Archive for October, 2012

Don’t Forget to Thank Your Local Tea Partier

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 by thebluebros

For the past six years everyone has known 2012 would be a very tough year for Senate Democrats. They would have to defend 23 U.S. Senate seats while Republicans would have to defend only 10 seats. Why is this so lopsided? We can infer that 2006 was a bumper year for Democrats, and indeed it was. As you may recall, after six years of essentially one-party control of all branches government, the voters were suffering from a severe Republican hangover. Voters fled the GOP and Democrats retook both houses of Congress. Six years later, 2012, Democrats now have to pay the price for that victory. Or do they?

The answer to this question is a surprising no. How can that be though? 23 Democratic seats to defend against just 10 possible pick-up opportunities. Plus, many of the seats Democrats need to defend are in such conservative bastions as North Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska. How do Democrats have any hope of retaining the slim 53-47 lead they currently have over Senate Republicans? The answer to this question is the Tea Party.

The Tea Party movement has been quite successful if success is measured by taking over the local parties and nominating ideologues who pass the strictest of purity tests. The result of this has been a rightward shift in a party that was already very far to the right by historical standards. And there have no doubt been some success stories for tea party candidates like Rand Paul (R-KY) , Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

However, the downside of the Tea Party movement (if you’re a Republican) is that the Tea Party movement has nominated people so ideologically pure that no person outside the Tea Party can palate their beliefs. This has created a phenomenon whereby we see races that should be reliably Republican suddenly up for grabs or even lean Democratic.

In Missouri, for example, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill was down by 10 points in every statewide poll three months ago and many had written her off. That was, however, until her opponent, Rep. Todd Akin, announced we needed to distinguish “legitimate rape” from apparently non-legitimate rape, and realize that women’s bodies have a mechanism to shut down the reproductive process if they are raped. The polls now indicate Missouri will be returning McCaskill back to the U.S. Senate for a second term.

Similarly, Indiana’s Senate race was on no one’s radar until last week when Republican candidate Richard Mourdock said we needed to understand that when pregnancy comes about through rape, it was God’s intent that the act take place. The Indiana Senate seat would have been a lock for Republicans had the Tea Party Republicans not ousted long time conservative (but not ultra conservative) Richard Lugar in the primary. Now the race is considered a toss-up.

These two races, and the others like it, are reminiscent of 2010 when despite it being a great year for Republicans, some unpopular Senate Democrats amazingly held onto their seats. They were able to do so because people simply could not stomach the Republican Tea Party option; think Sharron Angle in Nevada (Harry Reid got so lucky) or Christine O’Donnell in Maryland (“I am not a witch”). It is these fringe candidates that allowed Democrats to retain the Senate in the wake of the 2010 GOP tidal wave, and the newest version of these crazies is likely why Democrats will retain control of the Senate in 2012.

From a policy standpoint, the Tea Party is a frightening contingent of leaders that may cause very real damage to our country (e.g., playing chicken with the nation’s debt ceiling). But from a purely political standpoint, Democrats should start writing those thank you letters now to their local tea parties.

– Dylan

A Wolf in Sheep’s Carhartt’s: Senator Scott Brown

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2012 by thebluebros

Scott Brown is a guy who achieved political success in the state of Massachusetts by creating an image for himself as a common, down-to-earth man of the people. He often flaunts his very average credentials by citing his divorced parents and middle-class upbringing. To drive this point home he dons an omnipresent Carhartt jacket and cruises around his home state in an old beat-up GMC pick-up truck, a truck that has become one of the focal points of his campaign. This formula has proven to be political gold for a Republican filling a Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy for more than 45 years. And why not? What’s not to like about a young, charismatic, attractive, moderate politician who embodies the American dream, achieved success, and has a successful wife and two beautiful children?

