Republicans Shift Focus To Freshman Democrats

The right has spent a seemingly inordinate amount of time focusing on relatively powerless Members of Congress.

After spending the 2016 campaign targeting Hillary Clinton and much of the 2018 campaign targeting Nancy Pelosi, Republicans seem to have turned their sights to freshman Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

The Republican Party has a new trio of Democratic villains: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The House GOP midterm strategy largely centered on trying to tie every Democrat to now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and it failed spectacularly. So now GOP leaders and the National Republican Congressional Committee are turning to the superstars of the House Democrats’ freshman class as their newest targets.

It’s a move born, in part, out of desperation. House Democrats already have their ultimate nemesis in President Donald Trump, who’s proven to be one of the best political and fundraising foils in U.S. history. House Republicans, who now find themselves in the minority after eight years in power, badly need something else to rally around. Thus the focus on the three high-profile Democratic lawmakers, who have gotten more national media attention in the past three months than many members get in their whole careers.

The NRCC has sent out thousands of emails trying to tie vulnerable Democrats to Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar. And the committee’s website makes it appear as if these backbench members are running the House. While the NRCC still regularly bashes Pelosi, GOP lawmakers and aides privately acknowledge that Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar are their main focus now.

The GOP strategy risks a backlash — a party that has problems with women and minorities continues to focus its attacks on women of color — even as the freshman Democrats say they’re not surprised by it.

Tlaib told POLITICO she’s become a lightning rod for conservatives because her profile isn’t one that has historically been seen in the halls of Congress.

“I think the fact that somebody like myself, who’s a woman of color, is now an equal to many of them — people are very fearful of that,” Tlaib said.

The most recent target has been Minnesota freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who came under fire after what many, including many of her fellow Democrats, characterized as anti-semitic tweets regarding the role of Jewish-Americans in American politics, remarks for which Representative Omar ultimately apologized by the end of the day. Additionally, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib came under fire earlier in the year after she was caught on video yelling “We’re gonna impeach the motherf—er!” in reference to the President. The video quickly went viral among Trump’s supporters on the right, who cited it as evidence that Democrats are already looking at removing the President from office even before the release of any report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that may speak to the issue of collusion or obstruction of justice on the part of the Trump campaign and the White House. Tlaib ultimately apologized for her rhetoric, but the video continues to circulate on the right as supposed evidence of the real motivation of Democrats in Congress with respect to their intention to investigate various aspects of the 2016 campaign and the Administration.

Of all the Freshman members that Republicans have focused on, though, none gets the attention from conservatives that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Ocasio-Cortez, who took down a potential speaker in a Democratic primary in New York and has forcefully urged the party to veer left, has been the constant target of NRCC fire.

“It speaks to a fear-based strategy that they utilize in order to kind of create political support, instead of actually painting a positive vision,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview.

Most recently, she tangled with Republicans over provisions in her “Green New Deal” and on Monday her office retracted one of the documents tied to the resolution. The GOP mocked the move — but her plan to combat climate change has already been endorsed by roughly 70 House Democrats and a dozen Democratic senators, including four 2020 hopefuls.

The NRCC also hit Ocasio-Cortez last week for what it called “a fawning recap of her call with British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose ties to anti-Semitism run so deep the British police launched an inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitic speech by him and other members of his party.”

(…)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, one of most outspoken progressive Democrats, blasted Republicans for focusing so much attention on Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar.

“This is sort of a fear-mongering and a bit of insecurity among the fact that most of these women have far bigger Twitter followings than any of them ever could hope for,” Jayapal said. ” I think they just don’t know what to do with powerful women of color. I’ve felt that before … in this chamber and I think it’s a new level because there’s so many more of us now.”

At times it has seemed as though Republicans and conservative media have given Ocasio-Cortez more attention then the so-called “biased” media has since Election Day. While it’s true that she has gotten more attention from major media outlets than most other freshman members of Congress, that has largely been because of the circumstances under which she won her election in beating someone who was high up in Democratic leadership and the extent to which she has been able to utilize social media and other outlets to promote herself. In the end, though, she is, as I’ve said, just 1/435th of the House of Representatives and a relatively powerless backbencher at that. If you were to just base your conclusions on the amount of attention that Republicans and conservative media give her, though, you’d think that Ocasio-Cortez was the most powerful member of the House Democratic Caucus, or that she was already a candidate for President.

On some level, of course, all this focus on relatively powerless Members of Congress is explained by the fact that they have become easy targets for conservatives looking to rally the base to focus on. In the case, of Talib and Omar, the rhetoric that these Congresswomen have used have been rightfully criticized even by their own party, but it pays for the media on the right to keep the focus on individuals like this because it keeps the base riled up and helps with fundraising and traffic. With respect Ocasio-Cortez, it’s admittedly the case that she has swept into Washington with much more assertiveness than the average Freshman, but once again this clearly seems to be a case where the right is trying to pick out a vulnerable target that they can use to attack other Democrats. The difference is that, so far at least, Ocasio-Cortez is proving to be just as media savvy as her attackers, if not more so. Because of that, many of the attacks on her, while they undoubtedly resonate with the base, end up backfiring from the perspective of an outside viewer.

