Lincoln native Mike Lux, a leading voice in progressive politics and a veteran of the Clinton White House, has stirred the political pot in Washington with a new book challenging Democrats to redefine their appeal to voters in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
"I think we have to go directly to the people to talk about tough issues," Lux said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
That means providing "opportunity for working folks and small businesses," he said, including specifically in rural areas in so-called red (or Republican) states.
"The Republicans argue for freedom against government, but government helps give people tools to build a good life for themselves and their families," he said, helping provide or assure the opportunity to "get an education, drink clean water, breathe clean air and not have to work three or four jobs."
"Donald Trump is all about the freedom to do whatever you want to do to anyone and make a buck," he said.
Lux argues that Democrats must "quit making false choices," acting as if they need to choose between swing voters and the traditional Democratic base, between urban and rural America, between economic fairness or growth in the economy.
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Or between voters based on region or race.
"My basic argument is that I think Democrats have been hamstrung by their own assumptions," Lux said, and that has led to "false choices."
His new book, "How to Democrat in The Age of Trump," jumped into the top 20 on Amazon's commentary book section in the first week of its release.
Lux, born in Lincoln and a graduate of Northeast High School, is the co-founder and president of Progressive Strategies, a political consulting firm in Washington.
In 1993-95, Lux was special assistant to the president for public liaison in the Clinton White House. He was a member of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team and has played a role in five presidential campaigns.
Rural America is not lost to Democrats, Lux argues.
And the key states that handed Trump his 2016 victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, namely Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, should be targets of an inclusive new Democratic message in 2020 aimed at "working-class folks, including small businesses," he said.
In the meantime, he said, it is "critical for Democrats to win at least one house of Congress (in November) to be a check on Donald Trump" until the next presidential election.