Crafting the Democrats’ Midterm Message

One less gerrymandered state, thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

We have a basketful of lethal talking points. But not a peep about impeachment!

Take a look at the above map on the right, and locate the new 1st congressional district. It takes in most of Buck County, PA, a mostly affluent area that has gotten bluer over the years. But because of shameless gerrymandering by the Republican state legislature, the district added just enough red space to assure winning margins for Republicans.

The seat is currently being held by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, who “inherited” it from his brother Mike. Brian Fitzpatrick now finds himself in a highly competitive district. When Brian looks over his shoulder, he sees Democratic candidate Scott Wallace, founder of the progressive and philanthropic Wallace Global Fund, who just happens to be the grandson of Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president. Let’s sample one of his campaign ads:


You can hear it in Wallace’s voice: a sense of outrage. Outrage over a president whose constant lying and coarse authoritarianism stains the civility and grace of our national dialogue…a president who doesn’t love America…could care less about its history or  traditions…and has no respect for the office he unwittingly assumed.

Donald Trump only cares about himself.

Democrats of all stripes will want to express their outrage by yelling from the rooftops, “Impeachment!”

Here is a list of talking points that can be deployed by Democrats in their mission to flip the House, and quite possibly, the Senate. The list starts off with impeachment. But it’s not what your think.

It’s Trump’s party now.

Impeachment. Three words: Don’t go there. Politics is not only about getting your people to the polls. It’s also about keeping your opponent’s voters home. The prospect of impeachment might bring home Republicans who feel threatened.

New York Times:  “For voters in the political center who may be uneasy with, or exhausted by, his tumultuous administration, the possibility of a more chaotic 2019 in Washington is unappealing.”

“I’ve been urging members from discussing impeachment,” remarked liberal Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA). “I think we should let these investigations conclude and see what evidence is found.”

The stench of corruption. New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait wrote an incredibly good article titled, “Corruption, Not Russia, Is Trump’s greatest Political Liability.” His point can be succinctly summarized accordingly: “To be out for yourself is probably the most single disqualifying flaw a politician can have.”

With Trump’s approval rating dipping to 39 percent in the latest CNBC survey, voters might be finally catching on. All they have to do is open their eyes:

His longtime lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny by prosecutors in Brooklyn; his former campaign chairman is under indictment; his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a pair of former campaign aides [Gates, Papadopoulos] are cooperating with Mr. Mueller.

Source: former Labor Secretary Robert Reich &

Uncovering the Big Lie about a “middle class tax cut.” Republicans no doubt got a wake-up call during the recent special election in Western Pennsylvania, a cliffhanger won by Democrat Conor Lamb in a R+19 district, where TV ads touting their “tax cut” failed to move the needle towards Lamb’s opponent. They pulled the ads.

Democrats should not cede any ground over the legislative turd of a tax reform bill passed last December with not one Democratic vote. Rather than a “middle class tax cut,” it is a gift to the wealthy and large corporations. Here are your talking points, from Vox:

  • Almost all provisions of the bill are temporary, except for the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. (Ask the good people of Kansas whether trickle down economics worked for them.)
  • By the year 2027, more than half of all Americans–53 percent–will pay more taxes.
  • By that year, 83 percent of the bill’s benefits will go to the top one percent.
  • Even in the first years of the bill’s execution, where there is an across-the-board tax cut, nearly two-thirds of all tax benefits will be gifted to the upper fifth of all Americans.
  • An estimated 13 million people will lose their health insurance.

These preferences look good for Democrats.

According to that same CNBC survey, just 32 percent of the public reports taking home a bigger paycheck because of the tax cut. Despite occasional photo ops of companies raising wages or handing out bonuses with their tax windfalls, the White House must realize that corporations are ultimately loyal to their stockholders, not Donald Trump.

Because the tax bill was passed with no offsets, Republicans now own the deficitAccording to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficit is scheduled to climb $804 billion this year, $981 billion in fiscal 2019 and hit $1 trillion in 2020. Be a “deficit scold.” Why not?

Trump’s working class posture is a complete fraud. Source: HNN

Donald Trump’s total betrayal of his working class “base.” When Trump was running for president, he declared that “the American worker will have a president who will protect them and fight for them.” And yet, his administration has proposed or implemented policies that run completely counter to his campaign promise. For example:

  • Assisted by rabidly anti-labor cabinet officials, the Trump administration “repealed an OSHA rule requiring employers to keep accurate safety records, repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace rule [for federal contractors], and scrapped over a dozen OSHA rules” regulating permissible exposure limits for dangerous dust, chemicals and noise in workplaces like coal mines and construction sites.
  • They have proposed a new rule that “makes it legal for restaurant owners to keep the tips given to their wait staffs.”
  • Trump and Congressional Republicans have staunchly opposed increasing the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for the last nine years.
  • Trump’s Labor Department has overturned numerous rules safeguarding unionized workers’ rights to bargain and to not be harassed by his or her employer.
  • The administration has proclaimed its support for “right-to-work” laws, a misnomer that would do away with the obligation that workers pay for the union representation they receive and benefit from. Adopted by 28 states, a national law is now being considered by the Supreme Court.

This is protecting and fighting for the American worker? Who the hell is he kidding?

Part II of this article will examine midterm messaging around the issues of health care and public education. A future article will probe talking points for climate change and net neutrality.

Andrew Goutman

Andrew Goutman is the editor of The Record.

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