Some of this will change, no doubt, as the 2020 campaign heats up. Before long, the focus of Republican attacks will likely shift to the candidates running for the Democratic nomination and, eventually to the frontrunners and eventual nominee. For now, though, the right seems intent on focusing its attention on a handful of relatively powerless Members of Congress.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    This actually makes sense to me. For decades, Republicans have successfully demonized Democrats as “socialist.” Over time, the party has moderated AND social democracy has become more enticing to American voters. So, while there’s some traction in painting the leadership of the Democratic Party as too far left (Pelosi is from San Francisco, as is Kamala Harris; Elizabeth Warren is fairly Progressive; Bernie Sanders was the runner-up in the last Democratic presidential primary) it makes sense to target freshmen who are in fact well outside the mainstream. The media have helped by focusing so much attention on AOC and the various Democratic “firsts” who just got elected, making them more nationalized than they’d otherwise be.

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  2. Teve says:

    AOC is the perfect object of hate both for the Republican base and the billionaire donor class.

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  3. @James Joyner:

    It does make a certain amount of sense, and Democrats certainly seem like they could make the mistake of letting themselves be pulled too far left in 2020 to the point where they end up helping Trump. Say what you will about him, but he does recognize this, hence the reason we’re seeing him use words like “socialism” with increasing frequency.

    If Trump is going to have any chance of winning in 2020 it’s going to be by keeping his base motivated and by convincing otherwise skeptical voters that Democrats are too far outside the mainstream. If they let the progressive wing and people like AOC speak for them, they may give Trump exactly what he wants.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Funny that I read this just this morn: ✊: How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat everyone at Twitter in nine tweets

    She uses Fox News to her advantage (July 2018)

    Pretty much!

    Whether they like it or not, the very fair and balanced people over at Fox News have played a considerable role in Ocasio-Cortez’s success. On top of the all the free airtime they’ve given her, they’ve also provided her with plenty of ammo.

    The above graphic in particular sparked a running joke that Ocasio-Cortez would use again: is the Fox News graphics department actually on her side?

    and again:

    Thank you Fox News for making all the campaign graphics I never knew I needed

    and again:

    Oh no! They discovered our vast conspiracy to take care of children and save the planet

    It’s like she is a laser pointer and FOX news is the cat that just can’t resist chasing the dot they will never catch.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    hence the reason we’re seeing him use words like “socialism” with increasing frequency.

    I have to disagree to some extent Doug. trump screaming “socialism” is just another Republican crying “wolf”. They’ve been doing it for decades, they even did it with the ACA. It’s the dog that never bit.

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  6. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Trump is going to have any chance of winning in 2020 it’s going to be by keeping his base motivated and by convincing otherwise skeptical voters that Democrats are too far outside the mainstream.

    Right there is a perfect encapsulation of the sort of Beltway conventional wisdom that has dominated punditry for more than a half century. It’s based on the idea that the only way to win a presidential race is by capturing the elusive center and not straying too far to the right or left. It’s exactly the type of thinking that made people think Trump (and a generation earlier, Reagan) couldn’t be elected in the first place.

    What you call “outside the mainstream” consists of a policy agenda that is in fact broadly popular. We’re not in the late 20th-century anymore. Now it is DLC holdovers like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden who seem like relics of the past (and I’m not talking about their age) while progressives like AOC are the present and future–and the Republicans damn well know it, and it terrifies them.

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  7. @OzarkHillbilly:

    That’s how you perceive it, but this is about appealing to the Republican base while simultaneously seeking to paint all Democrats with the same broad brush.

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  8. @Kylopod:

    If Democrats want to win in 2020, they would be better suited trying to figure out how to win back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These voters aren’t radicals and they aren’t going to be persuaded by a “progressive” agenda like the one that AOC represents. Such an agenda may be hugely popular on the Coasts, but it clearly isn’t so popular in the heartland, and without the heartland Democrats are going to have the same Electoral College problems they had in 2016.

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  9. Slugger says:

    I agree with this article. AOC has been in Congress for seven minutes and has done very little. It is possible that she’ll have a very influential career or maybe turn out to be a dud, but to date her scorecard is blank. She has drawn a huge amount of attention. The first time I read about her was on a rightist web site where she was being mocked because she stated that she was concerned about D.C. real estate costs soon after her election. Haven’t D.C. real estate prices been high since the Brits burned the place? Why is this mockeable?
    I blame the culture of celebrity that we have allowed to develop. We need to step away from a world of instagram models, presidents who send out tweets full of fourth grade humor, and famous congressmen who got sworn in yesterday.

