The 2014 Election Disaster: What Now

 (c) Josh Sager – November 2014

The Results

Last night, the Democrats suffered devastating losses in the 2014 midterm election—not only did they lose the Senate majority, but they also lost seats in the House and several governorships. In the coming two years, we will all suffer the consequences of these losses and there is little that can be done to stop them.

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Currently, we know that the Republicans will have at least 53 seats in the Senate (Louisiana will be doing a run-off), giving them a firm majority. They picked up seats in North Carolina, Colorado, Alaska, and Arkansas. Additionally, they won 15 new House seats, increasing their power in the House to 243 seats, to the Democrats’ 178.

In short, the Republicans now have majorities in both chambers of the legislature and can pass legislation at will. The only thing standing between them and passing legislation will be President Obama’s veto threat.

To further compound this, the Republicans will now have the power to appoint their politicians to powerful committee positions. The Republicans who are entering these positions (usually by raising huge amounts of money from interests involved in that committee) are wholly unqualified. For example, Jim Inhofe, a climate change denier, is going to be running the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. These new Chairmen will have the power to block bills from ever reaching the floor and will have a great deal of impact on what is even voted on (ex. good luck getting something that restricts fracking through Inhofe’s committee).

My Reaction

The average American midterm voter is, apparently, an imbecile. They just voted into power a corrupt group of extremists, lunatics, and fools, who belong to a party that exists to roll back the social progress of the 20th Century. These fools have condemned our country to a terrible few years and may have laid the groundwork for another great recession.

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Over the past four years, the Republicans have paralyzed the federal government and done everything in their power to sabotage the health of the American people in a purely political attempt to destroy the president’s legacy. During this time, they have wasted millions of dollars in pointless attempts to repeal Obamacare, opened numerous investigatory witchhunts (ex. Benghazi), shut down the federal government, precipitated dozens of political hostage crises, and turned even basic housecleaning measured into uphill battles. In a sane world, their reward for this should be for them to be voted out of office and for them to have forfeited their pensions/health care.

Unfortunately, these days of obstruction have just gotten far worse, as the Republicans now have the power to go on the offensive. Instead of just blocking legislation unless the Democrats agree to their demands, they can simply pass their own extremists laws and dare Obama to veto them.

SHUTbagley

For example: they could attach an Obamacare repeal to every budget and highway bill, forcing Obama to choose between shutting down the government by vetoing those bills or accepting the destruction of his signature law. This power isn’t limited to repealing Obamacare, and the Republicans can use it to pass massive tax cuts, deregulate industry (if not the defunding of entire regulatory agencies), cut social programs, attack the rights of women, gays, and minorities, or do any number of reprehensible things.

Unlike in the past, the current Republicans don’t believe in government beyond its ability to kill darker skinned people abroad, lock up darker skinned people domestically, and give out money to the rich, thus there is almost no limit to the damage that they can cause while in power. They don’t worry about shutting down the government, destroying our school systems, letting our infrastructure fall apart or even risking another depression—this gives them the ability to freely take hostages and force things past Obama.

While many will argue that the Senate isn’t lost because the Democrats can simply use the filibuster to block damaging laws, this is a false hope. The filibuster is a Senate rule that can be changed by the whim of the majority and, unlike the Democrats, the Republicans will have no qualms eliminating it.

My Predictions

First, I predict that the Republicans will begin by eliminating the filibuster and consolidating power within their own party under its corporatist branch.—this is simply a function of them having the most money. The religious extremists will be placated with promises of ending abortion and attacking gay rights, while the neocons will be promised increased defense funding.

After eliminating the filibuster, the Republicans will begin attaching riders to necessary legislation (the bills that cannot easily be filibustered, like the NDAA or the budget) in both the House and Senate, passing it into law. There will be some fighting over whether these bills should be extreme-right wing or psychotic right wing, but I think that this will end quickly as the Republicans get impatient to start passing laws.

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Some of the things that we will see attached to these bill include: Tax cuts on the rich, the repeal of Obamacare, the deregulation of polluting industries and the financial sector, abortion restrictions, cuts to welfare programs (ex. SNAP, heating assistance, etc.) and the transformation of certain federal programs into block grants and vouchers.

