Tag Archives: Voting

Number 3 Hero of the Year 2012: The American Voter

29 Dec
Number 3 Hero of 2012

Number 3 Hero of 2012

This year’s election was a critical choice between two starkly different philosophies of government. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent  (which will be a whole blog article in itself) and Americans were inundated with thousands of hours of advertising and opinions. In the end, despite poor expectations, corporate investment, hardship, and obstacles, the people stood up and said that they want a government that works for everyone, not just the chosen few.

Most pundits believed that the grass-roots coalition of voters built by the Obama campaign in 2008 was a fluke. Minorities, the poor, and the young are less likely to vote in general, so their turnout was supposed to go way down. What the naysayers didn’t realize is that the mobilization and empowerment weren’t just a one-time effort but an ongoing strategy. While all turnout in 2012 was down a bit from 2008 and the full data aren’t available, it’s clear that Latinos, African Americans, and young voters showed up at the polls, stood up for their rights, and helped Democrats and fairness take the day.  Never underestimate progressive social movements and grass-roots activists.

SuperPACs and corporate donations were also supposed to help Republicans this year. Hundreds of millions were filtered into shadowy groups who supported Mitt Romney and a host of Teahadists. Fortunately, all that Citizens United energy did little to change the election results. Obscene amounts of money were wasted, but voters made up their own minds and tuned out the ghastly shrieking from the right.

Many states launched voter suppression efforts, usually sponsored by Republican legislatures that expressly wanted to ensure a Romney win. Voter ID laws, voter registration purges, and changes to early and absentee voting were the typical strategies. Despite this, voters stood up and demanded their rights, paying attention to the changes and demanding their votes. The courts were also very helpful, striking down the vast majority of the odious new laws as unconstitutional.

American voters supported marriage equality for the first time in FOUR states. They handed President Obama a clear mandate for his second term. They kept Democrats in charge of the Senate and sent more women to that body than ever before. They shrank the Republican advantage in the house while electing the most diverse Congressional delegation ever. Despite the screaming and spending, voters showed up — even in the states ravaged by hurricane Sandy — and used their most powerful right. What a wonderful thing to see.

Honorable mention today goes to Oregon’s own junior Senator, Jeff Merkley. Since taking office in 2009, Merkley has been a champion of progressive values and functional government. He stood up for filibuster reform before he was even sworn in and is pushing hard for it now (with the help of Sen. Tom Udall (D, NM). His efforts won him recognition in The Nation‘s 2012 progressive honor roll as “Most Valuable Senator.” Congratulations and thank you, Sen. Merkley!

Bigot of the Week Award: December 14, Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature

14 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Well fetch my smelling salts. Petulant Republicans in Michigan rammed through anti-union legislation in their lame duck session. Even though they will maintain their slim majority in January, supporters of the bill were defeated in November, giving it no chance to pass in the new session. Desperate to gut union power, the soon-to-be-gone legislators colluded with Gov. Rick Snyder to pass the so-called “Right to Work” bill, marking another huge blow to workers.

The bill is modeled on a plan put forth by the Koch brothers, which tells us all we really need to know. Speaking in support of Michigan unions, President Obama wisely called it a “right to work for less” bill. Before the election, Gov. Snyder had maintained that the draft legislation went too far, saying he would not support it. He suddenly changed his tune, championing the odious measure and signing it in record time.

Legislators maintained that the bill was necessary to keep unions from abusing their power in the public sector. Their hypocrisy is revealed in every step of their actions, however. It includes restrictions on private sector unions. It exempts two large public sector unions, fire fighters and police. Is it a coincidence that both of these groups are more likely than other union members to support Republicans? These actions were clearly nothing more than an aggressive political move.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to a regular recipient of the BWA, Justice Antonin Scalia (Thank you to LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this).  As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear two marriage equality cases, Scalia reiterated his odious opposition to equality. Asked by a law student about his regular comparisons of homosexuality to bestiality, Scalia repeated and emphasized them. Curiously, the media — who often seem to enjoy his theatrical antics from the bench — are now pondering his viciousness, noting his nasty, behind the times irrelevance.

REMINDER: TSM is still accepting Bigot of the Year nominations. We’ll spend the last week of 2012 recognizing the most horrific and hypocritical behavior of the year. Please submit your suggestions by December 23 for full consideration and stay tuned for the winners!

Last chance to elect Romney!

28 Nov

Sheryl Nuxoll, brewing some bitter tea!

Yep, you read that headline right. The most toxic elements of the teabag loon parade have finally admitted that they really (no, REALLY) don’t care  about democracy. They just really (no, REALLY) want their guy to win. So what if he’s a hypocritical, vacillating windbag with no morals or ideals of his own, at least he called himself a Republican and tried hard to hate gays, women, and brown people on a regular basis. A wearisome wave of wingnuts have hatched a plan to stop that nasty Kenyan Socialist President in his tracks…THE 12th AMENDMENT. Oy ist mir! I have such a headache!

