WELCOME TO THE 2014 ELECTION! “IT’S ON AND POPPIN’!”

Two weeks removed from national election, that re-elected President Barack Obama, the 2014 mid-term elections are “on and poppin’.”  I wonder if the Democratic Party has sufficiently learned from the debacle of 2010.

It is obvious that the Republican’s have not learned any lessons from this last election season, so the test is, will the Democratic Party stand by what they profess and force the Republican Party to stand by their failed logic, and their total disdain for the American people, and the election process, that returned the President to office, and gained seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives for them?

At stake, for the Democrats, at the national level, is a possible re-taking of the House of Representatives and gaining a filibuster-proof Senate.  At the local level there are several “red-state” Governorship’s and State Legislatures in play.

From what I’ve read, the assault on women’s reproductive choices, by Republicans, has resumed with refreshed attempts around the country to try to circumvent Roe v. Wade, using the states as their primary vehicle.  The war on the uninsured and the poor is advancing with Republican Governor’s rejecting certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Provisions such as the “insurance exchanges” for entrepreneurs and small businesses with less than 50 employees, and refusing to expand Medicaid services for individuals and families living at or near poverty levels, and the poor.

Yogi Berra said it best, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

As for the battle over reproductive choices, that’s a battle Democrat’s and Progressives should welcome.  A true conservative court will stand by the rights of the individual against the state.  A Republican court will not.  Chief Justice Roberts has shown, with his decision on the ACA, that he does not want his court to be branded as the “Republican Court.”  Notwithstanding some of the other Justices, it is my belief that the right’s of the individual will prevail.  We’ve seen that already with laws like “stand your ground,” and “open carry” laws, for guns.  We just have to be prepared, and willing to fight for what’s right.

Now, about the ACA.  Caught inside the Republican bubble, they believed that the President would not be re-elected, they believed that the ACA would not stand constitutional muster, they believed that their party would win the Senate and increase their majority in the House.  After the ACA was upheld by the SCOTUS, they believed that, when elected, a Romney/Ryan administration would repeal it, or at the least not fund or enforce it.  With this as their thinking, many of them simply did not prepare to commit to the exchanges by the deadline.  They also knew that the Federal government would step in and create the exchanges if they fail to do so.

As you know, the Medicaid expansion provision will mean approximately 17 millions people will receive coverage they otherwise would not have, and will mean the hiring or re-hiring of thousands of people nationwide, to handle the increased case loads.  The Republican Governors, as one of their excuses, claim they cannot afford to implement the exchanges or the expansion, though the Act will pay 100% of the cost for 2 years and 90% of the cost of the expansion for many years after that.  Another excuse is that they don’t want the Federal Government interfering in their state policies.  Their reticence means that millions will not be covered and thousands of jobs will not be made available, simply, because of their politics.

That being said, [this] becomes a prime opportunity for Democratic candidates as they begin their campaigns.  Many of November’s winning Democratic Party candidates ran on these very issues.  I wouldn’t wait another minute in these “Red States,” to force the Republican politicians, from the state legislatures to the Congress, to declare where they stand, on the record, about these issues, and challenge them publicly, about their stance.

These red states are among the most in need of the ACA and their Governor’s, State Houses, and Congressmen and women, should be forced to explain to their constituents why Obamacare is not being made available to them.  At the same time, the “Blue State Governments” should boldly tout the advantages of the Act to their constituents.  Their “red state” neighbors, seeing the benefits of the Act will challenge their leadership to comply, or opportunities will be created for Democrats to take over these State Houses and Legislatures, and to represent them in the Congress.

These are just a couple of the issues that will define this election.  There’s also Planned Parenthood, personhood, voter ID, state election laws, and much more.

We, Democrats and Progressives, must understand that we cannot relax.  2014 will be here before we know it and the race to the “mid-terms” has already begun.  It’s “ON AND POPPIN’.”

“STEELE RESOLVE”

I’m going to start by saying that there are few areas in politics where Michael Steele and I agree, particularly regarding some of the issues facing America today.  Still, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.  The fact that he has chosen the current Republican Party, though, is one area that confounds me.  It is, at the same, time both “bewildering and admirable.”

I’ll start with “admirable.”  From the time of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency until that of  Lyndon Johnson a Democrat, African-Americans had a strong reciprocal relationship with the GOP.  With that in mind, it’s not too difficult to understand, from a historical standpoint, how he could make that choice.

Here is an excerpt from the keynote address given to the Jackson County Republicans Lincoln Day Dinner, March 4, 2006.  The speech is entitled:

“The Ship and the Sea: ‘The Party of Lincoln’ and Civil rights.”

“For 150 years, the Republican Party held high the banner of civil rights. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party defended slavery, segregation and allied itself with the Ku Klux Klan to take the vote away from black and white Republicans and terrorize them into submission. Little wonder the Democratic Party was known as the “party of the Klan” well into the 20th century. When Democrats finally embraced the cause of racial freedom in the 1960s, they were the “Johnny come latelys” of the civil rights movement, simply undoing the damage their Party had inflicted on racial minorities during the prior 100 years. We, the Party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and Ward Connerly, have a far better claim to civil rights but we have forgotten our own history.”

The entire speech is a must read and it can be found at George Mason University’s “History News Network.”  http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/22526.html

There is another reason that I find Michael’s choice “admirable.”  The lack of African-Americans in prominent positions of authority within the party has been a persistent point of consternation for Blacks throughout the nation, and I have to admit that seeing him being interviewed in 2008, representing the party as head of the Republican National Committee, wearing a baseball cap on occasion, speaking with occasional “street slang,” and vowing to diversify the party, and expand the republican “big tent,” offered a measure of hope that, perhaps, given the emergence of then candidate Barack Obama, the republican’s may have found the right man to counter the drift towards homogeneity the party had taken.  But alas…..

The “hip-hop chairman” image was not something that a large group within the party, ultimately, could embrace.  Still he showed tremendous “resolve” by clearly pointing out some of the problems facing his party.  He worked to find solutions to them and attempted to mitigate some of the concerns that many of those on the “far right” had with reaching out to non-members.  Despite his avowed efforts to open up the party to other African-Americans, to reach out to Latinos, to diversify the thinking on issues important to women, the “LGBT community” and other specific demographics within the electorate, all that many within his party saw was that “cap.”

After, what turned out to be, an expected loss to now President Obama in November 2008, the party decided to circle the wagons around their fundamentalist right-wing dogma, and in spite of leading, what turned out to be a remarkably successful 2010 mid-term election run for Republican candidates (the Republican’s gained 60 House seats, 7 seats in the Senate, and 7 Governorships), Michael found himself “odd (at least to their way of thinking) man out.”  In January 2011 was replaced by Reince Priebus.

For all of the party’s finger-pointing, casting aspersions upon the chairman,and, in my opinion, not giving him proper credit, one thing was true.  Michael had correctly pointed his finger at a whole host of problems, that would come back to haunt the party in ways that, though it shouldn’t have, seemed to catch them completely by surprise.

Watching and listening to Michael in the weeks leading up to the November, though it was obvious that he wasn’t surprised.  With the republicans, having moved away from their 2010 mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs to an all out assault on social programs, women’s right’s, voter suppression, anti-union efforts, their reluctance to discuss immigration reform, their fundamentalist attitude’s about marriage, his frustration with the party could be seen on his face and heard in his voice.

So, this is where the “bewilderment” comes in.

Why, given the way they treated him and the direction the party has taken, would Michael want to, again run for chairman of the RNC.  Could it be that his love for his party is greater than his disgust with what they have  become?  Could it be that what he wants is his party back?  “The Party of Lincoln?”  The party of Frederick Douglas?  The party of  Ward Connerly?  The party of Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower?  Could he want it back?

Again, I am not a Michael Steele fan.  I am, though, a fan of commitment, a fan of devotion.  It’s clear to me [that] Michael’s commitment and devotion extends “to and beyond” his party, to all of America.

So go for it, Bro.  This time, though, I hope they love you back.

HEY MITT! IT’S THE 47%. IT’S “THESE PEOPLE.” ARE YOU LISTENING?

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.  All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.  That that’s an entitlement.  And the government should give it to them.  And they will vote for this president no matter what.  These are people who pay no income tax.  My job is not to worry about those people.  I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

These are the words spoken by candidate Mitt Romney on May 17th of this year, at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, as reported by Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn, on their website.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser

So, according to candidate Mitt Romney, 47% of the population does not matter.  That would be the 47% of Americans who don’t pay any federal income taxes.  47% of American’s are lazy and waiting for their government checks.  47% of American’s have no ambition’s or dreams.

That is the fiction.  These are the facts.

Let’s take a look at who those 47% of Americans are:

  • 28.3% of that total do pay payroll taxes.
  • 10.3% of that total are elderly.  (Retired, or, on Social Security)
  • 6.9% of that total are the poor.  (Income less than $20,000 per year)
  • The rest, approximately 1%, earn more than $20,000 per year, but through deductions like the mortgage tax credit, child credits, or earned income tax credit, owe no taxes.

http://www.businessinsider.com/mitt-romneys-47-who-are-dependent-on-the-government-2012-9

I’m not sure which alternative universe Mitt Romney lives in, but in this one, where real people live, they listen and learn from the people who want to lead them, the people who desire to be the President of the United States.  “These people,” as you call them, do take personal responsibility.  They get up, go to work, they do pay taxes, they take care of their loved ones.  They love and support their country.

And, they vote!

“These people” who you (Mitt), and your party, have castigated and denigrated, I’m talking about African-Americans, Hispanics, women, the LBGT community, and now, seniors and retired people, now see a common foe.  They are forming a coalition [that] not even the vast amounts of money, that you and your backers have been able to raise, is going to be able to defeat.

“These people” are now looking beyond your failed candidacy to republicans down-ticket.  They are looking at who among you is willing to stand up and refute your careless callousness.  The candidates, who by their silence, tacitly approve of your statements will be compelled to own them, to explain them to their constituents.

To the republicans running for office, the spotlight is on you.  “These people,” have heard from your leader. What say you?  As I stated before, they, “these people,” listen and they learn.

Then, they vote!

DEAR PENNSYLVANIA

To the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Despite the lack of evidence of “voter fraud.”  Despite the fact, that for years people have voted with other “acceptable forms of identification.”  Despite the fact, that the stated objective of the “Voter ID Law,” passed by the PA legislature, is to insure a Romney victory in the Commonwealth, over President Obama, in the November election.  Despite the fact, that older citizens, college students and minorities are disproportionately affected by this law.  Despite all of these facts, Judge Robert Simpson of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has decided to uphold the PA Voter ID law.

This from CNN.com:  “Judge Robert Simpson, with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, on Wednesday issued an order expressing no constitutional reason to stop the law from taking effect, despite writing in his decision that he had “sympathy” for the witnesses.

‘At the end of the day, however, I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for the counsel. Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to the evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system,’ Simpson wrote.”  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/15/pennsylvania-judge-upholds-voter-id-law/

Though the ACLU and others have vowed to continue this fight, next, to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and if necessary, beyond, the PA GOP has declared victory, and is sure that this legislation has given them a leg up, an advantage, in their efforts to retain control of the Commonwealth, and to defeat President Obama, in Pennsylvania, in November.  But, their celebrations could be a bit premature.

Let’s look at a few other facts:

There are 8,478,509 registered voters in Pennsylvania:
• 4,311,203 registered Democratic voters
• 3,132,039 registered Republican voters
• 38,031 registered Libertarian voters
• 997,236 registered all other party voters

(Note: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania’s voting age population is estimated at 9,829,635).

Since Jan. 2010, a total of 345,439 approved new voter applications were processed:

• 149,806 registered as Democrats
• 103,518 registered as Republicans
• 6,537  registered Libertarian voters
• 85,578  registered all other party voters

This data can be found at:  http://gantdaily.com/2010/11/02/nearly-8-5-million-registered-to-vote-in-pa/   More complete data can be found at: at www.dos.state.pa.us.

Now, it is projected that up to 10% of registered voters in PA could be affected by the voter ID law, perhaps as much 20% in urban areas.  Even if those projections are correct there is no guarantee that the objectives of the PA GOP can be met.  Indeed, due to the collateral consequences of their voter suppression efforts, it is more likely that those efforts will energize what might have been an apathetic, over-confident, Democrat base.  There is another collateral consequence that possibly wasn’t considered.  Independent voters are watching these efforts, as well.  It is not difficult to discern what is happening here, and American’s don’t particularly like to see people trying to game the system.  I don’t believe they are taking into consideration, that Americans want their competitors to “play fair.”

The Democrat Party has people working hard to get voters properly ID’d and registered, but what I find truly remarkable, is that groups like Rev. Al Sharpton‘s “National Action Network,” and Rev. Jesse Jackson‘s “Rainbow/Push Coalition are actively working to see that “all” eligible voters have the required identification, and are registered and prepared to vote.  Listening to the Reverend’s Sharpton and Jackson, I’ve not heard any talk about  party, except that one party is disproportionately affected by these efforts.  They, simply, want all eligible people to vote.  They “are” playing fair.

Notice, also, that Democrats are out registering Republicans, in the Commonwealth, by almost 50%.  This will have a significant impact on the PA GOP’s voter suppression efforts, as well.

All of that being said, let’s look at the worst possible outcome.  That the law stands, and all of its negative projections are met.  Based on the statistics, a 10% loss of the Democrat electorate would not give the GOP a majority of the vote in Pennsylvania.  (This is with voters voting along strict party lines.)  When you factor in the Presidents current lead among independents, and several other demographic areas, this entire voter ID episode could end up being, just an expensive charade.

But let’s not take anything for granted, Pennsylvania.  I’ve got a challenge for you.  It’s “EACH ONE REACH ONE.”  If each eligible, properly credentialed, voter takes a moment to insure that a person, a neighbor, a co-worker, a family member, has the proper identification, then, all of these PA GOP voter suppression efforts will be, nothing but, a waste of time and money, on their part.

That waste of time and money just may be the most important part of this entire episode.  I have deliberately stayed away from talking about the groups that stand to gain the most from these voter suppression efforts.  Groups like the people behind the Super PAC‘s, that are spending vast amounts of money to influence your/our elections.  When we stand up to them, when we let them know that our elections are not for sale, when they see [that] there is no return on this, and these types of investment(s)…., well they are businessmen and women, practical thinking men and women.  There is a better way forward for America, a “fairer” way forward for America.  When this episode is over, perhaps, we can direct our combined efforts towards finding, that better, fairer, way.

In the meantime, citizens of Pennsylvania, “EACH ONE, REACH ONE!”

And then, on November 6th, VOTE!!!!!

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