When Obama vetos these extremist bills, he will be attacked by the Republicans as shutting down the government and being a dictator, while the Fox News echo chamber stirs up the “controversy.” Unless the Democrats get on message and explain what is happening, this could result in a PR disaster if Obama is blamed.

Additionally, I think that it is very likely that the Republicans will now push for impeachment of Obama, either because of his immigration stances or over his use of executive actions. While there is no chance that the Republicans will be able to convict him in the Senate (they would need a super-majority), they will harp away at this issue to no end in an attempt to convince the American people that the Democrats are evil.

In real policy terms, I have several predictions:

  1. A “Grand Bargain” will be passed that combines tax cuts for the rich and the promise of reducing loopholes with “entitlement reforms” (read: cuts). Obama tried to get this in the past, but the Democrats didn’t play along. If the Republicans are sane and willing to take 80% of what they demand at no real cost, they will make such a bargain without demanding anything that Obama cannot accept politically (ex. repealing Obamacare) and send it to Obama to sign. It will pass, even if the Democrats don’t get on board.
  2. The Keystone XL pipeline will be approved. While Obama looks to have held strong on this issue, I doubt that he has the will to risk any real conflict over this issue. If given a choice between approving the pipeline or vetoing an important bill, Obama will fold just as he did with closing Gitmo (he refused to veto the NDAA over that issue).
  3. Regulations on petrochemicals and financial institutions will be eviscerated. These are major GOP donors (and, to a lesser degree Democratic donors) and I predict that the GOP will make cutting regulations on these industries a top priority so that they can pay back their benefactors (and ensure support in future elections).
  4. Strict anti-abortion laws will be put forward and, unless Obama fights back strongly, passed into law. These laws will likely violate the Constitution and will be challenged in court, precipitating legal cases that could possibly reach the Supreme Court.

In a worst case scenario, the austerity pushed on the poor reduces their buying power, thus reducing demand for goods—this causes a decrease in available jobs and starts a demand-side spiral. While this happens, the banks restart their casino capitalist betting ring and start creating more speculative bubbles. Eventually these speculative bubbles pop and the economy receives a sharp blow, that further exacerbates the growing job crises and initiates a repeat of the 2008 economic crisis. The erosion of the tax base caused by tax cuts and wars, combined with political obstruction, then creates a situation where it is impossible to stabilize the banks in time, and the entire country falls back into a recession. Then, to add insult to injury, the GOP begins blaming Obama for the crash and using it to convince the lemmings that they are the solution to big bad Obama’s economic failures.

48 thoughts on “The 2014 Election Disaster: What Now

  1. Ugh, I can’t believe these people… I was afraid to vote because with college and everything I hadn’t the time to research. Maybe I should have just blindly voted for everything Democrat, but with such a majority it feels like it would have been useless anyway.

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  2. Well, I don’t think the situation is as dire as it seems. For starters, if you look at the map the GOP gains were in states that traditionally go to the GOP but were flipped to Obama in 2006. I am talking about the Senate which has 6 year terms. The Dem states, for the most part, stayed Dem, the one exception being Colorado. 2016 will be a different story.
    What I find fascinating is that in some of these states (like Alaska for example) where a minimum wage was on the ballot the people voted to increase the minimum wage, yet voted for the candidate who OPPOSED the minimum wage.
    What does this tell us? I know in the Congressional race in my district (NY-23) the incumbent GOPer acted like a moderate . While he voted with the Tea Party 75% of the time and voted to privatize Social Security, he sent out flyers and ran on his SUPPORT for SS. He never mentioned his Tea Party affiliation and acted like a moderate. I think this was true in many cases.
    You did not see the GOP senate candidates run as extreme right wingers, even though many of them had a past of right wing voting and beliefs. All of a sudden they became moderates.They have learned to tone it down to get elected. We shall see how they act in Congress.
    Sometimes things have to get worse before people wake up. Despite the voter suppression the fact is that many people don’t vote who could have voted. The real victory for the GOP has been convincing people that government is bad and does not work . When they have power they prove it. They have succeeded in getting people to believe that “all politicians are alike”. They aren’t.
    Perhaps it is time to let the GOP implement their agenda. Take away abortion rights. Privatize SS. Destroy Medicare. Shut down the Department of Education. Stifle the EPA. Drill and pollute the ground water. Continue to tax the poor while cutting taxes on the Koch Brothers.
    Of course, they won’t do that. (Except for the taxes and drilling part). And Mr Obama , who is a moderate, will be able to give them some of what they want. It will be interesting to see if he has the guts to use the veto pen. It is his obligation, but I question his internal fortitude.

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    • I agree with you that the right wing will often talk progressive at the end of a campaign and that the American people agree with us (I broke this down by issue in the following article: http://www.salon.com/chromeo/article/gops_30_year_spin_job_is_over_why_we_are_not_a_center_right_nation/ ) but that is irrelevant as to what is about to happen.

      If the GOP is allowed to implement their agenda from behind the wall of money and gerrymandering, they could easily do so much structural damage before the people wake up that the harm to our country would be permanent. If they manage to destroy the schools, a generation of children will grow up incapable of competing internationally’ similarly, the destruction of our jobs market causes even more plants to move abroad, set up, and not come back even if things get better (they have sunk costs); finally, climate change isn’t waiting for an awakening and the damage will become irreversible if we wait even another 10 years to get serious–literally millions will die every year.

      Beyond all of that, how hard do you think it will be for the right wing and their billionaire backers to convince the population that the Democrats are at fault (it is Obama’s term after all)?

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  3. I will remind you that the Republicans won because they received the majority of support from THE VOTERS. If the Democrats were so great, then why were so many voters eager to get rid of them? Just deal with it. Don’t expect things to improve overnight, the Republicans have a big job ahead of them repairing the damage of the last 6 years.

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    • “The voters” consisted of approximately 1/3 of the total population, weighted heavily towards older white people. If every American voted, the GOP would be annihilated. Yes, the Democrats suck, but that is because they have been pulled to the right so far that they are now the Republicans from the late 20th Century. That said, the current GOP is simply insane and no informed and rational person could ever vote for them.

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      • If every American voted, the GOP would have still won, but by a historic landslide. At least we can agree that the current Democrats suck.

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  4. Joe Citizen. Yes, the majority DID vote for the GOP this time. Just as the majority voted for OBAMA in 2008 and 2012. Tell me, did the GOP say that the “voters had spoken” in 2008? Or did they say: Make him fail ? And if you want to talk about “damage” we can start with the two wars inherited by Obama (to the tune of over $ 1,000,000,000 lost) as well as the Great Recession and housing market collapse. the products of the GOP demands for “deregulation”.That was quite an “inheritance”. It has taken us 6 years to recover. Yes, ALL economic indicators for the last 6 months or so point to that recovery.

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  5. Josephurban, could you explain why the majority voted for the GOP? It would seem that the Democrats dropped the ball and disappointed a whole lot of people. Just like Clinton in 1992, Obama got elected twice because he got the majority of votes even though he did not have the approval of the majority of the voters. Conservatives have always outnumbered liberals. Unfortunately, conservatives sometimes become over confident and don’t believe that they can loose. This may cause some of them to make the mistake of not voting since the don’t feel that their vote is needed. If anything positive comes from the Obama experience is that at least conservatives have learned that they can not let their guard down during election time and just assume that everyone will do the right thing and vote conservative. Enjoy your illusion while you can, it is inevitable that you too will become a conservative some day.

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    • Well, Joe, here is my take. First, the GOP has spent 6 years doing everything they can to make the POTUS fail. When you say “Democrats dropped the ball” I am not sure what you mean. For the last 4 years the GOP has blocked every Democratic measure,. Are you trying to suggest that the Dems have had their way the last 4 years ? Really? Is it the Dems who shut down the government? The 2 years the Dems did cooperate with Obama this country got a great deal of good work done…health care..pulling out of wars…stem cell research..environmental protections..a consumer protection agency…raising the minimum wage for the first time on over 20 years….
      You say Obama got elected twice with the majority of votes even though he did not have the approval of the majority of the voters ? Really? So voters who opposed Obama voted for him ? That does not make sense. Or maybe that means that while the GOP got the majority of votes in 2014 the majority of voters don’t approve of the GOP ? They voted for the GOP but secretly support the Dems?
      I love the last line in your statement. You may be sure i will never become a neocon. When I was a kid, with very little life experience, I was enamored of Any Rand. Then I grew up, saw the realities of living in a society and began to understand how systems operate. Now that I am retired I really doubt that I will suddenly start to support an ideology that wants to take away Social Security, Medicare, food for young’uns, destroy the environment, keep working people underpaid and keep “certain types ” people from going to the polls. Nope, I am stuck in liberalism since I have been around long enough to see what happens when “conservatives” take control of government. Perhaps one day, however, you will come over from the dark side . LOL
      I do appreciate your comments, though. I think it is important to keep a dialogue open between folks of difffernt political views, don’t you ?

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      • Ironically, you are like Ayn Rand in that regard–she took Mediacare and Social Security when she retired because she hadn’t found a way to save up enough just to live on savings. Don’t be too hard on Joe though, he is just too indoctrinated to see the truth on almost any issue and arguing with him as he is right now is the intellectual equivalent to getting into a boxing match with a quadriplegic.

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      • Clinton received the majority of votes that were cast because Ross Perot pulled enough conservative votes away from George H.W Bush in 1992. In 1992, only 61% of Americans voted. Clinton received 43% of the votes, Bush received 37.5% and Perot received 18.9%. Bush would have received 56.1%. In 1996, only 54% of Americans voted. Clinton received 49.2%, Bob Dole 40.7% and Perot 8.4%. Dole was just too old. He would probably have made a fine Commander In Chief, but the voters tend to like the younger candidate. Plus you also have to consider the voters who chose not to cast a ballot. Yes, I realize that there is no proof that they would have voted for Bush or Dole. However, there is proof that they did not want to vote for Clinton.

        In 2008 and 2012, voter turnout was at approximately 58%. In 2008, Obama received 52% and McCain received 45.7%. Many people who wanted McCain to win probably didn’t vote because they didn’t believe that Obama had a chance. In 2012, Obama received 51.1% and Romney 47.2%. I personally was not a Romney fan. I thought he seemed arrogant. Again, you have to wonder about those 42% that decided not to vote. You must also not overlook the people who vote, but have no strong support for either party, don’t care about a candidates qualifications and just vote for someone because of their age, appearance or because that is who their friends are voting for.

        Open dialogue is important. Sorry that this last election didn’t go your way.

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      • “Getting into a boxing match with a quadriplegic?” How long have you been saving that one? That is an interesting analogy since it is the Democrats who have become paralyzed and the Republicans are now wearing the boxing gloves. You might want to consider throwing in the towel.

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  6. If all your speculations are correct then why is Obama unpopular right now.

    Unending debt is the dream of both parties. And Republicans didn’t cause the Ebola crisis.

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  7. I’m cynical about all politicians. The hyperbole eventually deflates. People who thought they would be getting free health care wake up with a Bronze plan and a $10,000 deductible. People who expected to keep their homes sleep outside banks offering low interest loans. That’s the 2014 reality, not the 2008 promises. An empty trick-or-treat bag.

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  8. I’m also enough of a cynic to know that Republicans will accomplish little if any of the things you fear. America lives on debt. Very few Americans have equity stakes in it. Our current economic “recovery” depends on federal borrowing. If the Republicans tamper with that we’ll get another Obama. Will Blago be out of prison and office-ready by 2016? Oh…I forgot. Quinn’s available.

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  9. My home state of OR is still solidly blue. When I was a kid it wasn’t, but at that time Portland was a small trade and manufacturing center. A Western Cleveland. Now that’s all gone and it’s decayed into Portlandia. Now we make bicycle caps and donuts. The current politicians are saprophytes feeding on the decay.

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  10. Most of the Portlandians that can afford it are what the French call bobos – bourgeois bohemians – which produces no end of jokes on Portlandia. The ones that serve them donuts and drinks aren’t so lucky, and while they’re the working class they’re not the second coming of the IWW. The I has gone to China leaving small unstable service jobs. They’re living on the scraps that the Progressive bobos throw them. They all reliably vote blue and root for the Ducks.

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  11. Excellent predictions. Americans and others will experience devastating results from extreme ideological overreach — and then the pendulum will swing back a little. We will live with their Orwellian governance the rest of our lives.

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  12. Joe Citizen. I guess I do not understand your point about the different voting statistics. Clinton won. He got more votes than his opponents. Obama won. I am not sure what that has to do with anything. And you forgot to mention that Al Gore had over 400,000 more votes than GW Bush yet failed to win due to the Electoral College set up.
    I do like your point, however, that ALL presidents are elected by the minority of citizens. Why do so many folks not vote ? They feel that the government will not do anything for them ? They are somehow prevented by various government techniques? This is one area in which , if they wanted to, the government COULD raise the percentage of voters. But that is another ball of wax.
    Bottom line, the GOP now has the votes in Congress. Let us see if they take action or continue to stifle action.

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    • In the 2000 election, only 54.2% of voters actually voted. It was the fourth election in US history where the winner didn’t win the popular vote. George Bush had over 3,000,000 more votes than Kerry had in 2004 with 60.1% voter turnout.

      Barrack Obama started his political career as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004. Prior to that, he was a civil rights attorney. In 2004, Obama was elected to the Senate where he only served one term before being elected president.

      John McCain on the other hand, served in the Vietnam War as a U.S Navy pilot and was a prisoner of war in Hanoi from 1967 to 1973. He then retired from the Navy in 1981 at the rank of Captain. McCain was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, served two terms and then elected to the Senate in 1986 where he still serves.

      Clearly, McCain was much more experienced and qualified. However, too many people voted in 2008 without thinking. Too bad. We can only dream of what might have been.

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  13. jsager. Regarding SS . You know, if not for SS my parents would not have been able to live independently in their old age. Between that and subsidized housing ( and the generosity of my brother and his wife) they were able to live the “golden years” in dignity and safety. Can you imagine the GOP-lead congress implementing a program like SS today ? I can’t.

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  14. I actually think this election is good, first it punishes the sell-out Democrats, and secondly the suicidal nihilsm of the Republican party might alienate the American people enough to really make them (the Republcians) pay in the long term. The system seems to be at an all time low point and if another catastrophic governmnet failure happens it might finally convince Americans they need meaningful reform. I see it as a win win situation, also I don’t think you can call the American people dumb, I don’t think they liked Republicans so mcuh as they were just trying to stick it to Obama and the ruling pary. His second term has been nothing but scandals, the cylce of American politics repeats, the popularity of the ruling party decliens and the country swings the other way, I don’t see how this is any different (or dumber), the Democrats have been tainted with guilt by association, hence them trying to distance themselves from their own incumbent in order to save their seats.

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  15. Joe Citizen…back to McCain ? McCain lost to Obama for two basic reasons. 1. He was in favor of widening the Iraq conflict. Obama was in favor of following the agreements made by Bush with the Iraqis and pulling out. McCain was quite explicit about widening the war and staying in Iraq indefinitely. That would have been a financial and political disaster. 2. McCain selected that dingbat Palin as his running mate. She was shallow, childish and certainly frightening when you think she would be one heartbeat away from the presidency. That showed McCain’s lack of sound judgement. After all, the first decision the POTUS makes is his or her running mate.
    Despite his experience, McCain made two crucial blunders which really called into question his ability to make sound decisions.
    (And I forgot, 3. He wanted to do nothing to solve the recession. He was open to letting the auto companies go under, which would have been a national economic disaster.)

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    • Do you think that if McCain had widened the conflict in Iraq back then that there might be more stability in that region now? He might have prevented the rise of ISIS. I do have to agree that Palin wasn’t the best choice for a running mate. Although she did have prior experience as both a mayor and a governor.

