Put a Check on Demagogue Donald—“Occupy the Polls” October 30 , 2018
We’re now entering the political home stretch, one week to go to Midterm Election Day 2018. Since Donald’s shocking win on 11/08/2016 and certainly since his 1/20/2017 inauguration, I have heard many Democrats repeatedly say, “the 11/2018 midterms can’t come soon enough.” Well, that date is fast approaching. It is time to abandon talk and turn to the the only action that counts in checking Demagogue Donald--voting “bigly.” In my last blog post, I approvingly noted what the Des Moines Register said, “Every voter should vote the straight Democratic ticket because the GOP has failed to govern.” The Register additionally and correctly shredded the congressional GOP majority for “failing to act as a constitutional check on Donald (desmoinesregister.com, 10/13/18).”
Suggesting how people should vote is just Step #1. The ultimate action, “Step #2,” is for Democrats and Democratic-leaners to vote “big time.” Again, there are way more of us than Donald’s MAGA mob. So why are we in this mess? Because too many Democrats, the supposedly “smarter,” more intelligent people, foolishly think that voting is, to quote former Pres. Obama, “not sexy.” Too many of our base wrongly think that staying home or voting in “purist” protest for “dead end” third- party candidates sends a “message.” It sends “a message,” all right. It allows GOPers led by FOX News and talk/hate radio to prevail at the ballot box. And we keep repeating this insane behavior again and again and again. Witness our poor turnout in 1994, 2010, 2014, and 2016. The media and Capitol Hill listen to Tea Party/Trump activists. Why? It is not because they have funny tri-corner hats or bright red caps. No, they listen to this extremist group because they always come out strongly and vote for “Team Red.” Former Obama speech writer David Litt stated in a 9/23/2017 LA Times editorial that too many progressives think of voting as a “choice,” not a “habit.” Such an attitude must change if we want to win elections and enact progressive legislation. Litt added that “staying home is not a legitimate form of protest. You must show up. The health of our democracy depends on it (LA Times, 9/23/17).” When Democrats show up, we and the country win. Look at what happened in VA in 11/2017 during its off-year election. Massive turnout elected a Democratic Governor and many “Blue” state legislators, almost flipping an entire state legislative chamber. Because Democrat Ralph Northam beat xenophobic Trump wannabe Ed Gillespie, he was able to expand Medicaid in VA under Obamacare, something most GOPers oppose (See Vozzella, washingtonpost.com, 6/07/18). Again, elections have consequences.
Most of us can’t run for office or give hefty political contributions. However, we too can and must enter the political “arena” by casting ballots. And our ballots count the same as those of any mega-GOP billionaires. Enough of our votes can overwhelm the Koch Bros. and other “dark money” GOP-leaning groups. Author Jon Meacham, in his recent book, “The Soul of America The Battle For Our Better Angels,” correctly called the casting of ballots or voting “foundational to living up to the obligations of citizenship in a republic (Meacham, 2018).” He wrote this book to suggest how we can fight back in the age of Trump with hope, not fear. Meacham is correct. Voting is the KEY to American citizenship.
When I was growing up in a blue-collar New England city, many of my teachers were members of WWII’s Greatest Generation. One of them had served in the Navy. A second had been wounded fighting in the Pacific. A popular teacher had joined the Navy’s WAVES so that she could later attend college. Another teacher of mine, an Army infantryman, was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge but went on to enter Germany and liberated a Nazi concentration camp. He often spoke of how affected he was by that experience. Several of these teachers were the children of immigrants and were the first in their families to attend college. They took advantage of one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed by the GOP’s hated “big” federal government, the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill. This law, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Dem. President FDR, helped create a thriving middle class. It provided college tuition, guaranteed home loans, and offered other benefits to WWII veterans (See Meacham). These teachers constantly told us that if one does not vote, he/she is repudiating those servicemen and servicewomen who were wounded or gave their lives to protect our democracy. Again, voting is our major responsibility as Americans.
In this 11/06/2018 midterm election, all 435 House seats are being contested. In order for Democrats to take back the House, they need to flip a net 23 seats into column “Blue.” Because of Demagogue Donald’s massive unpopularity, many seats held by GOPers are very vulnerable. Analyst Dave Wasserman has stated that presently there are 17-GOP-held seats in Lean/Likely Dem positions and 2 Dem seats in Lean/Likely R. If all those races break as forecast, Dems need only to win 9 of 30 Toss Ups (nearly 30%) to recapture the majority (Wasserman @ Redistrict). And unlike in 1994 or 2010, there are numerous battleground districts on the GOP’s turf. According to CNN’s Chris Cillizza, there are 69 districts labeled “battlegrounds,” and Dems lead GOPers there 50%-47%. Sixty-three (63) of these 69 “battleground” seats are held by GOPers. In 2016, Trump carried 48 of them and GOPers took 56% of the vote to the Dems 41%. GOPers are, therefore, playing defense in areas they normally should be winning without a sweat. There are, therefore, many ways for Democrats flip at least 23 seats. And the more seats “Team Blue” flips the better. However, in all these races across the country, Democrats must come out “big time” in massive droves to win. Dems must offset the GOP advantage created by gerrymandering districts in their favor by probably winning the popular vote by at least 7% (See Wasserman @Redistrict, 3/26/18). VOTE, VOTE, and VOTE!
