Posted Dec 17, 2010 by Matt Bales |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
The “Lame Duck” session of Congress is the period between November 2, 2010 and the swearing-in of the new Congress in mid-January. Usually a slow time on Capitol Hill, members, their staff, even the media, is trying to get out of town for the Holiday Season However, holiday plans may be on hold this year.
One political pundit, Jeff Crouere, says, “The disgusting spectacle of the lame duck session of Congress is horrible to watch. Democrats have completely ignored the November election results and the message from the people of this country.”
Since President Obama took office in 2009, Congress has worked well into the Holiday Season to deliver their gift – legislation –to the American people. Last year we got Healthcare Reform on Christmas Eve. What is in the stocking this year?
With a 13% approval rating, one would think that Congress would be eager to get out of town, the Democratic majority wants one last hooray before the Republicans take over.
Despite the typical Washington bubble last minute gouging, we are encouraged with what is around the corner in 2011.
All in all, 2010 was a great year for Cornerstone Solutions and our clients. We wish everyone a happy, safe and healthy Holiday Season.
Organizing for America, the arm of the Democratic National Committee has become the full-time political and policy advocacy campaign for the Obama Administration according to a report released by TechPresident’s Ari Melber. Having taken control of the 13 million email addresses acquired through willful engagement in his president campaign, OFA has become the “behind-the-scenes” grassroots voice of the White House. This experiment in grassroots organizing by an Administration enters into a new realm of presidential politics…the jury is still out as to whether or not this is effective or even worth the effort.
“Governing with public approval requires a continuing political campaign.” – Patrick Caddell, pollster for President Jimmy Carter and Democratic strategist. President Franklin D. Roosevelt employed breaking technology, the radio, to convey his message to Americans. By the mid 1950s, half of American households featured a television enabling politics in to the home. In the 1990s, the internet started growing, thanks to Al Gore, and Americans engaged themselves in the digital medium. Now days, we have internet + cell phones + social networks + real-time lifestyles = ALWAYS CONNECTED.
A common theme was the attempt to engage the electorate. It was commonplace for individuals to campaign and lobby their elected officials, but the effort most commonly happened on the local level. As technology progressed, the form of engagement progressed, but now days; this effort is in real time. The Obama White House is utilizing “its technology” like never before to “organize the citizenry With staffed offices established in every state and a talented crew assembled in its headquarters in Washington D.C., the comparisons to other grassroots experiments shows that OFA the most expansive and well-connected form of organizing we have ever seen. With such an expansive effort of coordination between the White House and the DNC, one must inquire as to whether or not this merely a façade for executing a 4-year reelection campaign. Again, Caddell clearly states that governing with public approval, what is needed to win reelection, requires a continual political campaign. Is OFA merely the reelection campaign of Barack Obama? I say yes…look at the other side of the coin.
The Tea Party, I contend a grassroots voice for the right, yet its actions, mainly protests, have been decried by Congress and the Democrats and President Obama has even labeled them “Tea Baggers.” Actually, the Tea Party is more grassroots oriented considering its funding is not attached to one of the major parties. Why the blatant double standard in characterization from the majority in Congress? I have my suspicions, but I willfully digress in order to let you devise your own analysis.
In conclusion, I deem the efforts of OFA as noble in its attempt to engage the general electorate in the policy debate, but I think the Administration is playing the most dangerous of political games in striking a divisive tone against the Tea Party, a grassroots organization as well. If the White House and the DNC continue to fund their national effort under the guise of OFA, then they must accept and positively engage the Tea Party followers to a fact-based policy discussion instead of merely discrediting their efforts. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration is able to maintain this support in order to re-activate the base in its most vulnerable time – the 2012 President Election.
Do you think the castigation of the Tea Party by the White House and Congressional Democrats is hypocritical considering the immense resources and coordination with OFA?
The 2010 mid-term election cycle just happens to be ever more important this time around because of the redistricting implications. Every ten years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau embarks on the tedious task of counting all inhabitants of the United States. This process is important to equalizing the population of districts in order to equally distribute funds for essentially services and representation in government.
Current polls indicate that a change is coming. With Congress experiencing a 74% disapproval rating and Democrats falling behind Republicans by 2.8% in a generic ballot, Democratic incumbents, especially in “conservative” districts should be very fearful. On the heels of the controversial health care reform legislation votes and the looming legislative fights over the next Supreme Court nominee, the Cap & Trade legislation, financial reform and a potential bout on immigration reform, President Obama will not be able to provide the political cover that many Democrats need from him. With his approval rating hovering around 46% and a disapproval rating of 46%, connections with President Obama might haunt some Democrats.
2010 might become one of the most important midterm election cycles in our lifetime given the divisive and engaged nature of the electorate. How do you see the 2010 midterm election cycles shaping up? Will the Democrats lose their majority? Alternatively, will Republicans botch this opportunity to gain seats?
