mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Sanders Must Level With His Young Voters”: The Fickleness Of The Youth Vote Has Been The Bane Of Progressive Politics

What happened in the South Carolina primary? Bernie Sanders was asked. “We got decimated, that’s what happened,” he responded.

Here was Sanders at his best. Brutally honest. Averse to spin. Though the independent from Vermont vows to fight on, his lopsided loss in pivotal South Carolina makes his prospects for winning the Democratic nomination increasingly slim.

The question for progressives is: What happens to his passionate followers in the event he leaves the race? Or more to the point: Is there a way to keep his ardent fans ardent about participating in the electoral politics? Will they keep voting when the candidates are less charismatic, when the election’s not in a big-deal presidential year, when the solutions are muddied in the reality of two-party politics?

Sanders’ feat in electrifying younger voters has been extraordinary. And that extends to his success with many young Latinos and African-Americans, whose elders went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

But the fickleness of the youth vote has been the bane of progressive politics. It is why the right wing controls Congress.

In 2008, a political rock star named Barack Obama energized the young electorate with talk of radical transformation. The voters’ idealistic fervor helped sweep him into office and expanded the Democratic majority in Congress.

The economy was in free fall. But in the first two years of his presidency, Obama helped steer America from the precipice of another Great Depression — plus he pushed the passage of the Affordable Care Act, bringing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. It was hard work, not magic, that accomplished these remarkable things.

Many of his younger voters, led to believe in Technicolor miracles, were unimpressed. The 2010 midterms came around, and they stayed home. Not so the older tea party Republicans, who despised much of what Obama stood for.

Here’s the thing about these right-leaning activists: Sometimes they have a candidate they adore. Sometimes they don’t. But they vote. They vote in presidential years and in non-presidential years, when the public isn’t paying much attention. They vote for the state legislators who usually end up creating districts that favor their party’s candidates.

So as older conservatives marched to the polls, many young liberals did a vanishing act. Having represented 18 percent of the electorate in 2008, voters under the age of 30 accounted for only 11 percent in 2010, their poorest performance in two decades.

Democrats suffered devastating losses, and progressive priorities went into the deep freeze.

It’s true that younger Americans tend to move more often, and that complicates the process of registering to vote and finding the polling place. But still. The youth turnout in the 2014 midterm was even more dismal than in 2010 — actually, the lowest in 40 years.

It is the nature of liberal politics to be cerebral, and with that comes the “critique.” Rather than marvel that near-universal coverage happened at all, prominent voices on the left attacked the reforms as a surrender to business interests. They bashed Obama for not slapping more cuffs on the Wall Street operators.

These complaints were not without merit, but politics is always a work in progress. One keeps plugging away.

Sanders is a no-excuses type of guy. He’s in an especially strong position to do some truth-telling to the young electorate that has rallied to his cause. If they think that the economy is rigged against them, they have to vote out the politicians who have done the rigging. They must play the long game.

One politician’s magnetism isn’t going to do it. Just ask President Obama.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, March 1, 2016

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Midterm Elections, Millennnials | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The ‘Obama Refuses To Lead’ Crowd Falls Silent”: It’s Striking To Realize What The President Has Done Just Since The Midterms

Kevin Drum pauses today to take stock of the recent actions from President Lame Duck.

So how have things been going for our bored, exhausted, and disengaged president? He’s been acting pretty enthusiastic, energized, and absorbed with his job, I’d say.

It’s funny, in a way, to think about how long ago the midterm elections seem. Seven weeks ago, President Obama was apparently supposed to be a defeated man, crushed by an electoral rebuke, pushed into irrelevancy by an ascendant far-right majority in Congress. It was up to the White House, the Beltway said, to start looking for new ways to make Republicans happy.

There’s a script that lame-duck presidents are supposed to follow, and gosh darn it, Obama would be expected to play by the rules, slipping further and further out of frame.

But given today’s developments, it’s striking to realize what the president has done over the 58 days since the midterms.

Obviously, there’s today’s historic announcement about U.S. policy towards Cuba. There’s also Obama’s breakthrough climate agreement with China, the successful secret mission that freed American prisoners in North Korea, and the sharp reduction of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

And that’s just foreign policy. Closer to home, the president has unveiled a major new immigration policy that will bring new hope to 5 million immigrants; he’s taken the lead on net neutrality; and he’s scored a series of confirmation victories in the closing days of the Senate.

