Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Change We Weren't Waiting For After All

    The pundits are pondering. They mention mandates and movements, margins and maneuvers and meetings in the middle. They wax wisely on who won and why they won and which way the wind will waft on Wednesday.

    We love to mock them, these prattling experts and prognosticators. And yet we listen, we read, we react. We can't help ourselves. We want to know what it all means and what will happen next. We are determined to squeeze great meaning from great events. We are all pundits.

    But the truth is that the great election of November 7, 2012, was all but meaningless. It represents neither a pivot point nor a portent. A poor candidate lost to a strong candidate, as as he was expected to do. A diverse majority of Democrats in the Senate will continue to play a weak hand weakly. A militant majority of Republicans in the House will continue to obstruct, ignoring calls for moderation as they have done for two decades. The federal government will hobble feebly along.

    The election of 2012 mattered only in the might-have-beens--the havoc that a President Romney and a Republican Senate might have sown. In 2008, we felt hope. In 2012, we felt relief. That is not nothing. The might-have-been laws and might-have-been judges and might-have-been catastrophes matter a great deal.

    But it is not change. It is continuation. When historians look back at the Obama Era, they will speak of the first two tumultuous years, then the jarring midterm election of 2010, and then a long dim stretch of political drift. November 7, 2012 will ripple past without a sound.

    Continuation is not necessarily bad. "Stay the course" is the incumbent's watchword. If we have been pleased with our government's performance over the past two years, we can look forward to four more years of the same (for it is the rare president who uses his lame duck years productively, regardless of what happens in 2014).

    But I doubt that many of us have found the past two years very pleasing. Our government has been gridlocked, our president powerless to press legislation, our economy stumbling ever so slowly back to health. In this context, "stay the course" is a warning against something worse, not a promise for something better.

    In his closing speech to Iowa voters, Obama pleaded for patience. We are on a path to change, he insisted, though "the protectors of the status quo" remain strong. But we have just reelected the same President and nearly the same Congress that we have had for the last two years. It would seem that we, the people, are the protectors of the status quo.

    So let the pundits have their say and tell us what the future holds. Maybe the mandates and margins will matter this time. Maybe we will have meetings in the middle. But this is one pundit who sees little hope for change in the next four years.

    Michael Wolraich is the author of Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual



    I have to admit I was losing some of my idealism during the last 4 years, but it's back again. I know I'm a sucker for a good speech, and I see the President's speech last night as epic, but the ember was stoked last night and the flame is burning again.

    I feel a little like Charlie Brown falling for Lucy's ploy yet again, but hey, ya got nothin' if ya give up hope and optimism.

    I'm extremely glad Obama won. And the vast majority of races that I cared most about went the way I wanted them to go. I see incremental improvement in the way the country is headed on many fronts. Big change doesn't happen overnight. It is the slow steady improvement that has me hopeful.

    If the President handles this correctly, and the people hold the House's feet to the fire, we will inch closer and closer to the change we want. I wish we could just wave a magic wand, but that is not going to happen. Reality dictates that we keep plugging along, and I can accept that.

    We fended off the best chance the repubs had of getting a stranglehold on the country. The Koch bros. poured a shitpot full of money into a losing proposition against a President who by historical measures should have lost.

    A bunch of teaparty idiots were tossed out (no more "you lie" Joe Walsh!) and progressives like Elizabeth Warren won. There were victories for women's rights, gay rights, and pecking away at the ridiculous war on drugs.

    These are not small things when considered as a package.

    I'm glad to see Walsh gone. In fact I couldn't be happier with how this election went down. But it was Joe Wilson who shouted "you lie" and he's still there.

    Yikes! I've had the wrong face on the bad guy all this time!

    Ah that's okay.

    I mix up fascists all the time.


    They all look and sound the same.


    As I mentioned to Mike, I wasn't suggesting that there no victories, just that there wasn't sufficient progress to change the dynamic of the past two years. Nor was there any real possibility of such progress. Chucking a few Tea Partiers and getting Warren elected was the best we could hope for.

    We could turn from political discussion into political activism. Find ways to push issues, not just chat on. I think there are more than a few who are glad the election's over with the hope that some longstanding issues can finally be addressed. The danger of course is that they simply won't. But strike while iron's hot....

    I do think that there is opportunity for progress outside of the Beltway, though I'm a bit cynical about it after the past few years. Most of what I observed online was useless whining about Obama and the Democrats. OWS had the most potential, I think, but the movement was fatally flawed by its principled stand against political practicality.

    I know you're disappointed that Obama didn't run on any new ideas or nothing big in this election. So am I. I'm also upset how much money was spent to prop up the status quo and how weak and watered down the ACA is due to Obama's fruitless and stupid attempt to get a republican or two to sign on. I hated the stimulus bill's large focus on tax cuts over infrastructure repair and new building.

