Open Thread: “A Simple Message for A Simple People”

Whatever his multitudinous flaws, I have to agree with Maher that the one definitive narrative of the election was neither “post racial” nor particularly well-thought out. “Everyone is horrible, so it must be Obama’s fault” was a great message for the GOP… this time.






79 replies
  1. 1
    Nicole says:

    I’m sure someone in another open thread has already posted this, but if not, I could not stop watching this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrGrOK8oZG8

    (“Too Many Cooks”)

  2. 2
    mdblanche says:

    A group portrait of our new Congress.

  3. 3
    Schlemazel says:

    Given the horse shit stunt he pulled with his “flip a district” self-aggrandizement he really does not have much room to complain. Bill is maddening.

  4. 4
    Schlemazel says:

    Best touchdown I have seen in a very long time

    http://streamable.com/a29

  5. 5
    mdblanche says:

    @efgoldman: Crazier than Sickness, Madness, and Death. Not an encouraging thought.

  6. 6
    Schlemazel says:

    @efgoldman:
    That is the pinnacle of college football right there. It was a great touchdown!

  7. 7

    Here’s some Bixby for your Saturday night. We went away last weekend and when we returned, I swear the cats missed him, because suddenly they’re all hanging out near him. Of course they’d never admit it.

  8. 8
    Schlemazel says:

    @efgoldman:
    Nope, not even close. The truth is I could eat a 5 pound block of cheese & still not be able to give less of a shit about the game no matter who is playing.

    That touchdown perfectly captures the raw essence of the game as it is played for TV.

  9. 9
    Schlemazel says:

    @efgoldman:
    smashmouth? Three little words:
    Sea
    Tea
    Eee

  10. 10
    p.a. says:

    @efgoldman: do the Ducks get a different uni every game? You’ld think at least once in a while they would come up with a good one.

  11. 11
    Anne Laurie says:

    @TaMara (BHF): Wow, suddenly Bixby looks like… well, a teenager, not a cuddly baby. He’s gonna be a stunner, isn’t he?

    (And the cats would tell you that they’re just keeping a vigilante eye on that clumsy dog guy, for fear of damages!)

  12. 12
    Steeplejack says:

    @efgoldman:

    I’d cut that kid at halftime.

    Right after Super Glue-ing a football to his ass.

  13. 13

    @Anne Laurie: He is adorable and … clumsy. Somehow I’m going to have to explain to my Monday clients why I have what is basically a red paw mark from my eyebrow down to below my cheek. He got me good this morning. A Muhammad Ali-like punch.

  14. 14
    Steeplejack says:

    @TaMara (BHF):

    The greyhound just trampled my nard getting on the couch for a cuddle. Ruined the mood.

  15. 15
    The Dangerman says:

    @efgoldman:

    ETA: I’d cut that kid at halftime.

    No, that’s too harsh; I would, however, institute a team rule that all TD plays are ended by handing the ball to the referee in the endzone (and, on first failure to do so, even without a fumble, I’d cut him).

    There was a lot of weird shit in different games over the last hour or so; LSU kicking the ball out of bounds was another killer.

    ETA; Ref’s got into the weird shit, too; that looked to be a clear trap on that one Bama catch late in the 4th. Since calls for replay come from the booth, I can only assume one (or more) Bama cheerleaders were visiting.

  16. 16

    @Steeplejack: Luckily I’d finished my Diet Coke before I read that. For some reason, Bixby and my brother’s jewels connected every time they met this past weekend. I just cringed every time Bixby gallomped across the room to greet him.

    He’s still invited back for Thanksgiving, though.

  17. 17
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Nicole: I watched it but found it overloaded my brain. However there were some YouTubes of Scottish pipes and drums and also the 10,000 person Ode to Joy from Japan.

  18. 18
    cckids says:

    The new Google Doodle celebrates the fall of the Berlin Wall. Watching it brought back the night it started to happen; my spouse & I had found a respite care person for our son, after not having a night out without him for over a year. Flipped CNN on before we left & people were partying on the Wall. We ordered in & the three of us just watched history happening.

    It’s hard to describe to our kids what an event that was.

  19. 19
    gian says:

    I don’t know why other than big tent versus small but the GOP worships their base. Our party treats the base like lepers. Midterm elections are about turning the base out. When the candidates pretend there is no base…

  20. 20
    Tommy says:

    @cckids: I remember it very well too. It was a huge historical event. Not long after a group of Russian journalist came to LSU to learn, well how to be conduct journalism when there was freedom of the press. Long story but I planned a lot of the visit and spend a ton of time with them. More then a few were military and worked for military/state-run papers.

    When they found out my father worked at pretty high levels within the DoD there was kind of an awkward pause and then a lot of hugs. Statements like we didn’t want to fight you. We didn’t want to fight you either. When I see the hate in Russia now, often directed at us, I wonder what happened.

  21. 21
    cckids says:

    @Tommy: I have to wonder how many actual Russians truly hate America or Americans. Seems like, similar to most Americans, they’d be too busy with their actual lives to bother.

    My own Russian story: My sister in law was active in high school government; she graduated in 1971 and had won some type of student government scholarship trip to the Soviet Union that summer. Her grandmother was very excited (her grandparents had come from Russia), and gave S-i-L a map that showed where they had come from & where various other family members had lived.

    Her tour flew into Moscow & she was pulled aside by the Soviet military for hours of questioning as to why she had this “spy” map with military areas marked. What did these marks mean? Who was she working for/with? FOUR hours. She was 17 years old & beyond terrified. Someone from the Embassy had to come & get her loose.

    She didn’t get to keep the map :)

  22. 22
    Tommy says:

    @efgoldman: As a huge LSU fan and a a frequent commenter on the SB Nation LSU blog, I can say the Miles flying by the seat of his pants is getting old. When it worked people dealt with it and kind of embraced it. But we are losing games in a manner where terms like “epic fail” are being used and if I did have a heart condition I’d be worried for my health watching their games.

    I don’t think he is anywhere close to losing his job, he in the off season got a huge contract expension, but I wish somebody would sit him down an explain (1) we can ALWAYS run the ball pretty well and (2) our defense can win games, give them a chance to do just that.

  23. 23
    Tommy says:

    @cckids: Wow if that happened to me as an adult it would have freaked me out. No idea if I would have been able to keep it together at 17.

    Now I know many historians have noted it, but I really think our commercialism was what brought down that wall. The Russians that came to visit couldn’t wait to go to McDonalds or a mall and buy a range of items that was unheard of for them. It wasn’t just the women that wanted to buy clothes. The men just as happy.

    Why I think how we are dealing with Cuba is all wrong. When they saw how much “cheap” shit we could buy they wanted that for themselves. At some level they were overwhelmed by it all. The plenty we had.

  24. 24
    piratedan says:

    on the theme….. probably been posted before but well worth posting again if so….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16K6m3Ua2nw

  25. 25
    cckids says:

    @Tommy: I really think our commercialism was what brought down that wall.

    Definitely a factor, which makes me remember this scene from Moscow on the Hudson.

    Miss you, Mr. Williams.

  26. 26
    Tommy says:

    @efgoldman: I am nothing close to an expert on Russia so I want to be careful not to overstate what I know, but it does seem the hate isn’t that far below the surface. Putin and other groups were able to tap into it with ease. And as somebody that follows the “girl” band that if I use their name here my comment will be held for moderation, it is very strange to me how Putin has embraced the Orthodox Church and it seems to have risen in power.

    Again I am not an expert and Russia does things I don’t so much like. But it seems we kind of poke them in the eye an awful lot and maybe they have relationships with nations in the area we don’t like so much. But a nation like Iran is in their backyard, not ours.

  27. 27
    cckids says:

    Grr, blockquote fail.

  28. 28
    Gian says:

    @Tommy:

    I was in high school, in the late 80s I had cousins visit from Lithuania (like 3rd cousins)
    despite our domestic propaganda and how my family was, these family members didn’t think we were kidding when we told them the searchlights at a car dealership were looking for soviet aircraft.

    they also bought a ton of aspirin which was stolen by security at the border. back then, it was like US hospital prices per pill, or just not possible to buy.

  29. 29
    Tommy says:

    @piratedan: I know many people HATED that scene. I like it a lot. I know we have the largest economy and the most powerful military, and I LOVE the US, but not so sure we can run around saying we are the best.* We are not in the top 15 or 20 in math and science. Our infant mortality rates are frightening. Oh no universal health care or free college education.

    And the thing that really pisses me off, we are not in the top 20 in Internet access speeds. Cost for said speeds. Or access. We invented the darn thing. How can South Korea or Denmark have access speeds 5 times plus what we have for half the price?

    *Although I guess if you are running for office you have to say this.

  30. 30
    cckids says:

    @Tommy: Here is a good look at it from Digby, with links to both Salon & HuffPo, about speeches by both Putin & Gorbachev on US-Russia relations. Good points made.

  31. 31
    cckids says:

    @Tommy:

    Wow if that happened to me as an adult it would have freaked me out. No idea if I would have been able to keep it together at 17.

    I know she was terrified. It’s become one of those family stories we laugh over, because it ended well, of course, but also because in hindsight it is so obviously a dumb thing to do. It really underscores the differences between the countries.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tommy:

    How can South Korea or Denmark have access speeds 5 times plus what we have for half the price?

    Their internet is not controlled by bloodsucking leech MBAs.

  33. 33

    Aloha from Kauai! I probably won’t be around much this week, partly because the condo rental doesn’t have wi-fi (they were apologetic about it, but it seems to be too much trouble to coordinate with multiple owners who sublet). It is, of course, beautiful here and everyone is very nice, which makes it even worse that I can’t do as much walking as I normally would because of my stupid broken toe.

  34. 34
    dance around in your bones says:

    @cckids :

    I remember when the Berlin Wall went up (I was a kid but it still made an impression on me) and I remember when the Wall came down.

    I never thought I would see that in my lifetime, It was a thrilling moment and one that I was glad to see in real time.

  35. 35
    mai naem says:

    I have an ethnically Ukrainian friend whose parents left Ukraine at the tail end of WW!!, traveled whatever way they could and made their way to Germany and eventually migrated to the US(there were a couple of times where they just decided plod ahead and not stay overnight in some little towns which would end up being bombed that night by the Allies.) Anyhow, he says he remembers his dad sitting around with his Ukrainian buddies in the 70s talking about why the US thought the USSR was such a great scary country when it couldn’t even provide its citizens toilet paper and staples like bread. In the 70s way before Gorby showed up.

  36. 36
    Tommy says:

    @cckids: Very, very interesting. I still need to read the articles she linked to, but I think what is noted Gorbachev said is key. Maybe my gut on the situation is a little more spot on than I realized. I think the US, as I said in another comment pokes Russia in the eye. We look down on them as not our equals. I think this is a terrible mistake for many reasons. At the top of the list it is my experience Russians are a proud people and proud people of any strip don’t like to be belittle and talked down to.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @dance around in your bones: Yup, it was a terrific moment. I vividly recall the Bundestag, in Bonn at the time, rising to their feet and singing the German national anthem.

    It was a great moment that I never expected to see, either. In the space of three years, the Cold War just went away, and the MIC panicked in the process. Their raison d’etre POOF-TED. They’ve been scrambling to find a new “existential threat” ever since…with very poor results, overall. Sorry, can’t get excited about ragtag terrorists, no matter how big they score.

  38. 38
    Alison says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Ooh, Kauai was my favorite island :) What area are you in?

  39. 39
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yes, I was laughing, I was crying, I was gobsmacked.

    How well I remember all the stories of people climbing the wall and getting shotgunned for their presumptuousness. The sad images of people hanging on the barbed wire lifeless and shot in the ‘death strip’.

    It was incomprehensible to me (the Wall went up when I was about 8-9?) and I couldn’t imagine a country that would KILL people for trying to escape.

    And no, I don’t believe Raygun saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ had jack shit to do with the Wall come a tumblin’ down. That fucker.

  40. 40
    Tommy says:

    @Alison: I’d be interested to hear. I’ve only been to Maui. Stayed at big hotels right on the beach. I watched a couple of the stupid TV shows of house hunters looking at all the islands for a home and honestly I didn’t realize how much other stuff was going on. I knew the islands were diverse, but had no idea. And more of a hiker/camper then a beach guy, there were a lot of places I’d like to lace up my boots and go for a long hike.

  41. 41
    Alison says:

    @Tommy: I’m so grateful that my parents took me on a Hawaii trip when we had the money and I was capable of doing it. We went all over – Waikiki on Oahu, north and south shores of Kauai, Molokai, Maui, Kona on the big island…long time ago but I still remember it crystal clear :)

  42. 42
    Tommy says:

    @dance around in your bones: I hear you there. If not a shotgun then a machine gun or a landmine. My little town I live in and was raised in from 13-18 was founded by Germans (my family came from Scotland). Heck until not that long ago you could speak German in stores and German and Spanish are the two languages taught in High School. Founded more than 200 years ago it is still pretty German.

    I like to note my last name is Young but I have to mention, and I have lived in a lot of places, this is the only one I have to say Young with a Y and not Jung with a J.

    I’ve come to like Germans, or those of German decent. Heck there were many protest here against the Berlin Wall. And when it fell parties in the street.

  43. 43
    Tommy says:

    @Alison: My grandparents took me when I was 20. So 25 years ago. We were in a five star hotel and at the time I was on a Division I golf scholarship, so I was on a golf course more than the beach. Then I saw that TV show I mentioned and all the other things you could do and it has peaked my interest. That I could get to say Kauai, stay in a hole in the wall, and just hike.

  44. 44
    Violet says:

    @Tommy:

    How can South Korea or Denmark have access speeds 5 times plus what we have for half the price?

    Because those countries have made internet speed and access a priority for their citizens. Our government has put corporate profits first so that AT&T, etc. can charge what they want for however poor service. It’s not complicated. It’s a conscious decision.

  45. 45
    Tommy says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Can’t you use your iPhone as a “hotspot?” No idea of the data rates, but you have an iPhone don’t you?

  46. 46
    Tommy says:

    @Violet: That is exactly it and I know it. Still doesn’t make sense to me.

    My town through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 received $750,000. Put a fiber optics backbone in my town. That wiring Main Street and 6th Street (which I live on) we could connect all schools, the library, Post Office, City Hall, well all government buildings pretty much.

    We are planning to offer free wi-fi access. We have a $475,000 budget surplus and that is what we are going to do with it. Heck fiber direct into your business instead of a tax break. We think that might bring business to my town.

    We are planning for being sued by Verizon, Charter, and Frontier. Clearly those local providers don’t want us to do this.

  47. 47
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Tommy: Lots of folk named Jung around here, they’re Koreans.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tommy: Well, of course it doesn’t make sense to you. You’re not a Mammon worshiper.

  49. 49
    NotMax says:

    @Tommy

    How can South Korea or Denmark have access speeds 5 times plus what we have for half the price?

    Denmark’s mean reported speed is about one and a third times faster, not five times, South Korea roughly three times faster. U.S: 31.7 MBps – Denmark 41 MBps – South Korea 91.7 MBps Source

    Also too, Denmark and South Korea are much more compact geographically and have smaller populations to service.

  50. 50
    Gene108 says:

    Sad thing is everything is not horrible, despite the media’s best efforts to portray it otherwise.

    Teen pregnancy is at an all time low, thanks in large part to Obama funding programs / education methods that seem to work.

    Violent crime is lower than it has been in 50 years.

    High school graduation rates are at record highs.

    There’s so much that is getting better, and has been since the 1990’s, people seem to take it for granted and just assume everything is getting worse.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    Keith G says:

    @Gene108: The Democratic Party (from the top down) has lost it’s most important post-war narrative that they are the party that best can and will fight for better conditions for the less powerful. It’s not that they are not doing those things (though they are doing some of those things less well), it’s that they not succeeding at marketing a brand and energizing a fractured would-be base.

    The comment up top…

    GET YOUR LAZY, INDIFFERENT FUCKING ASSES OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GO VOTE!

    …is fun to type, but since an important part of the Democrat’s natural base are groups that have lowered turnout rates, part of the job description of a party leader (including a sitting president) is to vigorously lead an all out assault on this problem – not just weeks before a given election, but as part of an ongoing party and message building effort from the first day that they start leadership.

    It’s a hard slog and the press environment is not as favorable as in the past, but that is why we (in theory) chose the smartest folks around to be our leaders. Part of their job it do what it takes to get this very important job done.

    In the past, we had better social and political connective tissue (like bigger stronger unions) to help us with this challenge. Times have gotten tough, so should the Democratic leadership.

  53. 53
    satby says:

    @Keith G: You got that right. And after a while people start to wonder why they should fight hard for your party if it won’t fight hard for itself, or go out on a limb to take credit for the good things the party has accomplished.

  54. 54
    Elmo says:

    @Keith G: You make an interesting point about connective tissue. I’m not a social person at all, so take my thoughts as those of an outside observer, but: what are the social institutions at which people come together?
    Churches
    Service clubs
    Neighborhood bars?
    Can’t think of any others.
    Churches have become much more right wing and aligned with the Republicans.
    Likewise, I think, clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis.
    As people move into suburbs, neighborhood bars and such are less a factor.
    So the Republicans, seems to me, have a huge leg up in the social meatspace. Esp, as you say, as unions have declined.

  55. 55
    gene108 says:

    @Keith G:

    The Democratic Party (from the top down) has lost it’s most important post-war narrative that they are the party that best can and will fight for better conditions for the less powerful. I

    It worked for 40 years, when the Democrats had a strangle hold on the House and usually controlled the Senate, but had problems winning the White House.

    Eventually, when you help the “less powerful” earnestly, you will help blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and other groups that has caused racial resentment from whites and this showed in Presidential elections.

    Democratic Presidents and Congresses have tried to build back the case the Democrats help most people, but with the overwhelming force of income inequality allowing the rich to suck more of the wealth than anyone else, their efforts are a drop in the bucket for people’s lives.

    Clinton tried to get universal healthcare off the ground and it failed miserably. EDIT: Actual wages actually rose during the Clinton years; the only time this has happened in the last 40 years.

    Obama got the PPACA passed, against ridiculously hostile opposition, including several states suing the Federal government as to the constitutionality of the law that eventually got resolved by the Roberts Court, in a 5-4 decision, in favor of Obama with a poison pill that allows states to opt out of Medicare Medicaid expansion.

    is fun to type, but since an important part of the Democrat’s natural base are groups that have lowered turnout rates, part of the job description of a party leader (including a sitting president) is to vigorously lead an all out assault on this problem – not just weeks before a given election, but as part of an ongoing party and message building effort from the first day that they start leadership.

