It’s a start

I’ve been keeping half an eye on the US results during work. The more miraculous outcomes haven’t happened (e.g. GOP losing control of the senate or Ted Cruz losing) but overall this is looking good for the Democratic Party.

But this will be a long conflict, a generational one if anything. The extent to which the far-right has gained influence in multiple US institutions is significant and it has been happening for much longer than Trump gave voice to their aspirations.

The Texas result, in which Ted Cruz barely won against Beto O’Rourke is better than ‘Ted Cruz wins’ sounds. Texas is a bulwark of electoral college votes for the Republicans in Presidential elections and anything that implies the Democrats could win there (even as an outside chance) will give GOP strategists sleepless nights.

Any result that empowers the centre and the left to challenge the Republican Party on one hand and the Trump administration on the other, on multiple fronts is great news. This will still be a long, exhausting struggle back from authoritarianism and keeping the GOP on the defensive limits the amount of damage they can inflict. It’s not an exaggeration to say that distracting them from their agenda will save lives in the short-term.

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45 thoughts on “It’s a start

  1. Just a heads up Cam, recently when I visit your site from my iPad, I get a dodgy pop-up claiming to be a Google survey telling me that I could win an iphone.
    It might just be my browser, but it only seems to happen when I visit your site.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually this was a disappointing result, no different from a typical mid-term realignment. There’s no sign in the results of any sort of repudiation of Trump or the Republicans. The only bright point is that now that Democrats control the House, we can do some serious investigating of him and (finally) look at his tax returns.

    There’s the outside chance that Trump will actually make deals with the Democrats that sell the conservative Republicans down the river. Most Republican Senators don’t dare oppose Trump, so, in theory, anything Pelosi and Trump agree to would probably become law. I wouldn’t hold out a lot of hope for this, though.

    What Democrats need to do is take a really hard look at the things we do that cause so many voters to think that we’re no improvement on Trump. One really clear message is that opposing the Kavanaugh nomination the way we did was a colossal mistake. Note that all of our vulnerable senators except one lost their reelection bids. The only one who survived was the only one who voted to confirm Kavanaugh. The polls before and after Kavanaugh tell the same story.

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    1. That points to entrenchment of attitudes, which was something polls had already indicated i.e. an electoral shift would happen mainly due to shifting turn out than changed allegiance

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      1. New young voters were 2 to 1 Democrats, while the ranks of those-always-voting-60+ year-olds thin with each year.
        Hell, if we didn’t have such a gerrymandered hot mess of a non-democratic system, the Senate would have shifted Democratic this time.
        They lost seats in the face of a tidy majority of voters.
        “As of 11 a.m. on the day after Election Day, there were than 45 million votes (56.8% of the total) cast for a Democratic Senate candidate compared to 33 million votes (41.6%) for a Republican candidate.” CNN
        So, okay, we need more than overwhelming turn-out.
        I’m betting we get it in 2020.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Regarding the Kavanaugh thing, the Republicans did exactly the same thing with Obama’s last supreme court pick and that person was a lot less objectionable than Kavanaugh, i.e. he did not have a history of alcohol abuse and potentially sexually assaulting women. The Republicans also tried to black Obama’s first supreme court pick, only that they didn’t have the power to do so. Meanwhile, Trump’s first supreme court pick passed without much opposition from the Democrats.

      So why exactly is it a problem when the Democrats vote not to confirm a genuinely questionably candidate (cause even if you take the sexual assault allegations out of account, Kavanaugh’s alcohol abuse and losing his shit in public still make him unsuitable for the job), when the Republicans have been doing the same with candidate who are much less objectionable.

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      1. Very simple. Most people never worry that the Senate might refuse to schedule hearings for them. It’s a remote, purely political problem.

        But everyone can identify with the idea of being falsely accused and put into a situation where you cannot clear your name, where you have no presumption of innocence, and no access to due process. The sheer injustice of it makes people furious. I feel it too, and I 100% agree that Kavanaugh was unfit to sit on the court. Justice means nothing if it only applies to people we like.

