If the election were held today …
On the reality of white disadvantage, Webb is right. While the poverty rate for white Americans is 9.6 percent—substantially below the rate for Latinos (23.5 percent) and black Americans (27.2 percent)—they account for nearly half of all of America’s poor, and 56 percent of the country’s poverty-level wage earners are white.
But this isn’t part of the national conversation, which owes itself, in part, to geography. Unlike black and Latino poverty, which is tied heavily to the nation’s urban spaces, white poverty is more diffuse, though there are areas where it’s highly concentrated. Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas are mostly white states with double-digit white poverty rates—18 percent, 16 percent, and 13 percent, respectively—and the ills that come with them: drug abuse, incarceration, and family dissolution. And overall, the number of whites who experience this kind of disadvantage has grown substantially in the last 20 years. “The number of non-Hispanic white people residing in high-poverty neighborhoods more than doubled between 2000 and 2007-2011, rising from 1.4 million to 2.9 million,” writes sociologist Paul Jargowsky in a 2014 report.
Ironically, it’s this pervasiveness—the fact of its existence in almost every part of America—that makes white poverty nearly invisible to the national elites, who cluster in urban centers like New York City and Washington D.C., where minorities are a presence. It’s easy to forget the white poor when your closest examples of poverty are the housing projects of Anacostia and not the dilapidated mills of western North Carolina or the crumbling railroad towns of southern Georgia.
Working-class whites face similar problems. While their disadvantage isn’t as deep—although many will experience spells of poverty or even slip in the ranks of the long-term poor—they have landed with the short end of the economic stick. This isn’t a new story. Between deindustrialization and public disinvestment—as well as “trickle-down” policies that pushed productivity gains into profits, not wages—working-class incomes have been destroyed. A generation of whites has been left behind—with work that isn’t steady if it pays well, and doesn’t pay much if it’s full time—and their children are sliding down the same path.
What Webb recognizes is that from their perspective, neither the Democratic Party nor the government is on their side. Ignore whether you agree with Webb’s normative suggestions—that Democrats should give up anti-discrimination and affirmative action programs. The simple truth is that working-class whites see the Democratic Party as hostile to their interests as workers and citizens.
Obama and the Democrats almost always blinked first. Ever since the ACA. Why? Corporate influence trumps them all? Flailing in the face of a divided GOP? WTF?
WASHINGTON — Less than a month after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) landed a new Senate leadership position, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Barack Obama risked a fight with her over government subsidies for risky Wall Street derivatives trading.
They won the near-term policy fight: After a bruising bicameral battle, the House of Representatives narrowly approved an annual spending bill that granted taxpayer support for the risky financial contracts at the heart of the 2008 meltdown.
But the bitter feud left Reid and Obama politically embarrassed, while consolidating a burgeoning populist movement within the Democratic Party that highlighted Warren’s influence in wings of the Capitol far removed from her perch on the Senate Banking Committee. It also forced Obama and a host of Democratic leaders into the crosshairs of a critique Warren typically levels at Republicans: that powerful people in Washington are rigging the system to help Wall Street at the expense of the middle class.
People who know me know I am usually pretty calm and not prone to go on Howard Beale-esque rants about how crooked and nasty politics can be.
But after what happened this Nov. 4 I can no longer sit idly by. This years midterm elections were an appalling travesty on multiple levels. It’s not just the results themselves that upset me, but the fact those results were evocative of a hopelessly broken elitist political machine that has done little good and plenty of harm to the so-called “Greatest Country in The World” for far too long now.
It might be easy for you to sit back and dismiss my views because I am an immigrant and not a true, full blooded American but the fact is, I’ve been here for 7 years and I’ll be here for the foreseeable future. This is as much my country as it is yours and I have every right to be concerned about the direction in which it’s headed.
That said, let me break down point by point why I really hate American politics today.
The Two Party System
Because of how the American political machine is constructed, there are really only two viable parties. The Democratic and The Republican. It’s probably more difficult in the United States than any other developed country in the world to get elected as a 3rd Party candidate. Oh sure, every so often an Independent will make a few waves and win a seat or two but we have never had any viable 3rd parties in this country compared to Canada and most European nations.
Politicians and voters are expected to come down on one side or the other, with virtually no room for a middle ground. That’s not a recipe for prosperity.
Hyper partisanship/Go Team Go!
Politics should never be framed as a battle of Good vs. Evil, rather it should be more like Good vs. Good. Republicans and Democrats alike should be concerned with the well being of all Americans. Compromise should be the norm, not the exception to the rule.