    But this time continuation will not just happen. There is so much in the pipeline that has to be dealt with or change will come. Bush's tax cuts expire. One side will win and the other lose or the two sides will have to compromise. There are massive defense cuts, other cuts and other tax increases that will just happen unless again, one side capitulates or they work together to find compromise.

    At the very least it will be interesting to watch them play their little game of chicken with our lives. As far as I'm concerned I'm willing to fall off the so called fiscal cliff rather than give in.

    I find the range of possible outcomes uninspiring. At best, Obama and Boehner will agree to raise some taxes and cut some stuff. Necessary, perhaps, but hardly a glorious achievement. At worst, well, let's not go there.

    I'm very cheered, though, by the Warren win and by the state votes on same sex marriage and marijuana.  Good steps.  Also... Obama's in a much better economic position now and I think that changes the game.  Now he's managing a slow recovery, one totally in line with recoveries during deleveraging periods, rather than dealing with a crisis.  I'm resetting my expectations.

    I am as well. I didn't mean to suggest that nothing constructive came out of the election. But I don't think the overall political situation will change much.

    The improved economy will probably deprive the right of some of its fuel, which may help, but I'm not sure how it frees up Obama. He hasn't been in crisis mode for a year and a half. It's not like he was doing all that much to address the economy after the initial bailout.

    Well, he's been constrained by deficits, which could fall very quickly and dramatically if an uptick in employment raises tax receipts.  That happened to Bush for a couple of years. His post recession deficits were never eliminated but they did get cut in half, just with the ebb and flow of the economy.  Something like that might take some wind out of the sails of his critics.

    I doubt that the revenue increases will be enough to give him any spending money, not if he's serious about cutting the deficit.

    More important, he doesn't want to spend - he believes in austerity and cutting the deficity. Simpson-Bowles is his preferred baby (except for defense cuts) - he's said it. He believes in Social Security "reform" and a "Grand Bargain" to cut trillions.

    Why we continue the myth that he's just being constrained in these areas when he tells us what his preference is, I haven't a clue.

    Feeling rather alitterative today, huh?


    I was just reviewing the repubs crying in their beer at Salon and then switched to the vituperative pricks on right wing radio and FOX at Mediamaters.

    These folks ARE MAD!

    And when I say mad, I mean Mad Magazine!

    Even McConnell's memo is full of dogma and hate and revenge and...

    But Cronyn's message kind of got to me. And Mitt was not that bad giving up on a march he began five or more years ago.

    Boehner did not sound that bad either this PM.

    And Obama; contrary to what every pundit seems to be saying had reached out to the other side for four goddamnable years with no results.

    With 50 full months left on his tenure as President, Barry is a lame duck but I do not think he is a dead duck.

    Ted Nugent is not in charge--hell until he gets the medicine he needs he is not in charge of his own personage.

    There was no evidence of violence in the street; no store fronts burning and I see no million man march coming in the near future.

    Repubs, I think anyway, are going to stop spitting on Hispanics and passing legislation that violates women in their most sensitive 'areas'.

    I think repubs will wish to give their constituents some sort of record in 2014.

    I think repubs might actually go along with some change and then work to spin it in their favor.

    Who knows?

    Right now, it is time to dance and celebrate!

    I'd like to think so, but twenty years of partisan acrimony suggest otherwise. They've faced far bigger losses than this one without mellowing. Why should we expect anything different this time around?

    Just examine the debate as its emerging.  You already have the two camps staked out.  One camp recognizes the writing on the wall - demographic transition.  One is hollering about doubling down, polishing the message, etc.  Nothing much surprising there.  The questions are whether or not the latter group wins that internal debate and, assuming they do, whether or not they can translate that into winning externally.  Clearly, one camp thinks they must change or perish.  If they're right, mellowing will be enforced by the reality of continued political losses.

    The Constitution was not designed to promote change, but states rights, lack of accountability, and often gridlock, in a government with powers divided among executive, legislative and judicial branches. Even the legislative branch lacks a unified leadership. There is a serious question as to whether our system of democracy is so antiquated that it is obsolete, and unable to act with speed and efficiency at a national level in the 21st century.

    The built in gridlock is why the 14th Amendment of 1867 would never have passed if the rebel slave States of the South were not required to ratify it to regain self government and end military occupation, see the Act of the 39th Congress from March 2, 1867. The amendment defined citizenships, due process and equal protection under the law. It failed to achieve all these goals due to the obstruction from the Supreme Court.

    Theodore Roosevelt was well known to dislike the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson to limit federal power, hindering Presidential action. When able to, he used the Antiquities Act to save the Grand Canyon. He got title to the land for the Panama Canal on his action alone, TR: "I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on, the canal does also."

