Clarence Page, writing in "Page's Page" for the Chicago Tribune asks "Are storm clouds brewing on the horizon for Democrats," referring to the elections coming in 2010, based on some startling figures from the latest weekly tracking poll by Daily Kos (http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/pagespage/2009/11/new-dangers-for-dems-in2010.html
The first figure is certain/likely to vote; the second is unlikely/certain not to vote in 2010 in the congressional elections:
This does look as though Republicans are far more enthusiastic than Democrats about voting; 81 percent of Republicans are certain or likely to vote, compared to 65 percent of Independents and only 56 percent of Democrats. Why did this happen?
Mr. Page says progressives are "demoralized or burned out by Washington's political compromising on issues like health care, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Young voters, their Obama fever flamed out, have retreated to study for finals or look for work amid growing unemployment." While some conservative and moderate Democrats are spooked by polls like this, saying they prove Democrats should drop health care reform and run to the right, Nate Silver at Five Thirty-Eight.com disagrees. He believes Democrats are now forced to pass health care with a strong public option, since people who oppose the plan will blame the Dems whether they pass the bill or not, and people who like the plan will become even more despondent if the Dems fail to pass health care reform---- a case of double damn.
Dawn does arrive, maybe a few clouds obscure the sun at first, but it is there and it shines on both the just and the unjust, whether they deserve it or not. The test then becomes: are we ready to carpe diem? We've glanced at the forest rather than the trees in being frank about the UN-INCLUSIVE BIG LIBERAL TENT, political PHILOSOPHY UBER ALLES, then OBAMA AND THE BASE, and the curious CANDIDATE-CENTRIC, SHORT-TERM LIFE CYCLE of the Party. Now, a quick finish:
THE PERMANENT CAMPAIGN
If Democrats really feel they have something to offer, and if they want to win future elections, they cannot fall into a coma between elections. The Republican Party, always more organized and disciplined and usually better funded, has mutated from a similar election-timed, candidate-centric operation into an ideological machine that looks and acts more like a "movement."
Increasingly rabid, ideologically-based elements keep pulling the Republican Party further toward what is often referred to as "far right." These elements may struggle with the still powerful neo-conservative block (which, ironically, originally sprang from a group of parlor-pink intellectual Marxists in mid-20th century), or with Big Money global corporate sponsors, but all manage to agree with the apocalyptic, Revelations-based, Bible-thumping evangelical Christian wing on a super-patriotic, militaristic Wild West capitalistic Free Market world view that hates taxes and "big government," loves "personal responsibility," and seeks to establish a mythical Constitution-based society as envisioned (they say) by Our Founding Fathers---- oh yes, and by Jesus.
After hours is a little creepy, when they turn off the lights, put the chairs on the tables, and bring in the undocumented with the mops. Now, reality arrives. Okay, man up folks, our side just wasted a great opportunity and threw away our advantages. And lost. In the first installment we acknowledged that:
1) Democrats squandered a great opportunity when the Party failed to integrate all those new Obama voters into the Party, turning them into lifelong Democrats who could have made the difference in the recent election, and
2) Democrats must immediately cease pretending to be Republican Lite, stop making obeisance to disastrous Feidman Free Market economic theories, and fight openly for a coherent alternative economic philosophy with better political implications. That is, quit sucking up to the Conventional Wisdom. But wait, there's more:
I can't say the Republican landslide came as a surprise, at least to us Virginia grassroots and political junkies, and it's no use pretending otherwise. I'm mostly just glad it's over with and would like to get through the "I told you so's" as fast as possible so we can begin analyzing the take-away lessons - there will, I suspect, be some who will draw all the wrong conclusions from this electoral cycle, especially among the pundit crowd and Powers That Be.... you can already hear the comforting mantras: "Deeds was weak and just plain ran a terrible campaign," "Obama was not the issue, it was local factors," "Democrats were over-confident and history was against them," and the ever-useful, "Democrats were exhausted by the Presidential campaign last year and couldn't whip up any enthusiasm, whereas Republicans were angry," and "Time to move on."
All are undoubtedly in some measure true, but these are more tactics than strategy, superficial rather than profound. Fixating on them is to pursue nit-picking, taking us down a side channel, so we avoid addressing the Democrats' fundamental difficulties. What follows is an initial stab at winkling out some macro problems, what I believe are systemic reasons for the debacle---- the forest-not-the-trees lessons, IMO (In My Opinion) of course.