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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes it is how I perceive it, because of how I see other’s react to the word.

    but this is about appealing to the Republican base

    An ever narrowing base as trump drives away anyone with a semblance of a moral code.

    while simultaneously seeking to paint all Democrats with the same broad brush.

    As I said, they’ve been doing that for decades, and that dog don’t hunt. Times change Doug, what worked for Reagan in 1982 is not going to work for trump in 2019.

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  11. Teve says:

    AOC’s tax plan is so far out of the mainstream that it polls with majority support. That kind of socialism will never work!

    Real Americans want tax cuts for the rich and cuts to their Social Security! 😀 😀 😀

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  12. Teve says:

    If Republicans want to run again on 1) Build The Wall to keep browns out and 2 Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are Socialists! then please proceed.

  13. Tony W says:

    @Slugger:

    AOC has been in Congress for seven minutes and has done very little.

    I disagree.

    For one, she has the general public talking about and even understanding marginal tax rates.

    Just this week she had a viral video about corruption in politics and is driving a conversation about the influence of money in our system.

    These are ideas that are wildly popular, and have the moneyed string-pullers on the right worried enough to villainize her.

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  14. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    An ever narrowing base as trump drives away anyone with a semblance of a moral code.

    scumbag Jerry Falwell Jr tweeted last week that Trump was the greatest president since Washington. The more Trump appeals to his Base, the less he appeals to people with brains and ethics.

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  15. KM says:

    On some level, of course, all this focus on relatively powerless Members of Congress is explained by the fact that they have become easy targets for conservatives looking to rally the base to focus on.

    Let’s be clear and honest here: they picking on very specific relatively powerless new Members of Congress that have become easy targets for conservatives looking to court their racist and sexist base. They are going after what they percieve to be uppity women and minorities. They’re not saying boo about Joe Cunningham or Ben McAdams even though they took red districts and are not just Repub-lite variations. It’s not even about being outspoken or attention-grabbing – some targets weren’t being vocal until the GOP decided they were fair game.

    They are picking on the women, Doug and only the women. You cannot tell me there’s not a new male Dem Congress-critter that don’t meet some GOP rat-f^cking criteria that’s being ignored in favor of attacking the ladies.

    They are pushing the imagery of shrill, angry, bossy, empty-headed bimbo that wants to take your money for a reason – it worked against Hillary on far too many voters. The newest targets have the bonus of being racial minorities so they can slam them for that as well for extra MAGA points. As far as they are concerned, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and going after women they way they’re going after AOC have paid off some great dividends for them.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Democrats want to win in 2020, they would be better suited trying to figure out how to win back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These voters aren’t radicals and they aren’t going to be persuaded by a “progressive” agenda like the one that AOC represents.

    You wanna bet? I think if you took a poll in those states, you’d find most of the elements of the progressive economic agenda highly popular. Indeed, part of Trump’s support in those areas was based on the fact that he made a point of embracing elements of economic populism (more in rhetoric than substance) that the GOP had long abandoned.

    I’ll give you that this is less true when it comes to social issues, and that there’s a risk with positions such as AOC’s proposal to abolish ICE. But again, you’re making stereotypical assumptions about the heartland that are not in evidence.

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  17. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kylopod:

    Indeed, part of Trump’s support in those areas was based on the fact that he made a point of embracing elements of economic populism (more in rhetoric than substance) that the GOP had long abandoned.

    Absolutely. The one thing you can take away from those seemingly endless stories about Trump voters is that they spout his rhetoric, including protecting pre-existing conditions/Medicare/SS, tax cuts for the middle class, and bringing back coal/steel/oatmeal/lasagna jobs as well as locking her up, hurting “those” people, and keeping “the browns” out with “the WALL.”

    Mixed into the crazy bigotry are those populist ideas that Trump knows get him cheers and applause when he says them. Some Trump voters are starting to express an awareness that he’s hurting them instead of “those people,” and that their taxes went up instead of down, etc.

    If the Democrats can get their act together and run on some solid soundbites – which AOC seems to have a knack for, among others – those ideas are going to poll well among the Rust Belt voters who have the perception that their taxes increased and who are seeing automobile plants close in their states/coal jobs still not forthcoming.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m with @Kylopod, I don’t think the ‘center’ is where it used to be. The DLC Democrats co-opted ‘tough on crime,’ ‘tough on defense,’ and ‘balanced budgets’ to draw the sting of Republican attacks.

    But the ‘tough and crime’ thing has lost ground due to prison reform and the opioid epidemic. The ‘tough on defense’ tactic has been discredited by Iraq. The ‘balanced budget’ notion has been murdered by Republicans themselves.

    So, labels aside, what is the center? Where is it? What does it believe?

    If polls are at all accurate the ‘center’ wants government health care for all, no new overseas wars, and an end to the drug war at home. Stop me when I get to a ‘far left’ idea that the ‘center’ opposes. Higher taxes on billionaires? Some help with student loan debt? Efforts to deal with climate change? Even on the social agenda, the ‘center’ is already with the so-called far left.

