Politics and power

Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders Are The Souls Of Their Parties By Akira Watts, reverbpress.com July 2015  … Sanders is an independent and Trump is an opportunist. Still each manages to epitomize, respectively, the Democratic and Republican parties Sanders, I would argue, represents what the Democratic Party once was and what it could once more become. His populist rhetoric hearkens back to FDR’s New Deal and the optimism of JFK.  His seemingly radical and “socialist” ideas are widely supported by American voters: …Donald Trump is the raging narcissistic id of the Republican Party. Sanders, I would argue, represents what the Democratic Party once was and what it could once more become. His populist rhetoric hearkens back to FDR’s New Deal and the optimism of JFK.  His seemingly radical and “socialist” ideas are widely supported by American voters:…

As Democrats Move Left, Republicans Have Moved Dangerously To The Extreme Right Ryan Denson, June 28, 2015

American Politicians Are a Bigger Threat to Democracy Than ISIS By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, TIME, November 5, 2014 …Instead, of spouting grimly sophisticated cynicism of pundits, I still believe that the inherent goodness of the process can defeat the greed of the politically ambitious and ethically vacuous…

America’s Broken Politics By NICHOLAS KRISTOF, New York Times, NOV. 5, 2014

American Politicians Are a Bigger Threat to Democracy Than ISIS By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, TIME, November 5, 2014 — The lying campaign ads, shady voter ID laws and sanctioned dishonesty should be illegal—and those complicit should be arrested…The election season highlights not our dedicated patriots vying to improve the country, but the greedy villains who are subtly but devastatingly destroying the democratic process like a creeping and relentless rust…This is the democratic ideal we so love: an informed population weighs the positions of those running for political office, then selects, through majority, the person they think will best represent them in government. It’s so beautiful in its simplicity and sincerity that it’s no wonder those hungry for freedom worldwide would want to embrace it. But here in America that ideal is facing the same fate as an extra in The Walking Dead who says, “I’m going to go on night …The two most egregious examples of this betrayal are in misleading political ads and in partisan lawmaking that is meant to obstruct fair voting practices…The recent push by the GOP in many states to force a form of voter ID as well as reduce voting hours has rightfully been described by many as a modern version of the poll tax, which was declared unconstitutional in 1966. .. Poll analyst Nate Silver determined that ID laws could reduce voter turnout by 2.4 percent, a margin that might sway close races toward Republicans. U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, said that such ID laws exist only to “discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”… This deliberate act to sabotage the democratic election process is worse than anything ISIS could do and yet we not only permit it, we vote people who support it into positions of power…Ironically, much of the battle over the Second Amendment right to bear arms is the fear that someone will take over the country, remove our freedoms, and we will not be able to fight back. But that’s what’s happening now…We need to do two things to stabilize the listing ship of democracy… laws deliberately restricting voters from voting. We have to join together on principle and vote out such sinister people, even if these voting restrictions benefit your party. Because this isn’t about giving your party more power, it’s about having a party that supports the democratic ideals of the Constitution…Win because you’re right, not because you’re the better liar… we should be enacting more such laws and enforcing them more diligently. These laws should include punishments that range from assessing huge fines capable of crippling a campaign to prison. Do those punishments really seem too steep for someone destroying the democratic process? Some may say my outrage shows political naiveté or hyperbole. But I don’t think it’s possible for a black man who has lived in America for 67 years to be politically naïve. Instead, of spouting grimly sophisticated cynicism of pundits, I still believe that the inherent goodness of the process can defeat the greed of the politically ambitious and ethically vacuous…

72% of Americans Disapprove of Republican Party…but it’s Set to Take Control of Both Houses of Congress Anyway posted on The Christian Left, Facebook, September 13, 2014 from AllGov.com

Poll by Politico: Minnesota Is Best State In The Nation January 20, 2015 Minnesota was tied with New Hampshire for the top spot, with Minnesota trumping its rival in lower levels of unemployment and obesity, and more home ownership, high school graduates and better life expectancy.

Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ By ERIC LIPTON, OCT. 30, 2014 — Richard Berman, a political consultant, said oil and gas industry officials … must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

Triumph of the Wrong by Paul Krugman, New York Times, NOV. 6, 2014 …politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday…Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda. So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything…the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances… if Republicans have been so completely wrong about everything, why did voters give them such a big victory? Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions… the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy…This was, it turned out, bad for America but good for Republicans. Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party.