The idea (if it can be given such a noble label) has been floating around for a few days, but it took a state senator from Idaho to really crystalize things. Starting with a tweet (140 characters may be all she knows), Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, pushed an article on how to keep Obama from getting a second term. It boils down to having at least 17 of the 24 states that gave Romney electoral votes refuse to participate in the electoral process. That would eliminate a 2/3 majority of the states and (according to Nuxoll) throw things to the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

One teensy little problem with this plan. It won’t work. The majority required only matters in the House itself, after the Electoral College meets. If electors don’t show up, their votes don’t count, and the President wins by a >ahem< wider margin — oops. Reading is a pesky business. The right wing really only likes selected parts of the Constitution (or the Bible, for that matter), so perhaps we can forgive Sen. Nuxoll for her somewhat — shall we say — overenthusiastic efforts.

What’s more disgusting about this blatantly hopeless nonsense is what it says about the Republican mindset. Before the election we had Repbulican officials in Pennsylvania and Florida admitting that the only reason they were trying to stop “voter fraud” was to keep Democrats from voting and give Romney an edge. When that didn’t work (at all, given that both states went for Obama again), the whining babies of Lossville admit that they don’t care about the process, just the win. Who cares if the people voted for a President? We can use dirty tricks to steal the election! That mindset really says all we need to know.

Bigot of the Week Award: November 16, Mitt Romney (again?!?)

16 Nov

Bigot of the Week

Just like the legendary bad penny (okay, BILLIONS of bad pennies), poor old sad old Mitt just won’t go away. Losing the election wasn’t enough; he had to earn BWA just one more time before he (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE) fades away forever. Romneybot 13.2 held a conference call with donors and fundraisers this week — he’s still most comfortable talking to money rather than people, after all. Of course one topic that came up is why he managed to lose so badly.

(HINT to Mitt — You should have noted that you are a barely human, out-of-touch elitist with serious racist, and misogynist overtones who subscribes to homophobic agendas and supports a platform that makes David Duke wince. But of course you didn’t.)

Why did he lose, according to him? Sluts and lazy kids and brown people (especially illegal ones), because Obama gave ’em stuff.

With regards to the young people, for instance, forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. […] You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.

So much for disavowing his infamous 47% comments and tacking toward the center. This is as close to the real Romney as we will ever see…and it sure ain’t pretty.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress of Texas. Why don’t we let him show you why with this lovely quote:

I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.

Hmmm — care and compassion for all or elitist oppression. How would Jesus vote? Seems like our Rev. Jeffress is a wee bit confused about his scripture.

Sadly, another dishonorable mention goes to the Grumpy Old Man, yelling “get off my lawn,” John McCain, who rather than attending a committee meeting called his own press conference to kvetch about what was going on in the meeting that he missed. Benghazi, schmengazi — where’s my barcalounger?

Hero of the Week Award: November 9, American Voters

9 Nov

Hero of the Week

Despite the billions of (often anonymous–thank you Citizens United) dollars poured into this year’s elections, democracy prevailed. It did so largely because millions of people participated in the democratic process, voting their hearts and consciences despite the bleating ads and cynical lies.

The racist and oppressive attempts to intimidate voters and suppress turnout had a splendidly ironic effect. Turnout — especially for early voting — was high and the minority communities targeted specifically refuted the attempts. Many exit polls indicated that Latino and African American voters specifically made the effort to vote — even when disenchanted by their choices — to reinforce their constitutional right to vote in the face of efforts to disenfranchise them. Almost without exception, these voters repudiated the Tea Party right and supported the President. While the final outcome might not have changed, results in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida (at least) were helped enormously by this turnout.

And what a result! Not only did the Tea Party suffer major defeats (Goodbye, Reps. Walsh and West!) but the overall results were progressive. The new Senators are almost universally to the left of the people they replace, including wonderful people-powered winners like Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren. Women repudiated the Republican attacks on their minds and bodies, demonstrating a gender gap and voting power never seen before. Thanks in part to the President’s bold leadership, gay rights — which should never be put to a vote but sadly still are — saw unprecedented victories with marriage equality ruling the day.

Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and Citizens United poured huge sums of money into this election. They lost the top of the ticket, failed to take the Senate, and lost ground in the House. Ballot measures around the county routinely favored the people over corporate power and greed. We have a long way to go, and the President — despite his mandate — has a hostile House to contend with, but the message is clear and the direction is sound.  I am enormously relieved to see that a platform of hate and marginalization of so many people failed!

Elections and Celebrations: Inclusion beats Division

7 Nov

The hug felt round the world.

