Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Quick Notes - December, 2014

As we approach the new year, with a Republican-controlled
Congress, a cascade of announcements for president in
both parties (and some declines), new executive orders by
President Obama, oil probably at below $50 a barrel, new
machinations in the Middle East, and lots of surprises,
it’s time for a survey of some recent news stories.

JEB BUSH has now formally announced an exploratory
committee for president. In current polls, he is either the
leading Republican committee, or close to it. The cliche
about his surname being an obstacle to his becoming
Bush 45, now seems to be wrong. If he does run (more than a
50% chance of occurring), he will be one of the frontrunners.
With his Hispanic-American family (including his son
GEORGE P. BUSH, now a statewide elected officeholder in
Texas), a Jeb Bush candidacy would probably keep fellow
Floridian and U.S. Senator MARCO RUBIO out of the race.

HILLARY CLINTON continues to delay her public decision
about her candidacy for president. Although an overwhelming
frontrunner is all early polls, she has faced considerable
criticism from within her own party, and her poll numbers
have declined. A draft-ELIZABETH WARREN boomlet has
appeared from Mrs Clinton’s left, and Massachusetts Senator
Warren has been gathering strength in the polls, most of it
apparently in the Democratic Party’s most leftist base.
Although Vice President JOE BIDEN says he is considering the
race, his poll strength seems to be based on his name recognition
and little more. My old friend MIKE MCCURRY, formerly
President BILL CLINTON’s press secretary, has written a
suggestion that Mrs. Clinton be appointed to the U.S. Supreme
Court (should a vacancy occur in the next 18 months). Is this a
trial balloon? Who knows?

Perhaps the most extraordinary freshman class of new U.S.
senators in memory is about to enter the national scene in the
nation’s capital. BEN SASSE (Nebraska) and DAVID PERDUE
(Georgia) are replacing other Republican senators, and THOM
TILLIS (North Carolina), JONI ERNST (Iowa), CORY GARDNER
(Colorado), TOM COTTON (Arkansas), BILL CASSIDY (Louisiana)
DAN SULLIVAN (Alaska) SHELLEY CAPUTO (West Virginia),
STEPHEN DAINES (Montana), and MIKE ROUNDS (South Dakota)
are replacing Democrats, andmthus have given the GOP control of
the new senate by a 54-46 margin. This exceptionally strong class
includes five former members of the U.S. house, a state speaker of
the house, a pig farmer/state senator, two active officers in the
military, a former governor, a physician, successful businessmen
and a conservative college president. The usual rules about senate
freshmen keeping quiet and a low profile might not apply to this
group. The new Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL
might have his hands full.

Rumors that former (2012) GOP presidential nominee MITT
ROMNEY might run again in 2016 continue to circulate, but now
that both JEB BUSH and New Jersey Governor CHRIS CHRISTIE
seem poised to run, this would seem to be much less likely. The
dark horse candidacy of DR. BEN CARSON, a black physician,
however seem to be the surprise at the early stage of the cycle,
as Dr. Carson, an outspoken and charismatic conservative,
shows up high in the polls despite being generally an unknown
national figure. The Republicans have a considerable number of
other big-name potential candidates, including the hard-charging
Senator RAND PAUL of Kentucky who was particularly active
helping candidates in 2012, including Majority Leader McConnell
who has virtually endorsed him.

Long-serving and highly popular Iowa Governor TERRY
BRANSTAD is leading an effort to scuttle the Iowa Straw Poll,
a fundraiser for the state Republican party and favorite event
of the national media, (but also a political graveyard for some
serious GOP presidential candidates --- most recently then-
Governor TIM PAWLENTY of Minnesota in 2012). This straw poll,
which traditionally takes place in the summer of the year before
the presidential election, has in recent years been the opening
salvo of the presidential campaign.

Prime Minister BINYAMIN (“Bibi”) NETANYAHU of Israel has
called for new elections, With its multiple parties in the Israeli
Knesset (parliament), the politics of the Jewish state are dizzying
in their permutations and complications, but few are betting
against the wily incumbent at this point.

Conservative and nationalist political parties and movements
are springing up and strengthening across the nations of the
European Union, most of it apparently provoked by the recent
immigration of workers from north Africa and former colonies.
Even Conservative Party Prime Minster DAVID CAMERON of
Great Britain is facing a strong challenge from a new party on
his right. Socialist Prime Minister FRANCOIS HOLLANDE of
France seems particularly endangered. 2015 could be a year of
considerable political change in Europe.

