Last night, Democrats in Wisconsin fell short by one in their effort to regain control of the Wisconsin State Senate.
While there is no question that the drive to pick up seats via the recall elections, staged in decidedly Republican districts, was a difficult undertaking – and there is some reason for Democrats to celebrate having won two seats in these GOP areas- there is no spinning out of the truth of this election.
The loss was both hard and significant on a number of levels.
Had the election been influenced by a low voter turnout – something that typically bodes ill for Democrats – that would have put a different face on the story.
But the turnout was spectacular. And, based on the results, Republicans were every bit as energized as Democrats.
GOP supporters had the backs of their sitting Senators, coming to the polls in big numbers to deliver the message that they too are as engaged and energized in the battle taking place in Wisconsin as the progressives and that is precisely what should have those who oppose the conservative agenda – in Wisconsin and throughout the nation – shaking in their boots.
The GOP was not just sending the message that they too know how to show up at the polls. They had a deeper message to send, one that was addressed to the unions. It was a message that came through loud and clear.
We’re (the voters) just not that into you.
The unions poured some $20 million dollars in the Wisconsin effort. For their money, they improved their minority in the State Senate by two votes but failed to come away with the majority required to put the breaks on Governor Scott Walker’s agenda.
That’s a lot of cash to spend for the return achieved.
While the other side also poured serious cash into the state, organizations like Club For Growth can, at the least, come away from the battle knowing that their agenda has not been stymied and, for as long as Governor Walker sits in the state house, they remain free and unfettered in their efforts to move their mission forward while pushing the state of Wisconsin – and the country – backward.
Now, the Wisconsin Democrats are left to determine their plans for the future, particularly with respect to the proposed recall effort against Governor Scott Walker.
The good news is that last night’s battles were fought on enemy territory while a statewide recall will bring the Democratic faithful throughout the state into play.
The bad news is that we’ve now learned that those who support the Walker agenda – and we’d best acknowledge that there are far more of them than Badger State Democrats might have wanted to realize- will not be sitting idly by when it comes to supporting an agenda of wiping out collective bargaining rights, cutting education and healthcare to the bone and disenfranchising those who are more likely to cast their vote for Democrats.
I suspect that the Walker recall will go forward – but that won’t happen until next year.
In the meantime, the attention turns to the ballot measure in Ohio seeking to repeal the anti-collective bargaining law passed by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature. The initiative will appear on the statewide ballot on November 8th and will permit all voting Ohioans to weigh in on how they feel about the effort to end unions in America. A “yes” would be a vote to retain the law while a “no” will be a vote to repeal.
If I were a Democrat in Wisconsin, I’d plan on spending the next few months in Ohio working hard for the repeal effort. If ‘just say no’ fails in the Ohio election, the writing you see on the wall will be the formal announcement of the tragic death of the union movement in the United States of America.
By: Rick Ungar, The Policy Page, Forbes, August 11, 2011
The death this past weekend of former Oregon Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, was not just the passing of a good and decent man with a strong sense of Western independence, but a realization that “this ain’t your mother’s Republican Party anymore!”
Of course, it hasn’t been for some time. The era of Senators Hatfield and Mathias and Percy and Baker and Javits and Case and Brooke and Scott and Dirksen and so many others is long gone. The moderates and progressives were drummed out or retired long ago and were replaced with Republican conservatives beginning in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
Even many of the hard liners who were replaced were still pragmatic conservatives who often worked across the aisle. The Bennetts, Hatches, Bonds, Grahams and others are practical, serious conservatives.
But if you look at the collection of candidates for president, if you look at what just happened with the debt limit insanity on the Hill, if you examine the inner workings of the Republican caucus in the House, you begin to wonder whether Washington is governable and whether the radicalization of the Republican Party is responsible for this meltdown. Has the Republican Party become an extreme Nihilist party?
Let’s look at the current state of politics within the Republican Party.
The upcoming Iowa straw poll and the debate tomorrow night will further push the already extreme candidates more to the extremes . There are so many potential nominees who have not only gone hard right on the social issues but have decided that they must call for abolishing the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, and even the IRS. They still oppose the TARP program, which kept the world from a depression, and they are proud to reject any form of additional revenue stream by signing inane pledges that handcuff America.
