McConnell Needs to Go in 2014

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” –Senator Mitch McConnell, 23 October 2010

With this statement, Senator McConnell rewrote his own job description from that of a United States Senator representing the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to a hard-nosed ideologue intent on a solitary goal of ending another man’s political career.

Two years and hundreds of filibusters later, the President wins his bid for reelection, by a landslide.

What does Senator “one-term” McConnell have to say about that?

“The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” McConnell said in a statement. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.” –Senator McConnell

You see what he did there? Senator McConnell is pretending that the record number of filibusters he and his party orchestrated, even on legislation that they agreed with, is a personal failure of President Barack Obama.

The lack of productivity in the Senate for the past four years is a failure of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, not President Barack Obama.

Take a look at this handy chart, that lays out exactly who has filibustered in the Senate the most, by number and by percentage. At the top of the chart? Republican after Republican, after Republican. If your Senators are on the top half of this list, you should be angry. Very angry.

Filibustering is refusing to debate. It is refusing to vote. It is refusing to allow anyone to debate or vote–per Senate rules, sixty Senators must vote to overrule a single, anonymous Senator who may filibuster a bill, then waltz out of the Chamber, off into the city. A filibuster, under current rules, does not require a Senator to hold the floor. It does not require that one, single Senator to even be in the building.

If one or both of your Senators are on the top half of this list, your hired representatives are refusing to do their jobs.

Just think a second: what would happen if you decided you left an anonymous note on your boss’ desk saying that you didn’t feel like working that day, then walked out? I’d be written up, docked points, and fired.

There hasn’t been balance in Congress since President Obama was elected in 2008, and that’s because the vast majority of the Republican Party has been refusing to do their jobs.

Mitch McConnell is the orchestrator of this collective tantrum, and as a resident of Kentucky, I am angry. Rand Paul, my other Senator, has refused to work over eighty percent of his short time in the Capital. I am very angry. My state has no voice in the Senate. None. Kentucky’s representatives in the Senate anonymously protest, then run off into the city to do whatever it is old white men do in Washington D.C.

Kentucky, we have two more years until Mitch McConnell is up for reelection. And you know what? I’m angry enough that I’d consider running against him myself–but I don’t meet the minimum age requirement, and I won’t meet it in two years, either. So to anyone considering running against Mitch in 2014? Consider this as my letter of interest.

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Blunt Breakdown

Well, I was going to post a list of the misogynistic Senators who voted in favor of the Blunt Amendment. However, it seems fairly pointless, considering this:

If your Senator is a Republican, and is NOT Olympia Snowe, then they voted in FAVOR of the Blunt Amendment.

If your Senator is a Democrat, and is NOT Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), then they voted AGAINST the Blunt Amendment.

There, see?

Now, let’s get these fuckers who voted for Blunt out of the Senate.

Get Your Activism On: Changing the Rules.

The other night, Rachel Maddow, on her show, addressed the rules and regulations for filibuster in the United States Senate. Currently, it only requires one Senator to filibuster, and that Senator does not have to remain on the Senate floor, or even in the Senate chamber. He or she can filibuster, then go off to dinner and home for the week, delaying any vote on a piece of legislation. I believe this is important to highlight—not just because the Republicans have filibustered any legislation that has come across their table in the past two years, but because procedurally, this does not make sense.

Senators were elected to do a job. They are being paid, by our tax dollars, to do a job—represent our voice in the chamber, and by passing legislation that the country needs to be passed, or not passed, as the case may be. We do not pay them to stand up and say “I don’t want to vote on this, I’m going to block this vote, and go home to sit on my butt.”

Rachel had Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon on her show. He is trying to change these rules. Not only to keep the Senate running and thereby ensuring the Senators are doing the job we are paying them to do, but to force Senators who do want to filibuster to remain on the floor. To keep individual Senators accountable, so that the public may see who exactly is holding up the Senate’s work, and who is actually doing the job we are paying them to do. After all, we elect no one to do nothing—we elect them to do something—to pass legislation, or not. We elect our representatives to VOTE. Whether that be to vote for or to vote against something, we elect them to do something. That something is not holding up the Senate and all the important business it has to attend to.

Read the whole of Senator Merkley’s proposal to change Senate procedures on filibuster here. Contact your Senator to encourage them to help Merkley, and to vote to change the procedure. Find your Senator and his/her contact information here. If you have time, contact Senator Merkley to thank him for undertaking this effort, and encourage him to continue fighting for this change.

I thought, like I’m sure many others did, that Senators had to be in the chamber, at the very least, to initiate and continue a filibuster. That the current Minority Party has been doing nothing but filibustering, even on legislation that they agree with, has angered me. But now, knowing that they don’t even have to expel any effort to hold up the Senate? I’m even angrier. I have to wonder, had this issue been brought up before the midterms, and the Majority party made a big deal of it, (that is, that Senators don’t have to be present to continue a filibuster) would the midterms have turned out differently? We’ll never know, but it’s something to note. Anyway! Read the proposal! Contact your Senator! It would only take a simple majority to change the rules!

Why The GOP May Not Gain As Much As They Think

As yet another election season approaches, there’s a lot of talk about Democrats losing political offices, and Republicans gaining them. I’m not going to go into all of the reasons that Democrats have to worry, because those have been widely discussed, debated, and posited upon. Though I recognize that it is typical for the in-power party to lose seats in midterms, I want to present arguments that I think Republicans have to worry–and why they might not gain as many seats as so many seem to think.

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

1) The GOP’s money problems

According to this article on Politico.com, the Republican National Committee, the RNC is having, ahem, financial difficulties. The committee had to take out $10 million in a line of credit to finance “relatively small” House races. They’re only able to pay for a fraction of the initiatives the RNC usually sponsors for elections, such as GOTV (get out the vote), phone banks, mailings, et cetera, and are instead relying upon conservative group American Crossroads to pick up the slack. Republican House and Senatorial Committees are only getting a fraction of the money they usually get, as are Gubernatorial and Congressional candidates.

This lack of cash flow will have a huge impact all over the political sphere–like it or not, our political system runs on money. The more of it a candidate or party has, the more resources they have to get their message out, to put their face in living rooms, and to get the desired demographics to the voting booth. It’s also a race. If a candidate has a significantly lower amount of cash to campaign with than does his or her opponent, then not only are not getting face-time, but your opponent is getting a lot of it, and voters are more likely to remember your opponent than you.

2. The Tea Party. Oh, yeah. The Tea Party. The gift that keeps on giving, but not so much to the Republican Party.

The Tea party is a recent phenomenon, a reaction to President Obama’s election. They haven’t yet experienced an election season, so the remainder of this year will be very interesting. Like many have pointed out, the Tea party’s lack of leadership, unity, and direction is attractive for rhetoric, but bad for getting things done. The Tea Party membership is also highly conservative. So much so, that in fact it may divide up the Republican party, making mainline Republicans to support certain candidates, while Tea Party Republicans will support more extreme candidates, with more extreme ideas and positions. This is not going to win elections. This is going to fracture the party, meanwhile, Democrats will have the same base of support they’ve always had.

3. Some candidates running for office.

Kentucky: US Senator: Rand Paul.

The Tea Party candidate, a darling of libertarians, Rand Paul is the one who famously came out against the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I must note, not against their ideals, but that they forced private businesses to stop discriminating, and required them to accommodate differently-abled employees (if they had over 20 employees). Regardless, as a self-declared Tea Partier, his radical views on long-standing legislation, especially legislation that has long been regarded in the public as necessary as well as huge gains for the United States, is not going to help the Tea Party, or the Republican Party be viewed as anything but “the party of no” and regression.

His glib reaction to the BP oil spill is also not going to help, especially considering the crickets from other Tea Partiers and Republicans when this came out.

Throw in that he certifies himself to practice Ophthalmology, that board is not certified by the American Medical Association, and new allegations of his involvement in a kidnapping and forced-pot-smoking on the victim, and Rand Paul looks like a bad candidate, indeed.

Nevada: US Senator: Sharron Angle

Another darling of the Tea Party, and vocal opponent of the health care reform, Sharron might have been okay here, considering how unpopular the bill has been with Conservatives, except:

“there’s nothing wrong with our health care system.”

Whoops! While many would say that the legislation wasn’t the answer to the issues within our health care system, very few would say that it is perfect as it is.

She’s the famous one who recommended “Second Amendment remedies” for political disagreements. Don’t like someone’s political views? Shoot ’em up! Sorry, no. I’m in favor of gun rights, but only for personal safety. Only for self-defense. That definition doesn’t extend to intimidating people to win arguments or promote legislation. This is horrifying to most Americans–our political system is a democratic-republic and based in freedom of expression. Anyone advocating for repression of that is one that will repel and disgust Americans. Even though she has retracted this statement, it will not soon be forgotten by voters. Indeed, after this atrocity, her ratings dropped.

Throw in her statements advocating the “phasing out” of Medicare and Social Security, which is not going to sit well with older constituents, her refusal to speak to mainstream media outlets because they “won’t let [her] ask for money,” and her advocating the elimination of the Department of Education, and Sharron Angle’s election is not only in trouble, but also the image of the Republican Party.

She’s alienating parents, older voters, as well as those voters who abhor violence, value the back-and-forth our political system provides, and those who do not appreciate candidates who hide behind biased sources and refuse to speak to media outlets who won’t allow her to beg for money. So, pretty much everyone.

From Dan Raes thinking that a public bicycle program is evidence of a communist conspiracy, to Sharron Angle’s advocating getting rid of the Department of Education, these Tea Party candidates are dividing the GOP, and thus, votes in November. Moderates and Independents will likely not vote for such extreme-positioned candidates.

4. Ted Olsen.

The attorney made famous by representing George W. Bush in the infamous case Bush v. Gore, his fame increased by his teaming up with David Boies, his rival on the Bush v. Gore case, to fight Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative in California that re-banned same-sex marriage. Olsen is a prominent conservative lawyer. Few conservatives will come out in support of same-sex marriage, let alone go to bat for the equal rights of our GLBT citizens. He’s an example to fiscally-conservative-socially-liberal voters, showing them that they don’t have to hide their social-progressive views in order to be a Real(TM) Conservative.

Many Republicans are for GLBT rights, but will not advocate for them, let alone pressure their party to reverse course on their views, or even vote against candidates who hold extremely bigoted views of LGBT people.  Ted Olsen shows these closeted supporters that they do not have to hide, that they should not, that they come out in support of our fellow citizens, and advocate for their equality. I don’t know who Ted Olsen supports politically, but his hard work (and victory!) in Perry v. Schwarzenegger should be someone progressive-conservatives should look up to, and vote against bigoted candidates, no matter their fiscal policies.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but for sure it demonstrates that the GOP is not going to have the easy gains it hopes to make in Congress and other public offices this November. The next few months will surely be interesting, as a voter, and as a political scientist.

What do you think?