In other words, as much as he is a comfort to Obama's online, core support, he's really there to give political advice to Congressional Democrats. He's got a very inside role here, and it's really needed.
Very few Democratic consultants have the kind of stature that is necessary to get Dems together. Yes, you need leadership from the President directly, but it helps to have a pure political animal like David Plouffe who is well-respected in the political community and can spend his time wholly on the political and campaign basics angle.
His entire op-ed is filled with common sense advice for Congressional Democrats many of whom aren't going to listen to anyone in the netroots (which I define as the larger activist blogs) and quite frankly, the consultants that the netroots have elevated over the years. The difference between Plouffe and almost all the people who the netroots have pushed lately is that Plouffe has actually managed a winning presidential campaign and has an intimate knowledge of Congressional districts and races up and down the ballot.
There are many Democratic consultants and operatives (in private) who have pushed much of what is in Plouffe's op-ed, but sometimes it takes a David Plouffe to put it all into one place and to put it in such a common sense way for Cong. Dems and Democratic candidates to "get it."
On health care:
Pass a meaningful health insurance reform package without delay. Americans' health and our nation's long-term fiscal health depend on it. I know that the short-term politics are bad. It's a good plan that's become a demonized caricature. But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside. If we do pass it, dozens of protections and benefits take effect this year. Parents won't have to worry their children will be denied coverage just because they have a preexisting condition. Workers won't have to worry that their coverage will be dropped because they get sick. Seniors will feel relief from prescription costs. Only if the plan becomes law will the American people see that all the scary things Sarah Palin and others have predicted -- such as the so-called death panels -- were baseless. We own the bill and the health-care votes. We need to get some of the upside. (P.S.: Health care is a jobs creator.)
Clear, concise reasoning (both on politics & policy) for passing health insurance reform. Let's get a move on it.
On the recovery package:
Make sure voters understand what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did for the economy. Rarely does a congressional vote or issue lend itself to this kind of powerful localization. If GOP challengers want to run ads criticizing the recovery act as wasteful, Democratic candidates should lift up the police officers, teachers and construction workers in their state or district, those who are protecting our communities, teaching our children and repairing our roads thanks to the Democrats' leadership. Highlight the small-business owners who have kept their doors open through projects funded by the act.
Cong. Dems and the WH have had a difficult time showing voters exactly what they've done so far. The media hasn't helped. If progressives want more progressive legislation, then, you have to make sure the public understands what some progressive legislation has already done for them.
On spending, deficits, etc:
Don't accept any lectures on spending. The GOP took us from a $236 billion surplus when President Bush took office to a $1.3 trillion deficit, with unpaid-for tax cuts for the wealthy, two wars and the Medicare prescription drug program. Republicans' fiscal irresponsibility has never been matched in our country's history. We have potent talking points on health care, honest budgeting and cuts in previously sacrosanct programs. Republicans will try to win disingenuously by running as outsiders. We must make them own their record of disastrous economic policies, exploding deficits, and a failure to even attempt to solve our health care and energy challenges.
Yes, yes, and yes. Democrats across the political spectrum SHOULD be able to get on board with this. Moderate-conservative fiscal Democrats should be able to get on board by talking about how voters concerned with the deficit shouldn't support Republicans.
Run great campaigns. Many Democrats won congressional and statewide races in 2006 and 2008 with ideal conditions. Some races could have been won with mediocre campaigns. Not this year. Our campaigns can leave no stone unturned, from believing in the power of grass-roots volunteers and voter registration, to using technology and data innovatively, to raising money -- especially with big corporate interests now freed up to dump hundreds of millions of dollars to elect those who will do their bidding. Democratic candidates must do everything well. Each one must make sure that the first-time voters from 2008 living in your state or district -- more than 15 million nationwide -- are in their sights. Build a relationship with those voters, organize them and educate them. On Nov. 3, many races are sure to be decided by just a few thousand if not a few hundred votes. These voters can make the difference. We have to show them that their 2008 votes mattered, and passing health insurance reform is one way to start.
- If you're a state party and you don't get your shit together, well, get your shit together to do the field and communications support for Dems up and down the ballot. Same for individual Democrats who haven't had a tough race in a few election cycles; make sure you are running hard.
- DNC (and OFA) is an amazing resource for voter reg, technology, targeting, GOTV, etc. OFA has taken its share of hits, but I think a lot of its critics fundamentally misunderstand what OFA does and what it is designed to do. It has capacity in all 50 states. It's not perfect, but it's sheer size and reach (which no netroots organization and few prog. organizations can claim to have) means it should be taken seriously as a resource for Democrats up and down the ballot. We'll see which congressional Dems are smart enough on this front.
No bed-wetting. This will be a tough election for our party and for many Republican incumbents as well. Instead of fearing what may happen, let's prove that we have more than just the brains to govern -- that we have the guts to govern. Let's fight like hell, not because we want to preserve our status, but because we sincerely believe too many everyday Americans will continue to lose if Republicans and special interests win.
As I've explained, this was primarily addressed to Cong. Democrats but it also helps calm the waters for the rest of us. I'm also really glad that he makes the point that this is a very anti-incumbent environment, not just anti-Dem. Many Republicans governors and some GOP members of Congress are going to have a tough time, and are also polling low or have been scared into retiring too. In an anti-incumbent environment, where Democrats control more gubernatorial seats, Congress and the WH, Democrats are going to be hit harder, but many incumbent Republicans will have tough races, too.
There's more in the op-ed that I haven't excerpted. The whole thing is worth reading.
Tomorrow, (hopefully) a diary on the greater progressive infrastructure. I think it's something that very few netroots folks know about or understand. A starter on this here.
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