        You can argue all day that “oh it’s not like being charged with a crime–it was just a job interview” but that’s not how millions of people saw it, and they’re not entirely wrong. If we keep arguing that there are circumstances where a man should always always presumed gulity until proven innocent, we are going to lose lots of votes. And we’ll deserve to lose them.

        We should be able to find ways to get justice for women without creating a bigger injustice in the process.

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      2. I have zero sympathy for Kavanaugh. He perjured himself under oath, whether or not he committed the assaults for which he was accused. I’m even willing to believe that he doesn’t **remember** those assaults — because even his best buddy from high school has said they were black-out drunks. And that’s the thing about being a black-out drunk — you don’t remember what happened!

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      3. Many people may not have seen it as being about criminal guilt but those people were also not just incorrect but also inconsistent. The counter proposal that accusations of wrong doing can only be made if there is conclusive proof is also not viable and not something that applies in life in general. Ending up with social rules that only accept those conditions for claims of sexual assault would create an insurmountable barrier for justice for victims of sexual assault in general.

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      4. And how is what happened to Kavanaugh in any way different than the circus about Bill Clinton’s alleged relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a relationship that was consensual, though Clinton was also accused of harrassing some other women?

        What is more, there was no risk that Kavanaugh might actually be charged and tried for this thirty year old case of alleged sexual asault. The worst thing that would have happened to him is that he would not get the job and could have gone back to doing whatever he did before. And if you agree to apply for a prominent political position in the US, whether that’s president, senator or supreme court judge, your personal life, including any potential missteps in your past, will be placed under intense scrutiny (which baffles those of us outside the US, where no one cares about affairs, though sexual assault and the like will probably kill your career – at any rate, looking at legal photos of underage boys killed a political hopeful’s career). You’d assume Kavanaugh would have known that he’d face scrutiny and that much of it would be unpleasant and intrusive.

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      5. Sure he knew. That’s why he led with an attack, blubber-bombing and accusing, and the Republicans watching at home thought, gee, wouldn’t it be terrible if they found out what I did after the Prom? And they say, out loud, “It’s terrible that a man can be accused of a thing like that!”

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    3. Nope – Look at the down ballot.
      It isn’t just the national elections that matter.
      (And the House is a huge win, cutting deeply into the GOP ranks.)
      But importantly in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania state governments flipped to Democrats, not just the governors, but legislatures. (Went and looked up flipped governors: add Maine, Kansas, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada.)
      Courts in Texas flipped, the end of GOP supermajority in North Carolina’s state legislature – which means the Democratic governor can now veto things.
      This is just what’s at the top of my head, it is deep and broad.
      The Senate was never really in play, that was just the press making drama.
      But in 2020 Senate races will tilt in the other direction, and the ground game in a lot of crucial states just turned around.
      And even the high profile loses, Beto and Gillum, were amazingly, unexpectedly, close, meaning that these sates are now really in play in a way they haven’t been for decades.

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    4. Not opposing Kavanaugh would have made the Democrats irrelevant. Just another party that thinks election victory should be gained over the bodies of others. It would be a party that deserved to be destroyed. Just as the republicans are.

      It is not only about the Republicans being defeated. It is also about the Democrats being worthy enough to win.

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      1. It’s not that they opposed him. It’s how they opposed him. It’s not really about Kavanaugh at all. It’s about trying to do something grossly unfair to get rid of him. If they’d stabbed him, would everyone still be arguing “well, he was a bad guy anyway?”

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      2. I do not agree. Opposing Kavanaugh is about Kavanaugh. Exactly what is it that you say was grossly unfair? Be specific.

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      3. Well, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by multiple women, he clearly had an alcohol abuse problem in his youth and he very clearly has temper issues. All of these things at least require investigation whether he’s suitable for the job. And besides, this isn’t the first time a sexual assault accusation came back to haunt a Supreme Court hopeful. See Anita Hill and the lone black judge whose name escapes me. So what’s the difference between that judge and Kavanaugh?

