compiled by Dee Finney

When the presidency can be won by 527 votes 
in a nation of 300 million, something needs to be changed. Around the country, people are working to fix a wounded electoral system.

8-6-05 - NAP DREAM - I was in my 16th St. house in Milwaukee, WI.

I was out in front of the house. There were some flowers blooming along the fence line and I saw there was several bumblebees on them, so I wasn't about to pick the flowers. I walked away from the flowers, so I walked along the front of the house and just then a car pulled into the alleyway next to the house.

Inside the car was a woman politician and she had a male driver.

I didn't really feel like talking politics right then. The woman had her head resting against the head rest of the seat so I couldn't see her face immediately.

The windows of the car were open and I knew they wanted to give a little speech to me, so to shorten the conversation a little, I said, "I'm going to vote for you."

I thought they'd say, "Thanks for your vote", and hand me a pamphlet and go away, but the woman sat up and turned around. She was thin and blonde.  

The man said, "We'd like you to vote for ______ for Councilman in New Hampshire and _______ for ______. (I can't remember what office the second politician was running for. (It was a local election in New Hampshire.)

I knew I was in Wisconsin so I didn't get how I could vote for someone in New Hampshire.

The woman suddenly said, "What's that smell?" and sniffed strongly to get more of it.

I said, "What do you smell?  Food or flowers?"

She said, "Those banana flowers."

I turned to look and the tree by the street was in full bloom with pink flowers, whose petals were so large and delicate, they rolled and each petal looked vaguely like the shape of a silver-striped pink banana and the smell was exquisitely sweet.

There was a branch that was so heavy with flowers that it hung all the way down right in front of me. But as I reached for the flowers and saw that they were as full of bumblebees as the other flowers had been, I left them alone and didn't pick any.

So then I walked back towards the house to go inside. Instead of going up the stairs to the front porch steps to the 1st floor, I decided I would go in the door on the ground level. 

Just as I reached the door, I heard loud German  polka music behind me and coming closer. I figured it was probably my brother and I just wanted to be alone and work on my projects by myself.

So I quickly opened the door and went into a little hallway. Ahead of me was another door to the house proper and on the right was a door to the wing of the house that nobody had used for a long time.

I hesitated for a moment to make my decision and the German polka music was getting louder and louder.

I wanted to open the door to the unused wing of the house and be alone and just as I put my hand on the doorknob, a piece of paper appeared in front of me that said, "This was the original plan in 1911."

NOTE: The house was actually built in 1899 and had a basement, not a ground level set of rooms, and there was no wing at the side of the house. There was another house next door in that area.

It took me a few days to figure out that the unused wing on the right represented the 'right wing' of the political parties. 


Bumble, Dumble & Dore, Esq.

Dear Word Detective: One of the characters in the Harry Potter series of kids' books is named Dumbledore. When I first came across it, I thought it was just the kind of made-up name that Dickens might have come up with. Lo and behold, the name cropped up in Thomas Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree" as a mild epithet. Hardy made it clear that no self-respecting person would want to be classed with the "miserable dumbledores," but he didn't come across with the exact meaning. Can you help? My Webster's Collegiate dictionary has an entry for "dumbhead" but not for "dumbledore." What can the miserable dumbledores at Webster's be thinking? -- Terry Fitzgerald, via the internet.

Well, I wouldn't be too hard on the old gang at Merriam-Webster. "Dumbledore" is a pretty obscure word, rarely heard even in Britain and virtually unknown in the U.S. "Dumbledore," it seems, serves as the name of two entirely different (and quite dissimilar) insects. One is the bumblebee (which the English call a "humblebee"), the slow-moving, helpful denizen of flower gardens. The other sort of "dumbledore" is a nasty critter called the "cockchafer," a large, ugly and voracious beetle which eats trees. "Chafer" is another name in England for a beetle, and "cock" in this case is an allusion to the size and aggressiveness of a rooster. Boy, do I not want to meet this bug. Fortunately, "dumbledore" is almost always used to mean a bumblebee.

The "bumble" in "bumblebee," the "humble" in "humblebee," and the "dumble" in "dumbledore" are all echoic in origin, meaning that the words themselves are supposed to imitate the sound of a loud hum. ("Bumble" meaning "to flub" or "blunder" is an entirely different word.) The "dore" in "dumbledore" comes from the Old English "dora," which meant an insect that flies and makes a loud humming sound.

Used figuratively, as Hardy did, "dumbledore" would likely mean a human bumblebee: a slow, perhaps not very bright person. I've never read the Harry Potter books, so I can't vouch for that Dumbledore's personality, but I'll bet there's at least a bit of bumblebee there as well.

The bumblebee collects honey from different flowers, but especially from the lotus flower. So what sort of special quality is there in the honey collected from the lotus flower that is not present in the honey collected from other flowers? It is a special type of honey known as padma-madhu. The human who is like a bumblebee, who is very hungry and greedy for that honey, relishes it.


This "Overview" is a way to reflect on, review and appreciate how the right to vote has been extended over the last two hundred and twenty years to almost every person over eighteen years of age -- an amazing extension of representative democracy.

Democracy means, literally, government by the people. A system of government is called 'democratic' if the people have a direct say in how they are governed. Representative democracy is a particular type of democracy in which the people authorize others to govern on their behalf, through a voting process of some kind. Elections are crucial in a system of representative democracy.

Voting has been a subject of controversy throughout our country's history. During the colonial period and the early years of our nation, voting was generally restricted to white men who owned property. While the majority of white males were qualified to vote, other people such as women, blacks, American Indians and members of certain religious groups were not allowed to vote.

At the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, the Framers of the Constitution could not agree on who should be given the right to vote. As a result, the Constitution only states that members of the House of Representatives were to be elected by the people of each state who, under state law were eligible to vote for the lower house of their state legislature.

The Constitution, therefore, left to each state government the power to decide who could vote. As a result, many of the early battles over the right to vote took place at the state level.

1776 to 1779
White men had the right to vote and take part in government, but usually had to meet certain qualifications, like owning property. Six state governments eliminated all property requirements and gave the right to vote to all white males over twenty-one years of age, rich or poor.

At the same time, three other state governments increased the property requirements, limiting the right to vote. In some states, the right to vote included the requirement that a person belong to a particular religious group.

1812 to 1821
Six western states became part of the nation and gave the vote to all white males. During the same period, four of the older states that had property requirements abolished them.

1840 to 1847
Almost every state government had given all white males the right to vote. Only two states still had any significant property qualifications. Restrictions on voting by Catholics and non-Christians were eliminated. In a few states, even immigrants not yet naturalized were given the right to vote. The last state to change, North Carolina, abandoned the property test in 1856.

The First Women's Suffrage Convention was held. Out of it came the statement "It is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves the sacred right to the elective franchise."

Wyoming Territory grants suffrage to women in statewide contests.

The 15th Amendment was added to the Constitution just after the Civil War. It says:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The intent of this amendment was to give black males the right to vote. The Supreme Court left to the state governments the responsibility for protecting most of the basic rights of their citizens. Some state governments passed laws that made it almost impossible for black males to exercise their newly-won right. Some of the laws enacted were:

Poll Taxes
Required citizens to pay a tax before they could vote. Since most former slaves were very poor, they were unable to pay the tax. In a number of the states, poor white men were allowed to vote even when they could not pay the poll tax.

Literacy Tests
Required men to take tests to prove that they could read and write before they were allowed to vote.

Grandfather Clauses
These clauses limited the right to vote to people who were descendants of those who had previously had the right to vote. This obviously did not include former slaves.

People in favor of women's rights argued before the Supreme Court that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote. The Amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

The Supreme Court denied their claim saying that being a citizen does not automatically give a person the right to vote and that it was not unconstitutional for states to deny the vote to women.

Wyoming joins the Union as the first state with voting rights for women.