The problem with Scott Brown is simple. He’s 100% disingenuous. His entire persona is an act, everything from his man-of-the-people routine down to his pick-up truck. This average guy who can’t scrape enough money together to lease a vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it made over $500,000 last year. The year before that he took home over $800,000. Over the last four years, Brown’s household income eclipsed $1.9 million. Brown’s household income places him well into the top 1%, and his income is almost 10 times greater than that of the average Massachusetts household. Is he the first wealthy man to hold office? Of course not. Is he the richest person in the U.S Senate? Not by a long shot. But my complaint comes from the fact that he is a millionaire posing as a middle-class guy. He’s a white-collar lawyer posing as a ranch hand.

While most Americans struggle to pay their mortgages, Brown owns a house in his hometown of Wrentham, Mass as well as a vacation home in New Hampshire, three condominiums in Boston, and a timeshare in Aruba. And while most children are going to soccer practice and singing in the school choir, Scott Brown’s younger daughter is a competitive equestrian, and his older daughter is a former American Idol contestant, hardly the activities of average middle-class children.

More importantly though is Mr. Brown’s voting record. Nothing about his performance in the United States Senate suggests that he is an advocate for the middle class. For example, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, Scott Brown still supports trickle-down economics and routinely says that cutting taxes for the wealthy is the path to economic prosperity. He supported—and continues to support—the Bush tax cuts. Like Mitt Romney, Brown believes that the only problem with American corporations is that the government has too many restrictions placed upon them. He actively supports easing up government regulations on oil companies, the banking industry, and other major business interests. He has gone so far as to say he opposes the regulation of greenhouse gases because that poses too great a restriction on American businesses. He supported the Citizens v. United ruling and has said that businesses should be able to contribute as much as they want to political campaigns.

In terms of education, Brown is in favor of privatizing the public school system and giving vouchers to parents to send their children to private and religious schools. He opposes providing school breakfasts for lower-income children. When it comes to healthcare, Brown opposed the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act, and he opposes the idea of universal healthcare. He believes the healthcare industry should remain a for-profit system and in the hands of the private insurance companies. To round out his resume, he supported the Patriot Act and roving wire taps, and he opposes gay marriage.

I’m trying to figure out what part of Scott Brown’s voting record or political message supports the middle-class values he supposedly represents. And what part of his personal life suggests that he is able to comprehend what it means to be a struggling middle-class family?

Supporters of Scott Brown will no doubt point to the wealth and prosperity of his rival, Elizabeth Warren. The difference between the two candidates is that Warren acknowledges her prosperity and agrees that she should give back to the system that allowed her to achieve success. Brown pretends that he’s not rich and then tells middle-class Americans that additional tax cuts for the wealthy will somehow benefit everyone.

As much as liberals dislike conservative politicians like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann, at least these individuals are up front about who they are. Scott Brown is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, assuming that sheep wears Carhartt’s.

– Nathan

Romney Enthusiasts Need a Gag Reflex

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2012 by thebluebros

While I vehemently disagree with the Republican Party platform, I get what they’re all about. Republicans value pulling your own weight, traditional values, individual freedom, and keeping what you earn. On the flipside, they loathe freeloaders, high taxes, and most social reform (at least until a few years go by and they get used to it—but I digress).

With those principles in mind, combined with a certain amount of disinformation from Fox News and other conservative media sources, I can sort of see how a person can vote for Mitt Romney. It takes some mental gymnastics, but with enough work, one can make President Obama out to be a president who wants to tax you more and reward free loaders. Therefore, a vote against President Obama in favor of a self-described Republican makes sense. I get that.

What I don’t get is how this need to vote against President Obama turns into passion for Mitt Romney. How can anyone outside of Mr. Romney’s immediate family be excited to vote for him? Just look at him. In case you have forgotten what he looks like, I have included a photo below.

Can anyone mistake this as genuine?

The man is very clearly an introvert trying to fake being an extrovert. Watching Governor Romney interact with people is painful. His words and mannerisms just don’t fit. He constantly tries to smile, but can rarely do it without it looking forced and fake in the extreme. The result is often an expression that will send chills down your spine. Stephen Colbert did a great job of imitating this unsettling look.

