Jeff Merkley could inherit Bernie Sanders’ progressive mantle in 2020. But for now, he’s spending his time plotting the resistance against the Trump presidency.
Merkley is probably best known for being the only colleague of Sanders to endorse the Vermont senator last year.
.. He has no campaign staff, and has raised no money. But he seems to be hoping that the credibility he has with progressive activists and the wild new world of lefty politics will change all that. So he’s starting early, even if the odds don’t look great right now.
.. He’s the right age and would be 72 by 2028, if another Democrat beats Donald Trump in 2020 and then has a lock on the nomination for 2024.
.. he’s not immune to the sense going around many Democrats these days that if Trump can win, maybe anyone can, and there’s certainly no harm in trying.
.. Whether there’s actually an appetite for pulling the party further to the left is a different question.
.. support for individual issues Merkley supports, from health care changes to free college to universal basic income, all at under 40 percent.
.. inside Washington, he is very much a player, having quietly brought together leading groups on the left for what’s become a regular series of pragmatic, action-focused meetings.
.. Every other Thursday, around the table in his conference room (or sometimes over the phone), top staffers from leading progressive groups MoveOn.org, Ultraviolet, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Daily Kos, Credo and Indivisible join him to plot strategy and share information. If there is a nerve center of the vast left-wing conspiracy, this is it.
.. Merkley circulates invitations among senators. Among the regulars: Warren, Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Minnesota’s Al Franken. A rotating cast of others, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy and California’s Kamala Harris, have been known to stop by. Sanders is always invited, but he never comes, instead sending a staffer and people from his Our Revolution group.
.. In recent months, a staffer from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has started joining.
.. The meetings began as strategy sessions for how to push a presumed President Hillary Clinton to the left on Cabinet picks and abruptly transformed into a lefty war council, bringing together battered progressives and minority senators looking to amplify a voice that’s much further from power than they’d been prepared for.
.. Some who know Merkley suspect he regrets not running for president last year—he could have been the progressive magnet pulling Clinton to the left, but without doing the damage that Sanders did to her that she blames in part for her loss.
.. In fact, he insists, Clinton ought to thank Sanders for running. “There was a tremendous amount of grass-roots energy
.. As for Trump, Merkley likes his position on trade, and that’s about it. He calls the president a “mystery,” because he ran as a populist but is governing more like a movement conservative.
.. “It was a surprise that he was able to campaign on one vision, and implement a completely different vision.
He attacked Hillary for being too close to Wall Street. Well, he wakes up every day seeing what he can do for Wall Street, how he can tear down consumer protections.”
.. living “his whole life stepping on others. He was raised to step on others.”
.. That language reinforced the argument that Kim Jong Un is making to his own population, which is that the U.S. wants to destroy North Korea, that they have to put all their resources into the military side, that they have to have nuclear weapons in order to deter America from bombing them,” Merkley says
.. official rollout of his Medicare for All plan.
How Conservatives Can Win Back Young Americans
(By Ben Shapiro)
Young Americans are moving to the left. On virtually every issue, they support the Democratic party.
.. among likely American voters aged 18-29, fully 65 percent supported Democratic control of Congress. Polls consistently show greater warmth for socialism among millennials than their elders, greater sympathy for regulation, and less interest in protecting core constitutional liberties ranging from freedom of speech to freedom of religion
.. “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 40, you have no brain.” We tell ourselves that as Americans age, get married, have children, and pay taxes, they’ll inevitably move to the right.
.. Older conservatives, clutching the Trump presidency like a security blanket, sound less like steady advocates for calm and more like the man questioned about how things are going just after jumping off the top of the Empire State Building: “So far, so good.”
.. among Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), 29 percent considered themselves liberal in 1994; today, that number has shot up to 43 percent.
..Typically, conservatives combat this sort of broad-based political change by pointing out the extremism of the left. During the Carter era, things certainly looked dark for the GOP, but conservatives were able to point out Carter’s incompetence; after Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, Republicans ran against Hillarycare and higher taxes; after Barack Obama’s landslide 2008 election, conservatives made war on Democrats’ overspending and regulatory overreach.
