If you have not voted already, please find your polling station and do so today.
This post is inspired by the video “I remember.”
In it, a bunch of Americans remind us that 2000-2008 wasn’t so grand. Giving the Republicans power is not where we want to be in the country. I have not been happy with President Obama. I will continue to criticize him from the left. I don’t like the Democrats and do not always vote with them.
However, even though we push them, because politicians need to be pushed to do the right thing, at no point should we compare the Democrats to the Almighty; we must compare them to the alternative.
This note is about the alternative at the national level: the Republican Party.
(1) The Bush era was a disaster for our country. The problems of the Bush era were not problems of execution, but of fundamental philosophy.
It has become commonplace to say that George W. Bush was not a conservative, and that Bush’s failures as president was due to his incompetence. This is the wrong view. Ever since Ronald Reagan swept into DC, conservatives had been talking about government, high taxes, and runaway liberalism as the key problems of the country. Until 2002, for a variety of factors, Republicans had never had the opportunity to put all of their talk into practice.
From 2002-2006, during an era of united government, the philosophies that Republicans had talked about for 25 years were finally enacted. Look where it has taken the country. Debt-fueled growth has shattered the economy. Needless wars have emptied our coffers. A senseless tax cut has dried up revenue. Carelessness of governance has bred cynicism. Unilateralism has destroyed our credibility. Regressive fiscal policies has concentrated wealth into small segments of the population. Movement conservatives have polarized our courts and shredded our constitution. Poor judgement in economic affairs have increased the unemployment rate, decreased benefits, and allowed for a stagnation in real wages. Deficit-spending is drowning the United States in debt.
Having rejected the Clintonian course of leading by the power of examples, the Republican Administration has tired us out through the examples of its power– overtaxing our reserves and weakening the nation and the international economy.
Had Bush’s policies been successful, then America would not have rejected Republicans overwhelming in the Congressional elections of 2006, and across the board in 2008. In short, it’s Republican policies that caused the landslide of 2008, stupid, not the Republican president.
Traditionally the party in power loses seats in the midterm, especially during a recession. Let’s limit the numbers of seats we lose this time.
(2) The Nixonian strategy of winning presidential elections through backlash among working class whites and married white women is over. Congressional elections in non-presidential years, however, have electorates that skew older and whiter. Let’s reverse this trend.
According to Ruy Texeira :
“[Obama’s] WWC (White Working Class) deficit was very similar to Gore’s (18 vs. 17 points). It’s also interesting to compare Dukakis’ performance in 1988 among WWC and white college graduates to this year’s performance. In 1988, the Democratic deficit among these two groups was identical: 20 points. This year’s WWC deficit is only a slight improvement (down 2 points) but the white college graduate deficit was just 4 points, a 16 point Democratic swing since 1988.
The stubbornly high deficit for Dems among WWC is mitigated by the fact that there are now far fewer of them in the voting pool. According to the exits, the proportion of WWC voters is down 15 points since 1988, while the proportion of white college graduate voters is up 4 points and the proportion of minority voters is up 11 points.”
Republican racism, homophobia, and xenophobia has driven minorities (blacks, Latinos, Asians, GLTBQ) to vote at least 2.5 to 1 for Democratic candidates in past years. Ergo, as the non-white share of the electorate goes up, the larger the percentage of the white vote Republicans need to win national elections. However, as the share of minorities drops, the more Republicans tend to win.
(3) The General Electorate is More Progressive Than in It Was in 1992 and 1994.
There is a lot of talk that the country “remains” a center-right country. (What this meme really means is covert advice to Democrats that even when Democrats win they should implement Republican policies.)
Democrats must reject the defeatism that an unhealthy obsession with overreaching brings. The electorate is clearly and indisputably more progressive now. Why? Pretty simple, there are less white people in the electorate. In 1992, 88% of the electorate was white. In 2008, 74% of the electorate is white. People like to dance around the basic fact that non-whites are generally more progressive than whites on most issues.