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      4. @greg —

        “It’s not that they opposed him. It’s how they opposed him. It’s not really about Kavanaugh at all. It’s about trying to do something grossly unfair to get rid of him.”

        Ummm. What???

        It’s only “grossly unfair” if you assume that every one of those women was wilfully lying about the assaults. Is that what you assume? Really??

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      5. Greg, what was “grossly unfair” about having Christine Blasey Ford testify? If anything, the “circus” was grossly unfair to her; no corroborative witnesses, including her husband, friends and therapists whom she told about the incident long before Kavanaugh was a gleam in Trump’s eye; the committee cutting off and dismissing the female prosecutor asking questions just when she appeared to be about to drill down into Kavanaugh’s highly-touted calendar for exactly what happened one particular summer night, and allowing Lindsey Graham to yell and grandstand instead; and ignoring the other women who came forward with similar accounts. The whole thing was a travesty of justice, all right, but Brett Kavanaugh was not the one who got screwed over.

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    5. At the moment Democrats have picked up 31 House seats. If every uncalled race’s current leader wins, that total will rise to 35. If late-breaking votes in California go to the Democrats (as is typically the case), the number might be a little higher. Considering how much gerrymandering and voter suppression Democratic voters are faced with, I’d call that a pretty big wave. In fact, in terms of vote margin, the Democratic tide was bigger than either the 2010 or 2014 Republican waves that got so much attention.

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  3. Texas is still seventy percent white people and deeply racist. Over 70% of the white men voted for Cruz and 59% of the white women (though as we’ve learned, some of that white woman vote is coerced in conservative communities.) A lot of it comes from the northern part of Texas, further away from the border and the most worried they’ll lose their white majority to immigration. The rest — young people, POC, a growing blue population in Texas — voted for Beto in the majority. And numerous Democrats won major races in Texas, thanks to Beto’s outreach, including Democrats of color. And all that was with massive voter suppression in Texas, including stuff that looks like outright fraud on election day, and heavy gerrymandering. So Texas is continuing its shift to deep purple, but we’re not quite there yet.

    There were significant wins. We got the House, which was necessary to have any hope at all. We flipped a lot of governorships, we have major record holders on number of women, Native American and Muslim members of Congress, flipped very important state legislatures, got an actual Democrat Congressperson in Oklahoma, etc. And there were voter initiatives that were important, knocking down gerrymandering, automatic voter registration in two states, and about a million Floridian ex-cons who will now be able to vote in future elections, (and guess where they lean.) Nevada went for 50% renewable energy, and Michigan legalized pot — fewer people (POC) arrested for possession. The youth voters came out in droves, which is a really good event. Despite the voter suppression of broken machines, shortened polling place hours, etc., there was really good turn-out and people waited it out for hours. Colorado, the state that sought to persecute gays with an iron hand only a few years ago now has an openly gay Democrat governor.

    So yes, the mid-term gains are in line with what my husband and poly sci friends were expecting for a mid-term election in the current economy, but they were all also very excited at all the voting shifts signaled in the results. We are in transition, which is why the Republicans have become more and more authoritarian and openly bigoted — to spread fear of that transition, mainly with white men and old white people. The question was whether their authoritarianism was effective enough to maintain organized control and run rampant. And the answer is, not yet. Which is hopeful.

    We are going to have another large recession, and it’s probably going to be global. It’s going to be caused by a corporate debt bubble this time, because instead of practicing sustainable capitalism where they reinvest cash into their labor force, infrastructure and R&D for sustainable growth, the execs and major shareholders have been parking cash in accounts, doing stock buy-backs to enrich their personal fortunes, having lay-offs to temporarily elevate the stock price with subsequent decline of service and inventory stocking for retail, and borrowing way beyond their ability to deal with it, loading their companies with debt that isn’t theirs and can’t be maintained if things go south. The downfall of companies like Toys R Us and Sears was due to scavenger capitalism and loading those companies with debt. With finance raising interest rates over inflation fears, that shuffle collapses further. And Trump’s jerry-rigged trade wars have been seriously hurting farmers and the steel industry, which looks to get worse. So the economists are mainly saying 2020 for the recession, but recently some are predicting maybe as early as 2019. That will have an impact on the 2020 election.

    So not perfect, and it certainly doesn’t tackle income equality and the sabotage of healthcare, but it is the foundational ground that we needed to get anywhere further. The electorate is awake and it’s going to now get bigger and more representational. But that also means a lot of screaming is going to go on. The ones who want to be “civil” about repression are going to be sad. Trump-backed candidates mainly didn’t do well, and the Republicans’ behavior over Kavanaugh lost them a lot of (white) women voters (though not enough yet.)

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  4. Meanwhile, having declared that the Republicans would hold the House, Ted Beale and his little club are once again redefining victory.

    And various other words.

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      1. That’s less fun.

        Though as usual, Trump is day late and a dollar short in his tyranny.

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      2. I suspect that no one wanted the job of attempting to explain to Trump the implications of Democratic control of the House (and thus all of its committees) for the Mueller investigation.

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    1. If an asteroid were to wipe out most life on Earth tomorrow, Teddy Beale and his friends would consider it a victory they had of course predicted and planned for all along.

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  5. With the gerrymandering, fraud, and vote suppression, I thought it was possible that the R’s would keep the House, so it’s excellent that they didn’t. That’s all I really hoped for.

    Am very happy for friends in Michigan (not about the pot) and Wisconsin.

    The husband and I had seen a headline mentioning “first openly gay governor” but not where. We’re both from Colorado and when we heard it was there, we were both boggled. A good boggled, mind you — but as a state with mines, forestry, agriculture, lots of rural area, and a shit load of Mormons, whoda thunk? We both did “startled Muppet takes”.

    And the guy he beat is the great-grandson of who the original (downtown and much more convenient plus not at all Satanic) airport* was named for**, so there’s a century of built-in name recognition for him. He’s also a cousin of the Bushes, and I think the only guy endorsed by both Trump and Sanders… wtf.

    I am even more amazed that Kansas elected a Democratic governor. Kansas! And even Utah decided to legalize medical marijuana… probably tired of losing people to their neighbor Colorado (and it really is the best thing for the few poor kids with intractable seizures).

    Beto was much closer than expected, and he helped the downticket.

    I did a’ight on local stuff — didn’t get the city council member I wanted, but got second choice; got my choice for community college board and state senate.

    *Seriously. The red-eyed killer demon horse, Masons, etc. etc. Let 10^6 conspiracy theories bloom.
    **Also the mayor of Denver, who was elected by and for the KKK. Not a theory, actual fact.

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  6. It’s worth pointing out that Democrats didn’t go after Gorsuch – also a Trump appointee and a rabid conservative – in anything like the way they approached the Kavanaugh nomination.
    There’s a reason.
    Whatever your thoughts may be about the #MeToo movement, you need to take a good look at Kavanaugh before you want to argue that he was attacked unfairly.
    He was a really substandard nominee, and a lot of the problems were not ever really addressed by a GOP senate who were committed to appointing him no matter what.
    His strongest qualification, and the reason for his nomination, is that he expressed the belief that a sitting president doesn’t have to face any legal consequences short of impeachment.
    (And I believe every one of the accusations, by the way, and think his presence on the court is appalling.)

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    1. Even if you ignore the charges of sexual assault against Kavanaugh – and you shouldn’t – he is manifestly unfit for the Supreme Court, by temperament and background. His entire career has been as a partisan political hack with not a trace of integrity. Newt Gingrich gave the entire game away last week when he said, “If the Democrats take the House, we’ll see if the fight over Kavanaugh was worth it.”

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      1. @PhilRM —

        “Even if you ignore the charges of sexual assault against Kavanaugh – and you shouldn’t – he is manifestly unfit for the Supreme Court, by temperament and background.”

