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September 17, 2022
In the early summer, many Americans — including Democratic-registered voters — gave up on President Biden and his party. With the last major legislation codified in 2021 and inflation hammering households across the nation, the president’s approval ratings plummeted into the low 30’s as Democrats faced a dismal election cycle.
However, a string of legislative accomplishments — ranging from a record veterans’ healthcare expansion to a deficit-reducing, energy-healthcare-environment investment bill, alongside Biden’s elimination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and sweeping student-loan forgiveness — revived Democrats. A late-August Gallup survey and a mid-September Associated Press-NORC poll reported the president’s approval to be in the mid-40’s.
Additionally, both an early-September Harvard-Harris survey and a mid-September New York Times/Siena College poll found a two-percentage-point advantage for Democrats in the upcoming U.S. House elections. Furthermore, renowned polling expert Nate Silver projects a 71% chance that Democrats retain control of the Senate.
Many attribute this revival to the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade. However, this overlooks that Biden received his lowest approval marks in July — a month after the decision’s release. In July, the New York Times quoted a New Jersey man as saying the president was “not aggressive enough in getting his agenda done.” The Times found the man representative of many Democratic voters and it noted that Biden’s perceived inaction in the face of major crises drove Democratic-voter disappointment.
The correlation between the Democrats’ August string of legislation and the revival of their favorability possibly heralds a long-term revival of old electoral power. From the 1930’s to the 1990’s, Democrats dominated public favorability with their commitment to actively address the greatest economic, environmental and social crises of the time. Even through Reagan’s presidency, Republicans maintained a narrow edge in the Senate for 6 years while remaining the minority party in the House, governorships and particularly state legislatures.
But the devastating Republican Revolution of 1994 began a trend of Democratic presidents receiving punishment for bold agendas — particularly healthcare related. In addition, Democratic presidential nominees received greater shares of the popular vote than the House Democratic Caucus in every election since 1996 with the exception of 2008.
The majority of Americans seemingly no longer cared for a Congress that boldly tackled pressing issues. Republicans controlled the House for ten out of the fourteen sessions since ’94, and offered little more than tax cuts tailored for the 1%.
However, the generational shift may have revived American interest in action and progress. This is the Democratic mission — and it seems the party will once more reap benefits from it.
For now, what is certain is that Mitch McConnell doubts he will reclaim the mantle of Senate Majority Leader next session. Let us make this a reality.
August 7, 2022
General Andrew Jackson founded our party in an 1828 presidential campaign promising anti-establishment government reform, free markets and self-determination. Running against President John Quincy Adams’ attempted semi-centralized economy, Jackson appealed to the “common man” with individualistic ideals and an aversion to business protections.
Jackson won the presidency in a landslide — and used his mandate to veto more legislation than his six predecessors together. While he wielded executive power comfortably, Jackson’s free-spirited philosophy opened his movement to a great variety of people. His coalition comprised agrarian societies, small-town communities, states-rights advocates, libertarians, non-British immigrant populations and non-activist religious groups. They hailed from urban trade hubs such as New York City and subsistence farms in Mississippi. Some read the Bible daily, others rarely. But this diverse alliance held and quickly overwhelmed the Whig party formed by anti-Jacksonian businessmen and institutionalists, which won only two presidential elections on the backs of beloved generals before collapse.
Though the Republican Party provided much greater competition, benefiting tremendously from Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War presidency, Democrats retained strong bases throughout the nation. In 1868, New York, New Jersey and Oregon chose the Democratic presidential nominee over Union hero Ulysses S. Grant, while Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana and California only narrowly favored Grant.
But though Grant enjoyed massive Congressional majorities when he entered, his administration’s scandals cost Republicans the House of Representatives in the 1874 midterm elections. In one of the House’s greatest landslides, Democrats expelled nearly half of the incumbent Republicans and commenced an era of one-party dominance in the South.
And whereas Republicans responded to late-19th century industrial growth by narrowing their focus to business, Democrats welcomed the expanding urban working class along with their burgeoning labor unions. The final decade of the 1800s also saw the rise of agrarian populism in the Democratic Party, which proved popular in the West and the Solid South.
The Republicans’ association with the Union and economic prosperity preserved the loyalty of the non-Southern middle class, on the backs of which they maintained presidential dominance. But when Theodore Roosevelt introduced economic progressivism only for his successor to return to business as usual, the party paid dearly. A middle class revolt allowed Woodrow Wilson to win 40 out of 48 states in 1912 and provide then-record coattails for House Democrats.