    To do this, Liberals and Democrats need a degree of message discipline that is better than Republicans.

    You can either have a Democratic President, who pushes to reduce income inequality and accept the politicians perceived necessity of the security state and you back the guy 100% or you keep trying to prove how you are not beholden to politics and politicians and try to get everything from domestic policy to the security state.*

    When the Snowden leaks broke out, it was – to me – a case study for liberals in what not to do. Whether you like it or not, the Democrats are your political party, when something damages them it damages you. When revelations that the Democratic President is not perfect comes out, the response must be to close ranks and not bitch about how much the NSA sucks.

    All the people you reference above hear is “Obama sucks” from conservatives and “Obama sucks” from liberals and you expect them to get excited?

    Also, groups have been trying to do turn out and voter registration for years. Those groups are working hard.

    The problem is a lack of focus from the Left.

    You are not in it to expand people’s views or broaden knowledge, the Left needs to understand they are in politics to win it, because that is the game conservatives are playing.

    * I can understand breaking ranks, if something really terrible happens like trying to get the country into war on false pretenses, but the NSA stuff is not even close to disrupting anyone’s life. It’s an exercise in doing something that may tangentially be a good idea, but is not going to be felt by anyone. In that case, is it worth going on and on about “Obama sucks” because of the NSA, that just feeds and amplifies the right-wing noise machine? I don’t think it is.

  56. 56
    NonyNony says:

    @Keith G:

    GET YOUR LAZY, INDIFFERENT FUCKING ASSES OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GO VOTE!

    …is fun to type, but since an important part of the Democrat’s natural base are groups that have lowered turnout rates, part of the job description of a party leader (including a sitting president) is to vigorously lead an all out assault on this problem – not just weeks before a given election, but as part of an ongoing party and message building effort from the first day that they start leadership.

    I was going to post something quite similar to this. Except that I think that the Democratic Party needs to divorce itself from the idea that a sitting Democratic President is the “party leader” in anything but high-level policy direction (and even there I wonder sometimes). The Democratic Party leadership has turned into a group of fundraisers – they seem to be quite good at collecting money, but they seem to be lousy at organization.

    You can yell at people all you want for not voting, but I have to tell you – anyone reading this board probably voted. And if they didn’t vote they “not voted” for reasons that they sat and deliberately considered in order to make “not voting” a “statement” (a statement I find absurd since it’s basically a mime act that nobody watches, but whatever). The people who swing elections are the vast majority of people who don’t do that – who don’t consider their vote at all except in presidential cycles where it becomes dramatic AND when there’s a huge “get out the vote” apparatus working to get people to vote. The Democratic Party can’t do anything about the lack of drama in off-year elections, but they can do the other stuff. They should be focusing laser-like on vote turnout. But we have a state-level leadership in most states that seems to worry more about hitting fundraising targets than they do with staffing get-out-the-vote ops. It’s a huge problem – Democrats need to run their party differently than Republicans do, because Republican parties know that they can scare their voters into voting with some cheap phone calls and mailers, while Democratic voters don’t scare that easily (and if they did, they’d probably be Republicans). But the state Democratic parties don’t seem to understand that.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @gene108:

    Are you equating “the security state” and “the NSA stuff”?

    Also, what is “the security state” when it’s abroad?

  58. 58
    satby says:

    @gene108: It was an election with approximately a 38% turnout. I don’t think liberals backbiting on the security state was as big an issue as the fact that it just seemed so pointless to so many people. Most of the young adults of my sons ages have felt so disconnected from the whole voting process, simply because no candidate speaks to their concerns at all when Ds run as lite Rs.

  59. 59
    beltane says:

    @satby:

    Most of the young adults of my sons ages have felt so disconnected from the whole voting process, simply because no candidate speaks to their concerns at all when Ds run as lite Rs.

    That’s been my experience as well. Maybe being the parent of teenagers/young adults has given me a more youthful perspective, but when I got polled by Gallup last month I was struck how the questions themselves were geared towards the concerns and prejudices of old people. If the questions seemed irrelevant to me, they would have seemed to be asked in another language by someone younger than myself. American politics has the decided whiff of old white man about it and this is going to have to change if young people are going to turn out to vote in representative numbers.

  60. 60
    tazj says:

    I think president Obama and Elizabeth Warren were trying to address some of the problems of younger adults by talking about student loans and starting a college ranking system. I do believe all the Democratic candidates believed in raising the minimum wage and that discussion began with the Democrats and Obama. However, the candidates this year may have failed at messaging by not making these arguments central to their campaign.

