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“Empty In The Middle”: Don’t Be Fooled, McConnell’s Victory In Kentucky Is Also A Tea Party Win

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s primary victory on Tuesday night in Kentucky will undoubtedly tempt many a pundit to write the Tea Party’s eulogy. But the Tea Party will achieve in electoral death what it could never achieve in life: lasting control of the GOP agenda.

McConnell won because he’s got a familiar name, a lot of money and the kind of political clout that makes up for occasional lapses from orthodoxy. That might not be enough next time – as a local Kentucky Republican leader told the National Journal last week, the state party is “still McConnell’s Republican Party, but it’s edging toward being Rand [Paul]’s Republican Party”. But, it was enough to keep it from being challenger Matt Bevin’s Republican party – especially after his unforced errors and willingness to prize ideological purity over more pragmatic concerns (like the $2bn in pork McConnell brought home for agreeing to end the government shutdown).

McConnell didn’t win because he became a Tea Party member – he’s so conservative, he didn’t have to. (A vote analysis casts him as one of the top 25 conservative members of the Senate, and Tea Party darling and intrastate rival Paul is at number 19.) Instead, McConnell’s win just shows how easily the GOP grows over its fringes.

What’s happening in the Republican party is the worst of both the Tea Party and more traditional “free-market” (but never really as free as advertised) economics: an aggressive “pro-business” agenda combined with radically retrogressive social policies.

You could even say at this point that the GOP isn’t a big tent or even a coalition – it’s a torus, an ever-expanding donut-shaped object that’s empty in the middle.

The hole is where principles used to be, because flexibility comes at the price of purity. McConnell successfully neutralized challenger Bevin by being unafraid to grovel: he not only took junior Senator Rand Paul’s endorsement and staff, for example, but he also put up with their eye-rolling (and nose-holding) in exchange for that support.

There’s a history to the GOP establishment simply absorbing insurgent movements and moving right. The GOP has co-opted individual leaders (like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater) and even entire voting blocs (fundamentalist Christians). Each of those assimilations marched the party rightward to the point that, according to political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, the party today is the most conservative it’s been in one hundred years.

When the Tea Party complains that the Republican party has become too moderate, it can’t be measuring against the party of the last century, much less the last administration. Yet the anti-establishment drumbeat that has echoed through the culture has created a situation in which a majority of GOP voters – 54% – think the party should move even further to the right.

Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker put this in more quantitative terms: since 1975, Senate Republicans have moved twice as far to the right as Democrats have to the left – and McConnell has been a part of the leading edge. A statistical analysis of his votes since he came to the senate in 1984 shows that he’s voted more conservatively every year since.

At each level of governance below the Senate, the conservative undertow grows stronger. The House Republican caucus has shifted to the right six times further than the Democrats have left. And when you get closer to home – state-level offices and local races – you can see policies rolling backwards years of progress, most notably in reproductive health, gay rights and, most alarmingly, voting rights.

The media has meanwhile abetted this fiction of Tea Party radicalism versus establishment centrism. It takes precious little for be labelled a “moderate conservative” these days (and to reap the benefits of having even one area of ideological overlap with the great majority of political reporters who map moderate in their own views). Therefore we get a “moderate Pete King” (despite his history of anti-Muslim speech and advocacy of a greater surveillance state) and the “moderate” Jeb Bush lauded as a pragmatic voice of reason in the GOP. (People seem to have forgotten the radicalism of Bush’s governorship, from his direct intervention on the Terri Schaivo case to a fiscal record with the Cato Institute seal of approval.)

This all may have happened with or without the Tea Party – it’s just as attributable to the disintegration of campaign finance laws as it is to a grassroots movement. But the Tea Party gave the GOP the illusion of resurgence that’s turned out to be something more like a sugar high.

This rightward drift of the movement would probably be more alarming to liberals if it wasn’t so objectively risky for GOP. Though a combination of socially libertarian policies and moderately conservative financial ones has the potential to attract young voters (and women and minorities), that’s not what’s apparently on the agenda.

Rand Paul, who is both beloved by the Tea Party and a magnet for libertarian youth, nonetheless still echoes the worst of the GOP’s talking points on race and gender. Polling after the 2012 elections showed that the GOP had failed to significantly improve its appeal to any demographic outside already partisan voters. And, as other polling – including internal Republican analysis – has shown, without demographic expansion, the GOP is doomed anyway.

