Frustrated 2012 voters may hit the reset button yet again

by Brendan Monaghan

Divided, dysfunctional government may be here to stay, even if up to a third of today’s members aren’t.

Although the next (major) general election in this country is over a year away, the themes and tones of November 2012 are already quite clear.  Ask ordinary voters what they think in a poll or a focus group and the answers will be as quick as they are common.  “You see this every day . . . anger and frustration with the political process.”  Indeed, there is an unprecedented level of rejection, not just of the President’s Democratic Party, but that other one.  “It doesn’t matter who we elect- Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives- they get to Washington and there’s something in the air conditioning system or something and they forget who sent them there.”

In light of the recent Debt Ceiling compromise- not so much a debate as a three-ring circus- and S&P downgrade, there’s a sense that anti-incumbent sentiment and disgust with both parties has hit a critical mass.  “You have voters that want to take someone’s head off, it’s no longer at the alienation and apathy stage.”  The reasons and motivations for this anger and frustration are based largely on fear from one’s economic condition and apprehension for their children’s future.  “And when you put them together, you have a highly combustible mixture and the most turbulent political year we’ve seen in 50 years.”

Sound familiar?  Political oracle Charlie Cook made these remarks at a luncheon televised by C-SPAN in October, 1992.  With one notable absence (namely, an egomaniacal billionaire running a kamikaze independent bid for the White House), America’s political climate may be repeating along with its business cycle.  The result could be the worst bipartisan bloodbath in 20 years, producing the biggest freshman class since that election’s 110 new representatives, and tossing aside Tea Party freshmen along with entrenched liberal veterans.

There is bound to be some turnover next year anyway, as there is in every House election following redistricting.  Republicans will certainly make gains in the South and West, which may be enough to counter the California commission shenanigans and the cull that Democrats have planned in Illinois.  What’s more, wave elections, once quite rare in American politics, have suddenly become the norm as voters swung the nation’s pendulum (make that “baseball bat”) at both parties in 2006, 2008, and 2010 for shovelfuls of seat gains.  Indeed, there was every reason to expect 2012 would continue the pattern as the winning party would either sweep their coattails back in to Congress or solidify the gains they made in November.

Last week’s events may not have been a turning point away from that conventional wisdom as much as the final straw.  Anger with Congress and the President as institutions, as well as disgust at both parties, has reached unseen levels as the difference between voters’ expectations and leaders’ performance has become a chasm.  President Obama’s approval rating hovers in the low to mid-40’s (hardly re-election territory), but only 21% and 28% of respondents approve of how Republicans or Democrats are handling the economy, respectively.  All the polling suggests voters are desperate for some kind of positive change in the status quo, regardless of from what party it comes.

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch viewed this mutual disgust at both parties as a sign Americans were finally ready to shake off the two-party system.  Duopolies are a false choice and never work out for anybody in the free market, they argued.  Now, after 150 years of being forced to choose between Kodak and Fujifilm, Americans would finally break free of the Republicrat chokehold on power and patronage and opt for a third party (the Libertarian Party, the authors hoped).  Most Americans, however, realize at the end of the day a third party of the left, right, or center is as non-starter, and in our single-member-district, first-past-the-post system, will only guarantee the election of our political enemies.

What is more likely is voters who opted for one party or the other in any of the past three wave elections opting to flip the switch once again (possibly splitting their ticket with their presidential choice in the process) and vote the bums out at the primary or general phase in numbers we haven’t before seen.  By the numbers and party balance, however, the partisan makeup might not be that different.  Divided, dysfunctional government may be here to stay, even if up to a third of today’s members aren’t.

Brendan is a graduate student at Portland State University, where he hosts the KPSU “Right Jab” radio program. Brendan is studying political science, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, with a degree in political science.

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  • Bob Clark

    The GOP (anti public employee union brigade) held serve in Wisconsin this week.  Getting O’bama out of the White House is a double edged sword.  It depends mostly on the economy staying in a malaise or even worsening.  Interesting GOP presidential race coming up if Rick Perry gets in, though.  You’ve got the elevated religious tones of Perry (some similarilty to those used by Bama in ’08 but more old time Christianity than new Age Unitarian like) versus the perceived throw back business type in Romney (country might be ready again for a businessman approach).  If perry doesn’t run, I think it’s maybe already game over with Romney taking on Bama.  Can’t see Bachmann getting the GOP nod eventhough it sure would be fun to see her in the white house.  My lefty neighbors would do you know what in their pants.  (On the other hand maybe that wouldn’t be so fun as I had to live through 8 years of Bush bashing at every little shop in my SEIU owned neighborhood.  So, the fun of a Bachmann White House would be short lived in some ways for me.)

