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Values Voters Prevail In Spanish Election

Voters holding strong moral values have prevailed in recent Spanish elections. 

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his Socialist party will again lead Spain.

Prime Minister Zapatero ran on his first-term record.

This record included legalizing gay marriage, making it easier to get a divorce, pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq and allocating a larger share of the Spanish budget to the needs of the poor.

The Spanish public followed the right course and returned Mr. Zapatero to office. 

Here is a story about the election.

Here is a profile of Prime Minister Zapatero.

Here are some facts about Spain.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Elections | , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo Essay In Favor Of Voting

Hugo Chavez does it ( Regardless of if he is sincere or not)

People have been doing it for a long time–

And, yes, sometimes it is meaningless—

Yet often the right to vote has come at a high cost ( Blacks voting in New Orleans after the Civil War.)

So if you live in a primary state why not take a spin of the wheel tomorrow—

And cast a ballot.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

History Of The Texas Primary

The Texas Presidential Primary, to be held March 4, is a big deal.

Democrats Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton are working to the take the largest share of the 228 delegates to be awarded.

( Photo above is of Galveston at sunset. If you live near the Texas coast, this might be your concept of Texas.)

Mike Huckabee hopes Evangelical Christians in Texas will help him add to a number of Southern victories gained so far against John McCain. 140 delegates are up in the Republican race.

32 of the Democratic delegates will be superdelegates. (Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of the superdelegate idea. )

I maintain that the superdelegate idea is undemocratic and goes against the idea of an open and fair Democratic Party.

( The process by which Texas delegates are selected is mind-numbing and not the province of this post. Here’s a link to part one and part two of an explanation of this system by the Texas political blog Burnt Orange Report.)

Not surprisingly, given the lack of enthusiasm for democracy found historically among the Texas political class—-and from many of the Anglo voters who have dominated Texas politics—the Texas Presidential primary does not have a long history.

The first Texas presidential primary was held in 1980.

( Here is a concept of Texas some might have—An oil rig in the middle of town.  I’ve never seen this in my nine years in Texas. Though I have seen oil rigs within the city limits of Houston.)

Texas was for many years part of the one-party “Solid South” that anchored Jim Crow segregation in America.

This system had multiple parts.

The two-thirds rule at the Democratic National Convention assured that the South would have a veto over any presidential candidate who threatened progress on Civil Rights. It took two-thirds of all delegates to ratify a nominee.  That rule is now gone.

On Election Day in November, the South, including Texas, would almost always vote for the Democratic nominee.  A Texas exception to this was in 1928 when Republican Herbert Hoover defeated Catholic Al Smith. (Some Texans  must have sat around the dinner table deciding if they disliked Catholics or black people the most.)

( Here is Al Smith with Babe Ruth. You can likely figure out who is Smith and who is Ruth. )

This Southern unity prevented the Democratic nominee from pushing Civil Rights during the campaign (If he had any inclination to do so to start with.) since he could not alienate such a large block of states.

In Congress, Southern Democratic Senators and Representatives, often reelected without opposition, built seniority and gained control of important committees. This also stopped any progress on Civil Rights.

Here is a link to a history of the “Whites Only” Democratic primary used in Texas for many years to determine nominees–and certain November winners in a one party state–for the great majority of Texas offices.

In the U.S. Senate, the filibuster rule allowed Southern Senators to block Civil Rights legislation.  This may all seem a bit off the topic of the Texas Primary, but it gets at the political climate in Texas for many years and how it was that the Progressive-era reform of the presidential primary did not reach Texas until 1980.

Today Texas, along with Hawaii, California and New Mexico, is a state where the majority of people are not white. That’s amazing when you think of the John Wayne/roughneck image of Texas.

Many of these non-white folks are immigrants.

(The Port of Houston is immense and it connects Houston and Texas to the world. Many immigrants come to Texas today and they are–for the most part so far–accepted.)

Most of these immigrants are accepted. Even undocumented immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere have not  been disturbed much as of yet. If this has to do with the role these immigrants play in the Texas economy, or the possible–mostly unrealized– political clout of Hispanic voters in Texas, I could not fully say.

Roughly one-third of Texans are Hispanic. Though many are not legally here. And of those that are here legally, many do not vote. Texas is just over 11% black. Almost 24 million people live in Texas. Here is a link to some basic facts about Texas.

(Below is the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Hard to see any distinctions between people from this perspective.)