America’s Broken Politics By NICHOLAS KRISTOF, New York Times, NOV. 5, 2014 — We painlessly inherited democracy, but by allowing political dysfunction to set in, we’ve botched it… “Politics is the noblest of professions,” President Eisenhower said in 1954, and politics in the past often seemed a bright path toward improving our country…

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program, June 5, 2014 The “vast right-wing conspiracy” machine is alive and well in America today…By floating around anti-Obama conspiracy theories, and by using Republicans in Washington to do their dirty work, America’s billionaires and economic royalists know that they’re weakening and disempowering the Democratic Party. And while a weak and disempowered Democratic Party is bad news for you and me, it’s great news for the billionaires and economic royalists. It means they can stay in power a lot easier…

False facts and the conservative distortion machine: It’s much more than just Fox News Paul Rosenberg, Salon.Com, Aug 18, 2014

The Big Lie Behind Voter ID Laws By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, October 12, 2014 …laws have been aggressively pushed in many states by Republican lawmakers who say they are preventing voter fraud, promoting electoral “integrity” and increasing voter turnout. None of that is true. There is virtually no in-person voter fraud; the purpose of these laws is to suppress voting…Voter ID laws, as their supporters know, do only one thing very well: They keep otherwise eligible voters away from the polls. In most cases, this means voters who are poor, often minorities, and who don’t have the necessary documents or the money or time to get photo IDs…. The next time voter ID laws reach the justices, they should see them for the antidemocratic sham they are.

10 Dynamics That Will Shape the Next Two Years of American Politics

The Empty Center: Challenge and Opportunity for Progressives

In U.S., New Record 43% Are Political Independents

The root of U.S. political paralysis is intolerance

Robert Reich Gallup’s poll released today, 30% say they’re Democrats,

Robert Reich Facebook 1–8-15 Despite Republican’s predominance in Congress and state legislatures, a dwindling minority of Americans consider themselves Republican. According a new Gallup’s poll released today, 30% say they’re Democrats, 26% Republican, and 43% independent. As a practical matter, though, regardless of official party affiliation, the largest party in America is the party of non-voters. And, increasingly, elections depend on how many of its members temporarily desert this non-voting party and turn out to vote. Suppose, in considering their presidential candidates for 2016, the two official parties asked themselves what candidate would have most appeal to the party of non-voters. Would they choose Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush? If not, who?

How America’s Demented Politics Let the GOP Off the Hook for Their Giant Mess by Bill Moyers and Thomas Frank Bill Moyers Journal, published on AlterNet.org, January 19, 2010 

Why Republicans Are Disciplined and Democrats Aren’t By Robert Reich 07/24/2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Breaking Out of the Party Box by Arthur C. Brooks, New York Times, AUG. 18, 2014  … Research by Mr. Hayes shows that most voters instinctively associate morality and strong leadership with the political rightmany Democrats fixate on empathy and compassion…Americans don’t want to choose between compassion and morality, or between leadership and empathy. We want leaders who have all these traits. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously declared that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” Compassion and strong leadership are not even opposed — yet these days, they can’t seem to be held in the same political mind. What a sad commentary on our times.

America’s Broken Politics By NICHOLAS KRISTOF, New York Times, NOV. 5, 2014 — We painlessly inherited democracy, but by allowing political dysfunction to set in, we’ve botched it… “Politics is the noblest of professions,” President Eisenhower said in 1954, and politics in the past often seemed a bright path toward improving our country…

financiers who presided over the market collapse… could have and should have seen it coming.…the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people…Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system. Who’s Not Sorry Now? Editorial, New York Times, April 11, 2010 

DC Is a Revolving Door of Money, Media, Power and Vanity: A Requiem for Democracy by Mark Karlin, June 17, 2014, Truthout.org -  review of THIS TOWN: Two Parties and a Funeral By Mark Leibovich

Dangerous Divisiveness Politics Grows More Partisan by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, JUNE 15, 2014

Population Shifts Turning All Politics National By ASHLEY PARKER and JONATHAN MARTIN, New York Times, JUNE 15, 2014 …For all the talk about how partisan polarization is overwhelming Washington, there is another powerful, overlapping force at play: Voters who are not deeply rooted increasingly view politics through a generic national lens…Friends-and-neighbors elections were already a thing of the past in congressional campaigns. But the axiom that “all politics is local” is increasingly anachronistic when ever-larger numbers of voters have little awareness of what incumbents did for their community in years past and are becoming as informed by cable television, talk radio and the Internet as by local sources of news. In this year’s primaries, the trend is lifting hard-liners, but it has benefited more moderate candidates in general elections.  “We have a mobile population and its movement to the Sun Belt is making that region both more conservative and more moderate,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

Election Rigging, Dark Money in Cantor’s “Upset” Loss to Koch Stealth Candidate By Ben-Zion Ptashnik and Victoria Collier, Truthout, June 22, 2014

