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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

IF LIBERALS ARE SO FUCKING SMART, HOW COME THEY LOSE SO GODDAMN ALWAYS?



The Election 2014 season concluded with the Louisiana Senate runoffs earlier in December. As expected Senator Mary Landreau lost. Republicans ended with a net gain of 9 seats flipping the senate from Democratic control to Republican control for the first time since the 109th Congress.

Republicans also increased their majority in the House from 234 seats to 247 seats. It is the largest Republican share of seats since the Herbert Hoover administration.

In addition to gaining control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans strengthened their holds on governorships and state legislatures. In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper was narrowly re-elected and Democrats were able to hold on to their majority in the state house. Unfortunately, Republicans held onto Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, and were able to flip control of the state senate to Republican control for the first time since 2004.

Now that the circular firing squad among Democrats have subsided, I am here to offer my thoughts on why we lost.



The title of this piece comes from a line from the television series The Newsroom. In the series opening episode, television anchor Will McAvoy protrayed by actor Jeff Daniels is part of a panel consisting of liberal and conservative pundits. The panel is asked by a college student, "What makes America the greatest country in the world?"

McAvoy believes he sees someone holding up a sign prompting him to give an honest answer instead of a canned response as the other panelists are.

The panel's moderator insists that McAvoy gives a human response to the question.

And McAvoy unleashes a tirade about why America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

During McAvoy's monologue to answer the question, he turns to the liberal pundit and asks, "If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?"

The reason why we lost in November 2014 is because Democrats were too damned afraid to stand up for anything.

Take my current state of Colorado. It is the definition of a swing state where Democrats have proven they can win even when it is a difficult election. It was a presidential battleground in 2008 and 2012 as well as a senate and governor battleground in 2010 and 2014. In 2016 it will be contested in the presidential and the US Senate when incumbent Senator Michael Bennett (D) is up for re-election.

Where do the voters live in The Centennial State? The largest concentration of Democratic leaning voters are in Denver, Boulder, and Arapahoe counties as well as in the southern part of the state in Pueblo. Most of the Republican voters are in Colorado Springs and the rural areas in Northeastern Colorado. Jefferson County in the Denver suburbs is considered to be a swing county.

During the senate election campaign, you could not turn on a television and not go an entire day without seeing a political television advertisement. One of the ads I remember seeing was the one that claimed that Senator Mark Udall voted with President Barack Obama (in an ominous voice) NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE TIME!!!

Well… no shit.

President Obama and Senator Mark Udall are of the same party so it is likely that Obama and Udall are going to agree on a lot of things.

So, what did Senator Mark Udall do to counter those ads?

During a campaign stump, Udall said that he was proud to have stood with the President when it came to the issues of the day. He was proud to have cast a vote for ObamaCare because that meant that Coloradoans have access to health care that includes not being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and women cannot be denied contraception coverage. Senator Udall was proud to have voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and a president that leads the most pro-LGBT administration in American history. He was proud to have a president that had Syria get rid of their chemical weapons without firing a shot instead of a president that lied us into a war based on the false premise of that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He was proud to have a president that got finical reform and help start the political career of Elizabeth Warren.

Udall then mentioned that Republicans have continually said no to President Obama since he took office on 20 January 2009. The Senate in a bipartisan vote voted for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package while he House, controlled by the Republicans, refused to take the bill up and instead voted to deport those that would be impacted by the continually proposed DREAM Act. The Republicans in the Senate blocked Obama's nominees for Surgeon General which would have helped calm the panic over the Ebola outbreak that took place over the fall. They also continued to vote against nominees for our federal benches which matter in cases like marriage equality, employment pay discrimination, election laws, and campaign finance. The Republicans in the House voted for the government shutdown that crippled our economy. Udall listed all the national parks and military installations located in Colorado affected by the Republican-led government shutdown that happened in October 2013.

Oh wait… that speech didn't happen.

Instead Udall's campaign turned into a single issue campaign on women's reproductive rights. While that is very important given that now Senator-elect Cory Gardner supported personhood in the House and did nothing to remove his name from the legislation, Gardner said that he supported contraception in an op-ed to the Denver Post during the June primary. Even the press tried to link personhood to Gardner and that failed to connect with the voting public. Despite Gardner winning the senate race, personhood failed in Colorado.

So… Colorado said no to personhood for the third time in four even-numbered elections… but voted in a guy who supported it in the US House… very confusing…

The best explanation I have for that anomaly is that the voters failed to make that connection between Amendment 67 and Gardner because Udall failed to run on his record and let Gardner define him as being an Obama supporter. Udall won in 2008 almost mirroring Obama's Colorado victory. As I mentioned in previous posts, Colorado not only went for Obama twice but was also the tipping point state per Nate Silver. Yes, in 2008 the west coast put Obama over 270 and in 2012 the Ohio call won re-election. If you order the states and DC from biggest Obama win towards biggest Obama loss, Colorado was the state that put Obama over the 270 mark both times.

The Udall campaign, like other Democratic campaigns across the country, failed to expand the electorate. They failed to turnout those that showed up in 2008 and 2012 to vote for Obama and in some cases it was a repeat of 2010, if not worse.

Turnout in 2008 was over 60% due to a lot of factors: W. Bush fatigue, crumbling economic and financial systems, and the historical significance of the election. In 2012 it was down but still a respectable (for this country) 58%.

Turnout in 2014: 36.3%

The last time turnout was this low for a midterm election was in 1942 during the height of World War II.

Colorado's turnout for the recent midterm was 53.0% which was better than the national average, but compared to what 2012 was in Colorado it is pathetic. Turnout for the presidential in Colorado in 2012 was 71.1%.

This problem was not just in Colorado.

Iowa elected Joni Ernst to the US Senate because the Democratic candidate supposedly insulted farmers. Iowa, like Colorado, was another state that Obama won twice. Not only was it voters not being aware of the candidate they were electing, but not having "the perfect candidate" on the ballot.

The only place the perfect candidate exists is when you look in your bathroom mirror.

Senator Kay Hagan should have won re-election. North Carolina is the recent addition to the battleground due to demographic and population shifts. North Carolina State House Speaker Thom Tillis was the poster child of the extreme direction the state took over the past two years. Tillis won by less than 46,000 votes in that election. Who knows how many votes were suppressed due to North Carolina's Voter ID and arcane registration laws?

Democrats were hoping that Kentucky would be in play, but the Obama question popped up for Alison Lundergan Grimes. She was asked by reporters in Kentucky who she voted for in the presidential election and she bombed the question.

Yes, the reason why the Obama question comes up in the red states is for a variety of reasons (meaning, there is a black guy in The White House). It even came up during the Texas gubernatorial debate.

From now on Democrats when someone asks you if you voted for Obama, here is what you should say:

Yes I did vote for Barack Obama.

For my opponent, I would like to know who did he/she vote for in the presidential elections from 2000 onward. Did my opponent vote for a president that cut taxes twice on the wealthiest wage earners resulting in wasting a budget surplus and leaving us with trillions of debt? How about a failed foreign policy that resulted in us ignoring pursuing Osama bin Laden and lying us into a war that wasted lives and resources in getting the mastermind behind the 9-11 attacks?

In 2008 when our country was in the midst of a financial crisis, did my opponent support the candidate who said "the fundamentals of our economy is strong" and tried to duck out a presidential debate? How about in 2012 when the Republican candidate for president said that 47% of the population does not matter to him?

I am proud to have voted for PRESIDENT Barack Obama. My opponent on the other hand cannot say the same about his/her vote for his party's presidential candidates.

Virginia was too close to call, but Senator Mark Warner was able to win re-election in part due to duplicating Governor Terry McAuliffe and other Virginia Democrats' victories for statewide in 2013. Though Senator Jeanne Shaheen won in New Hampshire over Scott Brown, the victory margin did tighten up a bit.

Democrats lost gubernatorial races in reliably presidential blue states like Maryland and Illinois probably due to lower voter turnout and internal state politics. Massachusetts was due to poor candidate recruitment. Martha Coakley lost another statewide election in The Bay State and will probably not be considered for elected office again.

Governors Rick Scott (FL), Scott Walker (WI), Rick Snyder (MI), and Paul LePage (ME) won re-election despite their abysmal records as their respective state's chief executive. Walker in Wisconsin is being considered a possible presidential nominee for the Republican Party in 2016.

It was no surprise that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) lost to Tom Wolf (D) due to draconian education cuts. It was surprising that in Kansas Governor Sam Brownback won due to cutting taxes resulting in Kansas schools being shutdown.

And then there is my birth state of Texas…

Texas Democrats are placing the blame on their failures on the party, the Davis gubernatorial campaign, and Battleground Texas on why they failed in 2014. Wendy Davis did worse than Bill White in 2010 and that was a year where having a D next to your name on the ballot line was a political death sentence in Texas. Voter turnout in Texas for 2014 was 28.5%, the second lowest in the country. That percentage translates to 9 million people not voting.

9 million is equivalent to the population of New Jersey.

The state with the second largest population had 9 million people sit out an election where the upcoming legislative session will discuss matters that will not only impact their lives in matters of education funding, roads, and water, but the lives of the 17 million people that also live in the state. And according to JPMorgan, Texas could be headed towards a regional recession due to the drop in oil and gas prices. It will be interesting if Governor-elect Gregg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick, and members of the Texas Lege will head those warnings and take measures to soften the blow. I doubt it because Texas Republicans are immune to facts and reality.

The Davis gubernatorial and Udall senate candidacies and many others share one common thread: DEMOCRATS. DID. NOT. STAND. UP. AND. FIGHT.

The Davis campaign did not really offer a reason why should people vote for her and her party. Instead the campaign were hoping for that turnout would come up (it didn't) and tried to sway those independent and Republican-leaning voters (nope). Also based on what I have been reading, the folks running Battleground Texas had no idea about the politics of Texas and failed to connect with the Hispanic/Latino communities in South Texas resulting in them staying home or voting for Greg Abbott.

While in Colorado what I think the strategy by Udall and many other incumbent senate Democratic campaigns was to hope that the Republican candidate will slip up and that the people know my record and I will be easily re-elected. Again, nope.

You have to give the voters a reason WHY they should vote for you. You have to remind them WHY they should vote for you. Job security is number one for an elected official.

But of course there is this one issue that I think a lot of people on my side are ignoring it is WHO the voters are. As in who is turning out for the midterms.

Take President Obama's decision on immigration reform.

President Obama delayed his decision on immigration reform until after the midterms because of the vulnerability of Senators Mark Pryor (AR), Mary Landreu (LA), and Kay Hagan (NC). It was believed that delaying the immigration reform decision until AFTER the midterms would save their seats. Unfortunately that was not the case.

Who is more than likely to show up to vote in midterm elections?


That cartoon speaks volumes about the WHO is showing up in midterms. It is not Democratic voters so therefore candidates don't have to appeal to those voters and end up having to appeal to Republican leaning voters thus taking positions contradictory to a generic Democratic candidate thus perpetuating the myth that both sides are the same.

And it appears that the Democratic Party in the deep south is all but done. Democrats once ruled the south but the Republicans have come to rule not just US senate seats but also governorships and state legislatures. This as many of you know due to President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Johnson is believed to have said after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that the Democratic Party lost the south for a generation.

Some are calling for Democrats to give up on this part of the country and instead concentrate their efforts on places that have a better chance of winning. I do not agree with that line of thinking as someone who previously lived in a reliably red state and know that there are people standing up for Democratic-liberal-progressive values in those places. If this incarnation of the Democratic Party is to have any chance in places like the Deep South and Texas, there needs to be some serious restructuring along with long term planning by those within the party.

Turning Texas Blue is something that is not going to happen overnight which is what the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas were trying to do in the thirteen month period from when Wendy Davis announced her candidacy to when the November 2014 election was. The strategy I am suggesting doesn’t sound attractive, but if these groups are serious about Turning Texas Blue they need to start with those down ballot races such as state legislature and the so-called "non-partisan" city council and mayoral elections.

This election was a hard lesson for Democrats to learn. Democrats did not show up again for another midterm in the Obama presidency. They showed up in 2008 and 2012 because they felt a connection to the candidate. As for the midterms in 2010 and 2014, they didn't fell that connection to Obama as they should have. We didn't give President Obama what he needs and that is a cooperative Congress or at least a House-led Republican Party mitigated by Democrats holding on to the Senate.

Because our side lost in November 2014, the next two years are going to be a difficult ride.

It wasn't liberals who lost this election. It will be the American people who are going to lose.

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