Election Losses Lead To Debate Inside Democratic Party

Another round of election losses is leading Democrats to contemplate the direction they should take going forward.

Democrat-Donkey

Perhaps inevitably, another round of losses in a midterm election appears to be leading to something of a conflict inside the Democratic Party over how to proceed forward:

WASHINGTON — The Democrats’ widespread losses last week have revived a debate inside the party about its fundamental identity, a long-running feud between center and left that has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of a disastrous election and in a time of deeply felt economic anxiety.

The discussion is taking place in post-election meetings, conference calls and dueling memos from liberals and moderates. But it will soon grow louder, shaping the actions of congressional Democrats in President Obama’s final two years and, more notably, defining the party’s presidential primary in 2016.

“The debate will ultimately play out in a battle for the soul of the Clinton campaign,” said Matt Bennett, a senior official at Third Way, the centrist political group.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, should she run, will face tension between the business-friendly wing of the party that was ascendant in the economic boom during her husband’s administration and the populism of SenatorElizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, that has gained currency of late.

“I want her to run on a raising wages agenda and not cater to Wall Street but to everyday people,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said of his expectations for Mrs. Clinton.

Straddling the two blocs could prove difficult. Progressives have been emboldened to criticize party leaders after the Republican rout, particularly given a lack of a coherent Democratic message to address the problem of stagnant wages.

Sifting through returns showing that lower-income voters either supported Republicans or did not vote, liberals argue that without a more robust message about economic fairness, the party will continue to suffer among working class voters, particularly in the South and Midwest.

Mr. Obama’s wide popularity among activists and his attempt to transcend the traditional moderate-versus-liberal divide have largely papered over Democratic divisions on economic policy for the last six years. The party was also brought together by passage the health care law, a goal of Democratic presidents since Harry Truman. But with Mr. Obama’s popularity flagging, and an economic recovery largely benefiting the affluent, Democrats are clashing anew.

Unlike the 1980s, when heavy losses prompted moderates to plead with the party to move away from liberal interest groups and toward to the middle, it is now progressives who are the most outspoken.

And they are seizing on the election results to reorient the party. “Too many Democrats are too close to Wall Street, too many Democrats support trade agreements that outsource jobs and too many Democrats are too willing to cutSocial Security — and that’s why we lose elections,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.

Mr. Brown said he had talked to over 60 Ohio Democratic leaders and activists since they got trounced in every statewide election and saw their state chairman quit. “The message I heard from all of them was: the Democratic Party should fight for the little guy.”

Interestingly, one of the arguments that these new populists progressives are making is that Democrats spend too much time on social issues, which isn’t all that dissimilar from the argument that many people trying to reform the Republican Party are making:

While overwhelmingly in sync on the substance of cultural issues, some of the populists believe Democrats placed too much emphasis on such matters and not enough on economic fairness, depressing voter turnout.

“Gay marriage, abortion and birth control are important,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union. “But people join our organization for their livelihood, and that’s what our people vote on: their economic self-interest. I do think the party needs to re-examine what it stands for and get back to bread-and-butter issues.”

Perhaps nothing going on in the Democratic Party right now epitomizes the debate that is developing better than the approach that the two sides are taking to the 2016 Presidential race. On the one side, there are the party insiders who are either explicitly or implicitly lining up behind Hillary Clinton even though she hasn’t announced she’s running yet. Indeed, there were many such insiders, including people who worked for President Obama’s campaign against Clinton six years ago, who were already making their preference known months before Clinton herself embarked on the book tour that seems so obviously to be the precursor to a White House bid. On the other side, though, are those representing the more left wing parts of the Democratic Party who see Clinton as too closely tied to Wall Street and big business, and who have spent a good part of the last six years expressing sometimes muted, and sometimes quite open, disappointment with the Obama Administration, That disappointment has spanned the range from a foreign policy that is far closer to the Bush Administration than many of the President’s early and most enthusiastic supporters likely expected they would ever see from someone like Obama, who was an early and vocal critic of the Iraq War and many of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, to the Administration’s failure to take much action at all against bankers or Wall Street related to the 2008 financial meltdown. Additionally, there is the perception, expressed many times by some of the spokespeople for the more progressive point of view, that while the President himself has done a good job of talking about the policies they think are important he hasn’t done much to actually promote those ideas or the see them enacted into law.

