Tag Archives: republicans

Coalition EXPOSED: Post Cliff, The House GOP’s new reality

Well, now we know. Thanks to tireless work on behalf of Vice President Biden, President Obama, and Congressional leaders, the big bad Fiscal Cliff was officially averted. After a rousing show of Senate Bi-Partisanship, the ‘Fiscal Deal’ was also approved by the House 257-167.

Most pundits today are talking about the deal, and about how “disappointed” they are, or about how “terrible it was for the country. But I’m actually very VERY happy about last night’s House vote. It may have been the best gift ever delivered to the Obama administration, and to the country. Here’s why…

All but 16 Democrats voted for the bill, and that’s as expected because Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a great relationship with her caucus. We all knew that Speaker John Boehner’s caucus was split, with a majority of them oppsing him at every turn. But what we didn’t know until last night, was exactly where those fault lines lie.

Now we do.

Boehner’s decision to cave and bring the bill to a clean vote was a total game-changer for the White House and for Democrats. Of the 257 yes votes, 85 of them were Republicans. This is it!! This is the group of people that actually listen to the Speaker, and most importantly, are willing to listen to others and put country before party. The official roll call tells this tale like the best of political novels. For the first time since the “Hastert rule” was enacted, a party caucus was knowingly split up by its leadership. As a result, we now see the House GOP for what it really is… a two-party coalition in which John Boehner is actually part of the minority. On one side, you’ve got roughly 150 members that grab all of the attention, and on the other side you have 85 members that want to WORK. 85 members that are (at least briefly) capable of putting the interests of the country above the sanctity of their party.

Many of those members are what you’d expect… blue state Republicans like New Hampshire’s Charlie Bass, or those that have their eye on future offices like Illinois’ Aaron Schock, knowing that bipartisanship is a necessary step were he to run for Governor or Senator of a bifurcated state. And some of them were just people that actually respect Speaker Boehner’s leadership and trust the decision of the caucus… the “old school” politicians. After 3 years of the Tea Partiers hogging the spotlight, we were suddenly reminded that the GOP isn’t completely over-taken… at least not yet.

Now sure, out of those 85 some of them would never do this again. They would never join up with Democrats to help the President. But there’s likely a good 40 to 50 of them that the public can now target to get our government in the right direction again. And as long as Boehner keeps his Speakership in the 113th, Congress will be able to pass important things like Immigration reform and simplification to the tax code.

Republicans and Democrats will always have differences, but we shouldn’t be so far apart that we would allow our country to go to ruins. Sadly, that faction is alive and well within the GOP… some of them care nothing more for the well-being of the United States as long as their narrow viewpoint is advanced. But what we learned on the first night of 2013? That’s not all of them. There are still reasonable, hard-working, SANE people in Congress that want this country to succeed, and are willing to compromise even if they don’t always agree with the views of others. There’s still people in the House of Represenatatives that want to legislate, and not just waste people’s time.

In normal voting procedure, the Speaker of the House does not actually cast a vote. But sometimes, when they think it’s needed (like then Speaker Nancy Pelosi casting a vote for the Affordable Care Act), they will vote. Last night, Speaker Boehner cast a vote, eventhough he knew that enough of the other members of the caucus would join Democrats. He knew the bill would pass, but he voted anyway. Why would the Speaker do that?

If I were a betting man, I’d say that Boehner’s vote was a signal. He’s communicating to the President and Senate that he’s one of the “good guys”. Or at least that he’d like to be.

But in order to be a truly good guy, Mr. Boehner needs one other thing… COURAGE. One vote is simply not enough to save the reputation of the 112th Congress. And letting bills like the Violence Against Women Act and vital aid for Hurricane Sandy victims die in the House is not courageous. It’s wrong. I hope the Speaker finds more courage in the 113th Congress, and FAST.

GOP shows no gratitude to Mitt Romney

Nobody likes to lose. But one thing that Americans themselves despise more than losing? A sore loser. And after November 6th, it’s clear that we have very sore losers in both Mitt Romney and the GOP.

Granted, Mr. Romney’s recent comments about Obama giving “gifts” to his electorate in exchange for their vote is nothing short of offensive. Now that he’s finally untethered from the whims of his party, Mitt’s true character has been revealed for the world to see. But here’s the big “secret” that’s right in front of everyone’s face… This is THE Mitt Romney that the GOP elected!! Remember how he said “I’m not concerned about the very poor“? That was back in late January. And the infamous “47 percent” comment? He said that in May, but it wasn’t really on the national consciousness until September. But still the GOP rallied around him… the crowned him the leader of the party, and accepted him WITH ALL OF HIS FLAWS. Long story short, they bought in, and then sold him to the American people. One may be frustrated with Romney for being a sore loser, but folks, we knew he would be all along. You get what you vote for, right?

For the greater Republican Party on the other hand… the blazing speed with which they have turned to disown Mitt Romney is quite astonishing. Some are trying to quickly act like November 6th never happened and that he was never the nominee. They have disowned Romney at every public opportunity. Does that mean that they also want to disown their vote too? Did they forget that this guy was one night away from the Presidency a couple of weeks ago?

Here’s the greater problem… turning Mitt Romney into the new “Republican enemy number one” does nothing to solve systemic issues within the party. Romney was simply a symptom, he was not a cause for the GOP’s long history of problems. After living in a vast bubble of denial, the GOP finally must look in the mirror at a party that was built on malice and falsehoods. This party nearly tore apart between fringe religious fundamentalists and the well-funded but shrinking establishment. And in 2012, Mr. Romney stepped up to the plate and chose to lead them to an humbling defeat. In so many ways, they really should be thanking him saving a more critical member of the party agony and public embarassment of a 2012 loss. No matter what he says days after election, the party should be standing up for him, and finding a way to move forward with their own political aspirations.

Operation Think Swing Texas

As Emily Cadik noted in a recent Burnt Orange Report article, Texas doesn’t vote. For the 2010 mid-term elections, the state of Texas had voter turnout of 36.1 percent… dead last in the nation. 2008 was better at 56.1 percent (as is expected for a Presidential election), but that still only ranked at 45th out of 50 in the US.

This isn’t exclusively a “big state” problem. Voter turnout in California is soaring, while New York in 2010 was one of the states lower than Texas. All three states also had Gubernatorial elections at the same time.

This also isn’t exclusively a “red state” problem. Some reliably Conservative states like Mississippi have consistently higher turnout than Texas, though it’s still below the national average.

Voter turnout is a Texas problem. Our voters are disengaged, and misinformed. As long as state campaigns and interest groups practice “uncertainty politics” it will continue to be this way. Besides voter apathy, Texans are plagued by signs that misdirect people to false voting locations, and incorrect times and dates of where to vote. And yes the current legal brawl over voter suppression makes the confusion this year higher than ever.

But just imagine if those voters were more informed and more engaged? Texas would easily be a swing state the like of which the US hasn’t seen. As Nathan Pippenger states in his recent article from The New Republic, Texas isn’t on the radar as a swing state. But Democrats, with all of their challenges can make this happen in 2012. Here’s my plan of how to turn Texas into a swing state.

Go micro.

Texas is huge, but when it comes to elections, it’s not as big as you think. 8 million Texans voted in the 2008 election, representing all 254 of the state’s counties. But as of the 2010 census, over half of all Texans live in just 13 of these counties, concentrated around the major urban areas. 12 of the 13 were “in play” for Democrats in 2008.

Prioritize.

2008 also saw a huge sea change in the state. Some counties went so heavily for Obama that they can now be considered “reliably Democrat-leaning”… El Paso, Travis (Austin), Dallas, Webb, Hidalgo and Cameron… along with other portions of the Rio Grande Valley. Let’s consider these counties as Tier 1 targets for Texas Democrats. Gains made in the 2008 election should be kept and defended. We should be making sure democratic candidates are well-represented in the local media markets, signs and volunteers. It’s critical that these counties remain in the blue category not only for 2012, but to strengthen current networking for future elections.

Tier 2 we’ll consider these “swing” counties. These flipped to vote for Obama by a smaller margin such as Harris (Houston), Jefferson (Beaumont) or Bexar (San Antonio). But you can also consider other counties that held for McCain, but by a rapidly decreasing margin… Hays, Fort Bend, Williamson and Nueces (Corpus Christi). Texas Democrats should work hard to keep Harris county in the blue and try to flip Hays, Williamson or Fort Bend. If one of those were to flip in 2012, it would mark the first time a substantial suburban county went blue. The impact of this could not be understated because it would show that Texas follows the same model as any other swing state… The cities become heavily Democratic, rural areas lean Republican, and the election battle is fought and won in the suburban counties.

So now we’ve taken the vast 254, and narrowed it down to just 12 counties. These also happen to be the state’s most populous areas. If Texas Democrats ever win all 12 of these counties, we are swing state, and possibly a BLUE state.

Turnout, turnout, turnout.

This is the really super hard part, but it can be done. The one thing we also know from 2008… Democrats like to vote early. If voters are well informed of the early and absentee voting practices of each county, they’ll be more likely to vote, and Democrats will have higher turnout. Here’s where the confusion and misinformation part becomes crucial. Certain political forces are hard at work in the state to make sure that lies persist about voting practices. Democrats should be waging all-scale war on these phonies, and getting into neighborhoods to correct and inform. If we push and publicize early voting, it gives people more options and better ability to get to the poles. Keep in mind that early voting is a relatively recent practice… elderly citizens may not understand what it is. They see the one election day, and think that’s the only time they can vote. We have to change this.

Rankings don’t lie. The non-voting population in Texas is staggering…

Fort Bend county… 300,403 registered; 205,931 voted; 94,472 didn’t vote

Travis county… 609,230 registered, 402,832 voted, 206,398 didn’t vote

Dallas county… 1,206,797 registered, 742,980 voted, 463,817 didn’t vote

Harris county… 1,892,656 registered; 1,188,731 voted; 703,925 didn’t vote

Seriously, the main game is moving to these 12 counties. In the 4 largest listed above, we know that 1.4 million people didn’t vote. Obama lost Texas by 940,000 votes. If Democrats focus on registration and information, this problem can be solved, and we can eradicate GOP majorities in these counties. As red as the state may look on paper, the real population and political power centers around the major urban areas. If we can maximize voter turnout in the 12 target counties, Democrats will win the state.

So fellow Leftists… who’s ready to Think SWING?