Wilson’s liberal policy — the promotion of individual achievement through labor protections, economic opportunity and corporate accountability — balanced the interests of the Democratic coalition and laid the foundation for a new era of dominance. He also introduced internationalism to his party, and he by default won the loyalty of internationalists given Republican isolationism.
In the short-term, embedded Republican favorability in the North and the West allowed them the goodwill to dismiss Wilson’s policies upon reacquiring the presidency in 1920. But Democratic governors such as James M. Cox of Ohio, Al Smith of New York and Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the same state expanded on Wilson’s legacy. And once the roaring 20’s ended in economic ruin, goodwill for Republicans ran dry.
Elected to the presidency in 1932, Roosevelt provided a political home for all who did not rank among the upper classes of the North and West Coast. And evenso, many financially privileged intellectuals and scholars loved the vitality of liberalism.
But not all Democrats were liberal. Some Western Democrats drew their ideology primarily from agrarian populism. In the mid-30’s, the majority of Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s Congressional delegations identified with their states’ Farmer-Labor and Progressive parties respectively — merely caucusing with Democrats in the chambers of Congress. In contrast, many Southern Democrats disfavored economic interventionism. Yet some, such as Huey Long from Louisiana, fought for economic policies to the left of Roosevelt’s New Deal. In addition, the vast majority of Southerners opposed the integration of dark-skinned Americans with the light-skinned majority, a stance that caused contention with many Northern liberals.
Yet the Democratic Party provided a home for all these factions, and with this unity won ¾-control over the House and ⅘-control over the Senate in 1936. And those monumental majorities provided the institutional support Roosevelt needed to bring our nation forward through its most pivotal moments. The Great Depression. The Second World War. America’s emergence as the leader of the West.
Moreover, this united, forward-driving movement created a consensus among the American people about what the nation stood for. Even though Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to the Republican Party to the White House after its twenty years of exile, he accepted the New Deal and simply moderated its implementation. Furthermore, Eisenhower followed in the footsteps of Harry Truman by becoming the first president of his party to openly support civil rights.
Now, once again, America finds itself at a most critical juncture.
With national pride and faith in our future sinking to unseen lows, we desperately need a uniting, forward-driving movement. But this will not come from an attention-desperate has-been. And it certainly won't come from the Republican Party, which has capitulated to an unhinged narcissist.
To move our nation forward, the Democratic Party must revive its past role as the great unifier.
August 1, 2022
The Southern Stalwart.
One of the most popular Democratic governors presides over Kentucky.
He exceeded all other governors of his party in Morning Consult’s first-quarter approval poll, and he ranked in the top five of his party in the second quarter poll. Governing the state of the U.S. Senate Republican leader, Andy Beshear defies the severe unpopularity of national Democratic leadership.
The son of two-term governor Steve Beshear (2007 - 2015), Beshear ousted his father’s successor in November 2019 and took office the following month. In this election, however, then-Attorney General Beshear won by less than half-a-percentage point. Thus, Beshear’s leap from winning just 49.19% of the vote on election night to approval percentages ranging from high-50’s to 60 must spring from his policy.
Following a promised agenda of economic expansion, education funding, infrastructure support, healthcare investment and championing of individual rights, Beshear delivers “A Better Kentucky” even while Kentucky Republicans dominate both chambers of the state legislature with three-quarter supermajorities.
Beshear maintained a steady state economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and ended all outstanding restrictions in June 2021. Kentucky exceeded 6 of its 8 neighbors in vaccination rate and set state-history records in single-year job creation and private sector investment. And Beshear responded to nationwide staggering inflation with programs providing rent and mortgage assistance, affordable internet access, childcare-cost relief and prescription-price reduction.
For education, Beshear increased education spending by $400 million to give all teachers a $2000 raise and to increase per pupil funding at every public school in the state. Subsequently, the National Education Association ranking Kentucky fifth in percentage increase of public school instructional staff and tenth in percentage increase of public school attendance from the 2019-20 academic year to that of 2020-21. Furthermore, Beshear devoted $200 million to school district construction projects and upgrades for vocational education facilities.
Beshear proposed and signed legislation that appropriated $250 million to the expansion of high-speed internet access across the state. Also improving the day-to-day lives of Kentuckyians, Beshear dedicated $80 million per year to revitalize the state’s roads and bridges. Meanwhile, Beshear fostered a record Budget Reserve Trust Fund of $2.7 billion as of this month. Strikingly, the fund held only $129 million when Beshear took office.
