Monday, August 28, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Going After "Wal-Mart Republicans"

When you think of liberals do you primarily think of economic issues or social issues? Do you think of issues such as gun control, abortion, gay rights, the environment, or do you think of issues such as trade, access to health care, union organizing, and the minimum wage? It seems that since the 1960s the word "liberal" has become associated primarily with social issues while in the 1930s through the 1950s it was associated primarily with economic issues.

This trend started in the 1960s with the advent of the civil rights movement, followed by the anti-war movement, the movement for women rights, and finally the movement for gay rights. During this time period the media identified liberals as being primarily concerned with social issues as opposed to being primarily concerned with economic issues.

During that same period white working class male voters began to leave the Democratic party. In 1968 millions of them voted for Wallace, particularly in the South, and millions voted for Nixon. While Watergate led many to go back to Democrats in the 1976 election, by 1984 the media was talking about the birth of Reagan Democrats, Democrats who sided with their party on economic issues but deserted their party over social issues such as abortion.

Republicans have used these issues to convince millions of Americans that liberals and the Democratic Party don't represent them or reflect their values. Republicans engage in what Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas, calls cultural populism. Cultural populism is the use of issues to convince working class whites that liberals represent an elite group determined to impose their values on the rest of society. Republicans present themselves as the defenders of traditional values against this elite.

This works as long as social issues are at the forefront of the political discussion. It doesn't work when they try to advance a conservative economic agenda. The same voters that agree with the Republicans on abortion and gun control don't necessarily agree with them on economic issues like trade, social security, and access to medical care. The reaction to the Bush plan for privatizing Social Security is a recent example of working class white voters parting with the economic conservative agenda of the Republicans.

The way to avoid for Democrats to avoid this problem is to start advancing economic programs that benefit working class voters. Programs such as universal health care, increased vacation time so families can spend more time together, fair trade agreements that don't outsource jobs to other countries, and an affordable college education. White working class voters will vote for Democratic candidates provided those candidates speak to their concerns.

It is important for Democrats to start doing this because some Republican activists are beginning to talk about the birth of "Wal-Mart Republicans." This phrase, which was the title of an article in the conservative magazine The National Review, describes socially conservative Americans who value Democratic programs such as Social Security, Medicare, access to medical care, and protection of the environment.

The problem for the GOP is that their coalition depends on white working class voters voting for Republicans because of social issues, rich people voting for Republicans because of tax cuts, and small government advocates voting for Republicans because they want a smaller national government. This coalition, which was started by Nixon and continued by Reagan, is already showing signs of strain. It is up to Democrats to find ways to advance the interests of white working class Americans on economic issues and bust it wide open.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"War on Terror": 2005 Statistics

In 2005 there were over 11,000 terrorist acts worldwide, according to the U.S. Government's Center for CounterTerrorism. That does not include attacks on American military personnel, since they are not non-combatants, which is the standard used by the Center. Over 30% of the terrorist attacks took place in Iraq. ____________________________________________________________________________________ MCDAC authorizes the use of the above without attribution.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The War Against Terror & The Iraqi War Are Not The Same

One of the themes being sounded by the GOP and its allies in the media is that Democrats are weak on the so-called War on Terror because a great majority of Democrats don't support the Iraqi War, and especially don't support the way it has been handled by Bush & Co. In making this argument they conflate the Iraqi War with the War on Terror as if they were one and the same. They are not and Democrats need to point this out again and again.

The War on Terror was authorized by Congress in a resolution called "Authorization for Use of Military Force" or AUMF. That resolution is contained in Public Law No. 107-40 and was adopted by the House of Representatives by a 420-1 vote and in the Senate by a 98-0 vote. One Democrat opposed the Resolution in the House, Congressperson Lee from California, and no Democratic Senator opposed the Resolution.

That resolution authorized the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons". Interestingly the Bush Administration did not try and use that Resolution to justify the war in Iraq. Instead it lobbied for and got a new resolution entitled the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. That resolution was contained in Public Law 107-243 and passed the House by a vote of 296-133 and passed the Senate by a vote of 77-23.

The fact that there were two resolutions passed by Congress is seldom mentioned by the media, or, for that matter, by Democrats. Yet, that fact is very important. If the Iraqi government prior to our invasion was involved in the 9-11 attacks, then there would not have been the need for a second resolution. The reason why there would not have been the need is that the first resolution allowed the use of force against nations that aided the attacks on 9-11. The only conclusion to be drawn from the need for two resolutions is that the Bush Administration knew that the use of force against Iraq based on the first resolution wouldn't pass muster, even from the lapdog American media.

Thus, there is a difference between the War on Terror and the Iraqi War. This is something that Democrats need to point out again and again. Democratic Representatives overwhelmingly backed the use of force in 2001 to go after terrorist organizations and the countries that harbor them, the disagreement started in 2003 when the Bush Administration started a war with a country that had not attacked or helped attack the United States.

