The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are.
-- Kevin Phillips, Republican strategist (1970)
This week everybody was still talking about the fiscal cliff
President Obama apparently shocked Republicans: His opening proposal in the fiscal-cliff negoations is more-or-less the plan he ran on, which the voters endorsed by re-electing him last month.
I'm beginning to see what the lines-in-the-sand are: Democrats don't want to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits (though they are willing to consider other spending cuts, including Medicare cost reductions that don't affect benefits). Republicans don't want to raise tax rates on the rich (though they are willing to consider other unspecified revenue increases).
Here's the difference: The Democrats' line is popular and the Republicans' isn't. Democrats will happily go to the mat defending Medicare. But if Republicans have to go to the mat defending low taxes for millionaires, they're in trouble. That's why Obama can make a proposal and Boehner can't. No way Boehner can look into a TV camera and say, "These are the Medicare cuts I want."
Still, Boehner won't move forward without a majority of his caucus, even if there is a plan that a bipartisan majority could support. A majority of the Republican House caucus lives inside the Fox News bubble, so we're probably going over the cliff, at least for a little while.
... and filibuster reform
OK, I'm lying. Geeky poly-sci types were talking about filibuster reform while everybody else either ignored us or rolled their eyes. But it's an important topic. Fortunately, just about everything I want to say about it came up on Saturday's Up with Chris Hayes.
- The filibuster isn't in the Constitution, which just says: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings."
- Traditionally, though, the Senate has been a clubby place that gave its members a lot of rope, but kept them in line with social norms rather than rules. (That was easier back when there were just 26 senators.)
- Filibusters were rare until recent decades. (In the Hayes clip, they discuss how President Johnson's people didn't even consider the possibility that Medicare would be filibustered.)
- The rule changes on the agenda for new Senate in January are pretty tame: You'd have one point in the process where you could filibuster a bill rather than several, and you'd actually have to stand up in public and talk, rather than put an anonymous hold on a bill as can happen now.
- But the parliamentarians on Up are still worried about the precedent: If 51 votes are enough to change the filibuster rules, then the way is paved for a later 51-vote majority to regiment the Senate in a way similar to the House.
... but I wrote about the history of racial politics in America
When the first two people I talked to about the Lincoln movie both commented on how jarring it was to see the Republicans as the party of racial justice, I knew I had a research project to do. The result is "A Short History of White Racism in the Two-Party System". Even shorter version: After Reconstruction, only whites could vote in the South, and they were Democrats. The national Democratic Party started moving away from the Southern Democrats in 1948, and broke with them decisively in 1964-65. Republicans had a decade-long debate about whether to soft-pedal civil rights to appeal to Southern whites, which by 1980 they had decided to do.
... and you might find this interesting
For a view of life inside the conservative bubble, you can't beat the election night liveblog that Kevin DuJan did on Hillbuzz. He's watching the election on MSNBC because he can't wait to see the liberal meltdown when Obama loses. All evening, he's finding signs of panic in the demeanor of the liberal hosts and the Democrats they interview. He's explaining away anything that smacks of reality, even if it comes from the Right -- Drudge's leak of the pro-Obama exit polls is "fear porn" meant to drive up his site traffic. Fox News is only saying Virginia and Ohio are close because they're trying to increase the drama.
It isn't until the networks call Wisconsin for Obama at 8:30 CST that the illusion starts to crack. Over the next two hours DuJan and his commenters struggle to keep their fantasy world together, until at 10:14 CST DuJan folds:
Barack Obama has won Ohio, and with it reelection.
This is stunning. Absolutely stunning.
Yes, delusional people are often stunned when everything goes the way rational people said it would.
DuJan's liveblog ends there, but his devoted commenters continue far into the night and the next morning, hanging on to the hope that the Ohio call is wrong, that Obama can be impeached over Benghazi, that Democratic vote fraud will be exposed ("Is it possible that Obama’s team is cheating again at this magnitude??"), or that finally Congress will look into Obama's birth certificate and declare him ineligible to be president.
Then comes an eruption of anger at the country and the voters: "America is over as we know it." "My country is finished." "65% of this country feeds off the remaining 35% ... it's us against them" "There’s nothing worth saving. Nothing. I’m going to join the lefties and take as much as I can while it’s still there for the taking." "Look, the bottom line is that this country is a piece of shit. I’ve spent 24 months in Iraq defending what I thought was the country of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But that country is gone. We gave it away because of white guilt." And much more like it.
One of the week's more remarkable pieces was the WaPo op-ed by Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, who demonstrated the kind of thinking that gets you beat by 4 1/2 million votes:
Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters younger than 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. ... Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right.
In other words: Everybody voted for us except the people who didn't -- mostly young non-whites and people who can't even make $50K a year. And who cares about them? Why should their votes even count?
Good luck with that strategy. Don't change a thing.
The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg compares how the Wall Street Journal's editorial page characterized President Obama's re-election (65 million votes at last count, 51.8%, 4 1/2 million vote margin, 332 electoral votes) to President Bush's re-election in 2004 (62 million votes, 50.7%, 3 million vote margin, 286 electoral votes).
In 2004, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, conservatism’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, congratulated President Bush for “what by any measure is a decisive mandate for a second term” and exulted, “Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive.” This year, examining similar numbers with different labels, the Journal came up with a sterner interpretation. “President Obama won one of the narrower re-elections in modern times,” its editorial announced.
The world needs a cardboard bicycle.
It's time for your annual ego deflation: The NYT's 100 Notable Books of 2012 is out. I thought this year might be different when the first book on the list (Alif the Unseen) was one I had actually read and enjoyed. But no. You are illiterate. We are all illiterate.