McConnell’s win fits nicely into a narrative of declining Tea Party influence. Yet the reality is that the Tea Party has won, even if their candidate didn’t. And, in more ways than one, both the GOP and “the establishment” are losing more every time.


By: Ana Marie Cox, The Guardian, May 21, 2014

May 25, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Mitch Mc Connell, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Oklahoma Is Like Turning It Up To 11”: If Oklahoma Gets Any Redder It’s Going To Start Blistering And Peeling

Rachel recently told viewers, “What we are actually seeing now in terms of the options for governance is not just blue states and red states, but rather blue states and then red states – and then Oklahoma. Oklahoma is like turning it up to 11…. If Oklahoma gets any redder it’s going to start blistering and peeling.”

That was 11 days ago, before this week’s gut-wrenching, botched execution.

And the public official whose leadership has made Oklahoma’s shift to the hard right possible is Gov. Mary Fallin (R). Her administration’s approach to lethal injections has suddenly generated international attention, but as Irin Carmon noted, the Republican governor has cultivated a striking reputation on a variety of fronts.

An execution this week that went terribly wrong has catapulted Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, to the national stage. But there’s more to Fallin than her zeal for capital punishment. The first female governor of Oklahoma has also quashed broader criminal justice reform, refused Medicaid expansion that would cover 150,000 Oklahoma residents, signed 10 new restrictions on abortion and contraception, blocked local minimum wage increases, and slashed education funding.

Chris Hayes joked the other day, “I used to say [Pennsylvania’s] Tom Corbett was my dark horse candidate for worst governor in the country, but Mary Fallin has now taken the lead.”

Carmon’s piece reads like an indictment of sorts: Fallin has pushed a regressive economic agenda, waging a “war against income taxes” while blocking minimum- wage increases; she’s cut investments in education; she’s blocked health care coverage for 150,000 low-income Oklahomans; and she’s waged a far-right culture war, imposing new restrictions on reproductive rights and making it tougher for National Guard in Oklahoma to receive equal benefits if they’re in same-sex marriages.

But it’s Fallin’s approach to the death penalty that appears to have made her famous. Remember, it was her administration that said it was prepared to defy a state Supreme Court ruling in order to execute two Oklahomans, using a combination of chemicals state officials did not want to disclose, from a drug manufacturer the state did not want to identify.

The governor has called for a review of this week’s fiasco, but David Firestone reported yesterday that Fallin’s order is itself dubious.

Did anyone really believe that Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma would allow a truly independent review of the “execution” –  death by torture is more like it – that shocked the conscience of the nation and the world on Tuesday night? […]

Any serious investigation of the fiasco would have to closely examine the governor’s conduct leading up to it. But she doesn’t have to worry. To lead the “independent” review, she appointed her own employee, the state commissioner of public safety, Michael Thompson. And he won’t be considering her actions. The review, she said, would be limited to three items: the cause of Mr. Lockett’s death, whether the Corrections Department followed the correct protocol and how that department can improve its procedures in the future.

In other words, she asked one of her commissioners to investigate another one, which doesn’t exactly instill confidence that the review will be “deliberate and thorough,” as she described it.

With a record like this, can scuttlebutt about Fallin’s prospects as a national candidate be far behind?


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 2, 2014

May 4, 2014 Posted by | Death Penalty, Mary Fallin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hey Dems, Thinking About Not Voting In The Midterms?”: Here’s What Happens When The GOP Takes Over The Senate

Passing a federal law banning almost all abortions after 20 weeks. Defunding parts of Obamacare. Weakening the Environmental Protection Agency. Kneecapping the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren’s baby, the new agency within the Fed to police consumer fraud. And—maybe, just maybe—letting a Supreme Court seat sit vacant until after the next presidential election.

That’s just the start of what happens if the Republicans win back the Senate this November. Imagine, posits a top aide to Mitch McConnell, a steady stream of legislation, much of it conservative, that will force Barack Obama to start vetoing bills for essentially the first time in his presidency.

And imagine a Republican Congress, with an eye toward 2016, that could take a number of steps to make life harder for presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. First and foremost: continuing their investigations—indeed redoubling them—into the Benghazi tragedy.

Democrats have been feeling a wee bit better lately about this November. The Affordable Care Act is looking stronger. Southern incumbents like Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu have seen some friendlier poll numbers.