George W. Bush won Texas with 61% of the vote in 2004. Republicans are in firm control of Texas politically.

That first presidential primary in 1980 produced an interesting result. Ronald Reagan of California defeated George H. W. Bush of Houston, Texas by a 51%-47% margin. This was on May 3, 1980.

Mr. Reagan had mostly wrapped up the nomination by that point, but it still shows the strength conservative in the Texas Republican party against a strong home-state candidate.

On the other side, President Jimmy Carter beat Ted Kennedy 56%-23%. I think today the liberal would do somewhat better.

Texas was a Super Tuesday battleground for Democrats in 1988. Mike Dukakis rook first place with 33% against 25% for Jesse Jackson and 20% for Southerner Al Gore. This win helped confirm Mr. Dukakis as the front-runner, though it would take another round of primaries to make it more certain. (Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of Super Tuesday.)

Vice President Bush was an easy home state winner in 1988.

Though as an incumbent President, Mr Bush’s 69% against 24% for Pat Buchanan in 1992 was not so impressive.

The son, George W. Bush, beat John McCain 88% to 7% in 2000. Not a close call. Mr. McCain may do better this time.

In 2004, while Bush was unopposed among Republicans, John Kerry won two-thirds of the vote on his way to the nomination.

2008 promises to be the most interesting and most relevant Texas presidential primary yet held.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 9, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, History, Houston, Immigration, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

History Of California Presidential Primary

Texas Liberal live blogging of Super Tuesday  results is up and running. 

The California Presidential nominating primary, which will be held for 2008 on February 5, has a history that goes back to the Progressive Era. The first California primary was held in 1912.

The Presidential nominating primary, however regressive it may seem at times today, was a Progressive reform. It was step away from the smoke-filled rooms.

California was a big part of the Progressive Era. Progressive Bull Moose candidate Teddy Roosevelt carried California in the 1912 general election and the great Progressive Hiram Johnson was Governor of California from 1911 until 1917 and Senator from 1917 until his death in 1945.  Johnson was Teddy Roosevelt’s running mate in  1912.

(Here is an article from USA Today about the 2008 primary.)

(Here are some basic demographic facts about California.  )

Over 36 million people live in California. John Kerry won California 54%-44% in 2004.

In that first 1912 primary, Roosevelt defeated incumbent President William Howard Taft of Ohio among Republicans by a 2-1 margin. That gives you a sense of where the Republican electorate of California stood at that point in time.

For Democrats, House Speaker Champ Clark of Missouri beat Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey 72%-28%.

1912 was long before primaries had the decisive role they do today. It would be 1972 and the years after 1972 that primaries took on the role they play today.

In 1920, California Senator Johnson took the Republican primary over Herbert Hoover.  Hoover also has California connections as a Stanford graduate. Senator Johnson objected to Hoover’s position in favor of U.S. entry into the League of Nations and worked hard to deny Hoover the nomination.

Senator Warren Harding of Ohio won the 1920 nomination at a deadlocked Republican convention.

Senator Johnson was asked to be Harding’s running mate. He said no. Harding died in 1923 and Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts became President.

Incumbent President Coolidge beat Senator Johnson in the California republican primary of 1924.

The Democratic primary of 1932 was of some note. Reflecting the Southern origins of many California Democrats, House Speaker John Nance Garner of Texas won the primary over New Yorker’s Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic nominee and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Very different from the results you would get today.

Roosevelt selected Garner as his first of his three Vice Presidents.

In 1936, Democratic voters gave the novelist Upton Sinclair 11% of the vote against FDR. Mr. Sinclair had run a left-wing campaign for governor in 1934 and almost won.

Mr. Sinclair is most famous for writing The Jungle.

(San Diego is closely contested between the two parties.)

In 1936, 1948 and 1952, Earl Warren was the winner of the California Republican primary.

Try to imagine Mr. Warren as  a Republican today!

The future liberal Chief Justice was Governor of California from 1943 until 1953, He was also the running mate of Thomas E. Dewey of New York in 1948.

Warren never won the Republican nomination. Though arguably he got the only job better than President.

For all this time and beyond—from 1912 until 1992— the California primary was held late in the process. Often favorite son candidates, such as Mr. Warren, were the winners.

A favorite son candidate is a  statewide figure who runs in the primary and then passes on his delegates at the convention in exchange for an office or for influence.

The 1964 Republican primary brought a clear test of ideological strength within the party. Much like in 1912.

