Posts Tagged ‘Republicans and Democrats’

Could the GOP become the pro-worker party?

August 15, 2016

My parents were New Deal Democrats, and I was brought up to revere the memory of Franklin Roosevelt and to believe that the Democrats were the party of working people.

DCdivided-300x253But a strange thing happened in American politics during the past 20 years.  Blue-collar workers and high school graduates have become the base of the Republican Party, while college-educated professionals are now the base of the Democratic Party.

As recently as 1992, when Bill Clinton ran against George H.W. Bush, he had a huge lead among workers earning less than $50,000 a year, and high school graduates and dropouts.  The elder Bush won by a similarly large margin among workers earning $100,000 a year or more, and narrowly carried college graduates.

In contrast, a CNN poll conducted right after the 2016 conventions gives Hillary Clinton a 23 percent lead among college graduates and an 18 percent lead among voters earning more than $50,000 a year.  Donald Trump is competitive among voters earning less than $50,000 a year and has a 26 percent lead among whites with high school educations or less.

This isn’t because Republicans actually represent the interests of working people.  Leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan—and including Donald Trump—still believe that the key to prosperity is deregulation and tax cuts for rich people, policies which have been tried and failed for the past 25 years.

But Trump, in his saner moments, at least talks about the concerns of working people.  Hillary Clinton at the moment seems more interested in reaching out to conservatives and anti-Trump Republicans.

My guess is that she will win in November, probably in a landslide, based on an alliance of racial and ethnic minorities, women and college-educated white professionals, plus the disgust of middle-road voters with Trump’s antics.

But if she governs in the interests of Wall Street, as her political record and donor list indicate she will, Republicans could reinvent themselves as champions of the working class.

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Trump woos workers, Clinton woos Republicans

July 29, 2016

Donald Trump is going after the vote of blue-collar workers who, rightly, feel abandoned by the Democratic leadership, while Hillary Clinton is trying to woo anti-Trump Republicans.

For struggling American workers, Clinton is like a physician who says your terminal illness is incurable, and also charges bills higher than you can pay.  Trump is like a quack who offers you a treatment that probably won’t work, but you may be willing to try for lack of an alternative.

Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, summed up the situation well:

Thomas-Frank_250

Thomas Frank

Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning.  He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times) and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care.  Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction.  The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.  I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control.  And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind.  The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss NAFTA to the winds.  The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms.  The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

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The seeds of America’s culture wars

April 29, 2016

David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America is a ground-breaking 946-page book I never got around to reading, and probably won’t.  But I think I got the gist of it by reading a review by Scott Alexander on his Slate Star Codex blog.

Fischer’s argument is that basic patterns of American culture were set by migrations of four very different groups of migrants from the British Isles:

  • Albion'sSeedhek32xef_largePuritans to New England in the 1620s.
  • Cavaliers to Virginia in the 1640s.
  • Quakers to Pennsylvania in the 1670s.
  • Borderers (aka Scots-Irish) to the Appalachians in the 1700s.

Those who came after, he said, had to adapt to social systems established by these four groups—the moralistic Puritans, the aristocratic Cavaliers, the tolerant Quakers and the warlike Borderers—even though the biological descendants of these groups ceased to be in the majority.

It’s interesting and, I think, at least partly true.   Alexander’s review is long for a blog post, but much shorter than the book, and even those uninterested in his basic theme will enjoy reading his lists of fun facts about each group.

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Clintonism, Trumpism: a win-win for the 1%

April 28, 2016

In American politics today, there are three main factions and only two parties to represent them.  One faction has to lose and, if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are nominated, it will be the Bernie Sanders progressives.

fatcatHillary Clinton represents the Washington and Wall Street elite, committed to perpetual war and crony capitalism.  Wall Street bankers have made her and her husband rich, neoconservative war hawks praise her and Charles Koch has said she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees.

Donald Trump speaks to the concerns of working people—especially pro-corporate trade deals and deindustrialization—but he has no real solution.

His economic nationalism, while not a complete answer to U.S. economic problems, is preferable to the corporate trade deals of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

But by pitting white working men against Hispanics, blacks, immigrants and feminists, he prevents the working class as a whole from ever having enough clout to defend their interests.

