Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Polls Show Independents Breaking for Dems

Over the last five years the GOP, under the guidance of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, have consistently played to the "base" of the Republican Party. They have consistently rejected bi-partisanship in favor of policies and politics that rallied their base regardless of the effect it had on the rest of the electorate. They assumed that they would be able to spin off enough independents and Dems to get Bush re-elected and expand or keep their hold on Congress.

For the most part it worked. They picked up control of the Senate in 2002, got Bush re-elected in 2004, and picked up five House seats that year. The problem, though, is that while their base is happy with the policies of this government, independents are not. The election of 2004 was followed by an attempt to privatize Social Security, which so far has failed. The Iraq War gets increasingly unpopular, and they are in danger of losing both Houses of Congress in this year's elections.

If you look closely at the polling data it is because GOP support is cratering among independents. On some issues they are getting almost the same numbers among independents as among Democrats, and that isn't good.

Of course the problem for Democratic candidates is that most independents don't have the same intensity about politics as committed partisans. Because of that fact, independents don't vote as consistently as either registered Republicans or registered Democrats. This election, though, may be different. If independents show up and vote they way the pre-election polls show them voting, this election will be a good one for us and a bad one for them.
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Republicans Have to go Negative to Win

One of the talking points of the GOP is that they are the party of "ideas" and that the Democrats don't have any "ideas." This is almost always the claim of Republicans in Washington and they get a remarkably large number of Beltway Journalists to buy into it. Well, here is a question: if the GOP is the "Party of Ideas" that are supported by the public, then why are so many Republican campaigns nothing more than one long attack ad?

Think about it. Think of all the ads you are seeing on TV by Republicans. How many of them are about ideas or public policies? The House Republican Campaign Committee recently poured eight million dollars into 30 House races. According to the breakdown of the money, about 98% of that money will be spent attacking Democratic candidates and only about 2% will be spent supporting Republican candidates.

The reality, of course, is that the GOP is not the "Party of Ideas" supported by ordinary working Americans. Such Americans don't want the privatization of Social Security, or unbalanced budgets because of tax cuts for the wealthy, or a war in Iraq that does nothing to improve American security. The GOP is, however, the "Party of Ideas" for the well-connected, or the rich, or for those who advocate war while keeping their own children home safe and sound.

Since such people don't amount to a majority in any election, the GOP uses scare tactics and smear campaigns funded by its rich backers to try and defeat Democrats. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Don't be fooled, however, into thinking that Democrats are losing elections because of the superior ideas of the Republicans. It just isn't true.
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Republican Protection?

One of the essential purposes of any government, indeed perhaps the primary purpose, is to provide protection for those that it governs. People formed governments because they realized that they needed this protection. Protection from the world at large, from outsiders, and from each other. Since January 20, 2001, the Republican Party has had complete control over the Federal government. They control the Congress, the Presidency, and the United States Supreme Court. So, given that control, how are they doing?

Not so well, it appears. They couldn't protect the residents of the Gulf Coast from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, they can't protect Americans in Iraq from attack, and they can't even protect teenage pages from the sexual predations of one of their own. They are failing in the most basic purposes of government.

One of the ongoing debates between conservatives and liberals is what dangers government should protect us from, what type of protection falls within the purview of the government. Liberals, for example, argue that government has an obligation to make sure that all Americans have access to medical care, conservatives argue that this should be left to the market. Liberals argue that Americans' natural environment should be protected, conservatives want to leave protection of the environment to corporations and businesses. Liberals argue that Americans should be protected from a penniless old age, once again conservatives argue that this should be left to the market.

There is ample room to debate these points, but the failure to protect displayed in Hurricane Katrina, or in Iraq, or with Representative Mark Foley is different. You don't protect Americans by disregarding warnings that levees might break because of a Category 5 Hurricane. You don't protect Americans by putting them in a foreign country with no plan to win or to exit. You surely don't protect American children by covering up for a sexual predatory Congressman for political purposes.

All of these failures represent the most basic of failures. All of them are rooted in the philosophy of the modern Republican Party. That philosophy demands that only those with money, or access, or connections deserve the protection of government. We have about 38 days to make sure that Americans get this message: you can't count on those who hate government to run government anymore than you can count on the devil to save your soul.
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