Let's take another look from a different angle at the recent BlueDominion.com article "Next Governor Faces Economy in Crisis" in Virginia:
It has always been the objective of adherents of the anti-big government philosophy as espoused by the no-tax Republicans to lower taxes but also to raise government expenditures to the point where government can no longer afford to operate at all because there is not enough revenue available to fund its many obligations, and borrowing to spend has added to interest payments to the point where such payments eat up all revenue. This would ultimately force government to shrink itself repeatedly until (as Norquist famously said) it could fit into a bathtub and be drowned. If you listen carefully to the Norquist crew they actually say things like this. When government has become so bloated (in their eyes) that its costs can no longer be covered by revenue, then it must cut services---- and this will inevitably lead, especially in the case of the feds, to the closing down of government and its withering away. That is exactly the intention of the Norquist crew, and of the Reagan-Bush economics which Bob McDonnell professes to love.
UPDATE at end of article
Delegate Todd Gilbert (R., Woodstock, 15th District) sounded as though he's in the running for WTOP's "stupidest criminal" (also called "knucklehead of the week") award when he boasted on Facebook that he stole a copy of a soon-to-be-mailed negative campaign piece his Democratic opponent John Lesinski had just prepared---- he even proudly displayed a copy of the mailer on his own wall, boasting:
My opponent is dropping a negative mail piece in the mail in the morning...No need to worry about how we got a picture of it in advance
Mr. Gilbert had his comment and the photo up before the mailer was delivered by the US Postal Service to a single house, but, significantly, after the piece had been printed and delivered to the mailing house to be addressed. The mail house prepares mail for other Democrats besides Lesinski, and party officials are naturally concerned that Democrats' microtargeting lists may also have been compromised.
How serious is such a breach of a political party's special mailing lists? Very serious, according to Professor Matt Hindman, who teaches information technology and politics at Arizona State University,
In the modern day and age, the microtarging list is probably the most sensitive campaign document. If they cross reference with their own list, they'll know a lot about who the campaign is contacting. This list is a powerful window into campaign strategy.
Although President Obama's town hall on health care in Portsmouth, NH, was remarkably calm, a shadow town hall held outside was less so, and one anti-reform demonstrator showed up with a gun strapped to his leg, carrying a sign about watering the liberty tree (i.e., shedding blood for freedom). His photo was taken, but he was neither arrested nor removed from proximity to the President. A nice combination of First and Second Amendment rights, wouldn't you say?
Here is another baby step toward making political violence acceptable, which makes more ominous the recent publication on 10 August 2009 in Newsmax.com (a right-wing on-line news service sponsored by the RNC) of an excerpt from a book by Ronald Kessler, In the President's Secret Service, published by Newsmax.com. Mr. Kessler maintains that "the Secret Service is putting the President at risk" and has been ever since the Service was subsumed under the sprawling Homeland Security Department. He then outlines exactly how carelessness and budget scrimping have exposed both former President Bush and President Obama to danger, often by turning off magnetometers which scan anyone getting close to the President for the presence of weapons. Sometimes, magnetometers are not just being turned off prematurely, they are not being used at all. Moreover, claims Kessler, the Secret Services' weapons are outmoded, and counter-assault teams which used to consist of five to six members have been reduced to two, "leaving them virtually impotent in the face of an attack." He says baldly that without improvements, "an assassination of Barack Obama or a future president is a real possibility." He is actually presenting almost a blueprint for an assassin.
Why would Newsmax.com choose at this particular time to publish on the Internet such information, even offering a discount on the price of Kessler's book to readers? Why would such an offer be printed cheek by jowl with inflammatory anti-Obama stories?
"Radio is everywhere," intones an advertisement for advertising on radio. How true. There is enough bandwidth for hundreds of local radio channels to broadcast their messages, often from crude and hidden transmitters. Radio increases the message perimeter for the political views of the broadcaster as if the former ranter on his soapbox in the park suddenly acquired a giant bullhorn.
The Economist reported on 25 July on the phenomena, citing the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which the "Thousand Hills Radio" seemed to be directing the massacres with catch phrases like "killing the cockroaches." In Kenya today opposing radio stations issue cryptic announcements such as "People of the Milk, take out the weeds in our midst," (telling the Kalenjin tribe to get rid of the Kikuyu) and, conversely, Kikuyu radio warns against "the animals from the west" (Kikuyu, watch out for the Luo). American military in the Middle East, using armed drones and satellites against Taliban-loving tribal chieftains in the Af-Pak borderlands struggles to deal with the small FM Mullah Radio where extremist Mullah Fazlullah whips up enthusiasm, terrorizes personal foes, and no doubt issues coded orders. Since mid-twentieth century tyrants big and small have used control of radio channels to "foment hate and fear" and thus maintain power.
