Were the Midterms Actually Bad News for the GOP?
November 21, 2014 11:51 AM   Subscribe

A GOP columnist for the Houston Chronicle argues that the midterms signaled "spectacular, catastrophic failure" for the GOP. The columnist, Chris Ladd, identifies himself as a "GOPLifer." His assertion that the overwhelming Republican win on November 4 continued a very negative long term GOP demographic trend and ongoing failure to establish an appealing political platform has been recently highlighted by Lawrence O'Donnell and Daily Kos.
posted by bearwife (133 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't worry, there are still plenty of things they can fuck up before demographics does them in.
posted by Behemoth at 11:58 AM on November 21, 2014 [29 favorites]


In other news, GOP filed that long-talked-about lawsuit they'd been threatening to for months now. Not wanting to feel left out, Jor Arpaio jumped on the "Let's sue Obama" train. I feel the need to ask, is this all the GOP has left: hissy fits because they're not getting their way anymore? It's like they're so ingrained to act like sore losers they can't even decisively win a midterm election without collectively pouting and stamping their feet.
posted by surazal at 12:00 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


Man, the next time I want my schaden freuded, I'm definitely calling this guy. That was downright invigorating.
posted by Diablevert at 12:06 PM on November 21, 2014 [45 favorites]


quoting a half-drunk friend here. "Nothing clusters the f***s like a political party that finally has all the power they think they deserve. Because suddenly, they can't blame anyone else for all the f***ed up clusters."
posted by philip-random at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2014 [28 favorites]


From The Guardian: Republicans didn't win as big as you think they did. And Obama didn't lose.

But the 2014 midterms may well mark the election cycle in which the small donor got left behind.
Revised projections by the Center for Responsive Politics for the total cost of these congressional races suggest they may be only slightly more expensive than those in 2010, but outside money will have played an outsized role. And the number of identified individual donors will shrink, meaning more money will have come from fewer people.
So demographics and many trends might point against the GOP, but big money is still behind them, which is how you win these days. Muddy the issues, sow fear and confusion, and may the most vocal candidate win.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Nothing clusters the f***s like a political party that finally has all the power they think they deserve. Because suddenly, they can't blame anyone else for all the f***ed up clusters."

Your friend must not have been paying attention between 2002 and 2006.
posted by asterix at 12:16 PM on November 21, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm very interested in politics and I am pretty well just over all the horse race coverage. I am surprised that anyone is still surprised when a majority of our population chooses to check out of participation in the elections.
posted by phearlez at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Republican party has been splashing gasoline on the walls of their own house with crazy eyes and a book of matches since at least 2008. What I don't get is are they really that deluded about their long term prospects? Or are they so beholden to the populist radicals of their base that they simply have no viable options?
posted by echocollate at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


FFS, there is stupid shit like this after every election. Do any of you people believe it? After every election, there are claims that the winner party was the real losers, the losers were the big winners, the winning party secured the White House/Congress/whatever for the next 30 years, demographics show the losing party is doomed to failure forever, the winning/losing party is going to have a civil war..... over and over and over this kind of stupid shit is written about and yet nothing changes in our electoral politics. As with any single member plurality electoral system, the two party system will be in trench warfare forever--neither side "winning". That this writer thinks he has discovered some greater irrefutable truth is as embarrassing as treating this as insightful. It belongs in the trash heap of forgotten failed political prognostications.
posted by dios at 12:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [55 favorites]


The Democrats don't represent us. The Republicans don't represent us. Isn't it time to revive the old battle cry? No taxation without representation!
posted by starbreaker at 12:20 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I am a black male and find elections somewhat boring because I'm going to vote Democrat. The Republicans are just too fucking crazy and stupid to even contemplate voting for them. Given a choice between a Demo found in the same bed with live boy and dead girl and pretty much any Republican, the choice is stark and clear.

So what the hell is the Democrat's problem that they can't marginalize these fuckwits who currently run as Republicans?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on November 21, 2014 [66 favorites]


I remember reading that the Republican Party was one or two elections away from certain doom when Clinton was president. Almost there!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [14 favorites]


The question is how can the Democratic party renew itself to the point it can attract turnout in off-years? It does a terrible job of awakening its base for these elections that are critical to its governing strategy. Without the gerrymandered House districts and low turnout in off years, the Republicans would have no voice in either Congress or the White House, and would be left only with the withering right-wing SCOTUS. In my opinion, the country can't afford another debacle like the Bush years without permanently sliding down into decline. We are just barely starting to recover from those eight years of ideologically driven, empirically bind idiocracy, and another major blow like it will sink us, I'm confident.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


People need to keep remembering too that the fight isn't necessarily at the national level but at the state and local level, which if I remember correctly are still GOP dominated. Statewide it definitely is... 31 of the 50 state legislatures are under GOP control for 2015. 23 states are in total GOP control (Gov and Legislature). And the tide doesn't necessarily seem to be abetting.

Younger people need to be pressured to vote in state and local elections. Rock The Vote can't just be an every four years thing. Yes, you could make the argument that the elderly, who vote most in state and local elections, will die out... but if the adage is true that people get more conservative the older they get, that lower level government control may not change all that much. Yes, the GOP may become more tolerant of other social choices, etc, but economically I doubt you'll see much change.
posted by tittergrrl at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


Given a choice between a Demo found in the same bed with live boy and dead girl and pretty much any Republican, the choice is stark and clear.

Vision. Integrity. Lividity.

Dead Girl/Live Boy 2016: They Can't Fuck Things Up Any Worse Than They Already Are
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2014 [41 favorites]


I'm going to defer to the great Nelson Muntz for comment.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I keep hearing that the republican party is falling apart, that it's fragmenting. I've been hearing that for a while now. But surely THIS time it's accurate....

I really feel like this is an excuse used by the Democratic party at this point so they don't have to get their own shit together. If the Republicans are falling part but still cleaning up house (heh) in elections, what does that say about the Democratic party? We need a better strategy than sitting here twiddling our thumbs waiting for the Republican party to implode, running candidates on the virtue of "I'm not that guy but I'm not like Obama either!" which seems to be what this last election was. Otherwise, we'll be looking at President Paul in 2016, along with total Republican domination of the house AND senate via this "failed" party.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know. All of this is true, but the left relies more on grassroots efforts than the GOP does, and we're less likely to get involved at the local level. I share blame for that of course, just putting it out there. Then's there's how much trouble we have countering the narrative on issue likes climate change. We can't get rid of PR hacks, at some point we have to beat them at their own game. I doubt the DNC or local activists could solve their problems just by taking people like George Lakoff seriously, but it might be a start.
posted by IShouldBeStudyingRightNow at 12:31 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Vote suppression is working remarkably well

Wow.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:32 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am a black male and find elections somewhat boring because I'm going to vote Democrat. The Republicans are just too fucking crazy and stupid to even contemplate voting for them.

So what the hell is the Democrats' problem that they can't marginalize these fuckwits who currently run as Republicans? There are a lot of fuckwits in the country overall.
posted by cashman at 12:33 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eh, we've been waiting for the old white dudes to die off so we can finally win for a few generations now. You'd think that the generation that went through Vietnam and the Cold War and Woodstock would be enough to put a final nail in the conservative coffin but as you get older it seems you get more and more scared of change and have more and more to lose so you apparently start listening to the fearmongers.

The Republicans have always been great at this: Democrats will cut medicare! They want to take the money and pensions you've worked hard for and give it to those other people, the lesser people, the undesirables. That surely can't be a good thing!