The extreme agenda of cut, cut, cut without regard for the consequences is backed up by statements that even Pell education grants for needy college students are “welfare.” All the sound and fury about the debt did not create a single job or advance economic stability or growth. In fact, the failure of Speaker John Boehner and the Tea Party to agree to efforts by President Obama to reach a $4 trillion grand bargain to right the economic ship was an example of radicals’ my-way-or-the-highway approach.
The American people, overwhelmingly, reject this extremism. They are fed up with the lack of progress and the extremism that has become the modern Republican Party. Their anger is across the board but it is more heavily directed towards what has become of the Republican Party—Tea Party ideologues who lack common sense and have no desire to actually solve problems. In the campaign of 2010 the Tea Party was more or less a Rorschach test, many people saw in it what they wanted. In April 2010, the strong unfavorable was 18 percent; it has risen to around 50 percent.
The scary market volatility, the lack of public confidence in the economy, and most important, the many Americans who are suffering the disasters of unemployment and foreclosure should be front and center for Republicans. Instead, we have a “get Obama” frenzy and a pull to the extreme right that precludes progress.
Speaker Boehner, who seemed close to negotiating the grand bargain with the president, was pulled back into the extremist fold. He even said that he got “98 percent of what I wanted” on the debt deal and declared himself happy with it! If he is happy, there aren’t many Americans who are there with him.
There are few Republican leaders who recognize that what they did with this budget deal led to Americans’ savings and retirements taking a severe hit, a downgrade from Standard & Poor’s that will ripple for years, and a decline in confidence for businesses and consumers.
The old Republican Party wouldn’t have done it; Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have done it; even recent conservatives committed to debt reduction and cutting spending wouldn’t have done it, if they had the courage to stand up to the radicals within the Party.
The time for the Republicans to rediscover their pragmatic, governing side is now. The time to reject the pledges, the ideological straitjackets, the wave of Tea Party hysteria is now. The public is demanding it and the country needs it. (And just a bit of advice from this Democrat: the overreaching and the extremism won’t win you many elections either!)
By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, August 10, 2011
Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) named three Republicans to the fiscal super committee that was created by the debt ceiling deal. All three have taken the Americans for Tax Reform anti-tax pledge and support a cockamamie constitutional balanced budget amendment. “What I can pretty certainly sayto the American people, the chances of any kind of tax increase passing with this, with the appointees that John Boehner and I are going to put on there, are pretty low,” McConnell has said.
But McConnell has not always been so virulently anti-tax. In fact, in a 1990 campaign ad, McConnell said that “everyone should pay their fair share, including the rich,” prompting the Associated Press to say that he sounded like a “populist Democrat”:
“Many Republican candidates are, in fact, holding fast to the no-new-taxes position that Bush embraced and then abandoned, even as they try to portray themselves as friends of senior citizens and the disadvantaged. Others are sounding more and more like populist Democrats. ‘Unlike some folks around here, I think everyone should pay their fair share, including the rich,’ Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says in a campaign ad.” [Associated Press, 10/28/90]
“A twist of untraditional Republicanism is added to McConnell’s message when he says, ‘Unlike some folks around here, I think everyone should pay their fair share, including the rich. We need to protect seniors from Medicare cuts too,’” wrote Roll Call reporter Steve Lilienthal. “After proclaiming his independence from the President and Congressional leaders, McConnell reassures voters that he will back a ‘fair deal for the working families of Kentucky.’” ["Democrats Flood Airwaves Charging GOP Party of Rich," Roll Call, 11/5/1990]
If McConnell truly believes this, he should be appalled by current conditions. Tax rates on the richest Americans have plunged in recent years, and millionaires today pay tax rates that are 25 percent lower than they were in 1995. Meanwhile, income inequality is the worst its been since the 1920s, with the top 1 percent of Americans taking home 25 percent of the country’s total income. Just the richest 400 Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans combined, and the richest 10 percent of Americans control two-thirds of the country’s net worth.
From the sounds of it, once upon a time McConnell would have found this troublesome. It’s a shame that he doesn’t any longer.
By: Pat Garafalo, Contribution by: Sarah Bufkin; Think Progress, August 10, 2011