Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Crimson Tide engulfing 32 states (77% of the United States in area) absorbs the Blue Ripple vote. What the biennially aroused Democrats don't get!

When it comes to ocean metaphors, the National Democratic Party has its head in the sand. Since the 1960's 64% of these United States experienced a consistently rising political Crimson Tide1, dispersed over 77% of the geographic area, which no electoral Blue Wave will sweep away. In the 21st Century, only California has had a significant, consistent electoral Blue Tide.

A Blue Wave versus a Rising Blue Tide

In the months leading up to the November 2018 election, we were buried in "Blue Wave" hype by Democrats and liberal media.

Of course no electoral Blue Wave materialized. As will be explored here, there have been electoral "Waves" and there have been public policy "Waves." Then there is a California "Blue Tide" pushing away the Crimson Tide sustaining currents from its electoral and public policy shores.

The kind of "Blue Wave" that might really matter - a public policy Blue Wave - we last saw in these United States in 1964-66. More on that later.

If you wonder what an electoral Blue Wave really looks like consider this. In the General Election of 1882 California voters chose to:
  • elect Democratic candidates to all of the then existing state Executive positions - Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Controller, and Superintendent of Public Instruction - all previously held by Republicans
  • switch the State Board of Equalization from 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat to 3 Democrats and 1 Republican
  • replace the Republican majority in the State Senate with an 80% Democratic supermajority and the Republican majority in the State Assembly with a 75% Democratic supermajority; and
  • elect 4 Democrats as its members of the House of Representatives from California, previously 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
But as is typical for electoral waves, that wave broke, receded, and within eight years Republicans regained domination in California government until 1959, 68 years later, when Democrats started winning some key races and a majority in the Legislature.

Beginning in the 21st Century, California Democrats expanded, with an occasional short-term exception, control of all of California's state government. Instead of a Blue Wave, we have had a "Blue Tide" that has slowly and steadily drowned the California Republican Party in its own Crimson Tide currents.

In the 2018 General Election our Blue Tide did rise to an unusual high. As the new Legislature was sworn in on December 3rd, at the last count:
  • the new Assembly was Democrats 60 (75% supermajority), Republicans 20 (25%), with a chance one seat could end up with a Democrat instead of a Republican;
  • the new Senate was Democrats 29 (72.5% supermajority), Republicans 11 (27.5%);
  • Democrats control every statewide office; and
  • Representatives from California in the House of Representatives included 46 Democrats to 7 Republicans, versus the previous count of 38 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
At this given moment no meaningful Republican Party exists in California, a state where previous Republican Governors included Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan.

About that current sustaining the electoral Crimson Tide

I am a native Californian, I'm old, but until this November I held a foolish hope that the National Democratic Party was going to attempt to create a party structure that would consistently win outside California. But then this appeared less than a month before the election:

"The first line of resistance against Republicans’ extremist policies starts in the states." - from an October 8, 2018 memo signed by Democratic National Committee CEO Seema Nanda and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post

Really? This had to be stated in a memo to the Democratic Party less than a month before the midterms?

Apparently so. Because this week a special election to fill the most important position in Georgia state government - the one that will determine election administrative policy such as whose names to strike off the voter rolls in 2020 - was abandoned by the starry-eyed, celebrity-oriented Democrats who seemingly can only get aroused biennially and then only enough to focus on positions that have celebrity status - like the Governor's position in Georgia that they lost in November (though we must recognize that special arousal that resulted in tens of millions of dollars spent on losing one Georgia Congressional seat special election in 2017, correctly called "a bad and expensive bet"). And so we have this story...

...which tells us...

    Georgia, the site of one of the year's most closely watched races for governor — and before that, its most expensive special House election in history — will hold Tuesday runoffs in a smattering of local races and for two major statewide offices. The duties of one, secretary of state, drew an unusual amount of attention before and just after the Nov. 6 election. Then, the job was held by Abrams's Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, whom Democrats accused of making it more difficult for people of color to vote by purging voter rolls of people who had not voted in recent elections and not supplying enough voting machines at some polling places.
    While Kemp defends his actions, Abrams pointedly did not offer a formal concession when she acknowledged Kemp's win. She is telling voters that their election is not over and is prominently featured in a mailer for John Barrow, the Democrat hoping to replace Kemp.
    "Voter suppression works when people decide their individual voices are too weak or too fragile to bring about change,” Abrams said in a recent interview with The Washington Post. "John Barrow is part of the solution."
    But even with Abrams's urging and the controversy around the Nov. 6 vote, formerly bustling campaign offices are seeing notably less traffic. The celebrities who flew in to endorse Abrams have stayed home. The airwaves have largely been reconquered by local businesses, with only occasional election spots. The relatively low-key election worries Democrats.
    Yet days before the year's final competitive elections, the turnout machine was dramatically smaller than the one that had changed the state's electorate in an unsuccessful attempt to elect Stacey Abrams to the governor's office. "I had 120 canvassers for the November 6 election," said Latrice Benton, the NGP's lead organizer for Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta suburbs. "I had 20 yesterday, but I had to cut them." The reason? "Not enough funding."