In addition, Beshear committed $280 million to clean water initiatives, which will serve as a font of jobs as well as improving the state’s health. On that matter, one of Beshear’s first actions in the Governor’s Mansion was to rescind a directive of his predecessor that would have barred nearly 100,000 people from Medicaid access. Beshear instead fully supports Medicaid expansion, leading to nearly a million more insured Kentuckyians in March 2022 than in the fall of 2013.
Yet even though Beshear concentrates on structure and sustenance policies, he proudly promotes and protects the individual rights of his people as well. In response to the killing of Broenna Taylor, Beshear advocated for and signed legislation that significantly restricts the usage of no-knock warrants. Beshear also restored the suffrage of over 140,000 ex-felons in one of his first acts as governor. Leading by example, Beshear inspired Kentucky’s legislature to pass a bill that expanded absentee and early voting access in 2021. Notably, this year saw hundreds of election-restriction bills passed by other Republican legislatures across the country.
And in a time of potent conservative activism against reproductive choice, Beshear stalwartly stands for a woman’s right to decide. He vetoed an attempt to end pregnancy choice and passionately denounced the bill’s refusal to support even the victims of rape or incest. Beshear also exposed and decried an attempt by Mitch McConnell and the president himself to promote a Federalist Society lawyer holistically opposed to women’s choice and involved in corrupt pardons to a Kentucky federal court. The governor’s actions helped end this potential appointment.
But unlike some members of the Democratic Party, Beshear’s advocacy for liberalism does not translate into a rejection of Christian values and those who hold them dear. A deacon at Beargrass Christian Church, Beshear embraces his faith and credits it for his drive to serve the people of Kentucky.
And empowered by his faith, Beshear is presently leading his state through a dire crisis as record flash floods have submerged eastern Kentucky towns and taken the lives of at least twenty-six people. As the crisis continues, Beshear personally surveys the sites of the disaster as he directs search and rescue efforts.
As the nation sends its thoughts and prayers to the people of Kentucky, we can take comfort in the supreme competence and superlative care provided to them by their governor.
July 27, 2022
July job approval for President Joe Biden stands at 33% according to a New York Times/Siena College poll, 31% according to a Quinnipiac and 36% approval according to studies from CNBC, Monmouth University, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist and Reuters/Ipsos. A YouGovAmerica poll delivers a comparatively promising approval rating of 37%, and the high-mark hails from a CNN poll’s 38%.
And even as these polls unanimously demonstrate American discontent stems from the floundering economy, Biden responds by blaming the Russia-Ukraine war, instructing Americans to buy electric cars and solar panels, dismissing the economic consensus definition of a recession and then crediting himself for minor price decreases and workforce increases on Twitter.
But as Biden quests to redefine the most prevalent crisis facing the nation, the Democratic Party must define its own priorities. Its present definition under Biden, the past definitions that led to Biden and future definitions that may regain hemorrhaged support.
The novelty and personal popularity of President Barack Obama often belies the dramatic depletion of Democratic political power over the past 22 years.
Case in point. Many accuse the South of abandoning the Democratic Party after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws. In truth, the South merely shifted into a swing region quite favorable to civil-rights supporting Southern Democrats until recently.
President Jimmy Carter, a strong supporter of civil rights, won every former Confederate state save Virginia in 1976. And in the 1980 Republican landslide, the seven states Carter lost within two percentage points were Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Massachusetts — nearly all Southern states.
In both the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, President Bill Clinton won half of the South. And even after the infamous 1994 Republican Revolution, the then-46 member U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus included a Senator from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky; as well as both Senators from Arkansas, Louisiana and West Virginia.
Indeed, even once Vice President Al Gore became the first Southern Democrat to lose all former-Confederate states in a race for the White House — and only the fourth Democrat overall — each Southern state save Texas had a Democratic governor in the new millennium’s first decade. Most enjoyed Democratic-majorities in their state legislatures, as citizens of Deep South states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana faithfully elected Democratic legislative-majorities from the end of Reconstruction till the 2010s.
Other supposed red-strongholds with Democratic governors in the 2000’s were Alaska, Wyoming and Kansas. And in the first years of the 2000’s, a Missouri Democrat led the party in the U.S. House while a South Dakota Democrat directed the party in the U.S. Senate.
What happened to local Democratic appeal in these states?
In fact, what happened to Democratic appeal in Iowa, a once bellwether state now seemingly to the right of the nation given their 27% approval of Biden and the 23% support for a Biden re-election as opposed to the 32% support for a Trump third campaign?
