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Midterm Message: Respect, don't dis, the People

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 3
Publish Date: 
Thu, 11/06/2014

 

“The people have spoken…. and they must be punished,” former New York City mayor Ed Koch famously vented in defeat.

In sweeping away waves of Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm election – even in blue states like Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts – a punished and disrespected American people have vented, silencing the politicians whose agenda and tactics they soundly rejected.

In this collective Think Again election, Harry Reid was demoted for allowing hyper-partisanship to trump the constitutional integrity of the Senate, known as the “world’s most deliberative body” -- except under Reid’s leadership.

Though Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s fate awaits a December run-off, she typified the political class’ disdain for constituents, attributing electoral woes to their sexism and racism. “The South hasn’t always been the friendliest place for African Americans,” she told NBC correspondent Chuck Todd during her campaign’s frantic homestretch, nor “a good place for women to present ourselves.”

But with the American Dream slipping beyond reach for ordinary citizens, and amid unease over America’s increasingly weak standing in the world, how is dissing one’s constituents a winning message?

Apparently, that’s shrewd politics, even in a state that thrice elected Landrieu and just re-elected its Indian governor, according to the New Republic’s Brian Beutler who applauded “Landrieu’s candor [because it] came in the service of her political interest.”

Herein lies America’s gravest problem, one that Tuesday’s midterm tsunami should help mitigate: Rather than do the right thing even when no one is looking – the definition of integrity – today’s self-serving leaders routinely do the wrong yet politically advantageous thing, even when everybody’s looking.

Whether in the Rose Garden, TV interviews, before Congress, or on the campaign trail, political elites have promised the unattainable, spun the news cycle with false narratives, stonewalled investigations, and smeared adversaries. Absent honest disagreement and accountability, the “truth” becomes any story that sticks, allowing them to coast on benevolent intentions, above their policies’ wreckage.

Labeling successive controversies “phony scandals” -- Obamacare chaos, dying veterans, murdered U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, IRS harassment, NSA snooping, Syria’s red-line erasure – they’ve managed to stay atop the responsibility-evading tight rope.  Despite overwhelming foreign and domestic concerns, most campaigns refused to discuss Americans real preoccupations, paying dearly.

For too long politicians have played the identity politics trump card to win political advantage at the expense of the public good. Actively fomenting social unrest, they’ve cynically divided Americans into warring camps while short-circuiting the deliberation and debate on which national consensus in a pluralistic democracy depends.

 

Doubling down on the War on Women shtick, campaigns courted female voters like the Neanderthals they claimed their opponents to be. Consider the menacing Colorado ad about condom shortages because “Cory Gardner banned birth control,” or the contention that  “A vote for Tom Cotton is a vote against Arkansas women.” Ironically, even Joni Ernst – now Iowa’s first female senator and a combat veteran -- was accused of waging a war on women.

 

Of Republicans, Congressman Charlie Rangel declared, they “believe that slavery isn’t over and that they won the Civil War!” Actually, Republicans – the Party of Lincoln -- did win the Civil War and passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments abolishing slavery and granting voting and due process rights to former slaves, though Democrats work hard to convince otherwise.

 

Reporting on these race-baiting efforts, the New York Times noted “how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression... -- invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation -- to jolt African-Americas into voting.”

 

The Times was surprised that “the effort is being led by national Democrats and their state party organizations.” In North Carolina, Harry Reid’s “super PAC” ran a radio ad linking senate candidate Thom Tillis to the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, garnering four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. Additionally, incendiary leaflets distributed at black churches featured “a grainy image of a lynching,” foreshadowing a reversion to a pre-civil rights era if Sen. Kay Hagan lost.

 

To counter the cynical race baiting, Louisiana state senator Elbert Guillory and his Free At Last PAC ran ads across the south noting that while senators Landrieu, Hagan and Mark Pryor promised to be champions of the black community, the white-black gap grew in virtually every socio-economic category -- fatherless homes, high school dropouts, incomes, poverty, incarceration, and joblessness.

 

Ultimately, Guillory’s message – not Landrieu’s -- resonated. Even deeply red South Carolina re-elected a female Indian governor and a black US senator proving that southern voters judge on character and competence, not skin color or gender.  Making America’s promise accessible to every demographic requires honest leaders who hew to their constituents’ concerns, not their own.

 

Think Again – in Koch’s ironic wisecrack was the insight that American voters punish failing leaders, not vice versa. May this be the lesson our new crop of leaders draw from their victory.

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Elections are over, and

Elections are over, and Colorado did what no one out of state thought it would or could do. Congratulations to a thinking citizenry.

The president has already stuck out his lower lip, looked down his nose and proclaimed it wasn't his fault and the little people may grovel in if they like. No surprise.

Now it is up to the Congress. Will Mitch McConnell be baited into undoing the nuclear option? Will he proclaim his willingness to work with the president, or should I say, be worked by the president? Will the Congress be baited into impeaching the worst president of my life? Or be smart enough to not allow Obama to reclaim the lime light, thereby destroying the republican hopes of electing a worthy chief executive?

It will be an interesting two years, a period that may well decide the fate of America as a republic.
Keep up the hard work!

And the punishing begins with

And the punishing begins with ominous rumblings of executive amnesty.

The best evidence of

The best evidence of widespread disgust with the direction in which the Dems have been leading this county is the "tsunami," as you put it. And the reason this is the best evidence is that, unlike Dem waves that are assisted by the very organized and effective Dem ground game, when there is a Repub wave like this it has to be grass roots; the Repubs are too disorganized to have created it with any leverage of social media or GOTV efforts, since we don't have those.

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