White Male Candidates (Of Course) Takeover 2020 Democratic Conversation

“When experienced female candidates like Warren, Harris and Gillibrand offer themselves to voters as credible national leaders, almost immediately comes the ‘likeability’ crisis. Women, as they do in most other areas of public and civil life, fare better in the abstract – and maddeningly the gender of the judge seems to make little difference. Our nation’s political misogyny is so entrenched, it can make one incongruously resentful.

I like Mayor Pete and Beto O’Rourke. Not however, when their zeitgeist presence serves to marginalize female candidates more than worthy of public and private attention. We still have more than enough time to cut the crap and learn from our 2016 mistakes, America.

Read the full post at Contemptor.

The Real America (August 26,2010)

real_america

It seems that the modern political trend is to never unchain ourselves from the madness of American election cycles. The moment the ballot box is emptied and the winner declared, campaigning starts anew. This leaves little time for say, governing and serving the people, which is the ostensible job of legislators. More and more it seems that our politicians look at messaging, photo ops and pandering toward the “middle” as their full-time jobs.

Thus every couple of years, we are treated to divisive, nonsense “issues” that are designed to unite each respective party’s base and distract the electorate from the truth – that since the last time we cast our votes, in effect, nothing has changed. In 2004, we were treated to Republican rhetorical humdrum about attempting to rewrite the Constitution to formally outlaw gay marriage. This was a lot easier than having to account for the systemic intelligence failures and increasing body count of the Iraq war of choice. Though the effort to insert discrimination into the Constitution would never have worked, Republic strategists got what they wanted. Their base, newly mobilized and energized by the terrifying thought that the mechanics of romantic partnership might be above their pay grade, turned out in droves to re-elect W. Because nothing, not the impending burst of the housing bubble, the long practice of corporate off-shoring that disemboweled opportunities for the American work force, or the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on unnecessary combat, is scarier than same sex couples running around willy nilly without the blessing of the far right.

I know I am coming off rather partisan here, and admittedly I lean pretty far to the left in comparison with the right-hooking trend of today’s voter. But I am equally disgusted with Democratic leadership. As it was in 2004, they have assumed the defensive position (has nobody told them they actually WON both houses of Congress in 2008?) and allowed their foes across the aisle to determine the talking points.

Instead of using the run-up to the November elections as an opportunity to clarify their positions, to explicate the complicated pieces of legislation passed in the last two years – really important work in the areas of health care and financial reform that John and Jane Q. Public have yet to fully comprehend – they are allowing the conversation to veer once again toward disharmony. Thus instead of conveying in clear bullet point fashion what health care reform really means for the average American family, how their lives and balance sheets will improve incrementally, Obama and the Democratic leadership are permitting themselves to be dragged into the Tea Party trenches. When conversation turns toward repealing the 14th Amendment say, or the current outrage du jour – the “Ground Zero” mosque plans, Democrats inevitably fumble. How happy was I when Obama stood up and declared that the planned center was the very essence of freedom of religion and unity that makes this nation great? Yet how soon that pride turned into sadness the following morning when the President flinched, bullied by Fox News into clarifying that he was not commenting on the “wisdom” of following through with the planed mosque.

Sometimes it gets so that I lose my sense of reality. Following the news cycle, reading punditry online, watching the President who was elected in a wave of “change” enthusiasm, punt on the potentially politically unpopular, it is easy to get sucked into a demoralizing listlessness. Have we all become so angry and dogmatic that there is no room for a true dialectic anymore?

However I was witness to ample evidence this past weekend, in my own backyard, that perhaps many of us are just tired of talking. It appears that if there’s one thing we can all get behind, in a mutually respective and tolerant way, it is the right to party. I watched the happenings of a two-day street festival from the comfort of my balcony. Rather than experience the event on the ground, my bird’s eye view of party goers acted as nectar for the writer’s muse.

I live in a rather eclectic and diverse community by any standard, one of the northernmost neighborhoods in the City of Chicago. The vibrant area is marked by a huge population of recent African immigrants, Latinos, artists, musicians and a sizable LGBT enclave. I wondered, given the toxic socio-political environment in which we wade, if any of the current intolerance and anger would find its way to the streets of Rogers Park. I sat for two days like an armed sentry guard, on high alert for the first signs of unrest. I was people watching until my eyes hurt. I was determined not to let anything escape my notice.

You know what I saw instead of the looked for disharmony? Good fathers with healthy children of all races and sexual orientations, with excited youngsters running into their arms. I saw older men of every religious bent drinking too much and embarrassing their wives with outdated dance moves. I saw an energetic member of the counterculture perform an impromptu rhythmic hula hoop routine to the delight of the neighborhood children. I saw kids of every conceivable background, uniting to do what kids do: chase each other around and throw trash into large puddles of water. No angry, bigoted word emerged from any corner of this raucous event.