It just seems that people age up into the scared old white guy demographic, which is good for them. Declining birthrates mean there's less young people which shrinks the liberal base. America becoming less white? Just change the message a little. The Mexican immigrants they fought a generation ago? Well you're great now, but look at these undesirables arriving from Blahblahistan or whatever. Surely you don't want the social security you paid into to go to them!

Etc etc etc. There'll never be a shortage of scared old people who wouldn't know their own self interest if it slapped them across the face.
posted by mikesch at 12:33 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


- Keep an eye on oil prices. Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro-state with an economy roughly as diverse and modern as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela. It was been relatively untouched by the economic collapse because it is relatively dislocated from the US economy in general. Watch what happens if the decline in oil prices lasts more than a year.

Can someone interpret the last sentence for me? Is he saying lower energy prices will help or hinder the GOP?
posted by gwint at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2014


it's not "spectacular, catastrophic failure" for the GOP - it's "spectacular, catastrophic failure" for the USA

the "red wall" of rural state voters will continue to have a lock on the house, no matter how the senate and presidential races work out - we'll have more divided, ineffective, fighty government in a time where we need a government that is able to respond to a rapidly changing world
posted by pyramid termite at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


Weird. Once you negate the effects of gerrymandering, the country solidly prefers the Democratic party.

Representative democracy sure is quirky!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [22 favorites]


So what the hell is the Democrat's problem that they can't marginalize these fuckwits who currently run as Republicans?

Well the fact that Wyoming has as many senators as California is a part of it.
posted by graphnerd at 12:35 PM on November 21, 2014 [25 favorites]


After every election, there are claims that the winner party was the real losers, the losers were the big winners, the winning party secured the White House/Congress/whatever for the next 30 years, demographics show the losing party is doomed to failure forever, the winning/losing party is going to have a civil war..... over and over and over this kind of stupid shit is written about and yet nothing changes in our electoral politics.

I partly agree and partly disagree. One thing the writer here neglects is how foolish the democrats can be, and how easily they can squander whatever advantages they have. There's still plenty of room for failure to capitalize.

But in general, I am never ever convinced by a "things never change" argument. Besides the underlying cynicism (a perfect rallying cry for apathy and inaction), I think your framing is too narrow. Sure, there will probably always be two parties in the US political system, barring significant changes to the electoral college system. But when it comes to the agendas and ideologies of these parties, that is something very much subject to flux over time. They may call themselves republicans, but are today's republicans like the republicans of the Civil War? Clearly not.

Just look at the GOP and gay marriage, right now. A substantial segment of republicans are moving towards acceptance of gay marriage. The fact is that they have to adjust to the will of the people. Also, don't forget that politicians ARE the people. Incoming republican politicians will probably be far more accepting of gay marriage than outgoing ones, overall.

So you won't be happy if you're expecting the republicans to be soundly and finally defeated by democrats in 2016 and for the rest of time. However, if you check back in 20 years and find out that the republicans of that time support single payer health insurance and civil rights, wouldn't that be even better?

In terms of the specifics of this article, I think the author has it right. You can't fight demographics. You have to adjust and accommodate. Republicans may enter a losing streak until they figure out how to do so. They're not going to become democrats, but I would expect a gradual reduction in racism over the very long haul. I think that's already been happening over the long term, although the cynics out there will doubtless disagree with me.
posted by Edgewise at 12:38 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


...we chase so-called “issues” so stupid, so blindingly disconnected from our emerging needs that our grandchildren will look back on our performance in much the same way that we see the failures of the generation that fought desegregation.
Wow. I mean, that's pretty much what we say, but coming from a Republican? WOW.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:38 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


starbreaker: "Isn't it time to revive the old battle cry? No taxation without representation!"

Think D.C. beat you to it, dude.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2014


Well the fact that Wyoming has as many senators as California is a part of it.

And yet, it's been the body that's swung the Democrats' way the most often since the Regan era, mostly because it can't be gerrymandered.

The Democratic Party needs to get off their asses and stop focusing on statewide offices to the exclusion of all else, and get to work on local campaigns. Midterm elections are friends-and-neighbors elections - you know someone stumping for the schoolboard, and you go and vote on everything on the ballot while you're there. You want to win back the statehouse and undo gerymandering? Support Joe/Joan Blow for Dogcatcher.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:44 PM on November 21, 2014 [14 favorites]


Just look at the GOP and gay marriage, right now. A substantial segment of republicans are moving towards acceptance of gay marriage. The fact is that they have to adjust to the will of the people.

I don't think it has anything to do with the will of the people. I suspect there are some deep-pocket campaign donors who happen to be gay and Republican and the GOP doesn't want to leave that money on the table. Or risk it going to third-party campaigns.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:50 PM on November 21, 2014


I've been hearing this demographic nonsense for years. In 1990 the Texas Hispanic population was about 26% and Democrats controlled the Texas House and Senate and most major statewide elected offices. Ann Richards won the governor’s election that year. Now the Hispanic population is up to 38% and Democrats hold NO STATEWIDE OFFICES and both state chambers are controlled by the GOP. Greg Abbott won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote (and also won women voters by 9 points). John Cornyn won the Hispanic vote 48-47. I expect that the GOP will continue to see increases among Hispanic and Asians as they did this year. Seems like it's the Democrats who need to be concerned.
posted by republican at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


After every election, there are claims that the winner party was the real losers, the losers were the big winners, the winning party secured the White House/Congress/whatever for the next 30 years, demographics show the losing party is doomed to failure forever

You know, all this is true and I'm not convinced that the outlook is either as grim for the GOP or as rosy for the Democrats as this author suggests. OTOH, lacking any specific objections to the author's assertions, these remarks have the high lonesome sound of a whistle past a graveyard.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2014


Younger people need to be pressured to vote in state and local elections.

Yeah, the hard part is figuring out how to do this. There need to be issues they care about at stake, and I feel like for younger people there is just less concretely at stake in local elections. They generally don't speak to the social issues they care about and they generally don't focus on big issues they care about like healthcare or the environment. Young people own less houses, businesses, have less steady jobs, don't have kids...so they are more likely to be moving anyway so they don't even care about planning for the future when it comes to local issues. I feel like they vote in federal elections because that's where the issues that do matter to them are decided. We don't believe in an expansive view of state's rights for good reason, but it makes it harder to come up with local and state focused issues to get people roused up about.

There are also just some establishment issues with local elections, good old boys and inertia. I vote for a Republican state rep here not because of ideology but because his office did a very good job with some constituent services for me. Politicians can win votes that way at the local level so it isn't as simple as saying a Democrat is right on the issues.

Anyway, an issue I care about in my state is privatizing the liquor stores. I was with Corbett and against Democrats on that one. Another issue I care about is education, especially in Philadelphia, but I don't really think Democrats know how the hell to solve it either, even if they at least don't openly want to kill it. I'd like my state to liberalize drug laws, but a lot of Democrats can't be depended on for that. Those are some things Democrats could do to appeal me, but I'm an oddball of course.

One issue liberals might care about in this state is fracking. I'm with Wolf on the idea that we should allow it but just make sure the state gets a share of the money through taxation, but I know a lot of other liberals who want to stop it entirely. They aren't going to be excited about the compromise. And they aren't gonna win on it, and are just gonna feel more let down.

Anyway, the bottom line is, you need to find the issues that will get liberals out to vote every time at the state level like exists at the national level. I don't really have a clue how to do it for PA, and there are probably 49 other answers for other states.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:54 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I remember reading that the Republican Party was one or two elections away from certain doom when Clinton was president. Almost there!!!

