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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/26/17

Is "Russiagate" Collapsing as a Political Strategy?

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The plan for Democrats to run against Russia may be falling apart.

After squandering much of the last six months on faulting Russians for the horrific presidency of Donald Trump...

After blaming America's dire shortfalls of democracy on plutocrats in Russia more than on plutocrats in America...

After largely marketing the brand of their own party as more anti-Russian than pro-working-people...

After stampeding many Democratic Party-aligned organizations, pundits and activists into fixating more on Russia than on the thousand chronic cuts to democracy here at home...

After soaking up countless hours of TV airtime and vast quantities of ink and zillions of pixels to denounce Russia in place of offering progressive remedies to the deep economic worries of American voters...

Now, Democrats in Congress and other party leaders are starting to face an emerging reality: The "winning issue" of Russia is a losing issue.

The results of a reliable new nationwide poll -- and what members of Congress keep hearing when they actually listen to constituents back home -- cry out for a drastic reorientation of Democratic Party passions. And a growing number of Democrats in Congress are getting the message.

"Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia," The Hill reported over the weekend. In sharp contrast to their party's top spokespeople, "rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare."

The Hill coverage added: "In the wake of a string of special-election defeats, an increasing number of Democrats are calling for an adjustment in party messaging, one that swings the focus from Russia to the economy. The outcome of the 2018 elections, they say, hinges on how well the Democrats manage that shift."

Such assessments aren't just impressionistic or anecdotal. A major poll has just reached conclusions that indicate party leaders have been operating under political illusions.

Conducted last week, the Harvard-Harris national poll found a big disconnect between the Russia obsession of Democratic Party elites in Washington and voters around the country.

The poll "reveals the risks inherent for the Democrats, who are hoping to make big gains -- or even win back the House -- in 2018," The Hill reported. "The survey found that while 58 percent of voters said they're concerned that Trump may have business dealings with Moscow, 73 percent said they're worried that the ongoing investigations are preventing Congress from tackling issues more vital to them."

The co-director of the Harvard-Harris poll, Mark Penn, commented on the results: "While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country."

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Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

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