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Historians Norton Smith, Kennedy on Election Waves

We look at waves in American political history with top historians. Read some of the transcript.

U.S. President Herbert Hoover campaigns for re-election from the rear of the presidential train in 1932. (AP)

Midterm elections can be pretty rough for sitting presidents and their parties. George Bush got his ’06 “thumping.” 

Bill Clinton got the Republican revolution. Ronald Reagan’s GOP took a beating in 1982. LBJ and Harry Truman saw Democrats whupped in midterms. 

So what about this time: Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the 2010 Democratic licking at the polls? Is every election a wave election now? And why? 

We look at the new Republican wave through the eyes of American political history.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at Stanford University and author of many books, including “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945.”

Richard North Smith, scholar-in-residence of history and public policy at George Mason University and former director of numerous presidential libraries. His books include “An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover,” and “Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation.”

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and author of “Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America 1865-1900.″

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  • Joanie-in-MiddleMass

    Richard N. Smith also wrote “Divinity and Dust: A History of Townsend Massachusetts”. He and I argued about Herbert Hoover in the 6th grade – I thought we should get a day off from school out of respect when he died. Richard countered with something about him being too insignificant a president to deserve such a day…later he wrote the book you mention in his bio.

  • Joel

    Jack Beatty has zero credibility.

  • Linda M. Maloney

    Hello, out there! Vermont reelected its liberal senator, Patrick Leahy, and its Progressive Caucus House member, Peter Welch, each with more than two thirds of the votes. AND we elected a Democratic governor and returned our overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Our new governor, Peter Shumlin, is unabashedly for expanding education, closing our aged nuclear power plant, and protecting the poor. Oh, and we’ll return Bernie Sanders to the Senate with seventy percent in two years.
    Vermont and California (where the voters turned down an oil-company proposition to reverse the state’s climate improvement law) appear to be the rational bookends of a nation gone insane.

  • http://wpln Keith

    The parties are too much alike in many ways. Too much wasteful spending, earmarks out of control and growing government size and power.

    The voting public is split fairly equal with a conservative business minded “pursuit of happiness” attitude group and a “give a man a fish” instead of a “teach a man to fish” attitude group. These two groups act as anchors to a swing voting independent voting group.

  • William

    Thanks for this topic. I’d guess that as long as we expect something for nothing – meaning more and more services, not to mention war, with no increase in taxes of any kind. every election will produce more angry, frustrated voters – so yes, successive wave elections.

  • John

    Jack Beatty is a great author and historian who enriches On Point with his analysis.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I like everything Jack has to say. He always brings very interesting points to the discussion.

  • Dave

    Keep slandering those Libertarians….

    Heaven forbid we get an anti-war, limited government, rational policies party in our government.

    Libertarians DO support BASIC government functions, they just define the word basic more literally than your beltway guests.

    “If there is one thing humans are, it is corruptible. These “tea party” folks, should they take some seats in Congress, will we consumed by all the money that floats around DC just like every other well meaning Dem and Rep has in the past.”

    This is precisely the argument for limited government. Since the corruption you mention is nearly inevitable, keeping the government and central authority as limited as possible (aside from true necessity), and as much power as possible in the hands of individuals, is our only hedge against this.

    As much as we WISH a big, righteous, caring, central government, with unlimited funds could fix all the difficulties and ups and downs of life, it:
    1. Isn’t smart and nimble enough to do this, while individuals do know better what is best for them.
    2. As you note, its corruptible, and then where do we turn?

    With competition, and multiple, local options, there are places to turn when some groups become corrupted. With central control, we are screwed.

    Why are we so reticent to reflect on the founding ideas of our nation? The statist dogma reinforced by the Dems and Repubs have really warped our minds so much that today the principles of the founders are considered “extreme”.

    We are cowards today, looking to a false view of government to make everything better.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I really think that Instant Run-off Voting would give third party candidates an actual chance, and that third parties could calm some of the waves of two sided tug-of-war.

  • Dave Becker

    Democrats should take heart! Harry Reid is re-elected and the Senate is in their control. That didn’t happen in 1994. This happened in spite a sunami of money from corporations and the wealthy, plus the relentless drum beat heralding the Democrats inpending doom.

  • Gina

    “Why waves now?” Tom asked?

