Many Democrats want to use new power in Congress to investigate the Bush Administration. I’m not opposed to all possible investigations, but I’m not certain what we’ll gain.
After six years, people know what they think about Bush. Nothing short of a revelation that Bush has been working with aliens to use humans as food will change minds.
The 2006 election seemed to turn on the War in Iraq, economic insecurity and Washington ethics. People voted for Democrats expecting change in policy and change in how government operates. Fighting past battles is not change.
Democrats may wish to focus on one or two important investigations. Much more and the impression will be that Democrats are vindictive and not worrying about everyday concerns. Congressional investigations are quite often political acts. Republicans paid when they were seen as ganging up on President Clinton. Democrats should not make the same mistake.
It’s already clear George W. Bush is a bad and unethical President. Our efforts must be directed towards worrying about the post-Bush era.
I’ve made a $25 donation to the national Green Party. I did this despite my regret for having voted for the erratic Ralph Nader in 2000 and despite the failure of the Texas Green Party to grow as a third party force.
I do support Democrats. In 2006 I made donations to the Harris County Democratic Party, the Texas Democratic Party and to my local ill-fated U.S. House candidate. I donated to the state party despite my suspicion that they don’t do very much.
I gave to the Greens because I want options. I don’t trust Democrats to address global warming, the problems of big cities or job and wage concerns linked to globalization. I don’t want to be used by Democrats in the same way they use black voters.
At the moment Greens don’t appear to be making electoral progress. At least not in Houston or in Texas. As I recall, in 1998 Greens were on the Texas ballot in at least two races where no Democrat ran. In 2006, no statewide Green candidate was on the ballot.
Still, you never know when a third party will force one of the major parties to finally take action on the most important issues. We must have options.
USA Today reports Hispanic voters went strong for Democrats in 2006. This is good news here in Houston, in Texas and everywhere else.
Exit polls show only 30% of Hispanics voted for Republicans. This was down from 44% in 2004. While it can’t be said for certain, it is quite possible that conservative Republican attacks on immigrants played a part in the poor GOP showing among Hispanics.
Now it is up to Hispanic voters to make Democrats earn their ongoing support. This doesn’t mean Democrats must agree with any certain set of demands. What it means is that Democrats must pursue policies that benefit working people and must avoid a reflexive economic populism that blames people from abroad for our problems at home.
In return, Hispanic voters owe themselves and their country increased voter turnout and steady political involvement beyond media-friendly protests.
Nobody is entitled to anything. Democrats and Hispanics must learn to trust each other and to deliver for each other. These are goals consistent with good politics and consistent with good policy for the entire nation.
Far-right French politician Jean Marie Le Pen is once again running well in the polls as the 2007 French Presidential election approaches. Le Pen was one of the final two candidates in the 2002 French election. He is profiting from the anxiety of French working people about immigrants and job security.
National Public Radio reports Le Pen is making gains in some towns that once voted heavily for Socialists.
People will vote for who they think will deliver and for who they feel is speaking for them. Just because someone has been voting for one party for a long time doesn’t that person is a committed partisan.
Just like in the United States, mainstream French parties of both the left and right have not been able to stop industry from moving abroad. Left-leaning parties around the industrialized world have reason to fear the loss of working class support over issues of immigration and job loss.
Much of the attention given to the French election has focused on the fact the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal was photographed in a bikini. Nothing can match that. Hopefully, however, the ongoing inability of established political structures across Europe to successfully confront globalization will at least emerge as a competing storyline.
I’m taking a Thanksgiving break from this blog. You should get off the computer as well and take a walk or read a book or go talk to family and/or friends.
The platform of the 1940 Republican Convention called for an equal rights amendment for women to be added to the Constitution. The convention, held in
Philadelphia, nominated Wendell Willkie for President.
The specific platform language used was—“We favor submission by Congress to the states an amendment to the Constitution providing for equal rights for men and women.”
Republican platform support such an amendment remained through the 1976 convention. It was the 1980 convention that nominated Ronald Reagan which turned its back on the amendment.
The time to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment of the 1970’s ended in 1982. At that point, 35 of the required 38 states had ratified the ERA. Most of the states which did not ratify the ERA were Southern states. The most notable exception from outside the South was Illinois.
Some hold the amendment is still a live issue and if three more states sign-on it will be ratified. That’s an issue for the courts and for a more favorable political climate.
One thing is more certain—One of the many causalities of modern far-right Republican politics was a longstanding commitment to equality for women.