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  16. What is far more puzzling than McCain’s loss to Obama is that Obama was the choice and not Hillary. Or Harry Reid. Or Joe Biden. By selecting the least qualified candidate in an election which was a foreordained Democratic victory, the 2014 debacle became inevitable. Personal politics hurts party objectives.

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    • Obama has likely committed impeachable offenses in regard to the drone war, but that wouldn’t be the target of any realistic attempt to impeach–they are only likely to support some BS executive overreach charges.

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    • Well, unless you support a benevolent dictatorship or technocracy, there will always be another election. Politics is a matter of perpetually pushing forward in a positive direction while holding the ground that you have already won so that society doesn’t backslide.

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    • It’s all part of a cycle. There was a time when the Republicans were considered the liberals such as when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation or when Aaron Sargent (a Republican senator from California if you can believe it) introduced what would become the foundation for the 19th Amendment (right to vote). Today, many consider the Republicans to be war mongers and unconcerned with civil rights and forgot (or never bothered to learn) about the Democratic Party’s history of affiliation with the KKK and how Presidents Kennedy and Johnson escalated the involvement of the US in the Vietnam War. Johnson did sign the Civil Rights Acts, but only after several riots.

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  17. The Republicans have the usual reasons for impeachment but they’re not rising to the bait. They’ll bide their time and watch the vetoes pile up.

    It’s time for Democrats to extend a hand across the aisle and write the impeachment articles. They have different needs but the blue dogs should be able to find a common cause. It will get worse.

    Not having an attorney general for 2 years wouldn’t be so bad. Harry better hurry up! Last chance!

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  18. The impeachment talk is just silly. Read the Constitution. The GOP knows they have no impeachable offenses, but it excites their gullible followers. Let us not forget that the Congress gave the POTUS a blank check under the war resolution to go after “terrorists” anywhere, at anytime. They also gave the POTUS a blank check to do the same domestically under the misnamed “Patriot Act”. In other words, they gave Bush whatever he wanted and now are crying “impeachment” when Obama uses the powers they handed over legally. Slow learners.

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  19. Almost all the talk about impeachment has been by Democrats. People saw that it was just scaremongering, like the Republicans being the cause of the Ebola epidemic in Africa. This is wag the dog stuff. Kerry fell for similar mischief regarding Swift boats in 2004. If it works it’s hit-and-run but the Democrats have belabored the pretended impeachment for months.

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  20. And given Obama’s popularity I don’t think very many felt anything more than wishing him gone anyway. Obama is way
    too much of a drama queen. Biden is a better alternative at this point in time.

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  21. Talking about repeating cycles, Obama has a lot in common with Nixon. Both are sensitive egotists, overly melodramatic, similar secretiveness, and politically savvy tough guys. Nixon accomplished a lot more, winding the Vietnam war down and setting up the current economic scenario (for better or worse). Both have major scandals and debacles on their watches. Nixon did the right thing and resigned in face of probable impeachment. It’s time Obama did the right thing too, for good of party and his legacy.

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  22. Nixon “winding the Vietnam War down”. LOL Talk about rewriting history. Nixon ESCALATED the war, increased bombing and even widened the war by bombing and destabilizing across the border into Cambodia. He was elected in 1968…the last US troops pulled out in 1973. What’s next, FDR started WW2? One good thing Nixon did do, that the current reactionaries are trying to undo, is establish some regulations about pollution to reign in the unregulated corporations. Ever hear of the EPA?

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  23. Ah the good old days. They didn’t call him Tricky Dick for nothing. He followed the pattern of escalation established by his predecessors, found a bigger mess on his hands, and started scaling it back. Like Afghanistan and Iraq it’s hard to throw the war machine into reverse.

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  24. Joe Citizen. Yes, Nixon escalated the war. The link you cite (from the US State Department) fails to mention some important facts. Remember, Nixon was elected in 1968 on the promise that he had a “secret plan” to end the war. It remained “secret” for some time. The US did not pull out its last troops until 1973, 5 years later. (I suggest Stanley Karnow’s book as the best researched, concise and respected overall discussion of the history and politics of the time)
    While Nixon gradually reduced troop employment over his years as POTUS, he EXTENDED the conflict. He ordered the secret and illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos, further destabilizing this region and leading to the take over by Pol Pot. While denying this illegal activity was going on at the time, the Pentagon Papers outlined much of this activity. That was an ESCALATION and widening of the conflict.
    Second, when the negotiations were not going as expected Nixon ordered the widespread bombing of 2 civilian populations, Hanoi and Haiphong.The first time the US had ordered bombing of civilians since WW2. This also was an escalation of the conflict.. (And like the Nazi attempt to bomb London into submission, it only made the North Vietnamese even more determined to win the war)
    In the end the US and foreign troops had to pull out. Similar to Iraq. Similar to Afghanistan. Seems as though POTUSES never learn .And while Congress (both parties) seem unable to solve problems at homethey are always more than willing to “spread democracy” with bombs elsewhere.

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    • The war still ended under Nixon’s watch. Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960 by just .1%. Had Nixon won in 1960, then Johnson would have never became president and maybe the U.S. would never have become involved in the Vietnam War.

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  25. Nixon was a minority party president doing the bidding of Congressional jingos. The Democratic Party had a proud heritage dating to Wilson. Nixon changed that. By shifting blame for Vietnam to him (historical revisionism at work), the Democrats separated from their heritage as War Party. Those who put on the mantle of JFK often forget the Bay of Pigs.

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  26. Once separated from this issue the Democrats became sitting ducks for decades. McCarthy, McGovern, Mondale were not popular with the Democratic core of WWII veterans and workers vested in building planes, bombs and ships. This Silent Majority shifted party allegiance for a generation. The Democrats have never had as strong a single issue as they had as WWII victory party.

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  27. Gotta love the straw man. No one to my knowledge has ever “shifted the blame” for Vietnam to Nixon. Who ever suggested that ? Everyone knows that LBJ was forced out office precisely because his own party refused to back him on the growing war in Vietnam. It was LBJ’s baby. However, Nixon had an opportunity to pull out (as he had promised in his run for the office), but failed to do so. It does not take 5 years to pullout of a war. So, the war then became Nixon’s responsibility…and the albatross around his neck. LBJ tried to buy off the NV, Nixon tried to bomb them into submission. Both failed.
    The 20th century Dems (post Wilson) succeeded in providing an economic security net…SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, public housing….which even today functions as the most impressive social contract for all Americans. This was not done by Wilson. It was done by FDR, JFK and LBJ with the cooperation of a moderate-to-liberal Congress.
    The Dems lost the south when the northern Democrats insisted on the Voting Rights Act and other legislation that has lead to a lessening of inequality and racism. The Dems of the south, with a long tradition of racism, then fled the party and became part of Nixon and Reagan’s “southern strategy”…an overt appeal to racism to get votes. It has worked.
    The party of Lincoln has become the party of racism…the party of Wilson (an avowed racist) has become the party of freedom. This often happens in politics when political mechanisms are changed but party names are not.
    That is why it is incorrect to suggest that the Dems and GOP today are the same as the Dems and GOP of 150 or even 50 years ago. Foe example, does anyone today really think that a GOP candidate today would demand a law creating an EPA? Nixon did.

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  28. I’d argue that Neil Young wrote the defining blame-shifting anthem…by 1970 the protestors put Nixon’s face on the war. That’s what I remember from back in the day too.

    Nixon’s economic shifts are something we continue to live with, for better or worse. As I understand it, the abrogation of Bretton Woods, which put us on a purely fiat dollar, was done to pay for Vietnam. Opening diplomatic relations with China was arguably another gambit to end the war. I’m doubtful that any Democrat would have done this at the time.

    As the WWII generation faded away the Democrats built a much more diverse base. Effective for sure but not the monolithic voter bloc they once had.

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  29. I’m musing on all this trying to understand whether Obama’s drop in popularity represents a historic shift (like Truman’s hard-won yet useless second term) or if its just a temporary glitch. Holding a base of voters hungry for entitlements becomes more difficult if the banks get the gravy and they get the gristle. They become discouraged and don’t turn out. This is not because of a Republican conspiracy to deprive them of voting rights. Cynicism explains the situation better than being paranoid.

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