    Simple Tom, we have become a ignorant populace, now raised on instant gratification. We have drive through everything, we eat fast food, instant coffee…

    American people seem to expect politicians to “fix” everything *instantly* or else! And when they don’t we seem to develop collective amnesia and vote back in the “other guy”. It’s stupid.

    Politics in America has become reality tv, or even more like Monday Night Football complete with play-byplay analysis. The GOP won last night because they were better coached.

  • Dave

    Keep conflating Newt Gingrich, with Libertarians. Keep up the Red Herrings.

    For all those harping about spending and the military- good job! Now realize that establishment Republicans with their Democratic friends keep all that going, and that only Liberty candidates actually stand against it!

    If you are honestly against the Military industrial complex, you must be a Ron Paul supporter! HIs rejection of the military industrial complex, unnecessary foreign intervention, and the Federal Reserve system that makes it all possible, is the only such platform out there.

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1170

    “Neither a Keynesian big spending program, nor the military-industrial complex can create long-lasting employment or economic prosperity for our country. The only way to restore both peace and prosperity is to draw down our overseas commitments, along with unconstitutional spending at home and return to the founders’ vision of a limited republic that neither straddles the globe, nor micromanages the domestic economy.”

  • Dave

    D Eger, agreed on IRV! 2-party corporation will never go for it.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    I thought that it was very interesting from a political trivia point that Jerry Brown now holds the distinction of being both the youngest and oldest person elected governor of California, in addition both times he was elected he followed an actor turned governor, first Ronald Reagan and now arnold Schwarzenegger.

    The unfortunate things about waves is they take out very good people too. In 2006-2008 we lost good GOP congressman like Chris Shayes and Jim Leach.

    This time I am heartbroken that we lost our Congressman John Spratt here in South Carolina fifth. You couldn’t meet a more decent, dedicated and dignified public servant or person.

  • Dismal In Milwaukee

    I’m wondering if there are any figures/stats to tie in the significance of increased voter participation? For instance, if more of the body politic is participating will the swings or waves or whatever you call them be more frequent and more dramatic? Is the fickle mob-mentality at work at the polls?

  • jeffe

    Joel and you do? You post nonsensical cow muck and hope it sticks. Witness all your BS about Obama being a communist.

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
    -Mark Twain

  • Dave

    Liberty Candidates and many 3rd parties:
    http://www.liberty-candidates.org/

  • Amy Schwartz

    Hello Tom and guests. Independent voters have been decisive in recent elections. They seem to lack a consistent, stable philosophy of governance and base their votes instead on a changing array of factors, including the state of the economy, the charisma of the candidates, the effectiveness of campaign ads, and so forth. Will this trend toward independents continue, and is it a threat to the country’s longterm policy goals? It takes more than a two-year election cycle to get anything significant done, so isn’t the “wave election” phenomenon potentially paralyzing for the US in the longterm?

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    Every since the fall of the USSR, we haven’t had a force to polarize against, so we had to act as both sides to keep the same old ball rolling. I don’t think it’s some sort of intentional manipulation (well not all of it at least) but just a lack of imagination to come up with a new direction to move in.

  • kate

    I wonder how much of the swing from party to party has to do with the fact that we are a culture addicted to instant satisfaction, if we don’t like the TV show “click” change the channel. These are huge problems we face in this country, is the time given to solve them proportional? Have we given Obama enough time to do his work or closed the book and picked up another before finishing the first……

  • Sally Strange

    Dave, while I respect Ron Paul’s uncompromising stance, and agree strongly with his views on the military-industrial complex, I could never vote for him. Why? Because he, like most libertarians, is a white guy with no apparent grasp of what it’s like to be a woman or a non-white person, and to need to turn to the power of government to protect one’s personal liberty from infringement by one’s fellow citizens, acting in a private capacity. For example, his extremely hypocritical (for a small-government, liberty-lovin’ type) opposition to abortion rights.

    As long as libertarians continue missing this basic point of view, they will continue to be the party solely of disaffected white guys.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I agree with caller Peter I believe from Vermont who said that politicians don’t “close the sale.” I don’t know if Senate leader Reid in Nevada won because he DID close the sale. But just in terms of trying to keep tabs on my own representatives AT ANY LEVEL — they have no interest in any debate about what they are voting on or what they have voted. I get the impression ANY legislation is developed behind closed doors by special interests, and the voters are out of the loop. We vote thrashing around, finding both parties nontransparent in all ways.

