Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Elections Matter: What’s at Stake in 2014?

Quick answer: pretty much everything.

When I was phonebanking in 2010 for OFA (Obama For America) in Wisconsin, the unified campaign effort was tasked with electing a Democratic governor, re-electing Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), and electing Democrats to the House of Representatives. The phone script included this: “Please vote to send people to Washington DC who will help President Obama advance his agenda”.

On the list of people we were calling were those who had voted for President Obama in 2008, people who should have been interested in advancing his agenda because, in theory, they voted to do just that only two years before.

But mid-terms are funny things. Many of the people I called said they only voted in presidential elections. Some of them were unhappy because they didn’t get their pony so much of the president’s agenda had to be set aside to deal with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression … a parting “gift” from Worst President in History George W. Bush.

Well, Democrats were not enthused but Republicans were because they had two things firing up their base: a black man (who was not even born in ‘Murica!!) had stolen the election (ACORNNNN!!) … and the Affordable Care Act had been passed, ushering in death panels and government-run health care and frightening all your doctors into fleeing to the libertarian paradise of Somalia.

So turnout was low and we ended up with Scott Walker and a solid Republican legislature here in Wisconsin. And we sent Ron Johnson to the Senate and Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble to the House of Representatives. Elsewhere, Michigan got Rick Snyder, Ohio got John Kasich, Pennsylvania got Tom Corbett, Florida got Rick Scott, Iowa got Terry Branstad, Maine got Paul LePage … and America got Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.

The good news is that we can undo most of the damage that was done in the low turnout 2010 mid-term election by responding with a high turnout 2014 mid-term election. Because when we vote, we win. Really.

We can’t undo the gerrymandering that was done by Republican legislatures until the legislative session following the next census in 2020 (unless you are Texas). But with each election cycle, the gerrymanders will lose more of their grip as young people, natural Democratic constituencies … people who accept and celebrate diversity and who turn away from the hatred and bigotry of the past … start attaining voting age. In some states, where minorities are trending towards majority status, the tightly gerrymandered districts are already leaking. In Wisconsin, two of the congressional districts created are now toss-ups because there simply aren’t enough people who are willing to ignore the craziness that comes along with the purity positions of the modern Republican Party.

In 2014, we have a half-dozen gettable governorships and one hail mary (or hail Wendy?). We can make progress towards taking back a few state legislatures (or at least one chamber to create a firewalls). We only need to pick up 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives while holding onto our U.S. Senate seats. And we can run on the tangible benefits of the Affordable Care Act instead of running away from the myths that were promoted in the right-wing media.

Now, back to the question “What’s at Stake in 2014?” and my answer “just about everything”.

It starts with voting rights. A functioning democracy needs fair and honest elections. Right now we have a chance at achieving them with Attorney General Eric Holder whose Justice Department is aggressively pursuing Voting Rights Act violations despite the attempts of the Supreme Court to cripple it.

The only way, really, THE ONLY WAY that Republicans retain their majority going forward is by suppressing Democratic votes. Or if we suppress our own votes by sitting home instead of voting and getting out the vote. If we allow them to suppress our votes, or our enthusiasm, we give them the power to legislate … and choose federal judges who will rule against democratic elections … and we simply cannot and must not let that happen.

So get the word out: Elections Matter … every election. And there is no election more important than the next one because if we can deliver a congressional majority to President Obama so that he can advance his agenda (which is our agenda) we demonstrate what Good Government and Good Governing means … QEDquod erat demonstrandum – “what was required to be proved” will be proven. And it becomes that much easier to set the stage for 2016 when America will say “More, please, Democratic Party.”  

Elections really do matter. When we vote, we win. And when we win, America wins.


Next Up: What we learned from the 2010 “shellacking”


  1. DeniseVelez

    and that we could get some of the people we all know on the left to focus on making change and getting out the vote rather than simply whining and being counter productive.

    I frankly am sick and tired of hearing people who claim to be progressive state that votes and voting don’t matter.

    Too many people in the past died and suffered to get the franchise, and more will die if we allow the right wing to deprive people of food, housing, and health care – we cannot allow this election to slip away.