Democrats must take back at least one congressional chamber to put an end to killing Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. A Democratic congressional chamber will stop more awful top 1% tax cuts. The GOP has blatantly stated that if it keeps Congress, it will aim to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and again try to repeal Obamacare (politico.com, 10/19/18, MSNBC). By recapturing the House, Democrats will also be able to chair committees and have subpoena power. They will then be able to start real investigations of Donald’s tax returns and his messy dealings with the Russians and the Saudis.
Taking back the Senate will be far harder and the odds look much longer. Presently, the GOP has a 51-49 Senate edge and Dems need to gain a net two Sen. seats. However, Senate Dems, unlike the House, are playing defense. Most of the 1/3 Senate seats on the ballot in 2018 are held by Dems, giving the GOP a chance to snag more “Blue” seats (huffingtonpost.com, Bobic, 4/09/18). Nine of those incumbent Democrats are in states Donald handily won in 2016, including IN, MO, and ND, where Dems. Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, and Heidi Heitkamp are in the political fights of their lives. In FL, free spending reactionary Gov. Rick Scott is giving incumbent Dem. Bill Nelson a very tough fight. Charismatic TX Dem. Beto O’ Rourke is putting up one hell of a battle against wacko GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, but his chances are not good. TN Democrat Phil Bredesen also looks like he has an uphill climb in that “Red” state to replace retiring GOPer Bob Corker. In “purplish”/swingy AZ and NV, Dems Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen are in very close races to flip those seats. Again, to take back the Senate, Dems will need to “run the table.” Even if we don’t win this upper chamber, we must keep our losses to a minimum. Again, VOTE, VOTE, and VOTE!
With Donald in the Oval Office, “Team Blue” governors can lead the way in thwarting his agenda, (witness CA’s Jerry Brown), pushing for and signing progressive legislation (VA’s Ralph Northam), and making sure that in the post-2020 redistricting, Democrats will get to shape fairer state and congressional districts. GOPers currently hold 33 governorships to the Dems 16. In Campaign 2018, “Team Red” is defending 26 gubernatorial mansions. According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, Democrats are favored to hold onto their own states and take back Midwestern IL and MI as well as NM. The fivethirtyeight.com website currently forecasts that Democrats will go from 16 governorships to at least 23 or 24, while GOPers will go from 33 to 26. Democrats will then govern 196 million Americans to the GOP’s 133 million (fivethirtyeight.com, 10/26/18). Hopefully, Mainers will elect Dem. Janet Mills and defeat GOPer Shawn Moody, an ally of crude/reactionary outgoing “Red” Governor Paul LePage. In IA, centrist Dem. Fred Hubbell has a lead against staunch conservative /anti-choice Kim Reynolds. Of course, Democrats hope to finally evict WI Gov. Scott Walker with Tony Evers, but Walker is outspending Evers in this very close race. “Team Blue” also wants to elect progressive star African American Andrew Gillum in FL over racist spouting right- wing Cong. Ron DeSantis. In GA, Democrats hope African American Stacey Abrams will defeat voter purging right wing GOPer Brian Kemp. However, Kemp, in racially polarized GA, seems to have the edge. Again, the only way for Democrats to start winning governors’ races is to VOTE, VOTE, and VOTE!
Besides the House, Senate, and governorships, in Campaign 2018, 87 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers will hold elections for 6,073 seats. Nearly 82% of the state legislative seats will be up for election. GOPers currently control 67 of 99 legislative chambers and 4,134 of 7,383 legislative seats. Under Obama, when they failed to show up for midterms, Dems lost 29 legislative chambers and 968 legislative seats, the most significant loss since WWII. Prior to 2018, the president’s party usually lost an average of 350 state legislative seats in midterm elections. According to the Cook Political Report, GOPers could “potentially lose their majorities in 12-14 state legislative chambers and Democrats could pick up as many as 650 seats (dlcc.org, 10/28/18).” Since Trump took office, Dems have flipped 45 legislative seats across the country, including in deep “Red” OK (dlcc.org, latimes.com). State legislators are the “farm team” where future candidates are recruited to run for higher state and national office. They also can enact progressive or reactionary laws and often draw the maps for state and federal redistricting. We all saw how the NC GOP state legislative chambers passed reactionary anti-union laws and controversial “bathroom” anti-transgender legislation. Again, Democrats must come out in droves and not omit the down ballot races for state legislative chambers. VOTE, VOTE, and VOTE!
There is only one way to check Dangerous Demagogue Donald and his GOP gang. It is the same way we can loudly repudiate “nationalist” Donald’s “deplorables”--the KY white bigot who shot two blacks in the Kroger grocery store after failing to enter a black church, the MAGA bomber, and the anti-Semitic fanatic involved in the 10/27/2018 Pittsburgh, PA synagogue massacre. Democrats must massively come out and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE early or at the polls on 11/06/2018. As Barack Obama stated, “We must not fall asleep during midterms. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes.” Vote the straight Democratic ticket and vote in droves. “Occupy the Polls.”
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