In the context of 2016, many of these critics on the left have often expressed open frustration with the apparent coronation that Hillary Clinton is likely to receive if she runs, and have tried to rally around another candidate who, even if they could not win the nomination, could at least serve as someone who could bring these issues up and force Clinton to address them as a candidate. The most obvious candidate that they’ve rallied around, of course, has been Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose ascent to office largely occurred due to the very populist progressive message that this group would like to advance. For her part, Warren has denied any Presidential ambitions, and the people who were her chief financial backers during her Senate campaign have said that they would not support her if she ran for President against Clinton. Despite these constant denials, though, Warren continues to maintain rock star status on the left, continues to be asked about running for President, and was just yesterday given a special role in the Democratic Senate leadership in what seems like an obvious effort to reach out to, and possibly placate, the people who have been supporting her. Beyond Warren, other candidates who have been mentioned as possible standard bearers for this wing of the Democratic Party have been former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, former Montana Governor Brian Schwietzer, and Vermont Senator, and avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders. None of these candidates has Warren’s cachet on the left, though, and each of them has flaws that Warren presently doesn’t largely because they have been in the public eye much longer than she has, That notwithstanding, though, it seems apparent that if Warren doesn’t run in 2016, and I remain of the opinion that she will not, then one of these potential candidates, or perhaps someone else, will end up running against Clinton and attempt to push her to the left, or at least to address the “populist” issues that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party considers to be important.

Somewhat lost in the coverage of this ongoing debate between the progressives and what I suppose you can call the “establishment” Democrats, is the fact that the outcome of this debate holds within it some of the same dangers that the Republican Party faces in its own internal battles. Since the days of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, Democrats have succeeded nationally in no small part because they abandoned the course that the party took in the wake of the Vietnam War when it moved decidedly to the left. While this didn’t have an immediate impact on their advantages in Congress and the states due in no small part to the power of incumbency, at the Presidential level it led to a series of losses at landslide levels in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 that led many to wonder whether Republicans had developed some kind of a “lock” on the White House that would lead to a long string of Republican Presidents headed into the future. In addition to factors such as the economy and mistakes by the Bush 41 campaign, Bill Clinton succeeded in 1992 in no small part because he followed the playbook of groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council that were calling on Democrats to move more toward the center, That strategy has succeeded quite nicely for Democrats, of course, especially when you consider the fact that they have won the Presidency in four of the six Presidential contests since then, and won the popular vote in five of those contests. Now, it’s the Republican Party that seems on the ropes at the Presidential level.

All of that success could fall apart, though, if the Democratic Party is seen as moving too far to the left, and the obsession that some Democrats have with Elizabeth Warren is one example of how that could happen. For all the talk about how her message of economic populism won the day in the 2012 Senate race, the fact of the matter is that Elizabeth Warren was a Democrat who was running for election in Massachusetts in a Presidential election year. Notwithstanding Scott Brown’s record, it’s likely that anyone could have won that race with a “D” after their name, so assuming that what happened in that race is a lesson for how to win nationwide would be as mistaken as Republicans assuming that Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas in 2012 was a guide for how to win a national election. Even in the best of years, it seems unlikely that Warren would play as well as a national candidate as her progressive boosters seem to think she would, or even that she’d have the kind of success against Clinton that would actually force Clinton to move to the left more than she might be comfortable with. More importantly, though, just as the GOP has endangered itself by moving to the right in ways that put it out of step with the middle of the road voters who actually decide national elections, a Democratic shift to the left could do exactly the same thing.

As I said, it’s not surprising that Democrats would be having a debate like this in the wake of the kind of loss they suffered on Election Day, a loss that is likely to get worse after the Louisiana runoff on December 6th. However, progressive Democrats hoping to use this as an opportunity to push their party to the left ought to by careful of what the wish for, because  they could end up making the same mistakes Republicans have, to the detriment of their party and even partial success on the issues they care about.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Campaign 2016, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. edmondo says:

    “I want her to run on a raising wages agenda and not cater to Wall Street but to everyday people,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said of his expectations for Mrs. Clinton.

    And people in Hell want ice water. Neither of these will happen.

  2. edmondo says:

    However, progressive Democrats hoping to use this as an opportunity to push their party to the left ought to by careful of what the wish for, because they could end up pissing off the Wall Street players who own them and the Republican Party.

    I fixed that last part for you, Doug.

  3. Todd says:

    Doug,

    The Democrats moving to the middle worked in the 90s because there was still a middle. These days, even the most conservative Democrat, and even some Republicans will be labeled as a “Liberal” anyway. I think you’re giving the average voter too much credit if you think they will be able to tell the difference between an actual Liberal, and a Centrist labeled as a Liberal. Might as well try running the real thing, so as not to suppress the turnout of those progressive who can recognize the difference.

  4. Mr. Prosser says:

    Wages and safety nets should be part of the campaign as well as some push towards a WPA/CCC program for infrastructure; nuts and bolts issues for the middle class. I don’t see the War on Women and other culture war issues being as big as in the past although I’m sure immigration and racial issues will play a big part.

  5. Rick DeMent says:

    The mistake that either party will make in evaluating the win \ loss in a midterm election is that it has anything to do with ideology or policy. Right now the GOP has a pocket of issues that motivate their base while at the same time don’t really motivate a counter reaction among democrats. The big three are:

    Pro-gun vs. gun
    Anti-abortion vs. pro choice
    Anti-gay marriage vs pro-gay marriage

    In each of these case the GOP base has been whipped into a lather and feature some hard-core single issue voters where literally nothing else matters to the. While democrats are just meh. Additionally there really aren’t any issues that Democrats get all that excited about. At least not to the degree that the GOP base has been torqued up. I mean read some comments on Facebook or any internet discussion, it not just that some feel that Obama is a bad president or they don’t like his policy initiatives, they think that all liberals are the work of the freaking devil.
    No I understand that there were shrill feces slingers on the liberal side during the Bush administration, but my god no one ever heckled him during a SotU speech, and virtually none of people in congress even gave lip service to some on the more nutty conspiracy theories (Bush planned 9/11). Most of the liberal wackos were just whacked in general (James Traficant) not really all that partisan.

    No I just don’t know how to fight off that much crazy without becoming as batcrap insane as the tea types are and I’m not willing to go there.

  6. stonetools says:

    The Republicans have moved so far to the right that what used to be center is now considered left. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans actually considered universal health insurance to be good policy and not “soshulism” and therefore forbidden. The debate was then how to achieve universal health insurance. The Republicans just did not say, as they do now, that anyone who can’t afford health insurance should just eff off and die.

    There’s plenty of room for the Democrats to propose sensible policies aimed at helping the middle and working class and not be considered “far left” , “crazy”, Hippies, etc.

    Of course, messaging will play a key role.The Republicans have a megaphone that seems to be able to drown out even the Presidential bully pulpit and they now have access to unlimited dark money thanks to Citizens United..The Democrats will have to find ways to counteract that.
    What Democrats most assuredly should not do is move to the right. As Harry Truman said, “Give people a choice between a Republican and a Rpublican and they’ll vote Republican every time.”
    They should also forget about reclaiming the South, any time soon. A generation of Southerners angry about the Democrats’ abandonment of white supremacy as a doctrine has to die off first.
    I’ll post some more on what the Democrats should do later.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    Democrats have succeeded nationally in no small part because they abandoned the course that the party took in the wake of the Vietnam War when it moved decidedly to the left.

    Thank you for that, Doug. It’s a pet peeve of mine that writers talk about the Dems moving left as though it were some ideological thing in a vacuum, rather than a reaction to the craziness of the times.

  8. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Election Losses Lead To Debate Inside Democratic Party

    Good.

    And well it should ! They tried GOP-Light, and got trounced.

    It’s time for the Democratic wing of the Democratic party to lead.

    Let’s hear more from Liz Warren (ala Daily Kos) :

    Democrats will never win by running as what Harry Truman called “phony Democrats.” We can only win by contrasting what we believe and what we’ve done when in power with the beliefs and actions of our Republican opponents. There is no alternative. And there’s no one in our party better suited to make that contrast to the American people than the woman who said this:

    People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. […]

    The Republican vision is clear: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends.

    Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/16/1344090/-She-may-not-want-to-but-we-need-Elizabeth-Warren-to-run-for-president

    They tried running the election on the GOP’s terms, and TOTALLY blew the opportunity to make a point that the DEMs care about the middle class and the success of the 99%.

    Guns, abortion and gays… all GOP noise from 10 years ago. Old news. Just like GOP thinking.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    What the Democrats have to sell is fine…they simply have to find the cojones to sell it.
    Gore ran away from Clinton…and lost.
    In this last mid-term almost everyone ran away from Obama’s accomplishments…and lost.

