by J. Robert Smith · March 14, 2017
Spring training is underway. Hardball is back. But it’s not just about the game played on diamonds. It’s about politics. It’s about always finding the winning edge. It’s about playing hardball to get the edge. Democrats need to lose — and lose hugely — for trying to sabotage Donald Trump and his presidency. Not to mention conniving to throw the nation into turmoil. Congressional Democrats need to bear the brunt.
Ten Senate Democrats are vulnerable in 2018. They’re prime targets for takedowns in the midterm elections. But the process starts now, not then.
Upping the political pressure back home may induce these Democratic senators to vote right on some of the president’s legislation. It’s about trying to save their hides. But the end game — however crooked the path — is defeating these Democrats in favor of more Trump Republicans in the Senate in 2019.
Democrats play to win, though this time with a perversity and desperation that’s downright scary. They’re trying to scorch the earth — and then rule among the ruins. Their efforts to overturn Trump’s election are not just politics as usual. Slandering Trump as Putin’s Manchurian candidate-turned-president is a gambit aimed at destroying the man and his movement.
Obama — formally or casually — sanctioning Trump Tower wiretaps without due process is criminal. Deep State mischief, in concert with Obama holdovers, threatens liberties. Loretta Lynch encouraging violence in the streets promotes lawlessness. Democrats’ silence at street violence is agreement. Democrats’ ploys are wildly irresponsible, promoting even greater divisions and conflict. This invites reprisals toward a future Democratic president. Does the nation survive if Democrats are fighting for a zero-sum win?
Passing major legislation and governing effectively queers the Democrats’ wrecking ball approach. The president and often communications-challenged Republicans need to ballyhoo every accomplishment and contrast their successes with Democrats’ failures. Reminding voters is indispensable, in and out of election years. Make the drumbeat incessant.
Republicans and conservatives who say that the truth wins out are George W. Bush dumb — that’s politically. As Ecclesiastes said, there’s a time for everything under the sun. But in politics today mum rarely has a time. Permitting Democrats to repeat big lies without smart, effective, and rapid counters permits those lies to gain beachheads among voters. Independents who swing elections in many state contests are more prone to big lies.
Social media is an increasingly powerful counter to the Democrats’ big lies, but focused efforts are still valuable tools.
As Barack Obama wisely said, “Elections have consequences.” Or was it Valerie Jarrett?
Trump’s and Republicans’ good governance — and Democrats’ obstruction — needs to feed another important goal: padding Republican congressional majorities. Democrats are richly earning long years in the wilderness.
Taking extra pounds of flesh from U.S. House Democrats is problematic. Gerrymandering became science years ago. Seats are drawn nowadays to protect a party’s incumbents and open seat candidates. Maybe the GOP could take back the half-dozen districts lost last November. The Senate is another story, however. Next year’s Senate elections could be a Big Impact Event.
March 2, 2017 — There already has been a great deal of talk about the difficult campaign road ahead that Democrats face in 2018. With having to defend 25 of 34 states [Senate elections] in next year’s election, the minority party finds itself being forced to play defense in what should be a very offensive election cycle for them.
In order of vulnerability (most to least), the target list features: 1) Joe Donnelly-IN; 2) Bill Nelson-FL; 3) Sherrod Brown-OH; 4) Claire McCaskill-MO; 5) Heidi Heitkamp-ND; 6) Tammy Baldwin-WI; 7) Jon Tester-MN; 8) Joe Manchin-WV; 9) Debbie Stabenow-MI; 10) Bob Casey, Jr.-PA
Target lists are subject to change, of course, with changing conditions. Top tier challengers will make an important difference. But today these Democrats are vulnerable. Most are likely to remain so. It’s important to be on the ground in their states with voter education campaigns. It’s Trump’s prerogative to direct the RNC to launch efforts in those target states now. Certainly, third party (uncoordinated) voter education projects can launch without any signoffs.
The president needs to insist that Ronna McDaniel and Bob Paduchik, co-chairs of the Republican National Committee, get in gear. Chairs are expendable, they need to understand.
Educating voters in target states would underscore that Democrats seek to delegitimize the president and stop his efforts to create jobs, reform healthcare, revitalize national defense, and protect the borders, among other critical issues. An objective is to isolate these Democrats, insisting that they account for standing with their party against their constituents’ best interests.
A big part of that education is getting voters to engage targeted Democratic senators. They should seek out forums to ask questions. That’s what Democrats are doing now to congressional Republicans at town halls. Conduct intercepts, too. Put those senators on record. Videotape them and distribute what they do or don’t say via social media. And look for chances to generate earned media.
Here’s a questions sampler:
“ObamaCare is a disaster for average Americans. Why aren’t you working with the president to reform health care, Senator Donnelly?” Or: “Will you tonight publicly condemn Democrats for saying or suggesting that the president colluded with the Russians to fix last year’s election, Senator Nelson?” Or this: “Why do Democrats care more about the ‘rights’ of illegal aliens than the rights, jobs, and safety of citizens, Senator McCaskill?”
Remember, this is education, not advocacy. Advocating against an incumbent or for a challenger happens next year via other means. Voter education is about laying the groundwork.
But Joe Manchin is a good guy, say you. Manchin is a good guy if he votes the president’s way. Otherwise, he’s occasionally a useful foil when he gainsays Democrats. But voting with them makes him an obstruction.
Would Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agree to go after the Democrat 10 now? McConnell controls the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Right — Cory Gardner (CO) chairs the committee, but McConnell runs the majority. McConnell should appreciate that an aggressive outside game compliments inside efforts. Politics has become “asymmetric.” Democrats are playing the game unconventionally and across the social spectrum. Voter education as outlined is only one element in a broader — and necessarily more creative — GOP outreach and persuasion effort.
Playing between the lines — following outdated conventions — could be fatal. Why is the Senate’s 60-vote threshold sacrosanct, for instance? You’ll hear that it protects “minority voices.” That’s punctiliousness at a critical — and perilous — juncture in the nation’s life. The out-party isn’t suffering bouts of punctiliousness.
Collegiality, deference, and decorum among senators have uses, but can’t be allowed to stymie overarching goals. There’s two dramatically opposed worldviews clashing. Only one will prevail. Fealty to a Senate rule that disregards the bigger context is “straining out a gnat” stuff.
Splashed across the banner at the NRSC website is this: “We believe that a Republican Senate Majority makes America stronger.” Followed by the question: “Do you agree?”
Yes, indeed, and that’s why open season needs to be declared on the Democrat 10 now.