It's always "20 years away".
SAIT
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:54 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


This guy thinks Wisconsin is a state "no Republican candidate can realistically hope to win." That's ridiculous. This is a state that's half Republican, which has voted solidly for Obama (whose hometown is an hour from the Wisconsin border) but which Democrats won in 2000 and 2004 by margins of 0.2% and 0.5%. And which has GOP majorities in both statehouse and state senate, and which has been governed by Republican governors for about 2/3 of the last thirty years. I don't think Ted Cruz would win Wisconsin, but I can easily see Scott Walker or Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or John Kasich or Marco Rubio winning Wisconsin.
posted by escabeche at 12:55 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am a black male and find elections somewhat boring because I'm going to vote Democrat.
Well, you vote. I made thousands of election phone calls this year, and I can't tell you how many people told me that they only vote in presidential elections, which is why my state goes blue for presidential elections and red for midterms. The issue isn't entirely that people vote for Republicans. It's also that people who would never in a million years vote for Republicans sometimes decide not to vote at all.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:56 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well the fact that Wyoming has as many senators as California is a part of it.

This again? There's already a body that bases its representation on population. It's called the House of Representatives. Look how well that's working right now.

Our founders, recognizing that the more populous states would have an advantage in the House, quite wisely designed the Senate as the body where all states are equal, in order to balance the House.

Why anyone would think turning the Senate into another House is a good idea is beyond me.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


the "red wall" of rural state voters will continue to have a lock on the house, no matter how the senate and presidential races work out - we'll have more divided, ineffective, fighty government in a time where we need a government that is able to respond to a rapidly changing world

That doesn't make sense. Alabama has 7 members of the house, California has 53.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:58 PM on November 21, 2014


- Keep an eye on oil prices. Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro-state with an economy roughly as diverse and modern as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela. It was been relatively untouched by the economic collapse because it is relatively dislocated from the US economy in general. Watch what happens if the decline in oil prices lasts more than a year.

Can someone interpret the last sentence for me? Is he saying lower energy prices will help or hinder the GOP?


I think he's implying that the relatively small depth and quick rebound of Texas' recession made it easier for the GOP to continue holding all statewide offices the past 6 years. If Texas' economy is relatively good, there's less chance of people to want change in statewide government, but if oil falls and Texas economy goes with it then people may be more likely to vote against the incumbent Republicans.

That being said I work in the Oil Industry in Houston and I think it's quite a bit of exaggeration to say we're a petro-state as diverse as Nigeria...
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:00 PM on November 21, 2014


IShouldBeStudyingRightNow: "All of this is true, but the left relies more on grassroots efforts than the GOP does, and we're less likely to get involved at the local level."

This is how I knew the Democrats in Texas were doomed even after bringing in the Obama campaign team. For the fourth consecutive election, at least 30% of the local, partisan elections in Tarrant County (home of Fort Worth) had either no opponent or no Democrat on the ballot. Hell, the Democrats lost a couple of offices in Dallas County, where they have held a vice grip on local office for almost as long as I've been alive.

You cannot win larger elections if there is no one to elect to them. Democrats in heavily-red areas are running into a very, very thin "bench" while Republicans just change the proposed office on the campaign signs.
posted by fireoyster at 1:05 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't have adblock in this browser and the Chronicle served me a big ass ad for:

THE AUSTIN SNORING CENTER

which raises the question of whether to be Republican means to be sleep-apnea-prone. Marketing thinks they know everything but this time I think they may be on to something.
posted by bukvich at 1:06 PM on November 21, 2014


One issue liberals might care about in this state is fracking. I'm with Wolfe on the idea that we should allow it but just make sure the state gets a share of the money through taxation, but I know a lot of other liberals who want to stop it entirely. They aren't going to be excited about the compromise. And they aren't gonna win on it, and are just gonna feel more let down.

I'm pretty close to the "stop it entirely" side, but I would accept fracking if the taxes reflected the true impact on the community, and if the regulatory regime had enough power to compel them to disclose what chemicals they're putting in the fracking fluids, and if they'd be legally liable for any earthquakes, collapses, etc. they cause. Of course that's not how we handle extraction companies in this country, so they'd never go for that, but I think that would be a true compromise that would allow for them to produce energy we need (until renewables can ramp up enough) while still protecting the community's interests.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wow. I mean, that's pretty much what we say, but coming from a Republican? WOW.

Yeah. I've also been thinking of this a lot.

I'd basically compromise on almost any political issue if it meant that Congress could drop the grudge match, and focus on actually governing.

Based on Congress's approval ratings, people actually do care about its ability to effectively govern the nation. However, when you look at election outcomes, it appears that voters completely disregard it at election time.

Neither party is doing a good job of breeding new candidates, and the primary process rarely seems to pick the best candidate out of the already-mediocre pool. (This is even an issue in DC, where the Democrats are virtually guaranteed to win every local election -- nobody shows up for the primaries, and the Democrats end up nominating shockingly terrible candidates)

The American political system virtually guarantees a two-party system, so neither party is in a rush to fix any of these problems.

Local elections matter. Congress matters a lot. Voters only seem to care about presidential elections, even though the President has very little actual power. 277 legislators had to write, introduce, debate, and vote for "Obamacare" before the President even got a say in the matter.
posted by schmod at 1:11 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


As tittergrrl notes above, the Republicans now control 31 both houses of state legislatures.

State legislatures have big sway over redistricting, which comes up in 2020 and will be a huge asset for the GOP that this Chris Ladd guy doesn't even address.

The GOP also has concrete plans to take advantage of Electoral College loopholes to cement its dominance and to further blunt the influence of demography.

Barring some herculean cataclysm, I think the GOP can be pretty confident of officeholding dominance for at least another 10 years, if not another generation.
posted by blucevalo at 1:13 PM on November 21, 2014


This means that the next Presidential election, and all subsequent ones until a future party realignment, will be decided in the Democratic primary

This is the only news here, and should be a wake up call to the left. Do you want to let Hillary Clinton and folks like her rule the country, or put together a coalition and get a Elizabeth Warren? That's the only drama left for 2016 and beyond.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


After every election, there are claims that the winner party was the real losers, the losers were the big winners, the winning party secured the White House/ Congress/ whatever for the next 30 years, demographics show the losing party is doomed to failure forever . . . over and over and over this kind of stupid shit is written about and yet nothing changes . . .

I remember reading that the Republican Party was one or two elections away from certain doom when Clinton was president. . . .

It's always "20 years away".



There is only one possible explanation: clearly, the Inevitable Democratic Majority™ is fusion powered.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:21 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that article is just pathetic. The vaunted Blue Wall, has some serious chinks in it. Probably nobody here will agree with me, but I see Michigan and even Pennsylvania going red sometime in the next 10-15 years. Only thing that gives me any optimism is Florida going blue. Texas is doomed to remain red longer than I'll be alive.

There is never going to be an utter defeat for the Republicans (or Democrats). Parties adjust. They may lose a few election cycles, but they'll endure. People's memories are remarkably short - for example, just where I live, the deep blue We-Ho - I've had conversations with people, where it seems more and more gay folks are open to the Repubs; quite a well-known dynamic, as soon as the Democrats have secured some rights and economic security for people, those people get comfortable and start voting Republican to the same degree as the rest of the population. Same as it ever was. The exact same thing will happen with the Latino and African-American, not to mention Asian vote. The only reason the Democrats have lopsided votes among Latinos, is because of the absolutely insane open racism of the Republicans to a politically astonishing degree; in time the Repubs will wise up and pick their words more carefully and the Latino vote will respond accordingly. No kind of advantage is forever. There will always be a struggle between the light and darkness, and so the Republicans will always be a menace.
posted by VikingSword at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


The GOP also has concrete plans to take advantage of Electoral College loopholes to cement its dominance and to further blunt the influence of demography.

