Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Commentary on 2014 U.S. Elections Worth Reading

The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics?

Control, not comity, is the GOP objective.

Tuesday’s Republican wave of election victories did not reflect public opinion or the public mood. Instead it was the result of the GOP’s triumph in changing the rules of democracy to favor big business and conservative interest groups, including the triumphs of corporate money and voter suppression. 

We owe this secrecy, this darkness, to a host of political and judicial interests, but to five Catholics on the US Supreme Court in particular. These five men further dimmed the lights in our nation, in the cover of "freedom of speech" in their 2010 "Citizens United" ruling. Such Catholicism.  That anti-communal, anti-democratic, pro-autocratic, pro-oligarchy decision underscored the scant influence Catholic social teachings has had on their value formation.  Catholic social teachings emphasize the community and the need to protect the weak and needy among us. 

The bottom line is that as pundits and partisans alike are tallying the winners and losers of this year's contests, they should not forget to consider that the real winners were the campaign media consultants and the owners of local television stations, both of whom pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenues. And the real losers were our democracy and the American people, who were turned off by the continuing distortion and corruption of our politics.

The GOP benefitted from the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.

[I]f [Andrew] Sullivan and his ilk want to understand where the president went wrong, I’d suggest they examine whether, in the present circumstances, Obama’s simply playing the hand he was dealt was enough. For a self-described conservative like Sullivan, who rejects experimentation and wants progress to be orderly and incremental, Obama’s penchant for working from within the system rather than trying to disrupt it is a real plus. A chief question of his presidency, however, is whether this temperamental conservatism was the wrong fit for the current era, when major reforms are so desperately needed.

The Democratic Party has relied on the loyalty of voting blocks, including Latinos and African Americans. Within that strategy, they've grown too comfortable defending their inaction with the argument that they are the lesser of two evils. 
Many feel they ask us to display patience while they display political cowardice.

[T]he Democrats are too tied to moneyed interests and too disconnected from labor and pressure from social movements to embrace progressive politics consistently or to be anything other than tepid centrists. 
By contrast, the other side of the political spectrum, in the tea party-influenced Republican Party, shows the power of a consistent and ideological politics that motivates its base to get out and vote every November.

After deliberately breaking Washington, the Republican Party just rode to power by protesting Washington’s brokenness. Having done all they could to enrich the rich and empower the powerful, the GOP has now succeeded in presenting itself as America’s warrior for social justice.

The 2014 election campaign was an exercise in dollarocracy, not democracy. 
In a democracy, citizens are in charge, votes matter and the governments that take shape after elections reflect the will of the people. 
In a dollarocracy, money is considered “speech,” corporations are considered "people" and elected officials take their cues from the billionaires and corporate interests that write the biggest checks.

The Republican electoral sweep in yesterday’s elections has put an end to speculation over whether new laws making it harder to vote in 21 states would help determine control of the Senate this year. But while we can breathe a sigh of relief that the electoral outcomes won’t be mired in litigation, a quick look at the numbers shows that in several key races, the margin of victory came very close to the likely margin of disenfranchisement. 

The media are spending enormous amounts of time and energy speculating over who’s responsible for the Democratic midterm rout—Obama, the Dems running from Obama, angry voters, apathetic voters—and clearly they all play a significant role. But barely a blip has been devoted to the one thing we actually do know diminished the Democratic, and especially the African-American, vote: the various forms of voter suppression that have been enacted into law in twenty-one states.

What we'll now see is a reinvigorated religious right. And since lies worked so well we'll have more of them. Creationism, anti-gay initiatives, anti-choice initiatives, and of course pro-Koch-brother-financed lies upon lies to bury climate change debate are on the way. 
The Republican-dominated Supreme Court stands ready to back corporate- and religious right-financed attacks of the environment, pro-Wall Street laws and all the rest.

Conservative Christians are taking credit for the Republican sweep of the U.S. Senate and GOP victories farther down the ticket in Tuesday’s midterm elections, and they predict they will prevail again in 2016.

We’ve just witnessed the result of an election fueled by negativity and disinformation, and people are afraid. They fear ISIS, Ebola and the boogeymen that inhabit the prehistoric recesses of the reptilian brain. These fears are overblown, to say the least, but we are being intentionally manipulated by conservative voices that thrive on fear to win elections or ratings. To their enduring shame, they have no concern for the damage they do to institutions and people when playing to the worst instincts of humanity.

Have you noticed that, now that the elections are over (and now that the GOP mopped up), the media's Ebola hysteria has . . . well, vanished? Wonder what that's about? Steve Benen at Maddow Blog:

If he’s recovered, there are zero confirmed Ebola cases in the United States: "Craig Spencer, the New York City doctor who became the first person in the city to test positive for Ebola, is being released from Bellevue Hospital Center on Tuesday morning, people familiar with his treatment said on Monday."

The Ebola outbreak in Texas is officially over. 

The cartoon at the head of the posting is by Mike Luckovich at Truthdig

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