This is an important lesson that agents seeking institutional reform have to adopt. Diversity-initiatives, when placed under control of the powers that be, transform into policies of mere tokenism. Middle-class yes-minorities are given seats of the table to ward of criticisms of injustice; the trade off is that they can not seek institutional equity, and certainly never aggressively. Alas, too many make the grave sin of confusing access with power. Where possible, every principled person should reject tokenism as a governing philosophy.
However, part of the reason that many push for diversification is not due to some fabled theory of shared minority essence, but rather because opening the floodgates to true competition shatters existing networks of privileged and hierarchy. The harsh truth of the matter is that the everyday practices of even so-called liberal members of the majority never truly undermine the informal social networks and discourses of intimidation, distance, apathy, fear, and disdain that limit what minorities can achieve and where they can go. A more diverse faculty, judiciary, congress, classroom forces into the public sphere the agency of people who don’t fit the mold of middle class majority membership and its bounded politics of capitalist accommodation and complacency.
(4) The Democrats have driven up the national debt, and its time to tighten our belts.
Marc Rubio may make the slogan look good, but he doesn’t make it true.
I quote Paul Krugman here.
Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs.
Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.
Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn’t kicked in yet, so that can’t be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.
[T]he stimulus wasn’t actually all that big compared with the size of the economy. Furthermore, it wasn’t mainly focused on increasing government spending. Of the roughly $600 billion cost of the Recovery Act in 2009 and 2010, more than 40 percent came from tax cuts, while another large chunk consisted of aid to state and local governments. Only the remainder involved direct federal spending.And federal aid to state and local governments wasn’t enough to make up for plunging tax receipts in the face of the economic slump. So states and cities, which can’t run large deficits, were forced into drastic spending cuts, more than offsetting the modest increase at the federal level.
This graphic I think adequately summarizes the data issue with respect to the supposed exploding deficits.
See? Expenditures go up, pretty steady, but receipts go DOWN!!!
(5) There is too much governmental regulation in our lives.
The Bush Administration perpetuated a crisis in federal oversight agencies that we have only begun to rebuild.
The TNR’s John Judis reports:
The newly minted Republican majority in the House[in 1995], led by Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, immediately passed the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, which contained sections specifically aimed at curbing regulatory agencies. The Private Property Reform Act forced the government to reimburse property owners for any loss suffered from regulations; the Regulatory Reform and Relief Act and the Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Act created a labyrinth of appeals and studies that any new regulation would have to pass through. As the authors of a Contemporary Regulatory Policy put it, they “mired regulatory agencies in a procedural quagmire.”
In the Senate, Democrats killed the bill by threatening a filibuster, but the effort put the agencies on the defensive. In the budget that year, the Republicans—not constrained by a filibuster—were able to get their way. They cut the EPA’s overall budget by 25 percent and cut its critical enforcement budget by 40 percent and put 17 riders on the budget bill limiting the EPA’s ability to police industries. They cut OSHA’s already barebones budget by 16 percent and put a rider prohibiting OSHA from adopting new rules on ergonomic industries (like carpal tunnel syndrome) that had first been proposed in 1990 by George H.W. Bush’s administration.
When Clinton vetoed the Republican budget, the Republicans forced the government to shut down that fall. Clinton eventually won the political battle over the shutdown by demonstrating that Republican tax cuts for the rich were almost exactly equal to their proposed reductions in Medicare, but when the dust cleared from the budget battle, funding for the EPA and OSHA had been cut, and OSHA had been forced to suspend its attempt to enforce standards on ergonomic injuries. EPA director Carol Browner complained that from October 1995 to February 1996, EPA inspections had been reduced by 40 percent because of budget cuts. And there’s a clear lesson there. If you don’t have the people to enforce regulations on pollution or worker injury, it doesn’t matter how tough the rules are.
After Clinton easily won re-election in 1996, and the Democrats won back some of their seats (although not a majority) by running against the Republican leadership in Congress, the administration was able to get back some of the regulatory funding that had been lost, but even at the end of Clinton’s two terms, the agencies were not operating at full speed. In 2000, there were actually less people working in OSHA than there were in 1975.
In short: vote Democratic people! A lot is on the line.