  • Maria Buatti

    Tom – you ARE the media today. You have a responsibility to present credible analysis. Why don’t you ask your guests the tough questions? The guests on your show should be asked to substantiate their analysis with facts, not personal opinion.

  • Dave

    With all due respect, I think this election cycle is a fundamental reconsideration of our self-governance and how our neglect of it, has led to a Government-Corporatist collusion that delivered us the worst crisis since the Depression.

    Please stop presuming the notion of revisiting the notion of “limited government” is so extreme, as opposed to being consistent with the founding of our country.

  • Dan

    I think I disagree with Maria Buatti’s post about pressing guests (though I’d like to see more of it). What I’d really like to see is more pressing of callers. Just my two cents.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    As a supporter of President Obama I have to find fault with some of what Jack says regarding the peoples’ understanding.

    It is a fact that: the vast majority of Americans did receive a tax cut from the President and Congress.

    The economy DID grow, maybe not big enough, but it is growth.

    The banks have paid back almost all of the tarp money.

    The fact that voters think the opposite is true has got to explained by a lack of effective leadership by President Obama. He really needs to get his mojo back.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To the caller who says the electorate will never learn, like toddlers throwing tantrums, we keep looking for easy fixes.
    What? It is our elected representatives who are unwilling to learn, who are unwilling to “grasp the nettle” as one of the panelists said. We keep trying to elect some folks who will actually get actual RESULTS.
    We vote This Did Not Work. Yes, that is an uninformed voting position, because it doesn’t state WHY the status quo is failing. But it is probably what is being said. We Hurt. Do Something.

  • John

    Transparency doesn’t appeal to people either though as they get disgusted by the legislative process. If Reid had rammed through health care instead of dragging it out while everyone observed the process, the media would have lost interest and moved on to another issue.

  • Steve T

    Gina it seems that you have ears and eyes that work along with a working memory, No way you could be a REAL American. You just dogged out every thing we Americans hold most to heart. How many times have you seen or gone to a rally and the chant is We want “insert saying” When do we want it NOW!…because an hour from now I’ll forget what it was.

  • Gemli

    In any race, even NASCAR, you can make progress by keeping a steady hand on the wheel, or by making wild left and right turns and bouncing off the guard rails. It seems we’ve chosen the latter strategy, and we’re just beating ourselves up in the process.

  • Ellen Dibble

    And if Boehner weeps, it is because what the Republicans tried before ALSO did not work, and he is stuck at a crossroads with a lot of special interest backing and a lot of anxious voters expecting him to deflate the deficit and create jobs and reduce taxes. There is an aura of fantasy about his position; how to keep two opposing thoughts in mind at the same time? That is Einstein’s idea of genius. But is it Boehner’s.

  • Dave

    “For example, his extremely hypocritical (for a small-government, liberty-lovin’ type) opposition to abortion rights.

    As long as libertarians continue missing this basic point of view, they will continue to be the party solely of disaffected white guys.”

    Sally

    I totally appreciate that point Sally. I think if you look into the Libertarian party, you will find that the vast majority put Choice, in the Liberty bucket, which obviously wrangles the social conservatives.

    I would have felt the same way (not voting them) not long ago, but these days I am convinced the bigger picture of traditional Dem/Repub corruption and Banking/Military interests, makes principled vote for Liberty, while disagreeing with the personal views of some Liberty candidates is a better choice. They are very principled on individual Liberty, and worst case, they would say let the states decide, in which case, we’ll need to move to Vermont.

    As I keep saying,

    Be a Better Tea Party

  • Roberto

    Tom — that is a great point re how news and its fast cycles (as well as blogs, comments sections of newspapers, etc). Please explore this more.

    I think it promotes “rants” and “excesses” to gain attention/eyeballs. This pace seems very related to the much-accepted “gigging” of public enterprise, where corps gear their actions primarily to goad stock prices and quarterly profit “expectations” and deadlines — at the direct expense of measured, long-term planning and strategies.

    I suspect this trend, and an “invasive” media are also inhibiting “good” citizens and leaders from stepping forward as political candidates. It is my perception that there are many more “professional” pols out there and many of whom are willing to do “dirty” stuff to win/hold office — and take full advantage of the financial and power rewards these public offices often bestow upon the holders.