The decline in the price of oil is so far the biggest economic story
in the world, and the current price (about $55 a barrel) is
transforming economies, helping some (consumer nations) and
harming others (exporting nations). How far down the price of oil
will go is very uncertain, and it is likely to remain a very major
story in 2015. Economic columnist Robert Samuelson, one of the
savviest writers on the subject, says the fall in crude oil prices,
and subsequent lower prices at the pump, is a huge “windfall”
for consumers, and could help much of the world economy,
assuming consumers spend most of their fuel savings.

The Chinese economy appears to be in turmoil. As the now
largest economy in the world, its gyrations could have major
and hitherto unexpected impact across the globe.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: What Will Determine The 2016 GOP Nominee?

The discussion about who might be the 2016 Republican
nominee for president has begun, but it so far has
barely touched on the real ingredients of a successful
campaign.

In fact, so far the discussion is overwhelmingly about the
personal ideology of the various possible contestants, and
how that ideology fits the current assessment of the GOP
electorate by whomever is conducting the discussion.

I suggest that this is exactly the wrong approach to the
question, and almost certain to lead to wrong conclusions.

First of all, here is my list of prerequisites for any serious
candidate in 2016:

A charismatic and likeable public personality, the ability
    to speak well, debate effectively, and generally think well
    on his or her feet, without making chronic gaffes.

A broad knowledge of U.S. public policy, critical national
    problems and issues; this probably gained from credible
    previous experience in government and/or business.

The instinct and the skill to remain on offense at all levels
     of campaigning and in all campaign circumstances.

Have as few personal controversies as possible, and to
     make the decision to put those vulnerabilities he or she
     does have out in public for airing as early as possible.

A national network of political organizers and staff at
    local and state levels. For those who have run before, such
    a network is probably already in place, and might be quite
    large. It might be much smaller for first-time presidential
    candidates, but needs to be structured to expand quickly
    and efficiently.

A fundraising  organization which either already has
    direct contact with major party funders, or can, if the
    candidate emerges as a major contender, make those
    contacts quickly. Further, a fundraising effort which does
    not use most of the funds to pay for the fundraising.

Close counsel and a working campaign team who think  
    creatively, can challenge the candidate, and organize the
    candidate’s campaign employing original strategies which
    take advantage of the contemporary (and not necessarily
    the historical) make-up of the electorate, the party’s voters
    and their concerns.

A political image which is enhanced by clearly stated
    public policy ideas and principles that separate the
    candidate from his or her competitors.

A public political personality which can appeal to voters
    of the majoritarian center of American politics.

The luck of being able to be the right person at the right
    time, and to have unanticipated developments break their
    way.

Obviously, no candidate is strong on all these points. Some
of these points have more weight than others. The candidate
and his campaign cannot control some of them The eventual
nominee, if he or she is to win the presidential election, will
fulfill more of these points than will his or her rivals, but the
combinations are not pre-established and predictable.

There will be a very large field initially for the Republican
nomination. Presumably, at this point, the Democratic field
will be smaller, and barring the unforeseen, not as competitive.
It would take a dramatic turn of events for Mrs. Clinton to be
denied her party’s nomination. Mrs. Clinton could surprise
everyone and choose not to run, or Senator Warren could emerge
as the 2016 Barack Obama, but neither of those now seem likely.

Some factors, in my opinion, are quite over-rated. National name
recognition clearly helps in early polls, but can quickly fade as the
contest begins in earnest. Family name, or the legacy factor, was
much demolished in the 2014 midterm elections (Senators Pryor,
Landrieu, Udall, Begich and candidate Nunn all lost in spite of
having popular family forebears). Although the Democrats had
much more money in 2008 and 2014, money was not the
determining factor in those elections.  Big-name endorsements are
always tempting for campaigns, but they actually do not usually
shift many votes at all.

Innovation is often a hallmark of a successful national campaign.
This goes back to at least the campaign of Abraham Lincoln, who
only months before the GOP convention which nominated him was
at the bottom of a list of nine, eight of whom were better known
than he was. Employing an unprecedented use of the media and
technology, and having networked in his party for years before,
Lincoln rose quickly. Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton and Obama
also employed technological and other innovative strategies to
propel them to the presidency.