Oh, that's nothing. There's an actual proposal by a (fortunately term-limited lame duck) state legislator here in Michigan that's even dumber and more nakedly pro-GOP:
Under Lund's proposal, the candidate winning the popular vote in Michigan would get at least nine electoral college votes — half the votes, plus one extra — in addition to one electoral vote for every 1.5 percentage points above 50% of the popular vote that candidate wins. Any electoral college votes left over would go to the second-place finisher.
posted by Etrigan at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2014


Do you want to let Hillary Clinton and folks like her rule the country, or put together a coalition and get a Elizabeth Warren?

Hmmm. I don't think Warren has a shot at winning. But I didn't think Obama did either when he declared in 2006. So what the hell, let's do this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was in the "keep calm and trust the demographics" camp for a while but I really underestimated both the effectiveness of gerrymandering and voter suppression and the frustrating (but somewhat understandable) apathy of lefty voters.
posted by octothorpe at 1:24 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


fuse theorem: I suspect there are some deep-pocket campaign donors who happen to be gay and Republican and the GOP doesn't want to leave that money on the table.

I would hazard to guess that mega-buck donors are more savvy than that, and even back supposedly "non-conservative" topics and agendas, because they're not complete idiots, otherwise how would they end up so insanely wealthy?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:24 PM on November 21, 2014


It is time to draft Elizabeth Warren !!!
posted by Flood at 1:25 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


*Hi5s Brandon, Freeze Frame, the Screen Dissolves, Cut to: We're in a bread line. Liz Warren's face is on every wall Lenin-style.*

Us: "Nooooo What have we doooooone"
Chris Christie: *Cries a single tear*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:26 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you want to let Hillary Clinton* . . . or put together a coalition and get a Elizabeth Warren**?

That's the only drama left for 2016 and beyond.



You left out a couple of important and dramatic details.
----------------------------------
* and almost certainly win
** and almost certainly lose
posted by Herodios at 1:27 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


To win, she has to run. She's made Shermanesque statements that she's not running. I'm sure there have been other candidates who've made similarly definitive statements that they wouldn't run and changed their mind, but it seems notable that she doesn't seem to want to do it.

Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is running. He's... not the most charismatic guy on the planet, and he's a white dude, and there's that pesky "socialist" label, but I sort of feel like it might be time to let Warren be Warren doing good things in the Senate while we focus on candidates who've shown an interest in actually doing the job. I'd love to see people like Sherrod Brown or Kirsten Gillibrand or Amy Klobuchar run, and they haven't ruled anything out yet, so if we want to start a "draft X" movement, maybe we should look at folks like them.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:28 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've been hearing this "Yep, we liberals are gonna be right any day now. Annnny day now. Surely this latest Republican atrocity will prove we are fit to govern. God, come on, you morons, can't you see how great we are?" for years and it still has yet to come to pass.

The biggest problem the Dems have is they're afraid to lay out a strategy that isn't "Exactly like the Republicans but maybe a little less crazy. Unless that's what you want, then we're totally open to it."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:30 PM on November 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


The biggest problem the Dems have is they're afraid to lay out a strategy that isn't "Exactly like the Republicans but maybe a little less crazy. Unless that's what you want, then we're totally open to it."

But that's the whole point. When you govern from a big, diverse tent by consensus you need to look at what everyone wants, what the situation calls for and the best solution which everyone can live with.

The Republican party is content to rule by fiat but that doesn't work with Ds.
posted by Talez at 1:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


People have no memories at all. I've barely been paying attention to politics for a decade and even I've seen massive electoral swings from one party to the other, always supposedly "permanent" and yet typically reversed a few years later.

And Elizabeth Warren? C'mon. What is she going to do when she's President? Who are her advisors going to be? Who is she going to tap to run various government agencies? Who is she going to nominate to the Supreme Court? How much time is she going to have in her day to put her personal touch on every single issue facing America? How on earth is she going to gain power without making compromises with the existing powerful forces that stand in the way of our various dreams? I could have sworn we went through this back in 2008. All those discussions about Clinton versus Obama -- what a freaking waste of time.
posted by leopard at 1:35 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


- Keep an eye on oil prices. Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro-state with an economy roughly as diverse and modern as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela. It was been relatively untouched by the economic collapse because it is relatively dislocated from the US economy in general. Watch what happens if the decline in oil prices lasts more than a year.

gwint: Can someone interpret the last sentence for me? Is he saying lower energy prices will help or hinder the GOP?

From Vox: Falling oil prices could hit Wyoming, North Dakota, and Oklahoma hardest in the US, and Texas won't be safe, either. Fracking is only financially feasible when fuel prices are high. The reason there wasn't a fracking boom before was because it's an expensive process, and you need a good return on investment.

If this happens, Texas could go into a recession, like it did in the early- to mid-1980s. Drop in population, drop in financial strength, possible drop in prominence on the national stage.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:36 PM on November 21, 2014


I was in the "keep calm and trust the demographics" camp for a while but I really underestimated both the effectiveness of gerrymandering and voter suppression and the frustrating (but somewhat understandable) apathy of lefty voters.

Demographics works over the long term. I don't know how long you were in that camp, but maybe you need to be more patient. Because gerrymandering can only get you so far, especially in the long term.

And there's no such thing as "somewhat understandable" apathy. Defeatism is like a bad habit for liberals, who are too eager to embrace the status of disempowered outsider so they can complain about how nothing matters because corporations really run everything. Fucknuts like that are the biggest impediment to positive change. You know what's more satisfying that being cynically correct about being unable to win? Winning. That is one thing that democrats could really stand to learn from republicans.
posted by Edgewise at 1:44 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


The US has always had a two-party system. Any prediction that postulates one-party rule is probably misguided. The system is designed, for a number of pretty good reasons, to resist that.

I mean, if you look at the elections that just happened, note how many elections were won by only a few percentage points. It's a lot of them. And if you think about it for a second, it's not hard to understand why it happens: each candidate has their base, and then tries to compromise just enough to get to 51%. But a candidate who can't ever get to 51% and thus can't ever win is useless.

So it is with elections, and so it is with parties on the national scale. Both parties do what is required to make themselves electorally viable. If the country moves generally leftward or rightward politically, then the amount that each party has to compromise to be electable also moves, and so their planks change ever so much.

It helps that the electorate has a very short memory.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


As usual, put your money where your mouth is naysayers. I will bet anyone a large or small sum of money straight up that the Dems will win the national presidential election in 2016. MeMail me to book.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:49 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


"We suck a little less but are also openly in bed with corporate interests" is not a winning strategy, especially if the GOP ever drops the open racism.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:50 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


This again? There's already a body that bases its representation on population. It's called the House of Representatives. Look how well that's working right now.

Kind of. District-based elections allow pretty significant cheating of whichever party is naturally packed. The party of urban voters (not the euphemism) has the problem that "natural looking" districts can have their voters winning 80%-20% and the more rural party can nibble the edges to define boundaries where they win 60-40, safe but not excessive. The only limitation is how many directions you can approach the city from.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:53 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm skeptical of a so-called "blue wall" of reliable Democratic voters. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The past 20 years has seen nothing but stomach churning back and forth changes in power at the hands of the American voter.
posted by stbalbach at 1:54 PM on November 21, 2014


You know what's more satisfying that being cynically correct about being unable to win? Winning. That is one thing that democrats could really stand to learn from republicans. That is one thing that democrats could really stand to learn from republicans.

