Last night the Right got its nose smacked with a rolled up news paper by the voters in several states. While we had some electoral victories as Democrats I think that it is the initiatives that told the real story.
Personhood in Mississippi failed. That is really good news as this was the state that was most likely to pass such a thing according the Conventional Wisdom. This is not the first time that this kind of amendment has been voted down, it was on the ballot twice in Colorado and was rejected both times.
The folks in Ohio basically told their Governor to sit down and stop being a dick about the rights of labor to organize. Again a good thing but not as unexpected as the result in the Magnolia State.
Then there was the restoration of same day voter registration in Maine. This had been one of the Republican successes in their war on voting, but the people of the Pine Tree State decided that they had seen no evidence of voter fraud from nearly four decades of this policy and put it back in place.
What all this tells us is there is indeed a floor beyond which the voters are not willing to go in terms of allowing the Republicans to have their way. It would be a teachable moment for elected Republicans but they don’t seem to be teachable in any fashion, but maybe it is a teachable moment for registered Republicans.
One of the frustrations of many Democrats and Liberals, like myself, is way that Republicans have successfully used social issues like abortion, gun rights and gay rights to keep many working and middle class folks from voting their economic interests. The whole “What’s wrong with Kansas?” thing.
They have managed to make it an article of faith that if voters let them do whatever they want economically as long as someday they get around to banning abortion or keeping gay patriots from serving openly or enjoying the same rights and responsibilities of married people.
The problem for the Republican Party is that they never intended to come through on those issues and they have been going further and further to Right in terms of destroying the programs and laws that allow for a vibrant middle class. And now, like a developmentally disabled child whose been given a rubber bon bon, rank and file Republicans are starting to see they’ve been cruelly pranked.
None of the ballot measures that went the way the Left wanted last night could have had that result without a significant number of Republican votes. Even the recall of Republican State Senators in Arizona and Michigan could not have happened without support from rank and file Republicans. Which opens a door for those of us that want to see the tools of the wealthy and the corporations replaced.
There is a ton of polling the shows that while Republican law makers won’t do anything to raise taxes or address jobs there are a lot of Republicans who want those very things. The new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that a strong majority of the public believe that income equality is as bad as it has ever been.
That includes a majority of Republicans and Tea Party supporters. And a majority believes that the Federal Government should do something about it. That is really important because to win elections you don’t need every vote, but you do need to be able to peel off enough of the supporters of the other party to gain the 50% + 1 that it takes to win.
Are we going to be able to capture the votes of the hard core nuts that think the President is was not born in this country? No, we are not. But given the economic pressures that are in play this cycle we might be able to peel off enough nominally Republican voters to win back the House and keep the White House and the Senate.
It will be a tricky balancing act, but the pitch needs to be something along the lines of “Do your elected Republicans really represent you?” It is often hard to get into a discussion like this with real partisans, but we aren’t aiming for the partisans we’re going to be aiming for the 67% of the nation in the same poll that are worried about being able to maintain their standard of living.
It is all very well to be a culture warrior when the economy is booming and things are fat for everyone (or at least feel like they are, the reality was that the booming economy was only really good for the 1% but that is not the argument we want to get into) but when you are looking at not being able to send your kid to college or you get heartburn and sleepless nights ever week thinking about paying the bills what you will prioritize is different.
The fact is that the Republicans in the State Houses and the House of Representatives have not done anything to improve the jobs situation. Their insistence on deficit reduction and budget cuts have made things worse. Last month the economy added more than 100K jobs but only netted 80K because of loss of public sector jobs. This is directly due to the Republican policies.
The recall of Russell Pearce shows that the far Right focus of the elected Republicans is not sitting too well with the people who voted them in. By continuing to highlight the fact that they are the ones standing on the side of the ultra-wealthy and that they will never, ever do anything to change the status quo in that regard we drive a good wedge between their normal voters and the candidates and elected officials.
American voters are often shockingly uninformed about the legislative process and about electoral politics in general, but they do learn after a while (though they tend to forget pretty fast, sadly) and seems to me to be the moment when they are waking up to the fact that the Republicans have been feeding them a bait and switch for a long time and have no intention of stopping.
This combined with the growing understanding that the Republicans are not only not working to fix our major problems but actively working to make things as bad as possible is the fracture line the could make 2012 a very good year for Democrats.
Just getting Democrats elected is not enough, of course. There are all kinds of Democrats and the conservative ones are more often than not more of a hindrance than a help. Still if we can return the House to them and retain the Senate and the White House the chances of getting actual policy that will help rather than hurt the nation is, in the words of our Vice President a big fucking deal.
The floor is yours.