Many people skip the holiday cooking and eat out on Thanksgiving Day. I often eat Thanksgiving Dinner at a seafood place with a view of the ocean in Galveston, Texas. That restaurant is always full.
If you eat out on Thanksgiving Day, please be certain to tip your server at a time-and-a-half rate. If you normally tip 18%, you should consider leaving 27% on Thanksgiving Day.
Your server is working a holiday. He or she should be paid at the same time-and-a-half rate you would expect for working a holiday.
If you stop at your local convenience store on Thanksgiving, maybe you could buy the person who rings you up a $1 scratch-off ticket. The person behind the counter is working a holiday and should be recognized for doing so.
We can’t respect our own work until we respect all work. People working a holiday might well rather be with family or friends. Treat such people with courtesy and offer up the money that you would hope for in the same circumstance.
The small town of Farmers Branch, Texas has passed new laws concerning illegal immigrants. Farmers Branch is a suburb of Dallas. Under the new rules, landlords will not be allowed to rent to undocumented people, police will be trained to enforce federal immigration laws and English will become the official language of the town.
It is easy to condemn people supporting these laws in Farmers Branch as racists. It is quite possible that some people in Farmers Branch are racists. Another likely scenario is that people in Farmers Branch see their community changing and are concerned about job security and wages. Neither major political party has made any serious effort to provide leadership on these issues.
We should not let the people of Farmers Branch off the hook. If the people of Farmers Branch don’t like illegals, they should demand that local employers who use illegals fire the workers, raise prices and pass the costs on to locals.
That said, folks in Farmers Branch need guidance and help just like anybody else. They know that so far they are being left to fend for themselves against global forces way beyond the resources of a small town. They have plenty of reason to suspect that both Democrats and Republicans are selling them down the river.
The lame duck Congress has, for the moment at least, killed a trade agreement with Vietnam. Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the failure of the deal.
If the newly-elected House majority thinks killing trade agreements is going to help American workers, they are leading the people nowhere. Trade agreements must be fair—Yet we are making a mistake by ignoring problems at home.
Vietnam is not the issue.
Nobody in Vietnam has anything to do with the low test scores American kids post in science, math, reading and in many other subjects as well. Nobody in Vietnam has cast a spell stopping your kid from picking up a book to read.
I hope Democrats have a plan beyond blaming people far away for our failings right here in America.
Voters in big cities in the United States usually elect Democrats to govern. Sometimes they don’t get much in return for this loyal support. A good example can be found in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In Cincinnati, the Democratic majority on City Council is not able to govern effectively. Recently, over the objections of City Manager Milton Dohoney, Cincinnati City Council passed a city property tax cut that will save the average Cincinnati homeowner around $8 a year. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the cut will save Duke Energy almost $65,000 and Cincinnati Bell around $17,000.
The city manager said the rollback will cost the city around $ 1.5 million. He said Cincinnati does not have the money for the cut. Three of the five Democrats on Council voted for it anyway and the rollback passed. One of the three voting yes was so-called Democrat John Cranley. Cranley was at the time of the vote in a tight race for the U.S. House. He lost despite his shameless vote.
Last Monday, City Manager Dohoney proposed a new city budget that closes a health clinic and 13 swimming pools and cuts funding for the arts, recycling and litter pick-up. If the five Democrats on the nine-member Council had voted no on the tax rollback, some of these budget cuts might be avoided. Why elect Democrats if what you get are silly little tax cuts at the expense of city services? You’d might as well elect a Republican Council and get the real thing.
Cities depend on maintaining a certain quality of life to retain population. The cuts being proposed in Cincinnati strike right at that necessary quality of life. Given the years of decline seen in so many of our once great cities– places like Cincinnati—I wonder sometimes if Democrats are up to the challenge of leading.
It may be that locally-elected Democrats can’t fight the global forces injuring our cities. What they can do, however, is at least try to govern responsibly.
A disturbing consequence of Hurricane Katrina is the demonization of former New Orleans residents now living here in Houston, Texas. I thought about this again last week while driving behind a lady with Louisiana plates on her car. She had a bumper sticker on the car announcing that her child was an honor student at the local Labay Middle School.
Much of the anger and fear the Katrina people have generated comes from local talk radio and the predominately right-wing audience these shows attract. These are the very same folks that do nothing about chronic poverty in America’s cities. We live in a society that is, to a degree, of our own making.
It is true the murder rate has gone up in Houston since Katrina. These crimes can be blamed on both those who committed the murders and on the barbaric conditions of third-world poverty which prevailed in much of New Orleans before Katrina.