Women have full voting rights in Utah, Colorado and Idaho.

Washington grants the vote to women.

California grants the vote to women.

Voting referendums giving women the right to vote are passed in Arizona, Kansas and Oregon.

Montana and Nevada grant voting rights to women.

Restrictive voting laws that were enacted by state governments were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, over forty-five years after the 15th Amendment had been passed. Many of the laws that limited the right of blacks to vote lasted even longer than that.

New York passed a State Constitutional referendum granting women the vote. Other states which granted women some form of voting, usually school board elections--North Dakota, Indiana, Vermont, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska and Arkansas.

As women took on jobs left vacant by Conscription in World War I and contributed as volunteers to the war effort, the old slogans about "woman's place" came under scrutiny.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed
nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.

Lucy Burns

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of
'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head and! left he r hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
for air.

Dora Lewis

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate,
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the
'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,

when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right
to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks
until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because-
-why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?


Michigan, Oklahoma and South Dakota pass referendums giving women the right to vote.


The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the vote, was sent to the states for ratification.


The 19th Amendment was ratified. It says:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Women had the right to vote!

The United States Congress passed legislation extending United States citizenship to all Indians born in the United States.

American Indians had the right to vote!

The 24th Amendment was added to the Constitution prohibiting the use of poll taxes as a means of denying the right to vote in federal elections.

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act which gave additional protection for voting rights by authorizing the federal government to take over registration of voters in areas where state officials had regularly prevented blacks from registering to vote.

The Supreme Court ruled that the use of poll taxes in state elections was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Thus, by the mid-60s, great progress had been made in ensuring that blacks could enjoy the right to vote which had been guaranteed in the 15th Amendment to the Constitution almost a century earlier.

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the required number of states. It lowered the voting  age to eighteen. It says:

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

The United States Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act. It took effect on January 1, 1995. This landmark voter registration law -- also known as motor voter -- requires states to allow citizens to apply to register to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses, by mail and at designated government agencies, including those serving public assistance recipients and people with disabilities.

The long history of the right to vote has taught us that success is never guaranteed; reform which guarantees rights, breeds attempts at restrictions on those rights; action breeds reaction. The 1990s have produced an environment of profound public cynicism about government and politics. At the same time, all citizens seek responsive, efficient government to meet domestic needs crying for attention.

The VOTE is an emblem of our equality, the guarantee of our liberty! Long as it was in coming for most of us, the right to vote was so obviously right, necessary and inevitable, that we have forgotten the sacrifices it took to win. By exercising our right to vote, we pay homage to those amazingly brave individuals who struggled to win the vote for us.

Voting magnifies the voice of the individual citizen in government and politics! Let us all join together and celebrate this victory by VOTING in every election.





Where's The Party?

There's more than one kind of conservative these days. For better and worse, all of them have flocked to the G.O.P.

By Richard Lacayo

(TIME, August 19, 1996) -- Agreed: those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. The real problem is that sometimes so are those who remember it. And there you have the predicament of recent Republican history. From the time in the 1970s when the right wing of the G.O.P. zapped the moderates once and for all--a pivotal moment in that struggle was the substitution of Bob Dole for Nelson Rockefeller as Gerald Ford's running mate--there has never been any doubt as to whether the G.O.P. would be a conservative body. The only real questions have been how conservative and whose notion of conservatism it would be. If Republicans ever find an answer that truly matches the national mood, they might yet become the majority party they feel sure they must be. Two elections in recent years, Ronald Reagan's in 1980 and the congressional sweep two years ago, have brought them close. Then the same conservatives who revitalized the party ended by dragging it away to a place all their own.

So Bob Dole has been struggling all year to drag the Republicans back to the center, trimming on abortion and tacking on gun control. And whenever he does, explosive factions blow up in his face. Today Republicans are divided between socially moderate suburbanites and Ralph Reed's cultural conservatives, between supply-side tax cutters and old-fashioned budget balancers, between Pat Buchanan's protectionists and everybody else's free traders. In some ways the G.O.P. is like some massive geological formation. Each postwar upheaval--the cold war, the civil rights movement, the expansion of the Federal Government, the sexual revolution--left behind some powerful formation and a fracture line.

The party that Dole will stand before this week started to take shape more than three decades ago, at about the time he arrived in national politics. Dole was first elected to the House in 1960, the year Jack Kennedy regained the White House for Democrats, who already controlled Congress. The conventional wisdom foresaw a new era of liberalism and activist government. For once the conventional wisdom was right. But most of the 40 or so G.O.P. House freshmen were so right-leaning they were called the Young Fogeys. That was fine with Dole. During his eight years in the House, he would be cited repeatedly by the Americans for Constitutional Action as the most conservative member of Congress.

Dole's brand of conservatism, however, which favored Small Government yet was susceptible to the charms of Washington when it came to things like farm-price supports, was being outpaced not only by the triumphant liberals but also by another kind of conservatism. A new right wing was consolidating within the party, causing internal splits that Nixon's loss to Kennedy made worse. On one side was an old-line Republican establishment built mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Its guiding doctrine was containment, not just in international affairs but at home as well. Republican moderates resigned to Moscow and Beijing had likewise accepted peaceful coexistence with the legacies of the New Deal, things like Social Security, government-backed mortgages and G.I. loans.

Arrayed against them was a burgeoning New Right in war paint. It wanted nothing less than to demolish the welfare state, including Social Security, and roll back federal powers over business and the states, while aggressively challenging the communist world, to the brink of war (and beyond). Its intellectual center was the National Review and its founder, William F. Buckley, who started the magazine in 1955 in part to reclaim conservatism from the cranks, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites who had dragged it into the phosphorescent margins of American politics.

Catholic, patrician and Ivy League, Buckley was not entirely like the movement he summoned into shape. The New Rightists drew their strength from the fast-growing Sunbelt states of the South and the West. Their hero was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Richard Nixon did not excite them. Forget for a moment his impeccable credentials as a cold warrior. He had spent eight years as Vice President to the pliant Dwight Eisenhower, a man the Old Right had never entirely forgiven for winning the 1952 G.O.P. nomination away from their longtime hero, Ohio Senator Robert Taft.

Real rightists thought Nixon too had a squishy center. To the disgust of the Goldwater faction, he had spent much of the 1960 campaign courting Nelson Rockefeller, the lustrous epitome of the party's East Coast liberals. The last straw came on the eve of the G.O.P. Convention. At a meeting in Rockefeller's Manhattan apartment (read: Satan's throne), Nixon agreed to liberalize the G.O.P. platform, in part by adding an unequivocal civil rights plank. Goldwater compared the meeting to Neville Chamberlain's capitulation to Hitler at Munich. For the final insult, Nixon chose Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., a pedigreed symbol of the Eastern aristocrats, as his running mate.

To the red-blooded right, Nixon's defeat that November proved it was pointless to court the centrist vote already seduced by Kennedy. Even before J.F.K. moved into the White House, the New Right began remaking the G.O.P. in its own image. In 1960 Goldwater published The Conscience of a Conservative, an outline of his beliefs and his game plan for victory that eventually sold 3.5 million copies. For Buchanan, who read it as a student at Georgetown University, it was "our New Testament." Immediately after the election, activist F. Clifton White organized a meeting of 32 businessmen, lawyers, oilmen and bankers as the nucleus of a drive to nominate a conservative, preferably Goldwater, in 1964.

The rest is bloody and familiar history. Goldwater won the nomination (after a nominating speech by political newcomer Ronald Reagan) and ran, forthrightly, as Goldwater. He proposed to make Social Security voluntary and eliminate farm subsidies, positions his party would not dare to suggest again seriously for almost three decades. He supported giving NATO field commanders the authority to launch nuclear weapons. On Election Day, Goldwater was crushed, getting just 39% of the vote. The G.O.P. lost two seats in the Senate, 37 in the House. It was a sign of Bob Dole's popularity in his district that he managed to hold onto his House seat, though by just 5,000 votes, while Goldwater, whom Dole had supported, lost Kansas handily.

