Election 2012

A Tea Party for the Rest of Us?

After being mocked as a silly, purposeless movement, #OccupyWallSt has in the past few days gotten a boost of legitimacy.

We're entering week three of demonstrations from Occupy Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, intended to protest the abuses of the financial sector. After being mocked as a silly, purposeless movement, the group has in the past few days garnered the support of labor unions, giving it a boost of legitimacy. Even a reluctant media paid them some attention this weekend when New York City police arrested 700 protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge. The trick is to turn these events into a movement. As many have noted, currently the protests don't seem to have a concrete goal or agenda in mind. Of course, getting really specific about policy—a financial transactions tax, for example—probably won't win the widespread support the group needs. Just as the Tea Party pushes Republicans to the right, the left has been looking for a way to push Democrats and President Obama to the left. There's a jobs bill sitting in Congress along with a suggestion to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the SEC is...

Who Stole the Election?

When Charles Webster was a member of the Maine House during the 1980s and 1990s, he and his Republican colleagues routinely proposed bills that would create restrictive voting laws—or, as Webster sees it, legislation to tamp down on the rampant threat of voter fraud. “Every year we tried to solve this problem,” he says, “and it was always a partisan vote,” with Democrats supporting laws intended to increase turnout. As a result, Webster says, “We have one of the most loosey-goosey, lax election laws in the country.” Others would call Maine’s voting laws a striking success. Most states struggle to get citizens to the polls; national turnout for a presidential election hasn’t topped 60 percent since 1968, and turnout for midterm elections hovers in the 30s. That puts the United States far below the participation level in other Western democracies. Yet for the past four decades, Maine has stood apart. With an array of regulations that encourage voting—the state has allowed voters to...

All the President's Frenemies

Barry Blitt
This piece from our October 2011 issue won an award from the National Association of Black Journalists on June 24 for best magazine commentary/essay. It's a packed house at St. Sabina's Church on the South Side of Chicago. The pews are full, and attendees who didn't come early on this August Sunday must huddle in the back, though they don't have to strain to hear the speakers, media maven Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West. Chicago is Barack Obama's home court, yet this is the last church meeting where you'd find the president, lest he confirm the right-wing fantasy that he's a fellow traveler of leftist radicals. Fruit of Islam bodyguards stand in their pinstriped suits looking like the Secret Service outfitted by Al Capone's tailor, fingers pressed to their white earpieces as the man they're protecting, Minister Louis Farrakhan, sits in the front row. Next to him is Father Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina's, whose caustic remarks about Hillary Clinton prompted...

Can Tammy Baldwin Win?

Over at TheAtlantic.com, I look into the question of whether openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin can become Wisconsin's senator. Pop quiz: What's the " L-word" that's likely to hurt her most? Hint: It's not this one . Here's an excerpt: In 1998, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent, winning a seat representing liberal Madison, Wisc., in the House of Representatives. Now the leading candidate to become the Democratic nominee to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl, Baldwin would become the first out U.S. Senator in American history if she wins election in November 2012. And in a kind triumph for the gay rights movement, it turns out "lesbian" isn't the L-word most likely to be used against her in a race defeat either likely Republican opponent, whether Mark Neumann or Tommy Thompson. In Wisconsin, the fighting L-word these days is "liberal" -- and, observers say, that's the territory on which her race will be won or lost. .....

Rick Perry Wins Without Showing Up

(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Last night's Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire was the first to feature the full cast of GOP presidential hopefuls, but that doesn't mean it featured a full slate of ideas. The debate ran through familiar Republican tropes about the evils of taxes, regulation, and abortion. But early debates aren't meant to showcase policy; they're meant to influence party elites. Tim Pawlenty invoked his childhood at every opportunity, so much so that it's safe to say "I grew up in a blue-collar town" will become the new "My father worked in a mill." Mitt Romney attacked the president on job creation: "He's failed the American people both on job creation and the scale of government, and that's why he's not going to be re-elected." And Michele Bachmann re-upped her promise to repeal "Obamacare" upon entering the White House. All the candidates participating in the debate -- which also included Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain -- pledged their support...

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