When one party demonizes the other and forces people to choose sides like it’s some kind of war, nothing constructive comes of it whatsoever. And when I say nothing constructive I mean nothing legislatively. How can you be expected to compromise with the guy across the table when you utterly despise him?
Hyper partisanship means that, based on our beliefs, we are all labeled as either “Liberal” or “Conservative” and instantly profiled. That is to say that, if my views mark me as a Liberal, I instantly become not only a Liberal, but a tree hugging communist who never expects anyone to work hard for their money, smokes pot and listens to weird New Age music. If my views identify me as Conservative I am now a racist, homophobic, religious, Neo confederate redneck who loves me some guns.
Of course Americans are a diverse people and it’s absolutely ridiculous to, in the face of such diversity, adopt such a black and white approach to how people think and feel about the world.
I’ve never understood why these are necessary. They do nothing but undermine the Presidency and create legislative gridlock. Consider Obama’s Presidency:
2008-2010: Democrats control the House and Senate
2010-2014: Republicans control the House, Democrats control the Senate
2014-2016: Republicans control the House and Senate
That means that, out of an eight year, two term Presidency Obama only gets about two years to constructively get anything done. A GOP house isn’t going to do much for him and a GOP Senate on top of that now means he’s practically reduced to President-in-name-only because he might as well be powerless.
In Canada, we have an election and whoever we choose to elect gets a full four years at the helm. Now of course depending on how things go that means it can either be four hurtful years or four helpful years but regardless, it gives the ruling party time to actually enact legislation rather than be tied up in endless gridlock.
Changing things up every two years to me seems a far more costly and far less effective form of governance. How can we expect a President to effectively achieve his legislative goals if the legislature is constantly changing? It’s like if a caddie kept swapping clubs out of his golfers bag every few holes and still expected him to shoot a 67.
Not only do we have midterms every two years, but the Presidential elections are every four. I know this scheduling is written right in to the Constitution and will probably never be changed, but I still dislike it.
Having more elections and firmly scheduled elections means that politicians are constantly campaigning and never governing. An article I read a couple of days ago said that given the current political climate the 2016 Presidential campaign begins on Nov. 5, 2014.
I find that campaign timeframes in America are ridiculously long. I’ve previously stated that, in Canada, the law allows for a MAXIMUM of I think 60 days between when an election is called and when the vote is held. That means Canadian politicians spend a lot more time working and a lot less time (and money) campaigning.
This is, of course, not exclusive to America. Attack ads have been part of the political game for close to 30 years now. I find though, that since the election of Barack Obama, the amount of negative campaigning and attack ads and just plain dirty politics has increased exponentially.
I’m sure we all remember the person who snuck into a nursing home and took pictures of Thad Cochran’s ill wife during the Mississippi GOP primary. It’s bothered me for years now how much politics has become more about trashing the other guy than championing your own positions.
Sadly, I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon.
Of course, I saved the Worst for last.
I firmly believe that nothing. NOTHING has been more damaging to American politics than the Citizens United decision. Because of this, the power of government has been definitively and permanently handed over not to the American people but to the Corporations and special interest groups who are now free to spend Billions of dollars annually on politics and politicians.
What tiny bit of power the little guy had left is gone forever. Politics isn’t for you and me anymore. It’s for Company Presidents and Directors of the Board. It’s for Bankers and Investors. It’s for Real Estate Moguls and Sports Agents. It’s for “Think Tanks” and Advocacy groups.
The entire power of the U.S. political system has been given, on a silver platter even, to a very elite and very moneyed group of people who will not hesitate to use that power to further their own ends at the expense of everything and everyone else.
Now it might be easy to read all this and assume that I hate America.
But I don’t.
I want nothing more than to see growth, prosperity and liberty for ALL Americans.
I love this country. I love what America has traditionally stood for.
What I hate is what has happened to this country and how what should be the finest example of democracy in the world has turned into a crooked, corrupted, distorted cash filled trash heap with little hopes of being cleaned up anytime soon.
At the beginning of this essay I referred to Howard Beale. I think it’s safe to say given the state of politics in this country today, there’s plenty of Americans out there who have every right to be and indeed ought to be Mad as Hell.
Rush makes the same idiotic comparison of Democratic Party policies and Communism that’s been going on for decades. It’s especially ridiculous when you consider that many of Obama’s economic policies are, in many ways, consistent with Republican Party beliefs in that they are market oriented. Especially ObamaCare, which was in large part based on Republican and conservative ideas.