Thomas Frank wrote an excellent book about how the Republicans may be the party of the wealthy elite, representing the upper 1 percent of American income earners, but the Democrats are the party of the educated professional elite, representing the rest of the upper 10 percent.

This year’s political realignment may change this, as he himself implicitly acknowledged in a new article in Vanity Fair.  Under Hillary Clinton, Democrats are becoming the party of the upper 1 percent as well.  Here is the meat of what Frank wrote.

Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million.   But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.

And what about Donald Trump?  Will rich people suffer if he is elected president?  Well, yes.  Yes, they will.  Because we all will.  But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things.  Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything.  Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class.  Rich people do not like that idea.

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Elites focus on what they themselves want

April 12, 2016

Elites of both parties focus on the things they want for themselvesRepublicans offer tax cuts and deregulation, as if everyone in America were going to become an entrepreneur.  Democrats offer free college tuition and paid maternity leave, as if these things were a great benefit to people who don’t have the ability, preparation or inclination to sit through four years of college, and … can’t find a decent job from which to take their leave.

Source: Megan McArdle – Bloomberg View

Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist

This is true, but it’s not enough to get my vote

February 29, 2016

democraticimperfectbut notnutsimage001Hat tip to Bill Elwell

In 1991 election for Governor of Louisiana, the Democratic candidate was the corrupt Edwin Edwards and the Republican candidate was David Duke, a Nazi sympathizer and leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

I’m told that billboards read: VOTE FOR THE CROOK, NOT THE KOOK.

Now Democrats are making the same argument on a national level.  Yes, they say, the Clinton-Obama faction of the Democratic Party is in bed with Wall Street, committed to perpetual war and unable to unable to advance the interests of working people, but at least we aren’t totally disconnected from reality, like the Republicans.

That’s not a good enough argument to get my vote.  I probably would have voted for Edwards if I had been a Louisianan in 1991, but that was because this was a one-time situation.  In the long run, I’m not going to support anyone without a positive reason.

Frederick Douglass said, “Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.”  If all that’s needed to get people to vote Democratic is not being a Republican, that’s all the Clinton-Obama Democrats will offer.

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The four main factions in U.S. politics

January 6, 2016

Going into the 2016 elections, I think the differences between the populist and establishment factions of the two largest U.S. political parties are as big as the differences between the two parties.  Here’s how I see the divisions:

REPUBLICANS

Right-Wing Populists.  These consist largely of socially conservative white working people who think (with some justification) that government has turned their back on their moral values and abandoned them in favor of minority groups.  They’re against government bailouts and subsidies of big corporations, but their animosity is against the government, not the corporations.  They want to preserve Social Security, Medicare and other traditional New Deal programs, but they’re against governmental programs primarily aimed at helping minorities and the undeserving poor.  They are against the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements that limit American sovereignty.  Donald Trump and Ted Cruz purport to speak for this faction.

Right-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and powerful people, and their dupes, who embrace what Les Leopold calls the better business climate model of economic policy.  They want lower taxes on upper bracket payers, fewer governmental programs for the poor and less government regulation.  Ultimately they’d like to cut back on Social Security, Medicare and other New Deal programs.  They favor the Trans Pacific Partnership and other pro-corporate trade agreements.  Jeb Bush speaks for this faction.

DEMOCRATS

Left-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and power people, and their dupes, who are a kinder, gentler version of the right-wing establishmentarians.  They want to govern basically in their own interest, but less harshly.   They are open to affirmative action, gay marriage, abortion rights and any other rights (except gun rights) that do not threaten the existing structure of economic and political power.  Hillary Clinton speaks for this faction.

Left-Wing Populists.  These consist of blue-collar workers, and their advocates.  Like the right-wing populists, they feel their government has abandoned them, but their animosity is directed against large corporations and Wall Street banks, whom they think (with some reason) have captured the government.  While they favor equal rights and opportunities for women, gays and racial minorities, they think the main issues are economic.  Bernie Sanders speaks for this faction.

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Why is there no real party of the people?

October 12, 2015

A conservative Christian writer and blogger named Rod Dreher is disgusted with how the Republican Party serves the interests of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex.  But he won’t vote for the Democrats because he is opposed to gay marriage and abortion rights.

