Tag Archives: Democrats

Democrats feeling good, however …

Democrats across the nation are feeling pretty good these days about the midterm election that’s just around the ol’ corner.

They’re so full of confidence that they believe they will retain — and possibly strengthen — their majority control of the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House, of course, remains an open question, which in itself is a sort of moral victory, given the certainty of a Republican takeover that everyone in the world just a few months ago was predicting would happen.

But I want to offer a word of caution to Democrats as they prepare for the midterm election. Many of them want to use a potentially strengthened Senate majority to get rid of the filibuster, which they believe — with some justification — has been misused by Republicans to block important legislation.

I agree that there ought to be some changes made in the filibuster, such as requiring senators to speak until grow hoarse while stopping bills from becoming law. These days all a senator has to do is object and that constitutes a “filibuster.”

However, ridding the Senate of this legislative tool can bite Democrats in the backside. What would they say, for instance, if they suddenly find themselves in the minority? The filibuster’s intent is to give senators in the minority a little extra punch to pack. Democrats know they won’t hold the majority forever; hell, they might not hold it this year, despite the tide that seems to be turning in their favor … at this moment!

My hope for Senate Democrats, if they are able to maintain the gavels of their committees, is that they don’t reach beyond their grasp as it regards the filibuster. I am no fan of the procedure, but I do understand why the Senate enacted the rule in the first place. It’s not written in the Constitution, but it does give senators a tool they can use to block bills that shouldn’t become law.

As for the midterm result, I am going to hope that Democrats are able to withstand the MAGA tide that has overwhelmed the Republican Party.


Democrats get big gust of wind from the Arctic

Whoever in the world would have thought that Democrats — already feeling energized as the midterm election approaches — would get a big gust of wind in their sails … from the Arctic Circle?

Yep, that is where a Democratic candidate for Congress scored an upset over a one-time Republican darling, former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 nominee for vice president of the United States.

Mary Peltola will take her seat in the House, succeeding the late Don Young in the state’s only U.S. House seat. Palin was thought to be a shoo-in for the post. Then they counted the votes and it turns out that Peltola got more of them than the former Sarah Barracuda.

What’s most astonishing is that Peltola becomes the first Democrat to serve in the House from Alaska since the beginning of Alaska’s statehood. Alaska is as reliably Republican as any state in the Union.

And to be brutally candid, it’s good to see Palin knocked down a peg or three from her imagined towering perch.

Palin became a sort of caricature of herself over the years, with her assorted high-profile family issues erupting here and there. She quit the governorship halfway through her first and only term in office.

I’ve always thought of Palin as an empty vessel, someone with hardly an original idea in her noggin. That the late Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, would choose her as his running mate turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of McCain’s long and distinguished career in public service.

Peltola now must go through a general election campaign, having knocked Palin out of the race. May the new congresswoman serve her state well. I have this feeling she’ll do so with the dignity that Palin usually was unable to find.


Setting aside an evening of election returns

I am all but lead-pipe-cinch certain I know what I am going to be doing on one November evening.

I will be watching midterm election returns from my North Texas home. Election Day is Nov. 8. Some Texas school districts are taking that day off, telling students and teachers there won’t be class that day. Why? They want those who are eligible to vote to be sure to do so, which strikes me as being about as close to declaring Election Day an official holiday as anything I have seen so far.

Regular readers of this blog know of my partisan leaning. To anyone who is unaware, I will disclose that I want Democrats to fend off the Republican “red wave” that everyone was predicting would swamp Congress.

Spoiler alert: Republicans aren’t quite so smug these days. There has been some actual out-loud discussion that suggests Democrats could be in position to maintain — and possibly increase — their control of the Senate.

And get a load of this: At least one bellwether U.S. House race ended Tuesday with the Democrat edging a Republican opponent for a New York congressional seat that everyone this side of House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy thought was going to be swept up by the Republican.

What gives? Speculation is that the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark abortion ruling has energized pro-choice voters to, um, actually vote.

