What voting used to look like

This New Yorker feature that has lots of cool examples and explains historical ballots is too cool for quick hits.  Check out some of these (and many more at the link):



What’s at stake

Democracy.  Sort of.  Anyway, a great summary from Greg Sargent:

It is often pointed out that Trump, by closing on a message of racism, hate, xenophobia and ethno-nationalism, has placed those things on the ballot. That’s true, but what’s really on the ballot is the Trumpist GOP’s fusion of xenophobic ethno-nationalism with the GOP’s orthodox regressive plutocratic agenda.

That latter element also comprises Trump’s ongoing corruption and self-dealing — we still have no idea how much Trump personally profited off the GOP tax cut — which Republicans are openly signaling that a GOP House will allow to continue undisturbed. It seems crazy that the straight-up declaration that Republicans will protect Trump and his administration from accountability and scrutiny would be seen as a positive that energizes Republican voters. But that’s where the Trump-era GOP has taken us, and this perversity, too, is very much on the ballot on Tuesday…

This is in keeping with the endless lies that Trump has employed to hype the migrant “caravan” into a national emergency. Republicans are running ads across the country painting immigrants as criminal invaders alongside many others that traffic in undisguised race-baiting directed at specific Democratic candidates who happen to be nonwhite.

Republicans are also relentlessly — and falsely — claiming they are the ones who will protect people with preexisting conditions. GOP-aligned groups have been falsely claiming that Democrats want to cut hundreds of billions from Medicare, recycling a lie from previous election cycles. Trump has also been claiming that if Republicans win the elections, they’ll immediately push through a massive tax cut for the middle class, which is almost certainly complete nonsense. Republican candidates have been falsely claiming that the GOP tax cut paid for itself…

The more obvious reason to hope that all the Trump/GOP lies get repudiated is that validation of them as a successful campaign strategy would be a terrible outcome. This wouldn’t just encourage future GOP campaigns to double down on stoking xenophobic and racial panic. It’s worse: The Trump strategy of sending in troops to prop up the campaign fiction that migrants pose a national emergency is a serious act of official misconduct... [emphasis mine]

This goes beyond Trump: Republicans are largely all in with this move. Meanwhile, Brian Kemp, the GOP candidate in the Georgia gubernatorial race, is now using his position overseeing the election as secretary of state to investigate Democrats for allegedly “hacking” the voter registration system with no evidence. The terrible precedent that such brazen abuses of governmental power to manipulate electoral outcomes will set for future elections seems obvious on its face.

The other reason to hope that all these lies get repudiated is centered on the very truths they are designed to obscure — that is, on the actual stakes in this election that all the lies are designed to cover up. If Republicans hold the House, Trump — having closed on xenophobia and hate — will be emboldened to go harder into his ethno-nationalist agenda: more restrictions on asylum seekers; a revived version of the family separations; possibly even an effort at an executive order to force a court battle over birthright citizenship.

And there’s even more I left out between ellipses.  Short version– care about Democracy?  Vote Democratic.  Seriously.  And I have never come close to arguing that before.  But, sadly, that’s where we are as a country.

The economic story Democrats need to tell

Last night my son asked me how so many non-rich people seemed to believe that cutting taxes on rich people was good for them.  Well, among other things, those low-tax-loving-rich-people (i.e., the selfish ones as opposed to the plenty of liberal rich people) spend lots of money supporting institutions like Fox News and supporting Republican candidates and think-tanks that put forth considerable effort telling ordinary Republican voters that low taxes on rich people are good for them, too.  And who are you going to believe?  Fox News and Donald Trump or those damn communist Democrats?

Anyway, reminded me of an excellent column last week from Michael Tomasky about how Democrats really need to put a stake through the heart of this pervasive and persistent lie:

Republicans have a theory and a story about how the economy grows. You know it as supply-side economics: Cutting taxes, especially on the rich, and decreasing regulation will unleash so much innovation and economic activity that tax revenues will actually increase and the entire economy will benefit.

This has been the conservative story, which the right has elevated to veritable religion, for 30 or 40 years now. And the Democrats’ alternative story is … what? If you’re not recalling it, that’s because there isn’t one.

The Democrats have impulses, they have beliefs, they even have principles. But they don’t have a story to challenge the supply-side story and tell people about how the economy grows and helps everyone.

They used to, once upon a time. It was called Keynesianism, or sometimes demand-side economics (which is why conservatives named their theory supply-side). Keynesianism — in a nutshell, government investment in public goods increase demand and prosperity — held sway from the 1940s through the 1970s, the greatest period of economic growth in history…

It seems to me that the Democrats’ story has to be built around the simple idea of investing in middle- and working-class people. Not “spending,” but “investing.” Spending sounds profligate; investing sounds prudent.

This is not to be done for reasons of “fairness.” That’s an absolutely vital point. Liberals reflexively want to make economic arguments about fairness. But this persuades only liberals. People who aren’t liberals — three-quarters of the country — don’t especially care about fairness. They do, however, care about growth. So Democrats need to argue that these investments, not tax cuts for the rich, are the way to spur growth.

Such an argument stands in direct contrast to the right’s story. Republicans say the rich, with millions returned to them in the form of tax cuts, know best what to do with their money and the market can make the best decisions about investments and society’s needs… [emphasis mine]

And now we have arrived at an alternate theory, a story: Giving more money to working people and investing in their needs is how an economy grows. That’s a direct counterargument to supply-side economics. If enough Democrats say it and say it and say it, they can drive a stake through supply-side’s heart.

Once Democrats can make that case, they’ll be able to turn the tables on the supply-siders. Republicans will argue that government investments and wage increases are “job killers.” But Democrats, rather than merely appealing to people’s consciences, will be able to respond that government investments and wage increases are growth producers that will spread benefits well beyond the top 5 percent or 10 percent.

The story could use a name. The venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, a former Bill Clinton domestic policy adviser, coined “middle-out economics” five years ago. President Obama even used the phrase a few times.

The important thing is the idea. Democrats must persuade America that there’s a better way to expand the economy than the way Republicans have been advocating for decades. Just as inflation and other ills opened the door for critiques of Keynesianism in the 1970s, so have inequality and disinvestment done the same for critiques of supply-side today. Someone just has to make them.

Good stuff.  Sign me up.  Time for middle-out economics.

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