Thoughts on the 2014 Midterm Elections and Liberalism’s Future

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  1. Avatar Dand says:

    1. The Solid South is the Solid South. The only difference is that the Solid South used to be Democratic and now it is Republican. This is not going to change anytime in the immediate future.

    It’s after midnight here and I need to go to bed soon but I just wanted that I don’t think this is true although it depends on how you define “immediate future”. In both 2008 and 2012 Obama won Mississippi among voters under 30. Blacks make up large share of the population in many southern states Republicans have only been able to win those states by getting 85% + of the white vote, younger white voters seem to more willing to vote Democratic so it is possible that democrats could win those states in the future.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Dand says:

      I’d be shocked if a Democratic President won the electoral college votes of a deep Southern state (excluded: North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida) before 2030 and probably later.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ll take that bet. The McCain & Romney margins of victory in Georgia were only 5 and 8 percent, respectively, and Clinton won the state in 92 (and lost by a point in 96). I could see Hillary winning a squeaker there over Chris Christie (but not Rand Paul or Jeb Bush).Report

  2. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    People have said it before, but I’ll steal it.

    We’re two different countries. We’re a slightly center-left countries during Presidential years, but a pretty hard-right country during off year elections.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      Not just tonight, but more and more the past few months I’ve been thinking – is it really time to admit that we’re two – or four, or six – countries?Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to El Muneco says:

        @el-muneco

        I’m honestly not sure that your political system can cope with a country as large and diverse as yours, but then I’m not sure its possible to efficiently govern a country as large and diverse as yours.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to El Muneco says:

        @james-k

        There is probably a lot of truth in that.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco in reply to El Muneco says:

        @James K – That’s half of it, I am thinking. There’s no need for superstates post-Cold War (maybe post-WWII, even). There’s a lot of internal friction in a state this large. And there’s momentum out there for states that were stapled together out of geographically/culturally/religously distinct peoples – Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, United Kingdom – at least thinking about becoming less tightly coupled.

        To use the Scottish independence movement as an example… Maybe it’s a bad idea. Even probably. But it’s on the table, now. So why not re-evaluate the CSA? It’s also probably a bad idea…

        But I’m also thinking – if a split, even if ridiculously unlikely – was part of the discussion, it might help people get serious. If you don’t want to split, you’re committed to making this thing work, so it could even be an impetus toward cooperation.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      The real problem is that many Democratically inclined voters do not vote during the mid-years for a variety of reasons combined with GOP voter suppression techniques.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq

        Yep, except for Republican voters in reliably Democratic states, specifically the one I live in. There it’s the Dems that suppress Republican voters, if not ought right voter fraud.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @damon

        I tend to think that now, Republicans are worse when it comes to voter suppression. Not that the Dems are always good, and they’ve certainly had a bad history in some places, but it seems the suppression efforts tend to lean more GOPpy than not.

        That said, one thing I’ve noticed is the hardball the Dems play against left-leaning third party candidates, a tactic I find pretty distasteful.

        At any rate, I don’t think the GOP victories can be baited merely as the result of suppression. I think their message also appealed to more people and, perhaps more important, others are either displeased by or apathetic about what the Dems are doing. Here in Illinois, Rauner appears to have won the governorship, and if so, I think it’s due to some real dissatisfaction about Quinn and the Democratically controlled legislature and not solely or even primarily because of GOP shenaniganism. It’s also because Rauner ran a smart race. He at least *seems* liberal on social issues and not a hard right winger, unlike the GOP’s offering last time around.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        I won’t disagree Gabriel. My point to Lee was that 1) BSDI and 2) that, in reliably Democratic states, there’s a reason that they are reliably Democratic, and especially in close elections, the Dems are not above a little voter fraud and suppression to ensure they maintain power.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @damon

        Proof. And considering your general snide attitude, I am going to need proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

        @gabriel-conroy

        The Republican Party has absorbed most of the hard-right in ways that the Democratic Party has not absorbed the far left. In some ways this is the same has been the case since the late 19th century when you had the right between early welfare-state liberals and the Bourbon Democrats.

        There are also factional disputes among left-liberals about whether to work with the Democratic Party or not. The folks at LGM are often to the left of the Democratic party on many issues, they often express their disappointment at the Democratic Party and dislike Emmanuel and Cuomo but they are willing to work with in the Democratic Party and the primary system because they think doing otherwise will just let the GOP win again and again. They call people like Thomas Frank who refuse to work within Democratic Party politics and reality “leftier than thou”…Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @saul-degraw

        Given I live in the state I’m mentioning, I’m not to keen about pointing out where I live other than what I’ve previously disclosed. But I’ve been here for 30 years and seen only two governors from the non democratic side elected. Those two elections were very close and were the only ones really up for contention. The other elections were won easily by the Dems. Coincidentally, they were only ones with allegations fraud and other voter/election chicanery. One even resulted in a lawsuit. You’re free to believe what you want, but I lived it.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @gabriel-conroy: Rauner sounds similar to former governor Dan Ryan, a moderate Republican who turned out to be a pretty decent governor if you overlook that felony conviction.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @michelle

        Well, you can’t spell “felon” without “felo,” and that sounds a lot like “fellow,” which is just a hop and a skip (and jump) to “good fellow” (but not the mobster kind) and, further, a “good all around guy.”

        @saul-degraw

        I didn’t say anything different.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

      @jesse-ewiak

      Seems true enough. I wonder why this happens. I think this relates to the Max Planck thing and the idea that Democratic voters usually don’t come out for midterms. Maybe it is the old saw of “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.”Report

  3. The country is in a very cynical and depressed mood even though things are roughly on the uptick according to the statistics. I think this is because a lot of people are still traumatized by what happened to them and to people they knew during the Great Recession and because most of the gains in the recovery have gone to the rich. This would explain the success of ballot measures to raise the minimum wage tonight.

    I don’t think it’s particularly hard to get people to vote for minimum wage measures. And I don’t know about other states, but the one in Illinois is basically a non-binding “advisory opinion” on whether people support it. Even though I’m lukewarm at best about whether minimum wage increases are a good thing, I can’t chalk it off to cynicism and “depressed mood.”Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    “The country is in a very cynical and depressed mood even though things are roughly on the uptick according to the statistics. ”

    Yeah, well the statistics are bull. If you read the HOW the statistics are assembled, particularly the employment data. There are many examples. It’s pretty obvious in my industry. So when folks read about the “improved employment” and it doesn’t match their observations, they figure it out eventually.Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    All in all it was about what I expected though I’d hoped that we could have done better in governorships.

    My main thought: it’s all on Obama now; the training wheels are off. Up until 2010 he had Pelosi and Reid to do his work for him (pushing the ACA over the finish line) and up until now he had Reid providing a blue wall against house Republican shenanigans. Now in theory Reid might (and I hope does) run the Senate minority like Mcconnell did and filibuster anything intolerable but that is far from guaranteed.

    Here is hoping for long life and good health for the Supreme Court Justices.

    If Obama wants to accomplish much domestically at this point his only likely option (barring a significant GOP volte face) is going to be executive actions.

    If Obama does anything too interesting we might see the GOP actually try and impeach. This is a strong argument in favor of Obama doing something interesting (and preferably popular). Impeach baby!

    Obama is, basically, on his own. If he reverts to his idiot hope’n’change persona his entire agenda is going to get gutted and Liberals (and moderates) will revile him for generations. Hopefully he’s smartened up (and indications are he has) and learned how to play the game. I hope he’s got that veto pen warmed up and ready to go.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      @north

      We will see what happens.

      I’ve noticed that Democratic politicians who get narrow victories tend to be humbled by said narrow victories

      The Republican Party seems to be able to treat narrow victories as mandates where they won 75 percent of the vote.

      I’m in awe of the Republican boldness and lack of shame on this one. They have a real lock on hyper-partisanship or at least not caring about the particulars.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to North says:

      If Obama wants to accomplish much domestically at this point his only likely option (barring a significant GOP volte face) is going to be executive actions.

      Just what we need, more executive aggrandizement. And what really bothers me is that many of my liberal friends are going to be enthusiastically in favor of this, thinking they can meaningfully distinguish Democratic presidential power-grabs from Republican presidential power-grabs. That is, they’ll be identical to conservatives while thinking they’re significantly different.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to James Hanley says:

        Well personally I’m indifferent, I’d be perfectly content if Obama spends the rest of his term simply vetoing the GOP’s attempts to turn back time. That said doesn’t he have the authority to mess around with EPA regs and Immigration decisions so would that be an executive power grab? Isn’t running those departments sortof his job?Report

      • That said doesn’t he have the authority to mess around with EPA regs…

        Yes, and not just mess around with, but write major new ones. And the SCOTUS has insisted that both Bush and Obama do so (the cross-state air pollution rule, CO2 emission rules). A bunch of the red states have howled, and in the case of the latter, it’s a one-sentence amendment to the Clean Air Act: “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant under this act.” Will the Republicans pass that change? Will they even attempt to pass that change?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

        That said doesn’t he have the authority to mess around with EPA regs and Immigration decisions so would that be an executive power grab? Isn’t running those departments sortof his job?

        The problem (the benefit?) of these powers resting with the executive is that the rule lasts as long as the presidency does. Want new rules? Vote for a new guy!Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Yeah, he has the legal authority, but where the line is drawn between legitimate and illegitimate congressional delegations of authority is controversial. Fine-tuning policies who boundaries are clearly set, primarily for practicality of implementation? No problem. Making regulations that make large changes in the policy of the U.S.? Well, then, why don’t we just get rid of Congress? Or maybe reverse the system and just admit the President is the true legislator and just give Congress a veto instead of the lawmaking power?

        It really bothers me how complacent Americans have become with the President as de facto legislator, checked for the most part only by the Courts and not by Congress. We can’t say we value separation of powers and support the on-going shift of legislative authority to the executive. And if we actually don’t want a separation of powers system, do we really want a strong-executive/weak-legislature system?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley

        I sympathize with your point but I think this has to do with the fact of gridlock. I pointed this out above but the Republican Party wants their politicians to stick to principals and not compromise. Democratic Party supporters like compromise but I think are getting more turned off by GOP tactics and are becoming equally hardline because we are tired of getting watered down versions of our priorities or electing politicians that will turn their back on Democratic principals.

        This is why Teachout won 35 percent of the Primary vote in New York. Quinn lost in Illinois because he is seen as a traitor to Democratic policies.

        There is a smaller but growing liberal base to the Democratic Party which is tired of being told that there only option is to hold their nose.

        People want things done and if the President and Congress can’t get along than the President is going to act via executive order.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Gridlock is a justification so bad that it ought not be seriously entertained. It’s an argument that we need X so badly and so immediately that we don’t need to worry about the system of governance we’re creating.

        This kind of short-sighted thoughtlessness is what gave us the Patriot Act. It’s what let Nixon off the hook instead of creating a precedent of conviction on criminal charges that might have deterred future presidents.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

        What Saul said. The point of having the legislative power vested in the legislature is still to do some legislatin’. As in, makin’ laws. People are going to want that. If it has to come via the president using authority (arguably) given to him either by laws passed by the legislature or by the constitution, even if it’d be better if the legislature do it themselves, they’ll *accept* that, even though they’d rather the legislature do it the right way, because they do want to see laws passed.