.. Thought leaders like Ta-Nehisi Coates have sought to replace the blue-collar base of Bill Clinton with the intersectional coalition of Barack Obama, using identity politics as a club against Americans who refuse to admit their “white privilege.”
.. Instead of looking at young Americans vs. older Americans, let’s look at young conservatives vs. older conservatives. The data show that young conservatives tend toward libertarianism on issues like drugs and sex but share the same priorities as older conservatives on fiscal and economic issues.
.. It makes sense, then, that liberal social values have resonated with younger Americans. They believe that the case for religious freedom is actually a case for religious bigotry and think that opposition to same-sex marriage reflects a hackneyed version of Old Testament sexual repression. Millennials were raised on the gospel of diversity and tolerance, not the Judeo-Christian moral standards of their grandparents.
.. But the leftward shift on social issues has infused even young religious conservatives. Forty-five percent of millennial evangelicals said they supported same-sex marriage as of 2014; the numbers are undoubtedly higher now
.. Young conservatives in general are far more likely to support gay rights and marijuana decriminalization as well as openness to immigration. But they’re not embracing gay rights and marijuana decriminalization for the same reasons as liberals. Young liberals embrace the LGBTQ agenda because they believe that the strictures of traditional sexual lifestyles are damaging and intolerant; some even embrace marijuana decriminalization because they think that broadening one’s experiences by smoking pot is a necessary precondition to maturity. Young conservatives are far more likely to support same-sex marriage and marijuana decriminalization because they believe that the government should leave everyone alone.
.. Young liberals call for tolerance because they want to promulgate a lifestyle, in other words; young conservatives call for tolerance because they actually believe in tolerance, even of lifestyle choices with which they disagree.
.. Tolerance is a moral touchstone, then, for young Americans on both the left and the right, but for different reasons.
.. All of which suggests young conservatives have a shot at winning over their friends and classmates: They’re operating in the same moral universe as many of their peers.
.. They’re small government, leave-everyone-alone libertarians. Young conservatives may not care about same-sex marriage, but they’re deeply pro-life and pro-gun.
.. They militantly oppose the myth of a racist, sexist America, even as they condemn individual cases of racism and sexism.
.. An incredible 82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters between the ages of 18 and 24 say they “want another Republican to challenge President Trump for the party’s nomination in 2020.”
.. Why don’t young conservatives like Trump? It’s a question that baffles older conservatives. To older conservatives, Trump has been a savior.
.. Yes, he’s rough around the edges and impolitic; he’s crude about women and ignorant about policy. But he’s politically incorrect, and he speaks the language of the average American. What’s not to like?
.. Young conservatives, however, are more likely to see Trump as an obstacle to progress.
.. they see him mainly as a club the left can wield against the right in perpetuity—a political monster living under the bed that Democrats can dredge up every time conservatives seem to be making headway. They cite his egregious response to the Charlottesville alt-right march and subsequent terror attack and his willingness to wink and nod at the alt-right during the campaign; they point to his nasty comments regarding women, as well as his penchant for bedding porn stars; they cringe at his reported comments about immigrants and balk at his nearly endless list of prevarications.
.. Older conservatives judge Trump on his politics; younger conservatives judge Trump on his values.
.. older conservatives already fought the character battle over Bill Clinton, and they carry the scars from that ordeal. They remember arguing that Bill Clinton was unfit for office based on his treatment of women and his perjury, and they remember losing that argument. They remember arguing that character counts, even as Democrats held aloft the banner of “Lion of the Senate” Teddy Kennedy, who left a woman to drown in his car and made waitress sandwiches with fellow Democratic senator Chris Dodd.
.. Older conservatives remember Mitt Romney, the cleanest candidate for high office in modern American history, being destroyed by the media over pure nonsense. Older conservatives weren’t looking for character in 2016. They were looking for a hammer.
.. Younger conservatives, however, still feel that the battle over character is unfolding, which it is—among young Americans. Young Americans are still trying to decipher which party best reflects their moral values. Trump presents a serious problem for young conservatives trying to make the character argument in favor of the Republican party. Young conservatives didn’t see the battle of 2016 as a battle in which character had already lost. They saw it as presenting a question about their own character.
