Category Archives: US Politics

Soul Searching with Steve Schmidt

Steve Schmidt and David Plouffe visited the University of Delaware tonight as part of UD’s National Agenda Speaker Series. Steve Schmidt is one of my favorite Republicans and I’ll tell you why: Based off what he said tonight, he could have been the author of a post I wrote after the election calling for the Republican party to step up.

I’m not just saying that to flatter myself. I may no longer be a Republican, but I grew up as one and I still have a lot of friends and family who are red as blood. Moreover, as an American, I take it as a manner of national honor that we should have a political discourse that is fitting for our great country – and sadly that’s been missing from the GOP over the last few years.

There are good signs, though, that the GOP is waking up. While there is still some convincing to do, I think there are at least signs showing that this long winter of unwillingness to work together could be about to break. I have to give Michael Steele a lot of credit for being a class act over on MSNBC the other day as well as he talked about the need for a broadening of the Republican party, the GOP needs to “get outside of its comfort zone.”

I’m glad to hear a Republican finally say what so many of us have been thinking for the last four years: Republican leaders need to stand up to the Rush Limbaughs of the world and take their party back from people who may have some influence with the far right, but will never appeal to the rest of us. This “conservative entertainment complex”, as Schmidt terms it, is one of the greatest obstacles to our country moving forward – and by forward I don’t just mean that in the sense that we should advance Obama’s policies over the next four years and keep supporting Democrats, but in a much more general sense that we should move forward by relearning the art of compromise, remembering that we are “more than a collection of red states and blue states” but instead the United States. We should be able to agree on some things, like helping veterans as they return to civilian life or extending tax cuts for people who make less than $250k/year.

I noticed tonight, here in little blue wonder Delaware, that the biggest applause lines were all Steve Schmidt’s and almost all for bipartisan sentiments. There was applause for ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, sure, but not as much applause as there was when Schmidt calle for civility, for a new Republican party to retool and “soul search” (as I think was the most overused phrase of the night).

A Republican in Delaware got by far the most applause tonight in a room full of people that helped reelect Barack Obama and couldn’t be prouder of their own Vice-President.

The Republican party just suffered a huge loss, but every loss is an opportunity to retool and to bounce back.

If you can get applause in Delaware, surely you can win an election.

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Why election day shouldn’t be a federal holiday

On a recent episode of the War Room, Jennifer Granholm suggested that we make election day a federal holiday to help make it easier for people to vote.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Today being a federal holiday reminded me of it, and reminded me why it shouldn’t be a federal holiday.

Who gets federal holidays off? Government workers, office workers, some businesses. For the most part people who are in pretty comfortable positions in life. What about minimum wage earners? What about the guy stocking shelves at Wal-Mart? What about the barista at your local Starbucks? Retailers, service industry workers who generally make the least money in our economy don’t have federal holidays off and these are exactly the people who have the hardest time getting out to vote.

For this segment of the American population most likely to have a hard time voting, the most likely to be on the receiving end of harsh voter ID laws, the most likely to depend on cumbersome public transportation, a federal holiday would accomplish exactly nothing.

Instead, let’s set limits for the number of voters who can be registered to single voting location so that we don’t have massive lines like what we saw this year. Increase early voting, make mail-in ballots more accessible, increase hours.

Democracy is not a spectator sport, but we shouldn’t make it into an extreme sport, either.

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White People Mourning Romney

My boyfriend just shared this with me.

Amazing.

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Time for the Republican party to step up

I’ve had this conversation twice today, once with a fellow liberal and the other time with a fierce independent and we all three agree:

The Republican party needs to step up over the next four years if it wants to play a serious role in this country’s politics.

Four years ago, in the wake of the Bush presidency and after the failure of the McCain – Palin ticket, the party was hijacked by the Rush Limbaughs of the world and dragged impossibly far to the right.

The GOP’s position on things like abortion and immigration were revised so that what once had been moderate positions within the party were now considered outside the party.

With no apparent heir to Bush or McCain, the Republicans have given into the extreme wing of their party for fear of getting unseated by Tea Party candidates the way Christine O’Donnell destroyed Mike Castle’s chances at the US Senate here in Delaware or Lisa Murkowski had to run as a write-in candidate after getting defeated in the primaries by Joe Miller.

We saw this again last night: When you go too far to the edges, you may still win your party, but you’re not going to win the general vote. Dick Lugar would have won easily last night, but his unseating by Richard Murdoch winded up giving Republicans a pick-up in the Senate.

There is an alternative, though, to this crazy, fanatical version of the Republican party as it exists right now under Donald Trump.

I have two examples of what I consider good leadership for the GOP to consider.

Firstly, Chris Christie. While everyone is obsessing over his ability to work with Obama following Hurricane Sandy, I think this a no-nonsense man who could teach some of the clowns in his party a thing or two.