Like how the Democrats won the Presidential popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012? Until this last election the Democrats had held the Senate since 2006.

The Republicans have held the House in 16 of the last 20 years, but prior to that the Dems held it 40 years running.

Democrats win elections all the time.
posted by leopard at 1:55 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of talk about gerrymandering and how that gives Republicans a long term solid advantage. If you've gerrymandered well, you have your opponents packed into 80-20 districts (the "urban" vote) and wasting their votes, while you pick up lots of seats with 52-48 wins. The problem is, a small national swing or a demographic change can put a LOT of those 52-48 districts into play as 50-50 ones, while making very little difference to 80-20 districts.

The better (more effective) the gerrymandering, the more subject it is to small shifts. And the Republicans have been very good at this, whether by design (the 31 state house legislatures) or by accident (a message tailored to rural white Christian populations that occupy a larger geographical area), so the risk they are running is very large. It really isn't a big surprise that they're doing well in off-years and not so well in Presidential years, where there are larger national tides.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:06 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


I do think that the GOP is going to get an apocalyptic ass-whoopin in 2016, but demographics aside, if the democrats don't give people a reason to actually vote, they're going to lose election after election. It doesn't matter if 'most people', if forced to choose, would vote Democrat, if 'most people' don't vote.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Nothing clusters the f***s like a political party that finally has all the power they think they deserve. Because suddenly, they can't blame anyone else for all the f***ed up clusters."

Your friend must not have been paying attention between 2002 and 2006.


I'm pretty sure he said it right around the 2004 elections which, correct me if I'm wrong, was the point where the Republicans finally had the presidency, the Senate and The House ...
posted by philip-random at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2014


if the democrats don't give people a reason to actually vote

If the economy produces middle class jobs we will do well, I'd guess. If it doesn't we may be in trouble.
posted by uraniumwilly at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2014


Like how the Democrats won the Presidential popular vote in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012? Until this last election the Democrats had held the Senate since 2006...Democrats win elections all the time.

Gah, why do people misunderstand me? It's like I'm not explaining myself perfectly. Oh wait...my bad.

I'm NOT saying the dems don't win elections. I'm saying they'd win MORE if it wasn't for that contingent of democrats who whine that you can't change anything anyway.
posted by Edgewise at 2:18 PM on November 21, 2014


You really want to combat gerrymandering? Don't make your reform proposals look like "still gerrymandering, but in Democrats' favor". No blue-ribbon commissions filled with lifelong government employees, no 'discretion of the Secretary'.

Here's one proposal that most Republicans would at least have some trouble opposing:

Amendment XVIII
All boundaries between congressional districts shall consist exclusively of north-south lines.
posted by Hatashran at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just for the sake of argument... Let's say your party was facing a losing battle demographically because of immigration and increasing diversification. In that case, calling the president's delaying deportation orders for four million immigrants an unconstitutional travesty of justice would be... pretty goddammed stupid, no?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm saying they'd win MORE if it wasn't for that contingent of democrats who whine that you can't change anything anyway.

Really? Are these whiners in charge of running campaigns and dictating strategy?

I mean, everyone seems to think that if politicians just got on board with their personal preferred set of policy preferences, then these politicians would be both more morally virtuous *and* more effective and powerful. It just seems like a fantasy to me.
posted by leopard at 2:24 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the bottom line is, you need to find the issues that will get liberals out to vote every time at the state level like exists at the national level.

On a national level, the Democratic Party is represented by the donkey.
On a national level, the Republican Party is represented by the elephant.
On a national level, the modern progressive is represented by no one. (Excepting, for the most part, Vermonters.)

Cue the traditional pissing match between "Give us someone to vote FOR" progressives and "No more McGoverns" New Democrat 'centrists'.
posted by delfin at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


However, if you check back in 20 years and find out that the republicans of that time support single payer health insurance and civil rights, wouldn't that be even better?

Based on their current perception of the 60s civil rights movement, I assume they'll be taking credit for those things.
posted by brundlefly at 2:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


In 1990 the Texas Hispanic population was about 26% and Democrats controlled the Texas House and Senate and most major statewide elected offices. Ann Richards won the governor’s election that year.

Note that the article is about national politics, not the state or local level.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:01 PM on November 21, 2014


The Republican strategist in this piece is 100% correct. If the Republicans don't broaden their appeal significantly they are doomed to be a permanent opposition party at a National level. Keep in mind that every presidential election cycle the voter turnout goes up significantly and this election has shown that even with a Republican wave and very low turnout Republicans are simply unable to win in very significant percentage of the country.

They are quite a bit stronger in state legislatures due to the huge amount of money being pumped into that level and that's resulted in a lot of strength in the House because of reapportionment but Republicans have basically gerrymandered the House districts as much as they are ever going to get.

So we'll probably get another decade of divided government with an obstructionist Republican house and a Democratic senate and President. Guess which one is more critical? Yep the Senate and the White House.

The Scotus of course is pretty solidly conservative but if Democrats get another 4-8 years in the Presidency? Yeah it's pretty much all over because short of achieving Lichdom Scalia will retire and Kennedy will probably follow leaving a 3 conservative minority which basically fucks over Republicans for ages.
posted by vuron at 3:05 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's pretty much all over because short of achieving Lichdom Scalia will retire

Scalia wouldn't dare retire while the democrats have the senate and the presidency. The best we can hope for is one of the too many cheeseburgers giving Thomas the coronary he's been long overdue for.
posted by Talez at 3:28 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


short of achieving Lichdom

I have some bad news.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:34 PM on November 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


Are we destined to be ruled
by a bunch of old white men
who compare the world to football
and are programmed to defend?

Only Time Will tell
J. Buffett, Banana Wind
posted by yoga at 3:36 PM on November 21, 2014


Amendment XVIII
All boundaries between congressional districts shall consist exclusively of north-south lines.


That would be really bizarre for California. Districts a couple miles wide and a thousand miles long. Constituents who are worried about drought and ones that want more redwood logging. Oakland and Redding, Santa Barbara and Fresno with the same congresspeople. The result would be schizophrenic.

How about vertical stripes instead?
posted by happyroach at 3:40 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about vertical stripes instead?

That would just make the country look fatter and it doesn't need any more help with that.
posted by Talez at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]




Really? Are these whiners in charge of running campaigns and dictating strategy?

No. You get two more guesses. Hint: we're talking about a democracy.
posted by Edgewise at 4:00 PM on November 21, 2014


No. You get two more guesses. Hint: we're talking about a democracy.

Hmmm. Are they the rich 1% that controls virtually all wealth in the nation and can thus flood elections with funding and manipulate policymakers behind the scenes through various other tactics of influence peddling?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Are they the rich 1% that controls virtually all wealth in the nation and can thus flood elections with funding and manipulate policymakers behind the scenes through various other tactics of influence peddling?

One guess left. You're getting REALLY close.

Hint: By the way, thanks for displaying such a pure uncut version of precisely what I've been talking about. It really helps my argument.
posted by Edgewise at 4:10 PM on November 21, 2014


A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Great news! Just in time for after the elections are already over!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:23 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


but the left relies more on grassroots efforts than the GOP does

That hasn't seemed true to me for the last 10 years. Anyone have a cite?

And yeah, I expect more and more gays to turn to the right. It's been deeply disappointing to watch how quickly people completely drop their social justice activism once they finally got marriage rights. Since most of them don't personally need to worry about abortions, even that takes a back seat, even for lesbians. Did I mention how disappointed I am? I'm very disappointed. "Hey, I got mine! RandPaul2016"
posted by small_ruminant at 4:38 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


One guess left. You're getting REALLY close.