The Goldwater campaign introduced into Republican rhetoric a whiff of apocalypse that would hang in the air for decades. His famous assertion that "extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice" was still audible in Buchanan's declaration of culture war--extremism in the pursuit of tradition--at the 1992 convention. But now that the smoke of '64 has cleared, it's evident Goldwater struck the themes of smaller government that would eventually bring his party to power. Struck them too hard, perhaps, and too soon, but still. In the meantime, however, the New Right lacked an electoral majority to compare with the Democratic alliance of labor, white Southerners and middle-class progressives. A marriage of ideological mismatches, that coalition was to politics what the bumblebee is to aerodynamics: a creature that in theory can't fly. But it did, and Republicans had no weapon with which to bring it down.

Very soon they would find it in plain sight. It was race. In 1956, one year after dispatching troops to integrate the schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, Eisenhower won 40% of the black vote. But by 1960, despite the civil rights plank agreed to at the Rockefeller meeting, Nixon was already subtly bidding to the white, conservative South. During the campaign, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in Atlanta, Nixon resisted advice to make a supportive phone call to King's wife Coretta. A brief call from Kennedy, made at the urging of his advisers, was enough to shift a sizable part of the black vote to the Democrats.

For most of his presidency, Kennedy would be no more than a hesitant ally of the civil rights movement. But in his last year he enraged the segregationist South by introducing the bill that would become the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Though Goldwater described himself as personally opposed to segregation, he opposed any federal efforts to enforce basic rights for blacks. Five months before the 1964 election, he was one of only 27 Senators to vote against the Civil Rights Act. At that year's G.O.P. Convention, the civil rights plank was voted out of the platform. The South noticed. In addition to his home state of Arizona, Goldwater carried just four others: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

The G.O.P. noticed back. Four years later, Nixon rode to victory over Hubert Humphrey partly on the strength of a Southern strategy devised to move the Dixiecrats permanently into the Republican camp. While remaining formally committed to racial equality, Nixon made clear he would go slow on the federal enforcement of voting rights and integration. For his '68 campaign he also recruited prominent Southerners from the Goldwater circle, including South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, an early defector from the Democrats. Meanwhile, under the pressure from the long hot summers of racial riots, the antiwar and black-power movements and the gleefully patricidal youth culture, the New Deal coalition fractured further. Not just white Southerners, but also blue-collar ethnics, tradition-minded by instinct, realized they were Republicans after all.

The third-party presidential bid of Alabama Governor George Wallace that year awoke the G.O.P. to a powerful new theme: conservative populism. From the time of William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats had been the defenders of the little folks against the power of money that had its natural home in the Republican Party. Wallace proposed instead a world in which waitresses and factory workers were oppressed by ivy-educated policy wonks and limousine liberals, an elite who crafted busing plans while their own kids went to private schools. Between them, Nixon and Wallace took 57% of the vote in 1968.

Reading those numbers, Kevin Phillips, a Nixon campaign aide and architect of the Southern strategy, saw the future, and it worked. In his book The Emerging Republican Majority, he predicted an unbeatable G.O.P. coalition of Southern and Western voters united by their resentment of Northeastern power and their fear of urban blacks. "A new era has begun," he promised. And it had. As Michael Lind points out in his new book Up from Conservatism, after the 1934 congressional elections, the first of the New Deal era, the South had virtually no Republicans in Congress. Now it has more Republicans than Democrats, though it took until the G.O.P. sweep of 1994 to complete that tilt.

Where was Dole in all this? In and out of synch. As a Congressman in the early '60s he steered clear of racial politics. Dole supported the major civil rights bills, a political possibility for him because he represented a wheat-farming district that was less than 1% black, where racial friction was about as much of a problem as overcrowding. When the New Frontier evolved into the Great Society, he voted against some War on Poverty measures like public-housing subsidies and the bill that established Medicare. But his Small Government conservatism was open to the Big Government payout opportunities of the '60s. After his 1966 election to the Senate, Dole's first floor speech was a plea for federal aid for the handicapped. A few years later, he would join Senator George McGovern to ease eligibility for federal food stamps, a liberal priority that happened to be supported by the farmers who were his main constituency.

Yet Dole's hawkishness on Vietnam and crime issues and his unwavering loyalty to Nixon were enough to keep him in good standing with the right wing. When word got out in 1971 that Nixon was planning to make Dole chairman of the Republican National Committee, there were protests to the White House from nearly half the 43 Republicans in the Senate. Many were moderates who were afraid he would concentrate party assets on conservatives. They were wrong. One of the main lessons Dole learned from Nixon, who expanded social spending at home even as he escalated the war in Vietnam, was the importance of offering something to all Republican factions.

Meanwhile, history would go on delivering Democrats to the G.O.P. by the truckload. As the 1970s got under way, the civil rights movement proceeded from voter registration and lunch-counter integration into trickier questions like court-enforced school busing and affirmative action, areas in which Northern whites started to see a cost to themselves. Then came Roe v. Wade and the first stirrings of gay activism, two more developments that sent a lot of blue-collar Democrats running for cover. Cover was the G.O.P. Soon they would be joined by the neoconservatives--apostate liberal intellectuals, including Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who fell out with the Democrats over social policy and the cold war.

Nothing less than the calamity of Watergate interrupted the G.O.P.'s good fortune. When the '74 election brought a large infusion of Democrats into the House and Senate, liberals could tell themselves their world view still comfortably matched the sentiments of a voting majority. It wasn't so. Republicans were about to recapture the country. First, though, the conservatives had to recapture their party.

During the Ford years, the right was deeply disaffected by his continuing pursuit of detente with the Soviet Union, his tolerance of high federal spending and his choice of none other than Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President. Ronald Reagan's challenge to Ford in the 1976 primaries was the signal that movement conservatives, as they were beginning to call themselves, would not stand idly by while the G.O.P. drifted into an entente cordiale with Democrats. At the Republican Convention in Kansas City that year, Reagan came close to taking the nomination. It was as a peace offering to the Reaganites that Ford replaced Rockefeller with Dole. Though not a movement conservative--meaning one who didn't have to trouble himself with the legislative compromises that were Dole's daily business--Dole was orthodox enough to get Reagan's blessing.

For Dole it was a mixed blessing. To be part of the '76 ticket, the first after Watergate, was hardship duty. Paired with the benign Ford, he dutifully fulfilled his role as designated raptor, snapping away at Carter - Mondale, but it didn't work. After the election, not only did the Democrats have the White House, but just a dozen Governors were Republicans. In Congress the G.O.P. was a battered minority in both houses.

Four years later, the party had regained the White House, the Senate and half the governorships. What happened? For one thing, it was the Carter years--high inflation, high interest rates, Soviet tanks in Afghanistan and American hostages in Tehran. But the Republican Party, which had already found a uniquely appealing candidate in Reagan, also found a fantastically appealing new theme: tax cutting.

Whatever else it was, the Reagan Revolution was indeed a 180 degrees turn in the party's views of deficit spending. For more than a century the G.O.P. had been the party of balanced budgets. Goldwater actually opposed Kennedy's 1963 tax cut on the grounds that spending cuts had to come first. But the constant warnings against deficits, and the corresponding insistence that popular but costly programs had to be cut, had also made the G.O.P. a party of bitter medicine. Democrats could promise more sugar at every election year. By the late 1970s the G.O.P. was asking itself which role it wanted to play, Cassandra--or Santa Claus?

Enter eight reindeer, to the sound of sleigh bells. Supply-side theory, developed by Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer and passionately advanced by New York Representative Jack Kemp, held that sharp cuts in income taxes would actually increase government revenues by unleashing the pent-up power of the economy. Jobs and higher wages would explode like popcorn, from which higher tax revenues would follow, despite the lower rates. In no time, the supply-side theory went from being a disputed intellectual curiosity to being the unofficial doctrine of the party. It made possible a new, infinitely optimistic Republicanism, one that permitted Reagan to promise lower taxes without reductions in the most beloved federal benefits, like Social Security and Medicare. Popular programs at popular prices. Attention, K-mart voters.

One reason taxes became a sharper issue is that prosperity had moved so many wage earners into the middle class, lunch-pail Democrats turned two-car suburbanites. Then inflation pushed them into ever higher marginal brackets. That immense new middle class began focusing on what government took from them, a chunk of their paychecks, instead of the things it gave them, like student loans and government-backed mortgages. In 1978 California produced the tax revolt that culminated in Proposition 13, a 57% cut in property taxes. That same year Kemp and Delaware Senator William Roth Jr. proposed a 30% across-the-board federal tax cut.

The 25% Kemp-Roth cut approved in the first year of Reagan's presidency failed to produce revenue in anything like the amounts the theorists had projected. Meanwhile, throughout the Reagan years, though discretionary spending dropped by more than a third, not a single major federal spending program was eliminated. Republicans were still unwilling to embrace Goldwater's frank and fatally unpopular rejection of the big-budget entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. (When the G.O.P. Congress made a feint at Medicare last year, its approval rating plummeted.) The predictable result was a massive increase in the federal deficit, $1.5 trillion over eight years, and a crisis that reopened the split between supply-siders and fiscal conservatives like Dole and George Bush. To this day, movement conservatives resent Dole for pushing through a $98.3 billion tax increase in 1982 followed by another for $50 billion two years later--the undertakings that led Newt Gingrich to call him the "tax collector for the welfare state"--and for supporting the 1990 tax deal Bush made with Democrats to bring the budget in line.

But the appeal of supply-side has never faded in many Republican circles, as Dole just proved when he picked Kemp as his running mate and unveiled an across-the-board 15% income-tax-cut plan. Though the cut opens him to attack from both Clinton and Ross Perot for abandoning his commitment to a balanced budget, it offers a galvanizing issue that isn't ideologically charged. Tax cutting is virtually a centrist issue, focused on the pleasure center to be found in every voter.

In the 1980s the Republican Party also became the first of the two parties to capitalize fully on some powerful new campaign tools: computerized direct mail, tracking polls, focus groups, marketing techniques. In the hands of conservative activists like Howard Philips and Richard Viguerie, those helped the G.O.P. identify and link disparate groups of the discontented. And among the most discontented of all were the evangelical and Fundamentalist voters who would emerge as the Christian right. It was race and taxes, two of the primal G.O.P. issues, that first galvanized them. Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian, took 56% of the evangelical vote in 1976. But the Internal Revenue Service and the Carter Justice Department later sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of some private religious academies that appeared to have been established to give white parents the option of segregated schools. The fight against that IRS ruling mobilized churchgoers already repelled by an unbridled secular world.

Though conservative Christians threw themselves behind Reagan, he didn't deliver on abortion and school prayer. By 1988 the Christian right appeared to be in eclipse. Televangelism was in bad odor. Jimmy Swaggart was succumbing to sins of the flesh. Jim Bakker was convicted that year of fraud. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority was disintegrating. (Like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, it had never been a grass-roots organization so much as a media-sustained emanation from its celebrity chief.) After early success in Michigan and the Iowa caucuses, the 1988 presidential campaign of Pat Robertson tanked.

But just as Goldwater's 1964 defeat obscured the importance of the conservative network his campaign left behind, Robertson's quick fade disguised the enduring groundwork he had laid. From the congregations mobilized by Robertson (and his leftover computerized mailing lists) came the Christian Coalition. A true grass-roots organization that now claims a membership of 1.7 million, the coalition brought to the Christian right a new dimension of political credibility, meaning the power to deliver votes the way unions and big-city political machines used to do for Democrats.

And also the power to demand payback. In his book Active Faith, Ralph Reed, the coalition's executive cherub, asserts that his members and sympathizers constitute 40% of the Republican vote. Earlier this year, when Dole's primary campaign was wobbling badly, the coalition, which has given him its unofficial backing for some time, pulled out all the stops to deliver his crucial victory in South Carolina, the beginning of the end for Buchanan.

Part of the G.O.P. dilemma is the paradox of answered prayers. The interests of blue-collar workers and Christian moralists, the two groups that have flocked to the party since the '60s, don't always square with the interests of its third and most enduring constituency, freewheeling capitalists. Free enterprise is a powerful and munificent system that also has a way of eliminating jobs and stifling pay raises while contriving new threats to the moral order, from cyberporn to Courtney Love. And so the moralists and low-wage earners who are now part of the coalition sometimes see a role for government intervention where the business wing sees none.

It was from the tangled core of this predicament that Pat Buchanan's insurgency arose. Buchanan tried to mobilize blue-collar Republicans by speaking to their conservatism on abortion and sexual matters and to their anxieties about the economy. But the solution he offered them, protectionism, has almost no support within the upper echelons of his party. What G.O.P. leaders like party chairman Haley Barbour resented most about Buchanan was his threat to change the focus of their message from taxes to wages, a subject that makes the business wing uncomfortable.

To their relief, Buchanan was a self-canceling phenomenon. His protectionism turned off as many workers as it attracted. And coyly bigoted formulations had been embedded in his language for so long that his warnings against greedy corporate chiefs got lost in his self-produced clouds of static. But Buchanan's flourish was one more warning to Dole that his party is a breakable coalition, subject to passions its leadership can't always manage.

Can Dole simultaneously moderate and mobilize all the parts of that unstable mixture? The crucial factor is time. Pulling yourself back from the ideological edge is a project that can take years. Just ask the Democrats. Dole has until Nov. 5.



Why Clinton Is Still Buoyant

By Richard Lacayo

(TIME, March 30, 1998) -- No single mystery of the White House sex scandals--not who did what to whom, not who leaked what and why--compares to the paradox that has been driving commentators and Republicans crazy. Why doesn't Bill Clinton just go down in flames? Week after week the charges get thrown against him, but his approval ratings mostly stay high or go higher. At this point he's the bumblebee of American politics. By every rule of aerodynamics, he shouldn't be able to fly. All the same, he does.

Kathleen Willey's appearance on 60 Minutes was supposed to be yet another turning point on Clinton's road to the doghouse. Instead, over the next couple of days, and even before the White House counterattack was fully under way, his poll numbers remained at record levels. In a new TIME/CNN survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners, the President's approval rating was 67%, just one notch below his personal high point in January, after he bounced back from the Monica Lewinsky scandal with an intrepid State of the Union speech. But in the new poll, 52% also believe he has engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct while President. That means that many of Clinton's supporters also believe he did something like what his accusers say he did. "He's had sexual wanderings," says Bill O'Rourke, 49, a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn. "I don't think it's right. I don't think it's moral behavior. But I also don't see that it's had an effect on his being able to do the job of running the country."

The conventional wisdom holds that Clinton is untouchable because a robust economy has made satisfied customers of us all. But the conventional wisdom doesn't begin to comprehend the intricacy of a scandal in which charges of unappetizing personal behavior are made by accusers of varying plausibility against a President of imperfect credibility. To situate yourself amid the interlocking treacheries of the story so far, you might need the sensibilities of Henry James and the skepticism of Henry Adams. Or you might simply arrive at a position in which misgivings about presidential sex don't translate into a lust for legal or even political retribution. This is just about where most people seem to find themselves now, according to follow-up interviews with dozens of people in the TIME/CNN poll.

To begin with, when they give Clinton high marks as President, they mean just what they say. On the whole, they like the way he handles the economy, the budget, Iraq, education and health care. Many of them also don't believe his accusers, especially the ones who have book deals on the horizon. But for a lot of them, saying yes to Clinton also appears to be their way of just saying no to Monicagate, meaning no to the very idea of making intimate personal behavior, even skanky behavior, the subject of a criminal inquiry. "I wouldn't want people probing into my private life," says Ralph Panecaldo, 60, a semiretired architect in Berkeley, Calif. "And the President is a U.S. citizen, just like anybody."

This is not the same thing as saying none of them care what the President does in his personal life, which is the standard, shorthand misrepresentation of that position. What it does mean is that a lot of people who don't like the idea of adultery--or even just ham-handed, alpha-male sexual boorishness--still don't think it's the government's job to move in on those things yelling, "Stop! Police!" Above all, the notion that sexual misconduct should become the basis for a crisis that shakes the Republic seems to them a bit much. Public ridicule is one thing. Impeachment is another. "I don't think he should cheat on his wife, because I'm a Christian," says Juanianetta Fowler, 58, a substitute teacher in Philadelphia. "But I don't think he should lose his presidency over it."

What could get Clinton in trouble with the people who continue to back him? One thing would be evidence that he lied under oath, they say, though some of them also say lying about sex is only to be expected. Another would be evidence that he was guilty of really harassing the women in question, though for some that means proving he did not take no for an answer after being pushed away the first time.

Oddly, Clinton may even be benefiting directly from the scandal. In the new poll, 63% of the respondents agreed that he could be described as "a strong and decisive leader," an increase of 17 points from a year ago. The successful (for now) conclusion of the latest standoff with Iraq would be one reason. But some of the poll respondents also cite Clinton's imperturbable response to the tidal wave of sexual accusations as evidence that he can handle himself in a crisis. Michael Church, 25, a real estate consultant in El Cajon, Calif., says he favors Republicans on most issues but admires the President for responding to the scandals "efficiently, taking up as little time as possible."

Maybe Clinton can win the Purple Heart after all: for bravery in the face of sexual embarrassment. But what a lot of people are trying to say when they talk to pollsters is that sexual embarrassment, even the kind that's well deserved, is not their idea of a criminal offense.

--Reported by Aisha Labi and Elizabeth Rudulph/New York


Politics/Elections Opinion (Published) Keywords: LEGACY, CLINTON, ELECTIONS
Source: Jewish World Review
Published: October 31, 2000 Author: Thomas Lipscomb
Posted on 10/31/2000 12:07:03 PST by Singapore_Yank

Thomas H. Lipscomb

Clinton’s gotterdammerung

AS THE DECEMBER cover of Esquire Magazine made the rounds of this Sunday’s talk shows featuring what Internet wags called a waist level "Monica eyeview" of a very happy and self-satisfied Bill Clinton, one might have expected Clinton’s "legacy" to be secure at last--the GOP managers of his impeachment heading for defeat in their home districts, the House and Senate moving back into Democratic Party control, and the GOP’s airhead frat boy Dubya, trounced in the debates by the awesome intellect of Al Gore, fading further behind in the polls as election day approached.

But something has gone terribly wrong. In fact so wrong, that Esquire might be well advised to revive a caption they haven’t used in years when they repeatedly ran a picture of Nixon in their annual "dubious achievements awards" issue asking "why is this man laughing?"

Far from appreciating Clinton’s unique new approach to "defending the Constitution" through perjury, polls by Democrats of American voters show they clearly find him so repulsive that the Gore staff has done everything they can to keep Clinton away from their campaign. Most galling of all, his own Vice-President, who only a few months ago called him "one of our greatest presidents" no longer takes phone calls from what is increasingly looking like Clinton’s isolated "fuhrerbunker" in the White House.

Around him hover the stooges and shysters that have served him so devotedly whose professional futures depend as much as his "legacy" upon an nationwide endorsement of Clinton’s policies and conduct in this election. A Tinkerbell President who only exists while the audience applauds, Clinton has become increasingly desperate for attention as the clock winds down. He is now in a ridiculous fight with the GOP Congress over differences on a tax bill that is already a huge victory for him. And to his eternal shame, Clinton’s UN abstention sealed a final sellout of an Israeli government he forced into office and then demanded negotiate what could be the most one-sided abandonment of a nation’s territorial integrity since the Munich Conference. But the only thing that seems to disappoint Clinton about his Israeli blackmail effort is that it didn’t succeed and win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

As the electoral battle swirls around him, the commander in chief of the Democratic Party finds himself increasingly ignored by his Congressional subordinates and his chosen successor. But they found Clinton’s legacy more of a ticking stink bomb under their campaign effort than a rocket to help them bridge to the 21st Century and they now know they are fighting for their political lives.

Clinton’s rage is understandable. After all he struggled brilliantly to overcome the greatest array of potential obstacles to political success of any American president and he’d been decisively re-elected. The illegitimate son of a Mafia gambling town hooker, a draft dodger, a one man crime wave when it came to charges of sexual abuse, rape, and blackmail, lackluster governor of one of the least significant and most corrupt states in the Union, convicted of perjury by his own former law student, impeached by the Congress of the United States--to name a few--Clinton’s viable political existence itself is far more of a miracle than the flight of the bumblebee. And he was lucky. As ratings and poll-driven as Clinton himself, the news media’s coincidental fin de siecle decay into features, fluff, and conglomeration left it without the resources, concentration, or dedication to hard news to investigate the most scandalous President in American history. Historians will find it hard to understand the imbalance between press treatment of Nixon and Clinton and will speculate over what might have happened if Nixon had followed the "stonewalling" across the board obstruction of justice tactics devised for Clinton by former Watergate prosecution staff members like Hillary Clinton.

But attention must be paid and one suspects that Clinton would rather see the destruction of his own party in this election than allow it to ignore him. The Democratic Party is already paying a terrible price. "Miracle weapons" like the execrable NAACP TV ad equating a Bush legislative position with a racist murder do not enhance the reputation of the party that was going to give us "the most ethical Administration" in American history and gave us the largest number of special prosecutors. And a party that has been the butt of jokes for a century about its ability to move the dead from their graveyards to the polls is ill-advised to begin a new millennium by running the dead governor of a swing state for the Senate.

Saddest of all is the destruction of the reputations of some of the standard bearers of the Democratic Party itself. Some of its finest and most experienced senior statesmen have now been sent tottering into a losing battle like the aged members of Hitler’s Volkssturm milita during the last days of the war. The Democrat’s vice-presidential candidate and moralist in chief Joe Lieberman overlooks racist demagogue Alan Sharpton’s anti-Semitic remarks about his wife’s unsuitability because her name is Hadassah, and sucks up to Louis Farrakhan, willing to do almost anything he is told to get a larger black turnout. And eminent retiring Senator Pat Moynihan chooses to ignore congenital liar Hillary Clinton’s fraudulent reporting to the Federal Election Commission of a large contribution from the "American Museum Council" (claiming it was a typo for the radical "American Muslim Council") and wades in to try to save her wavering campaign for his New York Senate seat, just so he can make sure the new Pennsylvania railroad station in New York City is named after him.

The last will Hitler sent from his besieged fuhrerbunker stated that the German people were not worthy to survive if they could not make his legacy prevail. It is hard to judge what will be left of the once great Democratic Party after this campaign if the GOP wins the Presidency and both houses of Congress after eight years of Clintonism. But one thing is clear at this point.

Gennifer Flowers, Juanita Broaddrick, Web Hubbell, Vince Foster, Susan and Jim McDougal, Lani Guiner, Zoe Baird, his own wife--Hillary, the Democratic Party--and hundreds of others--have all had their uses for Bill Clinton.

And now he could care less.

Thomas H. Lipscomb is the director of the Center for the Digital Future in New York. An an editor and publisher for many years, most recently as head of Times Books, he is also the founder of two public companies in digital technology.



Flight of the Bumblebee
Howard Dean May Be Dying, but He Sure Packed a Sting
by Rick Perlstein

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—In the beginning there was New Hampshire. And New Hampshire will never let you forget it.