Presidential campaigns tend to focus on the lessons from the
previous cycle without thinking about new conditions and
factors in the new cycle.

Governor Chris Christie, having skillfully overcome a
potentially serious controversy in his home state of New Jersey,
got himself elected the chair of Republican Governors
Association, and spent the entire 2014 campaign raising money
and showing up to campaign for GOP governors across the
nation. The unexpected success of so many GOP gubernatorial
candidates in 2014 will pay enormous dividends for Mr. Christie
should he become a candidate. Senator Rand Paul also campaigned
strenuously for senate candidates across the country, including
vital support for his Kentucky colleague Mitch McConnell, now to
be the senate majority leader. Mr. McConnell, not considered to
be close ideologically to Mr. Paul, nevertheless has already
virtually endorsed him for president. Mr. Paul has also carefully
cultivated a broader image of his isolationist and libertarian
views.

Much is now made, in both the liberal and conservative media,
about the difficulty for an “establishment” (translate as more
moderate) Republican figure to win the nomination in 2016.
This presupposes that ideology weighs more than the desire of
most Republican and independent voters of varying conservative
views to win back the presidency in 2016. I made this same point
before the 2014 election about more radical right wing challengers
to incumbents and other solid candidates in house and senate races.
The conservative grass roots wanted to win in 2014; and I suggest
they will also want to win equally or more so in 2016.

The 2016 primary and caucus system lies ahead. Early winners
in these events have advantages, but serious candidates who can
survive to the later series of primaries and caucuses can win
their party’s nomination.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Closing The 2014 Book

The massive wave election of 2014 in the U.S. senate races
was completed Saturday, December 6 when Republican Bill
Cassidy defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Mary
Landrieu by a landslide 12 points in a run-off in Louisiana.
That will give the GOP at least a 54-46 margin, and a gain
of 9 senate seats.

Two U.S. house seats had run-offs in Louisiana at the same
time, and Republicans won both of them, giving them a
246-188 margin in that body. One seat remains undecided,
in Arizona’s 2nd district where a Republican challenger leads
the Democratic incumbent by 161 votes before the recount.
That recount will be completed by December 17. The
Arizona secretary of state does not expect the recount to
change the leader, based on previous recounts. Should the
GOP candidate win, the 247-188 margin would be the largest
for the conservative party in many decades.

While political stalemate lies ahead, as it has existed since
the 2010 midterms when the GOP won back control of the
U.S. house, the ability of the “lame duck” President Obama
to control political and policy events will have been severely
curtailed by the loss of liberal control of the U.S. senate,
especially in terms of presidential appointments which must
be approved by the senate.

President Obama has so far indicated that his personal
political course has not been changed by the 2014 election,
but the combined GOP leadership in the Congress has many
cards to play over the next 18 months until the 2016
presidential and congressional election campaign begins.
House Speaker John Boehner especially has been through
four difficult years of his relationship with the White House,
and so far is indicating he will be, now joined by Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a formidable opponent.

Conventional wisdom has suggested that the upcoming
stalemate might ultimately benefit the Democratic nominee
for president (now presumed to be Hillary Clinton) in 2016,
but that also presumes that the majority of U.S. voters will
want the stalemate to continue past January 20, 2017 when a
new president is inaugurated. (The U.S. house almost certainly
will remain in GOP hands, and the large margin gained in 2014
in the U.S. senate makes it more problematic for the Democrats
to regain control of that body.)

The more the president now refuses to compromise with the
Republican Congress, the more difficult his final two years
will make it for the Democratic nominee of his party to
succeed him in 2017. The agenda of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi
administration was unambiguously rejected at the polls in
2014 in an election that was “nationalized” in large part by
President Obama himself.

On the other hand, the Republican legislators will need to be
skillful as the party in opposition. Some of their more radical
members could play into the hands of their liberal
opponents by trying to insist on unpopular or unwise courses
of action.

The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, also do not have a
likely presidential candidate. A competitive, and possibly
bitter, primary/caucus season lies ahead, beginning in January,
2016 (which is only a bit more than a year away). Candidates
do matter, as 2014 clearly demonstrated, and the GOP will
need to put forward a strong nominee in the next cycle.