    There is exactly one thing the Left needs to figure out: an awful lot of white men are either already with them, or ready to be with them, so maybe tone down the exclusionary, demonizing rhetoric. That’s really it. Stop pushing allies away with obnoxious rhetoric. The largest demo of Democratic voters in 2016 was white women, followed by a tie between white men and African-Americans of both sexes.

    But on the issues the ‘far left’ is the center.

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  19. Doug Nishimura says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Democrats want to win in 2020, they would be better suited trying to figure out how to win back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These voters aren’t radicals and they aren’t going to be persuaded by a “progressive” agenda like the one that AOC represents. Such an agenda may be hugely popular on the Coasts, but it clearly isn’t so popular in the heartland, and without the heartland Democrats are going to have the same Electoral College problems they had in 2016.

    I think you are misreading those electorates. IMHO, they are very open to economic populist, anti -elite, pro-working class rhetoric (especially when it’s backed by easily understood policy proposals). Trump pretended to have such an agenda.

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  20. Teve says:

    Farmers are going into bankruptcy in record numbers thanks to Trump. You think Democrats can’t run on that?

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  21. just nutha says:

    @Teve: And yet Dr. Joyner and Mr. Mataconis both seem to think that Trump’s resonating with the “Average ‘Murkin.” Which are they bereft of brains or ethics?

  22. Teve says:

    Trump pretended to have such an agenda.

    indeed I remember Trump saying their healthcare plan was going to cover everybody, for cheaper than Obamacare. it’s just when they got in office that of course Republicans tried to keep taking healthcare away from people. In some lawsuits, they’re still doing so.

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  23. Teve says:

    @just nutha: I never said Trump greatly appealed to Doug or James.

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    If the GOP is attacking these Congresswomen, it’s because they make it very easy:

    1) AOC is a huge star in Left Wing media. Vox wrote an article about how we should amend the Constitution so she could run for President. And then she put a Green New Deal that was patently absurd, embracing every far left policy imaginable including, in a now deleted FAQ, providing for people “unwilling to work”. If a freshman GOP Congressman were being relentlessly flogged by the media, bungled basic facts about the budget and then put out a plan to restore our national defense that included things like banning abortion and overturning gay marriage, would the Democrats ignore it? Hell, every day, some obscure backbencher state senator from nowhere who says something dumb is touted a “what Republicans really think”.

    2) Tlaib wrote for Farrakhan’s newsletter. Omar has a history of saying things that, if they came from a Republican, would no doubt be decried as anti-Semitic (e.g., Congressmen support Israel because of AIPAC money, Israel has “hypnotized the world”). Again, would the Democrats not jump on a GOP freshman who said similar things?

    It’s the same old garbage. When a Republican says something dumb or advocates for far-right policy, it represents what the Republicans really think. When a Democrat does, it’s Republicans “pouncing”.

    But on the issues the ‘far left’ is the center.

    I don’t know that the old left-right axes work anymore. Trump ran on some traditional “left” policies like getting out of overseas wars and protectionism. And he gave lip service to traditional culturally right issues like abortion but clearly doesn’t believe them (although the people crafting his policies do). And many lefty goal like Medicare for All poll well … until they’re mated with the flip side of taxes.

    The Democrats are going to win their base no matter what. They are going to lose the GOP base no matter what. If they want to win the election, they need that middle third which seem to favor universal healthcare (although not single payer), a truce on culture issues, free markets with a safety net, a strong defense with less overseas wars, maintaining alliances, etc. Obama threaded that needle pretty well in two elections and the Dems threaded it nationally in 2006 and 2018. They’ll need to do it again.

    In short, if they want to win, they need more people like Doug Jones, not more people like AOC.

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  25. just nutha says:

    @KM: Yes, let’s be clear. The current GOP message is “furrin wimmens be takin over de gubmint.” Our hosts are noting that it’s a good tactic. (Do they ever think about what they are saying/listen to themselves?)

  26. just nutha says:

    @Teve: I’m not saying that either, but they do seem to approve of the politics and think the GOP plan is good. My question stands.

  27. wr says:

    Hmm. Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton. AOC. Ilhan Omar. Rashida Tlaib.

    It just seems like they all have something in common besides their left-leaning politics. Seems like James and Doug missed it altogether. If only we could figure out what it is about these people that makes Republicans target them while barely even mentioning, say, Bernie Sanders.

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  28. Teve says:

    What I said was

    The more Trump appeals to his Base, the less he appeals to people with brains and ethics.

    I don’t see how that can be twisted into a shot at Doug or James, so I’m afraid your question’s just going to have to remain standing. It seems like a non sequitur to me.

  29. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “If a freshman GOP Congressman were being relentlessly flogged by the media, bungled basic facts about the budget and then put out a plan to restore our national defense that included things like banning abortion and overturning gay marriage, would the Democrats ignore it? ”

    You just described Paul Ryan. Of course he could never get anywhere in today’s politics…

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  30. @Hal_10000:

    In short, if they want to win, they need more people like Doug Jones, not more people like AOC.