    I think Bama may have more to worry about concerning a third party (from the left).  Ralph Nader thinks there’s a left leaning one in the works.

  • Brodhead

    The plan is to vote out all the 20 Democratic Senators in 2012 and replace them with Tea Party candidates. Then we can replace Obama with Rick Perry/Rubio. Given that Mitt Romney belongs to a church that taught racism until 1978, and even called Blacks ‘Cain”, he will be out of the running. America is not ready to go from the first Black president to a Mormon that believed in teaching racism to children. 

    • Devin

      Stop with the anti-Mormon stuff.  Attack him on his policies (such as his romneycare), his history (of being a democrat and pro-choice), but leave his personal life out of it.  I know plenty of Mormons that are not bad people.  Let them believe whatever they want to believe (that is between them and their god) as long as they keep that out of their policies.  There is a big difference between telling people what you believe, and why you think it is right (trying to convince people), and disparaging people for what you don’t believe in.

      Somehow I don’t think we are going to win Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat in New York, nor probably win the open Hawaii seat, but you never know.  Most likely pickups for us are North Dakota after Kent Conrad decided not to run for re-election, and Nebraska’s senator Ben Nelson seat.  After those two fairly likely pickups for the GOP, it’s defeating the democrat senators from FL/MI/MO/MT/VA/WI that will determine how big of a win we get.  The GOP have no likely losses, but we do got to worry about Scott Brown in Massachusetts (probably why we have seen him break left a bit more than usual recently), and Dean Heller from Nevada.
       

      • Brodhead

        Yes you are right. I have been feeling ashamed for the disparaging remarks I made about the LDS church all day .I feel less of a person and silly. I am ashamed of myself…I will try and focus on the issues and not the religion. It was a cheap shot and immature as hell. Thanks for disciplining me without chewing my head off…peace out

        • Mantikor

          I think he had a good point – you were making cheap shots and got called on it.  Sucks to be you.

          • 3H

            Actually Mantikor.. he owned up to it and apologized.  I think that does show some character.

  • brodhead
  • the real valley person

    Politics are unsettled because our world is unsettled, not the other way around. Economically we have not been able to adjust to the shift of export manufacturing to  the former 3rd world countries that have far lower labor costs than we can ever have. The burst housing bubble was a result of attempting to make up for that loss in the wrong way. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our public schools are treading water as they get more poor kids to deal with year after year. Lay fossil fuel blues and climate change and demographic change over that and the result is a scramble to find a way forward.

    The way forward for the Tea Party is to go as far backward in time as possible. Constitution this, repeal that, end the welfare state, blah blah. Stuff the genie back in the bottle as deep as possible and pretend the last 3 or 10 or 20 decades did not happen.  Progressives (including this one) have more forward leaning ideas for each problem that don’t add up to a coherent package yet.

    So we will lurch around for a while with no side getting enough power long enough to make significant changes, which is probably a good thing since there is no clear forward path anyway. Eventually things will settle down and the politics will catch up to that. In the meantime, enjoy the good stuff and build your assets (skills, education, savings, tools, relationships) to help yourself and others get across the turbulence.

    • Devin

      Many highways are congested, but most states (other than Oregon) seem to be continually adding capacity.  Oregon seems to have a large group of politicians that hate anything to do with cars.  They routinely take from highway funds to put it in light rail projects it seems.  And rather than fixing the bridges we have, want to build new ones or replace the ones we have (with the same # of lanes too! Not fixing the problems of congestion).  Regardless we are not spending less on infrastructure then we have in the past, so maybe we need to re-think how we spend our infrastructure money rather then throw more money at the problem (for long term trends see this CBO report on infrastructure spending http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8958/02-05-2008-InstitutionalInvestor.pdf)
       
      You are absolutely right our schools are failing.  But again its not because we don’t throw enough money at the problem (http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/edlite-chart.html).  Its because of the teacher unions which have gotten so politically powerful as to stop almost any teachers from being laid-off/fired for not doing their jobs effectively enough.  We need to reward the teachers that do well in teaching our students, and we need to give a pay cut or fire the teachers that are teaching our students poorly.  We need to re-introduce competition into our school system, forcing our schools to compete to be the best school, the best teachers, the best education, and attract students and their parents.  Get our federal government out of dictating how and what is taught in schools and let the parents decide which school is best for their child.  Allow schools to specialize in specific types of courses and attract people that want that, allow some schools to specialize in “autism education” or other specialties, and let the parents decide where the best place is for their child.  The one size fits all approach of our current education system will continue to fail no matter how much money we throw at it.
       