I have to confess, I was more nervous yesterday evening than I realized. When the media began to call the election for President Obama, I felt so relieved. A message of hope still resonated enough to bring victory. The President coasted to a solid electoral victory and is winding up with a comfortable popular vote edge. Now he has a chance to build on the past four years, continuing to move us past the mess he inherited and pushing real reforms.

The message was broader that just the Presidency. Numerous votes last night sent the same message. Inclusion beats division.

Despite defending more than twice as many seats, the Democrats stand to gain strength in the Senate. Not just in numbers, but in quality, as people like Joe Lieberman were replaced by quality Senators like Chris Murphy. The 19 (maybe 20) women in the next Senate sets a record. One of those women, Tammy Baldwin, will be the first openly gay senator.

Gay rights also ruled the ballot box. For the first time ever states began to put inclusion on the books as Maryland and Maine comfortably passed marriage equality measures. Washington looks poised to do the same. Minnesota is on the brink of being the first state to shoot down a one-man-one-woman constitutional amendment. Despite the same tired old lies, inclusion beat division.

The pundits (especially on the right) will point to the margins of victory and say the President does not have a mandate. The electoral landscape disagrees. The cynical right lost and lost big. Tea party candidates cost the Republicans two Senate seats (Indiana and Missouri). Strong messages of inclusion allowed people-powered candidates like Elizabeth Warren to emerge victorious. Even though the Republicans held the House — and Michele (I spent 18 million dollars to barely win) Bachmann clung onto her seat by the tips of her claws — two of the nastiest members — Joe Walsh (IL) and Allen West (FL) — were defeated. The victors weren’t blue dogs or DINOs, either; they are strong Democrats who believe in the President and his message of hope and reform.

The demographics are also encouraging. As Democratic pundit Van Jones remarked, “the coalition held.” Younger voters, voters of color, women, and other minorities showed up in strength despite all the predictions and helped drive the results. Despite all the efforts on the right to make people vote against their own best interests, inclusion beat division.

Elections have consequences. The message of this election is clear. Bipartisanship does not mean giving in to the far right at every turn. Coalitions must be built and progress must come more quickly. The President’s policies were given a mandate. Congress needs to work with him to enact them and forge a stronger nation with greater opportunities for all.

Get Out The Vote!

5 Nov

Tomorrow is election day and I cannot underscore enough how important it is to get to the polls and vote.  Not only are we voting for President (at this point, I don’t think it is a surprise that TSM is endorsing President Obama), but there are myriad other issues and seats that will be decided. On the national level, control of the Senate is clearly tied to tomorrow’s votes. The House is less clearly up for grabs, but there may be hope. Hundreds of state and local issues, including ballot measures about taxation and marriage equality also abound.

Let us hope that intelligence, compassion, and the social contract prevail over the homophobia, bigotry, lies and lunacy that are so pervasive in the GOP/Tea Party — the party that seeks to crush all who are not white, heterosexual, male, and wealthy.  Let us hope that we stop the victimizing of women, people of color, and the LGBT community. Tomorrow is our opportunity to say: “We will not be intimidated and we will not be deterred.  We will cast our ballots for hope and solidarity.”

We must not succumb to the intimidation tactics from the white rich Republicans who have purchased billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin to threaten minority groups and keep them from voting. Two days ago, in Clackamas County, Oregon, Republicans started tampering with ballots by filling in blanks with Republican candidates. Mailers in Florida are clearly designed to compel Republicans to vote, while intimidation tacics are in place to keep minorities from the polls.

There is only one sound reaction. Stand up and vote. Do not let anyone tamper with your rights. Do not stand for intimidation or suppression. Many issues — including most of the significant ones — will be decided by slim margins. Every vote counts. Let yours be among them.

Michele Bachmann: Minnesota, Is This the Best You Can Do?

3 Nov

Singing the Same Song

When I think of the many Tea Baggers I would like to see lose the election this year, Michele Bachmann has to be at the top of the list. It is bizarre how much Bachmann and Anita Bryant have in common and is a sad commentary on how far backwards our culture has gone.  Bryant and her bellicose band of bigots prevailed in the 1977 vote to discriminate against the LGBT community and make it illegal for us to adopt children.  Bryant formed her ironically named organization,  Save Our Children, along with the late Jerry Falwell (Falwell blamed “the gays and the women’s movement for 9/11). Bryant belonged to Northwest Baptist Church: she and this congregation were fighting both school desegregation and fighting against gays and lesbians, lest they be given the same rights as those minorities her confederates failed to keep out of their schools.  By 1980, it was clear the Orange Juice Queen was on the wrong side of history and both her career and voice died.  So what was her legacy?

Fast forward to the mid-term elections of 2010.  That ball of crazy ranting against gays and immigration, is that Anita Bryant? No, that is Michele Bachmann.  Yes, here is Bryant’s legacy.  Bachmann is evidence that Americans do not know history, thus we are repeating some very ugly bits.  In 1977, Bryant said:

As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.