    Jones, or any of the candidates that have proven they can win in places like the midwest. This is why, I think, candidates like Klobuchar and others are potentially better than the Warren/Sanders/Booker/Harris wing of the party that comes from, and seems to primarily appeal to people on the East and West Coast.

    In any case it’s far too early to be making projections about which candidates may have advantages heading into next year.

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  31. Teve says:

    @wr:

    Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton. AOC. Ilhan Omar. Rashida Tlaib.

    It just seems like they all have something in common besides their left-leaning politics.

    😀

  32. Teve says:

    @wr: he was elected at 29!

  33. Teve says:

    @wr: yesterday I saw a conservative meme on Facebook with a photo of a blow-up doll next to a photo of AOC, with the caption reading “which one’s stupider?”

    I don’t think Republicans understand that the wave of women that hit them in 2018 is going to hit them again in a little over a year-and-a-half.

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  34. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: I have been noticing a trend in the last decade of people running against a person: that is their basic platform. I remember those who ran against Barack Obama for no other reason than to get him out. Once they got in there, then they would figure out what their plans would be. That is like learning to fly a plane after it has already taken off. I hear some of these politicians hollering that their main goal is to get rid of Trump. That is not leadership. And their tone is loud, abrasive, confrontational, and negative. This Kobluchar lady seems like a sensible, calm person who can bring civility and and calmness. There are some others who are managing to stay above and out of the negativism and “in your face” style. Howard Schultz is one.
    We need concrete proposals such as rebuilding the electrical grid and modernizing much of the interstate highway system. There should be a challenge of working nuclear fusion plants by 2025 (some are already under construction). There should be tax reform. Things like that.
    Not ideas like abolishing air travel or giving incomes to people who won’t work.

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  35. Teve says:

    Oh wait are you not using ‘they’ to refer to the subject of your sentence, Doug and James, but rather the object of the preposition, ‘average mericans’?

  36. Facebones says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If Democrats want to win in 2020, they would be better suited trying to figure out how to win back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

    State by state approval numbers for Trump from the Morning Consult:
    Wisconsin: -16 net approval
    Michigan: -15
    Pennsylvania: -10
    Ohio: -6

    I dunno, looks like they’re doing a pretty good job of figuring it out so far.

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  37. Teve says:

    @Facebones: Michael Reynolds retweeted something this morning about how the median farmer lost money last year. I think the map will look much different in 2020 than a lot of conservative-leaning people expect, even after what happened last year.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Jones, or any of the candidates that have proven they can win in places like the midwest.

    You mean people like Claire McCaskill? My point only being that the electorate is far too divided for “middle of the road” candidates to win. Doug Jones won because he was running against a proven predator of under age girls. He won’t get that lucky again.

    trump won because he was running against that evil witch Hillary and the Russians were able to peel off just enough voters in 3 very strategic states to hand trump an electoral college victory. I might be wrong but I really don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of pulling that feat off again.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I read this morning that farm bankruptcies have more than doubled in the 8th and 10th federal circuits and gone up by 56% in the 7th.

    Just looked, I bookmarked it!! Here it is: ‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring

  40. Teve says:

    Big Bidness is realizing that libtard values == bank.

    Folarin”
    @TheAkindare
    ·
    12h
    Hate it or love it, Scott Galloway and
    @karaswisher
    are right in saying that “Woke” is the new business strategy. Nike, Gillette, Microsoft, Google and more recently the Grammy’s have been on a “liberal” run. Everyone is using social issues as a business springboard.

    GOP consultants, typically people who lean conservative and were intellectually formed during Reagan and Gingrich, might not realize how much the social landscape has shifted.

  41. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: my extended family still has attachments to people who farm soybeans in Kentucky, who in some cases are right now losing farms that have been in the family for a century.

  42. Facebones says:

    @Teve: It will be fascinating to see if they love racism and owning the libtards more than they like keeping their farm. I’m honestly not sure which way they’ll go.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000:

    In short, if they want to win, they need more people like Doug Jones, not more people like AOC.

    Doug Jones main qualification was that he didn’t hang out at the malls and try to pick up 14 year old girls. He would not have come close in a normal election.

    He was a credible, competent candidate ready to push hard when his opponent was flailing about from self-inflicted hand grenade wounds. And, yes, we need need more of those running in every safe Republican district, so we can pick up a few seats here and there. The Howard Dean 50 State Strategy.

    But, I wouldn’t look to his positions on things as being all that important in understanding anything.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Clearly we need bankruptcy “reform” to get those numbers down. Shackle people to their debts, and take credit for reducing baruptcies. It’s a win-win.

  45. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Jones, or any of the candidates that have proven they can win in places like the midwest.”

    Unlike say, Rashida Tlaib, congresswoman from Michigan? Or Ilhan Omar, congresswoman from Minnesota?

