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Posts published in “Day: December 14, 2017”

Politics is local

richardson

In the aftermath of the Alabama special election for the U.S. Senate, national Democrats, along with their stable of strategists, pundits, and pollsters, need to wake up and smell the coffee. Labeling a state as “red” or “blue” – winnable or not – based solely on the results of the last presidential election is a narrow, self-defeating perspective. Alabama is a case in point.

Most pundits, eyes firmly fixed on the rearview mirror and focused on the 2016 election, doubted Doug Jones would win. After all, they explained, Trump won the state in 2016 with 62.9% of the vote.

And, they were quick to opine, “Trump remains very popular in Alabama.” Exit polls gave the lie to that opinion.

Indeed, exit polls showed that Trump’s support in Alabama has eroded considerably in just a little over a year. In fact, he is now ever so slightly under water, with only 47% of Alabama voters approving of Trump’s performance in office; 48% disapprove.

In advance of the election, pundits were also quick to obsess about the partisan leanings of Alabama. No doubt it is a red state and tilts decidedly Republican, but here too the exit polls give us pause. Those voting in the special election actually gave the Republican Party lower ratings than they did the Democratic Party – Republicans 43% favorable, 52% unfavorable; Democrats 47% favorable, 50% unfavorable.

The political odds-makers need to move beyond past assumptions. The political climate is dynamic; the electorate is changing, and predicting the outcome of down ballot races by fixating on past presidential returns is simplistic and unwise.

As former House Speaker Tip O'Neill famously said, "All politics is local." He was right, and Alabama is Exhibit "A."

 

General interests, special interests

harris

What do Public employee union leadership, industrial polluters, traded sector (the largest) corporations, and social conservative organizations all have in common?

They want to impose policies on Oregonians that most Oregonians don’t support.

How do they do that? They exert control over some part of the Democratic or Republican agendas ( or in some cases, such as traded sector corporations both Democratic and Republican policies on special tax breaks.) They all understand that the more expensive political races are, the more money politicians need, and the more beholden they are to their largest contributors. That means the contributors can ask for virtually anything regardless of whether it’s good public policy. They also seek to narrow the number of actual powerful decision makers by making entry into the decision making club as difficult as possible.

Their tactics:

    They all support the undemocratic way we elect people to office (closed primaries, first past the post voting, major/minor/non affiliated differentiation)

    They all support gerrymandering

    They all oppose campaign finance reform

These “special interests” all oppose any attempt by independent voters to organize into a political force for “general interests”.

They support the revolving door the regulators and the regulated by financing the political operatives who make their livings running the Democratic and Republican Parties, through lobbying and consulting agreements and offers of private employment.

They will not support any potential candidate for office that threatens their power.

Most of the media has been cowed into believing reform and change is impossible. Derision towards reformers by insiders and “experts” and concerns about continued advertising and access play a part.

The result: Oregon has some of the biggest gaps between policies the people want, and what policies we get.