IRA is a good, moderate bill
As Yglesias has said repeatedly, a lot of this comes down to Democrat staffers being far more progressive than the median Democrat voter; let alone the median voter. This strong bias filters what accomplishments that they focus on and shapes their own perception of events. The result is counterproductive messaging.
I’ve been hoping that fear of electoral victories for Trump and his compatriot politicians would focus Democrat staffers on winning at all costs; even if that meant compromising and moderating on policy and messaging. My personal thinking has definitely been influenced that way. It’s one thing to lose due overly ambitious political goals when the downside is four years of Romney and a Republican congress cutting taxes and deregulating. When it's Trumpism the cost of losing is higher.
Yet such a change in strategy and tactics among Democrat staffers hasn't happened. And I think a lot of that can be attributed to the “progressive mobilization” delusion. As long as staffers and activists continue to believe that there is a large number of demotivated potential voters yearning for revolutionary progressive changes then I don’t think we'll have a more productive messaging discipline. We need to do anything and everything that we can do to push back on this false narrative and correct staffers’ mental model of the American electoral landscape.
The part about the earned media reminded me of my frustrations with the child tax credit. Instead of framing it as "a tax cut for families with children" it was talked about as this broad, sweeping, transformative, anti-poverty program that was *so progressive* (squeeee!), which is not what most people wanted to hear.
This is pretty much spot on, but I still think we could emphasize even more Biden’s achievement in refuting the very toxic notion that bipartisanship is forever more dead and gone. Polarization is such a dangerous force in the country and while we are very very far from solving the issue, knowing and proving that bipartisan legislation on a wide variety of issues is still totally possible is a huge achievement in and of itself.
"It’s a really small-bore gun control bill"
Peak Dad Joke performance right there. :)
I mean, this is all true, but haven't we been listening to 12 months of "DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY!!!1!!" from the Beltway media? They just passed a bill (well, the Senate did at least) with zero GOP votes that will materially improve the lives of many Americans. If Democrats are going to make the argument that the point of winning elections is enacting their favored policies, shouldn't they emphasize this?
I agree with Matt's overall view here, but man, after listening to Extremely Online Progressives dismiss the ACA as a "center-right Heritage Foundation" plan that didn't do much, I kinda like the vibe shift.
One argument for trumpeting achievements, and even exaggerating them, is that some percentage of your voters are demoralized by failures and energized by success.
Your stance in this piece suggests that you think "rev up the base!" is a less important part of winning elections than "don't scare the normies!"
Is that ranking of importance dependent on this being a midterm in which the Dems have a (tenuous) trifecta? Would it change if this were a presidential year, or a year in which Dems were the party out of power? Or is it always good advice? How important is normie-calming compared to base-revving in other scenarios?
Pollution is White Supremacy Culture along with capitalism. (So I have been told from local DSA and Bernie types).
This should be the Democratic message obviously.
The CHIPS act is important because it represents Republicans moving away from free market absolutism. The old ethos was if Taiwan wants to support TMSC and that means their chips are cheaper, we should just buy our chips from them. Events of the last few years have revealed the flaws in that approach.
A lot of times when I post online suggesting that a reasoned, moderate approach is the best thing for the progressive movement I will immediately get down voted by a bunch of very online DSA type folks who will insist I am A. A Russian bot B. A secret or overt racist or C. A “squish” who loves Republicans more than Progressives. This is so discouraging! When I then try to explain my position the responses tend to become even more unhinged and weird. It is annoying.
“Legislative accomplishments” seems like the worst way to evaluate a current president. The “accomplishments” part of legislation isn’t generally known until it takes effect. Did it accomplish it’s goals, or was it bungled in execution? Did unintended consequences overwhelm the intended benefits? Passing a bill just isn’t an accomplishment on its own.
Presidents, should be evaluated mostly on execution. How’s the FDA doing? CMS? Military engagements? Military procurement? This is all actually under the president’s control and we’d be much better off evaluating them on those merits. Even “how’s the economy right now?”, which everyone seems to think shouldn’t be a reflection of presidential performs seems like a better gauge - at least it holds them accountable for measurable results vs “passing stuff.”
I think this is wrong about the appetite for change among Americans. If you look at things like the right track/wrong track numbers, or you just talk to people, they think America needs lots of big changes, just none that inconvenience them or really change anything about their life. So framing a giant climate bill as small isn't the right way to go, it's that it's making major progress on climate while bringing down energy costs and not hurting you at the pump.
Matt has written several times that American energy policy is now “technology agnostic.” Really!? If I want to build a nuclear power plant with a cool new design, can I get a permit? Has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission been abolished? Have the commissioners been sacked and replaced with swashbuckling energy abundance enthusiasts? If I want to build wind turbines off Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, is the permitting process as easy as if I want to sink a well in the Permian Basin? If I want to build a hydroelectric dam, salmon be damned, is that as easy as building a wind turbine in Kansas?
What exactly does technology agnostic mean?
I think the emphasis on the "biggest climate bill ever" at this point is because it still hasn't passed the House and the progressive wing needs talking point cover to vote for it after seeing so much get removed from the original BBB dreams.
I've been getting mass texts and emails from some random environmental groups telling me call Rep. Omar and convince her to vote no because the climate piece doesn't go far enough.
I think if the "biggest climate bill ever" is the framing it needs to pass and the moderate members are correctly emphasizing the right parts of the bill on the campaign trail that is pretty much the ideal scenario.
I realize that the past is a different country, and there are limits to what we can conclude from an era before polling, etc. — but is there a generally accepted explanation for what happened in 1934?
The 73rd Congress was probably the most radical, productive Congress in US history (possibly exceeded by the 74th). The CCC, the NRA, the TVA, the AAA, the FDIC, are still household names. The amount of legislation was torrential. Exactly what Matt says voters hate.
And Democrats picked up seats in 1934! Sure, the economy was slightly better than it had been two years before (21.7% unemployment, versus 23.6% in 1932) but as you recall, a modestly better economy didn’t help Democrats much in 2010. And however you slice it, the economy in 1934 was *bad*.
Is the answer that the Great Depression was simply off the charts, that it was like The Purge of political science — the laws didn’t apply anymore? Or what?
The one saving grace for Democrats here is that the modern conservative movement really doesn’t care about policy, so Republican earned media will be about some random made-up wokeness controversy instead of boring things like laws