The Fix Isn’t In – Eric Cantor and the Death of a Movement by Paul Krugman, New York Times, JUNE 12, 2014 …Movement conservatism, which dominated American politics from the election of Ronald Reagan to the election of Barack Obama — and which many pundits thought could make a comeback this year — is unraveling before our eyes… “movement conservatism,” [is]an interlocking set of institutions and alliances that won elections by stoking cultural and racial anxiety but used these victories mainly to push an elitist economic agenda, meanwhile providing a support network for political and ideological loyalists…For around three decades, the conservative fix was in; but no more. To see what I mean by bait and switch, think about what happened in 2004. George W. Bush won re-election…Republicans would mobilize voters with social issues, but invariably turn postelection to serving the interests of corporations and the 1 percent…In return for this service, businesses and the wealthy provided both lavish financial support for right-minded (in both senses) politicians and a safety net — “wing-nut welfare” — for loyalists. In particular, there were always comfortable berths waiting for those who left office..The combination of a successful electoral strategy and the safety net made being a conservative loyalist a seemingly low-risk professional path. The cause was radical, but the people it recruited tended increasingly to be apparatchiks, motivated more by careerism than by conviction… it seems clear that Republican base voters didn’t trust him to serve their priorities as opposed to those of corporate interests…the elite believes that it must find a way to reach Hispanics, whom the base loathes. There’s also an inherent conflict between the base’s nativism and the corporate desire for abundant, cheap labor…establishment figures who won primaries did so only by reinventing themselves as extremists…what we’re looking at is a party that will be even more extreme, even less interested in participating in normal governance, than it has been since 2008. An ugly political scene is about to get even uglier.

The more you like Obama, the less likely you are to vote this year By Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, June 10, 2014 A midterm enthusiasm gap – Democrats could be facing a major turnout gap this fall… Only 51 percent of Democrats say they’re certain to vote this fall, compared to 68 percent of Republicans…. Young voters are key players in the Democratic coalition…But they’re the demographic group least likely to turn out this November…As E.J. Dionne and Bill Galston write in their analysis of the PRRI data…Republicans are likely to add a few seats to their already comfortable House majority, and may be poised to take control of the Senate as well….

New [Gallup] Poll Shows America Is Becoming More Liberal by Salvatore Aversa,  AATTP June 1, 2014

Progressive Candidates Reap Big Gains In Primaries By Alex Lazar, The Huffington Post, 6/05/2014  “We won because we were true to the issues we wanted to have a discussion on, whether or not it was immigration reform or protecting Social Security or looking to lift the cap on Social Security, making sure that those who were the least among us were being lifted up and being attended to.” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, New Jersey Democratic primary

Republicans have a 77% chance of taking the Senate By John Sides, Washington Post, May 16, 2014

2014 Is a Critical Year of Elections — Its Importance Cannot Be Overstated, New York Times Editorial, February 27, 2014

Obstruct and Exploit by Paul Krugman, New York Times, September 9, 2012  Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, then exploit the economy’s weakness for political gain. If this strategy sounds cynical, that’s because it is…  this obstructionism is real, and arguably is the biggest single reason for our ongo­ing economic weakness. And what happens if the strategy of obstruct-and-exploit succeeds? Is this the shape of politics to come? If so, America will have gone a long way toward becoming an ungovernable banana republic.

G.O.P., Though Deeply Split, Has Election Edge, Poll Shows, New York Times, February 27, 2014

Polarization and Gridlock Work Well for the Wealthiest Americans January 6, 2014 by Joshua Holland, BillMoyers.com

Democ­racy Should Be a Brake on Unbri­dled Greed and PowerBill Moy­ers…Inter­view with Amy Good­man, Democ­racy Now — The great­est change in pol­i­tics in my time has been the trans­for­ma­tion of democ­racy, Amer­ica, from a cit­i­zens’ soci­ety, the moral agency…to a con­sumer soci­ety, where most of us are caught up on that tread­mill, try­ing to get more…I think this coun­try is in a very pre­car­i­ous state at the moment….the esca­lat­ing, accu­mu­lat­ing power of orga­nized wealth is snuff­ing out every­thing pub­lic, whether it’s pub­lic broad­cast­ing, pub­lic schools, pub­lic unions, pub­lic parks, pub­lic high­ways. Every­thing pub­lic has been under assault since the late 1970s, the early years of the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion, because there is a phi­los­o­phy that’s been extant in Amer­ica for a long time that any­thing pub­lic is less desir­able than pri­vate. And I think we’re at a very crit­i­cal moment in the equi­lib­rium. No soci­ety, no human being, can sur­vive with­out bal­ance, with­out equilibrium…We don’t have equi­lib­rium now. The power of money trumps the power of democ­racy today…democracy should be a break on unbri­dled greed and power, because capitalism…can turn from a ser­vant, a good ser­vant, into an evil mas­ter. And democ­racy is the brake on my pas­sions and my appetites and your greed and your wealth. And we have to get that equi­lib­rium back… you have to exer­cise your will opti­misti­cally, believ­ing that each of us singly, and all of us col­lec­tively, can be an agent of change. And I have to get up every morn­ing and imag­ine a more con­fi­dent future, and then try to do some­thing that day to help bring it about.

The Story of Power by John Meacham, Newsweek, December 19, 2008…Power…is best understood in terms of command and control. It is either the capacity to make others do as you wish (the command function) or to reorder the environment around you (the control function)… It is arguable, though, that technology has given us a more democratic culture (if not politics) than the world has seen since perhaps the founding… the Internet has…lowered barriers to information and has given virtually anyone with something to say the means to say it. The Web is not only a source but a stage on which we can engage in the life of the nation and of the world armed with facts we have weighed in the light of reason. “Knowledge is now once again connected to power,” says [Al] Gore.

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