Governor: Jerry Brown. Most of California’s challenges remain before us, but Brown has been able to take action on many of them, moving the state from deep financial distress to a welcome, if temporary, surplus. Voters would be wise to keep him on the job.
Lt. governor: Gavin Newsom. Newsom has been unable to do much more with the office than have his predecessors. Still, he’s a competent understudy and better suited to assume the role of governor than any of his challengers.
Secretary of state: Pete Peterson. Peterson, a Republican, is the candidate best suited for the kinds of tasks entrusted to this office: safeguarding and promoting elections, and making campaign and business data available to the public in a useful form.
Controller: Ashley Swearengin. Fresno Mayor Swearengin has demonstrated her skill in leading her city through its economic crisis, and is the candidate most likely to perform well as the state’s chief financial officer.
The general consensus is Democrats may lose big in 2014, but that doesn’t have to be. They can rip a page from the Republicans’ playbook to turn this thing around.
What am I babbling about? I am referring to rewording and coded language—and the Grand Ole Party is brilliant at both.
Comedian Bill Maher offered some advice to Democrats Friday on his HBO show which was ingenious. He thinks they need to change how they describe their policies and programs to voters.
Republicans in Washington, on talk radio and television—namely, Fox—are experts at spin and use coded language and rewording to either fire up the hate, fear, ignorance or resentment of their base or mobilize them into action.
One of their most memorable rewordings was changing “Affordable Care Act” to “Obamacare.”
You see, to inflame hearts and minds against President Barack Hussein Obama, they took his signature piece of legislation and wiped his foreign, Muslim-sounding name all over it.
What’s odd about it is that for so long, it was Democrats who were thought to lack an understanding of the role identity and values play in politics. I certainly thought that. What I used to say when hectoring audiences of liberals is that, with a few exceptions (such as Bill Clinton), for a long time it seemed that elections would proceed this way: The Democrat would say, “If you read my 10-point plan, I believe you will see that I offer a superior choice to my opponent.” And the Republican would point to the Democrat and say, “That guy hates you and everything you stand for.” Candidates such as John Kerry, Al Gore and Michael Dukakis (sample quote: “This election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence.”) just didn’t get it.
I think the answer is that Republicans can still play identity politics; the problem is that identity appeals can’t capture a majority of voters for them anymore, at least not nationally (on the local and state level, when they’re appealing to smaller groups of voters, it still works perfectly well). Ironically, it’s because they’re more defined by identity than ever — an identity as the party of old white guys — that they are stymied when they try to figure out how to play identity politics that goes beyond that demographic.
There is gridlock because Republicans are determined to block any Obama initiative, 51 percent of voters say, while 35 percent say President Barack Obama lacks the skills to convince leaders of Congress to work together.
Asked another way, 53 percent say Obama is doing “too little” to compromise with congressional Republicans, but 68 percent of voters say congressional Republicans are doing “too little.” Ten percent of voters blame Democrats for gridlock, while 23 percent blame Republicans and 64 percent blame both parties equally.
“Voters think the Democrats and Obama aren’t playing nice, but they think the Republicans are worse,” said Brown.
The Supreme Court may rule on gay marriage this week. Advocates both for and against are glad the issue didn’t reach the court any sooner.
They didn’t want a repeat of the abortion issue. With its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, the high court stepped in and guaranteed a right to abortion but also triggered a backlash that has lasted for 40 years.
With same-sex marriage, by contrast, legislators and voters in nearly every state had the chance to make their feelings known before the Supreme Court weighs in.
“People forget that durable rights don’t come from courts, they come from consensus and strong support from society,” says Jonathan Rauch, author of Denial, a recent memoir about growing up gay. “We are winning the right to marriage in a bigger, deeper way by winning it in the court of public opinion.”
After losing political battles in a majority of states, gay marriage supporters have won a number of legislative victories and ballot measures in recent years. Sensing momentum is in their favor, it may not be surprising that they’re glad they’ve had time to make their case to the public.
A Pew Research Center poll this month found that 72 percent of Americans believe universal gay marriage rights are “inevitable,” including 59 percent of those opposed to the idea.
Iran’s ruling theocracy was unable to overcome its notorious infighting and unite behind a single candidate in Friday’s presidential election, which has suddenly boosted the prospects of the lone moderate in the race and rekindled interest among some who had planned to boycott.
A cleric and former nuclear negotiator with only modest reform credentials, Hassan Rowhani stirred little enthusiasm when he announced his candidacy in April. Even when he was one of only two centrists to survive the vetting of the conservative, cleric-controlled Guardian Council, he was given little chance of drawing more than a sliver of the vote.
But with the withdrawal earlier this week of Mohammad Reza Aref, the only other candidate not thoroughly beholden to the religious hierarchy under supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rowhani is now seen as having a shot at emerging high enough in the six-candidate field to advance to a June 21 runoff.
Aref, a Stanford-educated academic who was vice president under former President Mohammad Khatami, dropped his presidential bid at Khatami’s urging to strengthen Rowhani’s chances and give voters tired of Iran’s ravaged economy and international isolation a viable alternative to the status quo.
Slightly more voters say they’ll vote Democratic in the 2014 congressional elections than Republicans, bucking a historical trend of the president’s party losing seats in his sixth year, a new poll Wednesday shows.
Forty-one percent of voters said they’ll vote Democratic while 37 percent said they’ll vote for Republicans, according to a Quinnipiac University survey.
Overall, 48 percent of voters want one party to control both the Senate and House, while 43 percent would like it split. Sixty-four percent of Democrats want complete control, while 30 percent of them want it split. Meanwhile, 50 percent of GOPers want complete control while 44 percent it split. Among independents, 53 percent want complete control and 35 percent want it split.
ALEIGH The state House passed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016, after an emotionally charged debate that underscored North Carolina’s political polarization.
House Republicans pushed through the measure saying that the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places, that voter fraud was more prevalent than is understood, and that in a modern, mobile society fewer election officials personally knew voters.
“Our system of government depends upon open and honest elections,” said Rep. David Lewis, a farm equipment dealer from Dunn and a Republican. “Having people prove who they say they are as a condition of voting makes sense and guarantees that each vote is weighted equally and cumulatively determines the outcome of elections.”
But the move was strongly opposed by Democrats who said a photo ID would create longer lines at the polls, make it harder for the elderly, African-Americans and some students to vote, and would unconstitutionally create different categories of voters.
“This bill would attempt to turn back the strong voting we’ve had in North Carolina,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, a Baptist minister from Laurinburg, noting that the Tar Heel state had the 12th-highest turnout in the country last November.
Millions of Kenyans poured into polling stations across the country on Monday in a crucial, anxiously awaited presidential election, and early reports said some violence erupted in the coastal region around Mombasa, recalling far greater bloodletting in the last national ballot five years ago.
Across the land, the turnout appeared to be tremendous. Starting hours before dawn, lines of voters wrapped in blankets and heavy coats stretched for nearly a mile in some places.
But in Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean, at least four police officers were butchered with machetes in an overnight attack that authorities believe was carried out by the Mombasa Republican Council, a fringe separatist group that opposes the elections and believes Kenya’s coast should be a separate country.
News reports put the death toll higher, with Reuters quoting senior police officials as saying nine security officers, two civilians and six attackers had died. Other reports put the tally at 12.
Some Western election observers in Mombasa, Kenya’s biggest coastal city, have pulled back to their hotels because of security concerns.