The Republican won, of course. Instead, Democrats seem to embrace the following really, really stupid thinking...

Fresh from patting themselves on the back for winning the governor (and attorney general) races in Michigan and Wisconsin, followers of national Democratic "leaders" like Sanders are discovering just how unimportant it is to elect a candidate to a "D-List celebrity" position like governor (or President).

During the lame-duck period before the new Democratic governor-elect takes office in 2019, the Republican legislators - folks who hold the most powerful positions in the United States - are adopting laws which will limit the power of the incoming Democratic governors.

Those legislatures will, of course, remain Republican after the new year begins because the Democrats failed miserably to win the important positions in those states. But those legislatures will not be veto-proof. They needed to act now while a Republican is still governor.

Democrats are grumbling but here's the truth....

There are 132 people in Wisconsin and 148 in Michigan serving as state senators and state representatives. That's 280 legislators, mostly bland, frequently policy-oriented folks not of celebrity status material. They get to decide many details about Obamacare and abortion in those two states, not Donald Trump or any U.S. President, not Congress, and not a Governor. Finding a way to win a simple majority in each state senate and house would have been meaningful.

It's not "fun" to effectively organize a campaign for candidates for those 280 seats. And there are 7,103 other state legislators in these United States, each seat needing the focused attention from the Democratic side, focus comparable to that given by the Koch Bros Neoliberal organization - the current sustaining the American 21st Century Republican Crimson Tide.

In the last quarter of the 20th Century Democrats really didn't seem to want to divert attention away from their Presidential candidates. Thus Democrats lost each election in most of the states whether their Presidential candidate won or not.

During that period the Neoliberals moved the Republicans to victory through the states. That's because they are not confused, as explained here in April 2017:

...Over a period of 70 years, between 1947 and 2016, one group of ideologues - the Neoliberals - achieved effective control of most state government$ in the United States and, at this time somewhat less effectively, taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And to some degree their view is strongly represented on the Supreme Court.

In fact, the shift from 1976 to 2016 within the important government$ of the United States, the state legislatures, looks like this (focus on Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature that is supposedly non-partisan).

Yes, in November 2018 Democrats did win a majority in the House of Representatives - thereby winning control of half of one of the three branches of the U.S. government. Yes, control of half of one of the three branches of the U.S. government. That's not a Blue Wave, just a Blue Ripple. At the same time, there was an election that looked like this from the standpoint of political control of the states:

In this context, the "Blue Wave" enthusiasm in the end apparently meant that a few purple states (split control of the legislature) turned totally blue (Democratic control of both houses). And some turned red (Republican control of both houses). As explained by the New York Times:

    In a stark display of the nation’s divide, the lower and upper chamber of every legislature but one — Minnesota — will be controlled by the same party following Tuesday’s midterm elections. It will be the first time in 104 years that only one state will have a divided legislature.
    That emerging political dynamic has potentially serious policy implications. Without a divided government, these single-party state houses are in a position to enact legislation at a time when Washington faces a new round of gridlock after Democrats captured the House and Republicans expanded their control of the Senate.
    The political lineup of the legislatures came into focus as the Democrats captured control of seven statehouse chambers on Tuesday, a relatively weak showing that left Republicans dominant in an overwhelming majority of state governments. By contrast, Republicans seized more than 20 statehouse chambers from Democrats in the critical 2010 midterm elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
    The district maps drawn by Republicans who took power in state legislatures in 2010 — a midterm election under President Barack Obama that saw steep losses for his party across the board — was one of the reasons for the modest Democratic gains, analysts said.
    With the election results, the Republican Party will control both houses in 30 states, while Democrats will hold complete control in 18 states.
    Republicans dismissed the Democratic gains in the statehouses, noting how modest they were and that Republicans held onto legislative majorities in crucial states like Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.
    “We see this as a significantly fumbled opportunity by the Democrats to make gains,” said Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, adding that the states where Democrats flipped chambers on Tuesday were all states Ms. Clinton won in 2016. For Democrats, he said, it was a “disappointing night given all the spending and hype.”
    Democrats did not succeed in flipping statehouse chambers in key Midwestern states where Mr. Trump triumphed in 2016. Indeed, Republicans held or extended their majorities in some of those states, including in the Wisconsin Senate and the Iowa Senate.
    In Ohio, where Mr. Trump won by eight points, Democrats fell short of winning the governor seat. While Democrats picked up a handful of seats in the House chamber, they appeared to have lost a seat in the Senate. And even though Republicans lost seats in the state House, the party will retain a three-fifths supermajority in both legislative chambers, giving them the ability to override gubernatorial vetoes.
    In New Hampshire, Democrats flipped both chambers and took control of the Executive Council, which effectively functions as an additional branch of government. Although Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, was re-elected, the fact that he will have to deal with a Democratic legislature and Executive Council could make it difficult for him to implement policy.
    The vote on Tuesday represented the first stage of elections that will set the parameters for reapportionment after the 2020 census is conducted. About 800 of the lawmakers elected Tuesday will have a voice in that realignment — for the most part, state senators whose terms are longer than two years. Another 5,000 will be elected in 2020.