    Republicans have nothing to offer these United States…Kansas and Brownback, and the economic havoc that the Republican full-monty has wreaked there, proves that beyond a doubt.
    In CT Malloy has been pretty moderate…raised taxes a little…especially on the weathier citizens…and raised spending a little. But economic growth has out-paced all surrounding states including New Jersey and NY with the only exception of MA. Private sector job creation has been stronger than the last 14 years and there has been year-on-year job growth for 46 months.

    There is no need to be ashamed of being right. Stand up and talk about it.

  10. John425 says:

    @stonetools: The Republicans have moved so far to the right that what used to be center is now considered left

    You wish. It is the Democrats that have moved so far to the left that they have more in common with Mao and Putin than they have with a Republic.

  11. David M says:

    @John425:

    You know, that kind of claim should require at least some evidence.

    …and Obamacare is a pretty good example of how the Democratic Party has moved to the center.

  12. stonetools says:

    Sigh. The big problem the Democrats have is that millions of reliable Republican voters live in an alternate universe where this

    You wish. It is the Democrats that have moved so far to the left that they have more in common with Mao and Putin than they have with a Republic.

    is considered to be the unquestioned truth. I don’t know what the Democrats can do about that really except to build a bigger and better megaphone that can get our message out there.

    An even bigger problem is this voter:

    The Affordable Care Act allowed Robin Evans, an eBay warehouse packer earning $9 an hour, to sign up for Medicaid this year. She is being treated for high blood pressure and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, after years of going uninsured and rarely seeing doctors.

    “I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

    But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

    Ms. Evans said she did not want the law repealed but had too many overall reservations about Democrats to switch her vote. “Born and raised Republican,” she said of herself. “I ain’t planning on changing now.”

    We need to find a way to appeal to such a voter , and TBH, I have no idea. Clearly, reason won’t work. Maybe it’s a simple matter of changing the Democratic Party leader to someone who looks more like her, but I’m not sure even that would work, which is why I am so down on making inroads in the South.

  13. Scott says:
  14. gVOR08 says:

    @John425: Care to list particulars? You really do have your head stuck way up the Conservative Echo Chamber, don’t you.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    Please explain this?
    Because in the real world Obama has been a center-right President while Republicans are operating way far off the starboard bow.
    Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment is passing a Republican designed Health Care Reform which a Republican Governor also instituted at the State Level. Republicans failed to raise a single vote for their own program.
    The Stimulus program with which Obama rescued the economy was far smaller than was necessary to be truly effective…and it was loaded with tax breaks which are notoriously ineffective economic stimulus. In rescuing the economy he did not nationalize the auto or banking industries as one would presume a leftist might.
    Deficits are shrinking at a faster rate than any time since WW2. Obama proposed much deeper cuts in spending and the deficit than did the Republicans during the 2011 budget negotiations…and then Republicans walked away. His proposals were also to the right of Simpson-Bowles…which Republicans also walked away from.
    In Foreign Policy Obama has operated very Conservatively…costing us very little in blood or treasure while stabilizing ISIS and Syria and ridding us of OBL, Ghaddafi, and a host of other bad actors. He has not pursued an imperialist foreign policy and nation–building as did his Republican predecessors…nor has he committed vast numbers of troops as Republican Neo-Cons are currently urging.
    Anyway…yeah…go ahead and explain.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    Oh…he also is pursuing the executive action on immigration that is very similar to what Reagan and Bush 41 did.
    In addition real radical leftists like Cornell West are totally p’oed at him at htis point because he has been so moderate.
    Your claim holds absolutely no water…but I sure would like to read your clear and specific explanation.

  17. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Sigh. It’s the economy, stupid. Always has been, always will be. And while the overall economy is doing rather well by most measures, it’s not “trickling down” (stupid theory doesn’t work, who knew?). The party that figures out how to address that without falling into the (silly) class warfare trap will be the one that dominates the next cycles.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    That is true.
    Unfortunately wage stagnation has been baked into the cake by 30 years of Republican attacks on the middle class.
    I am not sure what can be done…short of reversing their actions…which will be an uphill battle.

  19. Tillman says:

    Progressives should be looking at Al Franken’s re-election more, and the sort of rhetoric he employed. Recall that he was barely elected to begin with on a presidential year, but had an overwhelming margin this time around in a mid-term year. That speaks to success you’d want to replicate elsewhere.

    I think the entire premise of the quoted article in Doug’s post is off. It’s not about changing policy goals, it’s about rhetoric. Democrats shied away from their accomplishments and dithered over trivial concerns, like whether Lundergan-Grimes “voted for Obama” or not.

    Then again, this is what the Republican Party’s been saying about itself for some years now, so who knows?

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    What’s the sound that crickets make????

  21. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    Franken took the opposite approach. Instead of running away from the progressive accomplishments of the Obama era, he embraced them, railing against bankers, advocating for student loan reform—even defending the Affordable Care Act. Franken ran as an Elizabeth Warren-style Democrat, running a populist campaign that didn’t shirk discussion of the specific policies Democrats could pursue to help the middle class. And voters rewarded him. “This wasn’t a safe seat,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in an e-mail. “He earned his victory by being a proud populist Democrat for six years and inspiring voters.”

    I frankly am wondering if Al Franken should consider a Presidential run. He does sound like my kind of candidate and he did win in a purple state (Michelle Bachmann’s state). He is also a straight white male, so the Presidential candidate game would be played at the easiest difficulty setting.
    Of course, if he did, we would soon see a whispering campaign about whether he could REALLY be loyal to the United States because of his dual loyalties( He IS a Jew, after all, etc ).
    A Presidential campaign brings out just an extra level of crazy…

  22. george says:

    @John425:

    You wish. It is the Democrats that have moved so far to the left that they have more in common with Mao and Putin than they have with a Republic.

    Its kind of amusing to see someone blatantly show to all how little history they’ve read. Take a look at Mao’s policy’s, and then compare it to the Democrats. Seriously, you really have no idea what Mao’s gov’t was like do you? You’re just throwing out names you’ve read about. its like when people were comparing Bush to Hitler – they were in effect saying “I have no idea what this Hitler guy did, but everyone says he was pretty awful, therefore Bush must be like him.” You’re doing the same but putting in Mao and the Democrats.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: Joe Lieberman’s loyalty was to Israel first. That was never a problem, in fact it seemed to make him some sort of US super-patriot somehow. But you’re right. it would be a problem for Franken. It’s an IOKIYAR deal. And old Joe always seemed more of a Republican.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @stonetools:
    Maybe a VP? I could see that. Not sure I can see him as President.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools: A quote from Al Franken’s book “Why Not Me?” Where he is resigning his very brief fictional presidency:

    It is my fondest wish that in the fullness of time, the American people will look back on the Franken presidency as something of a mixed bag and not as a complete disaster.

    I think I could get excited about a Franken run. He’s got good positions, isn’t afraid to speak up for them, and is a good campaigner.

    Plus, it would piss off Rush Limbaugh, who is a big, fat idiot.

  26. wr says:

    @stonetools: ” He is also a straight white male, so the Presidential candidate game would be played at the easiest difficulty setting.”

    To you, he’s a straight white male. To some others, he’s a dirty greedy Jew.

    So maybe not the easiest difficulty setting…

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @John425: The Democratic Party platform on economic and foreign policy issues is virtually identical to the Republican platform in the late 1990’s.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Ben Wolf: Speaking of which; John?……John?

  29. Tillman says:

    @Gustopher: Let’s be honest with ourselves. No comedian is going to run for high office. I mean, that’d be like if an actor of all people was elected president! Can you imagine the egg on society’s face if that happened?

  30. Tillman says:

    I do honestly wonder about Franken for President. All of the talk is about Elizabeth Warren, maybe because of her real policy achievement with the CFPB. Contrast with Dodd-Frank, which is certainly watered-down from its ideal version.

    Wonder if we’ll see any grandstanding in 2015. Franken apes Rand Paul’s talking filibuster for so-and-so.

  31. stonetools says:

    One thing I do find heartening is that for once the Democrats aren’t talking about moving to the RIGHT. Clinton is considered now as far right as the Democrats will go, and she will probably move left to appeal to the base. I could see her put a younger leftie on the ticket just to satisfy the left (Julian Castro?).
    Also too there is no “third way”, “let’s seek bipartisan compromise with the Republicans” talk. I think the last six years has taught some lessons to the Democrats.

  32. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    Clinton-Franken could be an interesting ticket. It could appeal to a lot of Democratic constituencies.Certainly firm up NY and FL and would be strong all over the Midwest.
    Don’t know if Al would wantto play second fiddle though.

  33. superdestroyer says:

    The brain trust of the Democratic Party know that they are going to win in the long run due to nothing more than changing demographics. Just because the Republicans won a few elections in 2014 does not change the facts that less than 1/2 of the children in public schools are white, less than 50% of adults pay income taxes, about 25% of Americans are totally dependent on the government, and the percentage of adults participating in the workforce keeps going. Does anyone really believe that the Democrats are worried about their long term prospects when more than 40% born in the U.S. are born to unwed mothers?

    David Axelrod and the rest of the Democratic Party brain trust know better than to pursue too liberal of policies that could cause shocks in the private sector while subsidizing the pathologies of the underclass. The Democrats have already notice that the Republicans lost seats in California and know that changing the demographics of the U.S. will give them an unbeatable coalition in the future. What those same Democrats refuse to do is think about what the U.S. will be like as the demographic changes continue.

  34. John425 says:

    @george: Not hardly. The same thread runs through both of them. “We elite masters know what’s best for the proletariat.”

  35. David M says:

    @John425:

    Is that an admission you don’t have any evidence?

  36. Bokonon says:

    @John425: @John425:

    @george: Not hardly. The same thread runs through both of them. “We elite masters know what’s best for the proletariat.”

    Weak sauce. THAT is your basis for claiming that Democrats are a bunch of killer commie Maoists??

    Complete fail. You have nothing.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    So you got nothin….you coulda just said that

  38. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    Because you can’t back up your position I assume you will spend some time re-evaluating your world-view and re-thinking some if your extreme positions.
    Muw-hahahahahahaha
    I crack me up.

  39. Bokonon says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think our good friend John425 just revealed the punchline behind Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” and all those right-wing rants about how the Democrats are really communists AND fascists all at the same time.

    There is nothing there. It is all complete, smirking, bad faith bullpucky, and has never been intended to be anything other than that.

    Either John425 knows that himself, or John425 has just spent too much time in the right-wing bubble, listening to other people repeat this deep insight over and over … nodding in groupthink. And then he can’t offer any justification at all when he actually gets called on it by someone outside the bubble. How embarrassing for him.

    Derision is the only thing this face plant deserves.

  40. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @superdestroyer: This point:

    less than 50% of adults pay income taxes,

    is always interesting to me because I almost never hear anyone who can fill in the “what’s wrong with this picture” quality of this statistic.

    For SD, of course, what’s wrong with the picture is that “it means that half of the country are a bunch of freeloaders (Benghazi!!!Border Security!!!Ebola!!!)!!!

    On the other hand, it may mean that 50% of American incomes (which will put a substantial part of the Middle Class in this mix) earn incomes that are so small that those incomes produce no tax liability.

    What’s wrong with that picture? If you’re a conservative or a libertarian,,, nothihg!

    And that, boys and girls is what is really wrong with the picture.

  41. Todd says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: It’s not just how wrong it is that so many Americans earn so little that they have no tax liability … it’s that so many of those people actually think they’re not part of “the 47%” … and vote for Republicans because they want to stop the “freeloaders”. It would almost be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

  42. Todd says:

    @Tillman:

    I do honestly wonder about Franken for President.

    Al Franken is not a viable Presidential candidate. He used to be a comedian, therefore can not be taken seriously. This is not my personal opinion, and it’s not even really fair, but it IS exactly what the media narrative would almost certainly be. Anybody who would deny that reality is naive.

  43. Stonetools says:

    @Todd:

    Yet they twice elected the star of ” Bedtime for Bonzo”.

    I’m not sure being a comedian is quite the bar you think. People take Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Bill Maher, and Colbert quite seriously when they speak on polititical topics. Heck, it almost seems to be commonplace today that comedians can talk politics.

  44. Todd says:

    @Stonetools: I’m not saying that it’s literally a barrier to entry. I’m just saying that is how (today’s) media would define a candidate such as Al Franken. He’d spend more time trying to overcome that image than actually talking about the issues. Interestingly, I think this type of narrative would likely only apply to a Democrat. If say for instance Dennis Miller (who would be far less qualified than Al Franken) were to throw his hat in the ring, the media would probably be more cautious about how they portray him … for fear of being accused of “liberal bias”.

  45. Stonetools says:

    @Todd:

    I think he could overcome that image, although you are right to point out that it is a problem he would have to address..

    Where you are 100 per cent right is the media’s cringe to conservatives. They really bend over backwards to avoid the accusation of “liberal bias”, even to the point of not correcting conservatives on obvious falsehoods. Drives me up the wall.

  46. Grewgills says:

    @Todd:
    But he’s good enough, smart enough, and doggone it people like him.

  47. mike shupp says:

    Suppose Al Franken, in a few months or even a year, gets elected Senate Minority Whip or Senate Minority Leader? Would anyone take him seriously as a VP candidate then?

  48. superdestroyer says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    The issue is that Americans who make so little or receive enough tax credit to not pay income taxes are never going to vote for the more conservative party. The vast majority of non-income tax payers are going to vote for the party that promises to tax the rich and give them the money. Then the question becomes what is the maximum percentage of GDP that government can consume that is also sustainable. Current progressives seem to believe that number if above 50% and conservatives believe that number is below 50% of GDP.

  49. Rick DeMent says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I don’t have the figures at hand but since there is a huge slice of people who don’t pay income tax because they are retired and living on some kind of federal stipend and vote republican, you’re theory is basically FoS. In fact anecdotally, every single person I know personally who is on disability vote republican and watches a steady diet of Fox news blissfully unaware of their comically obtuse dissonance. Again that’s just a personal observation, but the point is if you cut out all the people that don’t pay taxes and \ or receive some kind of government subsidy (medicare, medicaid, SS, disability) and vote republican your 50% would be more like 25%.

  50. superdestroyer says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Just to let you know, blacks and latinos are more likely to be on disability than whites. http://www.disabilityfunders.org/webfm_send/70 Table 2.

    Also, black are overrepresented as zero tax payers and non-files versus whites and Asians. http://taxfoundation.org/article/growing-class-americans-who-pay-no-federal-income-taxes Table 2.

    As a progressive, you should know better than to try to use a stereotype.

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @superdestroyer: Your first link does show Blacks and Hispanics more likely to report disability. Percentage doing so being respectively 24.3, 20.9, and 18.3. This results in numbers reporting respectively 7.36, 6.48, and 33.0 million people. More than twice as many whites as Blacks and Hispanics combined.

    Your second link says:
    Among the 14 million in the non-filing population, the ethnic differences are slightly more pronounced than the population as a whole. For example, 75 percent of the non-filing households are White Americans while 20 percent are African Americans and 3 percent are Asian Americans.
    Overall, out of the 58 million taxable households that pay no income taxes some 56 percent of African American households pay no income taxes, while 40 percent of Asian American households and White American households do not. Of the 14 million non-filers, Hispanics make up 12 percent of the total. Overall, Hispanics make up 14 percent of the 58 million taxable households that pay no income taxes.

    Seems to me you’re making @Rick DeMent:’s case.

    At the time, honest people figured about half of Romney’s famous 47% would have actually voted for Romney.

    _________
    Those are reported disabilities, not persons receiving disability payments, but – they’re your numbers.

  52. wr says:

    @stonetools: “Don’t know if Al would wantto play second fiddle though.”

    He was half of a writing partnership for many years. I suspect he’s quite happy being part of a team.

  53. Pharoah Narim says:

    @superdestroyer: Then how the hell do you explain Mississippi and Alabama? By your logic they should be blue strongholds.

  54. superdestroyer says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    The percentage of the population in Alabama and Mississippi that is black is much higher most of the U.S. and those black voters vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. That means that any white person in Alabama or Mississippi that votes for the Democratic candidate is just voting to put blacks into power. See tyrone ellis for mississippi http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/house/ellis.xml and the minority leader in the state house and Vivian Figures in Alabama state senate minority leader. http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senatebios/sd033.html

    If Democrats want to win more blue collar working white votes, they will have to reorganize the Democratic Party to reduce the political power of minorities.

  55. superdestroyer says:

    @gVOR08:

    Rick claimed that everyone he knew on disability was white. However, blacks are more likely than whites to be on disability. That means that is Rick knew as many blacks as he did whites, he would, more than likely, know more blacks on disability than whites.

    It is very easy for white progressives in very white areas of the country to make fun and ridicule poor whites. However, being a poor white and living near poor blacks is a miserable life in the U.S. and those voters tend to vote for Republicans.