    Gridlock with the judiciary is why FDR threatened to increase the judges on the Supreme Court.

    Regardless of the weaknesses of our system, we could not ask for a more competent leader to guide us forward than President Obama.

    Gridlock is worse than it has been for a century. The checks and balances worked OK when the parties were heterogeneous, and politics was local. But in this hyperpartisan, ideologically unified, nationalized era, neither party has much incentive to work with the other.

    PS Obama's record and hands-off approach to the legislature offers little to suggest that he is well-suited for this particular challenge.

    The pundit in me is not as cynical as yours seems to be.  What I take from last night is that the overall mean of our collective world view as a country is moving forward.   I could see it in young people but did not have faith that it was true of enough of us to prevent Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan from winning the white house.  

    Of course there are many of a world view that are confused and don't understand what is going on and why we wouldn't want Romney and Ryan in charge.  Some will learn and move forward others will dig in and try harder to see their limited reality as the only way...


    But in the slow moving change of civilization, last night gave me hope because of the people that voted even after our disappointments and disillusionment, people that stood in outrageously long lines to take a stand for their right to vote and have a voice, and for the many women elected that sends a message to the attacks against women's rights.

    I am hopeful because slow though it may be, America is evolving.

    Well, sure, could have been worse. But my deep fear is that America has stopped evolving. For the past 100 years, the Democrats have been the party of change, and the Republicans have been the party of not-so-fast. There has always been some unfinished progressive agenda on horizon--labor laws, welfare, civil rights, health care, etc. But there was nothing of the sort in this election. Instead, the Democrats were just promising to hold on to what they've already passed. Obama's Forward! slogan was a misnomer. It should have been Not Backward!

    Now, OK, he's a second termer. The same thing happened to Clinton and even to Carter in 1980. Still, I have little sense of what issue the next progressive candidate will run on. I fear that we're doomed to Not Backward! for the foreseeable future.

    The next issue?

    Environment. Bigtime Environment.

    I hope so. That's one thing we surely do need.

    Well, here's a news flash:  I'm not feeling the same fear and pessimism that you are, Michael.  I'm not seeing the same president who took office way back in January, 2009, either. 

    This new president found his wings some time this year and finally learned how to use them late in his campaign by getting out of Washington to mingle with real people.  He listened to the stories and learned to give a hug like he meant it.  The old community activist awakened and it was as if the heavy mantle of the presidency lifted and he saw his true calling.  (Oh, I so hope I'm right.)

    He did exactly what he had to do during Hurricane Sandy. (And FEMA helped by performing, not perfectly, but for the most part as it should.)  At the eleventh hour he became the president we had been looking for.  The impassioned speeches rang true, with or without the teleprompters. 

    I believe President Obama has seen the light.

    But when you talk of the Dems always being the party of change, you leave out the Reagan years, when my party, startled to their toes by the actor-president's popularity and the press's gushing, caved and let us down when we needed them most.  The hoi polloi (that would be me) screamed and yelled, "Look!  Look what he's doing!  Don't let him get away with it!"  But they did.  Social programs were gutted, unions were weakened, social security began to be double-taxed, IRS deductions were stripped, packets of catsup became vegetables in poor schools, and trees became just trees as our public lands were handed over to private interests.  And on and on.

    The Republicans will fight like hell to keep their castle and the money guys will keep digging deep but there's a whole new momentum after Tuesday and it's on our side this time.  It's up to us to keep it going.  Can't go all black clouds above now.

    Really? Obama's Sandy speeches prove that he has seen the light? What light? How will the light help him with Congress? I'm skeptical about this sudden transformation, but even if it were true, I don't think there is all that much Obama can do. Congress is dysfunctional now. It will be dysfunctional next year.

    But I do agree that the progressive deceleration began in 1980s.

    If Obama is smart, he'll use us.  We're psyched and if he doesn't let us down by forgetting our most important issues--namely jobs, homes and health care--he'll have an army of allies.  

    We work on 2014 and try to undo the damage caused by railroading/redistricting.  But in the meantime we work on the Dems in Congress and force them to find their cojones.  If the Republicans oppose something near and dear to us, they fight for us, even if they know they'll lose.  Make the Republicans take action that they--and we--can then strongly, vocally oppose.

    Don't cave, don't cave, don't cave--never, never cave.

    We need to work at convincing Obama that there's legs in speaking out when the Republicans keep moving to hurt us.  Call them on it.  Condemn them for it.  Give them his own Fala speech.

    We've been treating the Republicans as if their antics are normal.  They're not, and now we know that more people agree with our assessment of them.  We need to capitalize on that.  Obama needs to capitalize on that.  We need to help him keep seeing the light.  The best way to do that is to let him know we've got his back.