This time though, the right-wing won.

Conservative Senator  Barry Goldwater of Arizona defeated Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Rockefeller was a liberal Republican and the party was badly split in the early 60′s between these competing wings of the party.

The future was with the conservatives as the 1966 election of Ronald Reagan as Governor of California established.

It was on the night of his California 1968 Democratic primary win that Senator Robert Kennedy of New York was assassinated.

The 1972 California democratic primary was significant. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota defeated former Vice President Humbert Humphrey by 44%-39%. Mr. McGovern’s win gained him delegates and momentum that made a difference in taking the nomination.

(The Sacramento area is inclined towards Democrats.)

In 1976, home state candidate Ronald Reagan won a big victory over President Gerald Ford. But the 65%-35% win was not enough for Reagan to win the nomination.

California Democrats in 1980 voted for a slate of delegates committed to liberal Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts over incumbent President Jimmy Carter of Georgia. This provided a sense of what ideological tint held sway among California Democrats.

In 1992, California was the only one of 7 states voting on June 2 that came close to rejecting Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Former California Governor Jerry Brown, fighting to the end, lost 45%–40%. Mr Clinton had pretty much wrapped up the nomination before California.

In 1996, California finally moved its’ primary up to March. ( Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of Super Tuesday Primary Day.) Though all voters did was ratify the foregone conclusions of Bob Dole of Kansas and President Clinton.

California moved up its primary to March 7 for 2000 and March 2 in 2004.

In neither case did the California result make a difference.

(Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008. Please click here for much more. Thanks for reading the blog! )

(No voting in Death Valley)

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Republicans Won After Civil War Was Over—Can Modern Republicans Win Without 9/11?

  

I recently read the following in Congressional Quarterly’s Guide To U.S. Elections. It is about the 1868 election of Republican Ulysses Grant over Democrat Horatio Seymour of New York–  

With Grant’s ascension to the presidency in 1869, the Republican Party entered a new era—what the German sociologist Max Weber would have called a shift from “charismatic” to “rational” institutional authority. In other words, the party shifted its devotion from a great moral cause to its own survival as an organization. It had begun as a coalition of activists fervently opposed to the expansion of slavery (many opposed slavery itself) and to the rebellion of Southern states from the Union, The Republicans 1868 victory under Grant was the first not dominated wholly by crisis conditions. 

Reading this got me thinking about Republican success in the elections of 2002 and 2004. Those elections, especially 2002 when Republicans won back the Senate, seemed to be run under the shadow of the events of September 11, 2001.  

In 2006, with 9/11 five years past and the War in Iraq going badly, Democrats made strong gains in both Houses of Congress. The crisis atmosphere from 9/11 was gone and with it , so it appears, was the Republican advantage President Bush gained after the attacks.    

President Grant won reelection in 1872 and Republicans held the electoral upper-hand for much of time until the Great Depression. Republicans had the electoral base to withstand the passing of the crisis.

While it’s early in this campaign season and a national security type issue –either real or contrived by the Bush administration—might help Republicans, the 2006 election, and the early indicators for 2008, suggest that Republicans may struggle for a time without the ability to run on 9/11.

January 16, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Elections, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

History Of The South Carolina Primary

Republicans and Democrats are campaigning hard in South Carolina.

Republicans vote in that state on January 19. Democrats vote on January 26.

Above is the state seal of South Carolina. In the first circle the words mean–”Ready in soul and resource.” In the second circle the words mean–”While I breathe I hope.”

Here is a link to some basic facts about South Carolina. The population of South Carolina is roughly 4.4 million.

Beginning with 1980, South Carolina’s Presidential nominating primary has played an important role in selecting Republican nominees.

Every winner of the Republican primary in South Carolina since 1980 has gone on to win the nomination of his party. In a number of these instances, the South Carolina win played a direct role in the nomination victory.

In 2008, this primary is important for both parties.

The origin of South Carolina as a force in Republican Presidential politics can be traced back to the political consultant Lee Atwater. In 1980, Mr. Atwater helped get the South Carolina primary scheduled early in the campaign season to help Ronald Reagan. (Photo below.)

Mr. Atwater was an architect of the first George Bush’s “Willie Horton” strategy against Mike Dukakis.

Governor Reagan won the 1980 primary with 55% of the vote in a test against former Texas Governor John Connally. Mr. Connally ran a distant second at 30%.

In 1988, Mr. Atwater again used South Carolina to aid his candidate.