All of this comes against the backdrop of an improving job market, a highly successful ACA open-enrollment period, falling gas prices, a Russian crisis that arguably benefits the United States, and the number of Ebola cases in the United States falling to zero.

The White House’s many critics don’t want to hear this, but if Obama were a Republican, it’s likely we’d be inundated with coverage about how “President Comeback just got his mojo back.”

Indeed, I continue to think about Dana Milbank’s column from two weeks ago today.

…Obama has demonstrated a preference to mull rather than to act. Former Obama Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, in his memoir, wrote that Obama too often “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”

Today’s historic agreement with Cuba belies such criticism – plenty of presidents have talked about a more sensible course on Cuba, but this president actually did something about it. This required some bold leadership and a willingness to take a risk on a contentious issue, and Obama delivered.

To be sure, we can and should argue about the merits of the president’s decisions. Maybe this dramatic foreign policy shift is a major step forward, maybe not.  Perhaps Obama’s post-midterm moves will advance the nation’s interests, perhaps not.

But the point is, for all the chatter about a disengaged president who’s reluctant to act, the last seven weeks prove those assumptions wrong. Obama has clearly taken charge, pursuing an ambitious agenda with striking vigor.

Every pundit who carelessly throws around the “why won’t Obama lead more?” cliches clearly needs to rethink the thesis.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 17, 2014

December 18, 2014 Posted by | Midterm Elections, President Obama | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“From Dysfunction To Malfunction”: Mitch McConnell And The Limits Of Scorched-Earth Obstructionism

As the Senate Republicans’ leader, Mitch McConnell launched an experiment of sorts during the Obama era. It was a strategy without precedent in the American tradition, and it was arguably a historic gamble that wasn’t guaranteed to work. But the Kentucky Republican and his allies did it anyway.

And as the calendar turns from November to December, it’s worth appreciating that last month was arguably the most informative to date when it comes to the results of this experiment – it was a month that crystallized the ways in which the GOP gambit was an extraordinary success and the ways in which it failed in ways McConnell didn’t expect.

McConnell’s master strategy was elegant in its simplicity: after his party was soundly rejected by voters in 2006 and 2008, McConnell came to believe recovery was dependent on unprecedented obstructionism. Republicans, the GOP leader decided, would simply say no to everything – regardless of merit or consequence, even when Democrats agreed with them.

The point, as McConnell has acknowledged many times, was to deny President Obama and his allies the all-important cover of bipartisanship – when an idea enjoys support from both parties, it’s effectively the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the American mainstream. But if Republicans embraced blanket opposition to literally every Democratic proposal, the public would assume Obama was failing to bring the parties together behind a sound, moderate agenda. The gridlock would be crushing, but McConnell assumed the media and much of the electorate would simply blame the White House, even if that didn’t make any factual sense.

It worked. The American legislative progress has turned from dysfunction to malfunction over the last four years, creating a Congress that fails to complete even routine tasks, and those responsible for creating the worst governing conditions since the Civil War were broadly rewarded by voters. Obama went being from the popular, post-partisan leader who would repair the nation’s ills – an FDR for the 21st century – to the president with a meager approval rating who hasn’t signed a major bill into law since 2010.

As the results came in on Election Night, Vox.com made a compelling case that described Mitch McConnell as “the greatest strategist in contemporary politics.”

It’s tough to disagree, right? Republicans intended to destroy the American legislative process, and they did. Republicans set out to exacerbate partisan tensions, and they did. Republicans hoped to make Obama less popular by making it vastly more difficult for him to get anything done, and they did. Republicans hoped to parlay public discontent into electoral victories, and they did. Republicans made a conscious decision to prevent the president from bringing the country together, and they successfully made the national chasm larger.

There’s just one thing McConnell & Co. forgot: a gamble like this can be a strategic success and a substantive failure at the same time.

Consider this report, which ran on Thanksgiving.

President Obama could leave office with the most aggressive, far-reaching environmental legacy of any occupant of the White House. Yet it is very possible that not a single major environmental law will have passed during his two terms in Washington.