    The quality of the house and senate has gone up with this election.  The democrats that was reelected in states where people stood in line for hours to vote for them, know they owe the voters not the big money their office.  I think we will see better leadership from them.  I felt the same way you did about Regan when he started to undo the New Deal.  Now that we have built a fire wall to stop further erosion with this election the GOP will start fighting among themselves.  Their leadership did not deliver but took on further loses.  It is an end of a era for them and there is a new generation of voters.  I agree with Patty Murry that Gover Norquist  and his pledge is not important anymore.  We are in the beginning of this country's 7th political realignment that started with 2008 election and the conservative era is over. This generation is going to take us in a new direction. 

    I'm skeptical as well, but the President has a lot of power when he wants to use it. I don't think he wanted to the first term - he just wanted to get along, the Rodney King president. If he gets pissed off and plays hardball, he has the power to ram some legislation through, House minority or not.

    So if he's found his mojo...

    He did exactly what he had to do during Hurricane Sandy. (And FEMA helped by performing, not perfectly, but for the most part as it should.)

    Beg to differ! I've been watching the local news here more than the election news! Grade is very incomplete! Seems to me that  residents in the Rockaways (working class and poor) for just one example say there is no FEMA, to be seen and still no electricity, no heat, no elevators in the high rises, elderly suffering. Similar in many parts of Long Island, New Jersey, Staten Island. National Guard: pffft! delivered some water, helped some first responders with generators and gas and : disappeared.

    Breaking news: This supposed minor Noreaster tonight wasn't so minor. We just had 5 inches of heavy wet snow here in 4 hours, I measured it on my patio table, there were blizzard conditions for a couple hours, it's still coming down, and it's 30 degrees. Imagine what that might be like with a flooded basement, no heat and no electricity. I just hope it's not as bad south of me (I'm in the Bronx) where there was the most hurricane damage.

    Many people with above ground lines have been given a date of November 11 for getting electricity repaired. Now the new ones, from the new broken trees, who lost it tonight, what will they get? 3 weeks wait?

    I've been watching the gas situation on gasbuddy.com because I have to. Guess what I just checked it, there is virtually NO gas in Brooklyn or Queens tonight.  None maybe 5 out of 200 stations have gas! Getting gas STILL means a 2 hour line and police on duty when the delivery comes to prevent fistfights. No gas in my zip code and the adjacent zip code until one station out of 10 just got a delivery at 9pm.

    When I drove to Yonkers in Westchester country for gas yesterday, one exit on the Interstate was shut off, it had huge electric cables laying across the exit lane without about 5 trees laying over them. I never saw such a wide bundle of cables, it looked like it held 100 lines.

    Down the street from me two transformers exploded during the hurricane. Nobody has fixed them yet (two houses without electricity,) live electric lines llaying on the street, just yellow police tape around them. Kids walking around them. Tonight the transformers started exploding again in the storm, and a fire truck came and left soon after, with the transformers continuing to explode. This is the kind of "minor" thing going allover the tri-state areas in places not hit "hard." People are just getting used to it, like in a third world country. You figure, you still have your home and electricity, you shouldn't complain.

    Grade is incomplete! We'll see. But I certainly don't see any evidence of a mass federal effort in the local news, and the condition in many areas is still very very serious. Lots of people crying for help on the local news, specifically FEMA kind of help. They need to know where they are going to live. Nobody knows how many, numbers range from 10,000 to 40,000, partly because no FEMA is getting to them, and they can't go to FEMA. Not saying it's Obama's fault, maybe the locals aren't asking for the right help, but the story is not over by any means

    Pick one and watch it, will give you an idea how well the whole thing is going, they're shorts, 30 seconds:


    this is a good one, pretty representative of the ones today:


    or this one:


    Yeah, the election didn't help keep real focus on the hurricane and 2nd storm efforts - the FEMA grade is still unrecorded until it's dealt with, and likely a military relief effort for gas or similar serious effort could help things.

    I am sure they are working on and worrying about how they can keep people warm and safe.  I spent 12 years in Florida's National Guard and also a veteran of several mega storms.  This is new, the very cold weather after a hurricane.  The response so far by FEMA has been the best I have ever seen.  It is pure hell after a large storm and it takes many weeks to repair and clean up.  Finding gas for your car is always a problem after a hurricane.  I have gone up to 3 weeks with out power following a hurricane in the heat.  It is not easy but it will get better.

    aa, that's incredible.  I'm so sorry.  And now the nor'easter on top of it.  Power outages when it's getting cold should, of course, be a first priority.  Keeping people safe should be a first priority.  We have blizzards and outages here in the hinterlands, but the repairs are nowhere near the logistical nightmare it must be in your area.

    They're talking about it this AM.  It looks terrible.  12 inches in Manchester, NJ.  Wow. 

