Democratic Politicos Discuss “Bottom Up” Politics

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I attended an event at the left-leaning NDN think tank that featured Joe Trippi, former chief strategist for John Edwards, Simon Rosenberg, NDN’s President, Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the Hotline, and Andres Ramirez, NDN’s Vice President for Hispanic Programs. It was a typical inside-the-beltway panel discussion where intellectuals pontificate in front of other intellectuals about the future of politics and the political parties. I say that dismissively, because in a macro sense events like these are a touch ridiculous. But some fairly interesting things were said, which I’ll reproduce here, with some links for additional reading.

  • Amy Walter pointed out that though Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Barack Obama’s lack of experience don’t seem to be working now, they may work in the general election. The problem with the current attacks may be the messenger, not the message, she said.
  • Andres Ramirez took at a look at the electoral college map and made the following observation: if you take the states that are safe blue states and you add four states that have expanding Latino populations, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado, you’ve got an easy presidential victory for the Democrats in every cycle. This was a reason for substantial Democratic Party investment in the Latino demographic, Ramirez argued. He also produced a number of figures and charts that are very likely available here.
  • Ramirez also tried to debunk the notion that Democrats lose their advantage among Latinos, earned while defending immigrants from the GOP’s nativist insanity, if the general election is between John McCain and Barack Obama. The argument is that McCain led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform (the humane approach to immigration reform), which Latinos like, while Obama is black, which Latinos supposedly don’t like. Ramirez said that turnout numbers from the states that have already voted in primaries don’t support that theory.
  • The word of the day was “bottom up.” The assembled politicos seemed to think that Obama’s success was a product a newly energized electorate that for the first time in ages were invested in their nation’s politics. This was the cause of the increased number of small-value donations, the increased number of volunteers, and the dramatically increased number of voters. Democrats, starting with Trippi’s work for Howard Dean in 2004, have worked and reworked their approach to “bottom up” politics, while the Republicans are years behind. Simon Rosenberg pointed out that if all of this citizen excitement (which the assembled said has “renewed our democracy”) is subverted by superdelegates who want to hand the Democratic nomination to the less-popular choice, it would damage the Democratic Party in critical ways. Ways that could very well hand the election to John McCain.

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