This time it was Mr. Reagan’s Vice President, George H.W. Bush.

South Carolina voted three days before much of the rest of the South did on so-called “Super Tuesday” March 8.  Bush scored a convincing win in South Carolina over his main Republican challenger, Robert Dole of Kansas. (Photo below) This helped set the tone for a Bush sweep of the South on the big primary day 72 hours later.

The timing of the South Carolina primary has been critical to it’s influence. Scheduled as the first primary in the South and conducted a few days before Super Tuesday, candidates have seen the state as a springboard to subsequent primary tests.

In these years, Democrats were holding a South Carolina caucus instead of a primary. Intended or not, this fact denied Jesse Jackson likely primary victories in 1984 and 1988. Reverend Jackson was South Carolina caucus winner in 1988.

Jesse Jackson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina.

South Carolina has a substantial black population and a majority of South Carolina’s Democrats are black.

In 1992, a strong showing by President Bush over Pat Buchanan (photo below) helped dash Mr. Buchanan’s hope of winning strong Southern support for his White House bid.

For 1996, while the slightly more moderate Mr. Dole might not seem a total fit for South Carolina Republicans, two former GOP governors of  South Carolina helped orchestrate a convincing Dole win over, again, Pat Buchanan. This win helped solidify Mr. Dole’s status as the frontrunner.

By 2000, Karl Rove (photo below), was running the Republican dirty tricks operation. Mr. Atwater died in 1991.

George W. Bush’s campaign questioned the sanity of rival John McCain. False rumors were spread about Senator McCain’s health. Leaflets were distributed calling McCain the “fag candidate.” This apparently because Senator McCain had met with the gay Log Cabin Republican group. (logo below)

Democrats have held a South Carolina primary in 1992 and 2004.

Bill Clinton was the easy winner in 1992.

John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, was the 2004 winner. The win did little to help Senator Edwards take the nomination.

Al Sharpton (photo below) had hoped that black voters would rally to his candidacy.

They did not.

Below is a picture of the Sabel Palmetto tree. This is the state tree of South Carolina.

Texas Liberal is going to be your leading source for political history blogging in 2008. Please click here for a variety of political history posts including a history of the upcoming Florida primary.

January 14, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Early History Of The New Hampshire Primary

 

The first New Hampshire primary was held in 1916. This was 4 years after Presidential primaries were held for the first time in 1912.

The 1916 New Hampshire was not first in the nation. It was held one week after the Indiana primary.

The Democratic winner was a slate of delegates committed to President Woodrow Wilson. President Wilson  (photo above) was the only candidate. New Hampshire Republicans choose an uncommitted slate of delegates. 

The 1920 New Hampshire primary, the first contested Granite State primary, was also the first primary of the election season. It was held on March 9. New Hampshire has held the first primary ever since.

The names of individual candidates did not appear on the 1920 New Hampshire ballot. Instead, voters selected delegates who were committed to specific candidates or who at that point were uncommitted.

The Republican winner in New Hampshire was Major General Leonard Wood. Wood ( below) was from New Hampshire. General Wood had served as Army Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft. He was later passed over as commander of US forces in World War I. Black Jack Pershing got that job.

For Democrats, delegates committed to Herbert Hoover  (Below with John Kennedy in 1960) won a plurality of support. Hoover had led the U.S. relief effort for Europe after the War.

Just as Dwight Eisenhower received a small number of Democratic primary votes in 1948, Mr. Hoover in 1920 was popular leader of uncertain political allegiance. Both Mr. Hoover and General Eisenhower would go on to win the White House as Republicans.

Neither General Wood nor Mr. Hoover would be nominated in 1920. Nor would the leading overall primary vote-getters of 1920 be nominated.

Republican top vote-winner Senator Hiram Johnson  (below) of California lost his fight to Senator Warren Harding of Ohio. On the Democratic side, Woodrow Wilson’s terrible red-baiting Attorney General Mitchell Palmer of New Jersey was defeated by Governor James Cox of Ohio.

Progressive Republican Senator Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt’s running mate on the 1912 Bull Moose ticket, would have been the superior candidate over Mr. Palmer.

Who is to say that some years from now the Republican party will not be the party of the left and the Democratic party the party of the right? The parties shift and evolve over time.

It would be many years before presidential primaries had the lead role in selecting nominees.

January 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facts, Views & Bloggers On The Trouble In Kenya

Family flees violence in Kenya

Folks in Kenya are slaughtering each other.