Otherwise, their current advantages, especially the growing
fatigue with a Democratic president, could be lost. The
outcome in November, 2016 is still very much an open
question, and a book yet to be written.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Ten More Amazing Facts From History And Science You Probably Didn't Know About

1.   TRAGIC NEWS IN GERMANY IN JANUARY, 1945,        
      THE SINKING OF THE NAZI VESSEL WILHELM
      GUSTLOFF WITH THE LOSS OF ABOUT 8000 
      LIVES, WAS THE WORST SINGLE SHIP DISASTER 
      IN HISTORY (I PREVIOUSLY WROTE ABOUT
      THIS INCIDENT).  BUT AN EVEN BIGGER STORY 
      FOR GERMANY, THEN IN THE FINAL DAYS OF  
      ENDURING 12 YEARS OF NAZI BARBARISM AND
      TYRANNY, WAS THAT MORE THAN ONE
      MILLION GERMANS CIVILIANS AND SOLDIERS 
      WERE EVACUATED FROM EAST PRUSSIA (NOW
      POLAND).  "Operation Hannibal"was the largest short-term
      military evacuation by sea in history, dwarfing the more
      celebrated British evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. It rescued
      these ethnic Germans from advancing Soviet troops bent
      on revenge for the atrocities committed by the Nazi armies
      in Russia. However, once back in Germany, many of these
      refugees and soldiers were swept up in the chaos of the
      end of the war, and did not fare well.

      [Further reading: Death in the Baltic by Catherine J. Prince]
    
  2. GAVRILO PRINCIP, WHO ASSASSINATED
      ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND IN SARAJEVO IN
      1914, AN ACT WHICH DIRECTLY CAUSED WORLD   
      WAR I, WAS NOT EXECUTED BUT DIED OF
      PNEUMONIA IN CAPTIVITY IN THERESIENSTAT  
      PRISON  IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN APRIL, 1918.
      In one of history’s cruelest ironies, Theresienstat
      became one of the most notorious concentration
      camps of the Holocaust of World War II --- the war
      and the Holocaust. having led directly from World
      War I. (An added irony is that Princip’s first name
      is Serbo-Croatian for the Hebrew name for “Gabriel”
      which means “”messenger of the Lord.”
     
  3. CRIMEA, NOW A CRISIS POINT BETWEEN        
      RUSSIA AND UKRAINE, WAS MORE THAN 1000
      YEARS AGO PART OF A JEWISH KINGDOM.
      The Khazars were an Asian Turkic people who in
      the 4th century A.D. conquered the area north of
      the Black Sea, including the Crimean peninsula.
      Grown rich from taxing the silk caravans that
      passed through Khazar lands, the kingdom became
      powerful and very rich. In the 8th century, the king     
      and the Khazar elites converted to Judaism,
      although there are conflicting stories about why and
      how it happened. Jewish rule was relatively brief,
      but it is an amazing story considering the
      subsequent tragic history of the Jews in the same
      place a thousand years later.     
     
  4. ONE OF THE OLDEST ETHNIC GROUPS IN
      EUROPE HAS NOT EVER HAD THEIR OWN
      NATION. THE RUSYNS (OR CARPATHO-RUSYNS)
      SPEAK THEIR OWN LANGUAGE, AND HAVE A
      DISTINCT RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL
      HERITAGE. An ancient people who have lived in
      the area around the Carpathian Mountains in
      central Europe for the past thousand years, the
      Rusyn lands have been part of Russia, Ukraine,
      Austro-Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Romania.
      In 1919, after World War I, various Rusyn leaders
      traveled to the Versailles Conference in Paris to
      plead for their own nation, but were denied. Today,
      many of the 4 million Rusyns live in the U.S.

     [Further reading: The People From Nowhere by 
            Robert Magocsi]

  5. ONE OF THE VERY FEW NATIVE FOODS OF THE
      AMERICAN MIDWEST RECOGNIZED GLOBALLY
      AS A GOURMET DISH, MINNESOTA WILD RICE,
      IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE RICE FAMILY BUT IS
      A GRASS. There are four kinds of true wild rice.
      The most well-known is native to the northern
      prairies, including especially northern Minnesota.
      Other varieties are native to eastern U.S., Texas
      and China, and varieties have been transplanted to
      California, but the primary commercial crop is
      from Minnesota.   
     