When liberals go hat-in-hand to beg the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn state laws on subjects like gay marriage or abortion, they are going there because those liberals failed to do the hard work and spend the money to win their state legislatures. Unless or until the National Democratic Party starts explaining this to their members, it will fail as a political party in the Union known as these United States.

As I've noted here numerous times, it is those who are elected to state legislatures that are in the most important political positions. I know this is difficult for many Democrats to accept. And that is exactly why the Democrats have so little clout over domestic policy within a significant majority of states.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act

Keep within your vision the state-level directional change from 1978 to 2016 when you consider this:

The U.S. Constitution, designed to create a Union of internally independent states, was structured to retain the broadest government power within the state governments.

Or to put it another way, the 10th Amendment emphasizes that the United States Union was created to smooth out commerce across state and international boundaries, provide for a common defense of all states in the case of an attack by an outside foreign government, and a few other minor related items.

Not included in the list were things like inter-personal relationships, health care, education, etc. These were things state legislatures were supposed to take care of. And if you haven't noticed, whether it's Obamacare or land use, it is the legislatures that create the regulatory framework for those issues, and in a majority of cases not in a way we Democrats like because we don't do the work and spend the money on winning all those legislative seats.

Yes, one exception exists to the powers of the state legislatures which was a somewhat confusing result of the Civil War. That is the 14th Amendment, not put in place by our Founding Fathers, which specifically provides that: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Note that it does not give Congress any specific additional powers. But it does give the federal court system a standard by which state laws can be reviewed.

Now reconsider the graphic above containing the images of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Donald Trump.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on the 14th Amendment was a law of the United States government making unlawful segregation in public places and banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The legislation had been proposed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in June 1963, but opposed by filibuster in the Senate. It is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. But was it a the death knell of the Democratic Party within the Union (let's be clear, the Union is not a Union of people, but a Union of states). Consider these two graphics:

Notice the block of states in the south that were Democratic or Mostly Democratic in 1964. Then notice that most of the "No" votes on the 1964 Civil Rights Act came from the solidly Democratic states.

Now reconsider this...

...graphic showing the changes in partisan control resulting from the Democratic leadership sponsored 1964 Civil Rights Act as you consider the following from Wikipedia:

Note: "Southern", as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.

The original House version:
  • Southern Democrats: 7–87   (7–93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–10   (0–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145–9   (94–6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138–24   (85–15%)
The Senate version:
  • Southern Democrats: 1–20   (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–1   (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)
  • Northern Democrats: 45–1   (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
  • Northern Republicans: 27–5   (84–16%)

The 1965-66 Public Policy Blue Wave

Give some thought to those economic/environmental programs of Johnson's Great Society outlined in the graphic with images of Presidents Johnson and Trump above in the context of how the Koch Bros Neoliberals generally must have reacted. The Great Society explains why they settled in to plan, and then carry out, a long term strategy to take control of the state governments through a Crimson Tide.

In that time, not only have significant elements the 1964-66 policy Blue Wave legislation been rolled back, there is little likelihood of reconciling the political divide among the states. This was reflected in the struggle to implement the Obamacare Medicaid provisions designed to help provide medical care to all U.S. families with income up to an effective 138% of the poverty line who would qualify for coverage in any state that participated in the Medicaid program. The federal government paid 100% of the cost of Medicaid eligibility expansion in participating states in 2014-16, 95% in 2017, 94% in 2018, 93% in 2019, and 90% thereafter. In case it is unclear, the goal was to assure that routine medical care is available to children and larges sums of money were available - but that wasn't enough for the non-green states.