Colbert captures creepy

Putting aside for a moment Mr. Romney’s amazingly bad social skills, his politics are blatantly dishonest and inconsistent, and I don’t think this is debatable. He has repeatedly proven there is no issue on which he is unwilling to take two sides for political expediency, and he will say anything to win the presidency. No one really knows what Romney believes. I have considered the possibility that he is actually more liberal than President Obama (wouldn’t take much). More likely, I suspect he has no political ideology, and is no more than naked ambition personified. He will adopt or abandon any position for the sake of obtaining power. There are several very good websites and articles out there documenting Romney’s many flip-flops and lies if there is still anyone out there who doubts the veracity of my claims. Perhaps the most comprehensive list (although not current – it can be tough to keep up) can be found here.

I am shocked that Romney is not compared more often to Al Gore and John Kerry. Mitt Romney seems to capture the worst of these two men—Al Gore’s social awkwardness and John Kerry’s flip-floppiness (which was unfairly exaggerated in 2004). Not only does Romney share each of these men’s perceived problems, he actually magnifies them significantly. I would submit that Romney is much more awkward in public than Gore and there can be no question that Romney has flip-flopped on more issues than any political figure in modern history, including Kerry.

None of these comments are made in defense of Barack Obama. He is certainly a flawed candidate as well, but note that I am not enthusiastically supporting him either. I voted for Obama today, but did so with great consternation. Plus, any time and money I had to devote to politics this year intentionally went to down ballot candidates who I did feel passionate about and proud to support.

Which leads me back to my original premise. OK, Republicans, vote against Obama. I get it. But are you really going to get excited enough about Romney that you want to put up lawn signs? Affix a sticker to your car? Follow his twitter account? Hand make signs and go to rallies? Really? Do Republicans just not have a gag reflex?

– Dylan

The Real Reasons Our Elected Leaders Suck (and the Poor Get Ignored)

Posted in Uncategorized on October 18, 2012 by thebluebros

In the first two presidential debates, we heard President Obama and Governor Romney mention poverty just once. This is not unusual. In fact, it’s the norm. Issues affecting the poor are nowhere to be seen on the national stage. When was the last time you heard a person running for federal office mention food insecurity? Or the fact that school funding is tied to local property taxes so the richer the neighborhood, the richer the school, and vice versa? Or what about the fact that pollutants in our air and water disproportionately affect the poor?

The middle class has it a little better. They at least get lip service to the issues they care deeply about. If you watched the debates, you saw the candidates tripping over themselves to see who could say “middle class” the most times. Where the rubber hits the road, however, both sides cater to the interests of the wealthy first and foremost, and the rest of us are left wondering, “How can these guys be so out of touch?”

A common answer to this question is that our elected leaders have been bought by the special interests that fund their campaigns. While money is a corrosive influence to be sure, I place the blame for these “out of touch” leaders on two other factors: who they interact with and where they came from.

My first job out of college was working for a congressman. My official title was “deputy finance director,” but I literally was low man on a fairly unglamorous totem pole. One of my jobs was to prepare the congressman for call time. These were large blocks of time we would set aside where the congressman would dial for dollars. My job was to make lists of really rich people the congressman could call to make requests for campaign contributions. Each call would end the same way—with an ask—but the preceding minutes of each call was the congressman having to endure each rich person bending his ear about whatever issue or issues they cared about. The result? The congressman probably spent 10 to 20 hours every week talking to the one-percenters about issues important to the one-percenters. In contrast, the interaction I observed between the congressman and ordinary people was typically very superficial contact such as him shaking hands while walking in a parade or some other very brief meet-and-greet event. Townhall meetings were sort of the one exception to this, but even then, ordinary folks had to wait a long time to get their question asked, and could usually speak for just a few seconds with no opportunity for follow-up. This is not said as indictment of my former employer. This is the way the system works for every elected leader who needs to raise money.