      We are now seeing the end of the modern liberal/progressive thought that started almost a hundred years ago.  There reaches a point in which you run out of other people’s money.  We are reigniting the spark that started this country and made it the greatest country in the world.  There will continue to be some people stuck in the 1930’s for some time, but that will change.  Look around you, and you will see the entire world forced to see the realities of the problems that centralized governmental control and welfare causes.  Look at the “austerity” measures that Europe currently MUST do or dissolve as a union.  Look at the riots of Greece and the UK, that is the future of our country if we continue down the socialist road.  Even Canada is feeling the pain of a single payer system (even when many Canadians can and do go over the border to the US if they need quick care) http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Health+system+failing+patients/5239767/story.html.  Your world view is coming crashing down, and you’re not ready to accept it yet.  I understand that.  But things are changing for the better, as more and more people realize what is going on.

      • the real valley person

        We are spending much less on infrastructure as a percent of our GDP than we did in the past. We have not raised the federal gas tax since 1993, yet cars have gotten smaller and use less gas. We cut way back on federal funds for water and sewage treatment plants. Our passenger railroad system is a worldwide joke.  Our national park and forest roads and trails are deteriorating. Local streets are crumbling apart in any city you care to visit. Many if not most of our bridges are structurally unsound. Take a visit to Europe, China, or Japan and compare their public infrastructure to ours. We are approaching 3rd world levels.

        Finland has teacher unions and they are kicking our behind. We had great schools for years with teacher unions and without inter-school competition. The south, which spends much less on schools than the north and has weaker unions, has far worse education levels across the board.

        You are not seeing “the end” of progressive thought. That is wishful thinking on your part. You are seeing a lack of cohesion on the part of modern day progressives. Lots of reasons for that I don’t need to go into here. But running out of other peoples money is not our current problem. Most rich people and most educated people are in the progressive camp, and frankly it is our money that we are spending.

        What you are misreading is a temporary pickle brought on by the worst financial crisis in 80 years as signaling the welfare state. And to be replaced by what? A libertarian utopia? Fat chance of that my friend. But keep trying.

        Canada is “feeling the pain” of an aging population that needs more (expensive) medical services, just like everywhere else. Don’t mistake that for a flaw in their insurance system.   

        • Devin

          Its not like we have had a massive increase in MPG in the last 20 years (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/b5/Motor_vehicle_efficiency.png/800px-Motor_vehicle_efficiency.png).  Are you really saying that we are having big problems getting to our homes water and cleaning up sewage?  I don’t care if we cut back on federal funds, as long as the states are picking up the slack to pay for these things.  Yes we don’t have a wonderful railroad system compared to Europe or some of Asia, but I think that has more to do with not as many people in the US wanting to use the railroad system (compared to drive their car or fly).
           
          I would love to return most national parks back to the states that those parks are a part of.  There is no reason for the federal government to own over half of the land in Oregon.
           
          There are tons of differences between Finnish schools and American schools.  Some of those differences are probably better and we should adapt, but there is also some things culturally/environmentally that we won’t be able to adapt (there are very few students compared to America that speak different languages, or the culture of reading at home that is greater).  Some things that might be good are the fewer number of hours in the class room, or the lower amount of homework, the later start in entering the school system, intensified focus on children having problems, combined primary and secondary school, same long term teacher.  For that last one, one of the teachers said “’I’m like growing up with my children, I see the problems they have when they are small. And now after five years, I still see and know what has happened in their youth, what are the best things they can do. I tell them I’m like their school mother.”  Many of these things could drastically improve our education system, but which ones to implement?  That should be left up to the parents to decide where their child goes to school.  Long term that is the only way to make sure we are not just “as good as the people from Finland” but that we are better then they are, or anyone else.
           
          As to the last part, we shall see, we shall see.  But the replacement is no libertarian utopia, it’s a returning to the vision of the founders of this country such as James Madison in Federalist #45, that the federal government will be focused on “external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce”, and let the states and local governments focus on creating the best environment and attracting people to their state, as their powers are “numerous and indefinite”.

          • Devin

            getting water to our homes* 🙁

          • Devin

            Oh here is another example of what the replacement would be from Thomas Jefferson: “The States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore… never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.”

          • the real valley person

            A “return to the vision of the Founders” is a search for a utopia you can’t have. Why did the generations before us, who were closer to the Founders, choose to amend the constitution multiple times and create a safety net and regulatory scaffold? Is it because they didn’t care about the Founders vision? I doubt it. Its because they had to deal with the practical realities of changing circumstances. In the Founders world only white males could vote, 90% of free men were subsistence farmers who mostly fed themselves and their families, and a whole lot of people were slaves who worked for food or were beaten. With no paid labor, who needed unions and laws about organizing? Who needed a minimum wage? Who needed social security when life expectancy was 45 years and everyone had 9 or 10 kids to look after them? Who needed a clean air act when there were no factories? A clean water act or forestry regulations when 90% of the nation was basically wilderness? No electricity, so no need for a Department of energy. The list is long.

            We have a big, complicated overnment because we have a big complicated, mostly urban society. The “Founders” would be “the Lost” in today’s world. They would have to learn how to Google from some 10 year old. Jefferson basically said the constitution should be blown up and re worked for each generation.     

          • Devin

            They never amended the constitution to add a social safety net nor a “regulatory scaffold”, however under the necessary and proper clause they are fully allowed already to do delegate the power of enforcement of their powers to regulators without amending the constitution.  But there was no amendment to the constitution related to the social safety net.  Instead judges were threatened with adding people to the Supreme Court until they agreed to “reinterpret” the constitution. 
             
            Slavery was not introduced by the founders, but many of them fought against it (including James Madison), and hated the idea of slavery.  Benjamin Franklin went as far as saying that one of the reasons to separate from Britain was that the colonial attempts to end slavery had been thwarted or reversed by the British king.  Many of the founders even released the slaves that they had owned (including George Washington).  George Washington said “I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely then I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery”.  It was Thomas Jefferson who called for the law preventing any more slaves from being imported and signed it as president, and proposed banning it in all new territories (although he did own slaves and could have done more to help).  I think you are confusing the southern slave states with all of the union.  In many of the northern states, blacks could vote, and there were no slaves.  What was done to the blacks in the south was completely reprehensible, and counter to the ideals of freedom and liberty.  Regardless they knew that the constitution was not perfect and would need to be corrected, which is why there are specific ways in which the constitution can be amended.
             
            If you think that the no one during the founding of this country was paid for their labor you are wrong.  Life expectancy may have been that low, but it was mostly because of the number of people that died as a small child or do to diseases when they didn’t have Penicillin or other antibiotics/vaccines.  Those that didn’t die early or from disease, tended to live fairly long lives.  Benjamin Franklin lived till he was 85, Thomas Jefferson 83, George Washington 67 (who fell ill and didn’t die of old age), James Madison 85.  We have seen an increase in the maximum age in the last 50 years, but those that didn’t die young did live a long time even back then.
             
            Look the founders knew that the local resources did need to be protected.  But the government that should be protecting those resources is the local and state governments.
             
            Yes the founders would not understand anything of modern technology.  But the ideals of freedom and liberty are eternal.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

          • the real valley person

            I said the constitution was amended multiple times AND a safety net was created. I did not say the constitution was amended IN ORDER to create a safety net. Not necessary, even though some tea partiers seem to think so. It was however amended to abolish slavery (the 13th), which apparently was written into the constitution by a bunch of Founders who were against it.  Go figure.

            Yes Devin, some people lived to a ripe old age back in the day. Mostly rich white guys who did not need a social safety net. Yes, a few people worked for wages. Not enough to create a labor movement, which only happened after many decades of industrialization and migration from farm to city.

            You skip over my main points. We need a big complicated government to help manage a big complicated mostly urban, highly technical and industrialized society. We can’t and won’t ever “go back” to some pre safety net, pre regulatory eden. That the tea Party costumers can’t recognize this illustrates the hopelessness of their (your) cause. The best you can ever do is chip away around the margins and slow progress. Which may explain the anger and frustration that underlies the movement. 

            What we need is an old fashioned conservatism that is skeptical of progress, defends long standing institutions, and helps hold things steady in the face of change. Instead we have a movement that wants to repeal 1 or 2 centuries of progress depending on what level of crazy has taken hold. It is madness and i only hope it runs its course quickly without causing too much grief.

          • Devin

            I disagree, I think it’s because we have a big complicated highly technical and industrialized society that we need local government and not centralized government.  Government that is closest to the people and can understand the local issues going on.  Trying to have Washington centrally manage our economy will not work, and the more complicated our society becomes the harder it will be for Washington.  Its not that we cant recognize it, its that we reject it.  Not everyone that disagrees with you is deluded.

          • the real valley person

            We need local governments AND a national government. Its not one or the other, Its who can do a better job at which service. Washington does not centrally manage the economy. They centrally manage macro economic policy. There is a big difference. Local governments can’t do that because they don’t have separate currencies.

            What you reject is modernism. There is a reason the Tea Party comes from teh same part of the body politic that rejects global warming, evolution, and the right of gay people to marry. Its a reaction against a changing world.  Nothing more.

            Lots of people disagree with me who have reasonable opinions about this or that, including people who are neighbors and friends. I’m talking about the so-called tea party. Name a single idea from that group that does not involve going backwards in order to go forwards. I assume you know the meaning of the word reactionary? Its essentially a radical who wants rapid change in a backwards direction with little regard for the risks involved. Playing chicken with the American economy to roll back programs is a radical reactionary action.

          • Devin

            The national government in its power to coin money, created the Federal Reserve.  It does have that power and the macroeconomic policies that go along with that (such as the federal funds rate).  Yes local governments do not have that power, only the national government, and the constitution saw to that.
             
            What I reject is Marxism/socialism.  First let me talk about evolution and the right of gay people to marry.  I do believe in evolution, and I do believe in civil unions (not in gay marriage, because the term marriage has traditionally meant between a man and a woman).  However I do reject the extreme environmental protections pushed by socialists that want to stop the modern capitalist economy, through what was called “global warming”, although now so many people doubt that, that they are trying to change the name to “climate change” (clearly I do agree that the climate changes).  CO2 has been going up (likely do to human action, mostly deforestation), and scientists agree what the direct effect of doubling CO2 in temperature.  The disagreement comes in the feedback forces, which counteract the increase in temperature, such that there is no reason to worry about the temperature.  If you want to learn more I suggest you read the 2011 paper by the NASA scientist published here: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf

          • the real valley person

            What marxism/socialism are you rejecting? It seems to me that a purely marxist system is not on the table. It was tried and failed. End of story. The debate is between a mixed system and a pure or nearly pure free market one. 

            What “extreme” environmental protections are you talking about? The clean air act? The clean water act? The endangered species act? The national environmental policy act? These are all supported by large majorities of American people, so how can they be “extreme?” They have been in place for many decades and have not yet stopped the modern capitalist economy. In fact, the current economic problems have nothing at all to do wtih environmental policies.

            Global warming, which includes broad scale climate changes like more extreme weather events, is not an ‘extreme environmental” position. it is scientific fact. Sure there is disagreement about how fast, how much, and so forth because no one can predict the future with certainty. Scientists have been warning us for nearly 3 decades now that too much carbon traps heat and we ought to do something about that. This isn’t extreme. Its just delivering bad news.

            And guess who is bothering to deal with this problem? If you guessed the tea party you would be wrong. It is progressives. Why? Because we are forward leaning, not backward leaning.

            I’ll ask you again. Name a single idea from the tea party that does not involve going backwards. You seem like a good researcher. Surely there must be something.

          • Devin

            No system is purely Marxist (not even Russia, which had a thriving barter black market, and china/cuba have a lot of capitalist elements), the only question is how socialist is it.
             
            You want extreme environmental protections?  How about we start with Agenda 21 from the UN? Look at this map of where humans will be “allowed” to live and see if that is really want you want: http://www.sovereigndistinction.com/uploads/4/3/2/1/4321717/7708420.jpg?839
            As for the EPA being supported by large majorities better check your polls again.  http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/mixed_reviews_for_epa_47_favorable_45_unfavorable

            The real problem with some of these laws (at least as far as how they impact the economy), is not that they were bad or for a bad purpose, but they left SO MUCH of the decisions up to the regulations written by the EPA, and the EPA is now run by people that don’t care at all about jobs.  In fact they have a said they don’t even take that into account  http://gardner.house.gov/press-release/rep-gardner-demands-epa-explain-why-it-ignores-new-rules-cost-jobs 

          • the real valley person

            Yes, how ‘socialist” is a legitimate debate topic. Denmark is arguably the most “socialist” of all the advanced democratic nations. 60% of their GDP is government spending, and they are thriving. They are among the richest people in the world, have an advanced manufacturing export economy, and have the world’s happiest people measured in surveys. All that and they are just as free politically as we are. Is becoming more like Denmark really something to be afraid of? Oh, and they have a government financed health care system, free at the point of use for everyone, with quite good outcomes at about 1/2 the cost of our mess. I guess they didn’t read the memo about how bad a government takeover of health insurance would be. 

            The “sovereign distinction” map looks like some crackpot nonsense.  The UN is requiring us to conserve all those corridors? I don’t think so. Check your sources on that one.

            I didn’t say the “EPA” is supported by large majorities, though even according to your link they have plurality support. 75% of Americans support strengthening the Clean Air Act, which is a large majority.

            http://www.lungusa.org/press-room/press-releases/bipartisan-clean-air-poll.html

            The EPA was created to protect the health of the public by limiting pollution. They are not an economic development agency, though as it turns out clean air and water make for healthy people which makes for a better economy . If “the market” had provided clean air decades ago, federal regulation would have been unnecessary.

            We have an EPA because we have an industrial society that generates a lot of spillover junk through smokestacks and tailpipes that “the Founders” could not have even envisioned, and that private industry can’t make a profit cleaning up. Before you were born, and before there was an EPA  the river that flows through Cleveland Ohio actually caught on fire. Imagine a river on fire. Private enterprise gave us that one. They also gave us Love Canal and over a thousand superfund sites across our once great land. So we passed some laws and created a new bureaucracy that got things partly cleaned up, and now the tea party has forgotten history and wants to get rid of what stands between ordinary people and poison. You have grown up breathing relatively clean air and drinking relatively clean water and you take it for granted and think the government has nothing to do with it? Wise up Devin. You seem to be staking out a firm position on the wrong side of history. Do some due dillegence before you get in deeper with these old crumudgeons.

          • Devin

            That image is about the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_Biological_Diversity
            And that image was used on the floor of the senate to describe what was actually being proposed for ratification of the treaty.  Luckily the US did not ratify that UN treaty, but it was close.
             
            I have no problem with reasonable local environmental protection.  I object to the EPA, because it is not local, and does not understand the people in the areas they are messing with.  The federal government does have a role if one state is polluting waters/air going into another state.  But for local problems, it should be local governments dealing with that.
             
            “wrong side of history” eh? I disagree, from my perspective your on the wrong side of history.

          • the real valley person

            What may be “reasonable” to you may not be reasonable to me, which is why we have politics. You may think it is reasonable to allow a private party to foul the water by X amount if it creates Y jobs or revenue. I may think a lesser amount of pollution is better, even at the cost of some jobs. That is a legitimate debate to have because the world is full of tradeoffs. But calls to eliminate the EPA or the social safety net fail to acknowledge the long road we traveled to get here in the first place and betrays a certain naievity about what the private sector can accomplish. That is my central argument against much that the tea party whines about. There seems to be no concept about why we created a regulatory structure and a social safety net in the first place. It wasn’t out of malice, or dislike of freedom, or disregard for prosperity, or ignorance of the constitution. It was to solve very real problems within our democratic, mostly free market framework. Sweeping aside these hard won accomplishments would simply return us to the very problems we once had.

            Well, we will both have to wait a while to see which one of us is more
            right on what transpires in the years ahead. But the demographic trends
            favor my position, I think you would grant me that much. Hispanics vote progressive and they are the fastest growing segment of voters. Young people (yourself notwithstanding) vote progressive and they will displace us cranky codgers over time. The tea party has nothing to offer these folks.

            In the meantime, I am still waiting for a single proposal from you or the tea party that goes forward without going backward. That you haven’t even tried to provide an example makes my point. You don’t have a windshield. You only have a rear view mirror.

            Thanks for the civil debate. I’ll give you the last word.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    I tend to disagree with this article. Congressional polling never rates that high thus I think its less of a factor, especially when dissatisfaction with congress can not be pinned on a singular issue. Are the debt ceiling talks that issue? I doubt it as I dont see it as an issue where any one side took the blame. Hillary Care and Obama care were galvanizing issues that were attributable to one party, thus the turnover. In 2006 it was two things, the Foley scandal and spending. The latter was unfairly played up but nevertheless both were attributable to one party thus the turnover.

    In 2012 we will see a justifiably angry public like we have never seen before. I doubt very much Republicans are going to take the huge hit on the blame front. I also see zero defensive options for Democrats. Sure they will have two years of Republicans in the House, to blame but thats about it. That’s not going to get you too far as people will rightly say Democrats had unbeatable majorities in the House and Senate and focused on health care, a bill people hate, rather than the economy, a situation people will be livid over come 2012.

    What’s the defense? As Barney Frank has suggested, the only real defense is “things suck, but they would suck a lot more if I were not president”. As Frank has also pointed out, thats about the weakest election strategy conceivable.

    Will Democrats be able to rally their base? I sure doubt it. Not in the numbers they did in 2008. It’s real hard to get post college kids paying off student loans while working in an Obamacare exempt McDonalds to love you.

    Will Republicans fail? There is a chance, but let’s be honest, the election is theirs to lose. Republicans could nominate another John McCain. The press could go absolutely crazy and spin a Reverend Wright moment, which should have been the end for any candidate, into a heat seeking missile rather than the cotton candy puff ball it delivered to Obama.

