54 / 100
Seats in the House
246 / 435
31 / 50
State Upper Chamber Seats
1,134 / 1,972
State Lower Chamber Seats
3,044 / 5,411
Seats on the Supreme Court
5 / 9
So there you have it: a minority Party in terms of registered members is in almost complete control of the offices of government on the federal and state levels.
Gallup reported in 2013 that an average of 47% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were independents who leaned Democratic in 2012, compared with 42% who identified as or leaned Republican, re-establishing a Democratic edge in party affiliation after the two parties were essentially tied in 2010 and 2011. “In the 114th U.S. Congress, Republicans have their largest majority in the House of Representatives since the 1928 election and a majority of seats in the Senate. The party also holds a majority of governorships and state legislatures. Specifically, 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers have Republican majorities."
Just in case you've forgotten, here is Wikipedia's brief summary of some of what the GOP supports, in general:
"The party's platform is generally based on American conservatism, in contrast to the modern American liberalism of the Democrats. The Republican Party's conservatism involves support for free market capitalism, free enterprise, business, a strong national defense, deregulation, restrictions to labor unions, socially conservative policies and traditional values, usually with Christian overtones. The party is generally split on the issue of how to deal with illegal immigration."
There is just one office missing for the GOP, and they know it all too well. The Republican Party will sacrifice anything to grab it in 2016, and if the past two presidential campaigns are any indication, nothing will stop them except the grass-roots support that twice elected President Barack Obama.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Democrats of all stripes must be especially careful not to under-estimate this supposedly minority Party. There is already too much self-confidence and virtual silence pervading among democratic leaders who think (wrongly, I believe) that they do not need to get involved just yet; that there will be the right time to speak out and support the ticket, whatever it turns out to be. Pardon me if I strongly demur on that opinion and attitude.
I believe it is foolhardy (and just plain stupid) to think that the Democratic Party will have an easy victory in 2016, and that we can wait even one more minute to begin an all-out campaign to put forth the kinds of concepts, solutions and values that matter to the majority of people in this country. It is evident that nascent voters, uninformed voters, careless voters, independent voters and just plain angry voters have been bamboozled into believing that supporting Republican radicals on state and national levels is going to win them something -- a false hope if ever there was one!
I am of the firm conviction that we Democrats need to make a change that is crucial to our victory and our future. First and foremost, we need Democratic leaders on the stump immediately to answer (and to present facts about) every BIG LIE the Republicans tell. Where is the Party Chair; where are the liberal & progressive Senators, where are prominent congressional representatives; where are the governors? We need voices pounding away and calling out all the Republicans who are now grabbing all the headlines and negatively branding our candidates without any rebuttal. What are we waiting for: November 2016?
Second, we need to think both in terms of numbers and in terms of issues and policies. We need to use the nuts and bolts of grass-roots campaigning to bring out more voters than anyone might expect. We need to show that we have the will and the numbers to turn back this trend toward ultra-conservative Republican rule and that populist values are in charge. We have already missed one opportunity to increase our numbers by not mounting a nation-wide voter registration campaign; although the League of Women Voters tried their best to get one going. We must rely on getting unregistered Democrats, Independents, and un-committed voters to register right now!
What bothers me is that too many party leaders believe that can wait until the last few days before Election Day when a national GOTV effort is usually launched. Too Late! We have to start NOW. Almost every state has a general election voter registration deadline; New York's deadline is 25 days before the election which would fall on October 9, 2015. (However, if anyone wants to vote in the Primary elections in New York, they must have registered with a Party affiliation by September 29, 2015). A listing of state registration deadlines for the general election can be found at https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote).
On that same website, there is more useful information, such as the fact that "The National Mail Voter Registration Form" is the one document that allows you to register to vote in most states in the U.S., but if you happen to live in one of the few states that do not permit its use, please check with your state election office to find out how to register to vote. The site also lists suggestions of where you might be able to register to vote in person.
In twenty states, you can register online to vote. Please see the table of states with online voter registration or contact your state election office to learn more. If you are outside of the U.S., you can get information online from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) or call an international FVAP hotline.
You can also use the National Mail Voter Registration Form to update your registration if you changed your name, to change your address, or to register with a political party.
I hope these tidbits of information have been helpful. NOW let's all get busy and get people registered to vote (especially likely democratic voters), because WE MUST turn out big numbers of voters this coming year.
Let me make just one more major point for your consideration: if Democrats don't win back at least one of the two Houses of Congress, and if we lose the Presidency to a Republican, here is what we can expect to happen, based on what the radicalized Republican Party has already proposed, threatened, passed or litigated, in no particular order or ranking:
- The Iran agreement will be scuttled; sanctions will be restored; arms will be increased to Israel, and oil fields and refineries will again be targets; thus,
- There will be another War in the Middle East within the first two years of the first term of a Republican President, meaning
- Gas prices at the pump will soar; military spending particularly on private contracts will escalate, and the citizenry will once again suffer the effects of a war economy with private enterprise profiting while the poor and the middle-class suffer the same old same old - wage cuts; slowed economy generally (although not so for defense-related industries).
