Wolf won the Governor’s Race by Being a Democrat

A murder of Tea Party governors was elected four years ago and they immediately went about destroying their states’ economies.  (I wasn’t sure what word to use to describe a group of Tea Party governors, and a “murder of crows” came to mind for some reason.)  In Maine, Michigan, Kansas and Pennsylvania, these governors went on to become the most unpopular governors in the country.

Governor Wolf (artist's approximation)

Governor Wolf (artist’s approximation)

“We will put our economic policies in place and the economy will boom!” they promised.  Of course, when they did, their states all suffered.  Pennsylvania dropped to 49th in job creation, for instance.

in the 2014 election, they were all vulnerable, with negative rankings higher than their positive ones.  Yet they were all re-elected, save for Governor Corbett here in Pennsylvania.  What made the difference?

Tom Wolf ran as a Democrat.  A real Democrat.

In every other state, political advisers told their candidates to tone down the talk about taxes, to distance themselves from Obama, and to appeal to a more conservative base.  They said to attack the other side relentlessly, and use negative campaign ads.

Not Wolf.  He emphasized his liberalism.  He stood for reasonable gun control, reproductive rights, marijuana decriminalization, Obamacare, and environmental protection. He invited Obama to travel the state and campaign with him.  And he immediately responded to every negative ad that came at him, without becoming negative himself.

Now there are other reasons those other Democrats lost as well — Voter turnout was the lowest it had been in 75 years, so that always hurts Democrats. But turnout was low in Pennsylvania, too.

I think there is a lesson here that Democrats should heed:  You need to give voters a reason to come out and vote for you. You have to stand for something.

As a wise man once said, if you give the people a choice between a Republican and a republican, they will chose the Republican every time.

Cantor’s Defeat Explained

OK, so why did Eric Cantor, next-in-line to the Republican leadership, lose his seat in yesterday’s election?

1.  The Republicans have gotten so crazy that even Cantor was seen as a “RINO”  (Republican In Name Only) for being reasonable enough to support things like immigration reform. cantor For Cantor to be accused of being “liberal” is like accusing Bernie Sanders of being a “conservative.”  No sane person would believe it.  And therein lies your answer.    

2.  Hardly anybody voted.  Who can you always count on to vote?  That’s right — the extremists.  People who are angry.  And people who are politically active (who also tend to be more liberal and more conservative than the average person).  So when you stay home, they get their way.  And that’s why the guys elected often seem to not represent their constituents — because they really don’t.

3.  It was an open primary.  This means people who are not Republicans got to choose the candidate.  In open primaries, the opposite party will sometimes go out and vote for the candidate they think will be easier to defeat in November.  Democrats did this yesterday, although it is unclear whether it was in sufficient numbers to have made a difference, since Cantor was pretty well trounced.

So Cantor’s loss gives us good news and bad news.

Good news: Eric Cantor has lost his seat in the House

Bad news: He lost it to someone crazier than he is

Good news: This tea party guy won’t have the seniority or power Cantor had and so will do less damage

Bad news: It’s such a Republican district, the Democrats have little chance of winning in November




The 300 Person March

The tea party planned a huge 30 million person rally yesterday, in which they would demand that the President and all of Congress resign so they could install whatever. You can see how it was all over the news today. Um, well, maybe not. They ended up with about 300. Just 29,999,700 short! 

Here’s a video of their planning session:

Those who were there were as active as ever, with their “Impeach Obama” signs and others that just said “Benghazi” as if that explained everything.

They were predominately white and elderly (the Fox News demographic, where the average age of viewers is 68) who hate socialism and socialized medicine.  They were in good shape thanks to medicare and could afford to travel to Washington thanks to Social Security.

Of course, these people have the right to protest — but this particular protest was ridiculous. They demand that everyone in American government must resign so that new people will be appointed who will “obey the Constitution” — according to who?  Who gets to decide who gets appointed?  Who determines whether someone is obeying the Constitution?  (This is a common argument among those who really don’t think it through.)

These are people who lost the election and cannot accept that. They can’t see that other people might have different views (and, I might point out, the majority of Americans disagree with them on just about every single issue.) In their world view, everyone who has a different opinion is evil, wrong, and undermining the Constitution.