But the fact remains that the GOP has a decent to good shot at taking the Senate this fall. A brand new Washington Post/ABC poll splashed a little cold water across Democratic faces. It finds Obama’s approval at an all-time low in Post polls. More ominously, Republican respondents said they were planning on voting in far greater numbers than did Democrats. So this is a reality Democrats and liberals, like it or not, have to think about.

In recent weeks, I talked with a  broad range of Democratic senators and progressive insiders—and a few Republican and conservative ones—about this GOP future. Verdict: While most thought things would be worse, I was mildly surprised by the number who said that strangely enough, matters might actually improve a little. And I came away thinking that while Republicans in full control of Congress would obviously be well-positioned to tee things up for their presidential candidate, they’d more likely end up doing the opposite.

Yes, Things Can Get Worse

Let’s start with the bleak view. “If the Republicans win the Senate,” says Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, “the conclusion they’re going to draw is ‘obstruction works,’ and they’re going to double down on it. So they’ll be thinking, ‘Why go out of our way to do stuff and why compromise when in two years we can win it all?’”

Ornstein’s frequent collaborator, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, thinks that while it should make sense that Republicans eyeing a 2016 White House win would want to have some accomplishments to point to, we shouldn’t bet on it. “The interests of the party in ’16 are clear, but whether that proves sufficient to produce something positive out of the Republicans in Congress is a big reach,” says Mann. “They almost have an incentive to keep the economy going at a more tepid rate.”

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, agrees. “A GOP Senate takeover would be terrible for Obama’s presidency,” Tanden says. “It would spell the end of any progress on any legislative action and with GOP control of both houses of Congress, Republicans would set up debates to help their presidential candidates in 2016. And of course, investigations of the administration would double.”

What about the senators themselves? New York’s Chuck Schumer predicts: “It would let loose six years of right-wing frustration. The potential for gridlock is enormous.”

Two of his more liberal colleagues, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, emphasized the huge change in priorities we’d see if Republicans were in control of the Senate calendar. That, after all, is one of the main things a Senate majority can do—decide what does and does not get to the floor for consideration. With Mitch McConnell or any other Republican in charge of that calendar instead of Harry Reid, the Senate becomes an entirely different body.

“Their whole effort is grounded in their contempt for government,” Brown says. “On Medicare, on Social Security, on consumer protection, on regulation of Wall Street… If you want to know what a wholly Republican Congress would do, the thing to do is to look at what they’ve done in state capitals where they can. In Ohio, they’ve gone after voters’ rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights. They’d bring that to Washington.”

Warren notes another aspect of majority control that doesn’t get as much attention as floor votes but is also important: what kind of work the committees do and don’t do. Committee hearings rarely have the drama of, say, Henry Waxman hauling those tobacco executives up to the Hill a few years ago. But they matter. Groundwork is laid for future legislation, and that happens because the majority gets to determine what the hearings are about as well as the bulk of the witness list.

Warren had a fresh example at the ready on the day I spoke to her. “Right now, I just came out of a hearing on payday lending,” Warren told me. The payday lenders, who charge usurious loan rates to people living paycheck to paycheck, are one of Warren’s top targets—but they have a powerful lobby, and Republicans generally do their bidding. “If Republicans get in charge of the Senate,” says Warren, “a hearing like that has no chance of happening. They’ll get to roll over the issues of importance to the American people.”

The Pressure to Govern

But here’s the counterintuitive view, expressed by several folks: If Republicans have full control of Congress, they won’t have Harry Reid to kick around anymore. In a divided Congress, each party can point its finger at the other and say: “Obstructionist!” But if one party is running the show, the responsibility for getting results falls entirely on that party’s shoulders.

“If I were a Republican looking forward to 2016, I would actually want to get a little something done,” says William Galston of Brookings. “And if the president has any desire for his last six years to be anything other than trench warfare over the ACA [Affordable Care Act, as the Obamacare law is officially known], then maybe he’ll want to do something, too.”

Several people I spoke with noted that we do have precedent for this, and it’s hardly ancient history. “The model is the late ’90s template,” says Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. “Maybe a little less cordial.”

Or a lot less. But he has a point. In the 1994 election, the GOP took over the House and the Senate. At first, Republicans under Bob Dole and especially Newt Gingrich threw everything they could at Bill Clinton. But after a short while, Gingrich softened, and he and Clinton did pass some things—a landmark budget, and welfare reform.