    How does the public change this system for the better??

  • John

    Obama wasted time and political capital by trying to be bipartisan to appeal to independents. I think the way to capture the independent vote is to achieve tangible results rather than focus on the process and making overtures to the other side.

  • http://Idon'thaveawebsite Sarah Arnold

    I was interested in the account of the period of stability from the thirties through the sixties. There was no mention of the graduated income tax which was in place through the Eisenhour years, or the role of unions which enabled the middle class to emerge and thrive–why not??

  • Ellen Dibble

    John, why do you say transparency doesn’t work because people get disgusted by the legislative process?
    We haven’t tried that in my lifetime.
    Right now the media supposedly has access to lots of things that they winnow on our behalf, but I think they could present a lot more and let us start to winnow. The internet allows for that. If you could click on any legislative committee, state or federal, and find out what staffer was doing x, y, z, meeting with whom, if we were willing to pay for being kept abreast like that, I think we’d be able to vote more responsibly. Some of us would snag the crucial bits, with links to the context. We’d come out ahead.

  • Dave

    I think it took this crisis, this failure of Big Government/Corporatist Collusion, to get people really thinking Jeffersonian again, and slowly realizing that Libertarians represent that interest.

    The ideas of Liberty are self-evident, and whether or not only “angry white guys” apparently paid attention to them over the past generation, is not a good reason to reject them.

    I see the Libertarian party being a much bigger player as we go forward, and finally, it will become more diverse as more people re-examine the value of individual liberty and a limited (not zero) government.

    Progressive Values
    Libertarian Principles

  • Ellen Dibble

    If fascism is defined as government controlled by private interests (that is the term the USSR and its satellites used for the capitalist west), then we are fascist. And Communist China may be more responsive to actual citizens than a fascist (money-controlled, corporate controlled) country.

  • Dan

    The real reason for the swing by independent voters:

    When faced with two equally bad agendas, the best we can hope for is to pit them against each other so neither one can get traction. Whenever either party gets their way, our country suffers.

  • Les Wetmore

    Maybe, it is because of the distortions and untruth that are allowed to be call legitement that no one trusts anymore. Fox news has distoryed entegrity.

  • jeffe

    Dave with all due respect the country was only founded on Jeffersonian principles. There were others, such as Hamilton.

    I don’t think that a country the size of the US can function under a Libertarian ideal. However there are some ideas I do embrace, shrinking military spending for one.

    I think more transparency and accountability is in order as well as trimming waste. I do think we need the keep SS, and Medicare, Medicaid and we desperately need to rebuild our health care system.

  • Mary Ellen

    One thing that needs to be remembered is the total power of the media. You briefly touched on it, but the pundits and talk show hosts are making great livings hysterically trying to sway general opinion. While this may have existed in newspapers a generation ago, the effect of a barrage of live media initiates distrust and — eventually — disgust.

    Our founding fathers thought of almost everything when they devised the balance of power. What they could not anticipate was the rise and influence of the unchecked Fourth Estate.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Agree we can’t pretend we are the globe’s military; we didn’t by winning the Cold War become the only Bully. Where I’d start? Why isn’t Saudi Arabia fighting with us in Afghanistan? Isn’t bin Laden trying to attack the Saudi regime? Aren’t the Yemeni AQAP trying to dethrone that regime? So why are we doing all their fighting? What am I missing?

  • Dave

    Liberty loving people do not want centralized corporatist control over their lives or the economy any more than statist control.

    Big State intertwined with Big Capital is bad news, whichever way their own internal power struggle is trending.

    Americans should be able to agree on that, and we should be able to find a way forward from there.

  • Roberto

    We don’t “Trust” these “institutions” in past 40+ years because:

    –Catholic Church allowed for mass-rape of boys/men
    –Politicians have repeatedly been caught w/hand in the till, lying to the public (Bush2 and Bill Clinton are two great examples), or taking special interest donations in order to get re-elected.
    –Professional Athletes cheat (Pete Rose, steroids), rape, etc.
    –Corporations are greedy (Goldman Sachs, Enron, Madoff)

    I am not sure we DON’T out Military in the same box — soldiers still commit atrocities with their guns and abuse prisoners of war…

    If ALL these “institutions” abuse, and disappoint, can we be far from the fourth phase of the “Demise of Great Civilizations”??