Instead, Mr. Obama has turned to the vast reach of the Clean Air Act of 1970, which some legal experts call the most powerful environmental law in the world. Faced with a Congress that has shut down his attempts to push through an environmental agenda, Mr. Obama is using the authority of the act passed at the birth of the environmental movement to issue a series of landmark regulations on air pollution, from soot to smog, to mercury and planet-warming carbon dioxide.

It seems counterintuitive, but President Obama simply doesn’t need Congress to advance one of the most sweeping and ambitious environmental agendas in generations.

With this in mind, McConnell’s strategy worked exactly as intended, producing the precise results Republicans were counting on, but the plan failed to appreciate what an ambitious president can still do with the powers of the presidency.

It’s not just the environment, of course. McConnell’s plan was also intended to destroy immigration reform, which was effective right up until Obama identified a legal way around Congress, helping millions of families in the process. Jon Chait added:

The GOP has withheld cooperation from every major element of President Obama’s agenda, beginning with the stimulus, through health-care reform, financial regulation, the environment, long-term debt reduction, and so on. That stance has worked extremely well as a political strategy. […]

The formula only fails to work if the president happens to have an easy and legal way to act on the issue in question without Congress. Obama can’t do that on infrastructure, or the grand bargain, and he couldn’t do it on health care. But he could do it on immigration.

And the environment. And in addressing the Ebola threat. And in targeting ISIS.

The irony is, had McConnell pursued a different approach, he could have advanced more conservative policy goals. If Republicans had worked with Democrats on health care, the Affordable Care Act would have included provisions with the right. If McConnell were willing to deal on immigration, Obama would have endorsed a more conservative approach than the executive actions announced two weeks ago. If the GOP made an effort to work with the White House on energy, Obama’s environmental vision would almost certainly have more modest goals.

Republicans might have been better off – which is to say, they would have ended up with a more conservative outcome – if they’d actually compromised and taken governing seriously in some key areas.

But McConnell thought it’d be easier to win through scorched-earth obstructionism.

Again, as of next month, he’ll be the Senate Majority Leader, so maybe he doesn’t care about the substantive setbacks. But for all the GOP gains at the ballot box, it’s Obama, not Republicans, moving a policy agenda forward.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 1, 2014

December 2, 2014 Posted by | Midterm Elections, Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Television Media Played Into Republicans’ Hands”: TV News Does A Complete 180 On Ebola Coverage After Midterms

Network news coverage of the Ebola virus abruptly and dramatically fell off following the midterm elections earlier this month, according to a new study by Media Matters.

After reviewing transcripts from Oct. 7 to Nov. 17 in the 5-11 p.m. time slot, Media Matters discovered that evening broadcast and cable news programs aired close to 1,000 segments on Ebola in the four weeks leading up to the elections, and only 49 segments in the two weeks that followed.

“In early October, the GOP developed a plan to make the federal government’s response to Ebola a central part of its midterm elections strategy,” the study reads. “Television media played into Republicans’ hands, helping to foment panic about the disease.”

CNN showed the most significant decrease in Ebola coverage following the midterms, airing 335 segments in the weeks leading up to Election Day and just 10 in the period after. Fox News’ coverage fell from 281 segments to 10, and MSNBC recorded a disparity of 222 segments to 13.

Broadcast networks showed a pronounced dip in their Ebola coverage as well.

“CBS’ 54 segments dropped to six, NBC’s 44 segments dropped to five, and ABC’s 39 segments dropped to four,” according to the study.

But even before the compilation of this data — before the correlation between Ebola and the midterm elections became so clear — the media faced harsh criticism for the fervor and panic with which it reported on a virus that had only infected, at most, a handful of U.S. citizens.

In October, Fox News’ Shepard Smith scolded his colleagues in the press for their “irresponsible” and “hysterical” handling of the story.

USA Today columnist Rem Rieder, notes Media Matters, called the “breathless, alarmist reports” on Ebola “the antithesis of what responsible journalists should be doing,” in a piece published a week prior to the midterms.

And despite all the reports and panels, and the hours upon hours of segments leading up to Election Day, the coverage was still rife with misinformation and largely incomplete. News outlets obsessively scrutinized the handling of few isolated cases of Ebola within the U.S. while all but ignoring the thousands dying from the disease at the source of the outbreak.