    FEMA, the National Guard and emergency services from outlying areas should be focusing hard on the mess out there.  Let's hope they're doing their jobs.

    Stay safe.

    Welcome to the long emergency.  This is just a taste and, no. No government that the world has ever seen will ever be up to the task.

    Does it require a legislative genius to let the Bush tax cuts expire on 1 January, then the Senate passes a retroactive tax cut for income below 250K, sending the tax cut cross court to the House GOP?

    Nope. Clear no brainer.

    I basically agree with your conclusions, but I do believe there is one dynamic at play that might make the difference.  It has nothing to do with margins or mandates, although it does have to do with the fact that the Dems were able to retain the Senate.  If Reid and Obama can get on the same page, putting together a compromise deal regarding the 'fiscal cliff,' and present this to the Repubs, it might change DC for the moment. 

    If the Dems can make the Repubs fear coming across as putting their pledge to Norquist ahead of their pledge for the Constitution, it could have a major impact on the 2014 elections. 

    Obama won not because America suddenly became progressive or liberal overnight.  It is because enough people in the middle thought Obama would be better than Romney at finding and implementing a solution that helped the middle class.  My guess is that this is what Romney's internal polls were showing and why he last week was devoted to being the guy who could reach across the aisle.  

    So, I think we'll see a lot of Obama's new plans (or old ones) in his choices of the replacements for Geithner, Clinton, Panetta, Plouffe and co. 

    In general, he will replace them with people who are similar.  He will want to reduce the deficit, stabilize the economy and create jobs in the same way he was doing before, and just get the heck out of Afghanistan.  Kerry will probably replace Clinton, so I don't see much in way of a change in foreign policy.  The drone wars will continue, etc. 

    Michael, I think there are some new things going on here--and it's possible that any actual changes in politicians or their approach to governing, might be the least important of the following factors.

    1. The electoral turnout. The heavy turnout in 08 could possibly be explained by the novelty of choosing a black president. But this year's certainly can't. People came out in record numbers because by and large, people have realized that if they want to have a say in what government does, they are going to have to vote for it. Lots of reasons/factors in play, but that's the short story.

    2. Political/electioneering strategy. Republicans (and Democrats) spent millions on attack ads and apparently did not manage to change anyone's mind about their vote. On the other hand, Minnesotans United for All Families used a strategy of fostering a couple of hundred personal conversations about gay marriage, letting people know that the support of a marriage commitment really is important to gay people. This strategy succeeded in changing the minds--and votes--of a very large number of people. Karl Rove is out; your lesbian granddaughter who wants to get married to her girlfriend is in. This is a watershed moment in political strategy.

    3. Increased participation after the election. I think you have to figure that there is some real bench strength in this year's turnout. It's not going to be "go vote, then go home." People who stood in line for 7 hours waiting to vote are paying attention. I predict many more phone calls to congresspeople in the coming months on a wide variety of issues. Resistance to meaningful action in the halls of government is going to be tested. This may die down a bit as the nation's economic engine starts to run faster and provides an excuse to ignore what's going on in government, but I think we can expect people to be pretty tuned-in over the winter at least.

    4. The requirement of sucking up to old rich white guys has been lifted. In any given roomful of people, the assumption that the old rich white guy must be the one in charge, no longer holds. I don't know how much more simply to say it than that. Dorothy's house has landed on the witch, and things will never be the same again. (This is in some ways silly, because the facts haven't changed overnight, and obviously in many cases the rich old white guys ARE still the ones in charge. We'll have to be careful with that. But the perception has changed, and eventually, the change in perception will drive the change itself.)

    I don't think US govt will change overnight, but these changes do seem pretty solid, and things will happen.

    Whoa whoa whoa, you're saying the old rich white guy is the witch? Nope, he's the studio owner, the financier, the producer, the under assistant West Coast promotions guy, maybe the theater owner. No down-bill casting in this lot.

    Increased participation after the election.

    I saw it really discussed only one on the Maddow show, but one of the reasons Ohio was different this year was because of the activist work done first around the anti-union measure and then the attempt to change the voting laws.  The Obama team participated in those efforts and thus had a nice list of names of people willing to hit the pavement.

    The voter suppression efforts has really fired up some people in a number of states, whose state legislators are still Republican controlled.  One pundit mentioned a pastor in FL who couldn't get his congregation fired up about voting for Obama, but when they thought their vote was under attack they were.  It may mean that in 2014 non-presidential election, we can get more Dem and Dem-leaning voters to the polls and not have a repeat of 2010.

    Nobody's mentioning the unions but they were out in full force this time, energized and actively working to right some very definite wrongs.  I don't know how much impact they might have had on the election, but I predict the energy keeps going. 

    Maybe it's post-election elation, but I really do believe we've finally had enough and we're not going to take it anymore.