Straight out the Nazi playbook of burning synagogues, a church full of people was burned in the Kenyan city of Eldoret.  30 people were burned to death.

The pretense is the disputed outcome of the recent Presidential election.

Closer to the heart of the matter may be long standing ethnic and tribal divisions.

From The BBC—

Ethnic tension, which has dogged Kenyan politics since independence in 1963, is widely believed to be behind the violence.

With patronage and corruption still common, many Kenyans believe that if one of their relatives is in power, they will benefit directly, for example through a relative getting a civil service job.

The current tensions can be traced back to the 1990s, when the then President Daniel arap Moi was forced to introduce multi-party politics.

Below is a picture of the President of Kenya—Mwai Kibaki. When Mr Kibaki took office in 2002, he was supposed to bring fresh life to Kenyan democracy after the long and corrupt rule of Daniel arap Moi. 

That has not worked out so well.

Here is profile of opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga does not fully seem like a committed democrat either.

Here is the blog Kenyan Pundit written by Harvard law student Ory Okolloh.

Insight Kenya is a blog written from an oppostion view. It has a number of pictures of the current conflict.

What An African Woman Thinks is done quite well I feel. African Woman is a blogger who does not know what way to turn in the ongoing violence.

Here is the Kenyan Newspaper The Standard.

Here is the beginning of the Amnesty International assessment of Kenya.

The government intensified its intimidation and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders. Impunity for abuses by police was reinforced as the authorities failed to investigate allegations of police brutality. Violence against women and girls, including rape and domestic violence, remained a serious concern, although a new law was passed outlawing sexual offences.

Here is the more comprehensive report from Amnesty.

Here is the beginning of the editorial on the election from The Economist—

THE decision to return Kenya’s 76-year-old incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, to office was not made by the Kenyan people but by a group of hardline Kikuyu leaders. They made up their minds before the result was announced, perhaps even before the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had opened up a lead in early returns from the December 27th election. It was a civil coup.

The planning was meticulous. All that was needed were the extra votes to squeak past Mr Odinga in what had been a closely and decently contested election. That was why returns from Central Province, Mr Kibaki’s fiercely loyal Kikuyu heartland, were inexplicably held back. And why, in some constituencies, a large number of voters mysteriously decided just to vote in the presidential race, ignoring the parliamentary ballot. Real damage was done in Nairobi, the capital, by inflating the number of votes for Mr Kibaki, even after results were publicly announced. Election monitors were turned away in Nairobi while the tallying went on. But European Union (EU) monitors verified tens of thousands of votes pinched in this way. Mr Odinga’s supporters were not innocent either. There were serious irregularities in his home province of Nyanza and probably ballot stuffing on his behalf elsewhere.

Here is the full editorial.

Here are some basic facts about Kenya from the BBC

  • Full name: The Republic of Kenya
  • Population: 34.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Swahili, English
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 46 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products
  • GNI per capita: US $540 (World Bank, 2005)

Below is a map of ethnic and language groups in Kenya. Look at all those colors. You don’t have to know what any of it means—I don’t—to figure out that these folks have to make the call to get along with each other or else terrible things will happen—Such as is happening right now.

These folks have a life-expectancy of 40-something  and still some of them can’t kill each other fast enough. You really wonder about people sometimes.

 

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Elections, History, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Explanation And A History Of Presidential Nominating Caucuses—With Pictures!

With the Iowa Presidential nominating caucuses due up on January 3, 2008, here is an explanation and a history of the modern caucus process. The source is the Congressional Quarterly Press Guide To U.S. Elections Volume I.

Does the caucus system exclude the public to the benefit of ideologically extreme and unrepresentative individuals? Or does the caucus system rightly allow for well-informed party activists to have a strong say in who will win Presidential nominations and help build strong parties after the caucus is completed?

Read the following and see what you think.

From the book

In the current primary-dominated era of Presidential politics, which began three decades ago, caucuses have survived…The impact of caucuses decreased in the 1970′s as the number of primaries grew…Previously, a candidate sought to run well in primary states mainly to have a bargaining chip with which to deal with powerful leaders in the caucus states. Republicans Berry Goldwater ( photo above) in 1964 and Richard Nixon(photo below) in 1968 all built up solid majorities among caucus state delegates that carries them to their parties’ nomination. Hubert Humphrey did not compete in a single primary state in 1968. 

