Posts from Mike Lux

Trump is in the Gutter. Democrats Win Big by Rising Above Him

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

We know exactly what Donald Trump’s strategy is: take this election straight into the gutter, keep it there, and make voters so disgusted that his diehard fanatics — the only ones he has left — will carry the day. That is his only chance, and we shouldn’t let him bring us down to his level. Democrats win by talking about the issues that matter to the American people, and by giving people a reason to vote for them.

Between the public polling already available before the appalling Access Hollywood tape came out, and the stories that have broken since, it is very clear that suburban, college-educated women that were considered the key swing voters at the beginning of this race are now moving solidly to Hillary Clinton’s camp. The question that remains in this race is whether the Democratic base — people of color, unmarried women, Bernie voters, and millennials — will turn out in big numbers to vote for her and other Democrats. And the way we turn them out and get them to vote for Hillary (as opposed to Johnson or Stein, very few are going to vote for Trump) is to give them strong progressive and populist reasons to do so.

Research and analysis by Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices Women’s Vote Action Fund lay this case out very well, and provide a path for Democrats up and down the ballot to turn this into a Democratic wave election:

Millennials are poised to give Hillary Clinton and Democrats a big margin in November’s election if they are engaged to vote and if progressives are smart in dealing with the third party vote. Millennial voters are in a very different place than they were two weeks ago, according to a new web survey of likely millennial voters in the eleven most competitive battleground states...

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Panic? Not Hardly. But Democrats Must Focus On Our Base

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

Democrats far and wide are asking: is it really possible we might lose to the guy who seems to be trying to brand himself as the worst person in America? Spewing racist rhetoric and conspiracy theories? Check. Making one misogynistic comment after another? Check. Joking about the assassination of Hillary? Check. Encouraging his supporters to beat up protesters? Check. Cozying up to evil dictators? Check. He’s done it all and more, brazenly. And yet somehow Hillary is tied with him in some national polls, even behind in a few.

I will admit to being nervous, but I am always nervous before an election because surprising things often happen. I was far more nervous than most Democrats when we were ten points ahead in the aftermath of the two conventions and Trump’s idiocy in attacking a Gold Star family. You just never know what will happen in an election, even right up to the end. Indulge me in a little history on the topic of Election Day surprises (I won’t even mention all the times candidates who won were well behind in the late summer or September of the election year).

In 1980, right up until Election Day, the pollsters were talking about the election probably being one of the closest in history. A lot of people thought Carter would squeak out a win over Reagan. Instead, we got a historically big Reagan/Republican landslide that also lost us control of the Senate and working control of the House because things broke their way in the last few days. In 1994, very few people were predicting that Republicans would win the House and Senate; most forecasts had 20-25 House seat pick-ups for them. Instead, they picked up 52 House seats and 10 Senate seats.

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Hillary Clinton’s Iron Will

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

When I came to DC to serve in the first Clinton White House in 1993, people back home in the Midwest would sometimes ask me what I thought was the most dysfunctional thing about the legendarily dysfunctional city of Washington, DC. I would tell them it was the national press corps. There were a lot of arrogant, power hungry, self-obsessed people in this city, I would tell them, but I felt like the worst of the worst of them resided in the world of the big national media operations.

And in the media-consolidated, click-bait times we live in now, it has only gotten worse. It isn’t that there aren’t some individual reporters who are good people and good reporters, there definitely are. The problem is that the culture and incentive system of Big Media reinforces the tendencies toward pack journalism, media frenzies, and sensationalized stories that are much ado about nothing.

Which leads me to the Hillary health care scare. When the video of her looking shaky came out Sunday, the media got so ginned up about what is actually a pretty dull story — a little walking pneumonia, she was up and about a couple hours later. But they turned it into the world’s most hyper-stimulated process saga: why did the campaign wait so long to tell us, when did Hillary tell her own staff she was taking some antibiotics, blah blah blah.

Yeah, okay, I will grant that knowing what a bunch of click-obsessed jackals too many of these media people are, the campaign could have been smoother about how it handled all this, but the hysteria about when exactly they should have released the pneumonia news seems, well, maybe just a little overheated. Don’t these pundits and reporters have anything better to do — like report on the candidates’ stands on actual issues, or how the candidates might or might not make the American people’s lives better or worse? Apparently not.

