Fifty Shades of Purple

The second week in October, while Tea Partiers in Congress were tanking the GOP’s approval numbers with a government shutdown, the Republican National Committee traveled to Los Angeles to make an announcement: The party was investing $10 million to woo Latino voters in California and 16 other states. This might seem newsworthy, considering that Republicans spent much of the 2012 campaign repelling Latinos. But the event received little attention, though the Los Angeles Times did note that it featured “roast beef and cheese enchiladas.” (Ick.) The notion of Republicans competing for Latino votes in California seems ridiculous; ever since Governor Pete Wilson led an effort in 1994 to keep undocumented immigrants from accessing state services, Latinos have viewed the party as toxic. With Republicans in Washington blocking immigration reform and Medicaid expansion, the divide between Republicans and Latinos has only grown. It will take more than $10 million to bridge it.

But the Latino outreach is part of a larger scheme that emerged from party leaders’ post-2012 soul searching: a road map to build Republican infrastructure and mobilize voters in all 50 states. If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In 2005, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean unveiled a 50-state strategy, putting organizers and fundraisers into provinces his party had ignored, and lost, for decades. Conventional wisdom said it was a nutty idea. Why should Democrats waste money in Utah and Mississippi? Indeed, the party would abandon the plan as soon as Dean left his post in 2009. But the strategy paid dividends in 2008, when Democrats carried formerly red states like North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana.

The Democrats’ current version of red-state outreach is more narrowly focused. Battleground Texas, an initiative launched in February by ex-Obama field staffers, hopes to spend $10 million a year registering, engaging, and persuading voters in a state that Republicans have come to see as their birthright. It’s an effort funded by individual donors, not by the party. But Texas shows why such outreach could make a difference for Democrats elsewhere. Voters who are disengaged, in Texas and the rest of the country, tend to be low-income, young, and nonwhite—all groups that lean liberal on social and economic issues.

To win those voters, Democrats don’t have to change their message; they have to motivate people to go to the polls. In states like Texas, Republicans always win—they’ve carried 100 statewide elections in a row—and Democrats hardly put up a fight. State Senator Wendy Davis, who had liberals across the country cheering for her filibuster of an anti-abortion bill last summer, is generating excitement over her gubernatorial bid in 2014, but it’s doubtful her party will find a full slate of statewide candidates to run with her. If Democrats had been organized and invested in the state over the past decade, Davis might be the favorite; instead, she’s a long shot.

For Republicans, the benefits of contesting blue states are less obvious but could be more significant. If the GOP gets serious about wooing Latinos and speaking to blue-state voters, it can’t stick with its current message of right-wing radicalism, which has driven away moderates and minorities. Given the country’s demographic and ideological drift leftward, Tea Party purity is a losing long-term tactic. A 50-state strategy that nudges the party toward the center could prevent the GOP from fading into irrelevance.

The real winner, if the parties started competing for votes across the map, wouldn’t be Republicans or Democrats; it would be small-d democracy. Voter turnout would surely rise. When only one party is courting them, voters disconnect. In 2012 battleground states, where both parties poured resources into voter outreach and engagement, turnout was high. In Ohio, 65 percent of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot; in Virginia, 66 percent did; and in Colorado, a whopping 70 percent turned out. But one-party states like Texas (50 percent) and California (55 percent) were both below the national average.

Voters can’t hold elected officials accountable if their party affiliation virtually assures their re-election. A weak opposition party can’t serve as an effective watchdog on those in power, either. Politicians in unchallenged parties also tend to move to ideological extremes. When general elections are largely decided in party primaries, as they are in Illinois and Texas, small numbers of highly motivated voters can carry the day; that’s how the Tea Party took over the Republican Party in states like Texas. It’s what elected Ted Cruz and what emboldened him to orchestrate an unpopular government shutdown without having to worry about his own political future. In the strange world that noncompetitive politics has wrought, Cruz is doing precisely what Republican primary voters back home elected him to do.

Neither party, of course, will pursue a 50-state strategy because it thinks such a plan is good for democracy. But we’re at a juncture when both believe they can benefit from talking to voters they’ve long ignored. If the parties embraced 50-state strategies, rather than putting most of their resources into a handful of battlegrounds like Ohio and Florida, who would gain the most by 2020 or 2030? It’s impossible to say. Democrats would win over a lot of people simply by giving them a reason to vote. Republicans might acquire even more converts by revising their message to appeal to Latinos and other voters who have written them off. One thing’s for sure, though: American politics would be a lot healthier.


The middle class/lib media has remained oblivious to an important factor in today's politics: the former middle class/poor. Democrats and the middle class threw the poor off the cliff. Since Reagan, we've shipped out the bulk of our manufacturing jobs. As jobs were being shipped out, Clinton took a machete to our poverty relief programs, and the middle class applauded. Clinton gave us 8 yrs of Bush. The poor voted for Obama based on his record, knowing that Congress would block any progressive legislation Obama might propose, but confident that he wouldn't worsen conditions for the poor. Lib media (MSNBC, etc., etc.) is currently working to sell Hillary Clinton, with her long anti-poor/pro-NAFTA record. This would ensure that the next president will be a Republican. My concern about Elizabeth Warren is that she was originally a powerful advocate for the poor, but then abruptly jumped on the Middle Class Only bandwagon when it became politically expedient to do so. This tells us a lot about her integrity.

"This tells us a lot about her integrity." Nothing that wasn't WELL known before the election. But lying to secure a position is a different kind of lying.... unbelievable!