Members of Congress simply have very little interactions with people who work outside of politics or who are not rich. How can that not shade their perception of the world and how they approach their jobs?

With regard to backgrounds, members of Congress are not like the rest of us. For instance:

  • In 2009, the median net worth of American Households was $96,000. The median net worth of members of Congress was just below $1 million (and that’s not even counting their primary residence).
  • While 30% of Americans have college degrees, 95% of Congress does. And members of Congress are much more likely to have gone to an Ivy League institution.
  • Members of Congress are exponentially more likely to have attended private schools or been the child of a member of Congress.

If a politician does harken back to their modest roots (e.g., “my father was a millworker” or “my grandfather was the first in his family to graduate from college”), you will notice it almost always does not involve them, but rather their parents or grandparents—as if their families’ experiences before they were born have any impact on who they are now. When you hear these statements of their parents or grandparents, it is a dead giveaway that these politicians have no compelling personal story to demonstrate overcoming obstacles or pulling themselves up by their boot straps.

Some will criticize the pointing out of this disparity in wealth and background by saying something to the effect of, “Well, of course members of Congress are richer than most of us and went to better schools. Don’t we want the best and brightest in charge? I’m glad we don’t have some average Joe at the helm.” This argument presents a false choice—i.e., we must select from either an out-of-touch rich person or some poor slob who can’t find Asia on a map. There used to be a time when we had amazing leaders from privileged backgrounds who cared a great deal for the least among us; people like Franklin Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, and William Randolph Hearst. The false choice of out-of-touch elitist versus poor ignorant slob also ignores the fact that many brilliant minds and amazing humanitarians choose important occupations that do not necessarily lend themselves to establishing muli-million dollar portfolios. There should be a path for these modest, but brilliant and principled, individuals to attain positions of political leadership.

There are three strikes to getting elected to office, particularly federal office: (1) being born to ordinary Joes; (2) working in a profession dominated by ordinary Joes; and (3) spending too much time with ordinary Joes. In other words, the better position you are in to understand the problems of average Americans, the worse your chances are of being able to represent them. It should be no surprise to anyone that being ruled by rich people who spend all day talking to other rich people is not a great way to bring about a system that helps non-rich people. I am not ready to offer a solution just yet, but I think public funding of our elections would be a fine place to start the discussion.

– Dylan

The Myth of the Fact Checkers

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2012 by thebluebros

If you’re like most Americans, you probably assume one thing before watching any debate: Both candidates are going to lie. And your assessment would be correct. We can log onto fact-checking websites (the two most common being www.factcheck.org and www.politifact.com) and have this suspicion confirmed. Given our starting premise that all politicians lie—especially during election season—we usually arrive at two questions: (1) Which candidate told the most lies and (2) Which candidate’s lies were the most egregious? Surprisingly, the fact-checking sites are of little help when it comes to answering these questions.

The original goal of these “fact checkers” (i.e. to hold politicians accountable) has been overtaken by the goal of appearing nonpartisan. While they sell themselves as non-partisan truth-finding police squads, their real aim is to always provide equal standing to both sides of an issue in an effort to appear fair and unbiased, thus increasing credibility and in turn, readership. Even if the issue is whether or not to feed children broken glass or fresh fruit, we can count on these fact-checking websites to provide us with a “fair” look at both sides of the issue. Pathologically lying candidates have no incentive to be honest because they know these websites will launder their dirty comments by creating false equivalencies and arriving at no other conclusion than both sides are dishonest. In fact, by revealing their techniques below, I will make the case that these fact-checking websites do nothing to promote honesty but rather foster dishonesty.

Their phobia of appearing partisan is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that they never provide any sort of conclusions on their analyses. Most of us would like to see a section that states, “While both candidates veered away from the truth at times, Candidate X used far more misleading statistics, erroneous data, and made-up statements…On our scale of truth-telling, Candidate X gets a D and Candidate Y gets a B-…For more information on how these grades were determined please read below.” But that’s not what we get on these sites. In their quest to appear non-partisan, they have taken the stance that they will not provide any conclusions. Rather, the fact-checkers merely present the facts and voters get to decide which candidate is more trustworthy. Sounds good, right? Not really. Here’s why.