Democrats need to point out that the Bush Administration had not won the War on Terror when they started the Iraqi War. Osama bin Laden is still alive, al Quida is still operating, terrorist attacks are actually on the increase in the world, including in Iraq where over 2500 American service personnel have been killed and many thousands wounded. Democrats need to point out again and again that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraqis were not involved in the attack on September 11, 2001, and that Democratic Senators and Representatives have always supported, and continue to support, the use of military force to hunt down and eliminate terrorist organizations.

We cannot count on the media to do this for us. The media is complicit in both the start of the Iraqi War under false pretenses and the conflating of the Iraqi War with the War on Terror. We have to make sure that our fellow citizens understand this distinction. If we don't, then we run the risk that our fellow citizens will believe the Republican lies that they, and their media allies, are spreading. _______________________________________________________________
MCDAC authorizes the use of the above without attribution.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman Doesn't Get It

Okay, here is a question: if Bill Clinton had kissed a Republican Senator would the GOP have supported that Senator or run him out of the party? If there were liberal commentators on cable news who are as liberal as O'Reilly and Hannity are conservative and they endorsed the Clinton-kissing Senator would Republicans continue to regard that person as a Republican? If our hypothetical Republican Senator went on television after losing a primary to a fellow Republican and announced that he was not going to honor the results of the primary but would run as an independent would Republicans still support that Senator? The answer to all those questions is a resounding NO. Why then do right-wing commentators believe that Democrats should feel bad about Lieberman's defeat or back him against Lamont in November?

In the coming months Democrats may hear Republicans tell us that the defeat of Lieberman tells us something about the Democratic Party. Such claims will be bs. What the defeat of Lieberman shows is that Democrats want their elected officials to oppose Bush. They want him opposed on the Iraqi War, on his plans to privatize Social Security, on his plans to turn America's schools over to private companies, on just about everything he stands for or supports. Democrats want their elected officials to be an opposition party, not an accommodation party.

Make no mistake about it, a accommodationist is exactly what Joe Lieberman was and is in the Senate. Anytime Fox News wants a Democrat to come on their shows and tell America what was wrong with the Democratic Party, Joe is the person they call. This was the person who blasted Bill Clinton on getting oral sex from an intern, but can't seem to find it in his heart to criticize George Bush's illegal power grabs. This was the person who wouldn't be tough with Cheney during the their debate in 2000, but was willing to be tough on Ned Lamont, a fellow Democrat. This was the person who said that Kerry shouldn't challenge the results of the 2004 election yet now wants to run as an independent after losing the Democratic Primary.

In the short run the mainstream media will portray this as some sort of set back for the Democratic Party. Of course these are the same geniuses who said that Clinton was toast in 1992, that he would be a one term president, that the public wanted Congress to impeach him, that Gore would get rolled by Bush in 2000 and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In the long run the Democratic Party is better off without him.
MCDAC hereby gives permission for the use of the above without attribution.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How Democrats Can Drive You Crazy

There is an article in the Akron Beacon Journal about the governor's race in Ohio that illustrates how Democrats are often their own worst enemy. The article by John McCarthy of the Associated Press contends that party regulars are slow to get behind Strickland and Blackwell because they are outside of the parties' mainstream. According to this article the reason that Democrats are having trouble lining up behind Strickland is because he is from a rural area and opposes gun control. (Read the article here: )

The article is very short on specifics. It only names two Democrats as sources. One is Eric Fingerhut, who was planning to run against Strickland for the Democratic nomination and the other is a professor from Youngstown State University. Since the Ohio Democratic Party is composed of literally millions of people, it is hard to accept that two people speak for millions. Putting that aside, and assuming that this article is accurate in that there are some Democrats from urban areas that are lukewarm about Strickland, this article shows how Democrats can drive you crazy.

Since 1962, the Ohio Democratic Party has only won three elections for Governor. Those occurred in 1970, 1982, and 1986. During that time we have nominated the following nominees: 1962-Mike DeSalle; 1966-Frazier Reams, Jr.; 1970-John Gilligan; 1974-John Gilligan; 1978-Dick Celeste; 1982-Dick Celeste; 1986-Dick Celeste; 1990-Tony Celebrezze; 1994-Rob Burch; 1998-Lee Fisher; and 2002-Tim Hagan. All but Burch came from one of the top eight urban counties in Ohio. DeSalle and Reams came from Lucas County; Gilligan from Hamiliton County; Celeste, Celebrezze, Fisher, and Hagan from Cuyahoga County. Let's see what that means. It means that 10 times we nominated Democrats from urban counties and they proceeded to lose seven elections. That's a 70%-30% loss/win record, folks, and that is not going to cut it in politics.

We don't know if Ted Strickland can win, but we do know that Democrats from urban areas haven't been winning. It is past time to do something different. That something different is nominating and then electing a Democrat from a "red" part of the state. A Democrat who can get votes in suburban and rural counties. A Democrat who can win more than 10 counties. Instead of complaining and whining about Ted Strickland's stance on gun control, get behind him and let's win for a change.
MCDAC hereby gives permission for the use of the above without attribution.