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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Leftward Ho, Fall 2017

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the Sanders candidacy and the liberal drift of the Democratic Party.

Alan Greenblatt at Politico:
Consumed by internecine battles and the idea of opposition, Democrats run the risk of again nominating someone like McGovern who pleases progressives but steers a course too far from the country’s center of political gravity to win, even as Trump continues his funhouse mirror impression of Nixon as the avatar of white cultural-grievance politics.
Politics today are much different than they were then, as is the shape of the American electorate. But there are parallels that Democrats should bear in mind as they nurse their hopes of driving Trump from the Oval Office. Trump is a culture warrior, and progressives today are perfectly willing to engage that sideshow—just as they did 45 years with Nixon.
Look no further than the recent controversy over NFL players’ protests over police violence and racism, which Trump has successfully portrayed for most voters as an insult to men and women in uniform, the American flag, mom and apple pie.

“If the Democrats become the party of those in favor of kneeling rather than standing for the national anthem,” says historian Jeffrey Bloodworth, author of Losing the Center: A History of American Liberalism, 1968-1992, “that would be a full McGovern.”
Amy Walter at The Cook Political Report:
The latest data from the Pew Research Center, proves [that] Democrats have moved dramatically leftward since the 1990s on issues like the social safety net, immigration, and race relations. On those issues, the so-called Warren wing represents the mainstream of Democratic opinion
...
As for the issue of what [Mark] Penn calls “identity politics,” Democrats’ views on race have shifted dramatically over the last 23 years. In 1994, just 39 percent of Democrats said that “racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days,” while 53 percent of Democrats agreed with the statement that “blacks who can’t get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition.” From 1994 until 2015, Democrats who viewed the lack of progress for blacks as a product of discrimination were outnumbered by those who said it was basically blacks’ own fault. By 2015, however, a majority (50 percent) pegged discrimination as the culprit. By the summer of 2017, the discrimination number shot up 14 points to 64 percent.
At the start of the Obama era, 57 percent of Democrats said that the country should continue to make changes to give blacks equal rights with whites. By 2017, that number had rocketed up 24 points to 81 percent. Why such big movement, so quickly? The percent of white and Hispanic Democrats who wanted to see more changes to racial equality, which was slowly climbing from 2009 to 2014, jumped dramatically in 2015 to 2017. In 2014, 57 percent of white Democrats wanted to see more changes to give blacks and whites equal rights. It was 80 percent in 2017. The support from Hispanic Democrats went from 59 percent in 2014 to 76 percent in 2017.
Kenneth P. Vogel at NYT:
Entrenched Democratic groups are facing growing questions about the return on the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent over the years. Groups affiliated with Mrs. Clinton “spent so much money based on a bad strategy in this last cycle that they should step aside and let others lead in this moment,” said Quentin James, a founder of a political committee called the Collective PAC that supports African-American candidates.

Mr. James’s committee is among more than three dozen outfits that have started or reconfigured themselves since the election to try to harness the surge in anti-Trump activism. In addition to political committees, grass-roots mobilization nonprofits and legal watchdog groups, there are for-profit companies providing technological help to the new groups — essentially forming a new liberal ecosystem outside the confines of the Democratic Party.
While the new groups gained early traction mostly on the strength of grass-roots volunteers and small donations — and with relatively meager overall budgets — they are beginning to attract attention from the left’s most generous benefactors.
“We’re in a disruptive period, and when we get through it, the progressive infrastructure landscape may look different,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberals who donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups. “There may be groups that have been around that don’t rise to the challenge, and there may be some new groups that do rise to the challenge, while others fade away.”
The Democracy Alliance has helped shape the institutional left, steering more than $600 million since its inception in 2005 to a portfolio of carefully selected groups, including pillars of the Clinton-aligned establishment like the think tank Center for American Progress and the media watchdog Media Matters.
 But this year, the Democracy Alliance hired Archana Sahgal, a former Obama White House official, to help the new anti-Trump groups, and it suspended its intensive vetting and approval process to recommend donations to a host of groups created since last fall’s election.