In 2004, an amazingly similar and illiterate reproduction called Michele Bachmann said:

Little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and perhaps they should try it.

Bachmann has gone further than Bryant and has reported that she is:

chosen by God to become a politician who will restore faith and family values to public life and do battle with secular humanism.

Am I the only one terrified by this statement?  Are we really going to turn over our government to a person that hears the voice of god telling them to become president?  Is this a theocracy?

I encourage all of our brothers and sisters in Minnesota to think about what is best for their state and what is best for the country. When Michele Bachmann said: “the Blacks came here for the freedom,” I would hope this sets off a great alarm about how ignorant Bachmann is and has no sense of history.  If Minnesotans want another millionaire, racist, homophobic bigot to represent them, then you have your candidate, but if you are wanting social justice and a representative that has everyone’s best interest at heart, I strongly encourage you to vote for Jim Graves.

Bigot of the Week Award: November 2, Rev. John McTernan

2 Nov

Bigot of the Week

Curses! Another practitioner of far-right religious rituals has gleaned insight into the power of the Gay Agenda! Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally CJ Hurley for inspiring me to write this story. This week the Not-So-Rev. John McTernan, host of the website Defend and Proclaim the Faith, discovered that the mere hint of marriage equality was sufficient to create SuperStorm Sandy. While watching the news (one shudders to think what network he prefers), this nasty KKKristian saw a story on the impending hurricane in the Northeast followed by what he took to be a sign from God. President Obama, following up on his party’s platform and his personal statements, endorsed the three marriage equality initiatives in next week’s elections. Clearly, the two must be related. Sound the warning! Jesus is weeping, and his tears will flood the Sodom known as Manhattan!

Ordinarily, a penny ante preacher like McTernan wouldn’t merit elevation to BWA. Sadly, he is media savvy enough to blend the election, the storm, and the threat of the Gays — a perfect media moment. He’s received huge amounts of attention by being the latest in a sad series to blame death and destruction on the LGBT community. With a nice twist, he managed to blame the President, too. Racist much?

The hypocrisy of the so-called community of faith around civil rights is palpable. All three state marriage initiatives have been receiving strong support. In the last week, huge ad campaigns opposing equality have suddenly appeared. They play the fear card (Gays are coming for your kids! Teachers will have to talk about gay sex!) which has worked so well in the past. And they are largely funded by fundamentalists and out-of-state Catholic organizations like the Knights of Columbus. Let’s show McTernan and his ilk that America is tired of their ballot box bullying and get a pro-marriage sweep on Tuesday.

P.S. – a related thank you to my friend Madeleine for sending me this lovely link that shows how Gay Power can be harnessed for good!

Romney, Man of Mittstery!

1 Nov

Presto! Changeo! Pay no attention to the candidate in front of the curtain…

With less than a week to go before Election Day, you would think that the challenger would be doing everything he could to clarify and push his positions. Not the mysterious Mr. Romney! In the past month he has given precisely one interview (a five-minute puff piece with Newsmax); he has answered exactly ZERO questions from the press pool that travels with him. All his statements are carefully prepared and scripted. The situation became so absurd during this week’s FEMA questions that a frustrated reporter exclaimed:

Governor, you’ve been asked 14 times, why are you refusing to answer the question?

Of course, in that case silence probably made more sense than admitting that he would gut the Agency that was actually helping millions of people…

Another reasonable explanation is that he simply isn’t able to remember what he’s supposed to say anymore without a script. Romney (destroyer of civil rights and social justice) has changed his positions on so many things so many times during his campaign that keeping track of what he’s pandering this week must be a real struggle. And imagine if he told folks in Ohio the lies he was saving for Florida. How embarrassing would that be? Bless his little heart.

Romney’s reticence coupled with his debate duplicity has journalists (finally) calling him out on a regular basis. His lies about Chrysler’s plans to offshore Jeep production brought howls of derision from reporters and flat, substantiated denials from the company. Even on script he’s still getting into trouble.

Sadly, even his spokespeople can’t be counted on. When former Sen. Norm Coleman (R – MN) stumped for Romney at the Republican Jewish Coalition, he tried to reassure them that a Romney administration wouldn’t be ruled by GOP right-wing fundamentalists. His example? Romney’s stand on abortion, you know, the one that he only expresses when another Republican says something insane about rape. Poor ol’ Norm, however, got caught in the standard speaking for Romney trap and had to walk back his vague comments, reminding reporters that he was “speaking for Norm Coleman” while he campaigned…(wait for it)…for Mitt Romney.

The only way we will ever know what a President Romney would actually do is if by some misfortune we get stuck with one. I think I can live with the mystery.

%d bloggers like this: