Tag Archives: extremism

What Sen. Spector’s Party Switch Tells California Voters

Dave Johnson, Speak Out California.

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen (“Single-Bullet“) Specter switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party this week.  Rush Limbaugh reacted to this news by welcoming Specter’s departure, and added, “take McCain with you.”

Specter left because the extremist wing of the Republican Party — the ones who listen to and agree with Rush Limbaugh and will tolerate absolutely no compromise of any kind from the most extreme conservative positions — have taken over and are driving others out.  This rightmost element, who call themselves the only “real Republicans” have a special name for people like Arlen Specter and John McCain.  They call them “RINOs.”  RINO stands for “Republican In Name Only” and refers to Republicans who are not conservative enough to meet approval of the absolutists.  (What is conservative enough?  Half of Texas Republicans want Texas to secede from the United States.)  

Arlen Specter is hardly a liberal.  He has a solidly conservative voting record, (after switching parties he voted against President Obama’s budget), but not conservative enough for the hard core purists.  John McCain won the ire of this element for not supporting torture.

The Limbaugh branch of the party have been working to drive moderate-right members like Specter and McCain out, and are increasingly successful.  Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, another target of this element, warned that,

“being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of ‘Survivor’ — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe.”

This demonstrates just how far the Republican Party has moved from its roots.  They have drifted so far away from their mission that even their last Presidential candidate is being urged to leave the party!  They have drifted so far from their mission that the “party of Lincoln” has a solid contingent supporting having their states secede from the Union!

This hard-core extremism is also being demonstrated in California, where not a single Repubilcan will vote for a budget — any budget — because their strategy for the state is to “let it go into bankruptcy, let it go off a cliff, we need to prove a point.”  The reason that crazy-sounding line has quotation marks around it is because it is a quote.  It is also the definition of extremism.  And, combined with the 2/3 rule that lets them block budgets, it is the reason California is becoming ungovernable.

Roberts and Trounstine at Calbuzz write that, “the California Republican Party is doomed to minority status” by this extremism.  For example, California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring said of Specter’s defection,

“The Republican Party didn’t leave Arlen Specter. Arlen Specter left the Republican Party some time ago,” Mr. Chairman said in his statement. “Arlen Specter decided on his own – no one forced him – to violate core Republican principles by voting for the wasteful $787 billion stimulus bill while every single House Republican, including California’s entire Republican delegation, voted with taxpayers in opposition instead.”

In other words, it violates Republican principles to vote to help the people.  The “taxpayers” they “support” are their wealthy and corporate campaign donors.  And, they add, it doesn’t make sense for Party leaders to “applaud Specter’s defection, as if losing prominent party members holds the key

to growing the party and returning it to majority status.”

Why they are wrong:  The hard-core conservative values these people support are “limited government, free markets and personal responsibility.”  But what is this government that they want to limit?  Abraham Lincoln, another RINO, famously said that our American government is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  So today’s Republicans want to limit the people’s ability to make decisions (government by the people) and instead hand this ability over to “the market” (ruled by big corporations.)  They want to replace a country where we watch out for and take care of each other (government for the people) with a system where we are all left on our own at the mercy of these corporations — which they call “personal responsibility.” 

There is an alternative to the extremist right’s approach.  Progressive values and policies are better for people.  Instead of limiting our government progressives believe that the people should have more power to make the decisions that affect all of us.  Instead of a one-dollar-one-vote “market” approach to decision-making, progressives believe in one-person-one-vote equality where people are on an equal footing, with an equal right to benefit from our common resources. 

Progressives believe in a community-based, democratic approach to deciding how we should run our state and country.  We’re here for each other, not just for ourselves.

So let’s welcome all those disenfranchised Republicans into our tent. We’re big enough and tolerant enough of differing opinions, so long as the best interests of the people are at heart. I think they’ll like being part of a true democracy where the people come first.

P.S. See Assemblymember Nancy Skinner’s invitation to Republicans.

Click through to Speak Out California and leave a comment.

Prop. 8: Polling, Analysis, Obama

So the latest poll on Prop. 8 has come out from the PPIC, showing the No side still ahead, albeit with a narrower lead than the last time PPIC was in the field.