Factcheck.org treats all departures from the truth the same. For example, if Candidate X states that there are 300 million Americans in this country, factcheck.org will ding the candidate for not being honest since the actual number is 312 million. Then when Candidate Y states that Abraham Lincoln was a thrice-divorced high school dropout who operated a meth lab out of his basement, the fact checkers will attack his wild claim as also being false. The fact checkers have now held both sides accountable and both candidates have been shown to be dishonest. This strategy is obviously flawed.

The second problem with factcheck.org is how it presents its data. For instance, when dissecting the Obama/Romney debate two weeks ago, the site presented a point by point analysis of the candidates. First was a criticism of Obama, then a criticism against Romney, then a criticism against Obama, etc. For the casual reader, it looked like both candidates simply took turns telling lies and one could assume both candidates were equally sleazy and devoid of all morals. This again feeds into the assumption that every mistruth is the same.

The mistruths are not ranked or listed in any meaningful way. They are simply presented as a bulleted list of dishonest statements. When factcheck.org ran out of misleading Obama statements, one might expect a continuation of the bulleted Romney mistruths, but instead the site abandoned the visually-striking bullets and instead chose to summarize the rest of Romney’s lies into a single paragraph at the end of the article, almost as a footnote. So to the casual observer, it looks like things were pretty even, perpetuating the widely-held belief that the two political parties are both dishonest and self-serving and equally to blame for our country’s problems.

Another problem is that when factcheck.org has trouble making both sides appear equally culpable, they will actually invent mistruths in an effort to look nonpartisan. For example, the site had no problem identifying Romney lies that were egregious and not based in reality (e.g. accusing Obama of doubling the federal deficit; claiming he will increase spending, decrease taxes, and balance the budget despite it being a mathematical impossibility; claiming Obamacare may result in 20 million people losing health insurance when the actual number has been estimated to be between 3-5 million, etc.). These whoppers are straight out of fantasyland. But what about Obama?  He must have told some whoppers himself, right?

Factcheck.org called out Obama for his claim that 5 million private sector jobs have been created in the last 30 months. The number is actually 4.6 million, though the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the 5 million mark will be reached very soon. But factcheck.org claimed Obama was caught lying, when really he simply rounded a figure up less than 10%, to a number that will be reached in a few months anyway. This so-called rounding mistake earned a bullet point for Obama while Romney’s claim about the increased number of uninsured Americans (off by 500%) was buried in the paragraph at the end of the article.

Ready for another Obama whopper? Here it is:

Obama accused Romney of proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Not true. Romney proposes to offset his rate cuts and promises he won’t add to the deficit.

Wait a second. Obama’s statement was about the tax cut, not about how Romney would offset it. Besides, is Obama’s statement false because Romney promises he won’t add to the deficit? That’s Obama’s whole point. Romney has provided no specifics on how he will offset this tax cut for the wealthy. So how is Obama’s $5 trillion claim dishonest?

And Obama’s allergy to the truth continues. Check out this one:

Obama touted his “$4 trillion” deficit reduction plan, which includes $1 trillion from winding down wars that are coming to an end in any event.

This one just confuses me. Is Obama not allowed to include the ending wars as a way to decrease the deficit? I can only guess that factcheck.org thought Obama was trying to give himself credit for reducing the deficit when really it was just the result of the wars coming to an end that were going to end anyway (although a fairly problematic assertion since Romney has said his administration could not guarantee a withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 like Obama has promised). I tend to think we should give the Obama Administration some credit for ending the wars, but apparently the good people at factcheck.org feel differently. You see where this is going. Romney invented his own “facts” in an attempt to deceive the American people, which is very different from the actions of Obama. Yet factcheck.org treats the candidates the same. Factcheck.org’s intentionally-deceiving headline for the story says it all: “Dubious Denver Debate Declarations: Obama and Romney swap exaggerations and false claims in their first meeting.”