        And if we’re going to be stuck in a situation where different electorates consistently send legislatures and presidents who can’t agree to do anything to Washington because , then you’re going to get more and more acceptance of it, just so that things get done. If we don’t like that enough, we might consider aligning the electorates, as major a shift as that would be. As in, Senate, House, prez. All four year terms. All elected on the same days. It’s radical and it’s not going to happen. But I no longer think having schizophrenic/multiple national electorates is going to work for us. Democracy has to be able to act, observe, and react to work, not just exist in a mutually canceling sine/cosine pattern of ever-present opposition.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        @saul-degraw
        I sympathize with your point but I think this has to do with the fact of gridlock. I pointed this out above but the Republican Party wants their politicians to stick to principals and not compromise. Democratic Party supporters like compromise but I think are getting more turned off by GOP tactics and are becoming equally hardline because we are tired of getting watered down versions of our priorities or electing politicians that will turn their back on Democratic principals.

        As a Democratic Party supporter, it’s not the *compromise* that pisses me off. It is this pattern:

        1) Something is proposed by a Democrat. This proposal is in ‘the center’ (Or, rather, where the Republicans have moved the center to, aka, right-of-center.)
        2) Republicans demand it move even more to the right or they won’t vote for it.
        3) It moves to the right.
        4) Republicans still don’t vote for it. Perhaps we start over at #2.
        5) It either fails, or it passes and we end up with a middle-right law.

        That sort of shit needs to *stop*. Just flat out stop.

        The Democrats need to propose *far-left* stuff, like the Republicans do on the other side. Propose expanding Medicare by *fourfold*. Utterly crazy stuff. Make the right negotiate towards the center, and only let them do that if they *do* vote for it.

        Oh, and actually use the whip. Threaten those middle-of-the-road people for the important bills. We get it, you’re a conserva-dem, and that’s fine normally, but the votes are tight and if you don’t vote for our Important Democratic Bill, your pet issue doesn’t even make it to the floor this year.

        That is how politics is supposed to work. Proposing center-ish stuff made sense when the Republicans actually wanted to legislate and would jump on board bills like that. But proposing center-ish bills hasn’t made any sense for 6 years now.

        And I wrote that in present tense, but, of course, all that’s going to moot for the next two years. Instead, now what is vitally important for Democrat legislators is to get out of the way and let Republicans act like insane people.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to James Hanley says:

        Gotta agree with James Hanley here. The last thing we need is any further aggrandizement of executive power through executive orders that make substantive changes best addressed by the legislature. Obama has already shown himself far too willing to utilize Bush-era expansion of executive powers when he should have turned back the clock. But hey, civil liberties, who needs them?Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michelle says:

          Well, if it’s the LAST thing we need, then it follows that we should want to make changes to make it less likely, right? Locking in/accepting structurally divided government (due to differing turnout patterns in presidential/nonpresidential years, which is an entirely artificial setup) will make it more likely. So we could not do that. We could make it so that all national offices are up for election each time there are elections for national offices (other than special elections).Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        As a Democratic Party supporter, it’s not the *compromise* that pisses me off. It is this pattern:

        1) Something is proposed by a Democrat. This proposal is in ‘the center’ (Or, rather, where the Republicans have moved the center to, aka, right-of-center.)
        2) Republicans demand it move even more to the right or they won’t vote for it.
        3) It moves to the right.
        4) Republicans still don’t vote for it. Perhaps we start over at #2.
        5) It either fails, or it passes and we end up with a middle-right law.

        What the heck are you people talking about? What’s an example of this? The ACA?

        So, I guess that means that universal, government provided health care is a proposal from the “center,” and the ACA is a move to the middle-right. That seems legit.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley
        Yeah, he has the legal authority, but where the line is drawn between legitimate and illegitimate congressional delegations of authority is controversial. Fine-tuning policies who boundaries are clearly set, primarily for practicality of implementation? No problem. Making regulations that make large changes in the policy of the U.S.?

        I agree mostly with you, but two points.

        First, that line isn’t where people seem to think it is. The executive branch has, at a basic legal level, the ability to not enforce most laws. And if no one’s rights are being violated (Like with not enforcing immigration laws against certain people.), it can’t end up in court. So the only actual solution there is to replace the person who is not doing the enforcing.

        And, yes, the only way to stop the president *anyway* is to remove him from power, but my point is, *even if* you could charge the president with breaking the law…what Obama is suggesting is he might do does not seem to involve breaking any laws.

        Of course, we’ll have to see what he does. It could be anything from ‘Don’t deport people with minor children.’, which is just not enforcing a law and entirely legal, to something insane like ‘Make everyone here illegally US citizens’, which is in violation of the law. I think it’s easy to internalize right’s framing on this, but Obama is probably just going to be directing ICE to *not* do certain things to certain groups of people…which is entirely within his power.

        And the other thing is that this line you’re talking about isn’t even slightly related to the amount that people get upset over things.

        I mean, I suspect we can agree that delaying the employer mandate was a reasonable use of executive power. Saying ‘This business regulation might be technically illegal now and subject to a fine, but we’re going to give you an extra year to figure it out’ is exactly the sort of thing a responsive executive should say. Hell, *the right* was saying the law was implemented too fast before the President went and delayed it. As far as ‘executive overreaches’ go, it’s a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

        However, that’s *exactly* the issue the House Republicans picked as overuse of Presidential power and threatened to sue over. They demand he implement bad laws very quickly! (BTW, House Republicans…if you want to sue to force the President to implement that, you, uh, might want to hurry. I don’t know what happened to your plan there, but we’re two months away from 2015.)

        Meanwhile, both the right and now the left seem to ignore that both Bush and Obama were *objectively* breaking the exact letter of the law WRT wiretapping, doing something which was not only in violation of the law, but probably constitutional rights. As far as executive overreaches go, it’s probably a 7(1) or so. (Oh, but there are secret court rulings that say it’s fine. Neither we nor the legislature know what’s going on, or can see these court rulings, but, trust us, it’s all fine and legal.)

        Saying ‘where the line is drawn is controversial’ is true, but a little irrelevant. We’re not debating the position of it and what action is on what side of it. There logically *is* a line over which the executive shouldn’t do things on their own, and the exact position of it is vague(2). But what’s happening here is that that people are being ‘outraged’ by random shit they don’t like, and pretending, for the purpose of the discussion, that such an action is ‘over the line’.

        Heck, look at the EPA regulations of CO2 for an example of that. That is something that are *supposed* to be regulated, and the only reason it wasn’t is that Bush meddled, and now that the EPA is actually *following the law* as *ordered by the courts*, we get complaints from the right about executive overreach. ?!

        1) And it’s only a 7 because Bush raised the top of the scale with damn torture.

        2) Although I will point out we *have* managed to clearly define this line in the case of the military, which is good.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        @j-r
        What the heck are you people talking about? What’s an example of this? The ACA?

        And comprehensive immigration reform in 2009 went the same way, except it got anywhere. We got the DREAM act instead, another extremely watered-down bill..that didn’t pass either. And the same thing happened in 2013, where the immigration bill *stuffed* with every single right-wing provision anyone can think of…wouldn’t get put on the floor by House Republican.

        Notice Obama spent a lot of time and effort ‘securing the border’ because he was repeatedly told that such a thing was required before immigration reform happened.

        So, I guess that means that universal, government provided health care is a proposal from the “center,” and the ACA is a move to the middle-right. That seems legit.

        I have no idea if you’re being sarcastic or not, but, yes, single payer, or *extremely* regulated insurance plans that are basically identical to each other (The Swiss system), is the ‘center’ for health care. Varying plans with a mandate is the ‘right’, government or near-identical private plans are the center, and something like the NHS would be the left.

        That was negotiated away *for support that didn’t happen* from the right. Democrats should have started with damn single-payer, negotiated rightward *from there*…and only if the right *actually voted* for it.

        Instead, we not only got what we got, but then the right actively attempted to dismantle it, and managed to take apart the Medicaid expansion. So we basically have the right-most health insurance system that can possibly function, if you ignore all the people in states that didn’t expand Medicaid that can’t afford insurance.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Michael,

        I’m not arguing the president won’t do so, or that people won’t demand it. Nor am I arguing that such schizophrenic outcomes are desirable. I am arguing that presidential governance is much less desirable.

        Nor is presidential governance democratically responsive. In fact I find it quite ironic that immediately following an election in which the president’s policy opponents won, anyone is suggesting that blocking their policies is democratically responsive. But more than that, presidents in recent decades have not shown themselves to be democratically accountable. This should not be surprising given that they do not hope to be elected repeatedly, as our national legislators do. This understanding that lack of repeatability undermines accountability was expressed at the constitutional convention, which was why the Framers did not choose to limit the terms of the President.

        To rephrase my earlier comment, a focus on getting stuff done, now, is shortsighted if it ignores the importance of how that stuff gets done.Report

      • @james-hanley
        I don’t disagree with what you say. I do claim that there were a lot of implicit assumptions made when the Constitution was written, and that it was made intentionally difficult to change. Once those assumptions no longer held, something had to give. Having a bunch of elected amateurs make policy more detailed than the broad outlines largely disappeared.

        I’ll go further and say that once the assumptions failed, the system couldn’t deal with 50 states sprawled across a continent-plus. The country “wants” to be five regions, each with near-federal levels of authority: a Northeast, a Southeast, a Midwest, a South Central, and a West. There are five metro areas big enough to anchor each of those: New York, South Florida and/or Atlanta, Chicago, the Texas “Triangle”, and California respectively. A region without an urban area on that scale is a poor brother that slowly withers. Saul (and Bill Bishop’s Big Sort) got it wrong yesterday. Not two parts, five. Each has the kind of cultural split (largely along urban/rural lines) that Saul and Bishop are talking about, but — to pick an example — the West’s cultural divide is different from the Southeast’s cultural divide. I’m dubious about the national parties being able to deal with it [1].

        [1]A couple of years ago, the House Republicans were drafting appropriations bills that implemented the large spending cuts their budget resolution called for. Discretionary spending on fire fighting and fire mitigation in the national forests was cut deeply. The Western Republicans balked and refused to vote for it, so that spending was restored. With the increase in non-Western House Republicans as a result of this election, such a bill might well pass next year.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        DavidTC,

        I’m talking about the constitutional structure of the U.S. political system, not statutory law. You’re thinking too small.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        The point of having the legislative power vested in the legislature is still to do some legislatin’.

        It’s also worth pointing out that the Framers of the Constitution purposely divided power 6 ways from Sunday to make it hard to do some legislatin’. If there’s widespread public support, there’ll be legislatin’ on an issue. At rock bottom, what folks on both sides will bitch about (Republicans because Obama will wield the veto) is that they can’t get their way on issues where the public is divided. I can’t figure out a way to work up any sympathy for that position.Report

      • And I’m not looking to justify executive aggrandizement. I’m just arguing that there’s always going to be “a focus on getting stuff done, now,” at least a certain significant minimum of stuff, and relatively in the “now” timeframe, in this time when it’s taken as given that the government has so many responsibilities. And that’s reasonable, whether or not it’s shortsighted, since the purpose of the legislature is, ultimately, to act.

        But we can accommodate that desire while attending to how things get done by choosing not to tilt the system toward inaction through legitimate processes more than is optimal. In fact, if that’s a more realistic way to do that than it is to expect people not to expect their legislature to get things done, then it’s a more direct neglect of the way things get done to keep in place such a non optimal tilt toward inaction than it is. The system does;t have to tilt tower inaction any particular amount. Tilting the legislature too much toward inaction only creates an action vacuum that is more likely to be filled through processes we deem less legitimate than if it were better balanced.