“When Newt took over, at first, they were awful revolutionaries,” says Jim Kessler of Third Way, the centrist Democratic group. “They passed things that went nowhere. It was a Bataan Death March to a dead end. Then with the shutdown [in early 1996] they went too far, and then they realized that to keep their majority they had to govern.”

Hence, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s advice to the president: “My recommendation immediately would be for President Obama to sit down with Clinton and ask him how he did it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.”

Having such a conversation couldn’t hurt. Bill Clinton is sitting on a library full of good political advice, and Obama should probably call him more often. But whether the Clinton-Gingrich model could be so easily transferred to Obama-Boehner—or, Lord help us, Obama-Cantor—is a wide open question. The parties are more dug in now than they were 15, 18 years ago, especially the Republicans. And they would probably think, as Norm Ornstein noted above, why should they play ball with 2016 coming? The best thing for them to do—in political terms, that is, albeit not for the country—is dig in, and drag down Obama’s poll numbers.

This would be the most effective way to harm Hillary Clinton, assuming she’s the Democratic choice in ’16. Says Bill Galston: “The most significant thing they can do to harm Hillary Clinton is to keep Obama’s approval numbers down. If you are running to succeed a two-term incumbent from your own party, you are in some sense running for his third term.”

There could be a few areas where agreement could be reached—for example, it might very well be in Republicans’ interest (with 2016 Latino voters in mind) to pass an immigration bill. On the other hand, they might not see it that way. They might see it as in their interest to try to paint Obama into a corner on immigration. And this raises the question of how the president would react to this new reality.

Can Obama Learn to Veto?

Here’s an undeniable truth that would flow from a fully Republican Congress. “Ironically,” says Don Stewart, a top aide to McConnell, “more legislation will actually pass, because we’ll just start passing things the House passed. Right now, Senator Reid’s main job is to be goaltender—to block President Obama from having to veto things.” To Stewart, Reid has prevented any number of bills that passed the House and could pass the Senate because “he wants the story to be ‘Republicans block.’ They’ve poison-pilled everything. We’ll take those out and pass things.” And then, what would Obama do?

This issue of the veto would surely be one of the main arenas of conflict if Republicans control both houses. Obama has vetoed less legislation than any president in modern history: just two bills, both in late 2010.  George W. Bush vetoed 12 (and he had a cooperative Congress for six of his eight years); Clinton issued 37; George H.W. Bush, 44 (in four years!); and Ronald Reagan, 78. To find a president who’s vetoed fewer bills than Obama, you have to go back to 1881 and James Garfield, who logged zero vetoes, in no small part because just 200 days into his presidency, he was assassinated.

Obama hasn’t broken out his veto pen, says Robert Borosage of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future, because he hasn’t really wanted to be seen as confrontational. Let Reid and McConnell or Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner tear each others’ flesh; he’s wanted to float above that. With a wholly GOP Congress, says Borosage, that dynamic ends: “It dramatically forces the president to do something he’s never wanted to do, which is to define himself as a pole in the debate and be willing to stand up and veto things. That’s so against his character.”

But if this scenario comes to pass, he’ll have to veto. The Republicans will send him budgets and other bills with little—or big—poison pills. “With a Republican Senate, all kinds of things are going to reach his desk,” says Bill Samuel of the AFL-CIO. “There’ll be bills he needs to sign—funding the Defense Department, say—that they can add all kinds of malicious things to.”

To Grover Norquist, this is precisely the plan. Norquist doesn’t see major showdowns in the offing—just a series of minor ones that would nevertheless establish GOP priorities on the budget process, on the bet that the veto-shy Obama wouldn’t really change his stripes. “Lots of little things would slip in, and that’s the difference,” Norquist says. “Riders on appropriations. New EPA rules. Just make a list of everything he’s done by executive order and undo it by law in appropriations bills and make Obama sign or veto it.”

This circles us back to immigration. It seems far more likely that rather than pass a bill Obama could happily sign, Republicans would pass one he’d rather not sign—one without a path to citizenship, say—and box him in politically. “You could come up with an immigration reform that Obama would have a very hard time vetoing,” Norquist argues. “DREAMers, border security, STEM, and legal status. If you’re Obama, do you really want to say no to that?”

Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration reform America’s Voice, thinks that “the Republican dream of passing an immigration bill that puts Democrats in a pickle is a fantasy,” in large part because there are too many divisions within the GOP on the issue, divisions that will only be highlighted as their presidential contenders take center stage. Sharry might be right about that. But McConnell is nothing if not cagey. If he wins re-election and becomes majority leader, we can be sure he’ll think of plenty of ways to try to force Obama to accept GOP priorities, especially on budgetary matters, or issue a veto that would be difficult for some red-state Democrats to defend.

The GOP Policy Agenda: Look out ACA, CFPB, and Contraception

Political gamesmanship aside, there’s the question of what actual Republican policy priorities might be. Here’s where the liberal activists really get nervous.

Almost certainly, Republicans would pass bills with items similar to what’s been in the budgets written by Paul Ryan over the past few years: reducing Pell grants, food stamps, money for renewable energy. They’d target the EPA, as Norquist suggested, and they’d almost surely go after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency created by Dodd-Frank that reins in the bad practices of banks and other lenders. They’d try to change the oversight of the CFPB, giving business interests more control, or take it out from under the Federal Reserve Bank, where it’s now housed, which could reduce its authority.

This list could go on and on, but let’s look at just one issue area—contraception and reproductive rights. Right now, according to Donna Crane, the vice president for policy at NARAL-ProChoice America, the GOP House has passed or could quickly pass four bills that a Republican Senate would presumably endorse too:

*A law that would make it a federal crime for an adult to accompany a teen across state lines for an abortion and hold doctors liable for knowing that. “Think about that,” Crane says. “This would be the first time we’ve ever made a person carry their state with them, so to speak.”

*A law to ban abortion coverage in all state health-care insurance exchanges.

*A law to ban abortions after 20 weeks with an exception only for the life of the mother. This, Crane notes, has already passed the House.

*A law to end the contraception benefit in the ACA.

And speaking of Obamacare, what about that? It’s not clear Senate Republicans would even waste their time on repeal. That, they know Obama would veto in an instant. Don Stewart, of McConnell’s office, says they’ll go after specific items like doing away with the medical device tax, which appears to have 60 votes in the Senate right now.

AEI’s Nick Eberstadt muses: “The tactical opposition would be to starve the ACA by budgetary means. What happens if Congress doesn’t pass the health budget the president requests? That would be clarifying.”

It’s not clear just yet the extent to which that would be possible. The big-money portions of Obamacare—the Medicaid expansion, most notably—would have to be changed via legislation, which won’t happen as long as a Democrat is president. But smaller parts of the bill are subject to the appropriations process. “My gut sense is that the GOP won’t be able to truly destroy ACA,” says Harold Pollack, a health policy expert at the University of Chicago who had input into the law. “But they will have some success in cutting expenditures required to properly implement ACA and in generally making things nasty for the administration.”

And Finally, Looking Toward 2016

There’s more that I haven’t covered. Two big matters in particular: the filibuster, and presidential nominations. How would McConnell, if he’s majority leader, change the filibuster rules? Would he try to make it apply to fewer situations, so he could pass bills with 51 Republicans and just a few Democrats for cover? And what about nominations, especially judicial ones? Imagine, for example, that Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to retire in 2015. Would a GOP Senate even give her successor a hearing? And assuming it would, just how conservative a jurist would Obama have to nominate to get through a Senate that’s in Republican hands? I asked nearly everyone I interviewed this question, and while there wasn’t unanimity, there was a clear consensus that it wouldn’t be surprising to see the GOP give a nominee a hearing but sit on the vote, leaving the Supreme Court with only eight members until we see who wins the presidency.

And what of oversight and investigations? A Republican Senate could try to keep the Benghazi attack in the headlines until the day Hillary Clinton gives her acceptance speech, and beyond. This point underscores the extent to which 2016 hovers over everything discussed in this article. If the Republicans move into the Senate’s majority offices in the Capitol next January, they’ll be doing so at a time when the party’s 2016 nominee will start being more public in their intentions.

A Congress wholly controlled by the opposition party has plenty of ways it can help its presidential contenders. It can pass constructive legislation, it can pass “positioning” legislation that attempts to checkmate the other party; it also has the simple ability to help keep favorable issues in the news and unfavorable ones out.

