 15 million Democratic votes. Hard, but not impossible.
Sadly, some candidates do think it is impossible. Some Democrats try to lower our expectations and convince us that even though every other country in the world can afford to provide free health care and free higher education, we can’t. It’s just not realistic, they say.
I don’t like it when candidates tell me no. I like it when candidates tell me yes. Yes, we can.
My day job is a state lobbyist pushing for progressive causes. I can see the immense possibilities of our government improving our lives, because on any given day, we only need a majority of the people who are elected to just decide to vote for something .. and it’s the law. 100% renewable power, free tuition, free health care are each just one vote away from reality. It’s just political will.
Consider this one: we can invest $1 trillion into our infrastructure, including European-style high speed rail, by ending the Cayman Islands ripoff of corporations not paying taxes. Bernie is for it. It’s common sense to most people (our infrastructure is second-rate and offshore tax havens are a scam), but not in DC. Somehow, it is unrealistic in Washington to pay for and build first-class roads, airports, trains and transit for all of us by closing outrageous corporate loopholes. That’s wrong.
I’m voting for Bernie because his campaign is changing what is politically realistic. And when enough of us finally vote for what is best for us and our families, then what was one ridiculously unrealistic (free health care! high speed rail! free tuition!) will become inevitable. Please join me.
Some voters are more important than others.
For the presidential race, some voters live in a swing or battleground state like Ohio or Florida or Nevada where the results can go either way while most voters live in a clearly red or blue state like Texas or California where, in almost any scenario, everybody knows who is going to win. Getting an additional Democratic vote in a swing state is much more important than in a safe state, so campaigning in a swing state yields better results.
The presidential swing states in 2016 are:
Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire.
I'm basing this analysis from Professor Larry Sabato's site, so feel free to tweak my list any way you'd like.
For control of the US Senate, only two-thirds of the states have an election in 2016 and of those that do, only some of them are toss-up states where either party can win.
The three states that, today, are toss-up states where either party can win are:
Nevada, Florida and New Hampshire
while the states where the likely winner isn't a sure thing (and thus it is more important to campaign in those states than in states like California or Utah where the party is a lock to win are)
Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania
Pretty good overlap in those lists. In other words, if we can get a random person to vote Democratic in 2016, if they live in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania or New Hampshire, they will help elect the next Democratic President and help elect the new US Senate Democratic Majority Leader. That's a two-fer! Those are important people. That means we Democrats should be doing everything in our power to get every single person registered and voting in those seven states as it will help us win the White House and the Senate.
To help elect a Democratic Speaker of the House, we need to focus on those relatively few districts where either party can win. According to Larry Sabato, the list of true toss-up districts are:
Arizona's 1st and 2nd, Colorado's 6th, Florida's 18th and 26th, Illinois' 10th, Maine's 2nd, Michigan's 1st, Minnesota's 2nd, New Hampshire's 1st, Nebraska's 2nd, New York's 1st, 19th and 24th, Pennsylvania's 8th and Texas' 23rd.
That means the triple-threat voters that are the most important for control of the White House, the Senate and the House are in Colorado's 6th, Florida's 18th, Pennsylvania's 18th and New Hampshire's 1st.
If we expand the map in the House to those districts that aren't a pure toss-up but might go to the Democrats if we do everything right, there are some more districts in the important two-fer states that are already crucial to winning the White House and the Senate. They are:
Nevada's 4th, Ohio's 14th, Florida's 7th and 13th, Pennsylvania's 6th and 16th and New Hampshire's 2nd.
People who live in these 11 House districts out of 435 have the opportunity to make a significant impact on electing a Democratic President, Democratic Senate and Democratic House. In other words, only about 2.5% of American voters have that much power.
Spending our resources in these 11 districts to (a) mobilize more Democratic voters (b) convince Republican leaners to vote Democratic or (c) educate the relatively uninformed about why the Democratic Party represents their views better than the Republicans will yield a better return than in the other 424 districts because every Democratic vote we earn impacts all three big races in 2016 in these 11 districts.
Again: earning Democratic votes in Nevada's 4th, Colorado's 6th, Ohio's 14th, Florida's 7th, 13th and 18th, Pennsylvania's 6th, 16th and 18th and both of New Hampshire's districts get us the most bang for the buck.
Poor people aren't voting as much, making it harder for Democrats to win elections.
Alec MacGillis' excellent article Who Turned My Blue State Red explores how and why poor areas of the country are voting against their interests for the Republicans. On the one hand, middle-class people are distancing themselves from the poor and the unemployed by voting Republican (ignoring that their community suffers under those policies). More compellingly, he shows how many poor people just don't vote at all.
This month, Pike County went 55 percent for the Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin. That’s the opposite of how the county voted a dozen years ago. In that election, Kentucky still sent a Republican to the governor’s mansion — but Pike County went for the Democratic candidate. And 30 percent fewer people voted in the county this month than did in 2003 — 11,223 voters in a county of 63,000, far below the county’s tally of food-stamp recipients, which was more than 17,000 in 2012.
The good news is the solution is clear: convince poor people to vote again. They are likely the biggest part of mobilizing 11 million more Democrats to vote in 2016 than did so in 2012 in order to win back the House of Representatives. And currently, most Democratic campaigns don't spend much effort on convincing non-voters to participate, focusing their limited resources instead on convincing likely voters to vote their way. That's understandable, but we need to fill the gap and reach poor voters through other efforts, and not rely on the Democratic candidate campaigns of a particular cycle.
At a minimum, we should mail to the poorest carrier routes every year, asking all residents (not just the registered voters) to spend ten minutes on voting for the Democratic ticket, even if it isn't likely to lead to an immediate change (so we don't oversell to a cynical audience). We also know poor people are less educated and thus less informed on the basic reasons to vote Democratic (they are less aware which party votes for Medicaid expansion and which opposes it). That's why we need to reach them and teach them.