A majority of Californians still oppose a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but the margin is narrowing so notably that the fate of Proposition 8 may hinge on the turnout for the presidential race.

A new poll released late Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Prop. 8 losing 52 to 44 percent among likely voters. That eight-point margin has narrowed from the 14-point spread that PPIC polls found in August and September. Just 4 percent of likely voters remain undecided.

“The vote on Proposition 8 could get closer between now and the election, because we know that Californians are evenly divided in general on whether they favor or oppose gay marriage,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the PPIC.

There should be a Field Poll on this next week.  But I think it’ll confirm what we see here – a close race that either side can take.  The polling guru Nate Silver of 538 waded into this today.

Both the PPIC and SurveyUSA polls have Barack Obama leading by large (20+ point) margins, so I’m not sure that opponents of the measure can count on some sort of turnout surge above and beyond what is already reflected in the polls. There are evidently fair numbers of Obama/’Yes on 8′ tickets, especially among the state’s black and Latino populations.

On the one hand, there have been suggestions that there is something of ‘Bradley Effect’ on polling on gay marriage bans, and that such measures tend to overperform their polls, although a more recent analysis refutes this suggestion.

On the other hand, because ballot measures are confusing, it is usually better to be on the ‘No’ side of them … people tend to vote ‘no’ on things that they don’t understand. In this case, that gives an advantage to the marriage equality folks. (It may even be the case that some voters vote ‘no’, thinking that they’re voting no to gay marriage, when in fact the wording of the resolution is such that a ‘no’ vote protects gay marriage).

I’d peg the ‘no’ side as about a 55/45 favorite, but not more than that.

Sounds pretty accurate to me.  So what can turn the tide in this race at this late date?  Well, there are the human interest stories like this ex-mayor of Folsom coming out and opposing Prop. 8 in an emotional display.  I think putting a face on whose rights would be eliminated can be powerful.  There is also value in putting a spotlight on the extremism and basic indecency coming from the Yes side.

Standing there as the “Yes on 8” rally outside Oakland’s Foothill Missionary Baptist Church began to wind down today, I noticed a gentleman in the crowd approach an elderly woman who was holding a “Gay marriage = legal perversion” sign. I eavesdropped – hey, that’s my job – as he told her he agreed with her sign completely, but he urged her to ditch it and just use a “Yes on 8” sign instead because her homemade sign’s sentiment might turn off some voters.

They’re trying to hide their wingnuts, but they’re pretty ubiquitous.  And this story seems to me to be a good one to push, considering that one of the key arguments of the Yes side concerns classroom indoctrination.

A Salinas High School teacher who distributed “Yes on Proposition 8” literature to her students last week has been asked to refrain from doing so by administrators […]

The literature that was passed out to students says it is important to protect marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

The one-page statement also says it is critical to vote yes on Proposition 8, saying its failure would eventually force the state to approve “polygamy, polymory, incest, group and other ‘creative’ arrangements for marriage.”

Think of the children!

But a more controversial idea, expressed by Andrew Sullivan, is that Barack Obama should get involved in this race.  Obama has already expressed his opposition to Prop. 8, but Sullivan argues that he should do more.

As expected, one reason Proposition 8, stripping gay couples of marriage equality, is still viable in California is because of strong African-American support. Black Californians back the anti-gay measure by a margin of 20 points, 58 – 38, in the SUSA poll. No other ethnic group comes close to the level of opposition and black turnout is likely to be very high next month.

All this makes it vital, in my opinion, that Barack Obama strongly and unequivocally oppose Proposition 8 in California, rather than keeping mainly quiet as he has done so far. We need him to make an ad opposing it.  This is a core test of whether gay Americans should back Obama as enthusiastically as they have in the last month. If he does not stand up for gay couples now, why should we believe he will when he is in office? And if black Americans are the critical bloc that helps kill civil rights for gays, that will not help deepen Obama’s governing coalition. It could tear it apart.

I think Sen. Obama is focused on winning a different election right now.  Still, even a small measure, like sending out a fundraising appeal to his California list, could speak volumes.  And as he’s already on the record, it’s not like the McCain campaign couldn’t already point to the issue if they so chose.

What do you think?