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Let’s Break From Identity Politics, Together

Both parties sort voters by color and gender. Though there’s nothing new about promoting solidarity on the basis of genetics, it can get old really fast.

One sees some utility in this brand of politicking, especially for Democrats. The party of Donald Trump has done its darnedest to offend the growing Latino electorate. But Republicans will get smart about this and reverse course.

Even Trump? Especially Trump. As Trump continues his pivot to normality, his campaign will take a long shower and start making nice to women and Latinos — some of whom have shown interest in him, if only he’d stop attacking them.

Memory is short, and Trump’s skill at self-mockery could ease the transition. With his support of programs that help the working class, Trump could pick off chunks of the Democratic coalition.

Note that the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invited Trump to join a candidates forum in Washington (which he did not attend). While in no way an endorsement, this is not how one treats the devil.

Democratic strategists expect America’s rapidly growing Latino and Asian populations to guarantee their electoral success. But history shows demographic firewalls crumbling as descendants of recent immigrants become culturally indistinguishable from the older European stock.

Meanwhile, the seeming obsession with minorities and women sends a “don’t bother” sign to the white working class. Hostility toward dark people doesn’t adequately explain why so many struggling whites have decamped for the Republican side.

Consider how a white working guy might respond to a headline like this one: “White Man or Black Woman? Senate Race Tears at Maryland Democrats.”

The subject is the Democratic Senate primary race pitting Rep. Donna Edwards against Rep. Chris Van Hollen. The “conflict”: Edwards, a black single mother, may be an attractive candidate, but Van Hollen has a long record as an effective progressive in Washington. There is no reason for liberals to abandon him unless they think race and gender are reason enough.

EMILY’s List apparently thinks so. Dedicated to promoting female candidates who support abortion rights, EMILY’s List has put its resources behind Edwards. Many contributors who’ve worked with Van Hollen are fuming, as well they might.

There’s no item on the liberal women’s agenda that Van Hollen has not championed, and, you know, there are other issues. There was a time when female candidates were a rarity, but that time has passed — and so has any rationale, frankly, for EMILY’s List.

Move on to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat held by the late Antonin Scalia. According to a Washington Post analysis, “some top Democrats” are complaining that Obama threw away a “golden opportunity” by opting for “a mild-mannered white man.”

“If he had picked an African American, a Latino or even an Asian candidate — and especially a woman,” the unnamed Democrats (allegedly) told the writer, “he could have helped energize the coalition that got him reelected in 2012 and arguably pushed his nominee onto the court.”

Set aside the reality that Republican leaders in the Senate have vowed to stop any Obama nominee. Ponder how such messages rile not only white men but also nonwhite men and women who regard themselves as intellectual equals (or superiors) to the sitting members and not tokens.

Trump’s magic formula has been to crush a political correctness that habitually puts white men in the stocks while breaking with the Republican Party on positions that hurt the working class. A toned-down Trump would move from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane threat for Democrats. And identity politics would not be their friend.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at


Photo: American flags line Broadway Ave. in Burns, Oregon February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Emily’s List Is Ready For Hillary

By Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg News (TNS)

Emily’s List hasn’t yet endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, but that’s just a formality. The PAC, founded in 1985, has helped Democratic women reach every level of elected office short of the White House. Now the group is focusing its resources on the one goal that has eluded it.

Since soon after President Barack Obama won a second term, Emily’s List has been preparing for Clinton to run, convening conversations about electing a woman president, and commissioning polling on Americans’ views. But the groundwork goes back even further, to the group’s founding three decades ago to support Democratic women running for Senate and to the years it’s spent advocating for women in politics.

On Tuesday, Clinton will return the favor,delivering the keynote speech at the group’s 30th anniversary gala in Washington as she prepares to embark on what people close to her are not shying away from calling an historic campaign. Bookending the significance of her second shot at the presidency, she’ll be introduced by Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in congressional history.

“She has a message and we have a mission that are both clearly attuned to what this country seems to be needing right now: more women’s voices speaking for women and families,” said Emily’s List communications director Jess McIntosh. “Not on behalf of special interests. Not the ego-driven Washington dysfunction that we’ve seen.”

Back in early 2013, when Clinton’s 2016 campaign seemed not as certain as it does in March 2015, Emily’s List launched its Madam President initiative with the goal of supporting a Democratic woman in the 2016 race. While the group mentioned then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as possible candidates, Clinton was the top target.

“Let’s be clear: they did that for Hillary,” said Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, a senior adviser to Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock almost said as much.”I have to say there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others,” she told reporters nearly two years ago at the launch of Madam President. “We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may.”

Emily’s List commissioned polling — conducted by one of the firms that has since signed on to work for Clinton — to make its point, finding that 86 percent of voters in nine battleground states said they believed the United States was ready to elect a woman president, while 72 percent said it was likely that a woman would be elected in 2016. Other polls have found the support to be not quite as strong — especially among Republicans, as it’s become clear that Clinton is the woman most likely to get to the presidency first — but there’s nonetheless evidence that public opinion has become more supportive of electing a woman just since Clinton’s first attempt in 2008.

Emily’s List is by no means a newcomer to the Hillary Clinton bandwagon.

Clinton drew 1,000 women to the Washington Hilton — the same place where she’ll speak Tuesday — in the spring of 1996 for what the New York Times described as an Emily’s List-organized “pep rally to bolster her spirits” amid the strains of the Whitewater scandal.