  6. THE MOST CELEBRATED SPY OF WORLD WAR II
      WAS A CATALAN WHO HAD TO SIGN UP FIRST AS 
      A NAZI AGENT IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED 
      BY BRITISH INTELLIGENCE AS THEIR DOUBLE
      AGENT.  Juan Pujols, known universally by the cover
      name “Garbo,” devised and implemented the
      greatest military deception in modern history by
      fooling Hitler and the German Wehrmacht to think
      the primary Allied invasion of Europe in 1944 would
      be at Calais and not at Normandy. Even three
      months after D-Day, “Garbo” persuaded the Nazis
      to hold vital divisions at Calais, waiting for an
      imaginary army invasion that did not come, and
      many consider Garbo’s efforts was a vital part of
      D-Day’s ultimate success.
      
      [Further reading: Agent Garbo by Steven Talty]

 7. THE FIRST SCIENTIST TO CONCEIVE THE
     THERMONUCLEAR REACTION IN HYDROGEN,
     A DISCOVERY THAT LED DIRECTLY TO THE
     H-BOMB, WAS NOT AN AMERICAN, NOR A
     GERMAN NOR ANY EUROPEAN. The first physicist 
     to do so was, ironically, the Japanese physicist
     Togutaru Hagiwara who revealed his discovery at
     lecture in Kyoto in May 1941, seven months before
     Pearl Harbor. Although the first H-bomb was not
     exploded until 1954, Hagiwara was also a pioneer
     in the theories which led to the first A-bomb
     exploded over Hiroshima in August, 1945’

     [Further reading: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by 
            Richard Rhodes]   

 8. ARAMAIC WAS THE ACTUAL LANGUAGE OF THE
     OLD TESTAMENT. Although Hebrew and Arabic are
     today derived from it, it is still a living language for
     about two million Assyrians, a Christian people who
     live in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq where they have
     faced persecution for centuries. (A senior member of
     the U.S. house of representatives, Anna Eshoo of
     California, is the only Assyrian-American in
     Congress. 
    
 9. KING FAROUK OF EGYPT, WHO WAS OUSTED
     FROM POWER BY THE EGYPTIAN MILITARY
     IN 1952, THE SAME GROUP NOW IN CONTROL
     IN THAT COUNTRY, WAS ONE OF THE WORLD’S
     FOREMOST NUMISMATISTS OR COIN
     COLLECTORS. His fabled collection included at
     least one of the most valuable coins ever issued by
     the U.S. Mint, the 1913 “Liberty” nickel (one sold for 
     $5 million in 2007) He also owned an “unofficial” 1933 
     U.S. gold double eagle that sold at auction for the highest
     price for any coin in history, $7.4 million.
    
10.WHEN THE U.S. DOLLAR WAS CONVERTIBLE TO
     GOLD, THE PRICE OF GOLD WAS $35 AN OUNCE,
     AND LATER, $42 AN OUNCE AND THEN $44 AN
     OUNCE. From 1933 until recently, the U.S. Mint did
     not issue gold coins, and they were not legal tender.
     Nevertheless, gold coins have been bought and sold
     on the collector’s market throughout the nation’s
     history. In 1971, the U.S. ended converting dollars
     into gold. At that time, common dates of twenty
     dollar gold pieces were routinely bought and sold
     for under $50 each (There was almost exactly one
     ounce of gold in those “double eagles”). When gold
     reached its all-time peak in 2011, those same gold
     pieces traded at about $1900 each. Today the price of
     gold is about $1200 per ounce. (Gold coins of all
     denominations which have numismatic value can
     exceed the official price by significant amounts --- as
     can be noted in the previous “amazing” fact of
     history.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

     

Sunday, November 30, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Age In The White House

There is now going to be an exhaustive discussion in the
media about the upcoming 2016 presidential election.
The discussion has already commenced, well before most
American voters have begun to think seriously about their
choices and preferences, but with the historic 2014 “wave”
election now history, and the prospect of no incumbent on
either party ticket in 2016, it is only natural that this political
conversation is underway.

I intend to explore several potential political themes for 2016,
and to try to anticipate, always an inexact exercise, what will
move voters most, not only in the presidential election, but
in the other major federal and state races as well.

We don’t know for certain who all the Democratic and
Republican contestants for the presidency will be, but with
the enormous organizational and financial requirements for
a successful candidacy, the time necessary to assemble this
kind of campaign organization, and less than two years
before the first caucuses and primaries, it becomes less and
less likely that a surprise late entry could emerge.