Checking out the Biden/Ryan debate revealed a very similar pattern. Ryan made wild claims about nursing homes closing down because of Obamacare; he said the country’s unemployment pattern was identical to that of Scranton, Pennsylvania’s, when in fact the opposite is true; he said that Obamacare will use taxpayer money to pay for abortions, etc. This political rhetoric has been debunked time and time again. Biden’s big lie? He said that Congressional Republicans voted to cut embassy funding by $300 million. The actual number was $264 million. Factcheck.org was all over this. Another rounding error (which may not have even been an error at all but rather just rounding) that in no way changed the message of what Biden was saying.

Factcheck.org also leveled this crippling criticism at Biden:

“Ryan repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for calling Syrian President Bashar Assad “a reformer when he’s killing his own civilians.” At one point, Biden tried to interrupt Ryan to ask who had done so.”

Turns out Hillary Clinton made the statement that some people in Congress refer to Assad as a “reformer.” According to factcheck.org, asking for a name somehow equates to a lie on Biden’s part. Talk about reaching. In fact, I would argue this was another misleading statement by Ryan. He took a comment made by Hillary Clinton, which she attributed to unnamed members of Congress, and tried to pass it off as a comment made by and/or endorsed by Obama. Despite these stark contrasts between Biden and Ryan, factcheck.org ran another wildly deceiving headline: “Veep Debate Violations: Ryan, Biden rough up the facts in their one and only meeting.”

Politifact.com is a slight improvement over factcheck.org for the reason that they grade the lies. They famously started a category called “Pants on Fire” which highlights the most egregious of lies, like when Rush Limbaugh told his audience that Obama was trying to make circumcision mandatory for all American males or when the NRA said they had proof Obama was waging a war to repeal the Second Amendment. But politifact.com does the same thing as factcheck.org. They try to paint both sides as equally guilty, no matter what; and their findings never lead to a conclusion.

I would argue these types of fact-checking websites are not helping the political discourse, but actually making it worse. In their effort to appear nonpartisan and unbiased, they fail to acknowledge the very real differences between candidates and political parties, and provide cover to the most dishonest of politicians by muddying the important waters that separate pathological liars who will say anything to get elected and otherwise honest politicians prone to an occasional exaggeration. Worst of all, the American people have the illusion that politicians are being held accountable because organizations like factcheck.org and politifact.com are hard at work.

– Nathan

The Real Cost of Obama’s Unwillingness to Fight

Posted in Uncategorized on October 9, 2012 by thebluebros

We all know by now that President Obama did not do well at last Wednesday’s debate. Beyond that general understanding though, I think most people fail to understand why it was so bad. Most of the analysis focuses on Obama being “lackluster,” “looking tired,” and being “disengaged.” These criticisms, while certainly valid, I think miss the more significant criticism of Obama’s performance and why the damage done by President Obama during this “debate” may be irreparable between now and Election Day.

There are certain ideals liberals and Democrats hold sacred. For example, they believe the government can play a critical role in improving the lives of each American and can, when managed properly, bring about positive change to our society in ways no individual or corporation can. They believe a duty is owed to the least among us. Democrats and liberals also hold sacred the accomplishments of their predecessors, such as: Social Security; civil rights; environmental protection; and labor laws.

On Wednesday night Mr. Romney unleashed a seemingly endless stream of dishonest attacks on Democratic ideals and accomplishments. While not enjoyable to sit through, Democrats understand this is what modern Republicans do.