I will admit that they at least are not advocating the violent overthrow of the government. But the basics are the same. One of the main speakers there yesterday spoke in support of that Bundy rancher who does not accept the legitimacy of the US government.

And the crowd cheered.  Such patriots!

(That was sarcasm.)

Poetic justice for Republicans

A few days ago, I wrote about how the GOP is trying to get rid of the Tea Party crazies that are driving the party into the ground. They’ve lost a bunch of races they should have won because the party has nominated people so far out of the mainstream that even Republican voters couldn’t stand them.  01-dead-gop-elephant

But it’s their own fault, and they should have seen it coming.

Support for the GOP is at an all time low, partially because they are associated with these people who refuse to compromise, spout nonsense as if it were facts, and whose sole purpose is to get people to hate our own government as much as they do. Admittedly, support for both parties and the President is at an all-time low, but it’s not surprising that support for government is at its lowest when a large segment of one of the parties has “hate the government” as its goal. These people should realize that hatred for the government includes them.

The Republicans only have themselves to blame for their condition, because of gerrymandering.

Over the past fifteen years or so, the GOP has managed to redraw the state lines in the most ridiculous way to create as many safe districts as possible for them. By diluting Democratic votes, they were able to guarantee majorities in states where they did not hold the majority. Here in Pennsylvania, for instance, more people voted for Democrats in the last election yet more Republicans were elected because of the strange way the districts were drawn.

So if you are a Republican politician in a district that is safely Republican, you shouldn’t have to worry, right?  Wrong.

The problem is with primaries.  Hardly anyone votes in primaries, where the parties choose their candidates.  You’re lucky if you get a 20% turnout in a primary election.  That’s 20% of registered voters, not 20% of the eligible voters.

And who votes in primaries?  Just those people who really really care about politics.  And if you really really care about politics, chances are you are much more conservative or much more liberal than the average voter.

So primaries give us the more extreme members of each party.  Then if you gerrymander to remove even the moderates of your own party, you end up with a voting electorate that is at the very edge of political thought — the extremes of the extremes.

These extremes on the right are represented primarily by those who identify themselves these days as “Tea Party” members.  And they think that anyone who does things like compromise in order to accomplish anything are traitors and not Real Americans — even very conservative members of their own party.

So they run “Real Americans” against the incumbents.  Incumbents get scared and refuse to challenge them and sometimes take their extremist views in order to stay elected.  And ultimately, the extremists win the primary either by electing their own favorite or by forcing the incumbent to come to their side.

However, once the fall election comes around, their numbers don’t increase. Moderate voters (that is, the majority of Americans) turn away from these extremists and elect Democrats instead.

In some districts these extremists still get elected in the fall election, and then they go to Washington and shut the government down, which hurts the reputation of the rest of the Republican party.   It drives their poll numbers down and ultimately hurts all of them.

And it’s all their own fault for gerrymandering districts in the first place.  Unfortunately, we are all suffering because of it.

Good news for Republicans … and Democrats

The always entertaining Matt Taibbi reports that the GOP establishment is taking action to prevent the party from being completely taken over by idiots.

“No fools on our ticket” is their mantra, and I mean that literally. Elephants-Fighting They are literally saying that they’re “tired of being the Stupid Party.”

This is good news for Republicans who are tired of losing elections in red districts when they nominate people so crazy that even their own supporters vote for the other guy (or stay home).

I may disagree with most Republicans, but the majority of them aren’t stupid idiots.  I have many friends who used to consider themselves Republicans who have seen the party taken over by religious fanatics, conspiracy theorists, evolution deniers, and radicals who refuse to compromise or do the job they were elected to do.   They just can’t support the Sarah Palins, Ted Cruzes, and other  crazies that are identified with the GOP these days.  And who can blame them?

So this change is good news for the party.  Maybe they can rid themselves of these people who cheer when the government is shut down, boo heroic soldiers who are gay, and clap when one of the leaders say it’s better for people to die than to give them health care.

This is also good news for Democrats in two ways:

1.  It will split the GOP and cause an internal war.  This will make it easier for Democrats to get elected in the short term.

2.  If it is successful, we may end up with a GOP of reasonable and intelligent politicians who understand that adults get things accomplished through compromise.

And therefore, in the long run, we all win.

Editorial cartoon of the day

An old cartoon, but still relevant.

Editorial cartoon of the day