    I don’t know I don’t live in a swing state so I didn’t see many of the political ads except for the ones by Ernst and Cotton. Cotton outright lied in his ads about food stamps, and said Ebola was coming over the border. Having the minimum wage on the state ballots just seemed to help Republicans by allowing them to say they supported the state initiative.

  61. 61
    Keith G says:

    @gene108:

    All the people you reference above hear is “Obama sucks” from conservatives and “Obama sucks” from liberals and you expect them to get excited?

    First off, I’m unsure of the validity of of the premise that leads to this. Yet even if there is some truth to this, all it does is point to the importance of not having a political party that is based on a cult of personality. Presidents are hired to make tough decisions. Sometimes the decisions aren’t right and sometimes the right decisions don’t work out.

    Presidents will fail. To get around this, the narritive has to be about the progress of the political party and not how much we like every decision made by a given political leader.

    And jumpin jiminy, when presidents are wrong they need to be held to account.

  62. 62
    greenergood says:

    Scarey post from Booman today regarding the mid-term result in the Deep South
    http://www.boomantribune.com/s.....92958/5062

  63. 63
    J R in WV says:

    @Gene108:

    All that Gene108 says, plus when President Obama entered office the stock market was around 7500, and now people worry when it drops from 17,000 into the 16K range!!!

    My bro in Tejas said to me, “I know he’s your guy and all, but Obama hasn’t been good for my finances!” and I wanted to say, “Dude, stock market rallies from 7,000 to 17,000 and your finances didn’t do well? What the F is your IRA invested in?” but didn’t say a word, just hmmmm. ‘Cause nothings gonna make him vote for anyone without that (R) welded on his ass.

    Granted, some of the Banker thieves aren’t in jail that ought to be, but otherwise the finance industry is resurrected, along with crashing crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, rising youth graduation rates, etc, etc. All signs of success!

    But all the Republicans can talk about is ALIENZZZ!!! without stopping to think if things here suck so bad, why do people from all over the world wish they were here? Not to vote for Yertle!!!

  64. 64
    NonyNony says:

    @gene108:

    To do this, Liberals and Democrats need a degree of message discipline that is better than Republicans.

    If your election strategy is to get Liberal and Democratic voters to act more like Republicans, then you will lose.

    Democratic voters will be critical of the people they elect. That’s part of being a Democrat. Democrats do not fall in line and just say “okay, whatever you say boss, you’re the President”. That just isn’t how people inclined to vote Democrat think.

    I’m not saying you have to argue Democratic voters into voting for you via rational discourse – that isn’t going to work either. But you can’t expect Democrats to just stop being critical of their elected officials. What’s more, you can’t expect Democratic politicians to do it either – because signalling that you’re just a lock-step drone who does what he’s told is the second-best way to get un-elected as a Democrat (the best way is to run as Republican-lite in a marginal district/state on an off-year). Because Democrats don’t want to vote for politicians who just do what they’re told – they want to vote for politicians who have ideas.

    It’s a conundrum I admit – Democratic voters are not an easy group of people to deal with. Republican voters are easy – you scare the crap out of them with whatever they’re afraid of and the lie to them about how to fix it (mostly by telling them that the solution is lower taxes and a larger military/police force – lies that they want to believe in anyway is always a classic con). There are fewer of them, which means that strategy has to work, but it works on nearly all of them so it’s good. Democrats don’t vote out of fear – if you scare the crap out of a Democrat they’re more likely to figure it’s all pointless because nobody’s going to actually fix anything and not bother to vote. There are more Democrats, but it’s easier to convince them that their vote doesn’t matter and they need to “work outside the system” to “enact real change”. (Which is what happened to the Liberal Vietnam-war generation – they decided working within the system would only get them more of the same so they dropped out of politics and started working outside the system. Which was great for a number of charities and NGOs that needed people, but lousy for the direction of the political apparatus. But that’s another story – though a related one.)

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    Gene108 says:

    @satby:

    I went through a stint, in my 20’s, when I did not vote. I moved to another state, was not connecting with new local politics, and I did think my vote would not make a difference. The Bush, Jr admin disavowed me from ever wanting to sit out.

    I understand why people do not want to get involved, but I think for liberals / Democrats to do better, they need to be coherent and disciplined in ways they are not.

    When I have time, I will look up voter participation rates. Will be interesting to see how we compare to eras, when Democrats controlled the House and many state governments.

  66. 66
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Gene108:

    Sad thing is everything is not horrible, despite the media’s best efforts to portray it otherwise.

    The three improvements you mentioned can all be credited, at least in part, to the campaign to remove lead from the environment. All three are exacerbated by lead poisoning at an early age.

  67. 67
    Gene108 says:

    @Cervantes:

    I had not thought things out that far. I just think, when people are working harder for less, NSA snooping, drones, etc is not a hill to die on for the Left, with regards to an issue that will allow them to have enough power to enact their agenda.