    Some of the media who were in Ohio mentioned the positive impact of the unions in regards to Obama's win.  His victory there was in part due to the increase in white working class men in Ohio that went to Obama when in other similar places in the country they went for Romney.

    One of the things that needs to be seriously looked at is how to forge an effective working alliance between union workers and non-unionized workers.  A win for labor is a win for labor.  Part of this is non-unionized workers finding a way to come together without something like a union structure to facilitate it. 

    1. Yes, voter turnout is up. Not just in 2008 and 2012 but also in 2010, so if you're going to credit voter turnout with Obama's victory, then you also have to credit it with the Tea Party victories. We can plausibly hypothesize that voter turnout is associated with increased with polarization because polarized voters care more than non-polarized voters. But voter polarization leads to government gridlock. Let's all cheer the status quo.

    2. I have long argued on this blog that statistical evidence suggests that campaign spending is overrated, but no one would believe me. You see, massive campaign spending didn't stop working in 2012. It never worked. But it's funny how quickly people shift. Only six months ago, everyone was absolutely positive that Mitt Romney bought his way to the nomination, but today everyone suddenly believes that money can't buy you love. I predict that this belief will persist until the next well-funded candidate wins a high profile election.

    3. See 1.

    4. So wait, two years ago, the old white guys took back the House and most of the governorships and state legislatures. Everyone was pulling their hair out about the Tea Party takeover. But two years later, ding-dong, the old white guys are dead. A massive demographic tidal wave dropped a house on their asses. (Of course, the old white guys still own the House and the governorships and the legislatures, but we can ignore that because Obama won...again.)

    Case for your point: Wisconsin.

    Sure, getting everybody out to vote there gave Obama the state and progressives are happy about Tammy Baldwin, BUT BUT BUT another result that progressives aren't bragging about is that the state of Wisconsin itself now has a 100% Republican government, the governor and the entire legislature:


    I would like to suggest that this historically Progressive state does not follow the same definition of "progressive" as most of the "progressive" blogosphere does.

    That's exactly right. Wisconsin may be the most polarized state in the country--with extremely passionate coalitions on both sides. So yes, voters participation is up, but it doesn't necessarily benefit Democrats, and it almost certainly leads to rancorous political conflict, a mirror of what's happening in Washington.

    But now in Wisconsin the Republicans need to do something with that power.  What did they do in Ohio? attack unions and try to limit the vote, among other things.  And we saw what happened.

    Really, I don't care who control things as long as they rule with rational compassion.  The Republicans of late have shown that when given power they go right wing nuts.  How the Wisconsin Republicans behave will say something about what lessons were learned.

    Of course, on the education front in Indiana, no lessons were learned by Pence after the school superintendent was thrown out, in part because as he and the current gov say, the election of repubs to the state legislator says people want to stay the course.

    Here in Michigan we're not about to ignore the governorship--or the Republican-dominated legislature.  If we can carry this momentum, maybe we can change that, too.  No lib Dem in my state is relaxing.  Not at all.

    That's all good. The trouble is that I doubt the con Repubs are relaxing either.

    We don't expect them to.

    Nattering nabob of negativity.  Jeez!

    You're right. It's going to be a magical four years. I can hardly wait.

    Go ahead.  Rip away.  Dastard!

    Thank god you weren't part of Lincoln's inner circle.

    I was actually, but reincarnation tends to make one cynical.

    Or, faced with one's journeys, one becomes more tender of heart, even if jaded. But I've been told I am new soul so I really don't know what it is like for your kind who walked this world more than once.

    1. Well, I guess you'd have to allow as Democratic voter turnout is up more than Republican turnout, 'cause the Democrats won!

    2. I was one of the people who figured that while money can't buy love, it could buy likability for Mitt Romney, at least enough to get him over the presidential hump. No one is more delighted than I am to see that it's not true. (Whether this is a statement about money or Romney himself remains to be seen.) And I do think that the strategy employed in MN was extremely effective.

    3. I'm going to stand my ground on this one. There will certainly be ebbs and flows, but it's increasingly obvious that we're a multicultural people living in a multipolar world. And the absolute requirement for sucking up to the rich white guys or pretending to be them is now more of...a choice.

    1. This year. These candidates.

    3. Getting better all the time but ever so slowly.


    I'll take that. Because I am a queen of compromise. And because you are smarter than I am.

    Nah. Just more overbearing.

    That said, I will offer up the butterfly effect cliche. The thing about cliches is, they turn out to be true often enough to survive. It was gratifying yesterday to watch the "Move Aside, White People, We've Got Us Some Hispanics to Woo!" frenzy on the news shows. Peggy Noonan was definitely having some new vibrations, and even if the halls of Washington are the last place to feel them, I would never argue with Peggy's vibrations, misguided though her interpretations of them might be.