.. Young conservatives want to be able to tell their friends—all future voters, by the way—that they didn’t stand by silently when a candidate of their party said he could grab women by their private parts.
.. Second, older conservatives saw the 2016 election as a cataclysmic event, perhaps, indeed, the end of the republic. Hillary Clinton posed an existential threat to the future of the country.
.. They believed that Hillary, if elected, would usher in a generation-long rule of the hard left.
.. Donald Trump’s victory, in that view, was a miracle of biblical proportions, the hand of God reaching down and plucking a reality TV star out of the realms of cornball theatrics and plopping him into the Oval Office in the biggest upset in political history.
.. Younger conservatives were far more sanguine about 2016. In their view, Hillary would certainly have been a rotten president. But would she bar the door to all future conservative victories? Younger conservatives thought such an outcome unlikely.
After all, Republicans were likely to retain control of the Senate and the House.
Furthermore, Hillary was widely disliked, burdened by scandal, and unpopular even with her own base.
Older conservatives looked at young Americans and saw the end of the country; young conservatives looked at other young Americans and saw the possibility of change.
.. Third, because young conservatives and older conservatives disagreed about the consequences of 2016, they also disagreed about the level of risk to the Republican party.
.. Thanks to the crisis mentality of older Americans, the brand damage done by Trump became of secondary concern;
thanks to the lack of a crisis mentality among younger conservatives, the brand damage done by Trump became a crucial problem.
.. Young conservatives simply couldn’t understand how so many older conservatives were willing to dispose of key planks of the Republican platform to back Trump, or why so many older conservatives who had preached to them about personal values were suddenly gushing over a man who bragged about sleeping with other men’s wives.
.. Young conservatives knew that they were constantly being called racist, sexist, and homophobic by their comrades at school; they had always responded by saying that they and their party were being slandered. And they were right. But here was Trump—a man who, during the election cycle, feigned ignorance about David Duke—providing a custom-made caricature for the use of young liberals.
.. fourth area of controversy between older and younger conservatives regarding Trump: Is Trump an asset in the fight against political correctness?
.. 71 percent of Americans “believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have.”
.. Older conservatives resonate to the verbal brickbats thrown by President Trump. They see him as a bull in a china shop, but he is our bull in their china shop. That’s the reason Trump could so easily escape punishment for political snafus that would have crushed any other conservative. He routinely claimed his own blunderings were the result of his willingness to fight political correctness. “Sure, he says dumb stuff sometimes,” the argument goes, “but he’s also willing to label the New York Times fake news. Nobody else fights like Trump fights!”
.. Young conservatives, by contrast, see Trump’s strategy for fighting political correctness as counterproductive. It’s one thing to attack politically correct viewpoints with data —to “destroy,” in the common YouTube parlance, political opposition through superior intellectual heft. But saying innately offensive things and then justifying those offensive statements under the rubric of political incorrectness actually undermines the battle against political correctness.
.. The left wants to make the case that when conservatives say they’re being politically incorrect, they’re actually covering for their own bigotry; lending that case a helping hand by promoting bigotry under the guise of fighting political correctness does the left’s work for it.
.. conservatives must stop promoting the notion that policy victories translate to political victory. Foolishly hopeful Republican legislators keep repeating the tired nostrum that if they simply pursue solid policy, young Americans will follow—if they pass tax cuts, cut regulation, and build up the military, they’ll stave off the impending generational electoral tsunami.
.. That argument did little to stir older Americans who had been through the political wars; it didn’t upset seasoned politics-watchers who knew that Hillary Clinton was more than a little deplorable herself. But it worked among young Americans, and it will continue to work so long as conservatives’ response is “but Hillary.”
.. So, how should conservatives respond?
They should respond by acting morally and arguing morally.
First, and most pressingly, with regard to President Trump this means condemning bad behavior.
.. Young Americans aren’t judging Trump. They’ve already judged him. They’re judging you and determining whether or not they can ever vote for the same candidates you endorse based on whether or not they admire your character.
.. Second, conservatives must argue in moral terms, and they must use moral terminology young Americans understand. This means learning to argue on secular grounds rather than religious grounds and recognizing that tolerance is a key value to young Americans.