Posted Feb 19, 2010 by Alastair Macaulay |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
Poll after poll, talk shows and political pundits are focusing in on the growing unhappiness of the American public with their leaders. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released yesterday indicates 38% of people would consider voting for a third party candidate for president under any circumstances. 64% were in favor of having a third political party run candidates for President, Congress and state offices. Can a third party candidate win the presidency? Will there be a Tea Party presidential candidate? While there may be a hunger amongst the public for alternatives to the two major parties the chances are slim.
Any third party candidate needs to overcome the built in advantages both parties have in getting on the ballot. Third party candidates need to incur the expense of gathering thousands and in some states tens of thousands of signatures many months in advance to get on the ballot. The two main party candidates don’t have to collect any signatures to be on the ballot in November.
What’s more likely to occur in 2012 is third party candidates getting on the ballot in select states and perhaps deciding the election. Remember what happened in Florida in 2000, an election George Bush won by less than a 1,000 votes, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida, far more than the combined 40,000 votes of the other third party candidates in Florida. In 1992, Ross Perot received 19% of the vote nationwide, in some states that number was 25-30%.
While there is clearly dissatisfaction today with Washington and incumbents from both political parties, translating that anger into viable third party campaign in 2012 is very remote. Given our current political system, the only chance a third party candidate could win the presidential election in 2012 or in the near future is if they can self finance and even then, they would need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to overcome the built in advantages enjoyed by the two main parties.
Posted Feb 17, 2010 by Mandy Fletcher Fraher |
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| Filed in: General, Politics
As Matt alluded to in yesterday’s post, Sen. Evan Bayh’s retirement may be emblematic of a greater “bi-partisan” disgust towards our politicians in Washington DC.
There is a pandemic going around Washington – it is called “IAMRETIRING.” House and Senate members on both sides of the aisle are catching it, announcing they will not be running for re-election this fall.
The reasons, both public and speculative, are varied. Some know, with voter’s general disillusionment towards Congress, they have a tough re-election ahead. Others are tired of the fight. Perhaps it is not just the voters who are tired of Congress’ partisan bickering and inability to get things done, but members themselves are worn out and throwing in the towel.
No one can be certain whether these retirements will result in a political shift to the right or left. Both Democrats and Republicans share responsibility for the recession, astronomical deficit, job loss and simple inability to make progress on any issue. An effort to deny such responsibility only fuels the fire of voter anger and turns them away. What is certain is all these retirements present an opportunity for both voters and candidates alike.
This fall voters have an opportunity to send new blood and energy to Washington. They are tired of the usual messages of hope and change and will be looking for candidates who can deliver results. Voters across this country are hurting and will take a closer look at their choices than ever before. Tragically, if unmotivated by those choices, they may choose to stay home.
Candidates should take note as well. Do not count on party line votes. This election will be less about rigid ideology and more about candidates who can speak plainly to the voters about issues that are relevant. They must show a record of leadership in business or elected office and demonstrate the ability to work in a bi-partisan way. Candidates must get rid of the rhetoric and talk about practical solutions.
As demonstrated in the Massachusetts US Senate race, conventional wisdom should be thrown out the window in 2010. Historical analysis and the media told us all that was Kennedy’s seat, the Democrats seat. Voters there took control and made it clear it was their seat, the People’s seat.
In this day of healthcare reform, education reform, economic reform and so on – perhaps Congress needs some reform of its own. It may come in the 2011 class of new independent minded Representatives and Senators. It is the People’s Congress and they are taking back control.
Posted Feb 16, 2010 by Matt Bales |
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| Filed in: Politics
The retirement announcement yesterday of Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana rocked the political world on both sides of the aisle. The Democrats have lost yet another Senator to retirement prior to what is shaping up to be a tough mid-term cycle for the party in power and Republicans see an opportunity to gain back a seat the lost.
Tom Jensen from the Democratic polling firm PPP states, “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really think Republicans have a chance to win back the Senate this fall now.”
Republicans are foaming at the mouth to pick up this seat in the traditional red state of Indiana as summed up by Matt Latimer’s quote in Politico’s Arena – “The regular lament when things don’t go well for a politician in Washington is that the city has become ‘too ideological’ or ‘too partisan.’ That Evan Bayh says this of a Congress almost totally controlled by the Democrats is interesting, but I don’t think that’s usually the problem. “
Latimer’s quote underscores another sentiment – Washington and its cohorts are too power hungry. When a moderate Democrat like Byah steps down because he is fed up with Congress, but loves serving the people, the culture in Washington is simply broken.
Bayh said in his retirement speech, “For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done.”
While Bayh’s decision has left Democrats scrambling and Republicans even more power hungry, gaining one of their seats back, the real winner is the American people by his decision. For the first time, I think, Congress is starting to get the picture that Americans are dissatisfied with Washington and its two political parties and the lack of solutions to fix the nation’s problems.
What do you think that Bayh’s decision says about Congress and the public’s sentiment towards Washington?