    No one in poli sci really believes that spending moves the needle.  There's just no good evidence that it does.  Then again, there was no good evidence that Romney was winning.  The takeaway?  The findings of modern social science - economics, poli sci, sociology, etc - are not at all part of mainstream knowledge or discourse.

    Here's a  real good counter to your thoughts, from a Brit, Simon Jenkins:


    I don't get it.

    I wasn't voting for change,  Change is neither desirable nor not per se:Adolph was a change from  Bruening. The change I was voting not to happen  was Romney's threat to abolish Obamacare

     Most presidential plans are, well, interesting.Obamacare isn't. .Real human beings will avoid  avoidable death and pain.Starting during this second term but then continuing for as long as O-care remains in effect which ,please God, will be forever. When future historians search  for a short hand way to refer to Obama, the second term,I hope it'll be when we started  our National Health system .

    Education reform really means'Charter Schools providing  a  bargain for the 1% to send the brat to Brown . At our  expense..

    Tax reform in an oxymoron.

    It used to be said :ask Moynihan for help with a  visa and you got back an erudite discussion of the evolution of foreign policy and foreign travel and the feed back loop between them.Ask D'Amato, you got a visa 

    Obamacare means if you're sick you get made non sick.

    I don't want that to change.


    well said. 

    Fair enough. As long we don't deceive ourselves into believing that we voted ourselves some change.

    I think at this point you need to detail what you believe change to be.  Is moving the country ever so closer toward a nation that embraces a rational socialist government change, and thereby undermining the Regan legacy?

    Change is something other than the gridlock and empty posturing of the past two years.

    The point is that we have elected virtually the same people that were already in power, and there is little reason to expect them to govern differently from the way they have for the past two years.

    That doesn't mean that change is necessarily good. Our only alternative in this election was bad change, which we avoided in favor of more of the same.

    the beltway is filled with political creatures.  while some of the hardcore ideological politicians on both of side of the aisle might just act the same way as they did in the last few years, there are those (like Boehner I believe) who can shift dramatically if they believe it is in their own personal political aspirations and/or legacy, their party's future hopes, and even sometimes what it is good for the country.

    The last two years was a roll of the dice by the Republicans to be complete obstructionists in the hopes to knock Obama out of the WH.  They lost. Some will continue the fight.  Others won't.  Who belongs to the latter group and what level of their power amongst the Republicans is what is unknown.

    Who belongs to the latter group and what level of their power amongst the Republicans is what is unknown.

    I certainly agree, and I may be wrong. But as I have argued before, the Republicans have consistently steered right for the past twenty years--in the face of far greater defeats than Tuesday's. It is quite possible that a bunch of them will suddenly see the light of moderation this year. But I would not bet on it.

    I would add, that so far, I believe that Obama will be different in his second term in regards to his willingness to fight.  He wants to be a transformative president, and while the last four years was a president who eyed his re-election, this four years will be the one who eyes the history books.  And one who cares about the academic historians and not the blog historians.

    I think you're taking a rather short view of the election in that you seem to be considering only Washington, and only Washington in the near term.  

    For my part, I find this election far more heartening than the last one because 2008, in a number of ways, was a rock star election and this one was of the people.  When you read what people, the actual voters, have to say this year (and I read comments prodigiously all over the net), they are proud of themselves.  Everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, people are saying they are sick of regressive right wing schtick, sick of bigotry, sick of the rich robbing the poor, sick of misogyny, sick of right to life fascism and, yes, sick of lily white Christianity as well.  

    People everywhere are blowing kisses to not just Elizabeth Warren, but to the survival of Obamacare, Medicare, equal pay for equal work, Tammy Baldwin and the eventual triumph of gay marriage.  These are the things that people were voting for this time, not Obama, but the things that he might better steward for them.  So when he says you did this, it's now true.  It wasn't about him.  

    And the coalition that brought this election about is also unprecedented.  I know I'm not saying anything new here but it is absolutely brilliant.  Not to mention that you need only look to California to see what it might portend.  They were as tired of their gridlock as you are of Washington's, so they organized, planned a ground game and took the power to vote in a supermajority that would represent what they want.   And as the old saying tells us: as California goes, so goes the nation. 

    We will of course have to wait till the mid-terms to even begin to inch toward that nationally, and it's possible that the astroturf right wingers will manage to keep their knuckle-dragging candidates coming.  They can manage small scale successes in their inbred districts.  But the regressive politics of party of the white men is clearly doomed.  You can feel it in the air.  And even if it takes another ten years, the sea change has begun.

    Oy, don't talk to me about California props. That's dumbest form of governance in America. Unlike Washington, California does not owe its gridlock to hyperpartisan politics. It owes it to the contradictory props that voters keep hurling at the legislature. May we please not imitate CA in this regard.