After 1968, candidates placed their principle emphasis on primaries…More recently, there has been an increase in the number of states employing caucuses…mostly in smaller states. The increase was slight among Democrats, but more extensive in 2004, when Republicans  saw little reason to spend money or time in an uncontested renomination… 

Compared with a primary, the caucus system is complicated. Instead of focusing on a single primary election ballot, the caucus system presents a multitiered  system that involves meetings scheduled over several weeks, even months. There is mass participation at the first level only, with meetings often lasting over several hours and attracting only the most enthusiastic and dedicated party members.

The operation of the caucus varies from state to state, and each party has its own set of rules. Most begin with precinct caucuses or some other type of local mass meeting open to all party voters. Participants, often publicly declaring their votes, elect delegates to the next stage of the process.

In smaller states, such as Delaware and Hawaii (photo above), delegates are elected directly to a state convention, where the national convention delegates are chosen. In larger states, such as Iowa, there is at least one more step, sometimes two. Delegates in Iowa are elected at the precinct caucuses to county conventions, which are followed by the state convention….

Participation, even at the first level of the caucus process, is much lower than in the primaries. Caucus participants usually are local party leaders and activists. many rank-and-file voters find the caucus complex, confusing or intimidating.

As a result, caucuses are usually considered tailor-made for a candidate with a cadre of passionately dedicated supporters. This was evident as long ago as 1972, when a surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa precinct caucuses helped propel Senator George McGovern (picture above) of South Dakota, an ardent foe of the Vietnam war, toward the Democratic nomination.

In a caucus state, the focus is on one-on-one campaigning. Time, not money, is usually the most valuable resource. Because organization and personal campaigning are so important, an early start is…crucial.

The lone exception is Iowa (Great Seal above). As the kick-off point…Iowa has recently become a more expensive stop…But the accent in Iowa…is still on grassroots organization.

Although the basic steps of the caucus process are the same for both parties, the rules that govern them are vastly different. Democratic rules have been revamped substantially since 1968, establishing national standards for grassroots participation. Republicans have remained largely unchanged, with the states given wide latitude in drawing up their delegate-selection plans.   

For both Republicans and democrats, the percentage of delegates elected from caucus states was on a sharp decline throughout the 1970′s. But the Democrats broke the downward trend and elected more delegates by the caucus process in 1980 than in 1976. Between 1980 and 1984, six states switched from a primary to a caucus system; none the other way.

A strong showing in the caucuses by Walter F. Mondale (bust above) in 1984 led many Democrats—and not only supporters of his rivals—to conclude that the caucuses are inherently unfair. The mainstream Democratic coalition of party activists, labor union members, and teachers dominated the caucuses on Mondale’s behalf.   

The major complaint about the caucus process is that it does not involve enough voters, and that the low turnouts are not so representative of voter sentiment as a higher-turnout primary.

Staunch defenders, however, believe a caucus has party-building attributes a primary cannot match. They note that several hours at a caucus can include voters in a way that quickly casting a primary ballot does not. Following caucus meetings, the state party comes away with lists of thousands of voters who can be tapped to volunteer time or money, or even run for local office. 

Here is a link to some more specific history of the Iowa caucus.

Here is a link to the State Historical Society of Iowa which has a new Iowa Caucus exhibit.

What do you think? A good way to go or not? I feel a mix of the primary and the caucus is as good as anything else. There is a place for party activists and a place for a broader electorate.

Though public funding would make it all a lot better.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

December 28, 2007 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Harris County Democratic Party Should Inject Greater Partisanship Into Houston City Council Races

 

I recently e-mailed Harris County, Texas Democratic Headquarters and asked if the Harris County Party endorses candidates for Houston City Council. (I said in my e-mail that I was a blogger and that I was going to write on this subject.)

Here is the reply I got from the helpful gentleman at headquarters—

The Harris County Democratic Party does not endorse in City Council Elections, HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg’s policy is  HCDP does not endorse in city council elections, unless and until there is a run-off and there is only one Democratic candidate in the runoff 

Okay—No reason to step into a fight between Democrats.

(A runoff is held if no candidate wins 50% of the vote in the General Election.)

I followed up by asking if the party sends a mailer out informing rank-and-file Democrats about who is a Democrat on General Election Day. 

Here was the reply— 

Unfortunately, we do not have the funds for such a mailer. On a couple of occasions where we have endorsed in the run-off, we have sent postcards to folks who voted in the first election and also in the last Democratic primary, where the Democratic candidates in the run-off have provided funds for such a mailing. 