Things are no different in twenty-first century United States, where much of the content of so-called talk radio is becoming ever more poisonous and violent, often showing far less subtlety than the circumlocutions of African tribal broadcasts: where vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin actively encouraged violence by her followers against opposing presidential candidate Obama who, she said, "pals around with terrorists;" and where Fox, a major radio and television channel, endlessly degrades and lies about the duly elected president in increasingly violent terms, excusing it all as First Amendment freedom of speech. Seeing where hate radio led in Rwanda, and how destabilizing it is now in Pakistan, is there anything we can do to control or mitigate hate radio here at home? Should we do anything?
Also, EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with South Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Carol Fowler
This classic line from the 1980's band the Clash has renewed meaning in Republican political circles these days. Prior to the July 3rd, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was the only one that had to answer that question. Defiant that he wasn't going to go despite calls from his own State Party Chair to step down. The day before the 4th of July, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shocked the Republican political establishment with the decision that she should go, and announced she was resigning by the end of the month.
Before the story broke about Sarah Palin announcing her decisions to not run for re-election and pending resignation, I spoke with South Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Carol Fowler, about the situation with Governor Sanford. In response to my question if Governor Sanford had lost the ability to effectively perform his duties as Governor, Carol Fowler said, "He never had that ability. Completely ineffective." Carol Fowler also admitted that the Governor and South Carolina Republicans could care less about the Democratic opinion regarding Sanford. One thing is clear, there seems to be consensus among South Carolinians in one regard. This has been an embarrassment to the state.
According to an article in Columbia's The State, Dianne Skripek from Hilton Head, who is organizing a group of South Carolinians urging the Governor to resign, feels that "If he left office, at least we'd get some self-respect back," said Skripek. "If we continue to allow him to stay, it's a horrible reflection on us. We have to demand better and expect better." In my conversation with State Democratic Chair Fowler, she felt that Governor Sanford "is embarrassing himself and needs to resign" but she didn't think that he would.
Carol Fowler's instincts seem to have been proven correct. According to Columbia's The State and CNN.com, the South Carolina Republican Party's Central Committee deliberated for almost four hours and decided to censure Governor Sanford for his conduct, a move that has never happened with any sitting GOP Governor in South Carolina. Last week, South Carolina State GOP Chair, Karen Floyd, as well as the majority of the state's GOP leadership and Federal Delegation were calling on Sanford to step down. This decision by the South Carolina GOP seems to put this issue to rest, for now.
Soon to be former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, has taken the opposite approach to taking on her critics. On July 3rd, in a rambling and sometimes incoherent press conference, Palin announced she was not running for re-election and was resigning as Alaska's Governor by the end of July. Depending on who you talk to, from her own office and Lieutenant Governor Parnell which are defending the move, to most Republican commentators and analysts, this is unexpected and has the potential to be the worst move that Sarah Palin has made yet. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Palin states "Especially when all these lawmakers are lining up for office. Their desire would be to clobber the administration left and right so that they can position themselves for office. I'm not going to put Alaskans through that," as the latest reason for why she came to this decision.
This is yet another blow to hopes of a Republican rebirth, or resurgence, at the national level. Both Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin were, and in some ways may still be, regarded as potential Presidential Candidates for 2012. The political battle cry from the party that pushed "traditional family values," self reliance, and fiscal responsibility, now rings hollow and there is no indication that they are able to run on these issues in the near future. The question that now needs to be answered by the GOP, have they purged all the adulterers and quitters from their ranks?
To view images and links to sources, please visit OffKStreet.com.
Congressional Republicans under John Boener have come up with an anniversary video for President Obama's first 100 days. Backed by spooky, spookier, spookiest music, it asks America if it feels safer, and What is Obama doing to keep us safe? Actually, it's more like unintentionally hilarious.... Another case of unintended consequences, I suppose. Just where they plan on using this amateurish production, I do not know. Maybe on Fox News? The following video was snagged from Salon.com (http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/04/30/boehner_ad/index.html?source=newsletter) Enjoy!
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