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The Hillary Clinton I Know

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

I am back from the Democratic convention, and beyond all the socializing and speeches, it made me reflective about these weird, wild, but truly historic times. Those of us who are part of the progressive movement should understand that we are living in a moment of unique opportunity, if only we choose to seize it.

One of the on-going dynamics this year at the convention was the presence of so many passionate Bernie people. Some of them were involved in various kinds of protests, fueled in part by their understandable anger over the wikileaks email release that forced Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign. But most of them were doing the regular delegate thing of participating in the life of the convention, and it was so good to see them there. As a long time progressive movement organizer, I was truly delighted to see people at a Democratic convention who looked and talked like the kinds of grassroots lefties I have seen at a hundred rallies and Netroots Nation kind of events. The angst that a lot of movement people have over Hillary Clinton, though, reminded me that I need to write something I haven’t yet written in this election cycle: why I am genuinely excited about a Hillary Clinton presidency.

A lot of progressive folks think of Hillary as the establishment, and associate her with Bill Clinton initiatives such as NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, even though she had little involvement in those issues. That association led many people to support Bernie, and- especially as the primary’s intensity racheted up- to be suspicious of Hillary in every way. Most Bernie people will, sooner or later, follow his lead in supporting Hillary, mainly because Trump is so awful. But I want to make a strong argument that this election is important not just because Donald Trump is such a terrible man. We progressives have a lot of reasons to get genuinely excited, first of all because the bigger prospects in this election: if we get fired up and show genuine enthusiasm, if we build the movement and engage with progressive voters, we can turn this into a wave election. A big turnout of people of color, young people, unmarried women, and other progressive segments of the electorate could mean that we sweep this nasty Republican Congress out of power, and that we start to take back from the far right conservatives local officials up and down the ballot.

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Democratic Unity in the Age of Trump and Terror

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

Democratic Unity in the Age of Trump and Terror

We live in troubling, sometimes terrifying, times. The number of mass shootings this country has experienced in recent years has been such a horrendous and tragic thing, and so has the violence and hatred all over the world. But what is most scary of all is the reaction of some of our politicians and their followers. I am, of course, speaking of Donald Trump and his angry devotees: they apparently believe that all the members of a religion should be blamed and penalized for the actions of a tiny number of sick, violent people who claim to follow that religion.

Donald Trump is a small-minded, egomaniacal, dangerously unstable, racist, fascist thug. But scarier still is what terrorists and foreign dictators will do to take advantage of such a man’s knee-jerk temperament if he is president of the United States. We would live in a country where hate and violence would keep ratcheting up and become the everyday norm instead of the exception, both here and around the world. We cannot afford to have this unstable and nasty man be our president.

That’s why Democratic Party unity at this moment in history is so damn important. But it needs to be the right kind of unity, the kind that both wings of the party take seriously, not just the Bernie wing. We need a unity that motivates activists and disappointed Bernie voters to be involved in this election and the fight against Trump.

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A Progressive Vision of Globalization

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

When pushing bad trade deals or trying to convince us that nothing can be done about the lack of wage growth or income inequality, the pro-multinational corporation pundit class will tell us that it is all globalization's fault, and since we can't stop globalization, there's nothing we can do to help increase pay or level the playing field. But here's what is important to understand: It is precisely because we can't stop globalization that we should have more rules in place to protect working families, not just here in America, but all over the world. And for those who suggest that it isn't possible, be clear on one thing: They are saying this to help the big businesses who exploit those workers. As Elizabeth Warren recently said: "Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club."

As someone who has spent most of my career working on domestic economic issues, it has become clearer and clearer to me in recent years that because of the globalization of the economy, you have to link the issues of worker exploitation around the globe to the problems working families here in the United States. There is a great deal we can do here to promote higher incomes and more prosperity for working families that would lessen the effects of the big technological and business changes driving the global economy -- increasing the minimum wage, strengthening unions, paid family leave policies, a better educational system, expanded Social Security and retirement security, to name a few. But progressives in America also need to develop new policy initiatives and organizing strategies to deal head-on with multinational conglomerates setting up low wage or slave labor factories all over the world -- not just for humanitarian reasons, but because competing with badly exploited workers worldwide drives down wages and working conditions for all of us.