- There will be tax cuts for the rich disguised as either a "reform of the tax code," or a "lowering of taxes," or a "whole new system" of taxation, like a consumption tax, or a simplified system of just three tax brackets. At the same time, the Republicans will seek to eliminate the "death tax," lower the corporate tax, and either lower or eliminate the tax on capital gains, along with a few others, or they will simply establish a one-rate-fits-all or a tax on consumption rather than on income. No matter how this plays out, it will result in more riches for the wealthy but
- A large tax increase for the middle class which will be paying for the War, the increased military spending, the private contracts to private companies, and the tax cuts for the wealthy corporations and individuals. But it doesn't stop there...
- A Republican President and Congress, working together, will act almost immediately to destroy the Affordable Care Act law by legislation, which they have already begun to do, of course. Did you know that they are involved at the moment in attempting through the court system to destroy the subsidy provisions of the Law in order to gut its intended purpose of aiding those who could not afford health insurance? This means
- Higher premiums for all of us because we will be right back to where we were before "Obamacare" -- subsidizing the big health insurance companies by paying more (for ourselves and others) and receiving less in health coverage. So, not only is your wallet involved, but so is your health.
- Once health care and health care coverage come under attack, the battle-cry will shift to the "reduction of federal spending" by cutting programs that have any relation whatsoever to liberal-sounding government hand-outs. The disguises and excuses will be "creation of dependency on government," the need to "cut the deficit," (which has already been achieved by the Obama administration), and the importance of "taking of responsibility" for meeting challenges.
- The first step will be the devolvement of certain programs to the states, where many such programs will simply whither and eventually die for lack of adequate administrative monies and adequate staffing. In my opinion, this process may well begin with a several programs rolled into a larger package (including perhaps Food Stamps) that will prepare the way for the entire Medicaid program to be block-granted to the states with little hope for its continuance as it now stands.
- The second step is to cut back on the Medicare Program, thus proactively laying the groundwork for a no-chance move by the middle class or the working poor to support a single payer system based on a Medicare model. Every attempt will be made to limit the long-term care aspects to privately run institutions, and to cut as many benefits as possible.
- The third part of this attack is that on Social Security. If Social Security has little if any effect on the deficit (funded by a separate tax and held in a separate Trust Fund), why are Republicans so adamant about creating a Social Security crisis, and claiming it is affecting the deficit and going broke? Three major reasons: (a) it makes the Social Security Trust Fund another so-called failure by the federal government, thus setting up (b) a call for privatizing of social security so the bankers and financiers and brokers can get their hands on those funds, and (c) to protect the wealthy from ever having to support the middle class and the working poor by paying anything beyond a minimum into that system.
- If you watched the first two Republican presidential candidate debates, then you know clearly that we will be facing a huge build-up of military forces and armaments under a radical Republican take-over. While these statements reflect the tendency of Republican administrations to emphasize military build-up so that private investors, rich corporations and private contractors can be assured of some lucrative government contracts and government money to be had in all military-related enterprises, the outcome for the United States will be an increasing national debt, and a militarization that is nothing more than a symbol of "mightiness." It will not produce the kind of efficient and effective forces that can counter radical Jihadists or radical insurgents. The build-up will simply satisfy the hawkish tendencies of politicians (and of some wealthy corporation heads) born in another century, and remembering great victories in all-out world wars. There are no such great victories in modern warfare -- everybody loses.
Even Carly Fiorina talks openly on the debate stage of calling the leader of Iran to let him know what might this nation possesses and what power she will project. Trump feeds this power-hungry obsession with his constant chatter about "winning" and "deal-making." And don't forget that Joe McCarthy look-alike imperialist named Ted Cruz who exudes a no-compromise demeanor on everything on the far Right. He is a "Dominionist" Christian, dedicated to the proposition that elite Christian leaders must be in place for the final Armageddon. His very soul is embroiled in no compromise, no quarter given, no mercy on the cast-offs. He is dedicated to a philosophy and theology that fits into the elitist over-powering destroyers of evil (and of non-believers) who will be in charge on the Last Days. His philosophy is dangerous in the extreme (for more on this, see my Blog posts of 10/6 and 10/13/2013).
So, what else can you expect from this power-hungry group. First, just a few reminders of the "attacks" that will continue, on:
- Organized Labor -- Minimum wage increase will be attacked and so will bargaining rights until employers have inordinate amounts of control over employees, such as who gets paid for overtime. If you don't get it, just try to appeal a firing without cause in your non-union shop. Any union worker who votes Republican has sold his or her soul and livelihood, and deserves the inevitable consequences
- Women's Health and Rights -- no exceptions on abortion; no family leave time; no pensions; more health care restrictions with loss of ACA; de-funding of Planned Parenthood centers that primarily serve the preventative health needs of disadvantaged women. Where will they go now for cancer screenings and pre-natal care or other lab tests and treatments? Are Emergency Rooms ready for the onslaught?
