House majority

The Beltway Buzz (Season of Despair)

A coffee cup at Terra Vista. Detail of photo by B. D. Hilling, 2013.

Two paragraphs from Shawn Zeller of Roll Call would seem to beg a particular question:

Republican aides are growing increasingly despondent about their party’s prospects in the 2016 presidential election, according to CQ Roll Call’s most recent Capitol Insiders Survey.

A majority of the GOP staffers who responded to the April survey now expect either Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to win the party’s nomination and nearly half of them―a solid plurality―think the Republican nominee will lose.

That is to say: A plurality? What do you mean “nearly half”? Who the hell are the rest, and what the hell are they thinking?

Taking the White House: "The next president will be …".  Results based on CQ Roll Call Capitol Insiders Survey, 19-26 April.  (Image: Randy Leonard/CQ Roll Call)The answer is actually pretty straightforward: Denial.

Say what we will about the thirty-one percent of GOP respondents to the CQ Roll Call Capitol Insiders Survey who actually think a Republican candidate will win; between those who so loathe Hillary Clinton as to not see straight, those who hope the Party will find another nominee somewhere, and those who for whatever reason really believe Donald Trump or Ted Cruz can win the election, sure, I can believe thirty-one percent.

The forty-nine percent of GOP respondents who said a Democrat will be the next president would seem to be the realists.

That nineteen percent opting for, “I don’t know”, however, is simply in denial.

(more…)

Advertisements

A Reflection on History, Standards, and the Establishment

Detail of cartoon by Matt Bors, via Daily Kos, 23 March 2016.

“Hillary Clinton is indeed, as her critics claim, part of the “the establishment.” Like all women of lofty ambition, she is keenly and woefully aware that in 2016, less than a century out from women’s suffrage, pioneering into a space formerly only occupied by men requires an acceptance that gender constrains one to work within the system, rather than from outside of it.”

Katie Massa Kennedy

Two generally grim thoughts arise and insist:

• The nagging feeling that my fellow liberals are about to blow our best opportunity in generations, and seemingly because the GOP has decided to run dangerously out on a limb, and we want a little bit of that spectacle for ourselves.

• The nagging feeling that it isn’t blindness toward history driving the liberal need to endanger this chance, but, rather, the proposition that some will do anything to keep a woman out of the White House.

(more…)

A Look Ahead to History

The U.S. Capitol is pictured at Dawn in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15, 2013.  (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)

So this is how it goes: Historically speaking, a rising group first finds the Devil in its specific opponents; as it expands, the group next finds the Devil in where its converts and new members are coming from; established, the group begins searching for and attempting to purge the Devil in its own ranks.

One of the great human narratives in which this occurs is the Bible: a rising Jewish sect invested the personification of evil in the Romans and the Jewish abettors who oppressed them. As it gained converts from the various paganistic religions of the day, the Devil became a personification of their former gods and goddesses. When Christianity achieved political power, it began finding the Devil within itself.α

The archetype emerges in other contexts; consider the Tea Party:

As most Republicans were taking a victory lap the morning after the elections, a group of conservatives huddled anxiously in a conference room not far from Capitol Hill and agreed that now is the time for confrontation, not compromise and conciliation.

Despite Republicans’ ascension to Senate control and an expanded House majority, many conservatives from the party’s activist wing fear that congressional leaders are already being too timid with President Obama.

They do not want to hear that government shutdowns are off the table or that repealing the Affordable Care Act is impossible — two things Republican leaders have said in recent days.

“If the new Republican leadership in the Senate is only talking about what they can’t do, that’s going to be very demoralizing,” said Thomas J. Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative advocacy group that convenes a regular gathering called Groundswell. Any sense of triumph at its meeting last week was fleeting.

“I think the members of the leadership need to decide what they’re willing to shut down the government over,” Mr. Fitton said.

(Peters)

The Tea Party appears to be in a transition between the second and third phases. They rose to prominence complaining about Democrats (2010); turned to challenge Republicans, gaining converts in doing so (2012); in the wake of the 2014 midterm, they would appear poised to attempt to purge the Congressional GOP of moderation. The only real question is whether they have the political power to do so. If they succeed, they might be setting up a 2016 “blue wave” to hand the White House and Senate to Democrats while demolishing the numbers advantage in the House. Then again, the House numbers are a little more secure; Republicans can continue sending exorcists to legislatures as long as they want, it seems.

And while that might suffice for, say, Colorado Springs, the rest of the country is starting to weary of the proposition that we must always, always, always slow progress, and even take a few regressive steps, in order to be fair to delusional bigots.

Remember the states and districts in play this year. The next two years of discord and gridlock that can only be broken by “compromising” with extremists who are only satisfied with a 100:0 compromise ratio—“We tell you what to do, you do it; see? compromise, we all have a role to play.”—are entirely on states like Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado.

And remember, it’s not like voters couldn’t see this coming; They were told.

____________________

α cf, Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan. 1995. New York: Vantage, 1996.

Peters, Jeremy W. “With Fear of Being Sidelined, Tea Party Sees the Republican Rise as New Threat”. The New York Times. 8 November 2014.