He wonders why there can’t be a party that represents the interests of the common people on economics and the views of the common people on social issues?

The reason why economic and social issues are aligned the way they are is the power of big money in politics.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic leaders are strongly pro-business.  But they can never be as pro-business as George W. Bush, Mitt Romney or the other Republican leaders.

So in order to appeal to rich people, the Democratic leaders have to differentiate themselves on non-economic issues.  A Wall Street banker or Silicon Valley CEO who was gay or female or an immigrant or a marijuana user, or had relatives or friends who were, would prefer Democrats to Republicans unless the Democrats were an actual threat to their wealth and power—which Democrats have not been for decades.

Social issues work the other way for Republicans.   Abortion, gun rights, immigration and gay marriage are issues that enable the GOP to appeal to middle-income voters who might otherwise vote Democratic.  And, in fact, many Democrats would prefer to campaign on these issues than press for raising the minimum wage, breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks or preserving Social Security and Medicare.

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The political scene – August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015

The Do-Something-Else Principle by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The simple-minded populism that controls the GOP by Paul Waldman for The Washington Post.

teaparty.GOP.USA.worldDoug Muder and Paul Waldman wrote about how the leading Republican candidates operate on the principle that “ignorance is strength”.

They not only are uninterested in the details of policy.  They lack understanding of how a Constitutional government works.  They seem to think that Presidents can do anything they want by decree, and the only qualities needed are decisiveness and average common sense.

Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump have no experience or interest in government.  Senator Ted Cruz, although he holds public office, also manifests no interest in actually governing.  The popular appeal of such candidates is a measure of the frustration of the American public with the present bipartisan consensus.

One-party system: What total Republican control of a state really means by Herman Schwartz for Reuters.

The Republican Party has much more grass roots strength at the state level than the Democrats.  But except for those who think gun rights and the suppression of abortion are more important than anything else, they’re not governing in the interest of American working people.

The Age of Imperial Wars by James Petras.

Insouciance Rules the West by Paul Craig Roberts.

The establishment Democrats and Republicans understand the workings of government better than the Tea Party Republicans do.  But in their overall policies, they, too, are either disconnected from reality or powerless to change the direction of a government that is on automatic pilot for drone warfare, covert warfare and proxy warfare.

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Why presidential candidates ignore most voters

August 3, 2015

The Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns will ignore most voters in 2016.  They will focus on a few voters in a few swing states.

Frank Bruni in the New York Times wrote about how a Republican insider thinks the Republicans can win by nominating Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, for President and Frank Kasich, the current governor of Ohio for Vice-President, and thereby carrying those two states.

26bruni-master675And a Democratic insider thinks the key to winning Ohio and thereby the presidential election is racking up a huge majority Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

Neither party’s strategists bother with California, Texas or New York, states in which they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  Only a few states – Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and maybe one or two others – are in play.

This is something new, and in part a self-fufilling prophecy.   In the 1976 election, as Bruni noted, there were 20 states, including California, Texas and New York, where the margin of victory was less than 5 percentage points.

Polarization between red states and blue states has grown since then, and one of the reasons has to be that Democrats cede Texas and the Deep South to the Republicans, and Republicans cede California, New York and New England to the Democrats.

When I tell my Democratic friends I am disgusted with both parties and plan to vote for the Green Party candidate, they bring up the vote for Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 and ask me whether I want Donald Trump to be President.   I would vote my conscience in any case, but why even think about this question if it is a foregone conclusion that New York will go Democratic in any case?

LINK

The Millions of Marginalized Americans by Frank Bruni in the New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve Badrich)

How job choices correlate with political choices

June 3, 2015

20150602_jobsHat tip to zero hedge.

This chart was created by Verdant Labs.  If you click on that link, you can find the original chart, plus an additional interactive chart with information about more occupations.  For example, it shows that, in my own former job of journalist, there are 88 Democrats for every 12 Republicans.

This by the way does support the claim of conservatives that reporters tend to be liberals, but I’m not sure what, if anything, could be done to change this.  An affirmative action program for journalists who claim to be conservatives?  I don’t think that would work.