    If you want to say the Democrats need the votes of older white men, just say it. We can argue, but at least it will be an honest argument. Unlike reducing all of the Midwest to aging white farmers and coal miners.

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  46. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…let’s take a look at the Green New Deal

    So what is the Green New Deal?
    The proposal outlines the broad principles of a plan simultaneously to fight inequity and tackle climate change. It does not contain policy details or advocate for specific ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But with a broad brush it aims to make the US carbon-neutral – net zero carbon emissions – in 10 years.

    The Green New Deal recognizes that transition would require massive change. It endorses ways of ensuring that vulnerable populations – including the poor, people of color, indigenous populations and communities already facing environmental degradation – take part in the planning process and benefit from the green economy.

    Would it end the use of coal, oil and natural gas?
    No. But it would aim to offset any remaining greenhouse gas pollution with forests that absorb carbon dioxide, for example. It does not specifically address what role nuclear power or fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies would play. Nuclear power represents half of the carbon-free energy in the US, but it runs on mined uranium. Fossil fuels with carbon capture would still require drilling and cause pollution.

    How ambitious is the Green New Deal?
    Incredibly ambitious, both on climate change and with its reimagining of society.

    Fossil fuels are deeply embedded in the US economy. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2016, 28% were from electricity, 28% were from transportation, 22% were from industry, 11% were commercial and residential and 9% were from agriculture.

    US climate efforts so far have focused on the power sector, which is probably the easiest to decarbonize. Many states and localities have continued that work even as the federal government ignores climate change.

    But coal is being replacing with both renewable power and natural gas. Natural gas has a smaller carbon footprint than coal but still causes climate change.

    Additionally, climate advocates and policy experts across the country have not typically tried to address every contributor to global warming at once or while addressing other societal issues. This kind of system-wide thinking and planning would be difficult to adopt.

    The energy shift would require a major investment, as would the social programs highlighted in the Green New Deal. The resolution does not suggest a source for that money. The politics of the plan are also difficult, with Republicans in control of the Senate and the White House vehemently opposed to it, and with some Democrats split over whether it is the right approach.

    How would it fight climate change?
    The goals of the document include a “10-year national mobilization” to:
    -build resiliency against climate change-related disasters
    -upgrade infrastructure
    -meet power demand with “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources”
    -expand energy efficiency and access to power
    -work with farmers to cut emissions
    -overhaul the transportation sector with electric vehicles, public transportation and high-speed rail
    -remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by bolstering forests

    What does the science recommend?
    The earth has seen about 1C (1.8F) of warming since industrialization. Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C would require cutting manmade carbon levels by 45% by 2030 and reaching net zero around 2050. The US currently generates about 15% of that greenhouse gas pollution, although it is the biggest contributor historically.

    Exceeding 1.5C of warming by half a degree will worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

    What would the Green New Deal do for people?
    The proposal lays out numerous “crises”, including declining life expectancy for many Americans, as well as wage stagnation and income inequality.

    The Green New Deal calls for:

    -a guaranteed job with fair pay, family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security
    -universal high-quality healthcare
    -free higher education
    -access to affordable, safe and adequate housing
    -stronger labor, workplace health and safety, anti-discrimination, and wage and hour standards
    -the clean-up of hazardous waste sites
    -access to clean water and air, health and affordable food, and nature

    Whoa! Some radical stuff there! Much too hard to implement! I guess it would be much better to just deal with the affects of climate change as they come, keep our inefficient health care system, and take care of bridges after they collapse, among other things…

    Meanwhile, if the GOP really wanted to be seen as an inclusive party, maybe they would attack people other than women, and in particular, ethnic-minority women…just a thought…

  47. Todd says:

    @James Joyner:

    it makes sense to target freshmen who are in fact well outside the mainstream.

    The only way to shift the “mainstream” view is to bring the alternatives to the forefront.

    I think this strategy will backfire on the currently gleeful conservatives. Because while the broad bogeyman of “socialism” does still scare many (mostly older) Americans, when you actually look at the details of these young house members proposals, they tend to be relatively popular.

    … and these young women are savvy enough that the usual attack of “how will you pay for it” is unlikely to be as effective as it has been in the past. Especially after we’ve just had yet another example of a massive tax cut that in fact didn’t “pay for itself” … even though the media (in the run up to the vote) dutifully reported that as a plausible potential outcome (despite all objective evidence to the contrary) … because it was a “mainstream” (at least among Republicans) position.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @An Interested Party:
    Nuclear power. That’s the worm in the GND apple. People who think we’re getting to carbon neutral with just wind and air are uninformed, to put it politely. It will require nukes and a lot of them. Just getting EPA clearance and slogging through the lawsuits will take a decade. California set the goal of zero emission electricity for 2045, twenty-five years from now, not AOC’s ten. And that’s California.

    Many of the other goals are similarly encumbered by reality. We haven’t even seen a reasonably-scaled test of UBI, free higher education is an idea already aged-out as we re-consider whether everyone really needs college, and I’m sorry but housing is not about the federal government it’s an issue for thousands of individual jurisdictions.

