Looking ahead: Congressional insanity and redistricting
*Someone hasn't been having a lot of good days recently*
It's time to end my self-imposed break, roll up the sleeves, and look at what's coming at us in 2013. I had a great time in Chicago — took a total digital break, looked at art, browsed in bookstores, made lots of chocolate chip cookies.
En route, I even saw a proudly racist trucker who displayed two sticker on the back of his trucker. One had the Obama logo and "= crap." (Such trenchant, witty commentary!) The other said "Don't blame me — I voted for the white guy."
Yeah, Tea Partiers, tell us again how racism isn't behind your absurd, fantasy-based attacks on the President.
Speaking of the Tea Party, here's my most favorite story of the past few weeks:
If you haven't read all about the meltdown and intrigue at the well-funded Tea Party parent organization Freedom Works, do so now. I guarantee you will laugh your ass off.
Then there's this:
"A delicious roundup of conservative-on-conservative violence."
If you've been following the end-of-session lunacy in the House of Representatives, you probably know the slitty-eyed snake Eric Can'tor appears to be honing his knife to stick in Speaker John Boehner's back.
He got no cover from outgoing Ohio congressman and fake "moderate" Steve LaTourette (R-14), who noted publicly that Boehner wasn't as good at keeping his party in line as former Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“She got out there and broke arms and got it done. Boehner has not been willing to do that. I give him high marks for that,” LaTourette said. “But it’s not a very effective way to do business.”
Boehner, perhaps uneasy on the throne, seems to be having a meltdown. Attempting to roll out his best Dick Cheney imitation, Boehner told Senate majority leader Harry Reid to "go fuck yourself" this past Friday.
Alas, Boehner has neither the chops nor the swagger to carry this off, and more than one commenter has suggested that Boehner got an early start on his New Year's celebrating. Even LaTourette hinted at it when he said that the Republicans who negotiated the so-called "fiscal cliff" deal in the House “must have been drunk.”
Amidst all the contention and dickering and avoidance of what would clearly be best for the country and the economy — raising taxes on the rich and spending like crazy on things that will produce revenue such as job creation, education and infrastructure while money is so cheap — the intransigence of the Republicans who control the House stands out starkly as one of the worst menaces to our well-being.
And it's not what we voted for.
With most results across the country finalized, the nationwide total of Democratic votes for the House stands at 59,645,387 to the Republicans' 58,283,036 Yes, a majority. The Tea Partiers can put their hands over their ears and hum loudly as much as they want, but the American people spoke: They're sick of this.
And yet — Republicans still control the House. The reason is the creation of lopsided, unrepresentative districts across the country, districts that have been made so safe for their incumbents and/or their incumbent party that there's no reason for these elected officials to pay attention to their constituents at all. (The fact that too many are purchased puppets of wealthy special interests is a whole other problem).
Nowhere is the problem worse than in Ohio where the newly drawn districts produced the results they were intended to. In a 50/50 state, we're now represented by a delegation that is 75% Republican and only 25% Democratic.
Voters First Ohio tried to remedy that with Issue 2, which went down to overwhelming defeat in November. A "no" vote was the stupidest vote ANYONE not a hardline Republican could cast. But the issue was poorly explained and little understood — with blame on both sides. While the Republicans did their best to confuse and mislead, Voters First Ohio did not explain the issue in a simple and straightforward manner.
It needs to be back on the ballot. This is one of the most important things we can do in Ohio in the immediate future. And we need to have learned from last year's campaign. We need to educate. And we need to keep doing it until it passes. This just can't go on. (And no, I don't think Jon Husted's tweak of the current system is a better idea — as if I'd trust our secretary of voter suppress .... I mean STATE ... to have good intentions about anything related to elections.)
In addition, in the coming months, we as Democrats will hopefully be doing some serious vetting of potential candidates for statewide office. After redistricting reform, the most important thing we need to do is sweep ALL statewide Republicans out in 2014, from our bullying, blustering, crony-rewarding Gov. all the way down (and I do mean DOWN) to treasurer Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel, who has nothing to look forward to except a bleak future of attending board of deposit meetings and maybe even pretending to care about his job. We need to find strong, appealing candidates who speak to our best progressive values.
With these crucial things on our plate, I'm annoyed at the pundits already trying to handicap the 2016 presidential race (Get a clue, guys — it's not going to be Hillary vs Jeb anymore than 2008 was Hillary vs Rudy). A lot can happen between now and then. Certainly, the outcome of the internal warfare on the right is completely unclear — and where that ends up with have a huge impact on 2016.
We've got a lot of work to do before then right here in Ohio. Let's get on with it.