Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Monday, November 10, 2014

Can't These People Make Up Their Minds?


"Can't these people make up their minds? Four out of the last five elections (2006, 2008, 2010 and now 2014) were "wave" elections in which one party won a sweeping victory. They elect a president of one party, then two years later almost inevitably give the other party a huge victory in the midterm election. Why do they expect things to change? Good question.

It's always dangerous to speak of a country of 319 million as having a singular will, or of an election expressing that will. That's particularly true when only about 40% of eligible voters show up for midterm elections. Like every party that wins, the GOP will claim that "the American people" have endorsed its agenda in full, and therefore if President Barack Obama stands in its way, then he's thwarting the public's desires.

We've established that the public is fed up with a Congress seemingly incapable of getting anything done. The trouble is that the voters -- unanimous in their abhorrence of gridlock -- just delivered a result almost guaranteed to produce more gridlock.

To be fair, there was one party assuring them that their votes would do just the opposite. Republican candidates promised voters that they'd stand in Obama's way, and also promised that they'd "get things done," sometimes in the same sentence. As The Atlantic's Molly Ball reported last week, "these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I've heard them from candidate after candidate."


"Voters in four deep-red states -- Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota -- used ballot initiatives to approve one of the Democratic Party's highest economic priorities, increasing the minimum wage. "Personhood" initiatives that would ban abortion failed, not only in the swing state of Colorado but in conservative North Dakota as well. 

In other words, where voters had the chance to decide policy issues, they chose the Democratic position even as they were voting for Republican candidates. 

So what do the American people want? They want to have their cake and eat it, too. 

As political scientists have known for decades, Americans are "symbolic conservatives" but "operational liberals" -- they like things like small government in the abstract, but they also like all the things government does. They elect Democrats who try to accomplish complex policy goals, then turn around and elect Republicans when things don't work perfectly. They say they hate gridlock, then elect people who will give them more of it."

Apparently the minority of Americans who voted last Tuesday want Liberal policies but also they want Conservative loonies to thwart those policies.  Those who voted in the GOP sweep are of two minds. There's a special term for that: bifurcated thinking.

What they said; what they believe:

Meet the new obstructionists; same as the old obstructionists.

The Gee-Oh-Pee-ers won with a minority vote.

Mid-Term Turnout Lowest Since 1942.

 And the Democrats actually gained more of the women's vote since the 2010 mid-terms.

Secret money dirtied the election as well:

"The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics? 

Nil, of course. The next Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has long been the most prominent advocate for unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, under the phony banner of free speech. His own campaign benefited from $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business. 

 The single biggest outside spender on his behalf was a so-called social welfare group calling itself the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent $7.6 million on attack ads against his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It ran more ads in Kentucky than any other group, aside from the two campaigns. 

What is its social welfare purpose, besides re-electing Mr. McConnell? It has none. Who gave that money? It could have been anyone who wants to be a political player but lacks the courage to do so openly — possibly coal interests, retailers opposed to the minimum wage, defense contractors, but there’s no way for the public to know. 

You can bet, however, that the senator knows exactly to whom he owes an enormous favor. The only name associated with the group is Scott Jennings, a deputy political director in the George W. Bush White House, who also worked for two of Mr. McConnell’s previous campaigns."

So what did the GOP gain?  

A false sense that the American people want what the GOP wants.  What actually happened is that a low percentage (lowest since 1942) of Americans voted for the GOP's dark money driven, voter suppression agenda and its candidates.  They voted to continue to obstruct President Obama while at the same time end gridlock. 

But the best outcome of all:  Even their reddest of red conservative voters in the reddest of red states voted for Liberal policies.

Munch on that for a while

Typical GOPer ready to enjoy his little victory cake.


Infidel753 said...

They elect Democrats who try to accomplish complex policy goals, then turn around and elect Republicans when things don't work perfectly. They say they hate gridlock, then elect people who will give them more of it."

Maybe the Democratic party should have spent the campaign explicitly pointing this out to the public, and explaining what its policies really are and what those of the Republicans really are, instead of bombarding everybody with dozens of fund-raising e-mails every day.

Rational Nation USA said...

Don't ya just love all the negativity?

The results of which are excruciatingly obvious.

Carru on.

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN, I don't know what that comment means. Pointing out facts is negativity? Enlighten me.

Infidel753, the new Congress has no intention of working with Mr. Obama. Now that they control Congress, why should they?

When Mr. Obama handily won two presidential elections, the conservatives did not acknowledge his win as the "will of the people." They stone-walled and obstructed everything he proposed. The GOP did NOTHING to move this country forward.

It's so obvious what their nefarious plan was: Make Mr. Obama's presidency a failure by obstructing anything and everything.

Boner expects cooperation from the guy he threatens to sue? McConnell expects conciliation from the guy he hoped to make a one-term president.

These people really are nuts.

Now that they won with only 38% of the voting population, they announce they have "the will of the people" on their side.

I call bullshit on that.

I hope the president does what he has to do for immigration reform as well as anything else he needs to accomplish.

Jerry Critter said...

Republicans have no interest in the will of the people.

Anonymous said...

Republicans have an interest in the will of the Kochroaches.

Anonymous said...

This is the leadership the majority of Americans (who bothered to vote) elected.
Now you are being a Republican and trying to claim the election was invalid because of low voter turnout. Funny.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"...trying to claim the election was invalid because of low voter turnout."

No, Anonymous @1:46. That was never claimed. You're obviously a troll who can't read.

What I did claim is that this election was not a mandate for what a majority of the American people want. It was what a relatively small group (compared with a presidential election) of Americans who bothered to vote want.

