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The Mahablog

Out of Touch Politicians Are Not Getting the Clues

So yesterday Joe Manchin announced he would not run for another Senate term (yay), but then he dropped big hints he might to open to other things

“After months of deliberation and long conversations with my family, I believe in my heart of hearts that I have accomplished what I set out to do for West Virginia. I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate, but what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

This immediately fueled speculation that Manchin might be angling for a nod from No Labels to run for POTUS. If Manchin seriously thinks there’s some groundswell of “moderate” voters out there just looking for a right-leaning, anti-progressive Democrat to vote for, he’s likely to be disappointed. In truth, the word “moderate” means absolutelly nothing in the U.S. political climate. But of course No Labels is hardly a group that cares about ordinary Americans.

I’m sure No Labels prayerfully hopes there are substantial numbers of voters who are lost somewhere between the GOP’s culture wars and MAGAism and the Democrats’ increasingly progressive direction, which would have been a lot more progressive had rats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema not been gumming up the works. But I don’t think there are. The closest they might get are with low-information voters who are not Fox News viewers and whatever Hillary Clinton die-hards are still breathing. And frankly I don’t think there is any voter support for Joe Manchin, anywhere.

Democrats are rightfully concerned that Manchin’s retirement from the Senate could cost them a Senate majority. But there were a lot of warning signs out there that Manchin was likely to lose next year, anyway. At the Bulwark, Jonathan Last argues that the Dems will be hurting without Manchin, and that if they want to win more elections they need to make their tent bigger to allow for more Manchin-esque type candidates. Do I ever disagree. I think the third-way style Democrats that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s — and I include the Clintons —  did huge damage to the Democratic brand. The young folks especially refused to believe there was any real difference between the parties, until possibly very recently, and that was mostly because of abortion. Democrats will benefit from a consistent policy message and then delivering on that message whenever possible. If the young folks would turn out to vote in big numbers because they trust Democrats to deliver on issues they care about, it would be genuinely revolutionary.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party seems determined to promote the most extreme MAGA candidates it can find, even though voters keep signalling they want something else. Aaron Blake writes that they just can’t get the clue that voters are looking for “mormal.”

While Gov. Andy Beshear (D) steered his way to a relatively easy victory Tuesday, Kentucky Republicans swept every other statewide race. And no candidate took more votes than Secretary of State Michael Adams (R).

Adams is merely the latest candidateto show his party how successful it can be when it doesn’t marginalize itself with such things as election denialism — and even fights back against it.

Adams flat-out denied the Big Lie, period. He actually discussed expanding voter access. He was endorsed by some Right to Life groups but I take it he didn’t campaign on banning abortion.

Adams wound up taking 61 percent and nearly 785,000 votes, according to the most recent results, compared with GOP gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron’s 47 percent and 627,000. Adams’s vote total also outpaced four other statewide GOP candidates.

At the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes that The G.O.P’s Culture War Shtick Is Wearing Thin With Voters.

To be fair to Republican strategists, there was a moment, in the fall of 2021, when it looked like the plan was working. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, ran on a campaign of “parents’ rights” against “critical race theory” and won a narrow victory against Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor, sweeping Republicans into power statewide for the first time since 2009. Youngkin shot to national prominence and Republicans made immediate plans to take the strategy to every competitive race in the country.

In 2022, with “parental rights” as their rallying cry, Republican lawmakers unleashed a barrage of legislation targeting transgender rights, and Republican candidates ran explicit campaigns against transgender and other gender nonconforming people. “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the drag queens,” said Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican, during her 2022 campaign for governor. “They took down our flag and replaced it with a rainbow.”

And, of course, Lake lost, as did a lot of other MAGA candidates. But this year the GOP doubled down.

Undaunted, Republicans stepped back up to the plate and took another swing at transgender rights. Attorney General Daniel Cameron of Kentucky, the Republican nominee for governor of that state, and his allies spent millions on anti-transgender right ads in his race against the Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear. In one television ad, a narrator warns viewers of a “radical transgender agenda” that’s “bombarding our children everywhere we turn.” Beshear won re-election. 