    I’m not so sure I would count on that. I do still think Obama will be reelected as I do not see any Republican candidate who has the ability to reach through the press as Ronald Reagan did. Sarah Palin has this ability, she can keep the press on a leash and have them do her bidding all day long. However Palin is not as good on message as Reagan was. All Reagan had to do was reach through the press, and convince the American public that he was not an idiot, as the press said, and was not a lunatic looking to start WW3. He did that very simply, with his most famous example of the youth and inexperience remark. All of a sudden people realized, hey, I like this guy, he isn’t crazy and he doesn’t seem dumb. Likewise, Palin is not crazy and certainly not dumb, yet she cannot deliver that message like Reagan could. After a number of tries, if you can’t get it out, people get tired of listening. Thus Palin is going no where.

    The rest of the announced candidates so far? Who knows. Maybe Romney could win. However in the next few months we would need to see a real strong lead from any Republican candidate. By strong, I mean something in double digits.

    Why?

    Because Obama has hit rock bottom. Unless mass riots start, the Dow goes to 6,000 or there is some unforeseen event of that magnitude, Obama isn’t going any lower than he is now.

    What do you think is going to happen? You think the press will all of a sudden start asking him questions other than “what’s your favourite colour?”

    Not on your life.

    You better believe every Republican candidate will have to release every record down to his playtime grades in Kindergarten. You better believe that the army of people the press drummed up to swarm over the Palin emails will be nothing compared to the kind of examination the Republican candidate will get. If he pulled some girls hair in 1st grade, questions of rape will arise. If she was a cheerleader in college, rates for prostitution and pole dancers will be discussed in any mention of her.

    In short, there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, and right now the Keynesian/Socialist animal is about as on the ropes as it gets. If you think the press is going to roll over and play dead for the Republican candidate in the same way they did for Obama as a candidate, you have another thing coming. I doubt a Republican candidate with less than a ten point lead will survuve to cross the finish line.

    • the real valley person

      The Keynesian/socialist animal?  What? Keynes was a capitalist Rupert. He probably helped save capitalism from its tendency to self destruct every decade or so. And “socialism” is not much of a scare word any more. We have a mixed economy and that is what is going to continue into the foreseeable future, all the tea party sturm un drang notwithstanding. 

      Congress is at its lowest level ever, not just low, and this is 10 months into the Tea Party having taken it over. The Republicans Party is also at its new historic low in polling. Whomever the Republican candidate is, he or she will have their party and its rigidity as an albatross. The continuing craziness of the right will be all Obama needs to bring out his voters. It will be circle the wagons. Add to that the demographic tide that is only deeper on the Democratic side. Hispanics are the fastest growing voter segment, a large youth wave is still cresting, and the geezers the tea party relied on in 2010 are not going to be happy about being the primary target for budget cuts.  If the economy improves even a little, Obama will most likely get a 2nd term and the nation can continue to inch forward rather than be jerked backwards.

      • Devin

        Time magazine may want you to believe that about Keynes, but that doesn’t make it true.  Keynes was not a capitalist; this is the person who said “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”  Keynesian economics destroyed the economy of the 1970’s, causing the massive stagflation.  It is Milton Friedman that saved the capitalism from Keynes beliefs destroying it.
         
        You are right, we do have a mixed economy, and everywhere the government touches, it kills.  We will probably continue to have a mixed economy for some time, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep heading toward larger control by the government.
         
        As to the tea party being the problem for the right, according to Gallup there are more people that agree with the tea party then self-identify as liberal.  The world is changing.

        • the real valley person

          Well, you are entitled to your opinion. Factually, Keynes was a capitalist who saw the shortcomings of the way capitalism was being managed, or not, by the government. It was a time when it looked like socialism had better answers, and Keynes work helped to stave that off by creating the intellectual model for a more interventionist government that could prevent situations like the great depression, where 75% of the nations wealth was lost almost overnight, nearly half the population tumbled into poverty, and the situation called for bold action. We had multiple large depressions before Keynes, and have had none since, including the one we just dodged by deploying Keynes once again (TARP).

          Stagflation was caused by the rapid rise in oil prices, pure and simple.  Policy makers were slow to adjust, and prices shot up. But as for “destroying” the economy, in fact the economy of the 70s was way better than the Bush economy of the oughts. Far better growth and lower unemployment, even with the inflation and 70% top marginal tax rates.

          Everywhere the government touches it kills? Interesting. Medicare kills? Social Security kills? Public education kills? The clean air act kills? The Grand Canyon kills? Clean water and treated sewage kill?

          Listen Devin, the tea party  is already nearly over. The public has grown tired of their act and they have nothing positive to offer. But Liberals will be around a long time yet. The reason is simple. The former want to go forward by going backward. That approach has never worked since the dawn of man. You don’t make progress by undoing progress as a rule. Liberal/progressives are imperfect creatures, but by definition we are forward thinking problem solvers. We work the problem. As we sit here and type away, researchers, with a combination of federal and private capital, are developing far more efficient batteries in Silcon Valley. Those batteries will do more to change the picture of our energy use than anything you or I can imagine. They are a game changer. And guess what? Its a bunch of California liberals working on this. The Tea Party in the meantime, dresses up in 18th century costumes and  argues over which amendment or social program ought to be repealed first.The average age of the tea party is probably over 65. Meanwhile the largest group of liberal/progressives are 18-35 year olds. So do the math dude.

          • Devin

            We pay more today in real inflation adjusted dollars for oil then they did in the 1970s, so it clearly wasn’t just the price of oil.  I would hardly call the loss of 45% of the stock market, negative GDP growth, and 12+% inflation a “better than bush” economy.
             
            Yes the government is significantly harming our medical industry, causing prices to go way up.  Yes the government is doing a horrible job in public education.  Yes the government is harming the economy through the EPA (recently called the “job killing agency” by some politicians).
             
            I don’t know looking at that republican debate on Thursday, I would say every person on that stage would disagree with you.  The question is the liberal agenda progress or is it regressing to the failed policies of Marxism and the soviet union?  To me, you’re the one going backwards.  I am 27 years old by the way, please don’t tell me how the tea party is just a bunch of geezers waiting to die.

          • the real valley person

            We may pay more for a barrel of oil, but we use a lot less oil in proportion to our economy than we did in the 70s so we are better able to absorb the increase.  The 8 years of GWB were the worst of any president since Hoover. Stocks lost value. Jobs were not created. The median income declined. Poverty increased. And there was hardly any GDP growth. Inflation was low, we can give him that.

            As for the government “harming our medical industry.” That would be news to doctors and nurses who make 40% of their income off of government provided health insurance claims. 

            Yes, I’m certain every one of the Republican candidates disagrees with me over just about any political topic you or I could name.

            Marxism and Soviet Union have nothing to do with this. No one is proposing a fully socialized economy. A social safety net in a capitalist system is not the same as Marxism. The EPA is not Marxism. Medicare is not Marxism. These are measures that take the edges off of capitalism. They don’t destroy or displace it.

            Put another way, if you think supporting Medicare and Social Security makes you a Marxist, then 80% or more of the American people are Marxists. 

            Congratulations on being 27. You are exactly half my age. According to polls 40% of tea party supporters are over 55. THe median age of the US population is 36. And Obama won 68% of the under 30 vote. So do the math.

            The tea party geezers may not be waiting to die Devan, but they will die off faster than your generation, which appears to me to be heavily progressive in its politics, notwithstanding yourself.  So unless they or you can convince a whole lot of young people to change their thinking, time is not on your side.

            And ask your gray haired tea party friends this the next time you go to a rally: Why are they proposing to reduce YOUR SSI and Medicare, but not their own?

      • Devin

        Time magazine may want you to believe that about Keynes, but that doesn’t make it true.  Keynes was not a capitalist; this is the person who said “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”  Keynesian economics destroyed the economy of the 1970’s, causing the massive stagflation.  It is Milton Friedman that saved the capitalism from Keynes beliefs destroying it.
         
        You are right, we do have a mixed economy, and everywhere the government touches, it kills.  We will probably continue to have a mixed economy for some time, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep heading toward larger control by the government.
         
        As to the tea party being the problem for the right, according to Gallup there are more people that agree with the tea party then self-identify as liberal.  The world is changing.

      • Devin

        Time magazine may want you to believe that about Keynes, but that doesn’t make it true.  Keynes was not a capitalist; this is the person who said “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”  Keynesian economics destroyed the economy of the 1970’s, causing the massive stagflation.  It is Milton Friedman that saved the capitalism from Keynes beliefs destroying it.
         
        You are right, we do have a mixed economy, and everywhere the government touches, it kills.  We will probably continue to have a mixed economy for some time, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep heading toward larger control by the government.
         
        As to the tea party being the problem for the right, according to Gallup there are more people that agree with the tea party then self-identify as liberal.  The world is changing.

  • I would hope the Republican Party will remember the support they received from non-partisan grass-roots organizations who gave them control of the US House of Representatives in 2010.  Too bad they don’t seem to have been able to integrate those “TEA Party” concerns into their agenda and projected an image of a “house divided against itself”.

  • Anonymous

    We learn from mistakes, Obama just wants to do the same thing again, talk infrastructure and jobs and waste another trillion or so….ya the excuse is always we didn’t spend/waste enough money the first time…clueless!     http://bit.ly/n7aOv8

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