When President Obama was elected twice with over 50% of the popular vote,(the largest since Dwight Eisenhower), the conservatives obstructed and conspired to block all of his initiatives. Where were the conservatives and their "will of the people" then? They ignored it.

Now they claim, with the LOWEST TURNOUT in a midterm election SINCE 1942, with ONLY 38% of eligible voters participating, that this was the "will of the people?" What a joke.

I'm not buying that, and I hope the president doesn't either.

On ballot initiatives, the liberal questions on marijuana, abortion, and minimum wage ALL WON. And they won in red conservative states.

Mr. Obama had more "will of the people" in his last two presidential elections, and the obstructionist conservatives ignored that fact.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Here's more to enlighten Anon @1:46:

"In Colorado, voters rejected Amendment 67, a proposal to add "unborn human beings" to the state's criminal code, a measure that some feared could ban abortion. Colorado's "personhood" amendment, along with similar measures in Tennessee and North Dakota, are seen as major threats to legal abortion in the United States. As of this writing, Tennessee's ballot initiative has passed, while the fate of North Dakota's remains uncertain.

- Washington D.C. and Oregon both legalized recreational marijuana. Marijuana legalization is something of a new gay marriage, a litmus test for the divide between older voters and younger, more socially liberal voters. In Oregon, young voters drove the push for legalization, while the decidedly older electorate of Florida rejected the state ballot initiative, despite polling showing 90% in support of medical marijuana use.

- Minimum wage advocates eked out major wins in Nebraska and Arkansas when both states passed initiatives to raise the minimum wage on Tuesday night. The ballot measures had well over 60% of the votes in both states, according to early results."

Ducky's here said...

It's similar to the reactions to the Affordable Care Act.

Poll people on what they think of Obamacare and it's pretty negative (and yes, some of that is the left wanting single payer) since the waters have been so fouled by the media.

Poll them on the specifics of the act without mentioning Obamacare and the results are quite positive.

The media is owned. And not by the people.

skudrunner said...

As once said by a prominent politician.

"Elections have consequences"
"The will of the people"
"By a huge majority"


Check the anticipated enrollment of obamacare, not an overwhelming acceptance, more like an overwhelming failure.

Shaw Kenawe said...

for skudrunner's elucidation:

From Forbes Magazine, June 2014

Kaiser Family Foundation is out with a report today that harshly puts the lie to one of the anti-Obamacare troops loudest and most effective rallying cries—“Obamacare is only signing up people who already had insurance!”

If you’ve been following the great Obamacare debate, you must recall the focus conservative media placed on the people who were required to give up their non-compliant individual insurance plans (or, in the vernacular of the right-wing, “the cancelled plans”) for policies that include the enhanced and increased basic coverage items that the Affordable Care Act demands.

With this meme dominating conservative airwaves and blogs for months, it was a very short leap for the anti-ACA crowd to claim that most of those signing up for coverage on the exchanges were just unfortunate Americans who were being forced to buy a new policy to replace the ‘cancelled’ policy that they, apparently, so dearly loved. Never mind that statistics reveal that the overwhelming number of Americans who actually held an individual health insurance policy before Obamacare came into existence rarely held onto that policy for more than two years—with most lasting only one year—before either being cancelled or changing to another plan on their own volition.

So much for love and inconvenience.

The naysayers did, after all, have a basis for their claims thanks to a McKinsey & Co. study published before the clock had even run out on the first ACA enrollment period. McKinsey’s survey claimed that a mere 11 percent of consumers purchasing an individual policy on the health care exchanges were people who did not previously have any health insurance at all. Put another way, according to McKinsey, a shocking 89 percent of those participants in the healthcare exchanges were only showing up because they were forced to replace their beloved old policy for a new policy.

This bit of alleged data—taken to by the right-wing media like a doctor to a new set of Calloway Irons—spawned the next great propaganda tent poll for those who would destroy health care reform without really knowing quite why they felt so strong an imperative to do so.

If 89 percent of the people who were signing up for Obamacare policies were people who were merely replacing their old, sainted policies that had been so wrongly snatched from their bosoms, then it necessarily followed that the President and the Congressional Democrats had lied, or been shockingly wrong, when promising that the ACA would play a major role in significantly reducing the number of people who are uninsured throughout the nation—a key goal of Obamacare.

As Jonathan Chiat points out in his highly instructive New York Magazine piece, even our own Avik Roy, a leading and important voice for the anti-Obamacare forces, jumped on the bandwagon when he pointed out—under a headline reading “Coverage Expansion Fail” —that with ten weeks left to go in the enrollment period, we were looking at coverage expansion of only about one million.

Apparently, it never occurred that folks have a tendency to wait until the last minute to take care of the mundane aspects of life—such as buying an insurance policy—or that the months lost as a result of the botched roll out of the healthcare exchanges might skew the numbers in a way where it would be wise to await the final tally.


The thing is, now that the first enrollment period is over, we have actual, legitimate and real data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation survey out today—a survey which reveals that a full 57 percent of those who signed up for an individual health insurance policy as a result of Obamacare had no coverage before.

Getting people insurance coverage is considered a failure by skud.

Jerry Critter said...

We can always depend on skud to blindly repeat rightwing, antiobama lies without giving it a second thought. And we can depend on Shaw to soundly squash those lies...again and again and again....

Jerry Critter said...

They make a great team!

skudrunner said...

Lets see what HHS has to say and where are the tens of millions who needed insurance JC. Seems like the demand for obamacare is just not there but we did spend hundreds of millions on it.

"HHS officials said Monday they anticipate 9 million to 9.9 million people will be enrolled in insurance plans through the exchanges by the end of the year. That is a lower estimate than previous guesses, including from the Congressional Budget Office earlier this year, which estimated 13 million would be enrolled."