    I like the goals. Who wouldn’t? It’s free ponies all around. But I don’t like being sold pie-in-the-sky. I don’t want the Democratic equivalent to a great beautiful wall Mexico will pay for. I want reality, achievable goals we can actually pay for. AOC didn’t reassure me with her FAQ about people unwilling to work.

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  49. Teve says:

    In the end, energy policy will almost certainly preserve existing nuclear power, for the time being. It’s an adequate way to handle the base load demand even though we’re not even currently dealing with the waste it’s already producing. Building a whole bunch of new nuclear power plants is not going to happen. First of all nuclear power is about the most expensive way you can generate power. Second of all building a whole lot of new nuclear plants would take probably 15 to 20 years minimum at a cost on the OoM of trillions. Trillions that would be better spent on new thermal storage installations and ultra-high-voltage transmission from solar facilities.

  50. Matt says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Say what you will about him, but he does recognize this, hence the reason we’re seeing him use words like “socialism” with increasing frequency.

    IT’s been standard practice for decades now for the Republicans to scream Socialism every time a Democrat runs for anything. I vividly remember Bill Clinton being painted as some evil marxist FAR left AMERican HATing blahblhablah….

    @Doug Mataconis: I lived in the the “heartland” for 30 years and I still go back to visit family and friends. Most have been set to vote Republican because that’s what their parents did and their parent’s parents. They say they aren’t racist but they don’t want them blacks bringing their ghetto into “our” small white town. Or those mexicans bringing their crime! The rest who voted Trump did so because their first pick was Sanders and with Clinton they saw more of the same. Their view basically of Trump was along the lines of “we’ve got nothing to lose at least with Trump things will be different”, Hillary was seen as a continuation of the status quo which many are finding unfair. The second group of people are already aware of the mistake they made. If you get your wish for the Democrats to nominate “standard corporate Democrat #3” then those people will stay home.

    The single biggest mind blower of the 2016 election season for me was when one of my gun owning staunch Republican/conservative friends admitted he’d vote for Bernie if he could. I never would of expected him to take up such a position based on our myriad of prior debates. What it basically came down to is he wants reasonably priced health care and for the rich to start paying their fair share. He’s drifting away from the GOP line or one could say the GOP is drifting away from him. He couldn’t stomach voting for Hillary for dumb reasons but that’s not the important part. A retired marine with a long family history of service who has voted Republican his whole life was actually entertaining the idea of voting Democratic because he’s sick of the inequality and the lack of access to basic health care for non military.

    States like Illinois are only blue because of the mega city located there (Chicago in Illinois).

  51. Tyrell says:

    @An Interested Party: Where does nuclear fusion fit in here? There should be a big push for working plants. Fusion is clean, safe, and based on endless fuel.
    Also there are developments such as the ion engine and electro – magnetism that hold a lot of promise.
    “reimagining of society”: I am not comfortable with that term or concept. It sounds like something out of “Divergent” or “Aeon Flux”. Most people don’t want the UN or some other world organization calling the shots.
    I am hearing some warnings and concerns about the 5G cell networks. I am researching this.

  52. An Interested Party says:

    But I don’t like being sold pie-in-the-sky.

    I don’t disagree with that, but this is a good starting point for the conversation…much better than simply sticking to the status quo…

  53. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: one of the problems with the Democrats for many years, and Obama was guilty of this too, is that Republicans always negotiate from maximalist demands while Democrats always begin with a reasonable compromise. The media talking heads / Beltway insiders / powers-that-be then insist that everybody meet in the middle at a republican-biased solution.

    If Democrats are negotiating properly, their initial positions should strike people as excessive, even unreasonable and dangerous

    Besides, the actual climate problems we are creating are so much worse than people understand that I don’t even know if extreme measures will work. I think there’s a decent chance humanity just royally bones itself. Frankly I think this might be the answer to the Fermi paradox—when species develop the technology to fuck themselves over, they quickly do.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    Have you ever thought we’re in almost the same position as a herbivorous species whose predators are gone? We’re overgrazing our resources, increasing our numbers, and entering an unsustainable period which will do more damage than predators ever could.

  55. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: What a charming sentiment.

    I mean, you’re not wrong.

  56. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m always right.

    Except on such occasions when I’m not.

  57. gVOR08 says:

    The last vote you lost is not necessarily the easiest vote to gain. The Ds best shot at gains is with the proverbial educated suburban traditionally R voters who are repelled by Trump. That said, Trump won partly by running against the “elites”, the “globalists”, who are mostly Republican. I see no reason Democrats shouldn’t run against them, too.

    Karl Rove is a piece of it, but he was right that elections are all now turnout elections. Ds need someone who will excite their base. And they need policy positions that will give the R base second thoughts. They can’t offer racism, but they can offer health care and taxes on the “elites”.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.