Okay, so there are a contingent of people in the Democratic party who whine a lot. Despite not having political access to organize or run campaigns or financial means to demand access to campaigns they are somehow to blame for the failure of the people who do have those things to do their jobs.

Dunno, I'm drawing a blank.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:54 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


"RandPaul2016"

Yep, that's what I've been getting. They turn right wing libertarian - I guess it would be too much of a cognitive dissonance to turn right wing social conservative, what with the fact that social conservatives have still not (and perhaps never will) accept equal rights for gays. But the right wing libertarians have been recently making noises about "get the government out of the marriage business", so that's good enough for those who were chomping at the bit to rush rightward and to whom perhaps the Log Cabin is too old-fashioned. I was at a party two weekends ago, and I had a conversation with a couple of guys in their mid-20's. No real sense of history at all, and by 'history' I mean 2008 and prop. 8 - lo, all those centuries ago. I was informed that 'whatever, the Democrats were no different, Obama only changed his mind on gay marriage recently, can't be trapped in the past, blah, blah'. OK then. I contributed financially against prop. 8, and for marriage equality, I marched and so on, and it was those stupid old 'no different' Democrats who did the heavy lifting politically. Oh well. I cheer myself up by reminding myself that I fought for the principle, and even if it doesn't pay off politically longer term, after all it is the principle that matters most. I finished the wine bottle pretty quickly though.
posted by VikingSword at 5:01 PM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd just like to say thanks to everyone that made me look up the Elizabeth Warren tag.
posted by halifix at 5:43 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The "biggest impediment to positive change" is people who don't want that change to happen. There are a fucking lot of those and they have a lot of power.

Fucknuts who whine about how change is impossible are annoying but blaming them for everything is just dumb. Almost everyone politically involved enough to adopt a world-weary pose is voting Democrat anyway.

What I was objecting to in your original statement was the idea that the Democrats need to learn a lesson from the Republicans about winning. Everyone thinks that their side is full of spineless ineffectual people who mean well and the other side is full of cynical unprincipled fuckers who would do anything to increase their power.
posted by leopard at 5:58 PM on November 21, 2014


Dunno, I'm drawing a blank.

I can tell you're pulling my leg, but in case I'm wrong about that, the secret answer is: the voters! The equation is pretty simple. Cynicism leads to apathy. Apathy leads to decreased voter turnout. Decreased voter turnout for a party in this increasingly partisan environment leads to lost elections.

I have a formulation that saves me from pessimism, and it goes something like this: those who believe that they will fail are inevitably correct. The same goes for those who proclaim themselves powerless.

So if you've decided that there's nothing you can do in the face of deep pockets and global corporations, then...congratulations? I guess you're absolutely right. Notice that this is the motto of exactly zero successful revolutionaries and reformers.
posted by Edgewise at 6:07 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fucknuts who whine about how change is impossible are annoying but blaming them for everything is just dumb.

"Everything?" I never said anything like that. I think it's a problem, not THE problem. I'm starting to think that it's not entirely my fault that you're serially misinterpreting me.

Almost everyone politically involved enough to adopt a world-weary pose is voting Democrat anyway.

When they are voting. Democrats would have done a lot better in this election if turnout had been higher...pretty much every analyst is in agreement on this.

Everyone thinks that their side is full of spineless ineffectual people who mean well and the other side is full of cynical unprincipled fuckers who would do anything to increase their power.

I disagree. I mainly see republicans blaming each other for being RINOs, not for apathy. In fact, I've personally never heard republicans complain about this as a general problem. I mean, I'm totally sure that it's happened somewhere, but not enough for me to have heard about it. And I actually go to conservative websites to debate conservatives...a lot. In fact, I had to cut down because I was starting to get really fucking rude (if you think that I'm snarky here, you've seen nothing).

Although they certainly do think of the democrats as "unprincipled fuckers who would do anything to increase their power." That part is absolutely true in both directions.
posted by Edgewise at 6:24 PM on November 21, 2014


"Fucknuts like that are the biggest impediment to positive change" -- exact quote. Don't take my word for it though, you can scroll up and read your comment above, it's still there.
posted by leopard at 6:29 PM on November 21, 2014


Hmm, you're...absolutely correct. Well, your reaction is then appropriate. I'm glad I wasn't snarkier, or this would be even more embarrassing, and I'd have to actually apologize for being a dick instead of just admitting that I was wrong.

For the record, I was employing hyperbole; I don't actually think they're the "biggest impediment." I stand by my most recent comment as an accurate reflection of my feelings i.e. a-problem-not-THE-problem.
posted by Edgewise at 6:46 PM on November 21, 2014


You vastly overrate the political involvement of the populace if you think that your typical apathetic non-voter is apathetic because of their awareness of the power of corporations and rich people. Your typical non-voter is barely aware of Election Day and has almost no idea how politicians could have the slightest impact on their day-to-day life. Someone arguing about politics on the internet is basically off the charts when it comes to political engagement.
posted by leopard at 7:04 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The biggest trouble for the Republicans in 2016 will simply be that they've invested a massive amount of hate time into Obama, our black Muslim communist overlord from Mars, and without him they won't be able to energize their base of lunatic fundies and senile elderly. Without the race card to play anymore the republicans are sunk. You think anyone actually cares about healthcare?
posted by lumnar at 7:28 PM on November 21, 2014


You vastly overrate the political involvement of the populace if you think that your typical apathetic non-voter is apathetic because of their awareness of the power of corporations and rich people.

Pretty much everyone is aware that there are people and organizations that have lot of power in their lives. So I don't consider this to be a sophisticated understanding. In many cases, it becomes a justification for ignorance and disengagement. I think that's quite common.
posted by Edgewise at 7:35 PM on November 21, 2014


The equation is pretty simple. Cynicism leads to apathy.

Ahh, but where does the cynicism about politics come from? The engaged cynic who follows politics will tell you, "From objective observations of reality."
posted by Drinky Die at 8:22 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Without the race card to play anymore the republicans are sunk.

The GOP's Hillary Clinton issues are old enough to buy alcohol. The race card isn't all they've got.
posted by Etrigan at 8:37 PM on November 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


If voters turned out in droves to overturn the Democratic Party's platform, that would be one thing. Instead, a strategic mis-step, isolating the president and refusing to attack on is behalf, cost the senate. This is another. It's still not as important as deciding local elections.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 PM on November 21, 2014


because they're not complete idiots, otherwise how would they end up so insanely wealthy?

The longer I live, the more I realize just how completely uncorrelated wealth and intelligence really are. Some of them really are complete idiots.

I will bet anyone a large or small sum of money straight up that the Dems will win the national presidential election in 2016. MeMail me to book.

I'm with Potomac on this one, but if you still want to place money on it, don't let him scam you because every single one of the real bookies is in agreement.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:19 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]




The evidence that there was anything the Democrats could have done to hold the Senate in 2014 is rather thin.

Almost everyone I know has a fairly set and predictable voting orientation, and yet so many people seem to think that elections are swung because Democratic politicians aren't brave enough to fight for what they believe in. Of course no one ever puts *themselves* in the category of people swinging back and forth between parties based on how much conviction their leaders show, it's just all those other idiots who decided to vote against Udall or Coakley or Hagan or whatever because they made a strategic mistake.
posted by leopard at 9:50 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


re: Warren 2016.

No.

I want her to horse-trade her sideline support for Hilary Clinton for four years as Treasury Secretary.

Think of what she could do with four years at the Treasury.
posted by mikelieman at 10:59 PM on November 21, 2014 [12 favorites]


I wish I’d gotten in on this earlier.

