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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Carville's Wisdom

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, has begun.

James Carville appeared on MSNBC and made sense:
"There is only one moral imperative in this nation right now and that is to beat Donald Trump. That's the only moral imperative. It's the only thing I want to hear. Until we understand that -- we win every argument. We win the argument on anything. We don't win elections because we talk about stuff that is not relevant. We had a great experience in 2018 and the day after we started all this goofy stuff. So, hopefully, we have time to jerk this thing back and be about healthcare, prescription drug prices, education, infrastructure, climate, diplomacy, rejuvenating whatever it is. But this is not happening so far. We can't act like this is going well. We can't come out and put three wonderful talking points. These campaigns have got to be more relevant."

Carville advice to Warren: "For God's sake, Senator Warren, get real out here. Let's move this thing along."

Carville on Warren's path to the nomination: "The best bio I've seen in a presidential campaign and she had a very good critique which is that corruption is holding the country back. For some reason, I don't know why, she decided to chase Bernie's left tail all over the country and became known for exotic positions, to put it mildly. And if she can get back to what she's about. I don't know her well. Obviously she is very smart. I think she understands what is happening in the country."

Carville on Biden coming in fourth place in Iowa: "He has had an honorable life in politics. This is just not the time. What's happened is he blocked out access for my guy Michael Bennet, for Gov. Bullock, blocked out access to Senator Booker, probably some people that were going to run didn't run because he was in the race. Maybe he'll come back, but he's going to have a difficult time. This is not a very good night for him to say the least."

Carville on how the Democratic platform is unappealing: "Look at the British Labour Party. We're like talking about people voting from jail cells. We're talking about not having a border. I mean, come on, people. Every day there are people out there struggling. We're trying to get votes."

At Vox:
We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.
For f---’s sake, we’ve got Trump at Davos talking about cutting Medicare and no one in the party has the sense to plaster a picture of him up there sucking up to the global elites, talking about cutting taxes for them while he’s talking about cutting Medicare back home. Jesus, this is so obvious and so easy and I don’t see any of the candidates taking advantage of it.
The Republicans have destroyed their party and turned it into a personality cult, but if anyone thinks they can’t win, they’re out of their damn minds.
How do Democrats win?
By framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you.
The Democratic Party is the party of African Americans. It’s becoming a party of educated suburbanites, particularly women. It’s the party of Latinos. We’re a party of immigrants. Most of the people aren’t into all this distracting shit about open borders and letting prisoners vote. They don’t care. They have lives to lead. They have kids. They have parents that are sick. That’s what we have to talk about. That’s all we should talk about...
They’ve tacked off the damn radar screen. And look, I don’t consider myself a moderate or a centrist. I’m a liberal. But not everything has to be on the left-right continuum. I love Warren’s day care plan just like I love Booker’s baby bonds. That’s the kind of stuff our candidates should explain and define clearly and repeatedly for voters and not get diverted by whatever the hell is in the air that day.
Here’s another stupid thing: Democrats talking about free college tuition or debt forgiveness. I’m not here to debate the idea. What I can tell you is that people all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans. They don’t want to hear this shit. And you saw Warren confronted by an angry voter over this. It’s just not a winning message.
The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly.
That’s all I care about. Right now the most important thing is getting this career criminal who’s stealing everything that isn’t nailed down out of the White House. We can’t do anything for anyone if we don’t start there and then acquire more power.