Blue State Red State

Friday, November 12, 2004

Different Priorities

Brad Carson, defeated Democratic Senate candidate from Oklahoma, has an article in The New Republic (via New Donkey) explaining what he thinks to be the cultural problem his party really needs to confront:

"For the vast majority of Oklahomans--and, I would suspect, voters in other red states--these transcendent cultural concerns are more important than universal health care or raising the minimum wage or preserving farm subsidies. Pace Thomas Frank [author of What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America], the voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones. The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a 'false consciousness' or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be. But the truth is quite simple: Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it."

Basically, don't automatically assume voters are ignorant because their priorities are different. Try to understand why they're different. This is not a call for pandering or insincerely claiming to share the same priorities. Be aware of differences and respect them, even while supporting your own views. It's always easier to either win someone over or get past differences when there's a mutual respect, but no mutual respect will come from one party's condescension toward the other. Also, agreement on every specific issue or set of issues is not necessary for general cooporation.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Congrats, Mr. President

Excerpts from a congratulatory letter to President George W. Bush from Dr. Bob Jones III (via Politcal Animal):

"The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!"

The media also tells us, perhaps less frequently, that John Kerry received the second largest number of popular votes in America's history.

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism.

Who's agenda of paganism? Bush has been President for four years and Republicans have controlled the House and Senate for two. Therefore, hasn't the agenda been theirs? Not that I've seen any worshipping of sun gods on C-Span of late. The main agenda of the last few years has been cutting taxes and fighting a war in Iraq. It's surprising for an ultra-conservative to label this pagan.

"You have been given a mandate."

Mandate? Bush won by the narrowest margin of any President in more than three quarters of a century.

The Third Way

The Washington Post reports the creation of a new progressive policy group. Excerpt:

"As Democrats continue to stagger from last week's election losses, a group of veteran political and policy operatives has started an advocacy group aimed at using moderate Senate Democrats as the front line in a campaign to give the party a more centrist profile.

"Third Way is the latest in a series of organizations aimed at rescuing Democrats from the perception that they have lost touch with middle-class voters, particularly in the heartland states that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush over Sen. John F. Kerry.

"The group, which has enlisted the support of several senators from Bush-backing 'red states,' hopes to rebut the notion that Democrats represent an outdated brand of liberalism by producing new policy proposals designed to create a 'moderate majority,' said Matt Bennett, Third Way's communications director."

The Bush Legacy

Bull Moose has some thoughts on Bush's possible legacy. Excerpt:

"In short, Bush could become a Reagan-like conqueror of an evil empire or he could become another Texan leaving with the nation mired in a foreign mess. The Moose is soft on LBJ - at least that Texan had a progressive, even heroic, domestic legacy. Whatever happens in the war, W. will never be able to say that."

Bush Hurt Moderates' Chances For 2008

As featured in this NY Times article Arthur Finkelstein, a GOP consultant known for his work with Alfonse D'Amato, Jesse Helms, Ariel Sharon, and George Pataki, believes that President Bush's strategy of relying on evangelical voters to win re-election will ultimately hinder the prospects of moderate Republicans, including Pataki. Excerpt:

"'Bush courted the evangelical vote,' [Finklestein] said, 'and turned these elections, in fact, into a referendum on the religious and cultural nature of America. This is my problem.'

"As a result, he said, 'it will be difficult for Pataki.'

"'Bush's victory strengthens the ability of the Christian right to nominate the next Republican nominee as much as the last one,' Mr. Finkelstein said."

While it may be, and probably is, true that Bush's elevation of the evangelicals to the decisive factor in his re-election will cut off moderates from the GOP nomination in 2008, it must also be pointed out that what's even more likely to hurt Pataki's chance are his ineffectiveness as Governor and the thrashing he will probably receive either in the primaries from Rudolph Giuliani (if he decides to run) or in the general election from Hilary Clinton if and when he attempts to challenge the latter for her Senate seat. Also, he's terribly dull-- not a good trait for a potential Presidential candidate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Gonzales For AG

Reuters is reporting that Bush plans to nominate Alberto Gonzales to replace departing John Ashcroft as Attorney General. As Bush's White House legal counsel, Gonzales has supported and defended detaining suspected terrorists indefinitely wihout trial and even wrote a memo claiming the Bush administration could ignore the protection of prisoners of war as provided in anti-torture laws and treaties. Basically, there's a good chance he's at least partially responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib, but we can't know for sure because information about that hasn't been made very available to members of either party who were outraged at the scandal.

This looks like as good a time as any for Dems to begin uniting with rational, moderate Republicans against an obvious afront to ideals of universal civil and human rights.

Marginalize The Arch-Right

As opined before, there is likely much less that divides the moderates of both sides than we're being led to believe by the currently triumphant, overpoweringly loud Arch-Right and the lazy, parroting mainstream media. The extremist left is already more or less a marginalized faction and the weak-kneed centrist mirroring of the GOP is hopefully, and seemingly, behind us. It's looking more like the trend for the Dems will be a progressivism that, instead of imitating or rolling over to the GOP, will be willing to include those who share the same ideals the far right currently seems to think it has no obligation to the moderates it parades before the public to honor. As Bull Moose puts it:

"In 2008, these folks aren't about to settle for a candidate who doesn't pass their litmus test. It is fine with the right-wing to showcase the moderates at the convention. It is entirely another thing to make one of them the leader of their party. Heck, they don't even want a mod to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee much less to occupy the Oval Office. At this point, it's more likely that John Ashcroft will be the ACLU Man of the Year than the Republicans will nominate a sensible moderate in '08. After all, God is on their side.

"Smart Democrats will make alliances with moderate Republicans. In '06 and '08, they will need their votes. And who knows, the donkey might even want one of them on their ticket in the next Presidential campaign."

The Arch-Right needs to experience the same marginalization the far left already has and the best way to accomplish this is for Dems to appeal to moderate Republicans to form a progressive coalition.

GOP: A Party Of Extremes?

Matt Welch offers an observation (via Politcal Animal) that one of the major differences between the Rupublican and Democratic parties today is that the extreme left is not allowed to weild as much power over the Dems as the extreme right is allowed over the GOP. Excerpt:

"The main point is not to compare competing fringes, but mostly to point out that the Republicans' extremist fringe includes powerful senior elected politicians from their own party. Moore, for all his sitting-next-to-people action at the DNC, was not invited on the podium. Rick Santorum, the senator from Pennsylvania who has described outlawing gay marriage as 'the ultimate Homeland security,' gave a rousing speech to the Republicans. Tom Coburn, the new Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for abortion doctors, and held up Fidel Castro's forced AIDS camps as a model worth emulating. Jim DeMint, your new Senator from South Carolina, thinks that single pregnant women shouldn't teach in public schools. If Bush wanted to deliver a 'Sister Souljah moment,' embracing cross-over moderation at the expense of his own party's fringe, he wouldn't need to take a swipe at a non-politician like Ann Coulter -- he could start in the august hall of the Unites States Senate.

"So finally answering Jarvis' question: Did Michael Moore cost Kerry the election? Answer: Maybe! (I think it's impossible to ascribe one reason to a complicated election.) But if it's true, it's only because the people who voted that way didn't know or didn't care that Moore's influence over the Democratic Party pales in comparison to Republican extremists' over the Republicans."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

More Victorious Whining From The Arch-Right

As mentioned before, there seems to be an inclination on the part of the religious and social right to simultaneously claim victory and oppression by the left. Interestingly, the majority of those left of center (meaning moderates and progressives)-- the ones that lost-- seem to be be preaching outreach and understanding, while those on the far right-- the loudest of those who won-- can only spew hatred. This reprehensible essay (via Wonkette) proposes an explusion of the "blue states" from the Union, while speaking out against Lincoln (the first Republican President) for his refusal to let the southern states secede. Excerpts:

"For many decades, conservative citizens and like-minded political leaders (starting with President Calvin Coolidge) have been denigrated by the vilest of lies and characterizations from hordes of liberals who now won't even admit that they are liberals--because the word connotes such moral stink and political silliness. As a class, liberals no longer are merely the vigorous opponents of the Right; they are spiteful enemies of civilization's core decency and traditions."

"When they tire of showering conservative victims with ideological mud, liberals promote the only other subjects with which they feel conversationally comfortable: Obscenity and sexual perversion. It's as if the genes of liberals have rendered them immune to all forms of filth.

"As a final insult, liberal lawyers and judges have become locusts of the Left, conspiring to destroy democracy itself by excreting statutes and courtroom tactics that fertilize electoral fraud and sprout fields of vandals who will cast undeserved and copious ballots on Election Day."

"That is why the unthinkable must become thinkable. If the so-called 'Red States' (those that voted for George W. Bush) cannot be respected or at least tolerated by the 'Blue States' (those that voted for Al Gore and John Kerry), then the most disparate of them must live apart-- not by secession of the former (a majority), but by expulsion of the latter."

"The demographics revealed by the two most recent presidential elections are radically different and have resulted in "Two Americas" (but not the simplistic "Two Americas" [one rich, one poor] envisioned by Kerry's Marxist-tongued running mate, John Edwards):

  • "BUSH USA is predominantly white; devoutly Christian (mostly Protestant); openly, vigorously heterosexual; an open land of single-family homes and ranches; economically sound (except for a few farms), but not drunk with cyberworld business development, and mainly English-speaking, with a predilection for respectfully uttering 'yes, ma'am' and 'yes, sir.'

  • "GORE/KERRY USA is ethnically diverse; multi-religious, irreligious or nastily antireligious; more sexually liberated (if not in actual practice, certainly in attitude); awash with condo canyons and other high-end real estate bordered by sprawling, squalid public housing or neglected private homes, decidedly short of middle-class neighborhoods; both high tech and oddly primitive in its commerce; very artsy, and Babelesque, with abnormally loud speakers."