And then there’s all this “enemy of the state” nonsense. As if Obama is a Stalinist. As if he had anything to do with what happened to Catherine Engelbrecht, Ayaan Hirisi Ali, or Brendan Eich.
To even suggest he did, as Rush does, is so monumentally stupid that it isn’t worthy of comment. But this is a microcosm of conservative thinking, as it has been for decades now.
This kind of “thinking” is somewhat converse to fine wine, in that it gets dumber with age:
THE DEMOCRAT PARTY IS PUNITIVE THE DEMOCRAT PARTY HAS AN ENEMIES LIST AND IT’S ANYBODY WHO SUCCEEDS WHO IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE CLAN!!!!!!!!!!11ty
What does equality of income mean? Well how would you do it? Would you base it on family size? Would you base it on hours worked? Would you base it on what somebody supposedly needs?…If you’re going to have income equality, everyone’s going to have enough income to do what? To buy what? Everybody’s going to be able to own what? Who’s going to decide this? The places and the countries that have tried this, nobody owns anything, except the leaders. There is no property, nobody’s allowed to own property. So that question’s dealt with right off the bat. Nobody’s going to have enough to own anything, and nobody’s going to be permitted to own anything. The state is going to own everything. And if you stay in good graces with the state, then you’ll be okay, as far as okay gets you. But if you’re not, you’re an enemy of the state, and that’s what we are today. Anybody that’s not an Obamaite is an enemy of the state. Anybody that’s not all in with Eric Holder is an enemy of the state. Talk to Catherine Engelbrecht, talk to Arian (sic) Hirsi Ali, talk to Brendan Eich…Who’s going to make these determinations of who gets what? Who’s going to make these determinations of what we all need to be equal? The same people who brought us ObamaCare? The same people who run the DMV? The same people running the climate change movement?…the same people who can routinely get a CEO fired for giving $1000 to a proposition that says marriage is that between a man and a woman? Can you imagine that believing marriage is between a man and a woman is enough to get you exiled in the United States of America?
This is a good argument for doing your research and not just voting based on which party the candidate belongs to.
Democratic primary voters in some Montana legislative districts will see new and unfamiliar names on the ballot this year. That’s because at least eight Democratic candidates are actually far-right “constitutionalists” and Tea Party activists. One of them is the current Republican vice-chairman for Sanders County. Two of the others have turned out to be homeless.
Most of the activity has occurred in Gallatin County, where Bozeman is the main population center and county seat. The county is home not only to Montana State University but also a variety of extremist elements. Key members of the radical Montana Freemen group were active there in the 1990s.
Chief among the new crop of candidates is Michael Comstock, a well-known local Tea Party activist and antigovernment “Patriot” movement organizer who has run previously as a Republican. This year, he filed to run in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat in District 24, a seat currently held by Republican incumbent Roger Webb, who is running for re-election.
Notably when a Republican Governor pointed this out he was fiercely shouted down. When the new Democratic governor acted on the exact same issues, he prevailed. Who runs this state? Not the Republicans. The GOP created the Tea Party monster. The Democratic party in California created the Union monster. What we need are sensible limits. We need a balance of power between labor and employers. Neither party appears interested in a balance like that, to our collective shame.
The results of the independent Field Poll showed a stark shift in public opinion in California, long a labor union stronghold. Even those who identify as Democrats or have union affiliations reported their views on labor unions taking a turn for the worse.
Among Democrats, 30% of voters said unions do more harm than good — up 9 percentage points from March 2011. The jump in negative opinion was steeper among Republicans: 70% said unions do more harm than good, up 13 percentage points from the last reading two and a half years ago.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
A bill that would allow insurance companies to sell policies, both to new and existing customers, that do not meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed the House of Representatives 261-157 Friday afternoon. Thirty-nine Democrats joined 222 Republicans in voting for the move.
The final tally is sure to sound some alarm in the Obama administration. The number of Democratic defections is the most visible sign of concerns in the party over the troubled implementation of the health care law, and of worries that it may become a cudgel used against vulnerable House Democrats facing re-election in 2014.
The Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013, sponsored by Republican Fred Upton of Michigan, is not expected to be taken up by the Senate. The White House has already announced that President Barack Obama would veto the measure.
House Republicans have tried to defang the health care law on more than 40 occasions since it was passed in 2010, but this time, the caucus had momentum and a certain amount of political will on its side. Public outrage has been building over the fact that customers insured through the individual insurance market have been receiving notices from their insurers that their polices have been canceled for failing to meet the standards of Obamacare. During the legislative battle over its passage and the three years since, the president repeatedly assured Americans that if they liked their plans, they could keep them.
When I use the term fiscal conservative it’s taken from my (& the common definition) meaning somehow as a pejorative. Must be that other “C” word. One person who rejects the term outright thinks “reasonably pragmatic” would be better.
Well I object on the basis of not letting the extremists steal the term from the sensible. In addition to California’s Democratic Governor also being a strong fiscal conservative, I applaud the concept, and await it’s return to the center and right aisles. In the meantime I’ll applaud it where I can find it.
The bold and italics are my addition.
January 4, 2013
Since election night, many political pundits have written about the demise of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Caucus in Congress. What is most distressing to us is not the pontifications of the political punditry (many of whom picked Mitt Romney to win in a landslide) but, rather, the acceptance by many Democrats that the South is a lost cause.
What is so puzzling about Democrats writing off certain congressional districts, like those in our home states of Mississippi and Louisiana, is that they fail to either see or accept the correlation between winning those highly competitive House seats below the Mason-Dixon line and taking control of Congress. It is not a coincidence that the reduction of Blue Dogs on Capitol Hill coincides with Republican control of the House of Representative.
Just a few years ago, in 2006, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, working with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, led Democrats to take back the House of Representatives from Republicans and J. Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker in history.
After all, ranking member and minority leader are pretty good titles to have, but chairman and speaker of the House sound a heck of a lot better.
Hardly ancient history. Democrats picked up 31 seats, and a quick look at this map demonstrates just how much blue there was in the South. Those same voters live there today, and the world hasn’t changed all that much in six years.
While redistricting has made things harder for Democrats in some of those congressional districts, it doesn’t change the fact that they must have those seats to wrestle back control of the House.
Emanuel has left Washington to be mayor of Chicago, but that doesn’t mean a concerted effort to take back those congressional seats in the South is an impossibility. It just means Democrats need to do two things:
First, recruit candidates with political viewpoints that are in line with people in those regions — and who have the ability to raise money.
And second, the party needs to lead from the middle to convince Southerners that a vote for a Democrat is not a vote for far-left policies in Washington that are out of step with the more moderate views in rural America.
We are not suggesting that Democrats abandon their principles. Rather, instead of always starting political debates on the far left, and only moving to the middle during negotiations, Democrats should begin in the middle and challenge Republicans to come to us. Always beginning negotiations from extreme positions doesn’t help achieve the legislative compromise our nation so desperately needs. It also doesn’t assure the moderate voters who decide elections in swing districts that the Democratic Party is moderate.
The importance of Blue Dogs for Democrats to control Congress isn’t critical just in the House. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a member of the Blue Dogs, won a hotly contested Senate fight. Admittedly, his opponent did real damage to his own campaign with highly controversial comments about abortion. But Donnelly ran a strong campaign and was ahead in some polls even before that happened.
No doubt, if Donnelly had been too liberal for Indiana’s moderate voters (both registered Democrats and independents), that Senate seat could have ended up in the hands of Republicans.
Just a few years ago, Democrats had seats in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia that are now controlled by Republicans. In the most recent presidential election, President Barack Obama won Virginia and almost won North Carolina. So the South is hardly a lost cause for Democrats.
This is why Democrats need to shrug off the assertions that the Blue Dogs are over and again make real efforts to take back those seats — and with them, control of the House of Representatives.
Former Reps. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss., and Charlie Melancon, D-La., were part of the Blue Dog Caucus during their tenures on Capitol Hill.
“It’s still a place that, to borrow a phrase, clings to its guns and religion, and I think it will continue to do so,” Felkel said. “As long as the Democratic Party still seems to be the party that’s opposed to religion and guns, a large segment of the Southern population is going to have trouble with that, especially at the federal level.”
“The people who helped to bring the Republican Party into power would not be viewed as Republican enough for some of these Tea Party types today. It’s a path to insignificance.”
But Felkel is also troubled by the direction of his own party, which he sees being hijacked by far-right activists with little regard for the GOP’s traditions. Felkel cut his teeth with the 1986 campaign of the legendary former South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell, but he’s afraid Campbell’s type couldn’t get through a Republican primary in this day and age.
“The people who helped to bring the Republican Party into power — President Reagan, Governor Campbell — those people would not be viewed as Republican enough for some of these Tea Party types today,” Felkel said. “It bothers me greatly. I think it’s a path to insignificance.”