.. Arguing in secular terms doesn’t mean arguing without reference to values. It means arguing against the controlling hand of the left. Capitalism is good because you own your own labor and you have the right to exchange that labor for someone else’s labor and no one has the right to steal your labor from you. Socialism is evil because it says that a third party can tell you what your labor is worth.
.. Political correctness and identity politics are evil because they utilize censorship to box you into a group identity that denies your individuality.
.. Most of all, conservatives can’t lose hope. A crisis mentality breeds poor decisions and short-term thinking that sacrifices long-term interests. We’ve seen discouraging trendlines before. But they can be reversed. In 1976, it would have been difficult to imagine the Reagan Revolution that was just four years away.
Pollak: March for Our Lives – This is What Demagoguery Looks Like
As far as protecting the lives of students is concerned — which is, ostensibly, the entire point — the march organizers were uninterested in an open conversation about what might actually be effective.
.. The speakers demanded legislation, but there was no more legislation to pass — at least, no legislation that would ever survive the Supreme Court. Many of the marchers simply want to repeal the Second Amendment. There was little room for discussion of reasonable proposals.
The third thing to know is that the marches were backed by big leftist organizations, and accompanied by get-out-the-vote efforts.
These are further signs that the marches are largely about mobilizing support for the Democratic Party in the 2018 midterm elections. The speakers made little effort to hide that fact. They called for national unity — against the Republican Party.
.. The marches have featured signs calling for the National Rifle Association to be banned outright. One sign attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — one of the moderate voices on this issue — as a “killer,” and questioned his Catholic faith.
.. The “children” who are being impressed into service for the left — some savoring their moment in the “revolutionary” spotlight — are being misled by adults who should know better. They are being taught that those who disagree with them are literally their mortal enemies. And they are being taught to hate the Second Amendment before most have been taught what it is, or why it exists.
.. But the very reason we have the Second Amendment — and the First Amendment, which makes these marches possible — is that the Founders of our Republic wanted to put certain liberties beyond the reach of the majority. They understood that the dignity of the individual — including the inherent, God-given right to self-defense — could not withstand the temporary passions of the moment without special protection.
And so it would be more accurate to say: “This is what demagoguery looks like.” If it is the model for the activism of the next generation, America is in grave danger.
.. Those who own guns — or cherish the right to own them — should see these marches as a wake-up call. The rights and freedoms that make our country great are just one Supreme Court seat, and perhaps one election, away from destruction. Beyond the political frustrations of the moment, that is what is at stake in November.
Should Democrats Embrace the Center or Abandon It?
Over the next six months, Democratic voters will be asked again and again whether their party’s candidates should hew to the center or move to the left.
How voters answer that question will help shape the strategic plans of the dozen or more Democrats jockeying to beat President Trump in 2020.
.. “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”
.. Does the path to victory lie in mobilizing the liberal base — by taking explicitly left-wing stands on immigration, as well as gun rights, universal health care, the minimum wage, racial justice and so on?
.. Or is the widespread hatred of Donald Trump — at least among Democrats — sufficient to turn out progressive and minority voters, which would make undecideds the constituency that must be more actively wooed?
.. “Democrats Can Run the Conor Lamb Strategy Over and Over” read the headline of an article by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine:
There are a lot of Conor Lambs out there. Very early in the election cycle, Democrats recruited candidates with nontraditional backgrounds, especially in the military, who would appeal to voters in red districts.
.. No way, Bob Mosher argued in a Rolling Stone essay, “Why Democrats Should Worry About Conor Lamb’s Victory.”
“The real message of Lamb’s campaign basically boiled down to this: ‘Look at what a fine young normal white fellow I am!’ ” Mosher wrote. The “clamor for centrism,” according to Mosher, risks
deflating the Resistance, turning off nonwhite voters, and dampening the turnout that Democrats should be able to expect in November, given the level of Trump animus across the country.
.. The evidence suggests that the balance of power among these voters is shifting to the left.
.. In 1976, conservative Democrats were a significant force within the party, making up 27 percent of its supporters. By 1992, their share fell to 24 percent, still a factor to be reckoned with, providing a crucial source of support to Bill Clinton.