The Curse Of The Second Term

Clinton's second term saw the Lewinsky scandal. Reagan's second saw the breaking of the Iran-Contra Affair. And, of course, Nixon's saw Watergate. The supposed "second-term curse" currently has some Democrats hopeful and some Republicans anxious, and with good reason as the Washington Post reports. Excerpts:

"There are certainly plenty of thorny matters awaiting resolution: the probe into the leak of a CIA operative's employment; reports and lawsuits stemming from the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib; probes into prewar intelligence in Iraq and the White House's use of it; and FBI investigations into how sensitive intelligence wound up in the hands of Israelis and Iranians.

"Even the chief investigator faces investigation. The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is examining whether Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, when he served in the Senate, violated criminal campaign funding laws or federal disclosure laws relating to the transfer of a mailing list to his campaign committee.

"Halliburton gets the prize for being the first to reassert itself since the election. Its SEC filing Friday disclosed more trouble related to investigations by the SEC, Justice, a French magistrate and Nigerian officials into whether a consortium including Halliburton paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials involving a gas plant from 1995 to 2002. Cheney ran the company from 1995 to 2000, and Halliburton bought the unit involved in the consortium in 1998.

"That followed by little more than a week the last bad news about Halliburton: that the FBI expanded a probe into charges of contract irregularities by Halliburton in Iraq and Kuwait. Lawyers for a Pentagon official said the FBI requested an interview with her over her complaints that the Army gave a Halliburton unit preferential treatment when granting it a $7 billion contract to restore Iraq's oil fields."

Bush is only the fourth President since Eisenhower to win a second term. So far, the curse is going strong at 3 for 3. Think Bush can make it 4 for 4?

Dean For DNC Chair?

There's been a lot of wishful thinking of late for Howard Dean to become chairman of the DNC, and according to an Associated Press report ( linked here in the NY Post), he may be willing to oblige. Excerpts:

"'He told me he was thinking about it,' said Steve Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Grossman said he 'strongly urged' Dean to go for the job."

"But Dean has refused to rule out another run for the Oval Office — which would probably be impossible if he headed the DNC."

Current DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is well-known for his fundraising skills, but in his nearly four years as chair, he has been much less successful in rallying the party around ideas. Dean, along with Joe Trippi, taught Democrats new ways of fundraising and getting people involved, while simultaneously conveying progressive ideals that the DNC needs to begin taking to heart.

Senator Bush?

The South Florida Sun-Sentinal reports on how the retirement of Florida Sen. Bob Graham has left Sen. Bill Nelson in a precarious position. Excerpts:

"As the lone Florida Democrat holding statewide office, Nelson is wearing a huge target on his back.

"Republicans, emboldened by Election Day victories across the South, are already seeing Nelson's seat as one they could put in GOP control in 2006."

"With that enthusiasm building for 2006, many Republicans would like to see Gov. Jeb Bush, who must step down as governor in two years because of constitutionally mandated term limits, run for the Senate. Such a move could keep him in the national political limelight and in reach of a run for the White House to extend the Bush family dynasty in the Oval Office."

Bush says he's interested in neither the Senate nor White House, but that doesn't keep anyone from throwing his name around.

Kerry On

The Washington Post reports John Kerry will not follow in Al Gore's footsteps and disappear from the scene after his loss to George W. Bush. Excerpts:

"Democrat John F. Kerry plans to use his Senate seat and long lists of supporters to remain a major voice in American politics despite losing the presidential race last Tuesday, and he is assessing the feasibility of trying again in 2008, friends and aides said yesterday."

"Several Democrats expressed skepticism about Kerry's plans, saying they believe the party needs a fresh face and must turn a corner. One well-known Democratic operative who worked with the Kerry campaign said opposition to Bush, not excitement about Kerry, was behind the senator's fundraising success. 'If he thinks he's going to capitalize on that going forward, he's in for a surprise,' said the operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

"The senator from Massachusetts is also contemplating establishing a political action committee and perhaps a think tank to elevate his role during the jockeying over the definition and leadership of the Democratic Party."

The facts are that, no matter what motivated people to vote for Kerry, he was the Democratic nominee, thus de facto leader of the party for the better part of a year, and close to half of voters were willing to support him at the polls.

And he is still a US Senator.

With the party in need of leadership and a clear sense of direction, it would not only be silly, but also irresponsible, of him to not try to make use of the politcal capital he acquired during his run.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Who's Really Elitist?

The LA Times' Michael Kinsely offers an excellent, and humoroursly apologetic, opinion (via Political Animal; free registration required) of where supposed red-staters and blue-staters now stand. Excerpts:

"Look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose and where gay relationships have civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values — as deplorable as I'm sure they are — don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same sex, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

"We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?"

"Be fair! (A liberal whine, I know. Sorry.) Conservatives shouldn't assert the prerogatives of victory and then claim the compensations of defeat as well. You can't oppress us and simultaneously complain that we are oppressing you."