Democrats also have a strong argument to make on gun control this year with the issue resonating, in particular, among women. Democratic candidates could also go after increasing the minimum wage, which has bipartisan support among voters and a GOP-led Congress will never touch it.
Just like with the attack ads, Democrats have an array of options to advance when it comes to meeting their constituents’ concerns. So many, in fact, that the national party has made the strategic choice to let candidates run highly localized campaigns without tying them to a very specific national platform. The New York Times calls it “risky” because it’s not how the parties won back majorities in 1994 with the GOP’s Contract with America or in 2006 with Democrats’ anti-corruption platform.
Hogwash. Democratic candidates don’t need to be beholden to one set of issues dictated from on high when issues abound. It’s the 2017 Virginia model, where a bunch of Democrats running in districts the party normally takes a pass on ran campaigns that were profoundly district specific. Then-gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam ran a fine campaign alongside them but didn’t necessarily provide an overarching top-down message that knit them all together. Instead, the strength of localized campaigns helped increase turnout statewide and drive the party to historic wins on election night.
Last weekend, I argued that national Democrats should drill down on an anti-corruption platform with specific proposals tied to specific people in Trump’s orbit, like early backer Rep. Chris Collins and former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen. On the national level, I still think it makes sense for Democrats in Washington to be talking about corruption as a backdrop to the campaigns playing out in the states.
But the advice of Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, who’s helped develop part of the national Democratic “For the People” platform, is perfect: run “like you’re running for mayor.”
And importantly, don’t play defense on anything. Forget about the media spin. Forget about the desperate Republican attacks on Pelosi and liberals. Regardless of what arrows Republicans sling, there’s a better message for Democrats to either tout in a positive sense or sling back in a negative sense.
To borrow the words of a liberal icon who ushered in an era of historic change: Democrats have nothing to fear but fear itself….