        And the 2-4-6 year system was never meant to bifurcate the electorate in the way it has, producing what looks to be a clear structural tendency toward divided government in elections, added on top of the well-understood impediments to action built into the legislature, and well as developed in their cultures and rules. That system isn’t sacred; it’s an artifact meant to serve higher constitutional ends. But I’d argue right now those means are contributing to the frustration of even higher ends in our system, namely the preservation of separation of powers, with the president taking on too much of what are essentially legislative responsibilities (even if they can be made formally the president’s through active legislative abdication).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Michael Cain,

        When I left graduate school I was a staunch advocate of the American constitutional system. A decade+ of researching and teaching American Government and the Presidency has persuaded me that our system is fundamentally unsound now and that as a people we are fooling ourselves about it being the system envisaged by the founders (Hamilton excepted), and very naive about the prospects of reining in the presidency.

        Once presidential candidates became selected by the people, rather than by party leaders, we inevitably entered the era of the demagogue, who wins office by flattering the public and out-promising their opponent, and who justifies any action as legitimate because it’s based on the will of the people.

        Our system needs a fundamental constitutional change. It’s past time to get over our mystical reverence for the Constitution as we imagine it to be and re-envision our political system. A federal/confederal system with a parliament based on proportional representation (or maybe mixed-member proportional) and powers limited to addressing issues of foreign policy and multi-region concern would be a good idea as a starting point for discussion.Report

      • It’s also worth pointing out that the Framers of the Constitution purposely divided power 6 ways from Sunday to make it hard to do some legislation’.

        And that’s fair too. But people are going to feel how they’re gong to feel, regardless of how you feel about their feelings – and there’s absolutely no reason those feelings have to mirror those of the Framers. Maybe they made it too hard. The question is, what do you really want to DO about it? Because you can’t just sit back and feel superior about it: by your own account, the processes of response to this well underway if not at a fairly advanced stage, and are damn-near intolerable to you. And I’m offering a proposal.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m just arguing that there’s always going to be “a focus on getting stuff done, now,”

        Well, duh. That’s the assumption that’s driving my argument.

        But we can accommodate that desire while attending to how things get done by choosing not to tilt the system toward inaction through legitimate processes more than is optimal.

        If you mean by letting the President take independent action because Congress isn’t legislating, then, no, you’re wrong on two different levels.

        First, that’s precisely the danger I’m warning about. It’s not better. Second, with both chambers being controlled by the Republicans, there will be legislation–and then you’re going to forget you talked about the need for Congress to legislate and you’re going to be begging Obama to veto* their legislation because you’re not going to like what it is.

        However if you’re talking about the need to chuck the Constitution and build a new political system, I agree.

        And the 2-4-6 year system was never meant to bifurcate the electorate in the way it has, producing what looks to be a clear structural tendency toward divided government in elections,

        Sure, because the brilliant Framers with their wisdom given directly by God couldn’t foresee that parties would develop almost right away.

        The parts I didn’t respond to are the parts where I honestly don’t know what you’re saying with your convoluted run-on sentences.

        *Which, of course, I do see as legitimate presidential action.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        David,
        have ye no cynicism? Securing the border is good for Obama’s electoral chances — by directly taking money out of the pockets of Hebrew National and other goonish companies who can’t be bothered to pay minimum wage.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley
        I’m talking about the constitutional structure of the U.S. political system, not statutory law. You’re thinking too small.

        The structure of the U.S. political system is utter crap anyway. It’s a bunch of random junk slapped together, with all sort of craziness. (Did you know the vice president could preside over his own impeachment?)

        Yes, in theory, Congress is more accountable to the people than the President. Except that theory is completely silly. Congress is absurdly gerrymandered, deliberately with the House and somewhat randomly with the Senate. Incumbents coast along for *decades*. Legislators are bought and sold by lobbyists, and getting voted out of office is no punishment for them.

        You’re right, the executive branch as a whole is less accountable than the legislature, but not because of how often people are elected. It’s less accountable because the guy at the top of the executive doesn’t do much.

        But there’s something I think we all need to understand: The reason so much power ends up in the executive is *precisely because* the executive is less accountable to the people.

        Problem: Elected people want to do X, which is unpopular with certain people.

        Solution: Make the executive do X via executive agencies no one knows about, via a complex intersection of laws and rule-making.

        Sometimes X seems like a good thing, and the ‘certain people’ are either idiots or lobbyists, and making an end run around them looks like a good thing. Sometimes X is stupid or evil things (I return, again, to wiretapping and torture) and the people whose opinion is being avoided is the general population, and we think this is a bad thing.

        But that’s basically what’s happening. Thanks to losing control of our government to special interests, and then adding in insane partisan lies and misinformation people believe, and we have a government that no longer *can* operate in the light of day and do what it wants to do.Report

      • If you mean by letting the President take independent action because Congress isn’t legislating, then, no, you’re wrong on two different levels.

        No, I mean by having Congress and the president all be elected on the same days, so that the same electorate make the same determinations about what it wants done when, giving the president and Congress a better chance on agreeing about what to do through regular processes. So, House, Senate, president, all four year terms on the same cycle, no midterms. The non-repeatability issue of term limits is something we could revisit as well.

        Though I take it this is pointless, as I assume you’re committed to the position that nothing matters now but a complete redo. Seems like tinkering is actually plausible, though.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley
        Heh, and now rereading your new posts that were made while I was writing, it seems like you entirely agree with me about the rather insane constitutional system we’ve set up.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        And that’s fair too. But people are going to feel how they’re gong to feel, regardless of how you feel about their feelings – and there’s absolutely no reason those feelings have to mirror those of the Framers. Maybe they made it too hard. The question is, what do you really want to DO about it? Because you can’t just sit back and feel superior about it: by your own account, the processes of response to this well underway if not at a fairly advanced stage, and are damn-near intolerable to you. And I’m offering a proposal.

        Well, if you’re not interested in reading what I’m actually saying, I don’t see much point in continuing the conversation.Report

      • I don’t know what you’re referring to, but if it’s what you said to Michael Cain about wanting a new system, I wrote what you quoted before I saw that. (You posted that at 3:09 pm; I posted what you quote at 3:12 pm. It wasn’t a long comment but I’m pretty sure I hadn’t refreshed the page less than three minutes before hitting submit on that.)

        If you’d want to engage my proposal, great. If you think tinkering is pointless and only a complete redo would make an difference, that’s great too.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m talking about this.
        what do you really want to DO about it? Because you can’t just sit back and feel superior about it:

        I’ve been advocating constitutional change for years and have been a consistent critic of executive power in these pages. I have no patience with someone like you mindlessly reducing that to merely feeling superior and missing the significance of my argument because you can’t be bothered to think.Report

      • I knew you were a critic of executive power, but it seemed to me you were linking it to the popular desire to see productivity in the legislature (or out of the government generally), locating the problem there, and, yeah, regardless of your proposals acting pretty superior as relates people with that attitude. I wasn’t aware what your constitutional proposals were or weren’t apart from an anti-rent-ranting amendment and an expressed unwillingness to mess with sections of the Bill of Rights that you might even substantively like to see jettisoned for fear it would undermine reverence for that portion of the document. And you were not proposing things (here; at some point each thread has to be somewhat independent; we can’t all keep a catalogue of all the positions we’ve all taken in every thread), but rather expressing sentiments about people who want their government to do things in the short term. So I asked what it is you propose, saying (obviously) that you can’t just sit back since the situation is intolerable for you. Which doesn’t mean I was saying you were sitting back – that’s not really consistent with saying you can’t. But nevertheless you were not offering proposals here while I was. And you were, indeed, acting superior to people with an attitude about government you don’t have sympathy – none of the foregoing is at all inconsistent with that.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Drew,

        I’m done discussing the issue with you.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

      I agree that impeachment would be a gift to the Democratic nominee in 2016.

      But, Obama doing “Interesting Things” solely with Executive power *and* the Republican congress not impeaching him, might just be the only thing that would tip things against a Democratic candidate in 2016.

      Governing by Presidential Fiat is gratifying to the base, but rather polarizing for the rest of the electorate.

      And, I’m not sure Obama owns his presidency anymore.

      Then again, I’m not sure the Republican congress owns ( or will own) any self-restraint… so Interesting Things ™ might just produce the win-win you are hoping for.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North says:

      What’s going to be very very interesting is what the *Republicans* do.

      I don’t actually think Obama has to do anything to lead to a Democratic victory in 2016. He just needs to stand there and be the grownup in the room. He will end up vetoing some pretty stupid legislation, which I’m sure the far-right wild assert is an illegal power-grab on his part, but they do that when he brushes his teeth.

      Eventually, at some point, the Republicans will managed to shoot themselves in the foot while attempting to shoot themselves in the head.

      It’s going to suck that nothing will get done, but nothing was *already* getting done, so, eh.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

        There is one thing Obama needs to do; or specifically not do. He needs to not turn into the naif he was during his first couple of years. If he tries to do his old new kind of politics hope and change dance he’s going to get taken to the cleaners.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to DavidTC says:

        @North–agreed. Republicans can whine and gnash their teeth all they want about presidential vetos, but the Constitution gives him that power. The Republicans have been hellbent on destroying this president from the get-go; the least he can do in his last two years is give them the figurative finger as opposed to signing on to any of their crap.Report

  6. Avatar Chris says:

    Someone should write an article about how for a few weeks every 2 years, we’re flooded with articles about how much things have changed and will change and how this means something really important, and perhaps ominous, for one side or the other, but then for all the other weeks everything’s business as usual.Report

  7. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    There’s an (unintentional, I hope) double negative in #6, fyi.Report

  8. Avatar j r says:

    7. The country is in a very cynical and depressed mood even though things are roughly on the uptick according to the statistics.

    This is exactly the sort of statement that re-enforces my anti-partisan, and ant-politics in general, nature. What exactly does it mean to say that the “country” is in a cynical and depressed mood? How do you take terms that generally ought to refer to individuals and try to make them meaningful when deployed to refer to a country of 300 million people?

    It is especially meaningless when your source for this statement is a piece of partisan apologia for Obama’s approval ratings. A generic survey question about what direction one thinks the country is heading is not enough to support the diagnosis of either a depressed mood or of cynicism.

    Here is a more likely reason that Obama’s approval ratings are low: he is two years into his second term. Was the country in a depressed and cynical mood in 2006 or in 1998?Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      Here is a more likely reason that Obama’s approval ratings are low: he is two years into his second term. Was the country in a depressed and cynical mood in 2006 or in 1998?

      That’s what Jonathan Bernstein says this morning.

      Barack Obama will now be the third consecutive president to enter office with unified government, be re-elected and eventually enter his final two years with out-party majorities in both chambers.1 Obama is slightly more popular than George W. Bush was, and a lot less popular than Bill Clinton at the same point, but the outcomes were in many ways similar if looked at over their presidencies as a whole. Forget redistricting, forget high-tech electioneering, forget money, forget all of it. Whoever is in the White House is the key. Put another way, whenever a party wins unified control, it had better take advantage of it while it lasts, because that isn’t going to last long.

      Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

      @j-r This is a very good point. I think one of the dangers of being a political junkie — of any political stripe — is that you read political blogs, and that with political blogs every little thing that happens becomes a portent for armageddon because that’s just the way political blogs roll. (I’m including myself here.) It’s just the way political junkies are wired to think. And so we read/hear/see people explain to us that the country is depressed/angry/outraged, when really it’s just a relatively small number of folks, and most everyone is off living their own lives.

      Still, if I’m being honest I love the the thought that the problem with America is simply that the country is in a depressed funk, because it makes me imagine Canada, England and Norway coming over with pizza, chocolate, and the latest Jennifer Anniston rom-com DVD, to give America a night in with friends where we’ll re-find our footing by sipping merlot, talking about relationships and doing one another’s nails.

      Because that would be awesome.Report

  9. Avatar morat20 says:

    This election was pretty predictable. Just checking the 2010 and 2014 voter demographics against 2008 and 2012 explains this election cleanly.

    I mean, you can make all sorts of talk about waves and issues, but the pattern’s pretty clear. Non-presidential years see an entirely different electorate, one far more conservative and Republican. A large swathe of Democratic voters fail to vote, time after time, in off-year elections.

    When the under-30 turnout drops 7 points in an off-year election, and the over-60 jumps 10 points — well, issues can do a lot but voters are sticky. They don’t change party often (regardless of whether they label themselves as partisan) so it’s turnout patterns and demographics that matter.

    It’s not like this was even a particularly bad year for Democrats in turnout — it was about average for the drop-off.

    About the only predictions I’m willing to make is that the odds of the GOP fruitlessly impeaching Obama (like 1994, but with less public sympathy) is maybe 25%. And that the 2016 GOP primary is going to be fun, perhaps even more fun than 2012.

    Oh, and that literally nothing will get done over the next two years and there will probably be at least one government shutdown, mostly to test out who gets blamed.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to morat20 says:

      That the GOP would win the senate was predictable and predicted. That they would do as well as they did less so, even by the pollsters and poll-based prognosticators.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        Eh, I’m not surprised. The +60 demographic turned out a couple points higher than in 2010 even. (I think they were 37% this year versus 32% in 2010). That’s sufficient right there to explain it.

        I think everyone would be happier with explanations like “The public wants X” or “The public dislikes Y” or “Issue Z was of paramount concern” but really it’s just…we have such low turnout even in Presidential years, and the off-years are far worse.

        It’s just..who shows up to vote. That more than anything decides elections these days. More than issues, more than policies, more than candidates. And for some reason, Democratic heavy demographics just..don’t show up unless they’re furious in off years. (Like 2006, for instance). The GOP heavy demographics are far more reliable in off-years.

        Two Americas, for sure. But it’s not geographic. It’s time based. One America votes reliably. The other America only bothers on Presidential years.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Or, another way to put it:
        there are those people who save every “I voted” ticket.
        Then there’s the rest. The rest need to be motivated to vote, and in this day and age, that means advertising.

        BTW, it’s a mistake to think this has ever been different.Report

      • To supplement @morat20 ‘s point, it’s pretty much always been the case that the older you are, the more likely you are to vote, particularly in off-year elections. What’s changed the last few cycles is that the older demographic has gone from being very much a swing group in its votes for Congress, almonst never giving more than 55% of its votes to either party in any one election, to a group that is reliably Republican in its votes for Congress. The older demographic was the least friendly age group for Democrats in Obama’s initial election in 2008, and was also their least friendly age group in 2006, 2004, and 2002. But they were not decisively Republican, with Democrats winning a slight majority of their votes in 2 of those 4 elections (2006 and 2008). Before that, that older demographic was a true swing constituency, sometimes being middle of the road, sometimes being more Democratic-friendly than other age groups, and sometimes being more Republican friendly than other age groups.

        And in the ’80s and early ’90s, they were (with the notable exception of ’84) reliably more Democratic than any other age group. I’d go so far as to wager that the Democratic advantage amongst the elderly is why the Democrats held the House in all but two elections between 1932 and 1994.

        But the last 3 cycles, for the first time in at least the last 32 years (I don’t have data before then), the oldest demographic has gone overwhelmingly (ie, by an 8 point margin or more) for one party in three consecutive elections. The closest comparison would be the stretch between 1988 and 1992 when Democrats one this group by 10, 6, and 12 points, respectively. But in the last three cycles, Republicans have won it by 16, 10, and 16 points.* That’s an absolutely massive margin. It’s not a big problem in a Presidential election year, when younger voters are more likely to vote and are as or more decisively united behind the Democrats. But in off-year elections, having a decisive advantage amongst older voters is a guaranteed way to take and keep control of the legislative branch.

        Here’s my primary source through 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/07/weekinreview/20101107-detailed-exitpolls.html?_r=0

        *For 2012 and 2014, I can’t find data for the 60+ group, so I’m using the data for 65+ as a proxy. This shouldn’t result in a variance of more than a point or two, though. In all cases, I’m referring to Congressional exit polls, even in Presidential election years.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Will Truman says:

        So, @mark-thompson, care to hazard a guess at what might have made things different for that age cohort in these last three cycles? Just off the top of your head?Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        So, care to hazard a guess at what might have made things different for that age cohort in these last three cycles? Just off the top of your head?
        Time marching on.

        We’re talking the 60+ set. 12 years means a surprising amount of turnover. The ‘coming of age in WWII’ demographic is disappearing, and the ‘coming of age during Vietnam’ group is entering.Report

      • @morat20 That’s definitely a good chunk of it, probably even the bulk of it – that over 60 set is roughly synonymous with people who were between “30 and 44” when Reagan was elected, a group that Reagan won by 17 points, and in which Carter only got 38 percent of the vote.

        I will add that there’s two other potential factors: 1. Obamacare is most unpopular amongst that cohort, and not just because of partisanship – “keep your damn government hands off my Medicare” might have been a silly statement, but the sentiment behind it was real: Obamacare’s ability to cut costs relies heavily on Medicare cost controls; and 2. anecdotally, I know of a number of elderly lifelong working class Democrats with….certain views, for whom McCain was the first Republican they’d ever voted in a Presidential election. Statistically, I don’t know how much of a factor this latter is for purposes of this discussion, though – I haven’t seen much evidence that those. . . . views . . . transferred to their votes for Congress.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Mark,
        also that VA vets scandals might have something more to do with folks being upset in that age range.Report

    • Avatar Citizen in reply to morat20 says:

      My only request is during the next shutdown my party gets to change the locks.Report

  10. As pundits have noted elsewhere, last night reactionary citizen initiatives lost (personhood) and progressive initiatives won (higher minimum wage, legal marijuana), even in states where they voted for Republican governors and legislators. The ACA is unlikely to be repealed, and red state governments will be under increasing pressure from their local healthcare industry to expand Medicaid. The gains made in the past three years on fleet mileage, CO2 regulation, and clean-up of coal-fired generation are unlikely to be undone by the new Congress. Suburban Republicans in the West didn’t run on halting the build-out of light rail to tie the suburbs more tightly to the urban cores. Rural-to-urban migration continues apace. I don’t care if Congress sends a protection-of-marriage amendment to the states — it only takes 13 to block it and that’s a given. Try to think outside the box — this year I got a lot of appeals for donations for candidates who would vote against voter ID laws; I didn’t get any from people asking for donations to help poor people without IDs get them.

    It’s a long game. The progressives have been winning for over a hundred years, and are still winning today. Stop whining just because you don’t win every time, every place.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My philosophy of “vote third party so that the difference between D and R is less than the number of third party votes” worked out fairly well in Colorado (insofar as Cory Gardner won with 49% of the vote and Hickenlooper won with 48%) and I’m wondering how many of the politicians out there in other states won with pluralities rather than majorities?

    Alaska has similar numbers, Rick Scott in Florida won the governorship with 48%, Hawaii’s governor won with less than 50% (but it looks like there are some weird dynamics there that don’t translate well to the rest of the country), Sam Brownback won the governorship with 49% in Kansas, Louisiana’s Senate race was really, really weird, Maine’s LePage won the governorship with 47%, Charlie Baker won the Governorship in Massachusetts with 48% (over Cloakley, so I don’t know if that counts), Tillis won in North Carolina with 49%, Kitzhaber won in Oregon with 48%, Raimondo won in Little Rhody with 40% (but it looks like that election has some weird dynamics), Shumlin won in Vermont with 46%, Warner won in Virginia’s senate with 49%…

    Which, seems like a lot, but that’s only about a fifth of the results from yesterday.

    In any case, compared to years past, that’s a freakin’ ton.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

      I didn’t vote third-party this time, because I was so against one of the major candidates and figured it’d be pretty close, so I wanted to work *against* them (though not really *for* their opponent).

      And they won anyway.

      So now I feel like I threw my vote away, and it would have been better given to the third party.

      Now, once before, I did something similar (for somewhat-different ‘strategic’ reasons) – but in that case, the candidate that I was voting for strategically rather than out of love, DID win…then, they went on to do some stupid s**t, that I now felt partially-responsible for.

      The moral of this story is, don’t vote strategically (for the majors, at least); vote for the guy/gal you believe in, or don’t vote.Report

  12. Avatar Michelle says:

    In 2006, my husband and I happened to be watching the election returns with the 20 or so Republicans who happened to live in Santa Monica (although when we were initially invited to the party we didn’t realize they were Republicans. As the returns came in and it became clear that the Democrats were going to retake the Senate, I started cheering only to be greeted by a roomful of glum faces. Oops!

    This year, the gains of 2006 were wiped out. Such is politics. It’s not the results that antagonize me so much as the tone of the election in this post-Citizens United world. Here in NC, a record-breaking $111 million dollars was spent on the hotly contested Senate race and the majority of that money came from outside money, much of it dark. The Koch brothers invested millions, as did Crossroads GPS and the NRA, to run some of the most outrageous and egregious campaign ads I’ve seen in my many years of following politics. Turned out to be a good investment for them as Tillis won. The best politician money can buy.

    It’s not that I think the Democrats are much better. Most are in the bag for large corporate interests, which makes me grateful for exceptions like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but cynical about the whole voting process.Report

  13. Avatar Patrick says:

    Mitch is going to have a very interesting year.

    He’s got this sort of “mandate” from the base. It will be hard to square that with the expectations of the soon-to-be 2016 voter without exploding.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Patrick says:

      Good Lord, that is a stupid article.

      So, basically, they take the fact that Republicans voters have been constantly told how horrible the president is, despite all their objections to him being made-up nonsense(1). Resulting in Republican voters having have no actual *policy* goals, just a sort of low-grade hatred. And they ignore the fact that with the fact that Republicans have larger turn out for midterms *and* the president’s party does bad at the 6 year mark…

      …and thus they come up with literally insane conclusions.

      But, to be fair, it’s suggesting exactly what the elected Republicans were going to do anyway.

      1) Seriously, if I had the time, i would refute that ‘Moreover, while’ paragraph sentence by sentence. There’s not a single sentence of that that is factually true.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

        The offyear turnout patterns have done more harm to the GOP than Democrats, despite the fact that the Democrats keep losing because a chunk of their base just stays home.

        Because the GOP base looks at the most recent election, sees that they won, and doubles down on that. The money folks and political operators know that the mid-term and Presidential electorates are different, but good luck getting someone who isn’t a political junkie to understand that.

        To Joe Average Voter, the hard-right GOP candidates in mid-term elections win and the moderate, tacking-to-the-middle sellouts in Presidential years lose. Ergo, you need to run red-meat throwing people to win. Which led to the hilarious clown-car pileups of the last two GOP Presidential primaries.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DavidTC says:

        @morat20 except your wrong. Unlike 2010, the Republicans kept their own-goal kickers out off the pitch. The winners were tax cutting but not-social-warrior governors in Maryland and Massachusetts, a (repeat) anti-union fighter in Wisconsin, a woman who could ride the seam of social and economic conservatism and sell it in Iowa, a guy who did the same thing in Colorado, and a bog standard conservative reversion to the mean in North Carolina (and Kentucky). The guy in Virginia didn’t win, but came close just being a hack’s hack (unlike the culture warrior Cooch). This year, no Palins, no Christine O’Donnells, no legitimate rape.