But remember this: Legislators don’t take votes thinking about their presidential candidate’s career. They take votes thinking about their own careers, as Third Way’s Jim Kessler observes: “Congressional Republicans will do what they think is best for them to keep their majority in the House and the Senate. Legislative bodies are selfish, and they rarely sacrifice for others. They’d like a Republican president, but that’s a luxury.”

That’s exactly right. To return to Gingrich: He decided that passing welfare reform was in his caucus’ interest. Doing so took a big club out of Bob Dole’s hands. But that’s politics. Now, in the present day, passing immigration reform would probably help a GOP nominee. But legislators would have to decide: Would it help them? So far they haven’t thought so. Legislators will do what they think will help them. If it helps the nominee, great. If it doesn’t, too bad. And remember, many of these legislators represent deep-red districts and states, which probably don’t add up to more than 200 electoral votes—70 shy of what it takes to win.

And so, even if Republicans gain more power on the Hill, they may find that that power, and the imperative of keeping it, makes 2016 an even steeper climb than it already seems against Clinton. But that shouldn’t be much comfort for Democrats. A Republican Senate won’t be able to undo the president’s signature achievement, but it’ll take as many bites as it can out of what Obama has accomplished in the last six years. And trust me, those bite will hurt.

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 30, 2014


May 2, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, Election 2014, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Makes No Sense”: Why Do People Vote Against Their Own Best Interests?

This question has stymied political strategists and pundits for a long time. As an expert in the women’s market, I too am baffled by the way people, especially women, vote against those who share their ideals and values in lieu of voting for those who don’t.

I have frequently been asked and often pondered the question: “Why would a woman vote Republican when they clearly have a war on women?” I wish I had a great answer for this. Perhaps they have always voted Republican, and thus continue down this path. Perhaps they are wealthy and the tax breaks the Republicans fight for, that primarily benefit the rich, is the most important reason. Perhaps they believe the falsehoods and phony rhetoric of the Republican Party. Whatever the reason, I find it truly disturbing.

Both women and men should vote for elected officials whose actions show that they have the best interests of the citizens and country in mind, but for some reason, they don’t.

While I acknowledge that many Republican women are pro-life, offering choice, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, just makes good sense. I’m not advocating abortion; I am saying that I should have the choice to decide what is best for me and my family.

Equally troubling is why Republican women support a party who barely passed the Violence Against Women Act, who don’t support legislation to guarantee that a women receives equal pay for equal work, and who think women’s bosses should have the right to determine her health care and reproductive decisions.

As Republican governors refuse to accept billions of dollars in free federal money to expand Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people are going without medical care and are dying needlessly. As the GOP continues to cut billions from food stamps, many women and children are going hungry.

Men are also hurt by the policies of the Republican Party. Many men support the party because they are pro-gun, but Republicans also vote to keep the minimum wage at poverty levels and are against extending unemployment benefits. These policies hurt the working class.

Republicans want to reduce government spending and control, but I wonder if the populace realizes that many solidly red states that they live in receive a huge percentage of their income from the federal government? In actuality, the amount many red states pay in federal taxes is small compared to the amount they receive back from the government.

Do they think about how the government spends this money building the roads they drive on daily, or providing funds for the fire department that comes to their home if there is an emergency? When a natural disaster strikes them, do they accept F.E.M.A’s help? These and many more necessities are government-funded programs.

To cut spending on these and other projects as the Republicans suggest, would greatly impact both the men and women in these states in a very destructive way. It reminds me of the old saying, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It makes no sense.

In reality, the Republicans don’t want to cut spending, just redistribute it from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. The Republican budget once again gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while it cuts programs and safety nets that help many of the people who vote Republican. I don’t understand why people vote against their own best interests, especially when it hurts their family, the economy and the principles on which America was founded.

I respect the two-party system and believe it is healthy for a democracy to have differences that exist in many areas of fiscal and social governance. But the right-wing fringe has hijacked the sanity of the Republican Party, and the GOP needs to get back on track. Gerrymandering, suppressing the vote, allowing unrestricted funds and unlimited terms have led to undemocratic practices which will destroy America if voters don’t stand up and fight for what is right.

Citizens, whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents, all have much to gain by voting for politicians who are interested in the good of the country: working together, listening to each other, and compromising. If they continue to choose representatives who do not support our fragile Democratic Process, citizens will soon have more reasons to fear Washington D.C. than foreign terrorists.