Secondly, Rick Snyder. Michigan’s nerd. Although I haven’t always been the friendliest to our governor on this blog and I definitely disagree with some of his policies (EFM, anyone?), I think that Snyder is a smart man, a good leader, and he knows how to stay above the level of petty politics that has kept this country in a stalemate for the last couple years.

Today, Snyder reiterated his desire to stay away from “divisive issues” like right-to-work laws that House Republicans want to bring forward.

Earlier this year, Snyder said that he would not sign a bill passed by Michigan Republicans requiring voters to bring photo ID to the polls, correctly citing the confusion that it would introduce right before an election.

While other politicians are out pursuing blatantly partisan agendas, Snyder is doing a pretty commendable job working in a bi-partisan (maybe even non-partisan) manner.

To the rest of the GOP, you have two options. You can stay on course. You can keep racing to the right and trying to win elections by voter suppression. You will definitely still win some contests. You’ll probably hold the US House for a while, too. But you will continue losing races you should win when you pick candidates like Joe Miller, Sharon Angle, Todd Aiken, Richard Murdoch, or Christine O’Donnell.

Or you could step up and show that you have a role to play in our politics that isn’t purely contrarian. You could show us that you want to be answerable to the American people rather than the most extreme elements within your party.

Mitt Romney failed, in part, because the GOP is dominated by voices demanding a “severely conservative” candidate. But the United States is not the GOP.

Maybe it’s time to retool.

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The choice

Need any more proof that there is only one viable candidate for LGBT people in this election?

Mitt Romney reportedly met with gay Republicans recently seeking their support. Did he do to a Log Cabin Republicans event or a GOPride event or, God forbid, the HRC? Nope. He went to a “rural farm” where he met with them privately.

We have a president now who is fighting for us and with us. President Obama has signed the Mathew Sheppard Act which allows hate crimes to be investigated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, he has endorsed marriage equality, and fought to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Mitt Romney is promising that he won’t send us to internment camps….

Is the choice clear enough? Get out and vote!

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Look at her

A couple weeks ago, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts went into a debate with Elizabeth Warren in which he alleged that Warren had claimed to be of Native American ancestry to help advance her career when she claimed to be Native American on school applications. Indignant, Mr. Brown claimed that he could tell that she wasn’t Native American at all. How? By looking at her.

Some viewers from TRMS wrote in following Maddow’s coverage of the debate with personal photos which normally would be a little strange unless a candidate for U.S. Senate has just claimed that he can tell, just by looking at her, that Elizabeth Warren is not Native American and these viewers are all also Native American.

The photos all showed people with light complexions who would probably pass as Caucasian any day of the week.

This works the other way around, too. I grew up in a very white, very Dutch swathe of West Michigan. How Dutch, you ask? Well, for those of you outside the Midwest’s Windmill Belt, I think you’ll have some idea based off a popular saying in the area: “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”

My family is originally from the east side of the state. We are not Dutch. We don’t have blond hair. We don’t belong to the Dutch Christian Reformed Church which is a driving force in the local culture, politics and business.

I grew up there, a tan olive-skinned, brown-eyed kid with dark brown hair that borders on black. From the time I was nine or ten until the time I left when I was 23, people grilled me on my background. My favorite is still my best friend asking me if I was African American when we were 10 or 11. That one’s pretty extreme but I had countless others ask me everything from Indonesian to Native American to Hispanic to Greek or Italian. Grand Rapids is a pretty exceptional place, I grant you that, but look at all the people throughout my life who had no clue that I was not only European, but western European when they looked at me.

My boyfriend laughed at me when I told him stories about getting confused for a minority but now that he’s visited Grand Rapids, I think he understands.

From one white guy to another, Mr. Brown, never question someone’s background. Background is far deeper, far more complex and far-reaching than skin complexion or your hair color or eye color. The people of Massachusetts deserve a campaign about issues and solutions, not unfounded personal attacks and this country deserves a better discussion of racial identity than “You can tell just by looking at her.”

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Montesquieu reads Mitt

“Je ne sais comment il arrive qu’il n’y a presque jamais de prince si méchant, que son ministre ne le soit encore davantage; s’il fait quelque action mauvaise, elle a presque toujours été suggérée : de maniéré que l’ambition des princes n’est jamais si dangereuse, que la bassesse d’âme de ses conseillers.”

“I don’t know how that happens that there is almost never a prince as nasty as his ministers; if the prince undertakes some underhanded, dirty dealing, it was almost always suggested to him: the ambition of princes is never as dangerous as the base characters of his advisers.”

-Letter 127, The Persian Letters, Montesquieu

Still trying to figure this Mitt Romney guy out? You’re not alone. I think he’s still trying to figure himself out, too.

In a week when both Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave blustering speeches at the UN, you might want to consider Romney’s foreign policy team, which is spearheaded by Dan Senor and other former members of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy team.

You might want to consider Mr. Romney’s foreign policy team and the words of M. Montesquieu.

The context changes, but some words are timeless.

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