        The people poised now to capture the flag of the Republican nomination in 2016 – Christie, Paul, (J) Bush, Walker – all have conservative bonafides (to one extent or another) which are not well received by most people here (and often not by me) but none are ‘crazy’ in the Tri-corner hat and/or Christian Dominion way.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

        Christie, Paul, (J) Bush, Walker
        The only one of those three with even a whisper of a chance in a Presidential election is Jeb, who isn’t running.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC says:

        morat,
        while I won’t say Walker’s had electroshock, I give him decent odds.
        He’s a grade A moron, but when has that stopped Americans from electing someone?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DavidTC says:

        @morat20 for the nomination or the whole enchilada? I agree that H Clinton is still the overwhelming favorite against the field, and have said elsewhere in the thread that J Bush has the best chance of beating her – though I think he will throw his hat in the ring, despite what his m

        The disagreement here is on the prediction that the GOP will “double down” and tack hard right. For one, they really didn’t go that hard right in this election (especially compared with 2010) a says, and for two none of the players that have come up in conservation are able to run as ‘hard-right’ (except for Cruz) because of various positions they have held, or still hold. (at the end of the day, even Romney didn’t run as ‘hard-right’)

        And one thing that you can say about a Christie/Paul/Walker/Bush nomination fight, it’s not a clown car. There are ideas behind each man, (heck, even if Perry gets a slash) despite most of those ideas not being particularly well received by the political left of center and some not by the public at large. (Now, you throw Palin or Trump or Ben Carson or Lindsay Graham into that ring, then yes, they’re the ones driving a tiny vehicle wearing big floppy shoes)Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

        Chistie could not win the nomination, I do not believe. He certainly could not win the general election. To be blunt about it, what might fly in New Jersey is not really a great approach nation-wide, and he’s got more than a whiff of corruption and scandal clinging to him.

        Walker might win the nomination, but would lose the general. I do not see his legislative history as being a particularly winning one. The GOP, nationally, has put a great deal of work into softening the reality of how they’d govern — Walker effectively wears it on his sleeve, and trying to ditch that to appeal during the general would be…very difficult.

        Jeb could probably win the general, but I find it unlikely he could get through the nomination.

        All of this is predicated on the Democrats nominating an acceptable candidate — which is no guarantee. Without seeing a specific matchup, I’m just going with ‘reasonably competent Democratic candidate’ rather than ‘Hillary’ or ‘Biden’ or some specific.

        I’m also not accounting for the fact that the GOP primary the last few cycles has required candidates to through an increasingly large amount of red meat to the base, which makes the ‘tack to the center’ part considerably more difficult. I don’t really see 2016 being any better on that front.

        Romney squared that particular circle by basically taking so many positions and being so vague that people projected onto him. (It was a good tactic, although not nearly sufficient). I saw an awful lot of people talk about what ‘Romney really believes’, and very few of those people agreed.

        Honestly, Romney got as close as I think it’s humanly possible to GET to “Generic Republican”.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Patrick says:

      Putting on my Mitch hat, I’d do the following:

      1) Try to pass a law preventing the president from executive amnesty. See if you can get it through and force a veto. It may help with later lawsuits. It’ll throw a bone to the base. It’ll have support of a fair number of Republicans (and maybe some Democrats) who might otherwise be amenable to CIR. Or it’ll force Democratic senators to go on the record supporting it unilateral presidential action.

      2) Force the president’s hand on Keystone XL. There is potentially a veto-proof majority. It’s something that you can point to about doing something, the base will support it, as will a lot of people with money.

      3) Trade deals seem like something that’s not going to rile up conservatives. While not particularly popular politically, it’s popular to important people and opposition is not nearly so enthusiastic.

      4) Beyond that, obstruct where you need to. Not to the point of government shutdown, but resisting calls of “Both parties need to work together to…” without a more immediate upshot. I’m thinking again of immigration reform.

      Ultimately, McConnell actually gives little indication of being Mr. Obstruction the way that RedState might prefer. This isn’t 2010 and this wasn’t a Tea Party victory as much as it was a Republican one. The new Republican senators may be conservative, but they owe more to the Republican Party than the Tea Party.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        Oh, they’ll shut down the government. They couldn’t believe Obama wasn’t to blame last time, so this time when he wields a veto pen to do it — they’re certain he’ll be blamed.Report

      • I will bet you money that you are wrong.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m pretty confidant. It’s more likely than them impeaching Obama, which I put somewhere around a 1 in 4 chance. So call it 50/50 there’s at least a week long government shut-down.

        probably over some weird attempt to defund the ACA.Report

      • That is an enormous misreading of the shutdown, how the shutdown was resolved, and what happened after the shutdown in both primaries and the general election.

        I would easily take 2-to-1 odds against a shutdown between now and 2016. Higher odds, actually.Report

      • @will-truman
        I’m still trying to understand why the Keystone XL is such a big deal for the Republicans. Yes, it will produce a modest number of temporary construction jobs, and a small number of permanent operations jobs. The primary purpose of the project, though, is to provide the Canadian tar sands producers — which includes China — with pipeline access to a warm-water port for the purpose of exporting crude to places with higher prices than the Midwest refineries where it currently winds up. Is it some sort of signaling thing? We can force the President’s hand, or we’re committed to the idea that the oil supply is infinite, or…?Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Will Truman says:

        Politically, it allows them to paint the government as hostile to energy with an issue they’re on the right side of the polls on.

        Substantively the stated arguments against the government allowing it are considered weak.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        “Maybe we should stop giving so much money to the Middle East and a throw a little bit in the direction of our Snow Brethren.”Report

      • Or throw someone else’s money at them, in the export case. I suppose there’s a modest security aspect to having the Canadians increase their production since — if I recall the NAFTA terms correctly — the US has the right to purchase any oil they were going to export to anyone but the US if we meet the same price.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Will,
        I’d take that bet. Is it a dangnab stupid idea? Sure.
        But what will G-d’s workers say?
        “Everything will turn out fine.”

        I just hope we don’t default on our debt.
        That will not turn out fine.Report

      • Pretty much the only way I see it happening is over defunding executive amnesty, and I don’t think the Dems have the heart to go to the mat for that.

        Everything else, I maintain, is based on a misunderstanding of events and a one-dimensional read of the GOP.

        Boehner has more cover against an insurrection, the threat of being primaried lessened, a majority to lose in the Senate with 24 Republicans paying defense, and more Republicans with districts or states that can go the other way.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I don’t see this election as anything but “throwing the bums out”. It’s not an endorsement of Republican governance. It’s not an endorsement of Conservative Philosophy. It’s a rejection of a handful of things, sure… but I don’t see it as an endorsement of anything in particular.

    Perhaps here, or there, locally it’s an endorsement of this or that… but on a national level? It’s just throwing the bums out.

    To be replaced by new bums. Who will, themselves, be thrown out.

    The Democrats misread 2006 and 2008 by a damn sight.
    I’ve no doubt that the Republicans will similarly misread 2014.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

      Except that almost the only bums they were interested in throwing out were Democrats. Roberts wasn’t thrown out despite expectations to the contrary, and McConnell won handily.

      I think that there were a lot of rough drafts to pieces about how the new Republican majority (assumed to be 51 or maybe 52 seats) was really just “throw the bums out” that had to be tossed when the results were more partisan than that.

      Having said that, it would be awfully easy for conservatives to assume that this was an embrace-of-ideology, rather than a matter of disparate turnout. A lot of them certainly will. Not sure if the senators themselves will or not.Report

      • What ideology could they think was being embraced after this campaign? I didn’t see an ideology that was run upon.Report

      • Conservatism, mostly. A rejection of Obama’s liberal ideology. Etc.Report

      • Are those the same? (Careful…))

        I don’t think merely “rejection of that guy’s ideology” can be an embrace of an ideology, unless there is an independently existing ideology also being embraced. In which case those are happening side-by-side. An ideology has to be an actual corpus of ideas. OTOH, an embrace of someone as a means of rejecting someone else’s ideology can certainly be an ideological embrace.

        On conservatism as the ideology being embraced, I’m skeptical of conservatism as an ideology, but even so I don’t think Republicans even ran clearly enough on conservatism this cycle to be able to claim conservatism was embraced as an ideology. They ran on not-Obama. Not that, as you say, that will stop them.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Being a Republican in Colorado means something else completely from being a Republican in Maryland and that means something else completely again from being a Republican in Alabama.

        You put those same three people in a room with some whiskey and you’ve got a fistfight in a couple of hours.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill in reply to Will Truman says:

        Jay, Unless you start with “let’s talk about Obama” or something.

        Michael, I agree with what you wrote.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Will Truman says:

        If that’s true @jaybird, why do Republican’s and Dermocrat’s vote the same way 90% of the time. For all the talk about Republican x being a moderate, he’ll only vote different from Jim Imfhoe about ten times a year.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Jesse, please do not think that I am arguing that politicians (*ANY* politicians) do a good job of representing their particular constituencies.

        (For the record, I could have just as easily made the point that a Democrat in Warshington, a Democrat in Massachusetts, and a Democrat in Arkansas had just as little in common and were just as likely to start a brawl with the help of some aqua vitae.)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        There are only news making Congressional votes about 10 times a year.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

      Republicans misread 2004, that’s for sure. A half-hearted “really, Democrats? That’s *all* you’ve got for us?” is not an endorsement of current governing policies.Report

  15. Avatar North says:

    And now National Review is literally urging the GOP to -not- govern. They title the editorial “The Governing Trap” and say that the GOP should be preparing for 2016. My God(ess?)! Surely some founding Fathers would be pissed off by that.

    On an unrelated note I find it interesting that noone in the commentariate seems happy or even pleased about the outcome of this election. We’ve drifted a bit left haven’t we?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

      I’m kinda pleased! 3 out of four interesting places legalized weed! Oregon, Alaska, and DC!

      Also, above, I was delighted by the pluralities caused by third parties! Yay, third parties! (Also, I’m pretty sure that the narrative in Virginia is that Robert Sarvis “cost” the Republicans the election.)Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to North says:

      Lordy that NRO piece is just priceless.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

      @north I’m neutral-to-positive on the result. My takeaway from it is really quite different from that of most of the other people here, though, and I don’t think I have the energy to really get into it (which is why I mostly haven’t).

      But while I largely wish that it could be that neither side wins, and I am disappointed by some of the specific results, this was as close to an optimal outcome as I could have figured,

      Though I didn’t actually participate in this particular election, having been disenfranchised by this need to “register” to vote, and my apparent failure to do so. Which is actually a bit of a shame, because I live in a congressional district that was actually reasonably close, and I believe this is the first time I ever have.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not actually that upset with the Senate outcome. (Although I was rather hoping for a the governor race to go the other way.) Like I said, nothing was getting done before.

        But now, we can see in *actual text* what the Republicans propose that the President vetoes, and it’s not going to look too good. The Republicans will produce crap, the President will calmly sit there and explain why it’s crap to the American people.

        And, on top of that, the Republicans will randomly devolve into in-fighting and not be able to produce *anything* from Congress.