And that’s when I wished with all my heart for recording equipment and my own national TV station. I wanted to capture this colorful embrace of summer, and life itself, and make this the headline story on the evening news. “This just in! People still know how to get along and have fun! Film at 11.” Sadly, this has become the untold story in a nation that has lost its appetite for setting the standard of civic engagement in the free world. But maybe, just maybe if we could release ourselves from the chokehold of politicians and the media, the habit of being told who we are and what we want, we could learn to enjoy each other again. Maybe if the rancor were cleared from the air, we could begin to start solving the numerous problems facing our nation. The energy is out there, and some of it, lo and behold, is hate free.

Why Nate Silver’s Numbers Are Good News For Democrats (March 30, 2014)

Nate Silver, New York Times blogger and statistician

Statistical wunderkind Nate Silver may be on the cautious side of predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate come November (and there’s been a lot of overreacting on both sides of the aisle to the March 23 FiveThirtyEight blog post), but it’s helpful these days to be a longterm strategist. That may not always be an asset within today’s 24/7, reactionary, attention deficient political and media paradigms. However if one is able, even for a moment, to see 2014’s bizarrely stagnant, bipolar and toxic sociopolitical atmosphere for what it really is, it’s a lot easier to relax into a zen-like embrace of the old adage, “this too shall pass.”

The electorate is morphing, growing more socially liberal in particular, at a magnificent clip. Both parties are keenly aware of that fact. And nowhere is the transition more evident than among the youth demographic.

Gallup released poll results last week, interpreted in an article entitled, Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown. The piece opens by observing, “Young adults — those between the ages of 18 and 29 — have typically aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, but they have become substantially more likely to do so since 2006…Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%.”

Meanwhile, over in Baby Boomer county, New York Timescolumnist Charles M. Blow observes in his March 28 writing, The Split of the Ages: “Until the age of Obama, Democrats had an ideological leg up among Americans 65 and older. Then those voters shifted to give the Republicans an advantage. That advantage has held, although it’s shrinking.”

Blow’s comments reflect good reason for Senate Democrats to be concerned this year. As the Daily Kos writers remarked last fall, Democrats’ biggest challenge is getting their base voters to vote in a midterm election. And if a strong enough contingent of the older, white, conservative voters who comprise the Republican base are mobilized to hit the ballot box, then there’s a decent chance we could end up with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Yes, I just vomited a little in my mouth). However there’s a lot of “ifs” in play here and there’s still plenty of time for left wing voters to realize what’s at stake.

And now let’s return to my proposal at the beginning of this column. Let’s try to see the 2014 midterms for what they really are, accept the possibility of a short-term hit (while doing everything we can to avert it) and smile as we consider 2016 and beyond. The soundtrack of this political year is the gasping death march of the old Mad Men world order. As Blow notes, “Part of the reason for the Democratic swing among young people is the incredible diversity of the group. Gallup estimates that 45 percent of Americans 18-29 are nonwhite.” As Americans evolve into a more ethnically and racially disparate population, the “white man is grand” policies of the GOP become progressively alienating.

But here. HERE is where the blood of the Koch Brothers and others of their election purchasing ilk must run especially cold. Toward the middle of the Gallup piece, writer Jeffrey M. Jones concludes:

“But young adults are not more Democratic solely because they are more racially diverse. In recent years, young white adults, who previously aligned more with the Republican Party, have shifted Democratic. From 1995 to 2005, young whites consistently identified as or leaned Republican rather than Democratic, by an average of eight points. Since 2006, whites aged 18 to 29 have shown at least a slight Democratic preference in all but one year, with an average advantage of three points.”

Cold, hard statistics. Not opinion, although we know the Republican party struggles to embrace science and facts in the modern era. But not all right wing pundits will afford themselves the luxury of denial. In his own weekend column, The Christian Penumbra, New York Times conservative Ross Douthat takes a look at the unholy relationship between Deep Southern traditional religious values and poverty. He notes, “some of the most religious areas of the country — the Bible Belt, the deepest South — struggle mightily with poverty, poor health, political corruption and social disarray.”

While the piece goes on to argue that full engagement in a religious institution rather than nominal belief is the cure for this disparity, Douthat can’t be encouraged by recent studies concluding that Americans are less religious than ever before. And as voters drift away from dogmatic Christianity, away from consigned racism and homophobia and toward recognition that the oligarchs are running the show, rejection of socially stunted, corporate protectionist policies is a natural outcome.

I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated by the President’s low approval ratings. I’m frustrated that Democrats seem to be on the defensive nationally against a party with no platform. But we have time and Silver’s projected 10 percentage point likelihood is hardly insurmountable. But it’s the long run where Republicans are at the disadvantage. It’s all in the numbers.