Archive for March, 2012
There are few things that are more difficult to shake than labels. In the political realm especially, when a label seems accurate, or feels like it fits the narrative of a candidate or campaign, labels can be deadly. In the 2004 presidential election, Republicans successfully stuck Democratic nominee John Kerry with the label of “flip-flopper,” and it hurt him in the election. In this presidential election cycle, Texas governor Rick Perry was labeled as, for lack of a better word, unprepared. Everything that Perry did over the course of the campaign began to be viewed through that lens.
One of the most often-used epithets thrown around by politicians is the phrase “carpetbagger,” meaning someone who moves to an area with the idea that the person moved specifically to run for office somewhere that he or she believes is winnable. In 2004, conservative activist Alan Keyes decided to run for the United States senate from Illinois, despite never having lived in the state. Keyes defended himself against these critics due to the strange nature of the race. The Republican nominee dropped out with the race well underway, and Keyes claimed he felt a sense of obligation to run, after being asked to do so by the state GOP. Keyes ended up with 27% of the vote against Democrat Barack Obama. In 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton ran for the U.S. Senate from the state of New York, and faced similar charges of carpetbagging. Clinton was born and raised in Illinois, attended college in Massachusetts, and was the wife of the governor of Arkansas. While never having lived in NY before 1999, Clinton managed to win 55% of the vote against Republican Rick Lazio.
With all that in mind, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s possible move to Washington state is all the more interesting. Kucinich recently lost a primary fight for his recently redistricted seat in Congress, and is mulling over his options. Kucinich supporters believe that his particular brand of aggressive liberalism will draw find a welcome home in Washington. As a result of redistricting following the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, Ohio lost two seats in Congress, while Washington’s growth caused the state to pick up an additional seat.
There have been politicians in the past who have lost their primary battles, only to continue on as “independent” candidates in the general election. Joe Lieberman lost a primary battle in 2006, only to be elected that November as a member of the “Connecticut for Lieberman” party. In 2010, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski lost a primary battle, only to continue on and win in the general election after waging a campaign as a write-in candidate. While these candidates seem to have thrown the typical rules aside in order to stay in office, but moving across the country is not typically something we see. Kucinich’s apparent willingness to uproot and run for office thousands of miles away was used against him by his opponent, Marcy Kaptur (a sitting Congresswoman from Ohio). As members of the House of Representatives are distributed throughout the country on the basis of population, Representatives are supposed to be more available and accessible to their constituents, and represent them more closely. A Senator has to represent the views of everyone in a state (which are typically more varied), while Representatives have to represent the needs of much smaller districts (which tend to be more ideologically polarized).
It is still an open question as to whether or not Kucinich will make the move to the Pacific Northwest, let alone whether or not Washingtonians would choose to send a man currently representing Ohioans to Congress to represent them going forward. As far as political sideshows go, this promises to be an entertaining one if it moves forward.
As today’s “Google Doodle” celebrates, today is International Women’s Day. While different groups around the globe have picked different “themes” for this year’s commemoration, overall the day is an opportunity to focus on the millions of women around the world who have struggled, and to focus on ending violence on women and working to achieve gender equality.
While I highly recommend looking into ways you can get involved, possibly checking out the United Nation’s Women’s Day site, or that of the European Union. Of course, there is also InternationalWomensDay.com, which, unsurprisingly, has a lot of information about today. I also would urge you to check out the good work being done by the folks over at EMILY’s List, and the National Organization for Women.
I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have had really remarkable women in my life. I am constantly moved and inspired by the work they do, and the sort of widely-accepted institutionalized gender-bias in our world which they have had to overcome. Why not take a minute today to think about what would happen, for instance, if a leading candidate for President suggested that medicine 99% of men take is “harmful for society”.
I’ll just leave you with this quote, just in case you somehow think there’s no such thing as institutionalized prejudice against women in modern society:
“[Y]ou can’t show a topless woman on TV – and you can’t defibrillate a woman in a bra. So victims of heart attacks on TV are *always* male. Did you know that a woman having a heart attack is more likely to have back or jaw pain than chest or left arm pain? I didn’t – because I’ve never seen a woman having a heart attack. I’ve been trained in CPR and Advanced First Aid by the Red Cross over 15 times in my life, the videos and booklets always have a guy and say the same thing about clutching his chest and/or bicep.