By: Gerry Meyers, CEO, President and Co-founder of Advisory Link;The Huffington Post Blog, April 21, 2014

April 23, 2014 Posted by | Elections, Republicans, War On Women | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Right’s New Racial Math”: How Its View Of Nonwhite Voters Got So Demented

The news is so depressing for conservatives these days. All the demographic trends are moving against them.With every election showing a large majority of single women, young people and people of color voting for the Democrats, thus solidifying their identification with the party, the less likely it is that Republicans can outrun the shift to a multiracial majority. But they still don’t seem to understand exactly what this means for them.

Take, for example, Michael Medved’s latest in the Wall Street Journal in which he explains that the Democrats’ strategy of wooing women voters by pointing out the GOP’s hostility to reproductive rights and equal pay is nothing but a sham. Sure, Barack Obama won the female vote by a commanding 11 points in the last election but it’s not as if he won a mandate for his message. After all, he lost the white female vote:

A closer look at the numbers reveals that Mr. Obama’s success with the ladies actually stemmed from his well-known appeal to minority voters. In 2012, 72% of all women voters identified themselves as “white.” This subset preferred Mitt Romney by a crushing 14-point advantage, 56% to 42%. Though Democrats ratcheted up the women’s rhetoric in the run-up to Election Day, the party did poorly among the white women it sought to influence: The Republican advantage in this crucial segment of the electorate doubled to 14 points in 2012 from seven points in 2008. In the race against Mr. Romney, Obama carried the overall female vote—and with it the election—based solely on his success with the 28% of women voters who identified as nonwhite. He carried 76% of Latina women and a startling 96% of black women.

The same discrepancy exists when considering marital status. In 2012, nearly 60% of female voters were married, and they preferred Mr. Romney by six points, 53% to 46%. Black and Latina women, on the other hand, are disproportionately represented among unmarried female voters, and they favored Mr. Obama by more than 2-to-1, 67% to 31%.

A similar pattern emerges among young voters, suggesting the president’s popularity among millennials also came from racial minorities, not any special resonance with young people. While nonwhites compose 28% of the electorate-at-large, they make up 42% of voters ages 18-29. Mr. Obama won these young voters handily—60% to 37%. He lost young white voters by seven points, 51% to 44%.

If the majority of women who vote for Democrats are young, single and black or brown, how can anyone say the war on women was a legitimate issue? True, those votes do come in mighty handy Election Day but let’s take a look at the reality: If young, female racial minorities couldn’t vote, the Republicans would win in a landslide!

I’m sure this makes them feel better. The right women are all on their side. Well, actually it’s just a small majority, even by that unfortunate standard: 46 percent of white women went with the Democrats so I wouldn’t be too sure that they’ve got them quite as locked up as Medved supposes.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard such embarrassing rationalizations coming from the Republicans after a loss. They often explain that they actually won — it was just all those young nonwhites who messed up the proper results. Take this one from Romney’s adviser Stuart Stevens who explained his boss’s loss this way:

On Nov. 6, Mitt Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters under 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift.”

There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?

It’s interesting how he assumed that none of the African-Americans, women and young people who voted for Obama are middle-class. But then that was the campaign that famously derided “the 47 percent” for being parasites so it’s not all that surprising. He also assumes that the “minorities” the Democrats are traditionally “too dependent” upon will not vote in future elections and thus deliver the presidency to the candidate who represents what are apparently the Real Americans: white people who make over 50K a year.

None of this is to say that studying the demographics of the voting public is unacceptable. It’s a big part of American politics, and slicing and dicing the electorate is how the two parties strategize their campaigns and that’s fine. But to constantly bring up the fact that Democrats can’t win if they don’t have the votes of racial minorities and young people implies that there’s something not quite legitimate about it.

As Politico helpfully spelled out for us in 2012:

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

Right. The popular choice of all racial minorities, unmarried women and urban whites of of all ages isn’t a mandate. It doesn’t include enough of the right kind of votes. You know, the best kind. The older, rural, married white kind. Also known as “Republicans.”

Michael Medved, at least, understands the GOP’s demographic challenge, even as he foolishly discounts the salience of issues that directly affect half the population, regardless of race or age. He counsels the Republicans to forget women and work harder to attract racial minorities. Here’s a tip, free of charge: A good first step would be to stop talking about their votes as if they aren’t quite as valuable as white votes.


By: Heather Digby Parton, Salon, April 21, 2014

April 23, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Minorities, Women Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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