Framing the new Republican majority

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R)

President Barack Obama and other White House officials (such as Communications Director  Jennifer Palmieri and Press Secretary Josh Earnest) have been quick to characterize Tuesday’s Republican Election Night victories as the beginning of a period of Republicans being “partners in governing” the United States. For example, at his post-election press conference on Wednesday, President Obama said:

… So I look forward to Republicans putting forward their governing agenda…. I am very eager to hear Republican ideas for what they think we can do together over the next couple of years…. I’m looking forward to them putting forward a very specific agenda in terms of what they would like to accomplish…. And what we’re going to make sure that we do is to reach out to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who are now running both chambers in Congress, and find out what their agenda is. And my hope is, is that they’ve got some specific things they want to do that correspond with some things that we want to get done…. They’re the majority. They need to present their agenda.

This is an important Democratic frame, because, up to now, the Republicans have acted as a minority party even though they held a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, President Obama tried this “shared responsibility” frame once before, after Republicans took over the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, and the frame did not stick. The question is whether Republicans will be held responsible for co-governing now that they will also run the U.S. Senate.

The nihilism election

Vote Nihilism

Vote Nihilism

Ve believe in nossing, Lebowski. Nossing. And tomorrow ve come back and ve cut off your chonson.
–The Big Lebowski, 1998

What to make of last night’s mid-term election? Democrats never articulated a positive unifying theme. Most of the Democrats’ endless fundraising appeals tried to scare supporters about the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove pouring millions of dollars into Republican campaigns. Republicans ran a national campaign on a unifying theme, but that theme — “President Obama is bad” — was also wholly negative. Most voters didn’t vote for anything.

What Republican men do behind closed doors

Senator Lindsey Graham with fellow GOP Senator John McCain

Senator Lindsey Graham with fellow GOP Senator John McCain

Senator Lindsey Graham is the latest in a long line of older white Republican men who don’t understand that the microphone is always on. Graham was caught on tape speaking before the all male, apparently all white Hibernian Society of Charleston, saying:

I’m trying to help you with your tax status. I’m sorry the government’s so fu#*ed up. If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.

Graham’s office quickly contacted the mainstream media and spun Graham’s statement as just a “joke taken out of context.” The problem is, Graham remarks further a well-known narrative that the Republican Party really is the party of old rich out-of-touch white men who gather in exclusive clubs. This narrative has been built up over years of similar elitist statements by white male Republicans caught on camera or an open microphone.

Why cats aren’t Republican

Fatcat banker

Fatcat banker

Living with a cat for the first time, you quickly pick up on its behavioral quirks, many of which are common among other cats. What you soon find out is that cats aren’t Republican. Here are 12 reasons why not:

The Democratic and Republican Parties as car mechanics

Your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic

Your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic

Every election, plenty of Democrats and Progressives complain about Democratic candidates, saying they’re not progressive or liberal enough, are too tied to corporations or big money, etc. These complainers are comparing the Democratic candidates to some ideal of perfection. That’s the wrong comparison. Democratic candidates are running against flesh-and-blood Republican candidates (and some third party candidates), and one set of candidates will win the elections and decide our fates to a large extent. If your complaining friends still think the two parties are the same, try the car mechanic analogy on them:

The Democrats’ final 2014 election message

Democratic star Elizabeth Warren

Democratic star Elizabeth Warren

The 2014 elections are less than three weeks away. Earlier this year, we called for the Democratic Party to come up with a positive unifying theme for the elections, and suggested “We Have Your Back.” The Democrats never came up with such a theme, although the Democratic Party’s list of accomplishments and values is impressive. Moreover, 2014 is not a presidential election year, and there is no transformative or historical figure running on the Democratic ticket to get Democrats excited. For example, Elizabeth Warren, perhaps the Democratic Party’s biggest star, isn’t up for re-election for years, and you have to live in Kentucky or Texas to vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes or Wendy Davis, respectively.

Are you one of those Progressives who is disappointed in your Democratic leaders? Think they’re the same as the Republicans? Thinking of staying home this Election Day? Think again! Here’s but a brief list of things the Republicans routinely do, try to do, or stand for, in contrast to the Democrats:

Conference call with George Lakoff, Democratic messaging guru

Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff

Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff

Last Tuesday, Democracy For America held a conference call featuring Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff and Nina Turner, current State Senator and Democratic candidate for Secretary of State from Ohio. The subject of the call was how to frame the Democratic Party message for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Republicans suddenly love Big Government

George W. and John McCain share birthday cake in Arizona as Katrina hits New Orleans, 2005

George W. and John McCain share birthday cake in Arizona as Katrina hits New Orleans, 2005

One of the Republican Party’s key tenets — indeed, one of its mantras — for decades has been “smaller government.” Recall Republican President Ronald Reagan‘s 1986 speech, where he stated:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

In recent weeks, however, Republicans have been calling for all kinds of Big Government:

New York City’s Obama economic boom

Manhattan's High Line trail overlooking new West Side construction

Manhattan’s High Line trail overlooking new West Side construction

A visit to New York City reveals a metropolis transformed by a seemingly unprecedented economic boom. Numerous neighborhoods, such as the areas along the well-planned High Line park, are gentrifying and have become Euro-fashionable, with boutiques to match. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, once home to bearded Hasidic Jews, is now the Mecca of bearded hipsters and young families, and has almost become a pricey parody of itself. Condo skyscrapers are reaching new heights, both physically and in terms of dollars. Restaurants and cafes, many of them quite expensive, are filled night after night. And President Barack Obama deserves a fair share of the credit.

The Smithsonian museums are liberal!

IMG_0565If you visit the Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, D.C. (free admission courtesy of your tax dollars) and have your political antennae extended, you’ll find some refreshingly liberal facts. Among them are: