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Democrats have lessons to learn too [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 03:32:31 PM EST

President Obama has won a decisive victory, winning the popular vote by over 3% and winning all the states he won in 2008 except for Indiana and North Carolina for a 332-206 win in the electoral college. He has done so in the context of continuing difficulties in the economy, in the face of an absolute wall of dark corporate money facilitated by the Citizen's United judgement, and despite some absolutely disgraceful voter suppression tactics adopted by some Republican run local and state administrations.

Democrats also made some gains in the Senate and House and won ballot initiatives in some states to permit same sex marriage and restricted use of marijuana. Some unapologetic progressives were elected: Notably Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts,  Tammy Baldwin, the first openly LGTB Senator in Wisconsin, whilst Chris Murphy will be a big improvement on Joe Lieberman.

On the Republican side here has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Many seem in shock that they couldn't defeat the "black, Muslim, terrorist loving socialist from Kenya" in the aftermath of a severe recession and continuing economic difficulties. Some have begun to realise that you can no longer build a successful governing coalition on the basis of the conservative white vote alone: that you cannot win if you alienate minorities to the point that 80% vote against you - not to mention the gender gap exacerbated by some truly extraordinary comments and policies on rape, abortion, contraception and equal pay.

But there are also lessons that Democrats can learn from the election results, and chiefly from their failure to make any significant inroads into the Republican majority in the House. What Democratic successes we have seen have generally been due to some truly awful Republican candidates such as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in the Senate and Alan West in the House.  There has been little evidence of a systematic shift to Democratic candidates in the House despite 2010 being a high water mark for the Republican party. So why is this?


I alluded to one reason in my story SUN Voters to give victory to Obama?

The other concern I have is that there may have been insufficient linkage between the Presidential campaign effort and other, down ticket, races in this election. Obama will be able to do little in his second term if he has to deal with a Republican dominated Congress pursuing a scorched earth policy as in the past two years. I would have preferred an explicit and high profile "GIVE ME A CONGRESS I CAN WORK WITH" message from Obama - capitalising on the unpopularity of congress, and implicitly putting a lot of the blame for lack of progress on a "do nothing congress". It would also help to undercut Romney's message that he could work better with a Democratic Senate than Obama could with a Republican Congress.

That story, whilst warmly received, received some push-back from Obama For America activists on Daily Kos. There was excellent cooperation between OFA activists and local Democratic Party candidates on the ground, they stated - with OFA activists and local candidates often sharing data, call lists and knock list information. I do not dispute this, although I have no information on how widespread or uniform this practice was. It was not alluded to as an explicit part of the organisational strategy released by the OFA leadership team just prior to the election.  My greater point is however that there was no systematic explicit linking of OFA messaging at the Presidential level with the need to elect House and Senate candidates who would work with the President and avoid legislative and budgetary gridlock.

I can understand OFA strategists being almost exclusively focused on their core task of re-electing the President under difficult circumstances, but one of the reason many voters were disenchanted with the President was because he had failed to overcome the culture of acute partisanship in Washington, and a feeling that the challenges facing the country could only be overcome with a President and Congress willing to work together. Indeed one of the themes of the Romney campaign was he would be better able to work with Democrats than Obama could with Republicans:
Krugman: The Blackmail Caucus

Lately, however, I've seen a growing number of Romney supporters making a quite different argument. Vote for Mr. Romney, they say, because if he loses, Republicans will destroy the economy.

O.K., they don't quite put it that way. The argument is phrased in terms of "partisan gridlock," as if both parties were equally extreme. But they aren't. This is, in reality, all about appeasing the hard men of the Republican Party.

---snip---

So, yes, there is a case that "partisan gridlock" would be less damaging if Mr. Romney won.

But are we ready to become a country in which "Nice country you got here. Shame if something were to happen to it" becomes a winning political argument?

So now we are back almost to square one, with the election changing nothing and effectively preserving the status quo: A Re-elected President and a hostile Congress determined to thwart his every move - because that was the strategy which paid off so handsomely for most congressional Republicans in his first term.

Whilst I am full of admiration for President Obama's many personal qualities, the Government of the USA is not a one man show, and a personality cult is no substitute for having a strategy to build a winning majority in Congress and at State level. A key imperative for Democrats, therefore, will be to morph the outstanding organisational capabilities of OFA into a more general Democratic Party organisation capable of supporting Democratic candidates at all levels of Government. Politics isn't just about the glamour of controlling the White House. It is about building a party organisation and candidate slate capable of winning right down to the local school board and local elected administrative and judicial officials. Because that is where corporate dark money can be much more effective, and that is also where many of the voter suppression tactics and gerrymandering is implemented.

If Obama succeeds in transforming the 700,000 volunteer army that is OFA into an ongoing trained community activist base capable of taking over and transforming local politics and administration at state level and in local communities, he may achieve something far more lasting than anything he can accomplish in the Office of the Presidency itself - especially one constrained by an unrelentingly hostile Congress - and, at least for the moment - a hostile Supreme Court.

[Update: 9/11/2012]

This video of President Obama post election speaking to his campaign staff indicates that he "gets it" in terms of what his real legacy might be. He actually tears up when he explains how he feels that his supporters will end up doing greater things than he will ever be able to in Office.

The bottom line is that Obama won c. 4.2 Million more votes than Romney at the national level, but Democratic House candidates only won c. 500,000 more votes than the Republicans. Of course it's a scandal that Republicans managed to retain the house despite that differential due to re-districting. But the bigger political failure by Democrats was to lose some 3.7 Million Obama votes which could and perhaps should have gone on to Democratic House candidates as well - if they had adequately linked their Presidential and Congressional campaigns.

Is it so hard to ask voters to vote for D candidates in Senate and House races as well? Would that have confused the message, lost the focus on Obama's re-election? Was some of Obama's vote so personal, it couldn't be transferred to relatively unknown down-ticket candidates? Surely the reverse could also apply - some voters might have known the D Senate or Congressional candidate but had doubts about Obama? Would a bit more mutual endorsement, joint campaigning imagery and voter education have made a difference?

If OFA wants to retain some relevance over the next few years, it needs to address those issues. [End update]

Display:

In other words, the white % of the election has fallen 15% in the last 20 years pretty much on a straight line basis.

h/t dreaminonempty

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 06:59:45 PM EST
A shame for Gallup they didn't have the second graph.

All those clever people working there and they didn't do a linear regression.


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:56:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's a time series, so a naive linear regression isn't totally kosher. That said, on this particular time series, it looks like you can de-trend with a simple linear regression and then have no non-trend signal left. But that sort of exercise in finding no signal always involves a substantial component of black magic.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:49:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]

but it didn't fly.

They are a polling firm for God's sake.  They should have been able to figure out their sample screen and voting demographic assumption was off.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:56:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that photo is your modern GOP right there.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:26:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any indication that Obama will allow OFA to become a tool for general progressive political organizing? I am not convinced that he really wants more progressives who are more influential. I suspect that he just wants a few 'signature accomplishments' that are notably better than anything we could have expected from Romney and then just deal with events as they arise. He did not even try to make use of his majorities won in 2008, when he really only needed to turn one or two senators to get anything he wanted. In fact, that potential seemed more an embarrassment to him.

Perhaps that will change if the bottom really falls out of the economy while the Republicans continue to obstruct everything, but now he has a much weaker hand. If he really wants to accomplish anything in his second term he would have to set in motion plans to gain back the House in 2014 and would have to start changing the conversation on the national debt and what the USA can and cannot do. I don't see any indications of any such plans. I would, however, be delighted to be pleasantly surprised on this.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:00:38 PM EST
I still hold to the idea that Obama is fundamentally and personally pretty radical, but is also very aware of the need to maintain a properly respectable and upright position because he is the first black President, and, very likely the last one we will see in the 21st century.

On the other hand, his original naive idea of working cooperatively with the Republicans has been decisively squelched now, and I would think that he is probably ready to play serious hardball with them now. I'm not sure what "serious hardball" means, but you can read chapters from the FDR and LBJ books to get some ideas about what sort of leverage the executive branch has at its disposal if it chooses to use it.

Also, 2016 is now wide open, with probably Hillary and Jeb the best-positioned possibilities. But what does Obama care about that?

It will be interesting to see what happens in any case...starting probably about this coming Monday...

by asdf on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:32:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Democrats lose the Senate in 2014 I would not be surprised by impeachment proceedings. They could always chose to believe the claims about him being born in Kenya - or any of a variety of weak claims. The Republican base is frantic about having a black Kenyan socialist REELECTED as POTUS, so the House could even start proceedings this term as a sop to their base. It would scarcely be unprecedented.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 11:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2 years before a presidential election is a dangerous time to attempt impeachment proceedings.
by Upstate NY on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have added, 2 years before the end of a lame duck presidency.
by Upstate NY on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the more reason for the President to lead an effective fight against the "extreme faction of the Republican Party" and take out ten or more Tea Partiers in 2014. Yelling "Tea party extremists" after they start impeachment proceedings could well be too late, but if they are already tarred, there will be some Republican Senators wary of being tarred with the same brush.

After all, 2016 is the Class of 2010, which was a Republican wave election, which means that in 2015 the Senate Republicans will be the ones worrying about defending gain of six years earlier.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure I agree he's radical or even progressive.

As they say: Progressive Firewall? Is that it?

I guess one could argue you'd have to be radical to look moderate: running to stay in place.

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:07:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the right wing think he's progressive. Here's a funny article complaining about how Obama won by building a coalition...  ???

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/07/Obama-United-Liberal-Coalition-By-Disuniting-Amer ica

Anyway, Obama did spend a lot of time going to church with Jeremiah Wright, who is the bogey-man to the right wing, but a pretty influential member of the black religious community in reality. And that whole community is pretty radical. Not radical perhaps in the way of the traditional white labor union Socialists but instead as an activist movement supporting social justice on some specific terms.

So yeah, he's probably not going to start spouting Marx. But he might start spouting Martin Luther King Jr, which would be a change.

by asdf on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:57:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The right wing claim all sorts of stuff that are well known to be false. The right wing claimed that global warming is a hoax, some of them still do, others claim that its not a hoax but is caused by wobbles in Mars orbit.

Indeed, the extreme right wing in the US have been in the habit for years of making outlandishly over the top accusations against moderate center-right Republicans.

The fact that the extreme right attacks Obama only nails down that he is somewhere in the continuum from right, center-right, center, center-left, left, or extreme left, but is definitely not a card carrying member of the extreme right.

These are the heirs of the John Birch Society members who claimed Eisenhower was a secret communist.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And a number of them are quite aware of just how baseless and outrageous the claims are, and find it hilarious. They have no allegiance to facts, truth or anything but their own loathing, twisted little psyches and the objects of their desires. They are the sort that, if they actually obtained power, could commit monstrosities out of their malice.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 12:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama's organisation in 2008 was pretty impressive, but afaik they did not build on it.

Or course if you are going to sustain interest for a longer time you need to give people in the organisation influence over policy. And I am not sure the Democrats are ready for that.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:44:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure they built on it ~ for OFA2012.

OFA shared lists with the Sherrod Brown campaign and in the last three weeks the two campaigns combined their Get Out The Vote effort ...
... but the support for Sherrod Brown and for Proposition 2 to bring the wildly out of control gerrymandering back under control in Ohio were very much afterthoughts. First was "do you support the President", then (1) yes, go to push to early vote, plan to vote, (2) undecided, persuade Obama, (3) Romney, G'day and move on. And then do you support Sherrod Brown, then local race, and Issue 2 wasn't even on the sheet.

And in the training, the messaging for undecideds for Obama, three points (auto rescue, 50m will lose health insurance under Romney, something else) ~ the messaging for Sherrod Brown, pro Issue 2, nothing

A more promising base is the Credo Tea Party 10 organizing effort.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nd Sherrod Brown ended up getting c. 85K less than Obama in Nevada which cost him the election.  This is the key issue I am addressing in this Diary. You can't blame re-districting for that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 06:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant Shelley Berkley

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 07:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Attack ads did not work as well against Barack Obama, since a lot more people have an established view of an incumbent President. They work more effectively against a state politician without a very high public profile, which was the case in Nevada.

Actually, Sherrod Brown polled lower than Obama in Ohio, its just that the Democrat's attack ads against his opponent were even more effective, so 6% voted for a "Constitutionalist" right wing loonie in what appeared to be a "none of the above" vote ~ which in first past the post, meant that Sherrod Brown won by 5.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 06:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown's opponent was even worse than Obama's.  However, those negative attack ads were effective in reducing his winning margin from 56.2% in 2006 to 50.3% this time.  Brown is one of the best at retail politics that Democrats have; so the effectiveness of all that money is deeply troubling.
by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 10:25:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's his vote, not his winning margin.

His winning margin this time was 5.2%, down substantially from his 12.4% win in 2006, when Bush was on the nose nationally and the Ohio Republican party was under the cloud of a corruption scandal. But his margin could have been much smaller if it were not for Duncan snaring 4.6% of the vote (sorry for saying it was 6%, that was the result in Portage County, not statewide).

4.6% is over two and a half times the total 3rd party and independent vote in the Presidential election in Ohio, at 1.7% or less, across four 3rd parties and one independent candidate.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 11:22:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meant percentage of vote and not margin.  a primer on the difference wasn't needed.  
by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 11:37:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apologies if you thought an effort to lay out the details was an effort at writing a tutorial ~ after the number of tutorials I have written, that may be an occupational hazard.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 02:06:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no insider knowledge and haven't any documents on OFA plans beyond this cycle - although I wouldn't expect these to be in the public domain anyway. But my reading of Obama is quite different from yours.  I see him as a process guy, not as a policy driven guy, and thus for him the best policy is merely what comes out of the best possible process.

Thus he saw the chasm between the political establishment and local communities and sought to empower local communities to change that. He saw Unions being destroyed, and so he sought to build a new political organization to empower people at local level. He did have a strong majority in congress for the first two years, but only a filibuster proof super-majority in the Senate for a couple of months. But his first instincts were to try and transform traditional partisan game playing and build a broader consensus - even at the cost of sub-optimal policy outcomes.

He is playing a very long game which can seem incredibly naive when viewed in a short term context. Of course the Republicans were going to try and thwart him at every turn - but you can see the consequences of that in their growing loss of support in every demographic other than amongst diminishing older white, evangelic males.

Of course the average OFA volunteer is being incredibly naive if s/he things the President, without a Governing majority can change much, but the potential is there to educate and turn that energy into local activism. His instincts are bottom up rather than top down. He starts from where people are at rather than from where he would like them to be or thinks they ought to be.  His legacy is likely to be not any huge policy transformation, but an organisational transformation of Democratic political culture.

But he faces incredible headwinds - an entrenched conservative majority at local level of politics, gerrymandered constituencies, a hostile media, Citizen's united, and an entrenched incredibly wealthy white elite - not to mention racism, bigotry and xenophobia which  that elite used to further their ends.

I don't see things getting any easier for him. The fiscal cliff could plunge the US back into recession. Any "grand bargain" he could strike is likely to be economically non-nonsensical and politically damaging. Mid-term elections tend to be even more difficult for a sitting President, and especially for a Democrat becaue the base simply isn't educated or motivated enough to vote in large numbers.

His best chance is if big business decides they've had enough of the Republicans trying to ruin the economy for political advantage. Big business is nothing if not pragmatic and is reconciled to him being in power for 4 years and they can't wait any longer for the economy to improve. So their financial backers may just tell the Republican ideologues to back off and cut a deal.

In practice, Obama may have to concede that tax reductions will have to apply to those earning over 250K as well in order to get a deal. The actual economic/financial impact of that is not huge, although the political cost to him is. The real issue is what does he get in return - his jobs bill, a long term government funding plan for education, healthcare, housing relief etc?

It is his negotiating skills I worry about. He can't win if he can be held to ransom every few months over the debt ceiling or the budget. He needs to cut a 4 year debt reduction and Government budgetary plan deal. You can't cut the deficit with short term austerity, you need to be able to foster long term economic growth, and that is where his interests may coincide with big business and enable him to get a win.

Maybe he will try to go for a big bang and offer Romney the Secretary for Commerce or Treasury role. Then he can hoist the "I know how to create jobs" guy on his own petard. It could seriously embarrass the congressional Republicans if they had to oppose Romney as well. I don't know if Romney would go for it or if obama could survive the political price, but I do think his political instincts are to play political Judo - use his opponent's political strengths against them.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:40:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting take. Yes, he's nothing if not methodical.

Romney for the Treasury? Purely as a political ploy, you mean? Or are you saying he actually has the business skills he pretends to have?


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political judo. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. As Treasury/Commerce secretary Romney wouldn't actually have the last word on key political/economic decisions. But he would have responsibility for implementing them. As I argue in my comment, there actually is some confluence of interests between big business and Obama at the moment, and Romney is nothing if not a big business guy. Meanwhile, Obama introduces a Public OPTION BY EXECUTIVE ORDER...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:58:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except Treasury is a position where Obama likes to keep his conduit to his friends on Wall Street. Romney's not the best errand boy for talking to the socially liberal, economically neoliberal types.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are any number of back-channels for the socially liberal, economically neoliberal types to use if they don't want to talk to Romney. I thought the criticism of Obama was that he was too close to Wall Street in the first place? Anyway, most would be flattered to have their egos stroked by an "important" person like Romney. And isn't he one of Goldman Sach's best customers?


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, he's too close to Wall Street to impose Romney on them. Remember that people would kowtow to Romney because he has money and, back in the Bain days, because he was buying out the company to plunder it, and you didn't want to be one of the ones getting the early sack ...
... but people don't like him.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:43:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would find your thesis much more compelling were evidence to emerge that Obama IS making the core competencies of OFA generally available to state and local organizations and encouraging them to generalize this whole process so as to increase progressive repersentation in 2014.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:59:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This video of President Obama post election speaking to his campaign staff indicates that he "gets it" in terms of what his real legacy might be. He actually tears up when he explains how he feels that his supporters will end up doing greater things than he will ever be able to in Office.



Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 09:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Obama's going to give Romney a job, it should be to run Romneycare. He already knows all about it, thinks it's a great idea, has implementation experience, etc. Plus it fits with his religious beliefs and everything he has said and thought in the past--other than those inconvenient recent lies needed to get the nomination.
by asdf on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 02:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Put Romney out to pasture so he can feel wealthy as he rides his garage elevator up and down on the Pacific coast. He's done in everyone's eyes after this debacle. All that $$$ blown and for what?? So they can throw Chris Christie under the bus for being photographed with Obama after Sandy? It would take a forklift and the bus would tip over.  

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:58:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On that point, I wonder a bit what Obama plans to do after his term is over.  It's been a bit of a tradition recently for presidents to disappear from public life after their term is over, or at least stick to foreign policy issues.  Obama is still pretty young, and he really does seem to be an organizer at heart.  I would absolutely love it if he took the head of OFA directly, and kept it going as a full-time Democratic organizing group, getting out there and knocking on doors to raise awareness of local and national policy issues, and for good candidates at all levels of government.
by Zwackus on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given his expressed neoliberal view of how the economy actually works, I would hope that he stays away from any impact on fiscal policy. Moderate deficit hysteria is less bad than extreme deficit hysteria, but I'm awfully tired of less bad.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First Frank, i'm really grateful that you take the time to explore the themes you put into your political diaries. I've always had a serious distaste for getting my hands dirty in politics, and have ignored many of the opportunities I've had to be involved at the gritty level of small and great lies.

However, as polarization grows, or I age, diving into the morass seems just as important as keeping hold of a vision above the fray.

Of course the Democrats have lessons to learn, most of which can't be learned in a 1.4 party system. Some power center within the system is going to have to recognize the necessary systemic change, because certainly the pressure will grow, perhaps rapidly, from without.

The immediate problem of retaking the House, and fighting ReThug control right now, remains crucial even as the collapse of the system under its own weight looms on the horizon.

I suspect it's more a strategic issue of how much progressive framing Obama's handlers, and Obama himself, decide to use. Previous evidence shows zero likelihood, but I wouldn't ignore the possibility in this president's second term.

OTOH, there is the strategy of simply consolidating power, much more likely. This means, you can rest assured, that they already have been developing a strategy to retake the House even before this loss. My sense was Obama really did feel threatened this time out, and placed his emphasis on keeping the White House at the expense of widening the attack. Now he's achieved that.

Whether that means a more widespread political role for the OFA org i have no idea.

i guess we have to be satisfied that Jerry McNerney was re-elected in a very conservative district, traditionally Thug, but he's now a third term incumbent (2nd?). He's a former colleague of mine in windpower in the Altamont Pass.

Me, grateful for small favors in a very weird, seemingly explosive, and perhaps insane political climate in amurka.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:05:02 AM EST
Let me posit an insane theory - derived in part form 25 years experience working within a major global multi-national, and from studying the demise of Apartheid for my Masters thesis.

Apartheid and the theology which supported it made sense when the SA economy was dominated by mining and agricultural interests in a bi-polar Capitalist/Communist world. The primary requirement was for cheap, relatively unskilled labour and Capitalist hegemony/solidarity guaranteed access to world markets.

Then a number of things changed:

  1. The communist bogeyman collapsed.
  2. Colonial controlled neighbours were replaced by hostile Angolan, Zimbabwean and Mozambican regimes.
  3. sanctions threatened access to external markets.
  4. The SA economy was becoming much more diverse and sophisticated, dependent on external markets but also on a much more educated and skilled workforce.
  5. Labour costs became much less important in the over costs of production and sale mix.
  6. The administrative/security costs of Apartheid placed SA at a further economic disadvantage
  7. It doesn't make sense for a business to employ less skilled/educated whites when it can get more skilled blacks for a fraction of the cost.
  8. Foreign sanctions and disinvestment transferred ownership of many large SA businesses from international corporations to the local Afrikaner elite.
  9. Unlike international businesses, and the predominantly "liberal" white english speaking elite who worked for them, the rapidly growing Afrikaner business elite had a direct connection with the Afrikaner political elite.
  10. The election of an intelligent, arch conservative but business oriented new leader - De Klerk  - enabled a transition from an Apartheid system which no longer served the interests of the Afrikaner elite - despite the impassioned (and violent) opposition of of poorly educated/skilled Afrikaner majority of farmers, admin officials, and security personnel whose interests depended on the continued maintenance of apartheid.

Outcomes:
  1. Apartheid was dumped with dramatic speed.
  2. The SA economy recovered from a sanctions induced slump and started to grow rapidly as the costs of administering ans securing the Apartheid system diminished.
  3. the white economic elite grew much richer much more quickly and still control most of the economy, if not the polity supported by a more skilled and diverse workforce
  4. A newly emergent black middle class rapidly displaced the white lower an working classes who became increasing embittered - many of whom emigrated and discovered that they didn't have the skills/qualifications to work as more than shop assistants in the European countries they thought would welcome them into middle management jobs.
  5. Racism/bigotry no longer conferred political/economic advantages on whites, and they now complain of the racism/bigotry of blacks.

Now, apply a similar process to the USA...which states are the most economically advanced and growing more quickly - is it Kansas, Oklahoma??? And how is the political culture changing in formed red states which are growing rapidly???  

The bottom line is that the relatively unskilled, white, male, racists and bigots who form the base of the Republican party have outlived their usefulness to big business. Expect them to be sold out with remarkable speed and alacrity...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 08:32:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i thought foreign companies (auto iirc) had opened in the southern states of the usa because the labour was cheaper there, turning the locals hatred for unions against them.

(replying to just one aspect of your comment)

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:16:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely, but they also brought non-racist hiring practices and policies - preferring to employ better educated/skilled blacks/women to white males. The complexity of their business implied interdependence and required teamwork across a diverse range of backgrounds and skills. Their sensitivity to consumer sentiment, PR/marketing requirements and dependency on legal compliance ensured non-racist corporate policies - particularly in high tech industries.  Consequently, they are transforming the economic and social structure where they locate and ultimately that will also help change the political culture. (I am, to some extent, an old fashioned marxist economic determinist, but you still have to create mechanisms for economic interests to articulate into the political structure).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:41:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Their sensitivity to consumer sentiment, PR/marketing requirements and dependency on legal compliance ensured non-racist corporate policies - particularly in high tech industries.

so conditions were so modern and socially eqiotable as tp preclude any need for unions?

companies setting up their enterprises so fairly as to obviate any need for unions would of course be optimal, and save a lot of friction... somewhat utopian perhaps.

i guess it all depends on open, unheirarchised communication and awareness of interest mutuality.

why is it so hard and rare to accomplish this, i wonder, and has it been such a good force if wages are kept low this way, (by blocking unions)?

great diary, btw, thanks.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many US big businesses have a policy of not recognising Unions and claim to have such advanced and fair Human Resources policies and systems that Unions are not necessary.  All b/s of course, but that doesn't mean they aren't trying to proactively avoid a situation of obvious injustice occurring where Unions might become entrenched. I didn't say big business had the interests of its workers at heart, but they do tend to provide far superior terms and conditions of employment than the older smaller companies in the deep south.

Also your comment was in terms of foreign businesses locating there - many of which come from countries where Unions are an accepted and recognised part of the corporate culture.

For modern big high tech or differentiated businesses, the quality of employees and their ability to work together is far more important than the raw cost - although that is often a factor to. Note how the cost of management remuneration is never an issue!!!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:10:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the more competent steer clear of things that would entrench a sufficiently strong us/them divide for a union organizing effort to take serious root.

Which is why the easier it is to organize, the better conditions are in non-union shops.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Also your comment was in terms of foreign businesses locating there - many of which come from countries where Unions are an accepted and recognised part of the corporate culture.

i remember one of democratic ramsheld's diaries talking about germany offshoring some industry to the bible belt because the workers had less clout in bargaining there, and consequently labour was significantly cheaper... no health insurance for a start!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:54:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything is relative - did the German companies offer better terms and conditions than existing companies in the bible belt where they were locating, and did they adopt non-racial hiring practices?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somehow this description of Apartheid feels like medieval courtly politics.

Big business doesn't care if you're related to the boss ...


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Au contrare! This can be a significant factor in who gets tracked into executive positions and who gets onto the board of directors - especially when presentable relatives can be found. Many major public corporations have their roots as family businesses, as with Ford. And presentability includes not just education but, more especially, attitude.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ownership and tradition counts for a lot in Board appointments, and it doesn't hurt if you have family connections and you are trying to work your way up the corporate ladder. However the bigger the business, the less the original family ownership structure matters- most big businesses have migrated from their family roots, and even if hey haven't, the preferment of a few family members in a business employing thousands becomes less and less determinative of overall policies and outcomes. e.g. no members of the Guinness family remain within the business, having previously provided the Chairman. There are exceptions of course, do the Koch brothers have progeny in the business?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing about the Koch brothers is that they OWN the business. Over 50% shareholding implies that if their progeny, whoever they are, decide that they want to run the company when they inherit, they can.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:38:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They can throw out the board and have themselves installed as CEOs. Whether they can run the company is a somewhat different question.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 10:05:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They probably could, though they may have a lot of catching up to do, but they likely find what they are doing instead is much more fun and interesting. At their level of wealth, so long as the wealth is not threatened, why should they do anything else. And, arguably, gaming national, state and local politics so that they favor Koch Industries is the highest return on effort they could probably obtain - when they put profits first.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that what the Donald tries to do?


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:19:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but they are rich people: they don't have to run the company, they hire and fire company Presidents and Vice Presidents to do that.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 06:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, that's what I meant: Business in the abstract doesn't care who you are if you don't deliver.
Of course all non-businesses are run by those of us monkeys who look best in a suit.

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems like the time for a return of the 50-state strategy.  Harness the trained volunteer network that OFA and the Unions have put together, and get these people out there to broaden the field.

1 - Build awareness, registration, and turnout for Democratic-leaning demographic groups in red and purple CD's.  Texas, Georgia, and Arizona seem like places to start.

2 - Declare a presence and rally the closet liberals in hiding, bring dormant local activists into the fight, and become a visible local presence.  The Democrats aren't going to get anywhere in red territory if they are perceived as arrogant out-of-towners, and the only way to avoid that is with local organizers and local leadership.

3 - Bring the liberal, progressive argument to places where it has not been heard for years.  Conservatives have a near monopoly on messaging in much of the country, making questions about the dark-red nature of those areas a bit of a chicken and egg problem.  Do they listen to conservative media because they are conservative, or are they conservative because the only media around is conservative?

4 - Find, develop, and support local candidates in local elections, to build the bench and expand the message.  Without solid local candidates, no amount of activism matters.

by Zwackus on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:59:12 AM EST
Good stuff.

3b. Stop pretending he-said-she-said journalism is "balanced". One part centrist and one part extremist is skewed towards the extreme.


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:26:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few points:

  1. The new voters Obama relied on are much less likely to vote in non-Presidential elections. They didn't show up in 2010.

  2. I don't understand the points about personality cults. This is the most well organized political machine in US history. It is not simply about voting for Obama. There has never been a political movement as organized as this before.

  3. The American system is geared toward obstructionism. At the state level, you have rising taxes precisely because of federal mandates due to the recession. This is why so many GOP governors are being elected, and it is also why even in a state like NY, the Democratic Governor Cuomo works hand in hand with the GOP legislature. The electorate trusts Democrats at the federal level in times like these, and Republicans at the state level, precisely because the required fiscal policies are opposed so much. That in turn leads to gerrymandering.

  4. Americans re-elect House reps by very high %s. Thus, overturning the balance of power there as in 1994 and 2008 is incredibly rare. Democrats held the house for many many decades from the 1930s onward. Perhaps that's the sort of coalition you are referring to, but clearly this sort of thing does not happen overnight.

  5. We've had the Bush tax cuts for many years now. They will continue kicking the can down the road. I sense that many on the left are now ready for the fiscal cliff. The question is, how much pain can everyone take? Maybe the smart thing to do would be to revisit all this prior to 2014 election but by then it might be too late.
by Upstate NY on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 11:18:39 AM EST
Obama blames "Congress" and "partisan bickering".

Not likely to bring supporters out in droves to support one versus the other who will in any event end up one of those horrible Congressmen engaged in partisan bickering.

If he were to single out the extremist wing of the Republican party (some of whom are in Republican leaning but swingable districts) as the source of the obstructionism

~ which he could still do under his "bipartisan" mantra, "I have my differences on policy with principle Republican members of Congress, but they also have to cope with an extremist faction within their Caucus, who's idea of bipartisan compromise it for economic extremists to compromise with social extremists to both support economically and socially extreme policies" ~

... he could bring out SUN voters in much larger numbers for the 2014 midterms.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 12:22:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SUN voters are the most difficult and resource intensive to bring out, and whatever about bringing them out for a charismatic and known figure such as Obama once every four years, it is extremely difficult to get them to turn out in a mid term election for a congressman they know practically nothing about. Congress isn't exactly personal or glamorous, is it?  Only the very politically engaged or paranoid wingnuts actually know or care v. much.

My view is that barring an economic miracle, a spectacular self-immolation by Republicans, or the overturn of CU, Dems have NO CHANCE of winning the 2014 midterms if they couldn't make much headway in 2012 given the gerrymandered constituencies they ave to contend with in GOP controlled areas.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:23:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First, its important to bear "chance of what" in mind. Its not necessary for the Democrats to take a majority in the House to win the midterms ~ what is necessary to imprint the message that being the most obstructionist, most extremist candidate in your state is the ticket to a hard race and a possible loss.

They certainly can't do that candidate by candidate ~ the way to get SUN voters involved is to nationalize that into a fight against this faction of extremists who keep us from having The Good Things.

It goes without saying that providing institutional support to help ensure that there is a libertarian candidate in every targeted Tea Party Hitlist race is also part of the strategy.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
It goes without saying that providing institutional support to help ensure that there is a libertarian candidate in every targeted Tea Party Hitlist race is also part of the strategy.

Divide and conquer is a classic strategy usually used by the elite to overcome their numerical disadvantage.  You need to be subtle and selective if you are going to go down that road...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 01:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Subtle and selective is not something the ground game can do, except on a freelance basis on the canvasser's initiative, but messaging on why the Democratic candidate is superior to "Republican X and Libertarian Y" would be invaluable name recognition for the Libertarian.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:11:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you said "institutional support" I thought you meant much more - dark finance, "think tank" endorsement, involvement in media debates, mentions in speeches etc...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 03:48:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Institutional support in the US means first and foremost help in getting onto the ballot. As a Green Party observer at the BOE, last year (the citizen's veto on the anti-union law in Ohio), I had the country Republican party chairman on the BOE board (2 Dems, 2 Reps) lightly enquire if I was interested in running. Why the Republican would ask what appeared to be a Green Party member rather than the Democrat ought to be obvious.

And, yes, it has to be with a light touch. "Well, we don't see eye to eye on most things, but I'm a believer in Democracy over and above party politics", yadda yadda yadda.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 04:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should have run as a wingnut - taking votes away from the real GOP wingnut. Perhaps Dem activists should start a really real wingnut party - Todd Akin/Richard Mourdock / Alan West lookalikes - to take as many wingnut votes from the Establishment GOP as possible. Enlist the local militias, the local snake handling sects, the local alien invasion xenophobes - should be good for 10-20% of the GOP vote!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 05:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would Dem wingnut policies look like?

Mandatory state-funded nursery education? Rich people paying more taxes than poor people? Spending on useful stuff? Compulsory spinach at lunch time?

You're pretty much talking about social-democratic Europe. (Apart from the spinach, mostly.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:11:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea is to start an even more "conservative" wingnut party to take votes away from the GOP - not the Dems!

As for Dem winggnuts - I suppose Alan Grayson and Rachel Maddow would fit the bill - believers in social justice and all that airy fairy humanitarian stuff - like people being created equal. You know the sort - idealists who don't live in the "real world" and who want to close Guantanamo, end the wars NOW, reduce, military spending, provide healthcare on the basis of need rather than ability to pay, tackle climate change - and all that stuff that isn't even on the agenda of mainstream politics.  

But what has been remarkable about the Dems under Obama is the degree to which he has united the party - to a degree I haven't seen in my lifetime.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 06:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Libertarians and Constitution Party already exist ~ all they need is help recruiting candidates and getting on the ballot.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 06:53:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need, there are always genuine wingnuts who are convinced that the Republican party has betrayed the wingnut cause.

Indeed, a Democratic-aligned operation could quietly pursue a "3rd party alliance" to get the Greens, Libertarians and Constitution party all on the ballot in all sixteen Congressional districts, with no real downside risk, only upside gain, because the four out of sixteen designated Democratic vote packing districts are so heavily Democratic that they could shed 20% and still win handily.

The only third party candidate in the Ohio Senate race was an independent who was running on states rights, no regulation, and the whole Constitution Party gamut. He picked up 6% of the vote ~ which suggests that the attack ads against Sherrod Brown were effective enough (he polled less well than the President), that when the attack ads against Josh Mandel took their toll, a big chunk of the wingnut right cast a protest vote in the Senate race instead.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 09:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I wonder about is the house "popular vote".

How many votes did the Republicans candidates got, how many for the Democrats ? The count would have to be adjusted for the "uncontested" seats ; but at least it'd allow to know whether gerrymandering has a significant impact on house majority, and whether Obama actually hasn't got coattails or it's just the weirdo electoral system...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2012 at 07:52:59 PM EST
Kos suggests it's gerrymandering up the Khyber:

Democrats have won the aggregate vote for House seats according to the statistics tabulated so far by 53,952,240 to 53,402,643


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 05:55:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Sam Wang has looked at it some before the election:

House 2012 prediction (final)

As I pointed out several weeks ago ("Bush v. Gore times five," October 16), partisan redistricting of an unusual intensity has created a situation in which one side, the GOP, has an advantage of 2.5% before any votes are counted.

Also, historical context:

Princeton Election Consortium -- A first draft of electoral history

I am very interested in whether Democrats win the national House popular vote, which would mean a mismatch between the vote and the seat count. This is due in part to redistricting. It would be only the second time since World War II that it's happened, and is antidemocratic with a small "d."


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 07:02:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The bottom line seems to be that Obama won c. 4.2 Million more votes than Romney at the national level, but Democratic House candidates only won c. 500,000 more votes than the Republicans. Of course it's a scandal that Republicans managed to retain the house despite that differential due to re-districting. But the bigger political failure by Democrats was to lose some 3.7 Million Obama votes which could and perhaps should have gone on to Democratic House candidates as well - if they had adequately linked their Presidential and Congressional campaigns.

Is it so hard to ask voters to vote for D candidates in Senate and House races as well? Would that have confused the message, lost the focus on Obama's re-election? Was some of Obama's vote so personal, it couldn't be transferred to relatively unknown down-ticket candidates? Surely the reverse could also apply - some voters might have known the D Senate or Congressional candidate but had doubts about Obama? Would a bit more mutual endorsement, joint campaigning imagery have made a difference?

If OFA wants to retain some relevance over the next few years, it needs to address those issues.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 07:35:34 AM EST
Is it so hard to ask voters to vote for D candidates in Senate and House races as well? Would that have confused the message, lost the focus on Obama's re-election?

What was Obama's message?  "OBL is dead and GM is alive" doesn't work well in downticket races.  While much was made of multiple-message-Mitt, Obama's messages were tepid and lacked the level of resonance required to create coattails.

The core problem for the Democratic Party is that its embrace of neo-liberal economic policies hamstrings it - both in narratives to sell and results produced.  Obama won the likeability and trustworthy contest between himself and Romney.  But he lost on who would be better on the economy.  Lost to a man with a bad one-term Governor record and made a lot of money off-shoring jobs and firing working people.  That's the guy the Democratic Party let win on the economic issue.  Pathetic.  

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:20:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, they still need those big business sponsors it seems.

Campaign finance reform? Not just now.

-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure the Dems (and many others) would love to CU, but they just can't do it until Obama can replace at least 1 SCOTUS member.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:39:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
somehow the word "overturn" went missing in last comment

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which one of the majestic five -- Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts, Alito -- do you foresee stepping down while Obama is President?  While fate can interfere with anyone's plans -- and may have done so for one or more of them on Tuesday night -- they aren't leaving willingly now.

It's possible that a case will work its way up to the SC and Roberts and/or Kennedy will seize the opportunity not to go down in history with the worst justices.  Better chance of that happening if Congress begins to act on a constitutional amendment and more voters weigh in on this at that local and state level as many did on Tuesday.  All easily passing.

But no need to wait for goodwill from Roberts and/or Kennedy.  An amendment would technically be even better.

 

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately we are waiting or them to get sick and die. Term limits (or retirement ages) for SCOTUS members anyone?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:41:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would require a Constitutional amendment.  Might be a tough sell if Congress doesn't also apply the same standards to themselves.  
by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 04:43:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:36:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The longevity of some US public figures always amazes me. Why they would even want to go on for so long puzzles me - except perhaps that power is, for them, their drug. It seems slightly pathetic to me that you would want to continue to do something until you are way past your ability to do it well.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 14th, 2012 at 06:17:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or court packing ~ add a justice for every justice that is on the bench for sixteen years or more. Nothing in the Constitution about the number of justices.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 11:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 02:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Senate wouldn't let him ~ you'd need to kill the (arguably unconstitutional itself) filibuster on Judicial appointments first to get it through. But it did result in the Supreme Court finding things Constitutional that hadn't been Constitutional before the court packing fight.

(They differ in detail ~ FDR's was ago based, not a term after which your influence is watered down).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 02:09:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope - it's size is governed by an act of Congress:
Supreme Court of the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1866, at the behest of Chief Justice Chase, Congress passed an act providing that the next three justices to retire would not be replaced, which would thin the bench to seven justices by attrition. Consequently, one seat was removed in 1866 and a second in 1867. In 1869, however, the Circuit Judges Act returned the number of justices to nine,[60] where it has since remained.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to expand the Court in 1937. His proposal envisioned appointment of one additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 years 6 months and refused retirement, up to a maximum bench of 15 justices. The proposal was ostensibly to ease the burden of the docket on elderly judges, but the actual purpose was widely understood as an effort to pack the Court with justices who would support Roosevelt's New Deal.[61] The plan, usually called the "Court-packing Plan", failed in Congress.[62] Nevertheless, the Court's balance began to shift within months when Justice van Devanter retired and was replaced by Senator Hugo Black. By the end of 1941, Roosevelt had appointed seven justices and elevated Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice.[63]



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 03:09:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Still need to kill the filibuster for it to proceed.

As far as a House majority, it could well have to wait until 2020, as demographic change slowly turns a number of lean R seats into swing seats ... the "Republican gerrymander to dumbymander" problem that cropped up for Republicans in 2008. But there is no Constitutional obstacle.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 03:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The critical issue now is for Oama to ten OFA into a machine to win congress - it's going to be much harder to get SUN voters to turn out in the mid-terms...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 09:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And some of the infrastructure is built in the wrong places to win Congress ... it needs to be built in +2 to +5 Republican districts, where now a lot of it is concentrated in (in the Republican gerrymandered states) +20 and higher districts, and in the Republican gerrymandered states, there aren't all that many +2 to +5 Republican districts to pick, at least not in 2014.

Obviously by 2020, there will be a lot more, in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. among the OFA target states, and in a range of other states undergoing more rapid change, like Texas and Georgia.

Because of an anti-gerrymandering districting process, there will be a few of those to aim for in California even in 2014, which will require building a whole new infrastructure.

The other side of it is that OFA would be unlikely to enthusiastically support truly progressive candidates, preferring Hedge Fund Democrats in the President's own wing of the party.

So the more useful line of progress could well be building on the Credo Tea Party Ten campaign infrastructure and on the MoveOn campaign infrastructure, and use OFA as a source of people to tap who are already experienced in the nuts and bolts of the ground game.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 09:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ultimately it needs to become a Dem party infrastructure focused on winnable districts wherever they are, and the original source and ultimate shape of that organization will, in part, be determined by the needs and characteristics of each particular district. Given that some of these districts will also be in red states, they will also form the beachheads for an embryonic statewide organisation capable of gradually turning those states purple.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 10:21:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My view is the opposite ~ ultimately it needs to be progressive movement infrastructure, since if it is exclusively Democratic Party infrastructure, it will be turned to the purposes of advancing corporate interest.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 11:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No - progressives need to take over and transform the Dem party infrastructure... - otherwise you'll have the Dem party nominating crap candidates and progressives will face the choice of supporting them or not voting or voting third party - none of which helps the progressive movement.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 02:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no single issue that unites a larger percentage of the public and voters than the Citizen's United decision.  The loathe it.  But will we see either party push for a Constitutional amendment to correct the travesty?  Would make every non-supporter in the House vulnerable in 2014 as well as non-supporter Senators up for election in 2014.  As an amendment proposal (if strongly advocated for and even if Congress fails to pass it), it's a winner for the supporters.  

Voter suppression, etc. is more complicated but a majority in this country are still people of goodwill and they don't like seeing voters forced to stand in lines for hours to cast their ballots and tricked in any way from voting.  So, this too would be a winner -- if Democrats can craft legislation that is straightforward enough to be easily understood and isn't another thousand page wonder of gobbledygook.  

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a constitutional expert, but where in the constitution does it say that corporations should be regarded as people and money and free speech are more or less the same thing? It seems to me, what is needed is not a Constitutional amendment, but at least one more sane SCOTUS judge. I would love a very simple legislative proposal - : Corporations are not people, they don't have the right to vote and any "donations" they make should be construed as bribery.  Then let SCOTUS overturn that!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jesus never weighed in on abortion, homosexuality, or capitalism, but that doesn't stop the rightwing from claiming that he did.

Legislation cannot overturn SC decisions which are the law of the land.  A constitutional amendment is required to that.

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:07:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SCOTUS can change it's interpretation of the constitution ...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the 14th amendment.

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

One could think this merely bans discrimination (in particular slavery), but one would be wrong according to SCOTUS.

Corporate personhood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Since at least Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward - 17 U.S. 518 (1819), the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural persons to contract and to enforce contracts. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad - 118 U.S. 394 (1886), the reporter noted in the headnote to the opinion that the Chief Justice began oral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."[1] While the headnote is not part of the Court's opinion and thus not precedent, two years later, in Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania - 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, "Under the designation of 'person' there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution." [2] This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So how come corporations can't vote? How come a corporation (or all the members thereof) can't be imprisoned? With limited liability comes limited privileges.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I want corporate imprisonment. If they commit an offense with a 5yr term, I want them to be put under public receivership for 5 years, with profits under Treasury bond rates sequestered until the end of the term and profits above that rate paid to the Treasury.

Enough of this "well, if the cost of compliance is greater than the cost of the fine, we will break the law" attitude. Bunch of freaking hooligan scofflaws, the lot of them.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 01:58:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A truly excellent idea.  I remember a talk here on ET about a "corporate death penalty" as well for truly enormous crimes, such as the BP oil spill.
by Zwackus on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 01:20:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but let us walk before we try to run.

Indeed, once Corporations start to become subject to penalties that previously were only imposed upon us mere corporeal persons, we might see a swing in the death penalty debate in the US, with corporations looking ahead and wanting to take that option off the table.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Nov 11th, 2012 at 11:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm writing this from 3000 miles away and without the benefit of focus groups. But would a campaign message of "give me a congress I can work with" in the latter stages of the campaign have gone down so badly given the (bipartisan) concern at gridlock and Congress' 11% approval rating? Not to mention the fact (that Obama didn't mention in the debates) that Massachusetts ranked 47th. in job creation during Romney's term.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 01:36:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With Romney out that promising the he could work with Congress, a "give me a congress I can work with" message from Obama would have been ill-advised.  Sounds whiny and begs the question of what did he do with his majorities when he had them?  Massive additional federal debt and Obamacare remain uninspiring to a majority.  There was enough grudging acceptance of both by a sliver of the electorate that was able to comprehend that what Mitt offered was worse.

Bottom line is that Obama and the Democratic Party believe in tweaking issues and public policies with confidence that structurally everything is fine.  As if what this nation spends on our war machine, prison industry, and medical care aren't serious structural problems.  

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:10:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're not "structural problems" if you're making billions off of 'em.

FDR started the War-fare State and while the GOP and Dems have relegated the "fare" part to history the "War" part continues to churn profits for the pluts.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What oligarchs reap in profits isn't a good measure of whether or not there are structural economic problems.
by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole neo-liberal "market reform" movement was to address the issue of Oligarchs not making more and more profits - as is there obvious, God given right.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:51:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what the thinking was at OFA.  As a sheer guess: they thought maximizing the vote for Obama would automatically help in the down ticket races.

The other option is they looked at the candidates in the down ticket races and decided linking them to the president would cost them votes.  FYI: the various state Democratic Parties are really screwed-up.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
 As a sheer guess: they thought maximizing the vote for Obama would automatically help in the down ticket races.

This runs counter to the whole "empirical" philosophy at OFA. Never make assumptions, test them empirically and quantify them. I can understand not linking to Donnelly or Heitkamp because they had a good chance where Obama had none - why risk Donnelly's chances.  But why not Shelley Berkley - Nevada was a pretty safe bet for Obama and he got 85,000 more votes than she did.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:41:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not how the DLC/Clinton/Obama electoral strategy rocks.  

They only very grudgingly accepted Howard Dean as party chair after intense pressure from liberals screaming about a losing down-ticket record from 1994 through 2004.  Dean with his fifty state strategy and not championing DINOs in blue states or districts.  Big wins in 2006 and 2008.  So, clearly a time for the DEM Party to return to the Clinton era strategy.  And we on the left laugh at the GOP inability to learn.

by Marie2 on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 03:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The core problem is the gerrymander ~ the Democrats need about 2.5% more votes, evenly distributed, to get to a split house, and if that vote is concentrated in already Democratic areas, that are packed into vote sinks.

However, to win the Presidency and the Senate, it makes a lot of sense to focus on the more Democratic areas, because that is more fertile field to recruit volunteers and that gives more densely packed canvassing walklists.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 11:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marie2:
The core problem for the Democratic Party is that its embrace of neo-liberal economic policies hamstrings it - both in narratives to sell and results produced.

ditto the british labour party... :(

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 02:37:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by vbo on Fri Nov 9th, 2012 at 07:19:16 PM EST
The idea of Bush heading up an electoral reform drive boggles the mind!  Maybe he regrets the fat that he ever ended up being President - due to electoral fraud in Florida

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 03:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About | The Daily Currant

The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media. It is accessible from over 190 countries worldwide - now including South Sudan.

Our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence - which presses forward.

 

Q. Are your newstories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world

Not as well known as The Onion though. And The Onion has fooled many.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 07:51:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a fun way for Bush to celebrate the 2000 election.
by das monde on Sat Nov 10th, 2012 at 04:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Repubs are asking themselves, "What did we do wrong?" when in fact they're just looking for excuses that don't point the finger at themselves. So blame Sandy ... she's not around to argue/disagree.

But the answer to the Repubs question is simple:

Stop pissing people off!

With your bullshit you piss off blacks, latinos, and women and then expect them to vote for you! Is that the "Karl Rove" strategy? Is that what you spent billions of your ill-gotten gains on? Did you get your money's worth? Has anyone checked Karl's books to make sure he didn't just pocket a wad of your cash and that's why you lost?

And, oh yeah, where the hell is my consultant's check? I have better stuff to say than dipshit Karl!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2012 at 11:51:29 AM EST


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