The thing is, right-wing politicians have been using scare tactics to win elections going back to Joe McCarthy, if not earlier. They painted the opposition as pro-Communist pro-desegregation pro-racial justice pro-welfare pro-affirmative action pro-Women’s Rights Amendment etc etc etc. And on the whole it’s worked pretty well for them over the years. It’s also pretty much all Republicans know how to do these days. The current crop in the House can’t seem to organize themselves to pass bills or do much of anything except inept “investigations” of Hunter Biden and his legendary laptop.

I’m sure there are still a lot of voters who fall for the scare tactics. But now they aren’t working the way they used to. Perhaps there are more voters now who grew up on the Internet, and they are more sophisticated message consumers. Or something. And certainly what was said at the Republican candidate “debate” Wednesdy night didn’t reveal that anyone was ready to take a new direction.

So Joe Manchin and the No Labels crew are out of touch, and Republicans are out of touch. I’m not going to give Democrats a complete pass. This Huffington Post article says Democrats in Washington have been slammed by constituent phone calls demanding a cease fire in Gaza, and this has thrown them off guard. I disagree somewhat with the author of the article,

12 thoughts on “Out of Touch Politicians Are Not Getting the Clues

  1. The RepubliKKKLANS are stuck in a prison cell of their own making.

    For  decades, they've exaggerated molehill social issues into mountains.

    They courted ever more extremist conservatives for 50 years.

    tRUMP took those already extreme views, and MAGA-ified them.

    And now, they have no place normal to turn to, lest they lose their base.

    Pardon me if I don't shed a single tear for them.

    The only things they have going for them, are gerrymandering and the SCOTUS.

    Oh, and Fox and other right-wing trolling media enterprises, to keep spewing division and hate.

    F*ck them all with a rusty chainsaw!

    And no lube!!!

  2. With MAGAts getting more extreme and openly fascist (Trump verbalizing Project 2025's goals), I tend to think Manchin might appeal more to those Never Trumper Republicans who hate the extremists but would never vote Democratic. Until Joe Manchin. I'm doubting that he's a bigger threat to Democrats.

  3. I'm not gonna miss Joe Manchin. Or Miss Sinema. There will be a net loss of one seat (We'll keep the AZ seat.)  But I'm totally over those idiots gumming up any progressive initiative. Re No Labels: I defined them years ago as an organization trying to turn a dysfunctional plutocracy into an efficient plutocracy. Manchin and Leiberman are poster children for that movement.

    What's really hard to tell is how the kooks like Kennedy and, I think Jill Stein, and I forget the black guy with no government experience are gonna cut into the vote. An aspect no one has mentioned is the mix of swing states that may require a majority (over 50%) vs a plurality (the most votes) to award the Electoral College. Are there states that won't award the EC to Biden even if he gets the most votes if the final tally is less than 50%? (But toss it to the state legislature.) This is not defined in the US Constitution – each state makes its own rules.

    Women are the most powerful voting block. I read part of an editorial that suggested Democrats are being deceptive about abortion. And Republicans are being very reasonable and mainstream, aligned with women's values on abortion. According to the author, Americans want a 15-week limit with exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother.

    Unless I missed it, there was no mention of the TX ban that kicks in six weeks into the pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant, and has a bounty-hunter provision that allows Karens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion. Doctors are unwilling to go to jail to save the mother until she's in critical condition. Other states have enacted draconian legislation but TX is huge in population – the impact is not incidental. The author never suggested that "reasonable" federal legislation would reverse or take precedence over what TX has done. It wasn't defined (IMO, on purpose) but I think a federal 15-week ban would allow states (State's right, ya' know) to enact more restrictive bans. Oh, California would be SOL because only conservative states have states' rights.

    Nowhere did the author square the 15-week ban with the previous standard (26 weeks.) And without citing any support, the author claimed Democrats want abortion on demand right up to birth. I don't doubt some registered Democrats have that opinion, but under Roe, late-term abortions were ONLY possible under conditions where the health of the mother was at risk or the pregnancy was not viable. (Fetus dead or certain to die shortly after birth.) The crucial point to voters is that women should make the choice with their doctor until the fetus is viable outside the womb OR under dangerous medical conditions which would be defined by a doctor, not a politician.

    I suspect the editorial I read is the beginning of a major effort to re-brand the political position of the GOP to be mainstream and reasonable. I hope the media demands that articles with that theme address the situation in TX and how their "mainstream" position squares with reality. But I don't think a lot of women will be fooled. \

    My prediction is that the GOP will try to keep the extreme bans in place (but not admit that part out loud) while they try to sell a "reasonable" ban for the sake of uniformity – 15 weeks and exceptions. The GOP is NOT gonna abandon the quest for a ban, but they are gonna lie about their intentions.

    • The Forced-Birth Movement and their politicians have taken to rallying against "abortion on demand right up to birth".  If you push for examples, they cite C-Sections statistics (without referring to C-Sections).

      #NoLabels Ticket for 2024 – Manchin and Mittens RawMoney – to represent that solid moderate america where the priorities are the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and crony corporate capitalism greed! 

    • Cornel West is "the black guy with no government experience" who was going to run for President as a Green, but then decided that he didn't want to deal with the Green Party's complex Rules and internal politics (I don't blame him).  And yes, Jill Stein – Green Party Pres Candidate in 2012 & 2016 – just announced that she's running again (for GP candidacy).

      I strongly agree with your description of the "No Labels" grifters, with the added observation that it's a great way for former politicians to pad their retirement cushion after they've alienated everyone in their former Party.  No Labels has lotsa money and no voters.

  4. "Out of Touch Politicians"

    Of course. As you say, it was well known that Manchin was toast, but here is the real problem. Manchin waited until after election day to officially admit his time was up. He's not on team normal. I never had too much of an issue with him, he's from a red state, he's a real moderate, I'm sort of a moderate, sometimes. But the fact that he waited until after the democrats had huge wins to officially announce he can't win is the problem. Fuckin war room politics from a democrat. It's part and parcel of the phoney polls showing Stump up by 15 points. The corporate media wants a real horse race and with Stump melting down they can only trash Biden so much. The fake polls might not be enough, they need help, they may need a real 3rd party imposter. Me thinks Manchin may have just put RFK out of a job. I'm not worried, Biden has it covered. Old dudes can get it done.

  5. Regarding "third party" candidates (or 4th & 5th).  In our 2-party system of majority elections (ok, I realize this is state by state) any candidate not in one of the two major parties is a fundamental problem. Not because it might mess up the candidate I hope will win, but because it screws up the fundamental notion that you can vote for your favorite candidate without sometimes helping your least favorite candidate win.

    We need ranked choice voting. Really really really! It's light-years better than what we have.  If every state had ranked choice voting, nobody would have to worry about Jill Stein driving the country to an authoritarian autocracy. Not only would that bad feature go away, it would also give people a way the get their pet fringe candidate preference recorded.  Main party operatives, media pundits and ordinary people would then have some real data to analyze.  And no need to put it in the hands of legislatures when the first count doesn't produce >50%. It stays in the hands of the voters.  

    • This needs to be very, very, clearly and simply explained to the rabble mob.  If you imagine that you can successfully get, say, Sarah Palin to understand it, then IMHO you’re on the right track!

  6. Destroy, deny and double-down.  That's the sum total of what the GOP has to offer these days, that's it, that's all they got.

  7. At the end of a long day, I never imagined that this is how we would defeat them. 

    By getting them to become addicted to their own worst impulses: greed, corruption, stupidity…  Along with the mindless worship of a demagogue fascist.  Give them enough rope, so to speak.  

    Now all we need to do is to keep exposing their puppetmasters, the plutocratic sociopathic donors.

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