The argument being made by the GOP: Reid’s comments about Obama were as racially insensitive as Lott’s comments that lead to his resignation. Reid should resign.
Here’s TNC giving his take on the issue.
Lott celebrated apartheid Mississippi’s support of Strom Thurmond, and then said that had Thurmond won, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.” Strom Thurmond run for president, specifically because he opposed Harry Truman’s efforts at integration. This is not mere conjecture–nearly half of Thurmond’s platform was dedicated to preserving segregation. The Dixiecrat slogan was “Segregation Forever!” (Exclamation point, theirs.) Trent Lott’s wasn’t forced to resign because he said something “racially insensitive.” He was forced to resign because he offered tacit endorsement of white supremacy–frequently.
Claiming that Harry Reid’s comments are the same, is like claiming that referring to Jews as “Hebrews” is the same as endorsing Nazism. Whereas a reputable portion of black people still usethe term Negro without a hint of irony, no black person thinks the guy yelling “Segregation Forever!” would have cured us of “all these problems.”
Leaving aside political cynicism, this entire affair proves that the GOP is not simply still infected with the vestiges of white supremacy and racism, but is neither aware of the infection, nor understands the disease. Listening to Liz Cheney explain why Harry Reid’s comments were racist, was like listening to me give lessons on the finer points of the comma splice. This a party, rightly or wrongly, regarded by significant portions of the country as a haven for racists. They aren’t simply having a hard time re-branding, they don’t actually understand how and why they got the tag.
My opinion: What Lott did (and what other Republicans have done – remember those emails, pictures, comments?!?) is direct and unacceptable and ground for resignation. What Reid did shows insensitivity and ignorance. But because he statement was not direct, it shows that he is really just acting like a holdover from a generations whose ideas on racial issues have passed their prime. Reid needs to make a statement, that’s the only correct thing to do. He should also do damage control with the presser with the President and maybe an event or so with him. Either way, both comments are unacceptable. Come on people!
Filed under: BU for Barack, Campaigning, Democratic Nomination 2008, Election 2008, President Obama, Voters, Youth Vote
From FM (in full because it’s so good!):
Those of us in the progressive youth movement have been talking about the importance of young voter outreach for a long time now. We tried to drive home the point that young voters are not apathetic, but disengaged due to that self-fulfilling prophecy of traditional campaign ‘wisdom.’ Youth political organizations kept succeeding, increasing youth turnout in 2004 and 2006. David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Barack Obama eschewed tradition by deciding from the beginning that organizing young voters to expand the electorate would be the key to victory.
“One of [Paul] Tewes’s ideas was to make sure we were working every community, no matter how small. African American, Latino, high school kids, Republicans–we had staff assigned to all of the demographics, months ahead of our competition.” The Obama campaign began by working hard to turn out the potential voters that traditional campaigns write off. While critics of the youth vote claim that 2008 was a fluke and just about Obama, it is clear that the campaign worked hard to organize youth that had never been asked for their vote by a campaign. The campaign knew that they “would win Iowa only on the backs of independents, Republicans, young voters, and new registrants–a scary proposition, to say the least.”
The campaign was able to look at the election through the lens of a young voter. “At least 95 percent of our six thousand employees were under the age of thirty, most under the age of twenty-five.” While it is not uncommon for a lot of campaign staff to be young, what was exceptional about the Obama campaign was the respect for them and the willingness to trust their instincts on what was happening on the ground.
We adjusted accordingly, adding more media and Internet advertising geared exclusively to younger voters; we prepared to do a lot more instructional and informative work with our supporters so they knew how to caucus, while trying not to spook them; and we redoubled our efforts to attract support from conventional caucus Democrats so our newbies in certain precincts were matched with some grizzled veterans.
The campaign invested in “advertising specifically geared toward women, seniors, and younger voters, African Americans and Latinos.” The messaging of the youth advertising reflected an understanding of the generation: “spots for those under thirty were very aspirational, a call to action, focusing on issues like Iraq and the environment, and calling on younger voters to get involved in shaping the future.” Young voters, used to being ignored, were finally being engaged by a campaign with the same effort and respect showed to seniors.
The Obama campaign conceived of and executed a strategy to expand the electorate by registering and turning out young voters and other traditionally underrepresented demographics. Here are a few passages from The Audacity to Win on how this strategy became a winning one:
As the returns came in we could see the traces of our strategy’s design: by registering over one hundred thousand new voters, producing strong turnout among African Americans and young voters, and winning college-educated whites thanks to our stand against the gas tax, we had made ourselves unbeatable in North Carolina.
We registered many thousands of new voters in both states, and these voters participated at high rates, defying the conventional view that new registrants turn out in very low numbers. A strong showing from African Americans and younger voters might put both these states in play in the general election.