“If poor media coverage can create an atmosphere of anxiety and misinformation, then the right kind of coverage can lead to a more active and productive public response,” Jason Linkins wrote for The Huffington Post in October. “To achieve this, the media needs to recognize that the true center of gravity in the Ebola story is the crisis in West Africa.”

 

By: Jackson Connor, The Huffington Post Blog, November 19, 2014

 

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, Media, Midterm Elections | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Republicans Will Now Taste Their Bitter Harvest”: The “Party Of No” Has No Agreement On What Is Yes

In the early 3rd century B.C., after King Pyrrhus of Epirus again took brutal casualties in defeating the Romans, he told one person who offered congratulations, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” In his more sober moments, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), about to achieve his lifelong ambition of becoming Senate majority leader, may wonder whether he, too, has achieved a pyrrhic victory.

Republicans are still crowing about the sweeping victories in 2014 that give them control of both houses of Congress. They will set the agenda, deciding what gets considered, investigated and voted on. Their ideas will drive the debate.

But Republicans have no mandate because they offered no agenda. Republicans reaped the rewards of McConnell’s scorched-earth strategy, obstructing President Obama relentlessly, helping to create the failure that voters would pin on the party in power. But the collateral damage is that the “party of ‘no’ ” has no agreement on what is yes. Instead of using the years in the wilderness to develop new ideas and a clear vision, Republicans have used them only to sharpen their tongues, grow their claws and practice their backhands.

Republicans paid no penalty for obstructing every measure that might have given the recovery more juice, blocking even the infrastructure spending that has been a bipartisan response in every downturn. They paid no penalty for shutting down the government and forcing mindless austerity that cost jobs. They paid no penalty for their perfervid hysteria on foreign policy issues – screeching about phantom terrors of pregnant immigrants helping Islamic State terrorists and Ebola victims slip in the country to kill us here at home. They never needed to fill in the magic asterisks in Rep. Paul Ryan’s risible budgets, enabling him to deny the damage to Medicare, education, food stamps and the most vulnerable that his plans would require.

The result is that McConnell leads into a power a party truly unfit and unready to govern. Indeed, the wingnuts at its base want it only to dismantle, not to govern. As Terrance Heath reported, the ever-apoplectic Rush Limbaugh announced that Republicans have a mandate to “stop Barack Obama” and “were not elected to govern.” Fox News host Megyn Kelly fantasized that Obama would “offend” Republicans into impeaching him; Phyllis Schlafly argued the first priority should be blocking all Obama’s judicial nominees. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) pledged once more to repeal Obamacare. The dyspeptic Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will use his chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee to demand more “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria, harsher sanctions to undermine negotiations with Iran and more macho posturing over Ukraine. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) will use his likely chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee to deny the existence of catastrophic climate change even while allocating billions for cleanup in the wake of floods, droughts and storms to come.

McConnell portrays Republicans as ready to embrace a conservative Chamber of Commerce agenda, repaying the big money that helped bring them victory. This would include giving multinationals a massive tax break on money that they stashed abroad to avoid taxes, passing fast-track trade authority, pushing ahead the Keystone XL pipeline, weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and repealing the tax on medical devices, first of the salami-style effort to slice up Obamacare.

But the zealots in the House and Senate expect more fire and less compromise. They want Obamacare repealed. They want the scorched-earth obstruction to continue: Obama’s nominations blocked, scandals real and delusional investigated, Dodd-Frank financial regulation reversed and taxes and domestic spending slashed.

It isn’t at all apparent that McConnell and Boehner can corral Republican majorities for any measures that Obama might accept. But even if McConnell could put the Chamber of Commerce’s bills on the president’s desk, one thing is apparent: None of these will do anything to address the profound crises the country faces. There is no relief for the sinking middle class and impoverished low-wage workers, no strategy for addressing climate change, no response to the destructive excesses of banks too big to fail.

McConnell won his majority by brilliantly waging a partisan, dishonest, unrelenting policy of obstruction. But now, the absence of any ideas or of any clue will be exposed. And next time, when voters sensibly want to throw the bums out, they may have a far clearer view of just who the bums are.

 

By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post, November 11, 2014

November 19, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Midterm Elections, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: