The Secret of Bernie Sanders’s Success
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Republicans opposed to filibuster reform have complained bitterly that attempts to change the rules would “destroy” the traditions of the Senate, as Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has put it.
But James Madison — the guy who is actually referred to as “The Father of the Constitution” — argued forcefully in the Federalist Papers against proposals that would have required a “supermajority” to pass legislation. Madison said the idea of requiring more than 51 votes for the Senate to act would thwart a “free government,” empower special interests seeking “unreasonable indulgences” and make the government “oligarchic.”
Reading Madison’s own words, it is impossible to conclude that the Founders would have envisioned, let alone approved, a system in which more than 51 votes are required to get anything done. If anything, the abuse of the filibuster itself is what’s destroying our democratic traditions.
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) finally won his congressional race, “earning a razor-thin victory over his Republican challenger after a machine recount produced hardly any change in the margin,” the AP reports.
The 113th Congress will be represented by 201 Democrats and 234 Republicans. Democrats entered the 2012 elections holding 190 House seats — but due to vacancies in three Democrat-held seats, they gained eight seats overall.
Republicans have a lot of soul-searching to do about the future viability of their party, but the same could be said about Texas Democrats. After conceding there was much work left to be done, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said by 2018 Texas would become battleground state, “by itself.”
“Democratic districts are going to nominate liberals for the most part, and Republican districts aren’t going to back any Democrat — moderate or liberal,” he said. “We have two very distinct parties now, and certainly for the balance of this decade it isn’t likely to change.”
President Barack Obama is preparing to expand the fiscal cliff fight beyond the confines of Washington, travelling the country and leaning on Democratic activist groups to help apply political pressure.
The goal, organizers said, is to keep engaged the activists and followers who have stood with Obama through two campaigns, and to begin applying external pressure to the president’s negotiations with congressional Republicans.
On that same call, one of president’s top campaign aides, Mitch Stewart, alerted listeners that they would be asked to help support the White House as it deals with the expiring Bush tax cuts and looming $1 trillion in sequestration-related cuts. Stewart added that some campaign operatives would remain in Chicago “going through what worked in 2012 and what didn’t work in 2012 and trying to figure out how we as an organization can get better.” He concluded by pointing the 30,000 call participants to a newly developed initiative called TheAction.org.
The organization is a loose coalition of 26 progressive-leaning groups in various states (Innovation Ohio, Progress Texas, Better Georgia) as well as Washington (Small Business Majority and Protect Your Care.)
The veterans of the 2012 campaign as well as the Obama White House will work to back the elimination of the Bush tax cuts on people with incomes of more than $250,000. The coalition is still in its nascent stages, as shown by the relatively calm Twitter account it operates. A “tool kit” being distributed by the group includes letterhead, Twitter backgrounds, and Facebook cover photos. One organizer said the coalition would spearhead rallies, encourage op-eds and letters to the editor and, if an infusion of cash comes around, launch media campaigns. More broadly, TheAction.org is designed to harness the post-election energy of Obama supporters into real grassroots pressure on Congress.
Sign up at The Action today!
Nearly two-in-three Americans say they believe President Obama will make a sincere effort to reach bipartisan solutions to the country’s woes, but only about half say the same thing about congressional Republicans, according to results of USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.
Sixty-five percent of Americans said they believe Obama will make a sincere effort to work with Republican leaders to find solutions to the nation’s problems. Fifty-seven percent said the same of Democrats in Congress. Only 48 percent said Republicans in Congress will make a sincere bipartisan effort.
Democrats appear more bullish than Republicans that the opposing party will compromise, with 38 percent of the Democrats who were polled saying Republicans will make a sincere bipartisan effort, and just 27 percent of Republicans saying the same thing about Democrats.
But recall that in 1940, the great labor leader A. Philip Randolph prevailed upon FDR to improve the conditions of blacks and workers. The President responded, â€œI agree with everything you have said. Now make me do it.â€
It is up to us to make Obama do it. How we get the President to do the right things are the challenges we face. What we do know is that those who mobilized to defeat Romney and Ryan should not demobilize. Those progressive constituencies that supported the President must come together to speak with one voice on key issues.
We know that President Obama, like any president of the United States, faces immense pressures from Wall Street (bankers), the Chamber of Commerce, the Military Industrial (Congressional) Complex, the Prison Industrial Complex, and the insurance, fossil fuel and gun industries. All of these lobbies seek to promote their own interests – including the rights of capital over labor, criminalization of broad segments of society, reliance on carbon-based energy sources and wars to obtain them. They aim to profit from health care and privatize as much as possible, and to ensure that people do not believe they have any entitlements to health care or social security.
These are the many reasons to organize to make Obama do the right thing. But the burden is not only on the President. The burden is on us to organize the counter-pressure through all of the progressive constituencies. It is a challenge we must embrace.
|—||Voters in Arizona’s 2nd pick Barber over McSally - seattlepi.com|
Yesterday, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) unveiled a bill they’re calling the “Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act.” Under their proposal, states that “aggressively” pursue election reforms would be rewarded with federal grants.
And what kind of reforms are proponents looking for? It’s not a short list, but the Warner/Coons bill calls for flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration; expanding early voting; “no-excuse” absentee voting; and “formal training of election officials, including state and county administrators and volunteers.”
As best as I can tell, because the FAST Act is roughly modeled after the Race to the Top education initiative — it’s a competitive grant program, not a set of federal mandates.
In the Hose [SIC], Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) unveiled a related proposal, the “Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act,” which is even more ambitious. Most notably, it would require 15 days of early voting in all states for federal elections — and because Congress has authority over regulating federal elections, the assumption is states would simply apply identical standards for all down-ballot races.
The introduction of these bills now appears intended to lay the groundwork for future efforts. This Congress will wrap up next month, and given its to-do list, and the fact that every new Congress starts over with a blank slate, we’ll almost certainly have to wait until the new year before voting reforms are considered. That said, it’s encouraging to see some worthwhile proposals on the table.
President Barack Obama made a direct, personal appeal to 30,000 of his top campaign activists on Tuesday night, asking them to stay involved in politics and to continue pressuring Republicans during upcoming tax and budget negotiations.
"I’m so proud of what you guys accomplished and I will always be in awe and inspired by what you’ve done," the president said on the call, which the Huffington Post listened to. "So that’s the good news. The bad news is our work can’t stop now. Because as we learned in the first term, in some ways an election is just the beginning. It is not the end point. It is a means to a goal and that is to actually help families all across the country."
The president, speaking from a White House phone, cautioned listeners to expect disappointments during his second term. As he has in the past, Obama warned that he was prepared to swallow some bitter pills during the negotiations, including some that would agitate the base.
"As we move forward there are going to be new wrinkles and new frustrations, we can’t predict them yet," he said. "We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about, making sure that our tax system is fair. So we are going to need you guys to stay active. We need you to stick with us and stay on this."
But with the sour, he promised some sweets. Obama said that his White House would be more effective at community engagement. He pledged to have his team give more “clear directions and talking points in terms of how we keep mobilizing across the country.” He also said that he planned to spend more time outside of the nation’s capital during the next four years.
"One of my pledges for a second term is to get out of Washington more often because it is just good for my soul," said Obama.
The president’s comments — the most explicit push yet for campaign volunteers to continue their election-type engagement — came during a conference call organized by what remains of the Obama campaign. Mitch Stewart, one of Obama’s top campaign aides, told listeners they would be outfitted with activist tools for the critical weeks of negotiations ahead. Stewart also revealed that some campaign staffers remained in Obama’s Chicago reelection headquarters, crunching data to figure which community activist tools had worked during the election.
The AP has just called Arizona’s 9th district for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema over Republican Vernon Parker — giving Congress its first openly bisexual member. But almost a week after the election, five more House races have yet to be called.
* AZ-02, Ron Barber (D) vs. Martha McSally (R). As of early Sunday Barber has overtaken McSally and currently leads in the race to succeed his former boss, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), by a mere 289 votes. Pima County had about 33,000 ballots left to count; Maricopa County had 322,000 early and provisional ballots to count (though not all those ballots are for this district). The race is closer than expected given the circumstances surrounding Giffords’s departure, but later votes in the state have so far favored Democrats.
* CA-07, Ami Bera (D) vs. Rep. Dan Lungren (R). In Friday afternoon’s tally Bera extended his lead over Lungren to 1,779 votes. Another update is expected Tuesday. A huge number of mail-in ballots in Sacramento County led to delays. After redistricting, Democrats have a narrow edge here, giving Bera (who ran against Lungren in 2010 and lost) a boost in this suburban swing district.
* CA-52, Scott Peters (D) vs. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R). Peters leads the incumbent Republican by 1,334 votes as of Friday evening. An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 ballots remain uncounted, and Bilbray is not conceding. Republicans have a narrow registration edge here after redistricting, but the territory is less familiar to Bilbray.
* FL-18, Patrick Murphy (D) vs. Rep. Allen West (R). All the votes are in, a partial recount was conducted, and Murphy is ahead by 1,907 votes in this Palm Beach district made more Democrat under new maps — outside the margin for a full recount. But West, a national tea party celebrity, is not conceding.
* NC-07, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R). McIntyre is clinging to a 420-vote lead, with some provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted. His edge shrunk slightly since the unofficial tally on Election Day tally, which gave McIntyre a 507-vote lead. The result is close enough that Rouzer could ask for a recount. This district was drawn by Republicans to favor Rouzer.
Calling all 50 states the day before the election as Nate Silver did is one thing — predicting President Obama’s winning majority 10 years in advance is hard to top.
But that’s what Ruy Teixeira did. Since 2002, when Democrats were at a low point and sinking lower, Teixeira has consistently argued that long-term demographic trends pointed to brighter days ahead for the party. He and John Judis published a book that year, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” that envisioned a governing majority in the next decade consisting of three rapidly growing voting blocs — women, minorities, and professionals.
Along with young voters, these three groups are credited with powering Obama’s 2008 and 2012 victories. Latinos were critical in contests across the country on Tuesday, especially in Western states like New Mexico (no longer even a swing state), Nevada, and Colorado. African American turnout helped put Obama over the top in states like Ohio. Huge advantages with women helped secure states like Iowa (28% gender gap). And a growing professional class in Virginia and North Carolina — solid red states when Teixeira published his book — put the former in Obama’s camp for a second straight election and kept the latter competitive until the end.
It’s easy to forget now, but after President Bush won re-election in 2004, there was a popular school of thought that America was entering an extended period in which Republicans would hold an unshakable majority. Karl Rove claimed the results as a “realignment” in which evangelical and suburban turnout would destroy the Democrats’ viability as a national party. Other observers like Michael Barone backed him up. Perhaps not coincidentally, both of them predicted a Romney landslide last week.
Teixeira stuck by his theory, however, and now one of the big post-election questions is whether Obama’s majority is the new political reality in America or a passing phase. TPM talked to Teixeira, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal DC think tank, on Thursday about what his research tells him about the future of the party…