        The Democrats weren’t going to get the House anyway, or a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate, so nothing actually useful was going to happen anyway. At least this time, when nothing happens, it will almost impossible for the media to make it the Democrat’s fault too.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        What was the Onion piece? “GOP retains control of Senate”? 🙂Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’d have been fine if we coulda just had Kansas.. I mean the GOP and TP have thrashed the place and still their voters send them back up…Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Will Truman says:

        “The Republicans will produce crap, the President will calmly sit there and explain why it’s crap to the American people.”

        When the Republicans refuse to push Democrat-presented legislation forward, we can see that it’s obviously because of Republican obstructionism. We don’t even need to read the bill or listen to what anyone says about it.

        When the Democrats refuse to push Republican-presented legislation forward, we can see that it’s obviously because Republicans are bad at writing legislation. We don’t even need to read the bill or listen to what anyone says about it.Report

      • The loss for the Democrats is the on the appointments front. Having a bare majority made it easier for them to fill slots where they had discounted the filibusters. it also made the threat of completely doing away with the filibuster more credible.

        It’s definitely an aspect of this that I am displeased about, but it’s going to be even harder for Obama to fill everyday vacancies from here on out. The gains made by the partial-discount of the filibuster have been nullified along with the threat of a full-discount.

        That’s not nothing, even if it wasn’t enough for me to change my proverbial vote back to the Dems (who I figured to root for a year or so ago).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        I also think that governorships are really, really important 4-6 years down the line. The guy who was a governor is a guy who has a leg up on everybody else when running for president.

        If the Republicans can refrain from running either Romney or JEB in 2016, they might be able to beat Hillary.

        Heck, I’d settle for the House and Senate staying where they are and 8 more years of a Clinton in the White House, both parties doing their best to restrain the excesses of the other.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        And here I think Jeb is the only one that can beat Hillary. Christie is too prickly (which negates Hillary’s weakness on that front), Rand has said some bad things about the Civil rights act, Rick Perry can’t hide an incurious mind as well as GWB could, Scott Walker is going to be tired from some 4 straight years of vigorous campaigning, and anyone else has to overcome great deficits in fundraising and name recognition.

        (for the record, I don’t think Cruz is eligible, but he combines a lot of the weaknesses listed above)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        @kolohe

        There is also the fact that Cruz antagonizes a lot of people in his own party and is simply unliked by many regardless of their politics. Everyone seems to think of him as a grade A asshole.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        I don’t have the strength for another Bush.

        edit: Surely I’m not unique.Report

      • @kolohe There isn’t a single conservative in my crazy circles that thinks Jeb Bush is a good idea, so I’m gobsmacked to meet someone in the flesh who does. Is your real last name Adelson?
        @jaybird nope, not unique.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        But people aren’t chomping at the bit for another Clinton either (otherwise we would have already had one). And the Dems aren’t (as of now) going to have a dynamic, counterbalanced nomination fight to build enthusiasm and ideological clarity (the way they did in 08).

        In a contest of the lesser of two evils, why not vote for the greater evil, just for a change?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        The only disadvantage Jeb has is his last name. His resume and ideological positions are otherwise spot on for a Republican party nomination (though his resume is getting a bit dated) Doesn’t everyone remember that he was supposed to be the Michael to George’s Sonny?Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        @jim-heffman
        When the Republicans refuse to push Democrat-presented legislation forward, we can see that it’s obviously because of Republican obstructionism. We don’t even need to read the bill or listen to what anyone says about it.

        When the Democrats refuse to push Republican-presented legislation forward, we can see that it’s obviously because Republicans are bad at writing legislation. We don’t even need to read the bill or listen to what anyone says about it.

        I better check and make sure my post was about the fact people would now *actually see* the legislation that Republicans were pushing, because it would be right there in the open. That now Obama will be handed it, and he will say ‘I cannot pass this bill, because of this specific problem right here’ instead of internal Congressional nonsense that everyone tries to pretend is both sides.

        Because it seems you responded to some *completely different* post.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        @saul-degraw
        There is also the fact that Cruz antagonizes a lot of people in his own party and is simply unliked by many regardless of their politics. Everyone seems to think of him as a grade A asshole.

        This. Admittedly, I’m not up on internal Republican thought, but Cruz is the guy who has sabotaged *their own* plans several times that I’ve managed to notice. I will go ahead and vote him ‘Most likely to shoot the Republican party in the foot over the next two years’.

        I can even come up with the scenario: At some point, the Republican party will come up with some bill that Obama might go for, or perhaps might be able to override a veto. This will be the result of months of careful crafting and positioning and promises made to the left and the right.

        And Ted Cruz will leap in and destroy it for his own political purposes. Because that’s what he does.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre in reply to Will Truman says:

        @kolohe
        From whom was GWB hiding his (remarkably) incurious mind? Seriously, I don’t recall anybody back in 1999/2000, even the most shameless GOP hack (wow, now that’s a competition), denying that he had an incurious mind, though usually not in those exact words. They just denied that it mattered: that on the most charitable interpretation his (alleged) business/managerial acumen was more important, and on the least charitable interpretation his notional preferability as somebody to have a beer with (to Gore rather more than vis a vis McCain or Forbes) was somehow important.
        Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        @scott-the-mediocre
        GWB was able string together enough thoughts (most of the time) to exceed (low) expectations. Perry wasn’t even able to fake it for the length of a single television segment.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        Now wait a second. G. W. Bush, despite what people often think, indeed wasn’t that dumb, and ‘incurious’ is probably the correct word to describe him. (Along with ‘inarticulate’.)

        I think we can directly trace a lot of the problems with Bush’s presidency to Cheney and his advisers, who told him things and he just sorta believe them. Which is why things got somewhat better in 2006 or whenever Bush stopped listening to Cheney. And it’s why Katrina happened the way it did…Bush honestly just didn’t bother to see what was going on, both in the disaster and, more importantly, what his own government was and wasn’t doing.

        But Perry? All signs point to Perry just being dumb. Not quite Palin dumb, but still pretty dumb.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Perry’s political machine in Texas is much more impressive than Bush’s ever was. Basically the entire state of Texas is run by Perry people now, and because of the terms of gubernatorial appointees in Texas, will be for a while, and the, uh, “closeness” of important folks in various industries and Perry’s people is well known. It’s his state, at this point. He may not be particularly bright, but he is definitely an expert at politics as business and business as politics. The problem is, so much of his political power derives from his, uh (again), “closeness” with Texas big business, and Texas is just one state, and in fact a fairly unique one economically. My only hope is that, once he’s out of office early next year, he doesn’t have time to begin developing that same, uh, “closeness” on a national level.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        The beauty of it is, George P Bush is following the same career arc as Perry, so if Jeb is indeed destined to be a neverwas in the Presidential Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, we still have his son to redeem the family name n 2028.Report

      • If it’s 2024, the history books can read Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton-BushReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        Just in time for Chelsea and Malia!Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        So, its the Chelsea/Malia ticket for 2032?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to North says:

      I’m not bothered by the outcome, but, yes, we’ve drifted left. I often wonder how much longer non-liberal voices will have any place here. I think if Todd left, it would be the end. His steady and moderate approach in combination with his administrative authority is, imo, all that’s keeping this place from becoming an echo-chamber.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

      I’m mostly apathetic, if that helps. I’ll be marginally annoyed if Mark Warner winds up losing in Virginia, because I liked the job he did as governor when I lived down there, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.

      I’ve long been a general believer in divided government as well, so on the whole this probably makes me slightly happier. But I don’t care much about even that, since the GOP already had the House, which makes control of the Senate of little relevance from the standpoint of a dividist.

      My only concern is that this will encourage the Ted Cruz wing of the House and Senate to do something dumb again, especially since a couple of the new faces seem to be from his school of thought. But my suspicion is that they won’t – the Cruz wing lost most of their primary battles, so I don’t think this does much to help them recover the clout they lost in the shutdown last year.

      Beyond that, I’m not much sure what there is to really freak out about here from any standpoint – neither party has much in the way of a coherent national agenda at the moment. I mean….what exactly were Democrats hoping to accomplish legislatively in the next two years if they kept control of the Senate? Similarly, what exactly are Republicans hoping to accomplish legislatively in the next two years now that they have a slight majority in the Senate? The filibuster still exists, after all. Looking at Ted Cruz’ agenda . . . it’s basically a joke, little more than platitudes with little relevance.

      http://www.ijreview.com/2014/09/173099-ted-cruz-concert-highlights-americans-prosperity-speech/

      That agenda? 1. “No amnesty for illegal aliens.” Well, that’s been DOA for awhile, with or without GOP control of the Senate. And an agenda item that starts with the word “no” isn’t an agenda item at all – it has no ability to effect change, only prevent it. And since this was already being prevented….

      2. Stopping Obamacare. I’m not sure how you “stop” something that’s already in place, but this is just unrealistic to expect that Obamacare will be repealed so long as Obama himself is in office. Also – see above.

      3. “Defending our Constitutional rights.” I don’t even know what the hell this means because it’s such vague gobbledegook, but again it’s a fundamentally reflexive item, and control of the Senate is thus irrelevant.

      4. Finally, “restoring America’s leadership in the world.” Again, what the hell does this vague gobbledegook mean? Either way, foreign policy is the domain of the President, not the Senate.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Why do you believe the best thing is divided government when much of the building blocks of modern America were birthed in the three or four periods when various parties had complete control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I’m not exactly crushed about this election- we lefties knew it was most likely going to happen going into this election (2012 GOPers we were not). I’m sad that a couple of the easiest marks skittered away: Mcconell and above all Kansas would have been really nice consolation but it was a full on blow out.

        I do think, though, that all the inveigling and doomsaying rolling around now is overwrought.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Why do you believe the best thing is divided government when much of the building blocks of modern America were birthed in the three or four periods when various parties had complete control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency?

        Just to speak generally, and not speaking for any named person, some people don’t like those building blocks of modern America. And/or they don’t like the new building blocks proposed by either party. You want unified Democratic control so your side can get stuff done, other folks want unified Republican control so their side can get stuff done, and yet some others don’t want what either your side or their side wants to get done. They don’t diagnose the patient’s problems the same way you (or the conservatives) do, and they don’t want your radical surgery or the conservatives’ radical surgery–they may want a different radical surgery that neither party is offering or they may not want any radical surgery at all.Report

      • @james-hanley Yup. I might not like that those “building blocks” were implemented (or at the very least, that they were implemented in the way they were implemented), but I also recognize that they exist and that people rely on them. Additionally, I know well the problems my own state has experienced after an extended period of single party dominance, have no desire to move to Texas, and long for the days when I got to deal with Virginia’s then-divided government (see wistfulness for Mark Warner, above.).Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

      @north As I said in the election results thread, I think this is about the best outcome we can hope for with the electorate we have. Historically, the combination of a Democratic president and Republican congress has worked out pretty well, with the president keeping Republicans from enacting their socially conservative agenda and the Republicans refusing to give the president the spending hikes he wants.

      The people won’t stand for good government, but the staggered election schedules occasionally bless us with factions whose respective brands of dumbassery neutralize each other.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I think it may be more accurate to say that the Dem president will nix the spending hikes and socialcon policies the GOP wants and the GOP Congress will nix the spending hikes the Dem President wants.
        With that modification I’d say there’s some merit to your analysis.

        And truthfully with the ACA in place and gradually sinking liberals and the Dems could do worse than a few years of gridlock and holding patterns. Especially if pot legalization and SSM continues marching along like they have things could be looking up from a liberal perspective if the feds are paralyzed and unable to do much.