What’s driving this apparent change? Democrats have scored some legislative successes and are finally able to nationalize local races the way Republicans have been so successful at doing.

Plus, Republicans have fielded some certifiable dunderheads for public office, particularly in the Senate. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania (or is it New Jersey?), Herschel Walker in Georgia, J.D. Vance in Ohio and Lord knows who else is out there making an ass of himself or herself in front of voters.

What about the House lineup? Democrats hold a slim majority there, but the chatter is beginning to build that they well might be able to fend off that red wave … even in the House!

I cannot yet buy into the Democrats’ optimism about the House. The Senate does seem to look more promising for those of us who fear what could happen if the GOP takes command of both congressional chambers.

Vengeance appears to be at the top of Republican minds. Which tells me that governance would grind to a halt.

If Democrats can persuade enough voters over the course of the next few weeks what would ensue if the GOP grabs control of Capitol Hill, well … we might have a fun night of TV watching ahead of us.


One for two in midterms?

Handicapping political races is among the more dicey endeavors I ever have tried, which is why I am shying away from handicapping the 2022 midterm contests.

Specifically, it is dangerous to predict how the midterm elections will turn out, which party will control Congress’s two legislative chambers.

I do have an idea based on trends I keep hearing about.

The U.S. Senate might not flip from Democratic to Republican control. What’s happening? It appears the GOP is shooting itself in both feet by fielding certifiable nut cases in key races they had hoped to keep or flip into GOP control.

Mehmet Oz is running for the Senate in Pennsylvania. One problem: He doesn’t live there; he hangs his hat in New Jersey. His opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, appears to be pulling away. GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring, so that one might flip from R to D.

Ohio might go from red to blue also. Republican Sen. Rob Portman is retiring. Rep. Tim Ryan is the Democrat running to succeed him. The GOP challenger is J.D. Vance, another nut job. Ryan is leading and he, too, could pull away. Another state might go from R to D.

Democrats appear set to hold onto two seats formerly thought to be ripe for the picking. Sen. Mark Kelly is looking strong against his GOP challenger. My favorite contest this year could be Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock vs. GOP dumbass Herchel Walker. The Rs thought Walker could pilfer this one. They are wrong. Walker’s only claim to any sort of fame is his stellar college and pro football career. Beyond that? This man might be the most unfit candidate ever to suit up for a political office.

One more: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin might get tossed out by Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes. Oh, how I would love to see that occur.

The Senate stands at 50-50. When the ballots are counted in November, it could be a 53-47 Democratic majority.

The House? That one looks more problematic for Democrats, although I keep seeing that the projections for a “Red Wave” are diminishing from a tsunami to a pebble in a puddle.

It is going to be an invigorating and likely angst-ridden election season coming up. The spirit of our democratic process — despite Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert it — appears to be alive and well.


Biden update: Stay the course, Mr. POTUS

Joe Biden is feeling lots of heat these days from the far left as well as from the far right. The right-wingers’ criticism is to be expected. The lefties, though, present a unique concern for the president of the United States.

I am insisting, thus, that President Biden continue on a path toward finding common ground with both ends of the spectrum. It is how he has been wired since he hopped onto the national stage after winning the 1972 election to the U.S. Senate.

Biden has been on — or near that stage — for the past 50 years.

Am I concerned about falling approval ratings? Sure. Who wouldn’t be? The RealClearPolitics poll average puts the president’s approval rating at around 39%. Don’t remind me how bad that looks compared to what other presidents have experienced. I get it … totally!

Even though I won’t blame the president for all the issues that are dragging his poll numbers down, I certainly understand the need for the head of state and government and our commander in chief to get more aggressive in his use of the bully pulpit.

I remain a good-government progressive, which is how I describe a politician willing to compromise to achieve legislative success. Joe Biden has shown an ability to do such a thing over his many years in public service.

Yes, he is going to face pressure from the progressive wing of his own party and from the obstructionist wing of the Republican Party.

