LETTER FROM WASHINGTON
To Democrats Abroad
28 April 2016
Executive Director Emeritus
Liberals are on the threshold of ending the right-wing choke-hold on Congress and of the Supreme Court.
The traditional Republican Party is imploding as its Presidential candidates savage each other and alienate both its traditional big donors and its traditional electorate.
The self-destructive phase of the Democratic presidential primary has probably now peaked with the decisive Clinton wins in NY, PA, MD, DE and CT. Both Clinton and Sanders are moving away from criticism of each other to concentrate on policy and their profound differences with the likely Republican candidates.
The Clinton campaign leadership believes that her nomination is now virtually certain - an opinion shared by the political community. One betting site, (Election Betting Odds), today gives Clinton a 95.7% chance of winning the nomination and a 74.4% chance of winning the Presidential election.
The Sanders campaign is now adjusting to that reality as it cuts its staffing from a peak of about a 1,000 to a third of that number. Sanders is now concentrated on using his formidable support to move the Democratic Party to the left in the November elections and as it governs if Clinton is elected. He has already succeeded in re-shaping her position on a number of issues. She is mindful that embracing some of his more radical proposals risks losing the support of middle-of-the road voters who are essential to defeat the Republican candidate.
The Presidential election offers Democrats our greatest chance for a high turnout which, in turn, is the key to regaining control of the Senate and breaking the Republican control of the House.
There are 24 Republican Senate seats up for election compared to 10 Democratic seats. We have every reason to believe that we are within striking distance of picking up the 4 or 5 seats needed to control the Senate. And that would mean confirmation to the Supreme Court of a Democratic nominee to break its decade’s long tilt to the right.
The prospects are so encouraging that one can also see a path to slicing into the Republican majority in the House. Democrats would have to pick up 17 seats to regain a majority. That is a tall order given Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression. But the historical pattern suggests that in a presidential election year, it is conceivable. Past experience shows that the larger the majority of the winning Presidential candidate, the more House seats are won by his party.
Assuming a Democratic vote for the President of one percentage point greater than the impressive 52% that Obama won in 2012, Democrats could gain as many as 7 seats in the House. If the Democratic candidate could push that popular vote up to 54%, Democrats could pick up 35 seats in the House.
In short, the larger the Democratic presidential majority in 2016, the larger the gains in both the House and the Senate. And, Democratic control of the White House and the Congress would unleash a revolutionary surge of pent-up Democratic legislation and Executive actions too long blocked by the Republican Congress and the right wing majority in the Supreme Court.
Democratic prospects benefit from two specific developments. First, Obama has committed to raising money and campaigning actively for the Democratic Presidential candidate as well as Senate and House candidates. With his approval ratings continuing in the black, his support will be welcome by Democratic candidates and improve their electoral odds. Second, the Republican National Committee is scaling back its financial support for some close races because its fund raising has been lagging due to the warfare among its presidential candidates. Symptomatic of the Republican unraveling was the statement last week, (unwelcome to Clinton), by Republican mega-donor Charles Koch, that she would be a preferable president to any of the Republican front runners.
This reality explains why liberals are within reach of transformational changes. Democrats are already committed to legislation to reform immigration, to fund preschool, to make massive investment in repairing our rotting infrastructure, to restore IRS funding and staffing , to end the Republican freeze on federal personnel hiring, on reversing the Citizens United ruling opening the flood gates to massive secret campaign financing, to restore Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that would roll back Republican legislation at the state level making voting by minorities more difficult, to approve the scores of Presidential nominees blocked from approval by the Republican Senate, to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, to carry out our international commitments to slow climate change, to strengthen regulation of firearms, to expand Social Security by raising the threshold of income subject to taxation to support it and much more. Moreover, Clinton promised this week that her cabinet would have as many women as men and that she would work for universal, automatic registration to vote of eligible 18 year olds.
Even before Sanders uses his leverage to make the Democratic Party platform embrace his goals, Democrats in the Congress and Clinton are already committed to changes that would be revolutionary.
While the expected Trump v Clinton campaign looks almost too good to be true for Democrats, Trump has had an extraordinary record of crushing his opponents. We can expect his campaign to plumb the depths of political crudity and dishonesty. He can only be defeated by a massive turnout of voters longing for a return to effective government and fearful of electing an authoritarian narcissist. 30