Initially, we can observe the obvious. The Democrats seem
poised to nominate Hillary Clinton, 67, if she decides to run
(and all signs point to that conclusion), but it is also probable
that she will have some initial opposition. Virtually all those
in her party, are, or will be in 2016, in their late 60s and in
their 70s. Does this pose a vital problem for the liberal party
which, in the recent past, has attracted the most younger
voters? In contrast, the Republican Party offers mostly
presidential candidates in their late 40s, 50s and early 60’s.

Individuals are quite varied in how they are affected by their
older years. Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George
H.W. Bush had distinguished presidencies. But for the past
six presidential elections, Americans have preferred
younger  figures. Bill Clinton was 46 at the time of his election
in 1992, George W. Bush was 54, and Barack Obama was 47.
Prior to them, John F. Kennedy was 43 when elected, Richard
Nixon was 55, and Jimmy Carter was 52. Unlike many cultures
in Asia and elsewhere in the world, the U.S. has become a culture
which celebrates youth. Political organizations of both parties
are dominated by young men and women.

If Mitt Romney were to be the GOP nominee again in 2016,
there would be presumably no age issue. Both he and Mrs.
Clinton are the same age. If for some unexpected reason,
Mrs. Clinton chose not to run, virtually all of the other
Democratic candidates are older Americans.

I am not suggesting that age is the primary issue in 2016, but
I do think it plays an important role in the more subliminal
landscape of the next cycle. Mrs. Clinton’s primary attraction
to her party is that, if elected, she would become the first
woman president, and that seems clearly to be a more
important consideration for liberal voters. Mr. Obama was one
of the youngest men elected president, and he is currently not
very popular. In fact, he was the catalyst for the “wave” election
rejection of the Democrats in 2014. Richard Nixon and George
W. Bush were the only “young” GOP post-war presidents, and
they, too, ended their presidencies with low voter approval.

In 2014, the Republicans regained the U.S. senate with a
significant number of younger, fresh figures. The “boomer”
generation have for more than twenty years dominated
American politics, but a newer generation seems eager more
and more to take charge. It will be quite instructive to see
how this impulse plays out in the 2016 election cycle.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to the
international family of 
subscribers and readers of 
The Prairie Editor website.

A special salute to our U.S.
service men and women
around the world.

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Voters Who Don't Vote

I have written about this before, but there is always an
occasion when someone misuses the fact that a number of
eligible voters don’t actually cast a vote.

In this case, the misuse was by the president of the United
States who held a press conference after the November 4
election, and declared that while he heard the message
from the 36% of Americans who voted, he also heard the
message from the 64% who did not vote. This presumably
enables Mr. Obama to try to claim he and his policies were
not clearly rejected at the polls. as if the 64%  had a different
message in mind.

My notion is that there are always 100% of the voters in a
representative democracy who, one way or another, vote. I
am not saying, of course, there is a 100% turnout, but I am
saying, since voting in the U.S. is universal and voluntary,
the percentage of voters who don’t actually show up to vote
in reality are casting a vote to accept the winner, whomever
that turns out to be.


In other words, voters who choose not to cast a ballot are, in
effect, accepting the vote outcome by default. It might be the
most passive act a voter can make, but it is still a choice.

There used to be excuses made for and by voters who don’t
vote, including outright discrimination, illness, disability,
work conflict, etc., but today those impediments have been
all but eliminated. Absentee ballots are easily available, and
now often no excuse need be given to obtain one. Voting now
takes place over weeks, not just on one day. Some states
don’t even require voters to go to the polls --- they can mail in
their ballots. Same-day registration is available; minimal I.D.
requirements are made. In short, voting is now easier than
going to the grocery store.

The 2014 national midterm election was a nationalized vote
on Mr. Obama and his administration, just as the 2006 national
midterm election was a nationalized vote on George W. Bush
and his administration. Mr. Bush had the grace to admit that he
and his colleagues had received a “thumpin’,” and he moved on
to try to make his final two years as president the best he could.

Hopefully, Mr. Obama will now try to do the same.

U.S. voting patterns suggest a wide variance in turnout. More
voters understandably vote in presidential election years than in
midterm years, but turnout is essentially the domain of the
political parties and their candidates. From the point of view
of the the republic, however, the turnout is always 100%. It is
up to the individual voters whether or not they want their votes
to be counted.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.