I understand the party may not have the money this time around. Fine.

What I’d ask is for the Harris County Democratic Party to consider injecting a greater degree of partisanship into Houston City Council elections in the future and, also, to consider raising funds to promote Democratic Council candidates in 2009.

Houston Council elections may officially be non-partisan, but political parties can send any mailing they wish. Or run any radio ad they wish. Democrats are a majority in Houston and this majority should be worked on Election Day.

Partisan identification gives voters a shorthand on what to expect from candidates. Within that identification, candidates still have the ability to carve out specific profiles and stances on important issues that set them apart from a party-line.

The current so-called non-partisan system of voters selecting five at-large Council members and a district Councilperson with musical chairs six-year terms, works against the interests of democracy and against the interests of the majority party in Houston.

People should know who they are voting for. I’d be happy to donate myself for this purpose.

Let’s have no more Michael Berry-types filling at-large seats on Houston City Council.    

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Elections, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | 4 Comments

Turning 40—Amazingly, Nearly 10,000 People Once Supported Me For Cincinnati Board Of Education

 

This is part of a Texas Liberal series of reminisces as I turn 40 this week.

Amazingly, in 1997 almost 10,000 voters thought I should be elected to serve on the Cincinnati Board of Education. ( The picture is of Cincinnati in 1862.)

Among 12 candidates I finished ninth. The top four were elected. I was glad not to finish last and felt I’d done well given my resources. I think I raised about $3,500.

I ran because I thought it might be fun.

It was fun. I enjoyed going to community councils and making my case. I enjoyed having friends help gather ballot access signatures and come out with me on campaign appearances.

My main issue was corporate involvement in Cincinnati schools and corporate control over members of the incumbent board. Large Cincinnati companies were heavily involved with the schools at the time. I suggested this compromised the board’s advocacy for students in the district.

“We’ve got to take back this school board from Kroger’s and Procter and Gamble!”

An issue in 1997 was the Cincinnati board joining other big city Ohio boards in pushing a lawsuit that would have helped equalize funding between urban and more affluent suburban districts. I believe Cincinnati was the only big city board not supporting the lawsuit.

I was endorsed by the local UAW and AFL-CIO. I was endorsed by a few other unions, but I can’t remember which ones specifically. I was also endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati.

I had nice union made bumper stickers and union printed brochures. I cut a radio ad I think I had enough money to run about 30 times.

I was not endorsed by the Hamilton County Democratic Party. I was asked to interview but I said no. I felt the county party had done a lousy job in assisting the poor and average working people and, also, was a creature of corporate money and sleazy donors. Today, I suppose, I would likely do the interview

I felt I served the public by running for the Cincinnati Board of Education and I remain appreciative of people who voted for me and of the friends who helped me with the campaign.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Elections, Turning 40 | 1 Comment

Turning 40—The One Damn Time I Failed To Vote In 22 Years As Eligible Voter

This is part of a Texas Liberal series of reminisces as I turn 40 this week

Just once in my life have I failed to vote. It was some type of hospital bond issue maybe 20 years ago in Hamilton County, Ohio. It was the only issue on a special election ballot. That is at least how I recall it.I did not give the matter much thought until a professor criticized the low voter turnout for the issue during a class on Canadian politics I was taking. 

Since that day in class, I have often thought about my perfect voting record for primaries, special elections and general elections—Perfect except for one damn vote.   

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Elections, Political History, Turning 40 | Leave a comment

Anyone Getting Along Anywhere Is Good News—Free Elections In Mauritania

The multi-ethnic North African nation of Mauritania is conducting its first fully free elections since independence in 1960. Living in multi-ethnic Houston, I’m rooting for these folks to work it out in a peaceful way. 

Mauritania has Arabs, Berbers and sub-Saharan blacks. Many of the people are nomads. Just over 3 million people live in Mauritania.

Anyone getting along anywhere is good news. And any country moving towards democracy is good news. Good luck to Mauritania.

March 11, 2007 Posted by | Elections, Politics | 2 Comments

Democratic Victory Was First Big Post-Clinton Win & It Is Time For New Non-Clinton Leadership

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. 

November 9, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Politics | 2 Comments

Republicans Unable To Hold Long-Term Power In Washington Since 1929 Stock Crash

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. 

November 8, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Political History, Politics | Leave a comment

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