    And I think Republicans have changed the way the “game” of politics is played. At some meta level they are turning into both win at all costs and winner take all “game”. The only way to change this game is to beat them again and again.

  68. 68
    Cervantes says:

    @Gene108:

    Agree in general but I think using “drones” and “not a hill to die on” in the same sentence may not be the most felicitous choice of words.

  69. 69
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    Lots of good points are being made here. I dunno if there’s a single or even handful of “explanations” of what really happened and a clear way forward, though.

    Part of the problem is that incumbents rarely lose – what else explains ~ 95% of the House being re-elected when generic satisfaction with it is ~ 10%? But in a nearly 50:50 country, changes of just a few seats can make a big difference. Changing that requires a wave. Waves don’t happen very often.

    Candidates need enough money to get their message out and to get people to the polls, but does that take millions? Who benefits from all the fund-raising other than the hired pollsters, political campaign gurus and media conglomerates? Do TV ads really matter? The evidence would seem to say, “No!”. I think that’s part of the reason why people get turned off by the “Give Money Now!!111” screaming e-mails.

    Money these days is all about access – that’s why it’s so corrosive. There are only so many hours in the day, so when your Congresswoman spends several of them attending a fundraiser or calling donors, that’s time they’re not spending listening to their constitutents. People in the room or on the phone get to say what’s on their minds – not people working 3 jobs and trying to keep their kids healthy and out of trouble. People know that giving $5 to her isn’t going to mean anything as far as getting their concerns address (the fundraising e-mails I get almost never as for an opinion – only money).

    Yeah, attacking the President because he’s not Luther (of K&P) is silly and counter-productive – especially when the alternative is worse! But our leaders need to hear from us when we’re happy with what they’re doing, and especially when we’re unhappy with what they’re doing (and not doing). My Party Right or Wrong isn’t the way to go…

    Local and State parties that are vibrant are run by people who bother to show up. It’s (huge generalization alert!) people who can afford the time to do so. That means it’s not people working 3 jobs with kids. It’s not people in college (unless via a college organization). It’s retired people or people who have enough money that they don’t need to work. Parties need to work harder to reach regular voters – being at sporting/music events, PTA meetings, shopping centers, etc., might help. Don’t just appear out of nowhere a few weeks before the election! That takes money and time though…

    It’s a hard problem. GOTV and message discipline isn’t enough. We need to get more people involved in the state and local parties, I think.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (Who isn’t full of doom-and-gloom, but recognizes that it won’t be easy to make progress. But it never is…)

  70. 70
    Gene108 says:

    @NonyNony:

    What I am pointing to is a clearly defined identity. Republicans have it and voters respond to it. It may blow up in their face, like in 2008, but to their credit they dug in their heels, stuck to a strategy, ruthlessly took advantage of CU and their structural media advantage and by 2010, the losses of 2006 and 2008 were a distant memory.

    I guess what I am trying to say is Democrats lack a clear identity, as a Party. This is one reason it is easy for Republican ads to demonize a Democratic opponent.

    As far as running as Republican-lite goes, there are places where it is the only way to win. In the end, Pryor, Hagen, Shuler and all others, who may not run as far to the left as you like did win, at least one election, so their strategies are not always gong to lose.

    Until the Democrats define an identity that trumps guns, gays and abortions they will struggle.

  71. 71
    Gene108 says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    There is no one to one reason why these Social indicators are getting better. Lead may be a reason, but no one has established a 100% one to one correlation, though some like Kevin Drum argue all other factors being equal the lead reduction is the one significant difference between now and the surge in crime 30- 40 years ago.

  72. 72
    satby says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    Local and State parties that are vibrant are run by people who bother to show up. It’s (huge generalization alert!) people who can afford the time to do so. That means it’s not people working 3 jobs with kids. It’s not people in college (unless via a college organization).

    Yep. And the retired people are by and large Republican, whether out of habit and tribalism, or out of racism.

    I know that my kids and their friends were kind of appalled by the election results, but they’re all twenty-something and working 6 days a week with overtime just to have their own apartments and pay student loans. I think they trusted the older people not to fuck it up too badly for them (no idea if they voted, I think they know better than to admit they may not have to me). It IS frustrating, as we’ve all discussed, how do you make a dent in the lies in the media, how do you understand where politicians are on policy, how do you keep up with it all when you work 6 days a week? I dispute every false statement when it’s made in front of me; all that gets me is a reputation as a crank, because I’m virtually the only person saying some of that in my environment. And I honestly have problems of my own, trying to do the work for a political party that keeps dropping the ball on pushing their messaging is disheartening me too.

  73. 73
    satby says:

    @Gene108:

    Until the Democrats define an identity that trumps guns, gays and abortions

    If they would run as progressive populists they would even capture some of the Tea partiers, because that faux populism is what attracts a few of those folks. They know they’re getting crapped on, they’re just blaming the wrong people. Simple racism is a lot of the Tea Party appeal, but fear for their precarious future is part of it for some of them.

  74. 74
    wuzzat says:

    @tazj:

    One area that I think many GOTV efforts fail is in regards to state ballot measures. Let’s face it, if you’re already disenchanted with the voting process, trying to rally around a Cuomo or a Coakley is a losing battle from the start. But state ballot measures have the potential to have tangible, nearly immediate effects on voters’ lives, and most of the time the only information voters get about them are a couple of scare quote ads from special interest groups. I suspect that someone with the ability to translate ballot measures into non-partisan layman’s terms and distribute that information to potential voters would have better luck getting the youngsters (i.e. people under the age of 65) to the polls than someone cold-calling voters.

  75. 75
    NonyNony says:

    @Gene108:

    I guess what I am trying to say is Democrats lack a clear identity, as a Party. This is one reason it is easy for Republican ads to demonize a Democratic opponent.

    I actually cut a whole paragraph off what I wrote up there before I posted because it was going long, but this is basically my judgment too. At least kind of.

    The trouble is that the Democratic Party actually does have a clear identity in the minds of voters. Voters “know” that the Democratic party is the party of minority rights, of “women’s” issues (particularly abortion and workplace equality) and of making sure that there are jobs for everyone, that nobody in this country starves if they can’t find a job, and that nobody dies just because they can’t afford a doctor.

    They “know” all of this, but they know it from the Mirror-universe framework – Democrats are the party that care more about women and black people and hispanics and gays than straight-white men and the party that wants to hand your tax dollars over to poor people who should just get a jerb. Oh and the party that wants to raise taxes.

    What makes it easy for Republicans is that you can’t run as a Democrat on a platform of fear, while you can easily run as a Republican on one. So the Republicans have spun Democratic ideas right into a fear that “some other” is taking something away from Republican voters. That’s resentment politics, and Republicans are great at it because it’s easy to do with Republican voters.

    Plus because almost every Democrat is an iconoclast, you have the issue that every politician feels the need to stake themselves out as a “different kind of Democrat” that takes one of the things that the voters expect Democrats to stand for and flips the script on it. Either because they actually believe it, or because they’re making a cynical effort to stand out or because they have lazy campaign managers who think that that connects to voters or something. (I think it actually makes the candidate look wishy-washy “I’m a Democrat on most things, but I don’t believe in abortion rights” is a sure way to lose marginal Democratic votes and not pick up any new votes – because Democratic voters will believe you and non-Democratic voters will figure you’re lying in a cynical attempt to pick up their vote.)

    I actually think that what the Democratic Party should be doing is organizing the state-level parties to unify their message on 3-5 core issues that all candidates that run as Democrats agree they will be in favor of and not undercut and then aggressively campaign nationally on those issues – with individual state parties/candidates emphasizing some over the other as relevant to their local areas. And these need to be core issues that tie into what people already believe that the Democratic Party stands for – economic justice, women’s rights and minority rights. Running away from what people believe about the party isn’t working – it’s time to just embrace it and find a way to make it work.

    (Also the state level parties should be committing about 60%-80% of their time and money to voter registration and GOTV efforts. And they should be constantly working on GOTV to get Democratic voters into the habit of voting every election. Voter registration, education and GOTV efforts should be the major focus of local parties, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.)

  76. 76

    […] the video that Anne Laurie posted below, Bernie Sanders got it right (around 2:30): “The vast majority of people are giving up on the […]

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @beltane:

    American politics has the decided whiff of old white man about it and this is going to have to change if young people are going to turn out to vote in representative numbers.

    This.
    I complain on here that not all old white men are conservatives, but politics in this country are run like we are. And that the only way to get votes is to cater to old white conservative men. Could it be that a lot of the people having any say at all in either political party are old white men whose political wind blows to the conservative side of either party?

  78. 78
    J R in WV says:

    If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain!

    One of my many mottoes!

    One friend, when hearing me bitch about an election long past, said “People in a democracy get the government they deserve. So don’t complain so much about how this election came out.”

    Shut me down for a while, too much truth in it. But only if the count is fair and square. Which of history’s monsters said “You can have all the elections you want, as long as I get to count the votes!” ?

    I’m thinking it was Uncle Joseph Stalin… AKA Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili – a Georgian name as that is where he was born. Correct me if there was some one else, or numerous people claiming it.

    ET fix typos!

  79. 79
    Cervantes says:

    @NonyNony:

    What makes it easy for Republicans is that you can’t run as a Democrat on a platform of fear, while you can easily run as a Republican on one.

    How do you figure that?

    Particularly the part about the Democrat, I mean.

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