The real pain on Wednesday night came from the other side of the stage—from President Obama. Here is the Democrat liberals worked tirelessly to put into office in 2008 by knocking on doors, throwing house parties, encouraging families and friends to vote, and donating their hard-earned money. They thought they had helped elect a man who would speak up for them and their ideals, and fight for those ideals. Unfortunately, President Obama made clear early into his administration that he would not fight for liberal or Democratic ideals (in perhaps the best op-ed written this year, Bob Herbert, formerly of the New York Times, described it as Obama’s “chronic unwillingness to fight”). At the very least, however, liberals at least took solace in knowing Obama could eloquently speak for them, even if those speeches rarely took form in any type of legislation or executive order. During the debate though, President Obama revealed he can no longer even be relied upon to be a mouthpiece for Democratic ideals. He stood on that stage for 90 minutes while everything Democrats and liberals stand for was desecrated and lied about, and President Obama stood idly by.

There are any number of ways President Obama could have more effectively approached the debate. I believe he could have won the debate if he had at any moment just looked over at Gov. Romney and said, “Is there anything you wouldn’t say to become president?”

Democrats deserve a person who is willing to explain and fight for their ideals. Every suspicion held by people like me that Obama is not a liberal, not a fighter, and not passionate about the issues I am passionate about was confirmed by this debate performance.

Two big problems arise from President Obama’s weak and pathetic “debate” performance. First, this debate was watched by 60 million people, many of whom are not regularly engaged in the political process in any meaningful way. For many people, this was the Democrats’ one chance to explain why President Obama should be reelected and why Democrats in general hold a more effective, thoughtful, and moral vision for America. That opportunity was squandered. As the leader of the Democratic Party, Obama made Democrats look out of touch and incoherent.

The second problem created by Obama’s pathetic showing on Wednesday night is what he did to his base. In the days leading up to the debate, I received several invitations from my liberal friends and colleagues to attend a “debate-watching party.” These people got together to unify behind their leader and be inspired. What they instead received was punch in the gut. Obama essentially told these people, “I know you are giving up your weekends and evenings to work for my reelection, but don’t expect the same kind of commitment from me. Keep working your asses off and I’ll just take it easy.” And if that wasn’t enough, Obama added for good measure, “And all those things you care about so deeply, don’t expect me to fight for them or defend them. I don’t have to. Your liberal vote has nowhere else to go.”

We are now left with an enthusiasm gap between Democratic voters and Republican voters. Democrats are just not very excited about this election, and after watching Obama’s disappointing presidency culminate into an astonishingly disappointing debate performance, is there any wonder why this gap exists? This enthusiasm gap is especially revealing when you consider the natural talents of Obama and Romney. To put it another way, how bad does President Obama have to be that a boring version of Al Gore is getting people more excited than the once dynamic and charismatic Obama? This enthusiasm gap poses a very real challenge to Democrats’ chances of winning in November up and down the ballot.

Even if Obama wins in November, his refusal to run a courageous campaign that clearly outlines what Democrats stand for will very likely have electoral consequences. Most notably, Democrats are in a great position to retain control of the U.S. Senate, and in the process, elect some great, new senators (e.g., Tammy Baldwin–WI; Elizabeth Warren–MA). We also have a decent chance of retaking the House. If Democrats could accomplish these things, there is reason for real hope (particularly if Harry Reid changes the Senate’s filibuster rules as discussed in my last post). However, these things are exponentially more difficult so long as we have the millstone around our Democratic necks by the name of President Obama.

Obama’s willingness to abandon his base and his principles is in stark contrast to President George W. Bush’s strategy in 2004. You may recall Karl Rove did not make it his goal in 2004 to make President Bush likeable to everyone (which would probably have made him unlikeable to nearly all). Rather, Rove made it his goal to get Bush’s base excited and make sure they turned out to vote in big numbers (most notably by ginning up anti-gay marriage initiatives in the states). Obama has no appreciation for Rove’s winning strategy, and is instead embracing the 2000 Al Gore model of electoral strategy (offend no one and don’t worry about the base).