  2. nomandates

    in Texas. If we allow another 2010, then the Republicans will have another supermajority in the TX lege, and they will do another mid-decade gerrymander. (That’s my one quibble with your diary, JanF–for some time now, the GOP has established that there’s no requirement to wait until after the next census to gerrymander again.)

    Regardless, the TX GOP strategy is to pass outrageous bills, then fight it out in the courts. Over and over and over again.

    And the serial lying is out of control. Exhibit A: Ted Cruz saying that President Obama and the Democrats are responsible for the shutdown that Cruz himself demanded and orchestrated (that is too nice a word for what he did).

    Bottom line here in Texas: We must GOTV in 2014. I’m hoping that folks will post diaries sharing strategies for phonebanking and blockwalking and maximizing the potential of social media, etc.

  3. princesspat

    Koch Brothers Launch $2.5 Million Ad Blitz Against Democrats

    Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the Koch brothers, unveiled a TV ad blitz Thursday attacking vulnerable Senate Democrats over the implementation of Obamacare.

    The group launched a $2.5 million ad buy targeting Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), all Democrats facing tough reelection battles in 2014. The three ads follow a similar theme, zeroing in on some of the struggles the health care law has faced in the early stages of its rollout — namely President Barack Obama’s pledge that individuals could keep their current plans under Obamacare, which later turned out to be untrue.

    Tiresoome as they may be to me. the money they spend seems to keep influencing elections.

    Thanks for continuing to write about this important topic JanF.

  4. bubbanomics

    I for one would sure love to see what the Democrats can accomplish with control of the house and “real” control of the Senate.

    Next week’s post may be pretty short, were it to be based on “things found on the progressive blogosphere internets.”  

  5. HappyinVT

    in the noise.  Of course longer and longer election cycles don’t help.  It is barely 2014 and I’m already tired of hearing about 2016.  

  6. If they do, what will happen to these folks?

    Greg Sargent talks about the Three Stages of Obamacare Acceptance but suggests that we will not see it in 2014 … and probably not 2015 as GOP presidential hopefuls jockey for position. So when? If it is never, they will be permanently on the wrong side of history just like they are on Social Security and Medicare. And that is something we can run on for a long long time.

  7. And hopes we can work together for the “commonwealth”.

    Looking to 2014

    This isn’t another gloomy reiteration of the Bowling Alone argument, and it certainly isn’t a call for the kind of “bipartisan” Tipandronnie moments that bring a flutter to the heart of David Gregory and a shiver up the leg of Chris Matthews. Politics is supposed to be loud. It is supposed to be rough. The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a Moroccan bazaar, and not a quiet boutique along Rodeo Drive. We have differences, great differences, some of them (perhaps) unresolvable, about how this country should be governed through its politics. But what we cannot dispute among ourselves is that the country must be governed, and that it is our job to do it, and that we must find away to do it together. That’s the charge laid upon us by the first three words of the Constitution [We The People], no matter what you read on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, or in the collected works of charlatan history produced by David Barton or Glenn Beck. We must take the job seriously; primary races like the one going on in the Republican party in Georgia, where the “moderate” candidate is the one who wants to put poor children to work as janitors in exchange for the school-lunch program, cannot continue to be allowed to be the rule, and not the exception.

    Maybe if we can beat those people electorally often enough, and by wide enough margins, that the sort of Republicanism they represent will be swept into the dustbin of history. There is nothing wrong with a two party system that allows for competing ideas …  but they simply cannot have competing realities. There is only one reality and it does not include poor kids working as janitors for school lunches.

  8. Republican Strategists To GOP Lawmakers: Please Don’t Blow It On The Debt Ceiling

    The Hill reported Saturday that the looming debt ceiling battle has a number of GOP strategists “anxious about the party’s capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    Only months removed from a government shutdown that represented a huge embarrassment for Republicans on Capitol Hill, some strategists are urging their party’s lawmakers to cool it with their demands for concessions ahead of the Feb. 7 debt ceiling deadline.

    I don’t think that victory is all that close for them and I don’t think that “debt ceiling” is one of those things that people run on. But if it is put in terms of “Republicans don’t care that they are damaging the economy” it could be useful.

    The good news for us is that simply threatening to damage the economy works just as well to underscore the Republican disinterest in governing as actually damaging the economy.

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