The "liberal" media has not ignored the poor; rather, they are trying to prevent the middle class from BECOMING poor, after which the poor can be helped more effectively. Actually, it is the extreme libertarian propaganda of the Republicans that has turned the middle class against the poor, by implying that ALL poor people are personally responsible for their poverty. This is comforting to the middle class worker who still HAS a job, but that job is threatened, and it deflects the justifiable anger of both poor AND middle class away from the true source of their problems, the overcompensated, underregulated, undertaxed, unscrupulous SUBSET of the billionaire class, into anger by the middle class towards the poor.

What will help the middle class against the attacks of the "evil wealthy" will also help the poor: stop demonizing the poor by demonizing "welfare spending" as fraud and waste, because it is neither, for one thing. The vast majority of people who receive any kind of public assistance REALLY NEED it, as do many who have been ruled "not to qualify" for it. Public assistance HELPS single mothers to work by helping to pay for child care, helping to train them for better work, etc. but they are still not working for a LIVING WAGE. The job market is a "buyer's" market, so wages, benefits, and even COURTESY to the workers on the part of their bosses, are in a race to the bottom: equal to Bangladesh and Vietnam. Until that is fixed, the assistance will be needed. But public assistance to the truly needy, like increases in the minimum wage, enable more SPENDING, and spending on consumer goods is what creates more jobs. In turn, more jobs and a more prosperous economy generate more tax revenue, which can pay off the deficits.

Another area in which people like Elizabeth Warren are helping BOTH the middle class and the poor is in financial services. Banking is really just the record keeping of the economy, but the banking tail has come to wag the productive dog. Not only do Wall Street bankers bet depositors' and taxpayers' money on risky schemes that go bust, but they also cheat the public with excessive interest rates and fees, deceptive products, and predatory lending and foreclosure (in fact, many times banks lend IN ORDER TO FORECLOSE, since they can make more money selling off land taken by foreclosure to developers than they could by collecting the payments for the remaining life of the loan). This is Senator Warren's specialty: protecting consumers from crooked and deceptive banking and investment "services." There's a reason why they are called stock BROKERS!

Finally, some quotes I found appropriate for my email signature:

"When I GIVE food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ASK WHY the poor have no food, they call me a communist."
--Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

The author has laid out a very thoughtful outline on the need for greater participation. Ms. Rapoport places an emphasis on the role of the political parties in the system which is certainly correct. Unfortunately our political parties spend vastly more time and energy competing for money than voters. Winning the vote may be the ultimate goal however that path is paved with contribution money and it is the continual drive for campaign funds by our representatives that creates the dysfunction of our current broken political system as the parties fund raise from extreme views. Moderate views do not fill the coffers as much as catering to the "red hots" on the political extremes. With our current system of campaign funding it can only be expected that our representatives actually represent their donors which are not the voters.

Our broken political system can only be rectified when the voter pays for the campaign of our representatives solely. This means that all groups, organizations, corporations, wealthy individuals, must be removed from campaign contributions that exceed the amount the average voter could reasonably afford. Voter control of the political process also mandates that the political parties not be contributors to political campaigns either.

The Renew Democracy Amendment proposal states in article 2 and 3.

"The right to contribute to political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual citizens either through direct contributions and or a voter authorized public campaign funding system."
"Political campaign and political party contributions shall not exceed an amount reasonably affordable by the average American."

If we are truly to achieve small D. democracy where the outcomes of our political process are beneficial and efficient it is imperative that the funding in our political system comes solely from the voter. This is the only route to empowering the voter in the political process. The First Amendment is plain and we are currently seeing the results of a direct interpretation of unlimited free speech in the form of unlimited campaign contributions. The dramatically increased funding ability of political action groups from the citizens United decision has directly created political representatives that actively pursue policies the majority of even their party members do not support like shutting down the government and brinkmanship with the debt limit. We are likely to soon get more movement in that direction from the Supreme Court and without a constitutional amendment to enshrine the power of the individual voter in campaign funding our system will become more broken as special-interest groups and wealthy individuals will increase their influence.

Craig Clevidence, director, Renew Democracy

"The real winner...would be small-d democracy."

That concept is probably more important to Democrats than to Republicans, but I'm unconvinced that it's especially important to either party.

Fifty state strategies have long been abandoned for Presidential campaigns because of the "unit rule" of the Electoral College. It makes no sense in an individual election year to bump up a candidate's percentage in a hostile state from 30 to 40 percent, or to bump it up in a friendly state from 60 to 70 percent, when the same investment could bump 48 percent to 51 or 52, earning all of that state's electoral votes. So the largest "purple" states are the only ones that get significant attention. Unfortunately, this perpetuates itself: maybe a Democrat could move a "red" state from 30 to 40 percent one year, then 45 percent on the off cycle elections, then 51 percent the next Presidential election year, but by not even trying to do so, it remains at 30 percent, or even goes down to 25 percent. Likewise for Republicans in "blue" states. And of course, it is the LARGEST swing states with the closest swings that get the attention.

But beware: Republicans who have taken over state legislatures in purple or even slightly blue states, and have gerrymandered their legislative districts to stay in power even against the votes of a majority of the voters in the state, have also gerrymandered their districts in Congress the same way (that's how we got the Tea Party House today). They are promoting, in the guise of being "more democratic," the idea of changing the electoral college rules in ONLY those states to award one elector per Congressional district, and the last two by the statewide vote, while leaving the "red" states that may have a few "blue" districts on the winner take all rule.

As this article points out, fifty state strategies have to start at the bottom, in each state's local and state offices, and it is not a one-cycle process.

upto I looked at the draft four $8736, I accept neighbours mother woz trully bringing in money part-time on their apple labtop.. there dads buddy has done this 4 only about 14 months and at present paid the loans on their place and bourt a great Lancia. page

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)