People are right to be skeptical about a prediction that the GOP is headed for “catastrophic failure” if “catastrophic failure” means the destruction of the party. I don’t think that’s what it means.

In general, the two-party system acts to preserve itself. The only thing that moves is the boundary line between the parties. If the left-wing party senses a nationwide ideological shift toward the right, they’ll moderate their views a bit in order to try to move that boundary over. The right-wing party has prevailed, but their prize is not that they are the only ones to leave the Thunderdome; they just get to drag the Overton window a bit to the right. (In other words, I’ve just recapped the last 30 years of national politics.)

If Ladd’s predictions are right, I do think that we’ll see some of this happen in the opposite direction. Let’s call this Scenario A:

The Democrats will realize that the demographic trends are such that they can win elections without pretending to be Republicans, and will stop running away from all the views they actually hold in real life. Meanwhile, Republicans will realize that the cartoonish things they’ve been saying for the past twenty years about science, women, foreign policy, and minorities are the very reason why they are considered laughingstocks by the very non-white, city-dwelling voters whose votes they now need in order to win elections.

And so they will moderate themselves, at least on the national stage. For instance, they will become more like the Republicans of the 1990s that were in favor of market-based health care reforms, and the Democrats will start agitating for single-payer. Republicans will still be in favor of crony capitalism and “government is the problem”-style governing (as will Democrats, though slightly less so), but in order to be competitive in national elections they’ll drop all the hardline stances on social issues.

Of course, something else could happen. Scenario A presumes that parties are rational actors and would rather moderate their ideals than face political irrelevance.

For Scenario B, consider what happens when you have a party that is composed of two groups: half are rational people who want to win elections, and half are ideologically rigid people who will not compromise on anything at all. You’d end up with a party schism. The moderate faction would try to pull to the center, the extreme faction would grab onto its end and hold tight, and… well, it won’t be easy to clean up. The moderate faction, now its own party, would be free to occupy whatever space on the spectrum it needed to occupy in order to maintain some sort of influence, but it’ll lose its most fervent voters and won’t have much hope of replacing them in the short term. The extreme faction would permanently consign itself to third-party status.

Now, to put it mildly, here is some percentage of the current GOP membership that appears to fit this extremist profile. (Though we won’t know how big the faction truly is until push comes to shove.) But Scenario B, applied to the GOP, would mean that Rick Santorum and his ilk would no longer be Republicans — they’d be a tiny party of religious zealots that has about as much influence as the guy who shouts the Gospel at college students as they scurry across the quad.

I think Scenario A is far more likely, but obviously my fingers are crossed for Scenario B.

There are a dozen mitigating factors, the most frustrating of which is Democrats’ inability to get their base to show up for midterm elections. But they don’t change the macro trends. It’s not that the GOP won’t win the White House again for another 20 years; it’s that if they do win the White House it’ll be with a more moderate candidate than Bush or McCain or Romney.

(But then I think about that moderate candidate getting through the GOP primaries and I’m back to Scenario B.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:00 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


So what the hell is the Democrat's problem that they can't marginalize these fuckwits who currently run as Republicans?

Like I've been arguing since the 2000 elections, it's not that the Democrats can't fight the Republicans, it's rather that they don't want to. at least not in ways that take them too far from their shared rightwing ideologies.

As you know Bob, the Democrats are essentially a right centrist party who only differ in degree, not kind, on issues like the economy and foreign policy with the Republicans and who aren't all that interested in pushing down hard on those things where they do differ, as keeping their voters worried about abortion is as much a vote getter for the Dems as having Repubs worrying about immigration.

So the Democratic strategy since roughly Clinton times has been to let the Republicans run out of steam and then pick up the inevitable win once the craziness gets too much. The best vote winner for the Dems is letting the Republicans steer the country into another disaster. Adding to that strategy of complacency is the flip side to the original article discussed here, the idea that the Dems have demographics on their side, don't need to fight hard in borderline states or worry about voter suppression because inevitably they'll pick those votes up once the white middle aged voters Republicans rely on die off...
posted by MartinWisse at 1:24 AM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


don't need to fight hard in borderline states or worry about voter suppression because inevitably they'll pick those votes up once the white middle aged voters Republicans rely on die off...
I really, really don't see that complacency on the ground, speaking as someone who has been really involved in Democratic activism in a swing state during the last two election cycles. (I was Neighborhood Team Leader in 2012 and again this year, and this year I ran the centralized phone bank for my town in the month leading up to the election. I'm just a volunteer, but I'm a pretty involved volunteer.) There were some problems with how the Democrats ran the last campaign in my state, but lack of effort or resources weren't the issues. Lack of grassroots enthusiasm was a big issue, and we had a really hard time recruiting the volunteers on whom we depend to boost turnout, but the national Democratic party gave us pretty much unlimited resources and seemed until the very end to think that they could actually win our state. Also, the Democrats ran a charismatic, popular candidate for Secretary of State who campaigned pretty much exclusively on the issue of ensuring access to the vote.

I think you can argue that the Democrats are too far to the right, and there's certainly a lot of enthusiasm around here for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. (I've had some personal dealings with Sanders and wasn't hugely impressed, and I don't think that Warren is likely to run, but it would be really nice to have someone at least challenge Hillary Clinton from the left.) But I don't think that Democrats are complacent, and I really don't think they're letting swing states go.
Almost everyone I know has a fairly set and predictable voting orientation, and yet so many people seem to think that elections are swung because Democratic politicians aren't brave enough to fight for what they believe in. Of course no one ever puts *themselves* in the category of people swinging back and forth between parties based on how much conviction their leaders show
I feel like a broken record player, but the issue isn't people who swing back and forth between parties. There aren't very many of those. The issue is people who may or may not vote. I'm not in that category, and you may not be, either. Maybe nobody here is in that category, although I would doubt it. But the average Democratic-leaning voter is in that category, and many of them stayed home this time around. And at least in my state, many of the activists and volunteers also stayed home, because it was hard to get inspired by our top-of-the-ticket candidate. It's not fun to spend your Saturday afternoon knocking doors in the rain for a candidate whom you think is kind of a jerk and a bit of a buffoon.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:20 AM on November 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Of course it's hard to drum up support for a buffoon, but turnout seems largely driven by things like age, income, race, whether it's a Presidential election year, and which party controls the White House. Did the Dems really run a bunch of great candidates in 2006 and then a bunch of duds in 2010? On an individual basis sure the candidate matters (Martha Coakley sucks) but doesn't it seem like a coincidence that these patterns run consistently across the country?
posted by leopard at 8:25 AM on November 22, 2014


Sure, and I think you're mostly right about this year. But if there's a national trend towards the Democrats at the national and state level not being brave enough to stake out real positions, then that could drive national turnout trends.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:36 AM on November 22, 2014


Seems much more likely to me that candidates are less likely to seem brave when they're getting their asses kicked in the polls and doomed to lose anyway. I guess it's possible that the national party occasionally loses its nerve and hasn't figured out that this directly costs them elections. There are certainly plenty of people who seem to think that Obama's political talents fluctuate wildly from year to year, as if his political fortunes are purely a function of his skill as a communicator and he occasionally "forgets" to communicate well, leading to political disaster.
posted by leopard at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2014


I think the real reason why Democrats are afraid to stake out real positions has little to do with trying to capture centrist voters, but more with appeasing the donor class that pays for their campaigns. Opinion polls consistently show that economic populism is a winning strategy for democrats. The New Dems and Third Way caucus got creamed this cycle, whereas people like Al Franken or Alan Grayson were reelected easily, despite being marginal in 2008 even on Obama's coattails. Stupidity like the Grand Bargain and bullshit education reform doesn't have a popular constituency, but remains ever popular among the people cutting the checks.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:03 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Andrew Cuomo, Sam Brownback, and Scott Walker were also re-elected easily.
posted by leopard at 3:58 PM on November 22, 2014


short of achieving Lichdom Scalia

Thank you for seeding my nightmares for the next year or so.
posted by echocollate at 7:19 AM on November 23, 2014


Keep an eye on oil prices. Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro-state with an economy roughly as diverse and modern as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela. It was been relatively untouched by the economic collapse because it is relatively dislocated from the US economy in general. Watch what happens if the decline in oil prices lasts more than a year.

I really want to believe this article because it gives me hope but this characterization of the Texas economy is just wrong. After the 1980's recession, Texas made it a goal to diversify its economy and it did. I almost can't believe the rest of the article when the author uses data for all other statements and stereotypes for this one.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:41 AM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


...because they're not complete idiots, otherwise how would they end up so insanely wealthy?

Well, some inherited it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:59 PM on November 24, 2014




Great, so the Democrats like to raise taxes on the average family. Talking point for the GOP, signed, sealed delivered and made painfully apparent when tax returns folks were depending on for their savings or to get out of debt disappear. Swell. Great way to set the stage for 2016!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2014


From tonycpsu's link:
Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.”
By all means, kill clean energy and subsidize dirty energy, lower taxes on the wealthy and raise them for working families. Good plan.

What does the Democratic party's constituency get out of this? Why are they doing this? The only upside to the compromise for the traditional wing of the party is a continuation of subsidies for college costs. This is like the bully beating you up for your lunch money and giving you a wedgy, but letting you keep your skid-marked underwear.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


THANKS OBAMA

No, really.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:44 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


There Is No "New GOP Divide"
Let's start with an easy one: Common Core. Debate on Common Core in the GOP has not been "reopened"; it's a settled issue. Common Core is "insidious" and "evil." It's "communist core." No one in the potential 2016 Republican presidential field is willing to defend it except Jeb Bush, who seems determined to be the Jon Huntsman of the upcoming contest if he runs, the guy who won't conform and will feel a wave of self-righteousness when he's laughed out of the race.

Surveillance? Here, we're told, is the huge GOP divide:
Perhaps no potential 2016er has capitalized more on the Snowden affair than Paul, whose libertarian leanings have energized that wing of the GOP.
Stop right there. There is no such "wing" of the GOP. There's Paul and there are a tiny handful of others. Ted Cruz recently voted for the USA Freedom Act, which would have curbed NSA surveillance -- but Rand Paul wimped out, claiming that the bill wasn't pure enough for him (no wonder emoprogs like him), and the bill couldn't clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle. Four Republicans voted for it, 42 voted against.

[...]

Obamacare? Every Republican agrees it's satanic, except that a few governors who might run for president think they should take Satan's Medicaid money (and will pay for that in the 2016 primaries). Immigration? Evil -- Jeb will pay for supporting reform, as will Marco Rubio even though he's recanted (his numbers began to plunge as soon as he became identified with the GOP's now-abandoned reform efforts). Gay marriage? The GOP is divided into a handful of Christianists who still want to ban it and the rest, who think it's evil but just want state control.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:08 AM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jeb Bush, who seems determined to be the Jon Huntsman of the upcoming contest if he runs, the guy who won't conform and will feel a wave of self-righteousness when he's laughed out of the race.

Eh, name recognition will keep him more afloat than Huntsman. And then sink him eventually.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:45 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]




'Who do you work for—Wall Street or the American people?'

How Citigroup Lobbyists And JP Morgan’s CEO Just Took Public Oversight Of Wall Street Back 14 Years
posted by homunculus at 1:22 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Let's start with an easy one: Common Core. Debate on Common Core in the GOP has not been "reopened"; it's a settled issue. Common Core is "insidious" and "evil." It's "communist core."
I confess I haven't followed this issue as closely as I should have, so can anyone tell me if there's any reasoning behind this other than Obama being a socialist Muslin?

Hasn't the GOP always been into standardized testing? How is this different?
posted by brundlefly at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2014


It's the Common part they don't like. They think that adopting Common Core means giving up control of curriculum to some ivory tower elitist academics who believe in evolution and climate change and will use the schools to indoctrinate children into atheist humanist Democratism.

Why do they think that? Because that's what they want to do, but the other way, with the schools, of course.
posted by Etrigan at 4:18 PM on December 12, 2014


But again, that's basically the effect of standardized tests right? I guess I'm wondering if that's just one of their normal unexamined contradictions or if they actually view it as different somehow.
posted by brundlefly at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2014


They approve of standardized testing on a more local level; Common Core is a national thing and is therefore subject to being corrupted by people from the incorrect states.
posted by Etrigan at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2014


Ah, gotcha. The answer to everything is "state's rights" isn't it?
posted by brundlefly at 7:10 PM on December 12, 2014


brundlefly: "I guess I'm wondering if that's just one of their normal unexamined contradictions or if they actually view it as different somehow."

Actually it's a Wall Street/Tea Party Republican split. Common Core was HEAVILY Chamber of Commerce backed, and initially opposed by Democrats and supported by Republicans partly for that reason. It was put forward as a way to prepare students "for the workforce" and to, for example, provide graduates who didn't just read novels and write poetry but who were prepared for the sorts of reading of facts and and writing of memos that you have to do in the "real world." That's why Common Core requires such a gigantic increase in non-fiction reading and in types of reading -- the Chamber of Commerce does not feel American businesses should have to train you to write a memo, you should finish high school knowing that already, but it's not like anybody ever USES Lord of the Flies again after high school, geez. They also wanted to increase standardization and therefore worker mobility and so forth. (It's a mix of motives noble and venal, I suppose, like anything else.)

Tea Party-type conservatives, aligned with Christian homeschoolers, states-rights-ists, small-government types, HAAAAATE Common Core with the fire of a thousand suns, because education has always been a state issue -- and even more than that, a local issue. They don't even want state-level curricula because they feel it should be delegated to local school boards who "know what their communities need." They see it as a federal usurpation of state authority, and a power-grab that can be used to indoctrinate children. The standards are firmly secular. They HATE them.

(Now, note, Common Core is a set of standards -- saying what skills students need to master -- not a curriculum, prescribing what specifically to teach them. As long as they can read an analyze complex literature texts in particular ways, you can use any literature texts you please. It also wasn't a federal initiative but a state-level one where 47 states (or so) came together to make the standards. But DETAILS.)

There will be lots of enjoyable Republican schizophrenia over Common Core in the next presidential cycle because so many Republican governors (and other figures) strenuously and very publicly advocated for Common Core when it was a Chamber of Commerce issue, and they got a lot of donations from CoC sources related to that. The Tea Party only realized they hated it after it was basically a done deal, so very few prominent Republicans aren't on the record about it, and they have to backpedal like mad to try to run away from the issue. Some of them are running away from their records as fast as they can (Tom Corbett, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal -- who was on the committee); a handful have stood up to the Tea Party types and continued to support it (Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels). The big donor money is on the pro-Common Core side for Republicans, but the right-wing media is on the anti-Common Core side, so any Republican with any state-level or national-level record has to decide which horn of that dilemma they'd rather impale themselves on.

It'll also be an interesting indicator issue, showing whether the Tea Party end of the party is being pandered to or ignored, and how stringent the ideological hoops are going to be this cycle. (Are people going to be allowed to have changed their minds? Or is that flip-floppery?)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]




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