These regional shifts represent the mass exodus of working and middle class voters from the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton near-perfectly articulated these Americans as people “who feel the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their futures — and they’re just desperate for change.”
Indeed, the Democratic Party no longer centers campaigns on economic opportunity and income mobility. Little exposes this more than poll findings on the Democratic base’s top priorities juxtaposed with everyone else’s. Whereas the failing economy dominates as the most important issue across public opinion polls, Quinnipiac found that only 14% of Democratic voters concur. Gun legislation won the plurality at 22%, and the percentage that listed reproductive choice as the primary issue tied with that which chose the economy. The percentages for election reform and climate change closely followed at 12 and 11 respectively.
The much greater attention Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi devote to cultural and causal issues in statements — even if not with substantive action — highlights their view of the voter base. A view in accordance with the New York Times/Siena College finding that the percentage of Caucasian college graduates affiliating with the Democratic Party exceeds the percentage of non-Caucasian voters who feel such — a first in the poll’s history.
To be clear, the influx of wealthy college graduates into the Democratic base is three decades old. Reagan’s conservative shift of the Republican Party allowed Clinton to clinch multitudes of secular, affluent voters from the Northeast and West Coast with his “Third Way” combination of liberal philosophy and temperate governance. Clintonism transformed California, Illinois and New Jersey from the deciding swing states of Richard Nixon’s narrow 1968 victory to the blue strongholds of today.
But through it all, Clinton never forgot the Democratic mission. He recontextualized it for the post-Reagan era. But his record revolves around a nationwide expansion of opportunity, prosperity and vitality — with provisions of personal freedoms serving as supplements.
Unfortunately, like Biden, the Democratic Party has lost memory and merit.
At this critical juncture, the Democratic Party once more needs a young, vibrant leader to define the liberal mission in a way that betters Americans from all walks of life —blue and white collar, rural and urban, Southern and Northern, religious and secular, old and young, light and dark.
Until then, Biden depicts what defines the Democratic donkey. And America disapproves.
June 12, 2022
The Party of Majority Positions Yet Minority Support.
A May Gallup poll shows a 21st century record of 55% of Americans identify as pro-choice.
A June Quinnipiac poll reveals 74% of Americans support raising the minimum age of buying guns to 21, and 92% support universal background checks. A June NPR/PBS/Marist poll indicates that about three-fifths of Americans value controlling gun violence over protecting gun rights. In fact, a June ABC/Ipsos poll reports 70% of voters prioritize gun-violence reduction legislation over defense of the “right to own a wide variety of guns.”
A May NBC poll expresses that if a candidate were to run on expanding clean energy production, 62% of voters would be more likely to vote for that candidate versus a mere 16% who would be less likely. Similarly, if a candidate runs on increasing corporate taxes to control inflation, 64% of voters would be more likely to vote for said candidate versus 20% who would be less likely.
In a similar vein, a May Washington Post-Schar School poll shows 72% of voters put blame on large corporations for inflation.
Democratic leadership stands on the popular side of each issue listed above while Republican leadership takes the increasingly minority position. So why do these polls depict President Joe Biden at his lowest measured approval rating, with only Gallup measuring him above 40%? And why does the May NBC poll show the Republican Party to be decisively more popular?
If electoral history demonstrates one key continuity, a widespread negative perception of the economy supersedes all other issues. In the midst of the 1958 recession, the Republican Party — led by the ever-popular President Dwight D. Eisenhower — suffered the worst defeat in U.S. Senate election history as the Democratic Party gained 15 seats with no losses. Republicans fared little better in the U.S. House of Representatives or in gubernatorial elections.
In 1980, Americans so disapproved of President Jimmy Carter that in spite of 45% of adults identifying as Democratic versus the mere 22% that identified as Republican, Ronald Reagan swept the nation — and his coattails flipped 12 seats in the U.S. Senate. It must be stressed that for a majority of the 20th century, the now standard social-traditionalist, business-economics brand of Republican held little sway outside of the West.
In the present, the ABC/Ipsos poll shows that 61% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. The Post-Schar poll depicts only 13% of American adults who do not feel price increases have caused them financial stress, and that nearly three-fifths of Americans blame Biden for price increases. The May NBC poll shows that only 16% of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction with exactly three-quarters saying the opposite. And Quinnipiac shows that over-a-third of Americans rate the most important issue — a plurality with twice the percentage of the second-highest rated issue.
The severity of these numbers cannot be understated. And with history as the guide, the Democratic Party’s one sure path to averting electoral calamity will be to relieve Americans of the burdens of inflation — irregardless of public opinion on the issues listed above.