Houstonians who see their safety jeopardized by the newcomers have a right to express their concerns and to demand action. Houston Mayor Bill White has attended public meetings on this topic. To his credit, the Mayor has insisted that Katrina victims be treated well.
Former New Orleans residents now in Houston are mostly decent people who need some help. I know this is an attitude I share with Houstonians of all political views— Including many who see themselves on the right.
Those forced to leave New Orleans because of the storm are going to be here for a long time. Many will stay for good. It’s important that these people be treated as individuals trying to make the best out of life.
Democrats have held on to power in Galveston County, Texas. The people of Galveston, living on the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico, have been Democrats for a long time.
The Texas Democratic State Convention of 1860 was held in Galveston. The platform of the convention asserted the right of Texas to secede from the union. Not long after, Galveston secessionists convened a meeting to organize themselves.
Many years later, Southern states, counties and cities switched to the Republicans when Democrats embraced Civil Rights. However, in Galveston County, Democrats have so far won no matter what.
A concern has been that an ongoing influx of wealthier home owners will move Galveston County towards the Republicans. That may still happen— But it did not happen in 2006.
Galveston is still a place where people put yard signs on their lawns and feel they know the candidates. Let’s hope Galveston can stay on the right side of the aisle even as more high-rise condominiums and expensive beach homes are built.
Democrats made strong gains in local races in Dallas County, Texas in Tuesday’s election. Dallas County is where Dallas the city is located. Also, Democrats ran surprisingly strong in Harris County, Texas. This is where Houston is located. Roughly one-in-four Texans lives in these two counties.
Dallas County Democrats were helped by the national trend. They were also aided by demographics. According to the Houston Chronicle, the increasing number of Hispanic voters were one of the reasons progress was made in Dallas County. The same may well be said of possible upcoming political shifts in Harris County.
These results indicate where Texas is headed. They also provide insight as to why Republicans continue to run strong in Texas as a whole. Right-leaning Anglos in Texas realize, given the demographics of Texas, that once they lose power it is not coming back. No normal give-and-take of political power between the parties can take place. It’s all or nothing.
Texas Democrats must navigate immigration issues without immigrant-bashing. The appalling anti-immigrant campaign of so-called Democrat Nick Lampson in Houston-area U.S. House District 22 was an example of the wrong way to go.
Texas is a multi-ethnic state in a border region. Its identity is shifting just as it has shifted many times before. Democrats need the courage and imagination to be on the right side of the shift.
The big Democratic win in Tuesday’s election reverses much of the political damage of the Clinton years. The 1994 Republican landslide was in good part a result of the failures of the first two years of the Clinton Administration. Hillary Clinton’s botched attempt at health care reform was a big factor in those failures.
While Bill Clinton’s troubles were not the only reason Al Gore lost in 2000, they were certainly one of the more avoidable reasons.
The new Congressional majorities are a post-Clinton win for Democrats. They give Democrats a new platform to prove they can govern. They will also, hopefully, allow for new leaders to emerge. When we voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, were we really signing up for Hillary Clinton in 2008?
The Clintons’ got 8 years in the White House and a Senate seat representing the Great State of New York. They’ve done well. What the rank-and-file got is years of living with the consequences of Bill and Hillary.
Finally it can be said we have a post-Clinton Democratic Party. Let’s find some new people and move ahead.
The Republican Party remains unable to keep a long-term hold on federal power. The 2006 election offered Republicans the chance to hold the White House and both chambers of Congress for six consecutive years. This would have been the longest stretch of Republican domination in Washington since the 1920’s. Instead, Democrats picked-up the House yesterday and may have won the Senate as well.
Since the Crash of 1929, Democrats have held the Presidency and both chambers of Congress for a total of 32 years. In that same time, Republicans have held such power for just over six years.
In the current period of so-called “divided government,” beginning in 1968 and the election of Richard Nixon with a Democratic Congress, it has been difficult for either party to get a firm grasp on power.
Democrats held the upper-hand for all of the Carter Administration and for the first two years of Bill Clinton’s first term. Republicans have been in control for the last four years. They also held power for a few months in 2001 before Jim Jeffords of Vermont left the Republican Party and turned over Senate control to Democrats.
The two parties remain locked in what can fairly be called a stalemate. Nearly 40 years of Republican gains since Nixon’s election have still not produced a majority party. On the other hand, Democrats must prove they can hold on to and expand what was won yesterday and find a way back to the White House in 2008.
On the verge of what would have been the longest uninterrupted hold on power in Washington since the Kennedy-Johnson years, the Republicans blew it. An argument can be made that Republicans have not yet fully recovered from the events of 1929.