  • Dave

    Saudi’s and our Military Industrial Complex.

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1180

  • Scott

    I so agree that trust is an issue. I am a 40something professional/healthcare provider. In attempting to use the information available to become a more informed individual I have read extensively over the last 3 yrs. One book in particular enlightened me as initially there was much I wanted not to believe. The more I researched the more it was confirmed. Although written in 1994 it predicts much of what is happening now including the statement that the party in power would blame the previous, the same policies that got us into a financial mess would be prescribed to fix the mess, political upheaval would occur but those who read the first part of the book would already recognize that we have 2 parties that in many ways represent different points of view but ultimately serve the same interest. That of themselves and those interest that keep them in power. Although we are placated by throwing the bums out that aren’t making us happy, we really just get more of the same…sad but true. Hard to trust when the facts are the facts

  • yar

    Race is an issue. Not only as your caller stated in a hateful way. A black man has a different prospect selling his agenda regardless of the circumstance.

    Rand Paul said in his victory speech that “we are going to take our country back” is that a race argument? Maybe, maybe not. But some individuals feel it has racial overtones regardless of the intent.

  • Martha H, Iowa City, IA

    To Jim Thompson in SC — Jim Leach stepped down of his own accord, retiring to his home state of Iowa. His district had been redistricted and included Iowa City, a Democratic bastion in an often politically polarized state. I think he saw the writing on the wall and decided it was time to retire.

    Having said that, I agree that Jim Leach left a great legacy representing Iowa.

  • Ellen Dibble

    From Dave’s link (A posting by Ron Paul dated 11/2/10, noting a sale of $60 billion of American-made military hardware to Saudi Arabia): http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1180

    “We are told that we must occupy Afghanistan to encourage more rights for women, an issue on which the Saudi regime makes the Taliban look rather liberal by comparison. We are told that our increasingly aggressive policies toward Iran are justified by that country’s rigid Islamic laws and human-rights violations, while the even more repressive Islamic rule in Saudi Arabia is never mentioned.”

    (Good point.)

    “So why would the US government, which spends hundreds of billions of dollars yearly and maintains hundreds of bases overseas to push global democracy, approve a deal like this with such a regime?”

    (Because they blow the whistle for us on FedEx bombs being shipped to Chicago? Because we need their oil?)

    “As Stockholm Institute scholar Pieter Wezeman told the Washington Post, ‘Of course it’s against Iran. Of course it’s against Yemen.’”
    (I’m thinking I am suddenly a follower or Ron Paul — actually and son. Feature that. But I’m not following Wezeman at all.)

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    In the last ten years the U.S. Supreme Court has done more damage to America than any of us can ever fathom. We can’t undo Bush v. Gore, but undoing Citizens United should be top priority on any ones list who believes in our Democracy. If ever there was anything worth “Petition(ing) the Government for a redress of our greviances” the Citizens United case is it. So how do we go about this petitioning? I have yet to find any actual guidelines. Can anyone suggest anything? I believe the future of our Democracy depends on it.

  • Dave

    Lets do basic Social Security, Basic Single Payer, privately-delivered/competing Health Care, Non-interventionist foreign policy, and then go Libertarian for the rest. Of course having basic, ENFORCED laws against corruption and collusion which is completely compatible with free markets, knee-jerk critics notwithstanding. Imagine how much of America could get behind that.

    Socialists? No.

    Ann Rayn purists? No.

    Liberty loving, but reasonable Americans? Yes.

  • Dave

    Ayn Rand. sorry purists.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    Ellen, please tell me you are not a follower of Ron’s son Rand. I am here in Kentucky and we have really stepped in it by electing him. I thought Jim Bunning was bad, but I am already missing him. Jack Conway blew it with his “Aqua Buddha” ads as I learned after spending a large portion of the last two days working on a Democratic get out the vote phone bank.

    I am not a coal miner, but here is what Rand Paul actually said about Federal oversight of mining, “I don’t believe the Federal government needs to be checking for safety in the coal mines because if it is an unsafe workplace the miner can simply refuse to work in the mine.” If you are not shocked that a supposedly educated man can have such a callous and uninformed point of view in this day and age then I have grossly misread you and the meaning of your posts hereon.

  • Dave

    Also, we need to be more mature when people talk about “Eliminating the Dept. of Energy, Education, x, y, z).