It endorsed Clinton’s first presidential bid on the same day that she announced the creation of an exploratory committee and backed Clinton in her 2000 Senate campaign. “And our members were fans of hers long before that,” McIntosh said.

The group’s staff is also deeply entangled with Clinton.

Schriock was often discussed as a possible campaign manager before Clinton decided to go with Robby Mook. Instead, she’ll stay at Emily’s List and manage the group’s interactions with the campaign, a role clarified last week when she left the board of Priorities USA, the super-PAC that aims to be the largest outside group supporting Clinton. Denise Feriozzi,who is heading up independent expenditures as Emily’s List’s political director, will take Schriock’s place on the board.

While Feriozzi won’t be directly working with the Clinton team to avoid running afoul of campaign-finance laws, she has deep connections in the Clinton network and is steeped in its values, since she worked for the 2008 campaign in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Executive director Jess O’Connell knows Hillaryland well, too — she was national director of operations for Clinton in 2007 and 2008.

Emily’s List founder Ellen Malcolm was a national co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 campaign and hasn’t shied away from supporting the 2016 bid, throwing her support behind Ready for Hillary two years ago. “I’ve seen — we’ve all seen — how smart, tough, resilient and caring Hillary is. I’ve been ready for Hillary to be president for decades,” she said then.

There are no official ties between Emily’s List and Ready for Hillary, but the two organizations have, along with American Bridge and Priorities USA, made up much of the organized effort to prepare for Clinton to run. Ready for Hillary will dissolve once Clinton announces her candidacy and, at that point, much of the organization will be absorbed within Emily’s List.

“We want to make sure the assets built by Hillary’s supporters, such as a robust social media presence, are not lost when Ready for Hillary shuts down,” spokesman Seth Bringman said. The group plans to cease operations as soon as Clinton enters the race.

While a decision hasn’t been finalized, the group is considering transferring its social media accounts — including a Facebook page with almost 2.2 million likes and a Twitter account with 143,000 followers — to Emily’s List. It also aims to go through the complex legal process of transferring its e-mail list of more than 3 million to the official Clinton apparatus.

“Emily’s List shares our grassroots approach and our goal of making history in 2016, so transferring our social media accounts to them would make perfect sense,” Bringman said.

In the meantime, Ready for Hillary is continuing to organize and fundraise, in part by seizing on Clinton’s speech to Emily’s List. It’s bought tables at Tuesday night’s gala and has asked members to organize house parties to watch the speech. The group is also hosting a pre-speech call featuring former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the co-chair of Priorities USA.

Photo: Canada2020 via Flickr

Does Thom Tillis Have A Problem With Women?

North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R) has already alienated minority voters this week – and there’s reason to believe that women may be next.

Following a budget dispute last week, Tills said that North Carolina state Rep. Susi Hamilton’s (D) criticisms of him were “born out of emotions,” in an interview with the StarNews.

Hamilton had said that the North Carolina film community was “double-crossed” by Tillis, the House Speaker, after a budget amendment to continue talks on film incentives was defeated. Hamilton claims that Tillis’s staff worked behind the scenes to make sure the amendment was defeated.

Tillis denied these claims, and launched the charged criticism at Hamilton. “I actively worked to prevent that from happening,” he said. “I think her comments and activity are the single greatest threat to progress.”

Hamilton responded, “Do I seem emotional? Any more than usual? My comments were born out of fact.”

Tillis already has women’s groups working against him in North Carolina. EMILY’s List stated in a press release that it was launching its WOMEN VOTE! campaign, which will spend $3 million in the state to support incumbent Democratic senator Kay Hagan. Planned Parenthood also plans on spending $3 million to get out the vote and mobilize women.

WOMEN VOTE!’s first ad features a pregnant teacher who’s struggling to pay for classroom supplies because of education cuts. It claims that Tillis cut the education budget by $500 million (The Washington Post‘s fact checker, however, points out that only $117 million of these cuts came in primary education in 2013-2014, amounting to only a net 1.5 percent decrease in the K-12 education budget).

EMILY’s List National Press Secretary Marcy Stech told the Post that the group is focused on North Carolina due to Tillis’ “extreme” record.

“North Carolina is a state that will hinge on women… voters who know that Kay Hagan has been a champion for women and families,” she said. “From opposing minimum wage, blocking equal pay for women and restricting women’s access to healthcare, Thom Tillis and his ‘divide and conquer’ record of extremism [is] far too out of touch for North Carolina.”

The Tillis campaign dismissed these complaints, offering the typical Republican response that the war on women doesn’t exist and isn’t actually a concern for voters.

“The left has been talking about a ‘war on women’ for a couple of cycles now,” Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ campaign manager, told the Post. “It’s designed for the media and not grounded in reality and it’s based on scare tactics.”

The campaign is attempting to reach out to women through its “Women for Tillis” coalition. But he’s going to have to do a lot more to mobilize the women’s vote.

The latest PPP poll shows that only 29 percent of women support Tillis, while 39 percent prefer Hagan. The two candidates are virtually tied with male voters, as they each have 39 percent of the vote. Overall, the poll shows Hagan with a 5-point lead, though most other polls show them virtually tied.

The full EMILY’s List ad attacking Thom Tillis can be seen below.

Photo: North Carolina National Guard via Flickr

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