Saturday, February 9, 2019

Rubin's Rules for a Democratic win in 2020

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) thinks Three rules will keep Democrats from falling off a cliff. Scriber thinks a better metaphor might be how to not climb out on a skinny limb with a big saw.

Let’s start with some progressive goals which I think we can agree upon.

The goals that virtually everyone in the field has set — expanding health care, combating global warming, equalizing educational opportunities, passing comprehensive immigration reform, enacting gun safety laws — are very popular.

On every one of these, the party of Trump has staked out policy positions that are anti-popular - and acted on them to the detriment of the nation. We can win those battles.

And then consider what we might not agree upon.

What’s not popular is the most extreme, unrealistic incarnation of these goals.

Climate change goals for 2030 is an example.

As to the Green New Deal, Jonathan Chait explains: “On the policy, the Green New Deal simply outlines ambitious targets for carbon reductions, without delving into specifics as to how the targets will be met. In place of detail it offers optimism. Noting that the International Panel on Climate Change proposes to cut global emission by 40 to 60 percent by 2030, and get to net zero by 2050 — which is itself a heroic goal — the Green New Deal proposes the United States get to net zero emissions by 2030.” Signing on to that sort of document without a firm grasp of why it’s politically and substantively unwise (actually, impossible) suggests a lack of judgment by those claiming the power to bring the country together. Candidates set themselves up for trouble when they take seriously something just about everyone knows isn’t serious. (“America won’t get 100 percent of its power from zero-emissions sources within a decade, either, another audacious Green New Deal goal,” writes Michael Grunwald. “And we’re not going to upgrade the energy efficiency of every single building in the country, as the resolution proposes. If we were getting all our energy from zero-emissions sources, it wouldn’t even make sense to try.”)

Is there a danger that Democrats will blow it in 2020 by going too far left? Without Sanders and de Blasio in the race, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of energy, conviction and bold policy ideas. Some possible contenders seem to have an inkling that the general electorate in November 2016 will look nothing like New York City or Vermont. (Democrats have those places locked up and are ready to crawl over glass to get rid of Trump; it’s the rest of the country they must worry about.) Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) made clear they want to expand health-care coverage however they can, not insist on immediate eradication of private health-care insurance.

Rubin’s Rules are aimed at insuring a win in 2020 while embracing those goals that would unify the Democratic party.

First, they shouldn’t have fights with… anyone … over labels and ideological one-upmanship. (Socialists bad! No, centrists are losers!) … A Democratic candidate shouldn’t advertise her ideas as the most progressive or the least progressive, but rather as the best out there.

Second, don’t sign on to bumper stickers. (Medicare for All! The Green New Deal!) … Why not come up with their own ideas, ones designed to unify the party and appeal to non-Democrats? You don’t have to sign on to pie-in-the-sky bills that will never get a vote, even in the House, to stake out support for solutions to climate change, worker dislocation and more.

Third, those who aren’t on the fringe of the party need to reject the tag that they are “mushy” moderates. Bold moderation and clear, fact-based reforms with wide support that get at the heart of our biggest problems shouldn’t be a bad thing. … They should take comfort in knowing that polls show Democratic voters much more concerned about winning than ideological purity.

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