Political Strategy Notes
"Merkozy" takes another torpedo square in the belly, as Germany's Social Democrats smash Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state. That should put an end to the GOP's denials that Europe is rejecting austerity polices. The Social Democrat-Greens coalition took about 50 percent of the votes -- almost twice what Merkel's party received (26 percent).
If that doesn't quite convince you that Europe's austerity binge is tanking, check out Craig Stirling's Bloomberg report, "Cameron Suffers Setbacks in U.K. Opinion Polls."
This NYT article by Andrew Martin and Andrew W. Lehren makes it hard to see how any current issue could carry as much freight with young voters as the soaring costs of higher education. Thus should be a strong edge for Dems, since GOP policy gimmicks to get around more substantial federal and state government investments are pretty unconvincing --- provided Dems' can boil their edge down into digestible soundbites.
What's Rand Paul trying to prove with the gay-bashing?
Speaking of gay-bashing, take a sneak peek at this forthcoming Newsweek cover, and see if you think it is designed to undermine President Obama.
If you want data on how the President's new position on same-sex marriage is playing out with the base, particularly African Americans, Nate Silver has a clear-eyed take. Silver presents a probability distribution chart indicating that Black voters are highly likely to stick with Obama and "there are other key constituencies within the Democratic Party -- like younger voters, coastal whites and, increasingly, Hispanic voters -- who are supportive of gay marriage. And gays and lesbians themselves, and their families, are an important constituent group for Democrats. (They are more numerous, for instance, than Jewish voters.)"
Ezra Klein broadsides the false equivalency apologists for trying to spread the blame for polarization. Citing "a polarizing force on the Republican Party that simply doesn't exist in today's Democratic Party," Klein produces recent election data proving that "...there is simply no denying that the Republican Party has gone much further right than the Democratic Party has gone left, and that, from policy pledges to primary challenges, it has done much more to discourage its members from compromising than the Democratic Party has. So if you think polarization is the main problem in Washington today, then Mann and Ornstein are right: Your beef is largely with the Republicans."
Sara Robinson's Alternet post, "How Conservative Religion Makes the Right Politically Stronger" provides an interesting theory of conservatives solidarity edge. As Robinson says, "...Regular observance of shared rituals is central to this power. Religious conservatives attend services at least once a week...to affirm their commitment to their shared values, celebrate and mourn the passages of life, and connect with each other not as workers and warriors, but as human beings...Those rituals are social superglue. They build trust that extends outward into everything else these communities do. They inspire and engage people's hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits, offer incredible healing and solace when things go wrong, and provide a ready-made outlet for celebration and re-commitment to doing even more when things go right." Robinson argues that progressives should more frequently leverage rituals and gatherings to build fellowship and solidarity.
Seems to me all the Democratic hand-wringing about NC is a waste of time. Even assuming the state is moving to the right, Obama has several plausible paths to 270 e.v.'s without it, and the blue carpet will be rolled out in Charlotte, regardless.
John Nichols, the go-to guy for inside skinny and sharp analysis of the progressive uprising in Wisconsin, has an insightful post, "Will People Power Defeat Scott Walker and His Cronies?" at The Nation. Nichols observes, "The protesters--union members fighting assaults on collective bargaining and the farmers, small-business owners, retirees and students who supported them--are not just forcing new elections. They are forcing their way into the political process as candidates, elbowing aside traditional politicians and old approaches to campaigning. It's not that the newcomers aren't raising money, crafting smart messages or buying thirty-second spots. They're serious contenders. But they are running on the terms of a movement they have built, mounting campaigns that are people-centered, high-spirited and unapologetic in their support of labor rights and economic justice...And they are starting to win."