Stay the course, Mr. President.


Hoping for return of two-party struggle

There once was a time when I first arrived in Texas — nearly four decades ago — when I lamented how the overpowering strength of the Democratic Party in the region where I lived and worked had lessened the quality of political debate.

I believed at the time of my arrival in the Golden Triangle in early 1984 that Democrats took that region for granted. I don’t recall a lot of creative or critical thinking among the local pols. Their appeal to the union-dominated work force in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange was rock solid.

Over time, and it didn’t take that many years, Republicans began making headway into the roster of elected offices in the Golden Triangle. Indeed, the entire state was tilting toward the Republican Party.

The GOP picked off statewide offices one at a time. The last Democrat to hold a statewide office was John Sharp, the comptroller of public accounts. Sharp left that office in 1998.

It’s been a Republican show ever since. The GOP holds every single constitutional office in Texas. The Republican grip has been ironclad.

I find myself wishing the same thing I discovered upon my arrival in Texas nearly 40 years ago. I want a return to two-party governance, with both parties flexing muscles and challenging the other side to defend their positions with vigor.

There’s a bit of a difference, though, between the GOP dominance today and the Democrats’ former dominance. The Republican Party has gone bonkers. I recall that Democrats in the good old days at least governed with a semblance of humanity and common sense. The 21st-century Republican Party adheres to that phony populism espoused by the carnival barker who managed to get elected president in 2016.

Accordingly, the quality of political debate in Texas has swirled down the drain just as it has in many other parts of the country.

Is this the year that Democrats might peel off an elected office or two held by Republicans seemingly since The Flood? I won’t make that prediction.

I merely am going to lament the absence of a vigorous two-party governing system in the state I now call home. May the Democratic Party find its voice … and I hope it is soon.


Beto has a shot?

You know, there once was a time — not many weeks ago — that I considered Greg Abbott a shoo-in for re-election as Texas governor.

That Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke didn’t have a Democrat’s chance in blazing hell of defeating the Republican incumbent.

Today? I am not so sure about that gloomy forecast.

Am I going to predict a Beto O’Rourke victory this November, breaking the GOP vise-grip on statewide elected office, ending the Republican dynasty at the top of the Texas political food chain?

Not … on … your … life!

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

However, I am going to suggest that the Abbott-O’Rourke contest well might become one of those races that the national media will be watching with intense interest.

This won’t surprise any readers of this blog, but my fervent hope is that O’Rourke defeats Abbott. The governor has become show horse, a guy who wants to elevate his personal political profile with an eye toward seeking the White House in 2024. Abbott’s idiotic pledge to send “illegal immigrants” to Washington, D.C., to hand the problem to the feds is an example of a politician looking to make headlines without offering the hint of a solution.

He doesn’t have a solution. Abbott has no interest in working with Democrats or seeking cooperation from President Biden.

I have no clue about how O’Rourke might handle this matter were he elected governor. I feel confident, though, in suggesting that O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, knows plenty about border issues and he does not favor an “open border” policy.

Nor do I believe that O’Rourke is going to single-handedly disarm Texans by stripping us of our firearms. He knows better than to mess with the Constitution! That won’t stop Abbott and his cabal of demagogues from portraying O’Rourke as a soft-on-crime liberal.

I want this race to remain competitive. I want O’Rourke to make Abbott answer for the way the state handled the 2021 winter freeze. I want O’Rourke to offer a reasonable alternative to the Abbott posturing in the face of crisis after crisis.

What’s more, I want O’Rourke to tell Texans how he plans to govern and how he intends to end the state’s war against its gay residents, how he intends to make voting easier, not harder, for Texas.

And I want Beto O’Rourke to remain firm against the attacks that are sure to come from Greg Abbott.


World has flipped

What in the name of political sanity has happened to this old world of ours? I mean, we have Republicans and conservative media voices speaking fondly of a Russian dictator while Democrats and more progressive media voices are yelling loudly to get tough with the strongman.