        Bonus points if the paralysis means less foreign adventurism. Though a potential turd in the soup bowl is if the GOP nutbars scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        “GOP nutbars scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal.” That makes for a very nice sound byte. If only it were true.

        Unfortunately, tougher action against Iran garners across-the-board support on the Hill. Here is some background: http://thehill.com/policy/international/193669-dems-divided-on-tougher-iran-sanctions-as-bill

        Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act,” joined by 24 other senators.

        The measure would implement prospective sanctions against Iran if its government fails to comply with the interim nuclear deal the United States and its allies reached last month. Over the next six months, Iran is required to limit the amount of uranium it enriches and effectively freeze its program.

        “Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table,” Menendez said in a statement Thursday. “Prospective sanctions will influence Iran’s calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution.”

        The proposed sanctions would require the U.S. to further reduce the amount of petroleum it purchases from Iran, and apply additional penalties to parts of Iran’s economy including its construction, engineering and mining sectors.

        The Democratic co-sponsors are Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Warner (Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

        Every Democrat considered vulnerable in his or her race for reelection next year is co-sponsoring this measure, a sign that they want to appear tough on foreign policy.

        And the original House sanctions bill had 378 sponsors, cleared committee unanimously and was passed by a vote of 400-20.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        jr,
        that’s not scuttling nothing. that’s a decent reminder that “hey, we do have a stick here!”
        (granted, I’d prefer that if the pres doesn’t want the congress stick waving, they knock that crap off, but they may be playing goodcop/badcop).

        Scuttling the deal is slapping sanctions on Iran, now, not if and when they break agreements.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @j-r
        Unfortunately, tougher action against Iran garners across-the-board support on the Hill.

        Indeed. It’s easy to try to blame the foreign policy disaster that is the US Congress on Republicans.

        That is, sadly, untrue. Democrats are almost as likely to be utterly stupid. And it’s only ‘almost’ because the Republican politicians have an idiotic base that demands nonsensical posturing from them, while Democratics politicians *do it all by themselves*, which if anything makes Democrats even stupid…at least the Republicans have a *reason*.

        @kim
        (granted, I’d prefer that if the pres doesn’t want the congress stick waving, they knock that crap off, but they may be playing goodcop/badcop).

        Good cop/bad cop is a trick that *two people working together* play. At this point, it’s pretty clear that they aren’t working together.

        Also, the way that’s supposed to work is that the bad cop acts incredibly overly-harsh, the good cop sympathizes, that repeats a few time if need be, the guy is ready to spill, and the *bad cop stops acting crazy*. Often he even leaves.

        Iran was already negotiating a deal when Congress decided to step in. That’s not when the damn bad cop is supposed show up!Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        JR, Maybe, but if Obama and Iran reach a deal he’ll have to go to the Senate with it. The Dems have plenty of Israeli influence absolutely but that would be counterbalanced by their desire for the President to succeed at what he’s attempting. The GOP has no such counterbalance- they want Obama to fail AND they have tons of Israeli influence AND a lot of them would love to have a war with Iran.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        jr,
        more current background (still from over 6 months ago!!)
        http://www.nationaljournal.com/defense/how-obama-won-the-war-on-iran-sanctions-20140202

        David,
        Looks like Obama (along with kos) got folks to stop on this a while ago.

        North,
        J Street is against sanctions. Kindly don’t confuse AIPAC with Israel.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Everyone,
        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/iranian-official-on-sanctions/

        Okay. So, um, if Obama can end the sanctions temporarily (probably a good choice for good behavior purposes), what’s the issue?

        Maybe with Republicans he’s got some shit to deal with on the homefront, but I’d figure it’s worth it for peace.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @north
        if Obama and Iran reach a deal he’ll have to go to the Senate with it.

        Not necessarily. He could quite possibly swing a deal that’s not a formal treaty and can just be implemented via an executive agreement. Republicans might mutter for various reasons, but generally Congress is fairly happy to let presidents make executive agreements, because even if it’s a deal their constituents might not like their Senator to vote for, they’re usually not going to notice or care much about an absence of taking action against it. Their senators can howl about it, and please their constituency for their stance, without ever having to take the trouble to initiate a serious attempt at legislation to override an executive agreement.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I dunno Prof, Bibi is in this issue up to his knuckles and the Israeli’s lobbying can sway a lot of Senators. If Obama tries to bypass the Senate he could find himself with a veto proof new sanctions bill on his plate. The GOP would vote for it en masse and throw in the Israeli swayed Dem senators and it could happen.Report

  16. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Oh, one thing I realize about Hickenlooper’s victory yesterday, given Udall’s loss:

    The “Yet Another Fetal Personhood Amendment” Amendment was the reason Hickenlooper won. If that wasn’t on the ballot, there’d have been a good 2% of people who would have forgotten about why it was important to vote in the election.Report

  17. Avatar zic says:

    I’m speaking specifically of my state (Maine), but wonder if there’s greater general applicability to this notion: 3rd-party candidates.

    First off, most of the races here that had two candidates were nearly 50/50, and the differences between votes was miniscule; my own house district is still not settled, and there’s less than 50 votes between the two candidates; and the blue/red victories are also pretty evenly split.

    It’s the races where there were 3rd party or independent candidates that intrigue me; Except for Susan Collins, none won with a majority of the vote, and Republicans definitely swept there with a minority typically about 43 or so percent, the dems about 40%, and the remainder going to the 3rd candidate.

    So my question: Are moderate/democratic/liberal/progressive (however you choose to label them, doesn’t really matter, I’m after the group of people who do not support ultra-conservative, as it’s offered today, policies) more comfortable voting for non-party candidates? On election night, I was surprised at just how many races had 3rd party candidates; and I wonder how much the winning without a majority of 50% was common; and how often this shifted the victory to Republicans?

    I will say this; I was really offended by the suggestion that 3rd party candidates were spoilers, and they were to blame for this. Voters own the results of their votes; and the notion that fewer choices is better is not healthy.

    In Maine, before this election, I don’t think you’d have gotten Democratic Party members to support ranked balloting. Now, however, I think there’s going to be a huge effort to put ranked balloting to the voters in a referendum for 2016. This I will support, and probably put in a good effort to help.Report

  18. I see this morning that one of George Will’s six things the Republican Congress should do immediately is open Yucca Mountain. I expected that to come up, but not this quickly. At the risk of offending some people, it has always struck me as odd that “eastern conservative pundits,” who normally tell us that the federal government is incompetent to run anything and should never be allowed to force things on unwilling states, take exactly the opposite tack on nuclear waste.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Michael Cain says:

      “normally tell us that the federal government is incompetent to run anything and should never be allowed to force things on unwilling states, take exactly the opposite tack on nuclear waste.”

      This is one of the least surprising things in the world.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I’m with greginak. I am not the least bit surprised.

      The plea for ‘local control’ is almost always unprincipled. It happens whenever the Federal (or state) government takes a position opposite what someone assumes the state (or local) government would take, and they like the second position better.

      This unprincipled plea is *usually* from the right, because a bunch of states happen to be more conservative than the country as a whole. So the right has decided to make it a ‘conservative principle’…but it’s not. They’ll discard it in a second if the local side is more liberal. (Ask California how often their regulations get superseded by laxer Federal regulations that states inexplicably aren’t allowed to make stronger.)

      Of course, the left does the same thing, but at least they don’t pretend there’s any sort of principle there.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to DavidTC says:

        The plea for ‘local control’ is almost always unprincipled. It happens whenever the Federal (or state) government takes a position opposite what someone assumes the state (or local) government would take, and they like the second position better.

        The converse is, of course, true of demands for centralization. Or democracy, for that matter. Almost everybody puts process secondary to policy.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DavidTC says:

        The plea for ‘local control’ is almost always unprincipled.

        Curiously, Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for her very in-depth analyses of why local control often is superior to centralized control.

        Anyone who thinks pleas for local control are necessarily unprincipled has not studied the issue well.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

        The plea for “the right to choose for oneself” is almost always unprincipled.

        See, for example, Adam/Eve.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to DavidTC says:

        I don’t’ think its that calls for local control aren’t principled, its that they are convenient. When many, although not all, people call for local control they usually have an issue where they are sure they will win at the local level. If state or fed level control got them the win they want, then they will go with that. The win is what they want regardless of the level of control.

        It’s a standard conservative line to call for less gov or local control but they are fine with plenty of gov or fed control when it suits them. That sounds and looks like they don’t believe in their own principles which, to be fairish, they don’t’ seem to.

        I’m fine with local, state, fed, galactic control depending on the issue. It depends on the context for me. Just don’t tell me you are always for local or state this or that when you aren’t. Context matters for pretty much everybody. When you have an exception then own up to it and explain why its different.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to DavidTC says:

        I live in a resort town, a place where more people visit than actually live. On the one hand, it’s nice; amenities of a small city when we’re just a small town; lot’s of second homes that contribute to the tax base without bulging the school system. On the other, always lots of others around; at their play. Most of my friends work while other people play. And they work for small businesses, too; the business owners, for the most part, live here, too.

        So because the town’s appearance matters, there’s a sign ordinance. Everybody hated it; while it keeps out the bill board, it specified the lettering and color of all informational locations (kiosks) so that businesses can’t differentiate themselves. One woman owns a clothing shop and inn on Main St., branded purple, but she can’t have purple signs on the kioks. The other think people hate is the site-plan review triggered by change of use; particularly when a location has been previously used by a similar type of business. I’ve also written for the local papers about these things, watched the small business churn, and watched people going through these local regulatory hurdles.

        100% they swear they’ll work to change these laws after they’ve gotten through the process.

        But when changing the laws comes up for discussion, most of these same consider letting a competitor in without such a high bar to entry. And they mostly end up supporting the status quo, or seek their own capture by adding further hurdle — all for good reason! — to the regulations.

        I just wish I could get the sign ordinance amended to ban business sign lights that point up, unshielded. Put those puppies on top and point them down on your sign.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DavidTC says:

        There’s local control as in “You can choose the spin on how you teach American History in high school.” Then there’s local control (or absence of same) as in “We’re burying 70,000 tons of long-lived toxic waste in your backyard rather than in the backyard of the people who produced it, some people with lots of money would like to expand that to at least 120,000 tons and maybe 280,000, and you don’t get a say in what the standards are for how we bury it. Did we mention that every facility we’ve ever managed involving large amounts of this kind of toxic waste has leaked into the environment at least a bit within 15 years?”

        Look, I’m not opposed to nuclear power. I believe that there’s no way the US Eastern Interconnect keeps the lights on over the next 50 years without building a lot of it. But since they’re the ones who need it, I would be a whole lot more comfortable if the waste was buried in their backyard, so that they priced the power at a level to generate revenue to pay for enough protections to make them comfortable with how safe that storage was. Currently, they’re paying enough to feel comfortable about burying it far away, but not paying Nevada anything for accepting the risk.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        @brandon-berg
        The converse is, of course, true of demands for centralization.

        Yes, that is what I was trying to say by mentioning the left. The left will stand there and demand central control of quite a lot of stuff…except when it’s something that doesn’t get done ‘enough’ centrally, like gun control, and then suddenly everyone on the left is all for local control.

        And the right then turns around and makes *exactly* the same points that the left generally makes: That local communities often step on the civil right of people, and the Federal government shouldn’t allow it.

        It’s actually rather funny to watch, as someone on the left who *doesn’t* live in a liberal area.

        Almost everybody puts process secondary to policy.

        Well, yes, but there is a small difference between the left and the right in that regard.