- LGBT and Gay Marriage -- unending attacks and a likely attempt at a constitutional amendment that enshrines marriage between “a man and a woman.” To a man (and a woman) the 11 Republican candidates oppose marriage equality. Many right-wing politicians are now speaking out in biblical language about the sin of sodomy and the punishment that God will impose on sodomites.
- People of Color -- use of greater police interventions will become the norm; militarization of police forces will increase; use of "informers" will become a warrant-less means used by police to attack more than that pro tennis player; the right-wing judges to be appointed by a right-wing President will continue to erode civil rights, especially of those of color (and will eventually erode the rights of all). The right to no arrest or home entry without a valid warrant; the right to an attorney; the right to refuse identification or to refuse to answer police questions; the right to a fair trial and a fair hearing on over-charged charges; the right to question your accuser (secret and protected informants) -- all of these are being threatened as we speak, but none more than voting rights of a growing number especially among certain groups like African-Americans and young people.
- The Middle Class -- has it ever occurred to you that there might be a reason that the middle class is being attacked, other than the usual complaint of a widening income gap? Try this on for size: the middle class is very large while the elite who aim to control the levers of power in this country are small in numbers. First, what a competitor must do is to cut the middle class down to manageable portions by taking out some of its largest props like Social Security and Labor unions and health care.
Second, to reduce the potency of a united middle class, the elite must encourage internal warfare within that same large group so that portions of it are unalterably opposed to other portions (it just so happens that fomenting religious disagreements is a great catalyst in such an effort).
Third, desperate people are much easier to control. People living from paycheck to paycheck; people worried about paying the rent or feeding their families; people working more than one job who are constantly tired; people just trying to make ends meet are not apt to care about what Congress is doing, or what decisions the SCOTUS makes or what the President - whoever he is (and many don't even know) -- attempts. It is not of concern to desperate people. And the category of desperate people is growing because many can't buy a house, others can't afford a car; some can't see how they will afford college for children; some have health concerns that are eating up their already-stretched budgets. The greatest cause of desperation may be the more than common fact that many are falling out of the middle class into poverty or near poverty: a place they have never before experienced.
Forcing the Christian evangelical religion upon every American by various and nefarious government-backed schemes such as displaying the Ten Commandments on public property, requiring prayer in schools or influencing the curricula of public schools at all levels
Using the 1st amendment to allow corporations to use religious belief as a license to discriminate against gays or against women who use contraceptives or who knows what is next: perhaps against anyone who had an abortion; how about ultimately against anyone who believes something contrary to the vendor's beliefs?
Privatizing everything possible: schools, prisons, some military tasks, even the Post Office!
Ending all talk of election reform with increased gerrymandering of districts, larger campaign funding maximums for individuals, more freedom for candidates to interact with their PACs, and the end of all talk of overturning Citizens United.
Undercutting all talk of "climate change" and "alternative fuels" by increasing our production and dependence on oil, coal and gas; by de-funding the EPA; by extending climate change denial talk to foreign countries in terms of treaties and agreements and international meetings
and don't forget all those cuts in programs that Republicans have been pushing since they took control of Congress (and before in most cases):
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities
Legal Services Corporation
Hope VI Program
Community Development Fund
Technology Innovation Program
Grants to States for Weatherization
New Starts for Transit
Intercity and High Speed Rail grants
Volunteer Programs under the Corporation for National and Community Services
Applied Research at the DoE
Energy Star Program
Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the UN
What we heard last Wednesday evening from the Republican presidential candidates only serves to prove my point: this is not just about winning an election. This is about the future of this country and about the use of governmental power on behalf of the people's welfare, not on behalf of elected officials and their corporate and individual funding sponsors. This is about the use of POWER. Republicans want that power in the hands of a few elite person and industrial entities. Progressives want that power in the hands of servants of the people and of the People themselves. It is a fundamental difference in the social-political-economic philosophy and activism of the Right and the Left; of Republican and Democrat; of those who serve to crave and to profit themselves, and those who crave to serve and profit the People.
Numbers don't lie--- we must turn out a huge majority of democratic voters and take back the Senate, and keep the Presidency. Anything less will be a disaster, just like the "Reagan Revolution" that has negatively affected this country's standing and well-being for over 30 years. We cannot survive intact a Right-wing takeover that leaves us with the disaster of concepts that have failed before and will fail us again. The election of 2016 will be the decider of more than four years in the oval office; it will be the determiner of the direction of this country for at least the next decade and probably more.