I often hear that Americans prefer political centrists, but Americans classified by occupation are strongly polarized.   Interestingly, though, if you go to the original Verdant Labs article, you will find that some of the top corporate and business positions are more evenly divided between the two parties than many of the middle-class and working-class jobs.

I can understand while environmental protection workers would tend to be Democrats while oil field workers would tend to be Republicans.  But some of the other political polarizations seem to based on people deciding to fit stereotypes than the actual positions of the two parties.

Politics and the 1 percent of the 1 percent

June 3, 2015

2015_0601ls3Hat tip to occasional links and commentary.

The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population—fewer than 32,000 people—are increasingly the gatekeepers of American politics.  As elections grow more costly, super-rich campaign contributors grow more powerful.

Last year, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, this small group of people accounted for 29 percent of all campaign donations.

Within this group, there were 135 who gave $500,000 or more, 63 who gave $1 million or more, and three who gave $10 million or more.  The top giver was Tom F. Streyer, a liberal San Francisco hedge fund manager and environmentalist, who put more than $73 million into anti-Republican PACs.

While most individuals gave mainly to one political party or the other, the elite donors are fairly bipartisan as a group, as the chart above shows.

Wealthy lawyers, environmentalists and executives of non-profit institutions give mainly to Democrats, while oil and gas industry employees give mainly to Republicans.  Wall Street gave more than any other industry, with substantial amounts to both parties but more to the Republicans..

LINK

The Political One Percent of the One Percent in 2014: Mega Donors Fuel Rising Cost of Elections by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation.

Paul Krugman makes a case for the Democrats

April 14, 2015

Paul Krugman, whom I respect, thinks that Americans will have a real choice in 2016 between the Republicans, who represent the wealthy, and the Democrats, who represent the public interest.

I think he’s right about the Republicans, but I’m not so sure about the Democrats.  Here’s what he wrote:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues — and these unified positions are very far from each other.

The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.

For example, any Democrat would, if elected, seek to maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act.

Any Republican would seek to destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.

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Americans are sick to death of both parties

December 23, 2014

Americans are increasingly disillusioned with both Democrats and Republicans.  That’s why only 36 percent of registered voters cast ballots this year—a drop of 22 percentage points from 2012.

The national turnout was the lowest in 70 years in spite of the fact that more money was spent in the campaign than in any off-year election in American history.

fatcatPolitical scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson said Americans have good reason for their disillusionment.

They explained in an article on Alternet how neither Democrats nor Republicans can represent the interests of working Americans because they are financed a tiny elite of wealth, and Americans are starting to catch on to this.

The Democrats rely instead on appeals to cultural liberalism, the grievances of women and minorities and memories of the New Deal.  The Republicans rely on appeals to cultural conservatism and prejudice, a big turnout of upper-income voters and hindrances to voting by lower-income voters.

But neither party has a convincing program for dealing with globalization, financialization, de-industrialization and the erosion of good jobs.

Average Americans may not understand the subtleties of economic policy, but they understand what is happening to them.  As John Dewey once wrote, you don’t have to be a shoemaker to know your shoes are a bad fit.

Burnham and Ferguson didn’t speculate as to what will happen if this goes on indefinitely.  My own opinion is that the USA will experience an upheaval worse than the labor violence of the 1890s and 1930s.

The militarization of American police and NSA surveillance of ordinary Americans then will be used by government in league with corporations to protect the social order from the masses.

Radical change would not necessarily be change for the better.  If there is a public uprising, it is likely to be led by someone like Huey Long or Joe McCarthy as by a great statesman.  But I don’t see how things can go on as they are.

∞∞∞

Here are key paragraphs of Burnham’s and Ferguson’s article.

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Which side are they on?

December 9, 2014

The Republican Party leadership is explicitly anti-union because they recognize that unions are a key support for the Democratic Party and a key opponent of the right-wing corporate agenda.

It would seem logical to think that President Obama and the Democratic leaders would defend organized labor, one of the pillars of their party, but they don’t.

RTW_protestAs Thomas Edsall pointed out in his New York Times column, the Democratic leadership has been not only indifferent to labor’s goals, but sometimes actively hostile.

Republicans such as Scott Walker and Chris Christie have persuaded the public that low wages, job insecurity and lack of benefits are normal, and that a policeman who gets a pension enjoys an unfair privilege at the public expense.

Democratic leaders do little or nothing to counteract this.

The problem is not that Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or the other Democratic leaders are naive or weak, or that the Republicans are obstructionist (they are, but that’s not the problem).

The problem is that the goals of the Democratic leaders are different from what they say and from what their core supporters want.

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The naming of Democrats and Republicans

November 22, 2014
Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

Here’s an interesting chart showing the most common American first names, and the likelihood someone of that name will be a Democrat or a Republican.

People named Jasmine, Caitlin or Abigail are almost certain to be Democrats, and people named Duane, Brent or Troy are very likely to be Republicans.

Yes, there is a gender gap, with more women’s names on the Democratic side and men’s names on the Republican side.

Men named Dylan are the ones most likely to be Democrats, and women named Tammy most likely to be Republicans.

Vickie (with an “ie”) is on the Republican side of the chart, but Vicky (with a “y”) and Victoria are on the Democratic side.

Men named Philip (who spell their names with one “l”, like me) are near the middle, but slightly on the Republican side, but less so than people named Phillip (with two “ll”s).

I’m not sure of the significance of this—if any.

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Something to ponder

November 22, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, Rick Perry was a Democrat and Elizabeth Warren was a Republican.

via GOPLifer.

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.

Old white guy power, and other election topics

November 4, 2014

Who’s Buying the Election? A Bunch of Old White Guys by Zoe Carpenter for The Nation.

Speaking as an old white guy, I do not feel represented by the rich people who finance the election campaigns.  And I can say the same is true of my old white male circle of friends.

The problem with our system of campaign financing is that it is dominated by a tiny group of super-rich people, less than 0.1 percent of the population, whose economic interests run counter to the rest of us, including the vast majority of us elderly white males.

Making this elite more diverse will not change this.  What’s needed is to reduce its power.

Two Charts on Why the Obama Economy Sucks by Ian Welsh.

Ian Welsh points out that the percentage of working-age Americans with jobs fell and remained low all through the Obama administration, as did median household income.  Although the election is influenced by many factors, Republicans would not have a shot at controlling the Senate if economic conditions were better for most Americans.

Now the Democrats did not create the recession, nor are they responsible for the fact that it is much worse than a normal economic downturn.  And it is true they face obstruction from Republicans in Congress and on the Supreme Court.  But what have they done, or tried to do, or talked about doing, aside from a modest economic stimulus plan, that would make things better?  It seems to me they’ve swallowed the meme that reducing the budget deficit takes precedence over putting Americans to work.

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Voter suppression will decide control of Senate

October 13, 2014

2008-10-12-foreclosevoteSource: Candorville

If the Republicans gain control of the U.S. Senate, it will be because of the success of Republican state governments in discouraging voting by minority groups and by young people.  They hardly bother any more to disguise the real purpose of the new voting laws.

If the Democrats retain control, it will be because of the struggles of members of minority groups and young people to overcome these barriers.  It is too bad that President Obama and the national Democratic leaders do so little to repay that loyalty.

LINKS

Republicans Are Trying to Make Sure Minorities and Young People Don’t Vote This November by Stephanie Meneimer for Mother Jones.

Voter ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee dropped 2012 turnout by over 100,000 votes by Philip Bump for the Washington Post.

 

Fun facts about David Brat

June 14, 2014

David Brat, the Randolph-Macon College professor who defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, spent less in his whole campaign than Cantor spent in three steakhouses.

His Democratic opponent in Virginia’s general election will be Jack Trammell, a fellow professor at Brat’s own college.   I expect Randolph-Macon’s fall semester will be interesting.

Click on 12 things to know about Dave Brat, the man who took down Eric Cantor for more by Andrew Prokop of Vox.

Obamacare: conservatism as the new liberalism

October 24, 2013

obamacare-sure-is-unpopular

Even though I think the Affordable Care Act is a bad law, I’m opposed to most of the people who oppose the law.

Most opponents of the law are against it because they don’t agree with having the government guarantee a minimum level of medical care to all.  I’m opposed to the law because I don’t think it will come anywhere near to accomplishing that purpose.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act point out that it originated as a conservative Republican plan, drafted by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.