  59. R. Dave says:

    @Michael Reynolds: But on the issues the ‘far left’ is the center.

    Only until the center sees the price tag and realizes that they’re going to have to pay for it. The popularity of the Left’s agenda is entirely reliant on pretending it can all be paid for by raising taxes on the rich (or, per the MMT crowd, that we basically don’t have to pay for it at all because the federal government can just increase the money supply to cover it). As soon as the Republicans start pointing out that European levels of social welfare require European levels of taxation on the poor and middle class too, public support in the US collapses. In other words, yeah, a free lunch will always poll well, but that doesn’t tell you much.

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  60. R. Dave says:

    @wr: Hmm. Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton. AOC. Ilhan Omar. Rashida Tlaib. It just seems like they all have something in common besides their left-leaning politics. Seems like James and Doug missed it altogether. If only we could figure out what it is about these people that makes Republicans target them while barely even mentioning, say, Bernie Sanders.

    Your implication only holds up if you ignore the fact that they also targeted Obama (male) and Bill Clinton (white male) with equal if not greater fervor.

  61. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Tyrell:

    I am hearing some warnings and concerns about the 5G cell networks. I am researching this.

    I must assume that you did similar research about the “warnings and concerns” about
    *cellular telephone technology and the “dangers of cell towers in our residential neigborhoods”
    *2G cell networks and the dangers of ubiquitous cell phone usage
    *3G cell phone technology and
    *4G LTE cell networks…sooooooo…
    Why do you think these “warnings and concerns” are different from the past ones, and what will your *research* lead you to discover beyond what you already know?

  62. Jen says:

    The only caution I would note is that while yes, the tide of public opinion is changing on many issues that the right enjoys screeching about as “socialism” (such as decent, affordable health care that every other industrialized nation has managed), there is a very thin tipping point for many and that is the cost.

    Kaiser has tracked American support for universal coverage for years, and it has increased dramatically. But it also tends to be “soft” in that as soon as people are asked about how much more they would be willing to pay, people start shifting.

    This is the card that the Republicans hold. No matter what the issue, if they slap a big price tag on a piece of direct mail, support for an issue will soften–or collapse.

  63. wr says:

    @R. Dave: “Your implication only holds up if you ignore the fact that they also targeted Obama (male) and Bill Clinton (white male) with equal if not greater fervor.”

    R. Dave, meet 2019. 2019, meet R. Dave.

    Now that you’re acquainted, maybe you could look around at what’s happening now, not in 1992.

  64. rachel says:

    @wr: Clinton and Obama were President at the time, and so had actual, practical power to do stuff The Republicans didn’t want. The only target like that on R. Dave’s list is Speaker Pelosi.

  65. Barry says:

    @Kylopod: seconding this:

    Doug:

    “If Democrats want to win in 2020, they would be better suited trying to figure out how to win back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.”

    Judging by the results of the 2018 statewide elections, we have already done that.

    Judging by Trump’s approval/disapproval ratings in those states (last I heard, negative 10% or more), we have already done that.

    ” These voters aren’t radicals and they aren’t going to be persuaded by a “progressive” agenda like the one that AOC represents. Such an agenda may be hugely popular on the Coasts, but it clearly isn’t so popular in the heartland,…”

    So far, it’s polls very, very highly. The only problem is the standard problem, that highly popular policies can be made less so by painting them as ‘Democratic’ (not ‘socialist’, just partisan).

    “… and without the heartland Democrats are going to have the same Electoral College problems they had in 2016.”

    See the above.

    I believe that Kylopod is correct. Doug, you and James still have a Washington Consensus mindset. You have been learning reasonably well, but still have those reflexes. James, of course, is still sorta wondering at things; he’ll figure those out sometime in the ’30’s.

    One of the things that we’re seeing, and that you’re missing, is generational change. The new generation of Democratic politicians coming into politics were weaned and grown in a world of Shrub -> Obama -> Trump. They’ve internalized the utter depravity and corruption of the Republican Party as well as the factthat the old norms are broken. Clinging to them is charging machine guns with spears.

  66. Barry says:

    @wr: “You just described Paul Ryan. Of course he could never get anywhere in today’s politics…”

    Actually, it’s the opposite. He was flattered and fawned over, and his fraud was deliberately ignored by the press (for the most part).

  67. Barry says:

    @Tyrell: “I hear some of these politicians hollering that their main goal is to get rid of Trump. That is not leadership. And their tone is loud, abrasive, confrontational, and negative. ”

    When you have somebody like that in the White House, getting rid of him is a good first priority.

    As for their tone, ‘pot, kettle, black’.

  68. Barry says:

    @Facebones: “It will be fascinating to see if they love racism and owning the libtards more than they like keeping their farm. I’m honestly not sure which way they’ll go.”

    Step 1 is to run people who can appeal to *enough* of them, while still supporting our policies.

    Step 2 is for the remainder to go to h*ll. They are not savable and appealing to them is a fool’s game.