        The right often ends up looking like they fetishize process. The entire ‘smaller government’ point is a cry for a specific process. The whole attempting to parse the exact boundaries of ‘promote the general welfare’ and ‘interstate commerce’ is process. Hell, I remember that time that ‘deem and pass’ was declared some sort of illegitimate process by Fox News.

        Except…that’s all happily ignored whenever needed.

        The right states all sorts of hard and fast processes, and then ignores them and does whatever causes their policy outcome to happen, the left *doesn’t* state any processes(1), and then does whatever causes their policy outcome to happen.

        Of course, this could be because the right, in the past few decades, has a reoccurring habit of trying to make the other side seem illegitimate, and this focus on ‘process’ might just be an aspect of that.

        1) The fillibuster thing was interesting to watch. In the end, that comes down to a legitimate process point, ‘The Senate is supposed to, according to the constitution, operate by majority’.

        But, as we tried to reach fillibuster reform, the Democrats never *made* that argument to attempt to sway Republicans or the American people. They never, or rarely, said ‘Holding up debate forever is not legitimate under the constitution.’. Instead, they kept pointing out the *problems* of fillibusters, namely, ‘The Senate should be able to confirm or reject people’.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I hope they bring up Keystone, too.

      I think it would need to be carefully planned and managed — with careful engineering of waterways in particular.

      But I don’t live that far — as the crow flies, roads are another matter — from Lac Megantic. And I watch cars filled with oil run through my town all the time. We are shipping way to much oil by railway. I don’t like tar sand oil; don’t like that it will mostly be transported through and then sold abroad. Don’t like the carbon release involved. But it’s even worse to be shipping it so vulnerably in railway cars.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

        I agree, but I’m deeply disturbed by running it through the Sand Hills of Nebraska because they currently are so little developed. I’m torn.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

        I wonder what the costs are to Transcanada for not having the pipeline in place after all this time. And how that compares to the extra costs they would have incurred if they had just built the thing along the existing Keystone right-of-way as far as Steele City, then the non-controversial part across Kansas to Cushing.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-cain I have no problem with driving up the construction costs for the pipeline by diverting it around areas of significant value; leaving pristine places pristine.

        I would expect incredible resistance and nimbyism on eventual routes, too. But I’ve lived on a gas pipeline; there are both gas and oil lines going through my community; the gas line recently installed and (I seriously questioned this at the time, in print publications) only has capacity for the customers it was built for, not for communities along its path; something that troubles me to this day. Once installed, pipelines are pretty benign. They provide good recreation corridors; wild life corridors. In some places, I’d imagine they offer a fire break.

        I do wonder about them doubling as corridors for power and communication grid, as well; but I don’t hear much about that.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to zic says:

        Speaking of a local control vs. federal control issue and eminent domain issues… the Keystone Pipeline is fairly illiberal, top-down, heavy handed statism.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

        The eminent domain is the only aspect of KXL that I am less than comfortable. It’s the definition of Interstate Commerce so federalism doesn’t play as much. Opponents have mostly gone worth the environmental argument, which I find less than compelling.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

        They provide good recreation corridors; wild life corridors. In some places, I’d imagine they offer a fire break…. I do wonder about them doubling as corridors for power and communication grid, as well; but I don’t hear much about that.

        @zic , the controversy is where the pipeline cuts across the Great Plains. Reference map for the Great Plains here; most people conjoin the Great Plains and the tallgrass prairies farther east in their head, but the GP is a very different beast. Outside of a couple of areas with large hydrocarbon deposits, the population is slowly collapsing (peak population was in 1930). All of the necessary corridors of the sorts you mention already exist, or are unnecessary.

        @will-truman , there are plenty of routes across the northern Great Plains that don’t cut through the unique embedded ecosystems (eg, Missouri Breaks, Black Hills, Sandhills). Transcanada elected to pursue a straight-line route instead of any of the non-controversial routes, and got burned. Some modest reroutings would have avoided the confrontation with the Lakota and Sioux tribes. The Nebraska legislature said, “If you will reroute around the Sandhills and the upper Ogallala Aquifer, areas important enough to us that we don’t want to take chances with them, we’ll expedite the processing of the environmental impact statement,” and Transcanada agreed to those terms. But by then, the feds had put the project on hold. My personal suspicion is that before going public with the straight-line route, Transcanada had talked to Dick Cheney, and he told them that the administration had their back.Report

  19. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The main thing that pleases me is the leaps made with regards to Prohibition 2.0.

    The majority of elections out there won’t make much of a difference a decade or two decades hence (excepting the occasional governorship). States deciding to stop locking up people for silly crimes will only benefit superdupermajorities of everybody in the same way that ending Prohibition 1.0 benefited superdupermajorities of everybody. (Yes, there were alcoholics created that wouldn’t have been otherwise and they are an unpleasant outcome but they pretty much have to be weighed against the unpleasant outcomes of keeping Prohibition going.)

    In 20 or 30 years, we will look back at stuff like this as being the good things that happened and completely ignore whether Gardner or Hickenlooper won.Report

  20. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    http://www.vox.com/2014/11/4/7158293/mitch-mcconnell-strategist

    I think this article proves, that in the short term, working with a President is a bad idea politically, since if you work to gum the works up so nothing gets done, people are going to blame the President and you profit.

    After all, eventually, people are going to get tired of one party, no matter how crazy, stupid, or screwy the other side is, especially if the economy isn’t that great.Report

  21. Avatar Barry says:

    Damon November 5, 2014 at 7:52 am

    “Yep, except for Republican voters in reliably Democratic states, specifically the one I live in. There it’s the Dems that suppress Republican voters, if not ought right voter fraud.

    First, the Republicans have had lavish means, motive and opportunity to prove voter fraud, including state resources, and have failed to produce much of anything. At this point, people who maintain this position are not deceived (except as they wish to be), but deliberately stating untruths.

    Second, show me Democratic efforts to suppress the vote. Let’s skip the ante and go straight to the main bets – match the Georgia Secretary of State sh*tcanning 40,000 Democratic registrations. Match Scott Walker reducing DMV office hours to one Tuesday a month. Show me Democratc who raced to demonstrate that Shelby v. DoJ was a deliberate decision to authorize voter suppression.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Barry says:

      Oh jesus, I’m not going back 15 to 20 years ago and search the interweb. But, no Republican govenor in my state EVER won re-election. There were all one term-ers.

      And I wasn’t asserting that Republicans in other states suppress more or less than the Dems in my state. I pointed out that when the Dems have the majority, like in my state, they are not adverse to accusations of the same behavior you accuse Repubs of @barry . The voter fraud and intimidation in your state is YOUR issue. The stuff that goes on in my state is mine.Report

  22. Avatar Barry says:

    Damon: “But I’ve been here for 30 years and seen only two governors from the non democratic side elected. ”

    Wow. That’s proof right there. Not. In addition, if governors have four year terms, and tend to easily win their first reelection (meaning that they generally serve for eight years), you’re talking about four to five governors.

    Two of whom are not Democrats. Two out of four or five.

    I won’t elaborate, because I assume that everybody hear passed high school math.

    “Those two elections were very close and were the only ones really up for contention. ”

    Which would actually be expected in a state which leans Democratic. For example, when (God willing) Texas elects the next Democratic governor, I wouldn’t expect a landslide.

    “The other elections were won easily by the Dems. ”

    Which would actually be expected in a state which leans Democratic.

    “Coincidentally, they were only ones with allegations fraud and other voter/election chicanery. One even resulted in a lawsuit. You’re free to believe what you want, but I lived it.”

    Allegations prove what, again? Lawsuits? – lemme guess, a lawsuit which went nowhere.

    BTW, I’ve seen the right allege voter fraud again and again and again and again and again, but the voter suppression is somewhere around 95%-99% Republican.Report

  23. Avatar Barry says:

    jr: “What the heck are you people talking about? What’s an example of this? The ACA?

    So, I guess that means that universal, government provided health care is a proposal from the “center,” and the ACA is a move to the middle-right. That seems legit.”

    Since the initial Democratic proposal was not ‘universal, government provided health care’ in any way, shape or form, perhaps you could elaborate?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Barry says:

      I was saying that the Democrats pre-negotiate, and he was asking if I meant the ACA.

      To which I replied…yes, yes I did mean that. I know the Overton window has moved so far right we forget where the center was, but some sort of single payer *was* the center, a while back, and mandates were the right, and there *actually are* plans on the left, things like the NHS.

      The Democrats proposed *literally* the right-most health care reform plan imaginable. That is, the right-most plan that would actually a) allow people to generally keep the plan they were using if they had one, b) allow everyone to have access to health insurance, and c) not send insurance companies into a death spiral. (The Republicans have since come up with various modifications, all of which are either trivial tweaks, or randomly violate b or c…or, in a few hilarious cases, are more to the *left* than the ACA. Because being anti-ACA is more important than conservativism, apparently. HULK SMASH!)

      And the Democrats did that…for no Republican votes. Whatsoever. They could have easily started at single payer, and gotten it, or started at single payer and ‘compromised’ it to what we got.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

        David, that was primarily due to Hope’n Change ™ new kinds of politics. Obama hoped that by preemptively conceding major points that he could get some GOP support and usher in a new era of bipartisan comity. The GOP cynically (and cleverly- it almost worked) played footsie with him and ran out the clock until he simply had no time to start over.
        Plus by the time Obama wised up he also realized he had to accept a bill that his right most 60th Senator would accept.

        Now I don’t blame Obama for this. He pretty much had to do this naïf act because that’s what he campaigned on and he pretty much had to campaign that way because that new kind of politics schtick was how he knocked HRC out for the nomination.Report

  24. Avatar Barry says:

    DavidTC: “As far as executive overreaches go, it’s probably a 7(1) or so. (Oh, but there are secret court rulings that say it’s fine. Neither we nor the legislature know what’s going on, or can see these court rulings, but, trust us, it’s all fine and legal.”

    And neither party’s legislators have shown much appetite for doing something about this. I blame the GOP, which is in opposition mode, and could have made a lot of hay by screaming about this unconstitutional breach which was started[1] by Obama. That would have gotten them some actual libertarian votes, perhaps, while letting them off the hook.

    [1] Hey, if the Tea Party can pop up after losing an election, and pretend that they are not just recently shocked! shocked! at government stuff because they lost, blaming Obama for Bush’s misdeeds isn’t a stretch. Heck, I’ve seen lots of commenters blaming Obama because the economy is not as good as ******2007*****, without God striking them dead with lightening.Report

  25. Avatar Tim Ellis says:

    @North: Your analysis is spot-on. Obama built his coalition on the “new bipartisan consensus” model and had to govern that way, at least at first. That’s part of the cleverness of the Republican response; Obama pitched himself as the great conciliator, and Mitch McConnell knew that if he refused to cooperate with Obama people would blame the President for his failure to deliver on his conciliation promise rather than McConnell for refusing to budge.

    The passage of the ACA was a frustrating time. I remember debating with my very smart and quite conservative Grandpa about it and hearing him repeat Fox News talking points verbatim. At one point when Fox was going on about how ACA would bankrupt Medicare he latched on to that one and I said “if Medicare is so great why not just have Medicare for everyone?” and he agreed that that would be perfect. When I pointed out that that was actually the socialist single payer option I could actually see his brain shutting down and refusing to process to keep the cognitive dissonance going. Very frustrating to see how effective Fox has been at de-rationalizing humanity. He’s a physicist for Christ’s sake. The guy taught me how science works when I was 6 years old, and now he won’t even recognize climate change.Report

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