    Of course if you think a giant government bureaucracy and the Democratic party is the only way to research energy or educate our children, you will be apoplectic at such statements.

    But do you really think all who suggest those things really don’t want advances in Energy or hate our children?

    They have a different approach to achieving the same well-meaning goals.

    Keep the goals in mind, and then be willing to discuss the means. IMO

    Progressive Values
    Libertarian Principles

  • Les Wetmore

    @dave 12:22
    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Charles, what can we do about Bush v Gore and especially Citizens United? Democracy Now! addressed this on October 28th. John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements out of Massachusetts are starting a movement for another amendment to the Constitution, as I recall, to the effect corporations are not citizens (cannot go to jail, as I recall, for starters), and they are ready to dig in for a 30-year campaign for said amendment. They I’m sure are looking to start the ball rolling.
    The first link here is to their website. The second link is to a transcript of the interview by Amy Goodman of both Bonifaz and Clements.

    http://www.freespeechforpeople.org/

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/10/28/free_speech_for_people_coalition_urges

  • Ellen Dibble

    Charles, I am shocked by some of each Paul’s positions. Yet I think when legislators have a bit of maverick to them, they are at least not part of a bulldozer acting at the beck and call of a juggernaut. I’m thinking I’d rather have legislators who have some positions that I would hope would be ROUNDLY voted down in Congress so long as they have some convictions that can take us into the future. I’ve had it to here with politicians who ONLY hew to the totally centrist codes but seem to vote us into penury, individually and as a nation.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    Ellen, Thanks for the info, my pet theory on Citizens United is that the best chance of overturning it is to convince people that why it is wrong is the seeming thread through it that the reason it was decided the way it was was because they thought corporations didn’t have representation in the current political process. They actually do in the form of their owners, shareholders employees and customers. They are all watching out for their corporations.

    You make an interesting point about the possibilities of Rand’s election. Thanks for the potential silver lining.

    Got to go watch the Prez- Hope he has his mojo back!

  • jean

    A democratic people (in our case, it’s a republic) gets the government it deserves.

    How many voters sat out this election because they didn’t want to be bothered or because they didn’t really care or because they were in a snit over not getting everything they wanted at once?

  • Chris

    Any American citizen who does not care to vote gets the government it deserves – one that doesn’t care about them.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    So how do we go about making voting mandatory? It seems to work for Australia. Their recent national elections saw a 95% turnout. They mandate voting somehow, but can you also mandate having an informed electorate? That is really what we need in this country. I envision a national holiday for voting, where we go to our local schools, you take a test (don’t freak out, keep reading) to see how well you understand the issues of the day and the people on the ballot. If you prove to be sub-par you have a choice of either hanging around a while and becoming informed, or not voting. It is not about preventing anyone from voting, or making them vote “correctly”, it is just a matter of making sure each voter understands all sides of an issue or what a candidate actually stands for before they vote.

    I am from the south so I am aware of the abuses of this type system, but surely we are advanced enough as a society that we could make this work. It can’t be that hard. I don’t see how we can call this a democracy when barely 1/3rd of the people eligible can actually determine who the President is. No, I am not crazy. If we had in our last election 65% of the electorate voting and Barack got a little more than half the vote then barely 1/3rd of eligible voters actually voted for him. If all of us unisureds got together we could actually determine the outcome of the next election….hmmmmm, might be a way to get the public option after all….

  • jean

    “if all of us uninsured”

    We are a stupid, ungrateful, self-centered bunch, for sure. Where were all the voters who were able to keep food on the table because Obama fought for extended unemployment payments? Where were all the voters whose kids can stay on their health care policies and who can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions? You can thank Obama for that. Where were all the voters whose jobs were NOT lost because of a stimulus program that should have been bigger but that independent economists agree saved the country from worse? Where were all the blacks and hispanics?

    They stayed home and watched TV. That’s were they were. When the chips were down, Obama and the Dems could not count on them. If you want your issues to be taken seriously, you have to get your butt out and vote. Your elected reps need to see you and feel your influence and know they owe their offices to you. If you are too lazy or stupid to do that, someone else will do it and theirs are the interests that will be addressed, not yours.

  • Jack

    “jean”

    I couldnt agree with you more. I have been in this country for more than 6 yrs now but I never cease to be amazed by the attitude of a lot of Americans. Where are the 30 million unisured that Obama was fighting for when the chips were down, and when the tea baggers were marching in the streets? they all stayed home and wouldnt go out to vote. Americans are not ready for transformative leadership.
    I wish the republicans can control of both houses and could actually implement some of the policies that Rand Paul and other tea baggers preach, maybe that will get people off their butts and become involved.

  • Ellen Dibble

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/house/exit-polls?scp=3&sq=2010%20exit%20polls%20&st=cse

    Someone posted this link to a New York Times exit poll in today’s other forum, pointing out that the more educated one is the more likely one is to have voted Republican. And the debate was as to whether a college education makes you a more critical and informed voter or just more uppity. What I noticed was that there is a pretty close correlation to how well one has done under the Obama administration. If you did better, you way more likely to vote Democrat. If you did worse, you were way more likely to vote Republican. About the same, a split. Of course “how I did” is pretty subjective. And there is a column on the right about percent change, maybe from another election? And if so, how does an exit poll show that.
    But if everyone voted — not being eager to do so, but herded into voting — then wouldn’t more people simply register how the government did vis-a-vis Numero Uno in the past couple years? (As if it were the present administration which is responsible for how Numero Uno did…)
    Which is very different from a careful prospective assessment of possibilities for years to come?
    I think more transparency, more tours of the sausage factory, would lead to better candidates, better electorate, all the things we need. It would mean that attack ads would be neutered, de-fanged, by widespread familiarity. Even 4 years ago, we didn’t have enough communicativity via internet to make that a reality.
    Lying to all the electorate I think can become a thing of the past.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    For all of its continuous trend further and further right, the Republican Party is becoming a “big tent” party in its way. From opening its arms to the racist southerners dismayed by the Democratic Party’s embrace of civil rights, to welcoming the extreme Christian “Moral Majority” during the Reagan years, to today’s infiltration by the far-right element of the Libertarian movement via the Tea Party: it is a melting pot for a variety of conservative thought. In this it may not be wise, for more than one “base” may topple it in the future, but for now it makes it more inviting to the many different people on the far right.

    On the other hand, by completely ignoring their own base of liberals, by showing no unification on liberal cultural issues, and by pandering strictly to the “center” without even acknowledging that the center in America has now shifted to the right, the Democratic Party shows no wisdom at all. It leaves untapped a not insubstantial portion of the populace which ought to have a home within it but is made to feel unwelcome.

    When the right is fully represented, the center isn’t a real center, and the left has no voice in government, we end up in a situation like this one: an imbalance not unlike a washing machine unevenly loaded with blankets, lopsided, noisy, and certain to break down if not fixed.

  • Zeno

    Its only defined as a wave because of the two party system. If it were just Americans voting for best policy then what would it be?

  • Zeno

    That certainly was a bigoted an ignorant remark about independent voters. I would guess he has other blanket characterizations about other ‘groups’ as well.

    People who say things like that belong on Rush Limbaugh’s show making statements about liberals, immigrants, ethnic groups, etc.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Joshua, in the middle of the Bush II years, the Republican party (Karl Rove, I suppose) sent out a questionnaire to virtually every voter (I assume, since I haven’t voted Republican except maybe 30 years ago in a primary), basically identifying all the single-issue voters in the USA. Do you care a lot about immigration? About abortion? About same-sex marriage? There were pages and pages and pages of boxes to fill in. They figured there were a lot of people to get into their tent, not by an overarching approach to the future, but by a small-minded one-shot shopping approach to gathering up votes. I’m not surprised at what’s the apparent face of the party. But the fact that the Democrats seem so similar (thank you, K Street) is the unnerving thing. Dish-wash/wish-daush; balance of powers? Splish-slosh. It’s too complicated. Just vote no. I get it. Oh, I get it.

  • a democrat

    Obama should have stayed on his message like Governor
    Patrick and had a grassroot effort to get out the vote.

    And he should have dwelled more on how the Republicans
    were undeserving driving the US economy into ditch and
    how they stood by and did nothing to help struggling
    workers and homers.

    I see this as one of their greatest crime and one I know I will bring up again and again as it has been
    so unGodly wrong…There are thugs in the US House
    today and that’s the great shame today….

    But I know I will fight with other democrats to get them out again!

  • Joanie-in-MiddleMass

    Jack Beatty is the best.

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Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

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