At Manchester International Airport, the first thing those who wish to reclaim their luggage are greeted by is a museum-style vitrine. Inside are pictures of Bill Bradley tossing free throws in Concord, George W. Bush waving from a minivan. Lamar Alexander is there, memorialized for his Groundhog Day-like presumption that it was never too early to begin one more failed presidential bid. So is a deck of "New Hampshire Presidential Primary 2000 Trading Cards," 49 of them, one for each person who paid the $1,000 filing fee to join the fun. In a video, a stentorian newsreel announcer booms back at us from 1952: "This is the first real popularity test for the nomination—the citizens of the Granite State are not easily won—the country meeting places are hotbeds of politics . . . "

The obligatory shot of grizzled-out coots in mackintoshes sitting around a hot stove, then a pan over Main Street: "Eisenhower, Taft, Truman, Warren, Stassen, Kefauver! It's a free country, and no armed guards to restrict your personal freedom . . . "

The civic self-congratulation, the weather fetish, the faux-folksiness, the vanity candidate who just won't quit, the mystical moment when the whole meaning of a contest seems to tell in a single instant: Nothing's changed since but the fashions in outerwear.

Except, this year, the rise of a bloc of voters whose sensitivity to the issue of electability makes them sound like pundits. And except the fall of a candidate, no matter what happened yesterday in the seven February 3 primary states, who may have changed his party for good.

"You know how hard it is to remove a bumper sticker in four-degree weather?"

Tom Cormen, who teachers computer science at Dartmouth, is telling the story of what happened when he witnessed live on C-SPAN Howard Dean's guttural yowl in his Iowa caucus concession speech—the mystical telling moment of this 2004 New Hampshire primary. It's the Friday before primary day, and Cormen is relaxed. The languor that follows a good political rally can resemble, if the rally was very good—and the rally he has just seen, a "chili feed" thrown by a very energized John Kerry at an elementary school in the manufacturing town of Claremont, was very, very good—a kind of post-coital haze. He came looking for a candidate. Now he's relating how a razor blade helped consecrate his change of political heart.

"It was about in 200 pieces by the time I was done. I figured, 'He just sunk his own candidacy.' " When Cormen says, "And I really want to beat George Bush," he looks positively sated.

Call this guy Mr. New Hampshire: You couldn't find a more typical 2004 Granite State primary voter. He ended up voting for Kerry, though he originally favored Howard Dean. The day after the election, this is how he explained why: "I finally decided, 'Right message, wrong messenger.' "

John Kerry is a very different messenger from Howard Dean. His message, however, is very similar. "Electability" was the buzzword heard from New Hampshire again and again last week, just as it was this week from South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, and all the rest. But thanks to Dean, the definition has changed from the last time it was so ubiquitously heard: In the 1990s, when the word was enough to give any dyed-in-the-wool liberal a shudder, it served as a stand-in for "politically skilled but ideologically timid." Now, it means both "politically skilled" and "eager to kick George Walker Bush's ass." It was Dean, of course, who first convinced his party that you didn't have to be like a Republican to beat one. And that even if George Bush cannot be beaten in November, an ass-kicking demeanor is the only chance the Democrats have of getting even close.

Political historians have a saying for the effect of presumably failed movements like the Socialist Party, which introduced concepts like Social Security and unemployment insurance into the American political conversation, or the Free Soil Party, which bequeathed the issue of slavery to the Republicans. It is that American third parties are like bees: Once they sting, they die. It might soon be time to revise the old saw to apply to a candidate. Howard Dean's presidential run may not be officially dead after yesterday's primary results. But one thing is certain either way: The sting he has administered to the body of a somnolent party has woken it up for good. It certainly got John Kerry going in New Hampshire.

What slayed them in Claremont was Kerry's liberal laundry list: of the cost of corporate subsidies to oil and gas companies in Bush's energy bill and to drug companies in the prescription drug bill ($50 billion and $139 billion, respectively); of the money the disgraced Tyco corporation paid for its Bermuda "headquarters," a mail drop ($27,000); the number of pages in the tax code (17,000)—a thrilling co-optation of an old conservative showstopper, détourné for our age of plutocratic ascendancy. Kerry pumped out the words in his intense yet mellow baritone—"Anybody in this room have any of those pages?"—and the audience rollicked in laughter. They got it: that the length of the tax code is bad not because taxes are cruel but because so much of it is devoted to coddling what he called "Benedict Arnold companies and CEOs"—at which the audience roared some more.

"You want to talk about mission accomplished," John Kerry said. "Well, when it comes to coddling big oil; when it comes to serving up tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans; when it comes to opening up the doors for lobbyists and allowing them to literally write the legislation in exchange for their campaign contributions; when it comes to crony capitalism and dirty government, that's the mission accomplished for George Bush." Then John Kerry was mobbed. Four out of five folks I hauled from the scrum turned out to be former Dean supporters breaking for Kerry. "We think he can pull in Republicans," someone tells me. And it might sound crazy to say it, but it's not just Kerry's status as a war hero that makes that so. It might just be the very things that make him a "Massachusetts liberal" as well.

Yes, his most rousing peroration—"I know something about aircraft carriers for real. And if George Bush wants national security to be the central issue of this campaign, I have three words for him that I know he understands: Bring—it—on!!"—cuts an otherwise effective Republican message off at the knees. But it's also the liberalism, stupid.

After the week a gaunt, distracted, almost haggard George Bush has had—the $6 million Halliburton kickbacks, the six Iraqi battle casualties the day of the New Hampshire balloting, the arms inspector saying the whole basis for the war was a myth, the blown Medicare projection, the recovery he insists on boasting about even if it doesn't create any jobs—John Kerry's economic populist message cleaned up in industrial cities, in yuppie burgs, among young and old, even among New Hampshire's vaunted independents, who famously can vote for either party and this year turned out in droves to vouch for Kerry. Five percent of New Hampshire's registered Republicans even went through the trouble of registering a protest against their president, writing in one of the Democratic candidates on the GOP ballot. Some of them might even be the kind of people who habitually fell for conservative wedge-issue-mongering in the past, losing their health care and becoming bright Democratic prospects. It only makes sense. It's a sign of the times. When an economy cuts, do not evangelical Christians bleed?

There are strange convergences in this winter of our economic discontent, in which it's suddenly fashionable to be a liberal in the Democratic Party. One of the strangest is that, outside of Dennis Kucinich, the second-most-radical policy proposal came from Joe Lieberman: He's calling for paid family leave. And the most radical idea came from a general.

You can judge the importance of a political event in New Hampshire by the number of TV cameras it draws. The National Health Policy Forum, held in a gilded old movie palace in downtown Manchester, is a nine-bagger. Four candidates are set to appear here. Reporters by the dozen scribble in the light of their cell phones (although you might also take notes by the flash of the flashbulbs). Wesley Clark goes on and opens to this audience of health care professionals with the kind of unintentionally comic pander that's par for the course in a state where voters primp like opera divas for individual attention: "I've been a great consumer of medical care all my life," he says, earnestly.

Then he raises hell.

Why have health care costs skyrocketed in America? Clark says he knows a three-word explanation (trifurcated bombinations are the coin of this realm): "American—drug—companies!!" It doesn't receive the expected explosion back from the audience, perhaps because it sounds like such empty cant. But next, the mind-blowing details win over the crowd. A President Clark, he explains, will direct his secretary of health and human services to audit the pharmaceutical companies to determine the proportion of their profits derived from public subsidies, in order to plow the windfall portion of those profits back into medical research at the National Institutes of Health, not their pretty little television commercials. It's hard to think of a more aggressive assault on corporate prerogatives since Walter Reuther began demanding the United Auto Workers be granted joint decision-making authority at the Big Three automakers in the 1940s.