This is why I have helped to co-found a new organization called AWARE: the Alliance for Workers Against Exploitation Everywhere. As the name suggests, we will be opposing worker exploitation all around the world, working with unions, the human rights community, women's groups, the LGBT community, student organizations and the progressive community generally on issues around slave labor and other horrendous abuse of working people around the world. Here's our website: allianceforworkers.org.

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Elizabeth Warren's Comprehensive Wall Street Reform Agenda

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

Elizabeth Warren has given her fair share of great speeches, and has written some outstanding legislation on reforming Wall Street, but her speech on April 15 to the Hyman P. Minsky Conference was the best Wall Street policy speech I have ever heard her, or anyone, ever give. It was comprehensive without being a laundry list of in-the-weeds wonkiness. It laid out a strong philosophical rationale for why we need to do these reforms, and it was politically compelling as well. Her politically compelling argument laid out a strong philosophical rationale for why we need these reforms. Perhaps most importantly, she did all this while masterfully refuting the hackneyed attacks about her being anti-business, anti-growth, and anti-market forces.

Warren's series of proposed reforms would be a major and much needed boost to an economy still held down by the Wall Street abuses that brought on the collapse of the massive housing bubble, the 2008 financial collapse, and the hardest hitting economic slowdown since the Great Depression. Here is an outline of her proposals:

  • Hold financial institutions and individuals accountable for cheating customers
    • Close the auto loan loophole and extend CFPB oversight to auto dealers
    • Stop financial fraud recidivism by preventing any institution from entering into a non-prosecution agreement or deferred prosecution agreement if they are already operating under such an agreement
    • Deter future financial fraud by imposing a mandatory minimum monetary penalty at least equal to the profits generated by the illegal conduct and strengthening judicial review of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements
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Why Elizabeth Warren Strikes Such a Chord

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

It seems like just about everyone these days is talking about Elizabeth Warren. I saw Jay Leno -not a very political guy or especially progressive- the other day on Bill Maher's show, talking about how shocked he was that Elizabeth Warren was only 18 months younger than Hilary because of how vital and energetic she seemed. A focus group of swing voters, who traditionally don't follow politics very closely, in Colorado a couple of weeks back were disdainful of the politicians they had heard of like Jeb Bush and Hillary who were likely running for president, but loved what they were hearing about Elizabeth Warren. The Sunday "Doonesbury" this weekend was a plea to "run, Lizzie, run" because "she hears the voices no one else hears". The Washington Post print addition on Sunday had a front page article whose headline asked "What does Elizabeth Warren want?"

Why is a first-term Senator in the minority party, a wonky college professor who had never held elective office before 2013, a woman who insists to everyone who asks that she is not running for president, striking such a chord in American politics right now? Why are hundreds of thousands of people and some of the biggest organizations in American politics begging her to run for president despite her apparent lack of interest? Where did she get the political power to stop the president's political nominations and almost bring down budget bills that seemed destined for easy bi-partisan passage? Why is the media obsessed with her?

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Rihanna, Jamie Dimon, and Hillary

Mike Lux Co-founder , Democracy Partners

Okay, Rihanna, Dimon, and Hillary are truly an odd combination. And I'm not referring to some kind of very strange fundraising event trio, but to a new video inspired by the divide in the Democratic Party, and in our country, over how we should view the titans on Wall Street. It's our light answer to all those politicians and groups who think Wall Street bankers should be coddled: We say that not only should they not be coddled, their arrogance should be poked, parodied, and prosecuted. We are truly delighted that we get to release this video the same day as the Jamie Dimon holiday card, which sent such a profoundly wonderful message about Dimon's unbridled arrogance.

There is a fundamental disagreement over approaches to the Jamie Dimons and Lloyd Blankfeins of the world, and one approach, exemplified by a recent speech by Hillary Clinton's recent speech to Goldman Sachs' execs helped inspire (if you can call it that) the opposite approach from an organization I chair, American Family Voices. Partly inspired by one settlement after another where Jamie Dimon has sweet-talked prosecutors into no-criminal-prosecution settlements of things which were clearly criminal (the JPM settlements were by far the biggest in history money wise, which is a good thing, but so inadequate in so many ways they still are disappointing), and partly inspired by Hillary's warm and friendly speech about Wall Street, we are putting out a parody of Rihanna's video "Diamonds," turning it into the story of that jewel of a guy Jamie Dimon -- we think it is just the kind of hard-hitting and funny satire he and JP Morgan Chase so desperately deserve.

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Stronger Together

Stronger Together