From my standpoint, that is the problem. I am a liberal Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I did not vote for him in order to advance a conservative Republican agenda.

I’m pretty sure that the Heritage staff did not offer up their plan because they felt an urgent desire to assure health insurance for everybody.  I think they proposed their plan as a way to avoid enacting Medicare-for-all, aka a single-payer plan.

The chief merit of the Obama / Heritage plan from the right-wing point of view is that it locks the for-profit insurance companies into the system and gives them a captive market, even though they add no value to medical care.  The threat of a universal system would be that there would be no role for the insurance cmpanies.

Back in 2008, the single-payer plan was the mainstream Democratic position. Both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards advocated it in their presidential campaigns.  Barack Obama offered a moderate compromise, a public option in which an affordable government insurance plan would be made available, which at the time that seemed reasonable to me.

But as soon as President Obama took office, he embraced the Heritage / Romney plan.   His staff ridiculed anybody who took his campaign promise seriously.

If Obama thought that this would bring the Republicans on board, he was sadly mistaken.  They reverted to what they really wanted all along, which is to do nothing or take away what we have.

In five years, the former mainstream liberal position has been taken off the table for discussion. The former mainstream conservative position has been redefined as the liberal position.  The extreme right-wing position which was not then on the table has been redefined as the mainstream conservative position.

Nobody really wanted Obamacare.  It was originally proposed as a lesser evil from the conservative point of view,  and it was enacted as being a lesser evil from the liberal point of view.   The right-wing Republican goal is to get rid of it altogether.   The liberal Democratic goal should be to replace it with something adequate.

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What’s the matter with the Republicans?

June 26, 2012

Two of the smartest people I know are conservative Republican political science professors, but the following poll doesn’t say much for the average level of thought in the Republican Party.

Above are the results of a poll conducted by Benjamin Valentino, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, in late April and early May.

He found that an overwhelming majority of Republicans polled think it is important that the United States be the dominant power in the world, but they don’t want to increase taxes or cut social programs to pay for it.

In fact, a majority of Republicans say “none of the above” when given the choice of raising taxes on rich people, cutting military spending or cutting Social Security and Medicare in order to reduce the federal government’s annual budget deficit.  Somehow I don’t think that means they are reconciled to deficit spending.

A majority also believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the United States invaded in 2003, and that Barack Obama was born in another country.  Where does this misinformation come from?  Karl Rove?  The Koch brothers?  Glenn Beck?  Fox News?  Talk radio?  Tea Party rallies?  E-mail chain letters?

But I’ll say one thing for the Republicans, and that is that they know where they stand.

Nearly 85 percent of Republicans call themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” while fewer than 50 percent of Democrats call themselves “liberal” or “very liberal.”   That’s why the Republican leaders are conservative, but the Democratic leaders, with a few exceptions, aren’t very liberal.

Click on YouGov for the complete poll results.   There are many more interesting nuggets.

Click on A most unusual foreign policy poll for comment by Daniel Drezner, a political scientist at Tufts University.

Hat tip to Hullabaloo.

Nuclear options, red and blue

April 27, 2012

American Extremists - Nuclear option (red edition)

American Extremists - Nuclear option (blue edition)

Click on American Extremists for more cartoons.

Election results 2010

November 3, 2010

I think that the 2010 election results show displeasure with the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership more than an endorsement of current Republican leadership, just as the 2006 and 2008 election results showed displeasure with the Bush administration and Republican leadership more than endorsement of then-current  Democratic leadership.

I think the pendulum is going to keep going back and forth between the two parties until one of them finds a way to make things better for the majority of the American people.  I think talk of the United States being a “center right” nation is irrelevant to this.  I think what matters to the American people is what is done about nearly 10 percent of the U.S. work force being unemployed and 13 percent of homeowners’ mortgages being delinquent or in foreclosure, not the relative position of politicians and parties on an imaginary spectrum.

If the Republicans show they can do something about this, they will become a true majority party.  If not, the Democrats (or maybe a third party) will get a chance to present themselves once again as an alternative.  Unfortunately, with a divided government, it’s likely that the current bad economic situation will continue and each party will try to blame the other for it.

In a democracy, there is no final election.  The party in power always has to justify itself.  The party out of power always has another chance.

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