President Obama’s legislative and rhetorical cowardice is inexcusable. Not only has it made the first four years of Obama’s presidency a tremendous disappointment, it may actually result in an extremist Republican Party retaking the White House and gaining even more power in the states, the majority of which Republicans already control. That would be unforgivable. If this plays out, I would hope history judges President Obama as it judges President James Buchanan—a man so lacking in courage and paralyzed by fear that he did virtually nothing as his country fell apart.

– Dylan

Congratulations! You’re a Socialist!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2012 by thebluebros

A recent exchange with a friend of mine resulted in him calling me a terrible name. It was the unholiest of all unholies: He suggested that I was a socialist! Not only that but he said that our very own President is a socialist as well. You can imagine my horror.

 

When did the word socialist because such a dirty word in our country? Why does every politician—regardless of political affiliation—recoil in horror when this term is mentioned in his/her presence? The word socialism can have several different meanings, and I don’t want to get too bogged down in discussing the different types of socialism. (Similarly, the word conservative can carry a lot of meanings. For example, a conservative evangelical Christian is very different from a conservative libertarian.) Here is one definition of socialism which I thought was brief and to the point: any various social or political theories or movements in which the common welfare is to be achieved through the establishment of a socialist economic system. Nothing here appears to be too controversial. It is basically an economic and political system created with the intent of promoting the general welfare of society as a whole as opposed to the well-being of a few individuals or groups

 

The problem most conservatives seem to have with socialism is they confuse it with the Communistic dictatorial regimes of the USSR and Eastern Europe from 1945 to 1991. These were not examples of socialism. These were dictatorships that sucked all value out of society to enrich themselves and cloaked their despicable behavior in something noble, socialism. Their behavior was so atrocious that the concept of socialism was tarnished forever and sullied in the eyes of most Americans. If you want to see what socialism actually looks like you can visit any number of countries in Western Europe. Pointing out that socialism and Communism are both on the left side of the political spectrum is no more illustrative than noting that conservatism and anarchy are both on the right side of the political spectrum.

 

There is an important distinction to be made between Communism and socialism. Communism advocates that all citizens have the same, thus eliminating the need for money, class, and individuality. Socialism does not advocate that all citizens have the same but rather that all citizens have the same opportunities (i.e., the opportunity to receive adequate healthcare; the opportunity to receive a quality education; the opportunity to retire and receive a pension). If people make bad decisions in life, or encounter bad luck, there is a safety net to catch them.

 

I can prove that the vast majority of Americans are socialists. Look at this example:

 

A 4-year old boy shows up at an emergency room following a car accident. The boy was riding in the backseat of his mother’s car when a drunk driver ran a red light and careened into the vehicle, causing life-threatening injuries to the boy. The mother brings the boy to the ER, where she discloses she has no health insurance, no savings of any kind, and no way to pay the hospital bill because she is single, unemployed, and disabled.

 

Do you believe the hospital should treat this boy’s injuries despite the fact he does not have the financial means to pay? If you answered yes, you are a socialist. You are advocating that someone other than the boy and his mother foot the medical bill. In essence, you are in favor of redistributing the wealth. When someone needs help, the rest of us chip in and make it happen. This is socialism. Terrifying isn’t it?

 

If you support public libraries, you are a socialist. If you support publically-funded schools and universities, you are a socialist; if you support tax dollars being used to fund police forces, fire departments, and ambulance services, you are a socialist; if you believe Americans with disabilities should receive financial assistance to help them pay for food and shelter, you are a socialist; if you believe children without health insurance should receive emergency medical care, you are a socialist. And this is going to pain a lot of you, but if you support the U.S. military, you are a socialist. After all, the United States military is the largest socialist organization in the history of the world. Everyone in the military gets government housing, government-provided healthcare, and even government-issued clothing. Yikes!

 

Republicans would have you believe we are on the precipice of socialism and that if we do not act fast, we will succumb to socialism. Well guess what. We crossed that bridge a long time ago. It’s not a question of whether or not we are a socialist country. It’s a question of how much socialism we want.

 

– Nathan