Walter Reuther's bid failed, of course. Can Wesley Clark's succeed? Not if Clark remains the only one selling it—the more he's exposed to voters, the less they buy him. This is a good thing. His acolytes seem besotted by the cartoonish view that someone who is simultaneously a liberal and a general must possess some talismanic power to cut through every political contradiction. This is magic thinking, of course, but Clark's campaign is full of magic thinking. His strategy seems rooted in a belief he can somehow convert Republicans just by coopting their magic words, like "family values" and "faith"—for Democrats are the ones who really care about such things. Boiled down, it's a claim that people are Republicans not because they have a distinct philosophy of what "family values" means, and a distinct philosophy of how the government might best promote them, but because they are not decent people. Now, some of us might want to agree. But this is bankrupt as a political strategy—because insulting Republicans squanders the one unique asset a four-star general possesses: his ability to get Republicans to cross over to liking him.

But that doesn't mean Wesley Clark's bankrupt as a bearer of policy ideas.

Memo to Senator Kerry: Holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for their abuse of public funds may well be both technically sound and politically brilliant. So, actually, are John Edwards's fusillades against the "predatory lenders, payday lenders, and credit card companies that are fleecing the American people every single day."

And Kerry might just adopt these messages. That is why the Democratic nomination process has been such a beautiful thing. The one who survives the process and collects the wisdom of his opponents into a single, smart platform might really be able to bring Karl Rove some pain. If indeed he does expire, Howard Dean, blessedly, will not have been the only Democratic candidate to sting before he died.

Thank Howard Dean. But damn him first. His movement, if not yet his candidacy, has failed—been failed by its champion, and only partially because the candidate hired a telecommunications lobbyist last week as his campaign's new CEO (yes, Deaniacs, you are now being directed by a "CEO"). How one responds to excess adulation is a test of character. Dean has failed it. He has allowed his following to become a cult, and he has allowed himself to act like its guru.

Cults can't win elections. They demand too much commitment as the price of support. Anyone but a Deaniac could see that just by showing up at the Vermonter's closing-night rally in New Hampshire—if, that is, you could find it. Everyone else held their party within a short driving or walking distance of downtown Manchester, so interested Democrats could bop from one Tuesday-night bash to another—all except those who wanted to show up to look in on Dean's, tucked miles away in the middle of nowhere. In order to participate, in other words, you already had to have committed to it, exclusively, in the first place. That's looking more and more like the meaning of Dean's campaign itself: a fun show to watch, but if you're among the uninitiated, you feel like you can only watch, not participate.

That night, the layers of insider ritual—for instance, the way the crowd chanted along with stump-speech greatest hits like Dean's singsong list of nations with better health care systems than ours—made you feel like an outsider, like you'd wandered into the wrong summer camp. But when he led the crowd in a rousing chorus of the old favorite "Even the Costa Ricans!" at that closing rally, I still just about wanted to kiss him.

"Frustrated. Tired. Unhappy": Those are the three words New Hampshire's feisty Democratic chair, Kathy Sullivan, offers to describe her party in the wake of the recount that Al Gore should have won. She recalls the week things felt even worse: when Democratic senators refused to filibuster the nomination of John Ashcroft for attorney general. "The Democrats in Washington had a moment in which they could have taken a stand and said: 'No. We're not going to let this happen.' And they didn't do it."

Then came the disastrous 2002 off-year elections. "Such a bad year for us. People just felt down. Hollowed out.

"And here comes Howard Dean. And I think what Dean has done has in some respects given the party its swagger back."

And so, over a quarter of a club sandwich in a Nashua hotel coffee shop, she begins a peroration of her own. "And we said: No. We can beat this guy. Because he's wrong on Iraq. Because he's wrong on the environment. Because he's wrong on education. And Dean just starts getting people excited again. . . . And for that, no matter what happens to Howard Dean, his running for the president did a good thing for this party. It just got everybody energized again."

He might not get there. But if the Democrats make it to that Promised Land on Pennsylvania Avenue, Dean will have been the one who led us out of the desert in the first place.


Instant Runoff Voting: Power to the Voters

By Steven Hill and Rob Richie, AlterNet. Posted February 13, 2003.

When the presidency can be won by 527 votes in a nation of 300 million, something needs to be changed. Around the country, people are working to fix a wounded electoral system.

Spurred by the memory of Ralph Nader spoiling Al Gore's election, by other third party threats to major party incumbents and by expensive runoff contests, instant runoff voting (IRV) has moved to the top of major parties' reform agenda in several states. At the same time, a growing number of social change activists are supporting IRV as a means to bring new ideas and energy into electoral politics resulting in its adoption in cities like San Francisco and on campuses like the Universities of Maryland and Illinois.

States could implement this win-win reform right now for all federal elections, including the presidential race, without changing federal law or the Constitution. The Northeast is leading the way in promoting IRV, and momentum is rapidly growing. In Vermont, a bill to institute IRV for all statewide elections, including those for president, has a real chance in the next year. The supporters of this bill show the strength of the movement: former governor Howard Dean, civic groups like the League of Women Voters, Grange and the AFL-CIO, and a grassroots surge of activism have all lent their energy to this campaign.

In Maine, the president of the state senate recently declared instant runoff voting as one of her top priorities, saying that she wants it in place by 2004. With a nascent Green Party boosted by Maine's public financing of elections, Democrats are worried about losing control of the Senate due to split votes with third party candidates even as the Greens are excited by their new opportunities. The Maine People's Alliance, Maine Citizen Leadership Fund and other organizations which worked to pass clean elections in 1996 are now spearheading the IRV effort, seeing instant runoff voting as a natural complement to public financing.

Public financing allows more candidates to run, raise issues, debate and get information into the hands of voters without becoming beholden to special interest donors. IRV accommodates these new candidates by allowing voters to rank their candidates -- first choice, second choice, third choice -- without worrying about spoilers or unintended consequences such as helping to elect your least favorite candidate.

In Massachusetts, another "Clean Elections" state, grassroots activists are joining with statewide organizations like Common Cause, Commonwealth Coalition and Mass Vote to push instant runoff voting. They organized a one-day conference in Boston that turned out a packed audience despite a blizzard raging outside. Last fall FairVote Massachusetts sponsored two non-binding referendums in the Amherst/Northampton area, polling local voters about their support for IRV. Both of those referendums passed with over 70 percent of the vote. Currently, activists are working with Democratic legislators who have introduced three IRV-related legislative bills.

But it's not just the northeast that is catching on to instant runoff voting. Other statewide IRV efforts include Utah, Hawaii, California, Washington, Florida, and New Mexico, where state senate leader Richard Romero has introduced IRV legislation. In the wake of the growth of Jesse Ventura's party in Minnesota and the Green Party threat to the Paul Wellstone candidacy, Minnesota has seen real interest in IRV, with the state's governor and largest newspaper endorsing IRV.

Avoiding Another Election 2000 Debacle

Why does this movement matter? The very fact of the acrimonious debate in 2000 over Ralph Nader's campaign between Green Party voters and Democrats reveals a serious flaw in our antiquated 18th century electoral rules. Unfortunately, with our current method, voting for your favorite candidate can lead to the election of your least favorite candidate. Providing the means to express one's real views and ensuring majority rule are basic requirements of democracy, but our current system badly fails these tests.

The British, Australians, and Irish have turned to a simple solution: IRV. They shared our tradition of electing candidates by plurality -- a system whereby voters have one vote, and the top vote-getter wins -- but have adopted IRV for most important elections. Irish presidents like Mary Robinson are elected by IRV. Labor Party maverick Ken Livingstone was elected mayor of London by IRV in 2000. The Australian House of Representatives has been elected by IRV for decades.