If we did not register enough African Americans and young voters in North Carolina and then turn them out on Election Day, we could not win. Facing a traditional electorate meant we shouldn’t even bother with a state like North Carolina, no matter how much money we spent.
By focusing their attention on young voters and actually spending resources on research, the campaign learned new things about new and young voters. An example was when their numbers showed that they were not meeting their initial goals for youth early voting:
First, many young voters were so excited by this election that they couldn’t envision doing anything besides voting for Barack Obama in person at the polling location. When we raised with them the possibility of long lines, or the potential to free themselves up to volunteer, they simply wouldn’t budge. This was a big moment for them and they felt it would seem bigger if they voted at the polls. In any case, they were still dead-set on participating, which relieved us.
The second lesson was that there was still some confusion about who was eligible to vote early and how it worked. Armed with these findings, we made sure our communications to younger voters included even more remedial information about the nuts and bolts of early voting. Soon enough, their numbers began to climb. In many states we lowered our expectations for the under-twenty-five early vote (but not for overall turnout), and we eventually hit those numbers in most battlegrounds.
Republicans have spent a lot of effort in previous campaigns spreading misinformation to young voters about such things as early voting, residency, and registration. By putting in the effort to combat that misinformation, the campaign was able to empower and turn out voters who were unsure of the sometimes complex election laws.
As we now know, this strategy of reaching out to young voters paid off, despite the naysayers from the media and the old school political establishment:
Our base–African Americans, sporadic-voting Democrats, and younger voters–was turning out in larger numbers than McCain’s base in most states.
The share of the electorate over sixty-five actually dropped between 2004 and 2008, not because fewer older voters turned out but because younger ones showed up in droves.
Because the Obama campaign was committed to putting effort and resources in registering and turning out young voters, treating them with the same respect as other demographics, they were able to build on the work done by youth organizations since 2000 to culminate with those voters carrying Obama to victory and the presidency. However, culminate may not be the appropriate word. The work in further expanding the electorate by turning out young voters to elect Democrats is far from over. There is more potential for the Millennial generation to not only expand the electorate in an election, but to fundamentally alter the country for the better.
I’ll leave you with David Plouffe’s words on our generation:
I left the campaign extraordinarily confident about the future of the country, because of the talent and drive of the young men and women who made our victory possible. Certainly, we would not have won the primary or the general without a surging youth turnout in any number of states, Iowa most importantly. But their impact on the election goes beyond casting ballots. Most of our staff was under thirty, many of them were under twenty-five, as were a sizable chunk of our most active volunteers. As I witnessed, sometimes in awe, their performance and desire to look beyond themselves and contribute to a better world (and they have a distinctly global outlook) it gave me extreme comfort to know that in the not so distant future they will be taking the reins and leading our companies, campaigns, and institutions. For my generation, the rocking chair beckons–these kids are that good. I can’t wait to experience their leadership and vision in the years to come.
Filed under: President Obama
An ad that ran in the Washington Times:
Now he’s British?
Alex is dead on (btw, Steph and I had this same conversation yesterday morning…)
No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt’s original Social Security Act. It excluded agricultural workers — a huge part of the economy in 1935, and one in which Latinos have traditionally worked. It excluded domestic workers, which included countless African Americans and immigrants. It did not cover the self-employed, or state and local government employees, or railroad employees, or federal employees or employees of nonprofits. It didn’t even cover the clergy. FDR’s Social Security Act did not have benefits for dependents or survivors. It did not have a cost-of-living increase. If you became disabled and couldn’t work, you got nothing from Social Security.If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist. Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start. We added more people to the winner’s circle: farmworkers and domestic workers and government workers. We extended benefits to the children of working men and women who died. We granted benefits to the disabled. We mandated annual cost-of-living adjustments. And today Social Security is the bedrock of our progressive vision of the common good.
Politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect. I understand this specific issue is a very, verybig deal to some people. But big enough to sink a once in a generation chance at meaningful heath care reform?
As with all legislation, these reforms can always be altered and improved later on, particularly because the major provisions don’t take effect for as many as 3 or 4 years. If it cannot be corrected now, it can always be corrected later. But if this bill fails to pass, we lose everything in it. There is no a la carte option here.
Lieberman is willing to let the whole thing die because of the public option, exhibiting a level of self-interested short-sightedness that drives his opponents on the left nuts. But now, some of his fiercest critics want to draw a similar line over abortion funding. And so I have to ask: would the women that so many are fighting to defend be better off with a reformed system that doesn’t provide insurance coverage for abortions, or with no reform at all? Because if this fight is pushed too far, those will be the choices.
I’m not saying that this isn’t a fight worth having. If you believe it is, then fight! But as you do, keep the biggest possible picture in mind.