Posts Tagged ‘2014 election’

The most costly off-year election in U.S. history

November 7, 2014

Some $3.67 billion was spent on the 2014 U.S. election campaigns up until 60 days before the election.  When the final figures are in, it will be more than $4 billion—making 2014 the most expensive mid-term election year in history.

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson, an expert on money in politics, explained the significance of that fact in an interview for the Real News Network.  My takeaways from the interview:

  • The big money went predominantly to the Republicans, but Democrats got a lot, too.
  • Republicans benefited from the low voter turnout, which was the lowest in many years.  They won with the support of probably 18 to 20 percent of American voters.
  • The low turnout reflected disillusionment with both parties, but also, to an unknown degree, artificial difficulties in voting aimed at minorities, young people and poor people.
  • The right-of-center Democratic leaders are Republicans light, and are more concerned with keeping control of the Democratic Party than defeating the Republicans.
  • The election was a rejection of the failed economic policies of the Obama administration, but the result will be a return to the similar but more extreme failed policies of the George W. Bush administration.
  • Americans are disillusioned with both parties.  American politics is due to get weird.

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The election was a protest, not a mandate

November 6, 2014

Voters across the nation gave the Republican Party numerous and unexpected victories for state and national office, while approving liberal and progressive ballot referendums.  If the election was a mandate, what exactly was it a mandate for?

For an answer, I strongly recommend Lambert Strether’s comprehensive, analysis of the election on the Naked Capitalism web site, and, if you have time, the articles to which he links.

1619934320_Democrat_Donkey_DonkeyHotey_CC_Flickr_answer_3_xlargeAlaskans voted in favor of raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana and regulating mining companies.  Arkansans, Arizonans, Nebraskans and South Dakotans also voted in favor of raising the minimum wage.  Denton, Texas, voted to ban fracking.  Yet all these places voted Republican in the midterm election.

I don’t think it is because voters in these states misunderstand their true interests.  Most people have a clear and accurate idea of what they want and need.  And I don’t think it is a result of failure of communication of Democratic leaders.  It is because a majority of the population lost ground economically during the past six years.

You don’t have to be an expert on national politics to know whether you are better off or not.  As John Dewey said, you do not have to have knowledge of shoe-making to know whether your shoes fit or not.

Exit polls showed that 53% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party, while 56% have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party.  So for voters, it wasn’t even a vote against the perceived lesser evil.  It was a vote against the incumbent evil.

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The people have spoken: What did they say?

November 5, 2014

I think the Democrats (with some exceptions) deserved to lose the last election, but I don’t think the Republicans (with some exceptions) deserved to win.

Election2014.155806_600Rather than bringing about change we can believe in, the Obama administration and its supporters in Congress committed to perpetual warfare, Big Brother surveillance, bailouts for the banks and austerity for everybody else.

But the Republicans did not win by proposing a constructive alternative.  Rather they won by stoking fears of Ebola, ISIS, immigrants and gun confiscation, by attack dads financed by dark money, and by suppressing and discouraging the votes of minorities, poor people and young people.

I don’t think the American people are committed to the Republican Party, but I think they are willing to give the Republicans a chance to show what they can do, just as they were willing to give the Democrats a chance in 2006 and 2008.

If the Republicans can put the USA on the path to peace and prosperity, they will deservedly make their majority permanent.  If they fail or make things worse, which I think is highly probable, their sweep will be as ephemeral as the Democrats’ victories of six or eight years ago.

John Oliver on America’s invisible election

November 4, 2014

John Oliver pointed out in this broadcast how state legislatures pass the most of the laws that affect Americans on a day-to-day basis, and yet Americans know little about their operation.

I admit this is true of me.  I know much less about the records of New York State Senator Ted O’Brien and Assemblyman Harry D. Bronson than I do U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Louise Slaughter and, I admit, less about any of them that I do about President Obama.

A voter has to be pro-active to learn these things.  You have to do more than read your local newspaper or watch your local TV newscast.

The state legislatures also help determine the outcomes of national elections.  They draw the boundaries of congressional districts, which often are incredibly skewed in order to produce a pre-determined result.  And they write the laws about election procedures and voting eligibility, which also are skewed to produce a certain result.

I’ve written posts about the bad choices that American voters face, and the futility of always settling for the lesser evil.  That doesn’t mean that voting is unimportant.  I just say that voting should be based on positive reasons, not negative reasons, and not limited to Democrats and Republicans.   When I wrote that passive voting alone will not change American politics, I meant that it is only a first step, not a last step, not that it is meaningless.