IRV simulates a series of runoff elections, but in a single round of voting that corrects the flaws of runoffs and plurality voting. At the polls, people vote for their favorite candidate, but they also indicate their "runoff" choices. They do this by ranking candidates on their ballot. If a candidate receives a majority of first choices, she or he wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and a runoff round of counting occurs. In this round your ballot counts for your top-ranked candidate still in the runoff. The eliminated candidate is no longer a "spoiler" because the votes of that candidate's supporters go to their runoff choice. Rounds of counting continue until there is a majority winner.

Think back to the 2000 presidential race. Without Nader, Al Gore likely would won more than 50 percent of the vote in both Florida and the nation and now be President. But with Nader, that majority vote was divided just enough to elect Bush. With IRV in 2000, Nader supporters worried about George Bush could rank Nader first and the Democratic Party candidate second.

In 2004, for example, suppose Bush won 47 percent of first choices in a key state like Florida and the Democrat 46 percent, Nader 6 percent and the rest 1 percent. Under current rules, Bush wins. But with IRV, after Nader loses in the instant runoff, his supporters would have the power to propel the Democrat above 50 percent and defeat Bush. Rather than contribute to a Democrat's defeat, Nader could help stop Bush, while delivering a message to the Democrats: Watch your step on trade, political reform, and the environment.

Freed from the spoiler stigma, Nader could more easily gain access to the presidential debates, inform and mobilize a progressive constituency, and win more votes. Higher turnout and increased attention to progressive issues could move the political center and help Democrats retake Capitol Hill -- a very long shot in the current pool of voters -- while allowing the Green Party to gain a real foothold. In other words, a Green campaign would be a win-win, rewarding the energy of activists, whose belief in electoral politics is put at risk by the ongoing bitterness between Green supporters and Democrats.

Some, including Ralph Nader himself, have suggested that they like the ability to spoil the Democrats, and so they are afraid that IRV will cause them to lose their sting. But they fail to understand that the ability to sting is a short-term lever. Much like a bumblebee loses its weapon after stinging, another Nader candidacy surely will win fewer votes than the 2.7 percent attained in 2000 without IRV. Already Nader supporters like Ronnie Dugger and others are calling for Nader to bow out in 2004.

But with IRV, Nader might have hit double digits in 2000, and the Green Party would have achieved the five percent threshold for federal matching funds. Also, with IRV a Democratic candidate desiring to be named as the second/runoff ranking on Green Party ballots has incentive to court those voters by bending toward their issues instead of ignoring them. Evidence from Australia, London and elsewhere shows that with IRV, progressive voters would enjoy a level of influence and leverage both inside and outside the Democratic Party that currently does not exist.

Moving Forward on the Local Level

To advance IRV, cities are good targets for IRV campaigns. San Francisco achieved a major victory in March 2002 when its voters passed IRV for most major local races despite more than $100,000 spent by downtown business interests who were worried IRV would strengthen the city's progressive majority. The first election for mayor and other offices will be in November 2003, and that will be a tremendous watershed in the history of voting system reform. City charter commissions in Austin (TX), Kalamazoo (MI) and Albuquerque (NM) have all recommended using IRV. Voters in Santa Clara County, San Leandro, and Oakland (all in California), and Vancouver (WA) have approved ballot measures to make IRV an explicit option in their charters. In an exciting new branch of the movement, students in a number of major colleges have adopted IRV for student government elections.

To achieve truly fair representation, full (or "proportional") representation remains the Holy Grail for electing legislators. But IRV is the quickest way to eliminate the spoiler dynamic that suppresses candidacies -- and the debate and participation they could generate. If progressives learn one lesson from Election 2000, let it be that all of our elections should be conducted under fairer rules. Real democracy needs a rainbow of choices, not the dull gray that results in one of the lowest voter turnouts in the democratic world.

Steven Hill is senior analyst for the Center for Voting and Democracy and author of "Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics" (Routledge Press). Rob Richie is the Center's executive director. To keep update with developments on IRV or join with local supporters, see the "get involved" section of the Center's website.




David Greenglass, background – As already noted in post #28, David Greenglass was the younger brother of Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg, and was linked together with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg during his formative years in New York City.  David’s life was intertwined with the Rosenbergs while David attended high school, as Julius was Ethel’s suitor.  After Julius and Ethel had become active in communism, David Greenglass joined the Young Communist League in 1938.  Although David was not a leader, he did participate was an activist as an agitator.  Ruth Printz also became involved in communism, prior to her marriage to David in 1942.

David told several people that anti-Semitism had driven them into association with communism.  David told a Jewish undercover FBI agent of a beating he took from six fascists, who beat him up because they knew David was a Jew, and according to David, did not know he as also a communist.

In February 1939, David Greenglass graduated from Haaran High School.  David sent applications to Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute to study mechanical engineering.  David made job applications under a pseudonym, David Greene.  He worked as a toolmaker and maintenance on the night shift in the Rectifier Division at the Federal Telephone Company.  After three months, David was fired for organizing a communist union.

Ethel was pregnant with her first child in November 1942, when David Greenglass married Ruth Printz, his 19-year old childhood sweetheart.  The Greenglass family was poorer then the Rosenbergs, however, David and Ruth’s wedding was attended by several hundred people.  David was working at Peerless Labs, and earned $33/week with a 60-hour work week.  David wanted to improve his income, and tried to enlist in the US Navy as a Seebee.  However, David was color blind, and was rejected. On March 23, 1943, David was drafted by the US Army.  The Army needed machinists, and David was transferred to the Army Ordinance Base in Aberdeen, MD, following his basic training at Fort Dix.  Greenglass was surprised that he had not been shipped to overseas duty with the US Army, which he attributed to his involvement in communist agitation.  After returning late summer 1943 to visit family, David was first approached by Julius to conduct espionage.  Julius Rosenberg had met NKVD agent, Alexander Fekilsov, at the 1942 Labor Day rally.  Julius told Fekilsov about his brother-in-law assignment at Aberdeen, and Fekilsov wanted Julius to recruit Greenglass into espionage.  However, David Greenglass did not provide anything of substance to Julius.

A year later, Greenglass was surpised to learn in December 1943 that he had been transferred to Fort Ord.  On June 30, 1944, the US Army transferred David Greenglass from the armored vehicle maintenance group to Company B of the Training Group.  The next week on July 6, 1944, six members of the Training group were transferred to the Special Engineering Detachment in the Manhattan District at Oak Ridge.  One of the six soldiers was away without leave (AWOL), so the officer assigned Greenglass to take the place of the missing soldier.  On July 26th, Greenglass was transferred to the Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee, where he started work at the Site X isotope uranium separation facility.  Ruth Greenglass told Julius and Ethel Rosenberg about her husband’s transfer to Oak Ridge.  In a letter, Ruth pressed David with questions about his work, and David replied that he would on his Thanksgiving leave.  However in late July, there was already talk that the US Army was considering the transfer to Greenglass to another facility.  In August, Greenglass was transferred to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and wrote a letter to his wife about his transfer.

Maj. Peer de Silva granted a full security clearance on September 8, 1944 based on a superficial investigation.  No one had questioned Greenglass about his past communist ties or activities.  When he received orders to transfer to Los Alamos, Greenglass was not told about the purpose of the secret facility.  Instead, David would learn from his wife Ruth, who learned from Julius Rosenberg that Los Alamos was the laboratory for the Manhattan Project and atomic bomb research. Julius Rosenberg again tried to recruit David Greenglass into espionage.

On October 3, 1944, the NKVD communication between New York and Moscow had approved Alexander Feklisov’s decision to recruit David Greenglass into the spy ring, and had assigned Harry Gold as the courier, while crediting Julius Rosenberg for the recruitment of Greenglass.  David was assigned the code name ‘Bumblebee’, while his wife Ruth was assigned the code name ‘Wasp’.  Later, David was assigned the code name ‘Caliber’, which had the same dual meaning in both English and Russian, the diameter of a bullet, or the measure of a person’s degree of worth and quality.


See:  Political Dreams 2000





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