There once was a time when the roles were reversed. No longer, folks.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has positioned his forces to invade Ukraine. A former GOP president has declared Putin to be a “genius” for the way he is preparing for the bloodbath. The current Democratic president is vowing punishing sanctions on Russia if Putin goes through with what the whole world believes he will do.

I remember the age of the Evil Empire that became the target of scorn and anger from Republicans in Congress and the president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Democrats were seen as being squishy on the communists.

Now it’s the Democrats who are staking out tough-guy positions against the Soviet descendants and Republicans are questioning why the president is all fired up about seeking to stop the Russian advance on Ukraine.

What the … ?

I can’t figure this out, other than linking all of this to the arrival of The Donald on our political scene. He cozied up to the strongman and actually denigrated our intelligence network’s assertion that Russia interfered in our 2016 election.

Hmm. Therein might be Donald’s enduring legacy. He has helped flip the political calculus totally on its ear. Frankly, I prefer the side that remains angry with Putin and the Russians.


Biden down, far from out

Listen up, Joe Biden haters. The president is down, to be sure. Do not, though, start ringing the death knell over the presidency of the man who fought for more than 30 years to attain the highest office in the land.

I acknowledge fully that President Biden has endured a rough first year. Let me remind everyone of a couple of recent historical events.

Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 and also had a bad first year. Yes, he was shot and nearly killed three months into the presidency. Then the Republican Party got drubbed in the 1982 midterm election. President Reagan, though, got re-elected in 1984 in a smashing 49-state landslide. That’s one.

Bill Clinton became president in 1993. He, too, suffered a rough first year. Republicans seized control of Congress in 1994. Ah, but then President Clinton cruised to re-election in 1996. That’s two.

Barack Obama assumed office in 2009. He set out to pass the Affordable Care Act; Congress obliged. Then Democrats got what Obama described as a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm election. President Obama then went on to win re-election in 2012.

I know we have had plenty of one-term presidents who never got it together. George H.W. Bush fell from a 90% approval rating to losing his re-election effort in 1992; Jimmy Carter endured inflation and a general feeling of disgust and lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in 1980; Donald Trump … well, you know what happened there.

President Biden is only in the “first quarter” of a long game, writes Paul Brandus in USA Today. There’s a way out of the morass, Brandus writes: The president’s biggest mistake has surprised me. He hasn’t spent enough time talking up last year’s economic achievements. “America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years,” Bloomberg reported last month, “notwithstanding the contrary media narrative contributing to dour public opinion.”

Joe Biden has had a rocky year in office. But, folks, this is only the first quarter. (yahoo.com)

And so it might go moving ahead into the next year and the year after that. We still have that pandemic. It still is making people sick. We keep hearing that the end is in sight. Maybe. We hope.

I am going to stand with the president as he keeps fighting for the country.


Arizona Dems censure Sinema … now what?

Will Rogers, the late Oklahoma humorist, once famously declared that he didn’t belong “to an organized political party; I’m a Democrat.”

Ahh, yes. The Democratic Party is returning to form. It has censured U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona because she refuses to be faithful to other congressional Democrats’ desire to change the rules regarding the filibuster and she won’t endorse President Biden’s domestic spending agenda.

I get that Arizona Democrats are angry at Sinema. A censure, though, doesn’t mean all much. I suppose it means that the Democratic Party will do nothing to help her win re-election. It might even look for someone to run against her in the primary.

It’s probably an appropriate sanction for a party to enact against a politician from within its ranks. It is unlike the censure that Congress delivered to another Arizonan, GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, for posting a social media rant that purport him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Gosar should have been tossed out of the House.

Still, Democrats historically have been known for this kind of intraparty squabbling. Look back at 1972, when it sought to haggle through a presidential nominating convention that eventually nominated Sen. George McGovern, who then delivered his acceptance speech at 3 a.m. Sheesh!

Sen. Sinema is getting what she deserves.