And people laugh when I tell them women are still invisible in this world.” – Caroline Sharp
Today would be a great day to send in that donation to Planned Parenthood you’ve been meaning to get around to!
Maine’s senior senator, Olympia Snowe, announced on Monday that she would not be seeking a fourth term. Snowe was seen as one of the few moderate Republicans left in the Senate, alongside fellow Mainer Susan Collins, and, to some extent, Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Some Democrats see the change in Maine as a good opportunity to pick up a seat previously barred from them. In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain in the state by 18 points. Maine often leans Democratic in presidential elections, but has been represented in the United States Senate since 1995. Maine is home to many independent voters, who pride themselves on their independence from the two major political parties.
Snowe’s departure from the Senate leaves Collins and Brown as the two lone Republicans willing to cross party-lines on certain issues. While occasionally there are votes that have majority support from both parties in the Senate, more often than not, votes come down to party line votes. Without moderates in each party willing to work with members of the other party, it is likely that there will only be more gridlock in Congress, as more partisan Senators replace those who were more moderate.
Olympia Snowe has been one of the most prominent female politicians in the United States, and is the second longest-serving female member of Congress, behind Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. Snowe was listed by Time as one of the 10 best Senators of 2006, the only female Senator to make the list. Snowe’s tenure as Maine’s senior Senator was marked by her close connection to her constituents, making the trip back to her home state nearly every weekend to visit with Mainers to see what was on their minds. Snowe’s eye on working for her constituents may have been one of the reasons why she was so successful in the state, winning her two re-election campaigns in 2000 and 2006 by 37 and 54 percentage points, respectively.
Senator Snowe was the favorite to win the seat in the fall, and while the highly charged partisan nature of the current poetical climate is not directly responsible for her decision to retire from the Senate (i.e. being primaried out of a job), the tone of the debate and the demonizing of moderation and compromise is certainly a factor. Other Senators from both parties could take a page from Senator Snowe’s book, working to serve the needs of their own constituents rather than pandering to national organizations that benefit from ideological polarization and general negative campaigning.
Yesterday was the Super Tuesday of the GOP nomination race, with ten states holding contests on the same day. While not much changed as a result of yesterday’s contests, since Super Tuesday is one of the high holy days of the political junky calendar, it seems worthwhile to explain why nothing particularly changed this week.
Out of the ten contests, Newt Gingrich won one state, Georgia, which by all accounts he had to hold onto in order to somewhat legitimize his presence in the race for the nomination. Georgia is Gingrich’s original home state, though he currently resides in Virginia. Gingrich has been polling well in southern states, and with his wins in South Carolina and Georgia Newt is now in second place in the estimated delegate counts.
Rick Santorum, who had been leading in national polls over the last few weeks, met (but did not exceed) expectations last night, winning North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Santorum’s showing in Tuesday’s races was enough to keep him going, but not enough to really do any damage to consistent “man to beat,” Mitt Romney.
Speaking of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor won in all the states he had to in order to not be humiliated. Romney won his home state of Massachusetts, Vermont (Romney has consistently been seen as the only candidate with a hold on New England), and Virginia (where the only two names on the ballot were Mitt Romney and Ron Paul). After a long rough night for the Romney campaign, the hits came hard, with wins in Alaska, Idaho, and a very close score in Ohio. Ohio was the big prize of the night, though Romney won’t be walking away with the entire slate of delegates from the state.
The end result from Tuesday’s races is that the race is in pretty much the same state it was on Monday. Romney is still on track to win the nomination in the long run, though Santorum and Gingrich both will be able to stay in the race, stay funded, and pick up delegates on the path to the convention. All that Tuesday’s contests solidified was that this contest will keep going for some time. Santorum is strong with social conservatives and evangelicals, but loses support with more moderate blue-collar voters when the spotlight stays on his social views as it has over the past few weeks.
Current delegate count, according to NBC news: Romney 335, Gingrich 111, Santorum 107, Paul 29