    As for the rest, I remember a quite buoyant mood in 2008. People were very proud of themselves and excited about the change to come. In NYC, we were literally dancing in the streets. And at that time round, we actually elected an overwhelmingly Democratic House and a supermajority in the Senate. So it's odd to suggest that Obama's win on Tuesday and a few additional Senate and House seats represents a more profound victory than 2008.

    Change and resistance aren't precisely the same things.  People said yes in 2008.  This year they said no.  And by the way I live in NY myself and, certainly, people were elated in 2008.  But they were elated about Obama and I hardly see that at all this year.  People feel more like they dodged a bullet.  

    I think that's a step in the right direction because I don't put much faith in messiahs.  I'd much rather see people open their own eyes since politicians don't initiate as much as they follow trends -- which means there just may be some shifts within the Republican party as well.  I wouldn't count on that.  But they are doomed if they don't open their eyes as well.  

    Sorry you feel so negative about California.  I tend to see the mobilization of minority voters there as a hopeful thing, and the successful fight against education cuts seems to me more than hopeful.  But I do understand that there's reason for your negativity as well.  We're still a long way from home.  

    I'm not, however, the only one who sees California as a promising sign.


    Dude.. and I mean that with the utmost, like, respect, brah: California voters do not hurl props at the legislature.  It's definitely not an effective form of legislating, but the voters do not drive it primarily, which is one of the main reasons it sucks.  Props are largely spearheaded and funded by the usual suspects: big business, unions and the parties themselves.  There are rare exceptions to this, like 215, but they're just that - exceptions.

    Obama was a stronger candidate, but not particularly strong as a candidate and the opposition put up a particularly weak candidate to oppose him.  He was, however, the incumbent and what was strong was the multi-racial/ethnic, mutli-generational coalition determined to  keep him in office and prevent the Republicans from returning to power.

    In the coming 4 years, the Democrats in the Senate, like the President, will play a strong hand weakly and will not stand up to the Republicans primarily because they are so compromised and beholden to the same corporate powers that fund and manipulate the GOP.  Remember where most of the President's campaign cash was coming from (spoiler alert: it wasn't from small donors).

    The President proved in his four years, more than anything else, to be a staunch advocate not of change, but of the status quo.  His record is clear. 

    On the mythical "global war on terror" the President adopted all of Bush's policies lock, stock and barrel.  On the Patriot Act and domestic spying, again the President adopted the Bush administration's positions and added some features even more extreme, more illegal, and more disrespectful of the innocent citizen's right to be left alone and to rest assured that he/she will not be the subject of arbitrary state policing powers similar to those of the secret police agencies in eastern Europe and Russia during the Soviet era.  The President's escalation of the Afghanistan War, his escalation of the use of drones and subsequently of the ongoing slaughter of hundreds if not thousands of innocent people, and his entirely illegal claim of having the right, on his word alone, to designate US Citizens as terrorists and to have them murdered on that same illegitimate authority are all shameful acts that Democrats have had little or no objection to these past four years.  The President, in his first term, tried several times to get the ball rolling on cutting Social Security and Medicare in the name of deficit reduction.  He caved in an allowed the Bush tax cuts to continue in return for precious little.  He got the Heritage Foundation's healthcare reform proposal passed which will cover many for the first time but do nothing about rising premiums or the unacceptable health outcomes of our medical system.  He did little to combat global warming and abandoned the top priority of the labor movement  (EFCA) almost immediately upon being sworn in.

    People can fool themselves into believing that Obama has tried to bring change to our government by accepting all of the very poor excuses offered by the administration but the facts are stubborn and there's simply no evidence to support the claim that Obama has tried to bring change as promised--other than in platitudes and symbolic first efforts quickly abandoned.  To expect the population to be organized and demand change without any leadership is the worst kind of wooly minded thinking.

    The President repeatedly promised on election night in his victory speech that he would "fight" for us.  Well, now that he's been reelected it is time for him to put up or shut up.  We will find out soon enough if he meant any of it. 

    The faux "crisis" of the "fiscal cliff" will be a moment of great consequence for all of us little people.  The critical question will be whether or not Obama will again try to cut Social Security and Medicare and even Medicaid as part of a "grand bargain' to address the deficit as he did after his Catfood Commission recommended it.  I suspect that he will do just that.  And this will be billed as making "the tough choices" that needed to be made and Democrats (who would oppose any Republican making such a vile proposal) will go along with it because he's their guy. 

    But of course the only sacrifice those "tough choices" will produce will be from workers who will have to work more years before being able to retire and receive less in retirement despite having paid for more all their lives or in other words, by stealing from the elderly and the poor.  And all this will be in service to making sure no significant cuts are made to the sacrosanct and obscene Pentagon budget along with preserving inexcusably low tax rates on the rich.

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