Symptoms and Causes

The beating heart of modern conservatism is its visceral appeal to anxieties and fears of white Christians. … Once you understand this, you can see that the Republican Party’s problems are deeper than, say, opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. … Policy opposition is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The deeper issue is that for conservative politicians and conservative networks and conservative web sites, there is simply too much to be gained by feeding the sense of persecution and siege that many white Christians feel down to their toes.

— Chris Hayes,
Up with Chris Hayes, November 10

This week everybody was talking about the election aftermath

Democrats were happy with the election, but mostly we just got what the polls had promised us (plus toss-up senate races in North Dakota and Montana). Republicans, on the other hand, were shocked, because they had convinced themselves that the polls were biased (just like they’ve convinced themselves that climate scientists are part of some global leftist conspiracy).

So the really interesting thing to watch this week was how Republicans started dealing with this world they unexpectedly find themselves thrust into. That’s the subject of this week’s main article “W(h)ither the Republicans?“.

This week’s other article asks “Why Didn’t Money Talk?“. Citizens United was supposed to unleash an avalanche of money that would bury Democrats. It sort of did unleash that money, but Democrats won anyway. Does that mean it’s not a problem, or that Republicans just haven’t figured out how to take advantage yet?

One question lots of people have been asking: How did the Republicans hang onto the House? Answer: Gerrymandering. Democratic House candidates received more total votes than Republican House candidates, but the Republican state-legislature victories in 2010 allowed them to redraw the congressional districts to their advantage.

Incidentally, that points out how complicated it would be to make the Electoral College more fair. On the surface the Maine/Nebraska system of awarding each congressional district one electoral vote looks fairer than winner-take-all state elections. But that would raise the stakes on gerrymandering even higher. Romney might have won under such a system, even as he lost the popular vote by more than 3 million.

If you missed Karl Rove’s election-night craziness, watch Jon Stewart’s coverage of it. And if you missed President Obama’s thanks to his volunteers, watch it now:

All in all, I’m pleased with my hour-by-hour election guide. It anticipated states like Pennsylvania coming in faster than they did, but the overall story it told — Romney jumping out to an early electoral lead, but Obama pulling even around ten and winning by midnight — played out pretty well.

… and the fiscal cliff

Obama and Boehner fired their opening shots, but I’m not paying too much attention yet, because this is bound to stay unsettled for a month or more. Both sides want to sound reasonable while using codewords to reassure their supporters that they really aren’t compromising. It’s hard to tell what it all means or where it’s headed.

The liberal pundits and blogs are urging President Obama to call the Republicans’ bluff and let January 1 pass without a deal.

The Republican spin is that raising taxes for those making more than $250K will affect half of small business income. But on Face the Nation John Boehner had to admit that this comes from only 3% of “small” businessmen. In other words, they’ve miscategorized some big businessmen as small businessmen, and their income swamps the statistics. Your local florist or barber shop is not making its owner $250K.

Whenever conservatives defend low taxes for rich people, they always invoke the icon of small business, even though the real beneficiaries of their policies are the very, very wealthy.

I’m waiting for liberals to counter: The dire threat to small business isn’t government, it’s big business. It’s WalMart and Amazon crushing the shops on Main Street. It’s the giant seed corporations putting the squeeze on family farmers. It’s monopolized supply chains that give small businesses take-it-or-leave-it prices. It’s Apple and Microsoft defining a marketplace that funnels most of the profits on software to them. It’s a venture capital system that ends up owning 90% of any new idea before it gets to market.

To the extent that government is the problem, it’s government as manipulated by big business. I don’t care what their PR says, big business loves complicated regulations that you need a team of lawyers to understand. They already have a team of lawyers; small businesses don’t.

If Democrats come up with a program that favors real small businesses over big business, Republicans will block it.

… and General Petraeus

But I don’t know any more than you do about that.

… and you might find this interesting

So, Senate Republicans doing Wall Street’s bidding, you kept Elizabeth Warren from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. How’d that work out for you?

Voter suppression hasn’t worked for Republicans, so it must be time for the Supreme Court to undo the Voting Rights Act.

National Organization for Marriage on its four losses: “We are not defeated.” Yes, you are. I stand by my long-term prediction.

Best web site I found this week: We Occupy Jesus.

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