The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Caution Ahead

Kamala wants to avoid the drama-la, but other candidates are more willing to play the game. Plus: Moderate Democratic women of the House want you to notice them, too.

What We’re Following Today

It’s Thursday, May 16.

‣ Donald Trump’s administration is pitching a new plan to overhaul the U.S.’s legal immigration system, focused on prioritizing “high-skilled workers.” (The plan has no real path to passage in Congress.)

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Kamala Harris

(Drew Angerer / Getty)

Is Kamala Harris too cautious?: The presidential hopeful tends to swerve when asked about complicated policy proposals. Is it too much to ask that a presidential candidate have a comprehensive plan on the spot about voting rights for felons? “This is not a game show where you’ve got a buzzer, and you should hit the buzzer, and you can win some money,” Harris told Edward-Isaac Dovere. The problem is, her competitors are much more willing to play the game than she is, and they are leapfrogging her in the polls.

+ He’s running. We’re referring to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced his candidacy this morning. Why, you ask? This one’s a head-scratcher.

Moderate Democrats want the spotlight, too: Five female veterans who are now in Congress launched a joint fundraising initiative to highlight their military experiences ahead of reelection campaigns. Four out of the five women helped flip Republican districts in last year’s midterms, and they want to shift the Democrats’ talking points away from the Green New Deal and toward bipartisan projects such as prescription-drug pricing and infrastructure. Meet these freshmen pragmatists.

Bring out your grievances: The White House wants to know whether you’ve been banned on social media for your political views. At best, this could be an attempt to gather social-media accounts for an ad campaign, or at worst it could be an unprecedented overstep into the inner workings of an industry, sans formal regulations or policies. Eighty-three percent of self-identified Republicans think tech companies are biased against conservatives—even though platforms like Facebook are dominated by Fox News clips.

From my family to yours: The 2020 candidates’ families look more and more like that of the average American. Whereas the first family of yesteryear looked like a nuclear family (mom, dad, two kids, and a dog) the slew of 2020 presidential candidates are much more representative of the blended families that most Americans have. Less than half of the field matches up to the traditional ideal.


(AP / Cliff Owen)

The former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning speaks with reporters, after arriving at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. Manning spoke about the federal court’s continued attempts to compel her to testify in front of a grand jury.

Ideas From The Atlantic

Elizabeth Warren Courts Big Business (Stacy Mitchell)
“While other Democratic presidential hopefuls have questioned the power of the tech giants, Warren’s rhetorical embrace of small business has been emphatic … She’s also reviving what once was a core tenet of her party: In a democracy, a primary purpose for government is to disperse economic power.” → Read on.

We Led the Iran Nuclear Deal, and Trump’s Tactics Aren’t Going to Work (William J. Burns and Jake Sullivan)
“Coercive diplomacy—when both elements of the approach are carefully synchronized—can deliver. On the other hand, coercion without diplomacy can lead to huge blunders in the Middle East. We’ve seen that before.”  → Read on.

Don’t Underestimate Joe Biden (Conor Friedersdorf)
“The median Democratic voter is most interested in what a candidate is likely to do. Can Biden beat President Trump? If so, what will he accomplish in office?”  → Read on.

About us: Today’s newsletter was written by Amal Ahmed. This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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