        Forget vague concepts like “temperament and background” — he perjured himself under oath about things that had nothing to do with those assault allegations.

        I am crossing my fingers that he eventually gets impeached for perjury. Not holding my breath, but crossing my fingers.

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      2. I think that he’s impeachable for perjury (and never should have been confirmed), but in the current climate the Senate won’t convict until the Trump administration is discredited if then. But there is an alternative to impeachment – prosecution.

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  7. Don’t know if you folks are podcast listeners, but On the Media, a show produced by WNYC in New York (coincidentally enough which is all about the media) just posted an interview they did with Lilliana Mason a U of Maryland political psychologist, entitled Why We’re So Polarized. It’s definitely worth listening to, albeit kinda depressing.

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  8. Missed this in the first round: several Medicaid expansion initiatives passed in states, which means more healthcare access for folks and a reversal of some of the attempts of Republicans to cut Medicaid access. And more House seats in various states and California coming in today. Also some minimum wage raise initiatives came through and other environmental initiatives.

    Kansas is not really the surprise one might have thought. It’s been used as a libertarian experiment by the Republicans and consequently the entire state economy has been devastated. That doesn’t always mean they dump Republicans sadly, but this time it happened.

    House Democrats — up to 225 seats! Nothing would have been possible without this happening, which is why Trump fired Sessions, brought in an illegal pick for his temp replacement and is desperately trying to ruin the probe before Democrats are seated. It gives folks a lot to build on for 2020.

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    1. It’s not an illegal pick, it’s just counter Department regulations and highly irregular. Which is a good sign that this is the start of more obstruction of justice, which is helluv illegal.

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      1. @Space Oddity —

        “It’s not an illegal pick”

        Kellyanne Conway’s husband claims it is unconstitutional. I haven’t read any of the details, though.

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      2. Oh, it’s definitely against constitutional intent. Especially the “And he’s now in charge of supervising the Mueller investigation”. And if he doesn’t get around to running this by the Senate soon, then he’s broken the law.

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    2. I’m still surprised about Kansas. The libertarian dumpster fire has been happening for quite a while (the famous book dates from 2004), and they still re-elected him 4 years ago. I thought they’d never learn.

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    3. My absolute favorite news of the day is that the odious Republican Karen Handel – the woman who single-handedly wrecked the reputation of the Susan G Komen Foundation, and who won her House seat in Georgia’s 6th district in an incredibly expensive and high-profile special election against Jon Ossof last year (it was cast as the first referendum election on Trump) – lost her re-election bid to Democrat Stacy McBath, a black woman who decided to run for Congress after her teenage son was murdered at a gas station by some racist gun-toting white guy.

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  9. I guess people are right that this hardly changes anything, really. It’s only the flipping to Democratic of seven governorships, six state legislative chambers, and more than 300 state House and Senate seats, breaking of the GOP supermajority in Pennsylvania and thus foiling the plan to impeach and remove state judges who’d ruled that the severely gerrymandered districts must be redrawn, a breaking of monopoly legislative control in Minnesota, throwing Kris Kobach out of office entirely in Kansas, and doing the same to Scott Walker, foiling GOP hopes of commandeering the decennial census again to gerrymander the House of Representatives and dozens of state legislatures for another decade, and ruining the Koch Brothers’ hopes of forcing an Article V constitutional convention by ensuring that not enough states can call for one.

    So, nothing much. Same old.

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    1. Also, Kyrsten Sinema’s Republican opponent has just conceded in the AZ race to replace Senator Jeff “Jellyfish” Flake (it hasn’t been called yet but Sinema has an insurmountable lead, 38,000 votes with about 75,000 still to be counted). Of almost equal significance, Katie Robb, the Democratic candidate for AZ Secretary of State, now has a lead of nearly 5700 votes. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of having someone who supports voting rights in that position for the 2020 election. (This could possibly swing back; she was down by about 500 votes at the end of yesterday.)

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