We residents of these not-so-United States seem to have at the personal level slowly evolving questions in the political divide context - who are we and whose pain should we not care about?

A parallel political divide can be found in Britain which has been explained as follows:

    The public are divided down the middle. One of the reasons they’re divided down the middle — and this is not dissimilar to the US — is because Brexit has activated a values divide.
    This isn’t a traditional left-right thing. This is almost our equivalent to a culture war. If you want to predict how people voted, it’s their views on diversity, on gay rights, on gender equality, on the death penalty. It’s those values issues that people are coalescing around.
    What we know about those issues is once they’ve been ignited in political debate, they’re very hard to put out again. People hold those beliefs very deeply and find it hard to change them. That’s one of the reasons why people aren’t changing their minds. It’s one of the reasons why the Brexit division is proving to be a very deep division indeed. A majority of British people now identify themselves as Leaver or Remainer rather than Labour or Tory.
    At the same time, no one has a huge amount of faith in any of our political leaders because the perception is that both Theresa May and [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn just aren’t very competent at their jobs.
    Finally, one of the reasons this is messy is because we have a series of crises going on at the same time, all of which, except Brexit, were brewing before the referendum, and all of which have been made worse by the referendum.
    We’ve got a crisis of economics because of high levels of inequality and an enormous amount of economic pain being placed upon those least able to deal with it....

Here in the U.S., the election of Donald Trump served as a referendum on the old messy, amorphous 20th Century post-Civil Rights Act political party structures of Lyndon Johnson and George H.W. Bush.

That structure was the losing side in 2016 as we found ourselves in an election in which our economic Neoliberal ideologues and cultural religious traditionalists coalesced, taking over the Republican Party name. These should be "strange bedfellows" but for the time being they appear to make up about a reliable 30% of the voting public, or even 40% with a celebrity like Trump leading this Crimson Tide.

California's Blue Tide policy agenda

The Democratic Blue Tide supermajority in California has some ideas about what ought to be done as explained by long-time observer George Skelton:

    [Governor-elect Gavin] Newsom will target early childhood education, focusing on what he calls the “readiness gap” — kids not being adequately prepared to start school. The governor-elect says he has a “sense of urgency” for “universal access to preschool.”
    That’s also the [Assembly Speaker Anthony] Rendon’s top priority.
    Rendon says he and Newsom are “definitely on the same page. Get the kids early and break the cycle of poverty.” He wants to expand access and also modernize programs.
    But how poor will a family need to be to qualify for a state-funded program? That may upset many people.
    “The consensus in the Legislature is that it’s not our goal to serve kids whose parents have the means to afford their own” early childhood education, Rendon says
    Newsom also will take a stab at universal healthcare, although not necessarily the single-payer, all-government system many of his supporters adamantly advocate.
    “I’m going to push the envelope, lean in on this and see how far we can take it,” Newsom told me in October. “I’ve got over 30 people working on it as we speak.”
    This also is a top priority for Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). Last year she coauthored a colossally expensive single-payer plan that passed the Senate and was quickly killed in the Assembly by Rendon because it lacked details and funding.
    Rendon points out that only roughly 7 percent of Californians aren’t covered by medical insurance, thanks largely to the federal Affordable Care Act.
    “Closing that final gap,” he says, “makes more sense” than trying to create a costly single-payer system.
    Another pressing problem Democrats have promised to keep working on is homelessness. Newsom says it’s a priority. So does Atkins. California has by far the largest homeless population of any state, with an estimated 23,000 living on L.A. streets.
    Voters last month approved $5 billion in bonds for various homeless and low-income housing programs, but that’s just a start.

No, it's not "just a start" which is why as an old California Democrat I can be both enthused and a bit depressed. Consider the discussion above in the context of the bottom portion of the graphic that includes Johnson and Trump - here's what I'm talking about:

What we will be creating in California will look much like a "Project Head Start (1965)" and a "Medicaid (1965) and a "Housing and Urban Development Act (1965)". Today we must create  programs to assure the availability of preschool, medical care, and housing for all children. Of course, we're doing it at the state level, where it might not be undone by other states.

I am a native Californian, I'm old, and I remember 1965, which was 53 years ago. At the current time, I feel as politically alienated from 77% of the area of these United States as Jeff Sessions would likely feel in Coastal California.

I keep using that 77% number because - as many learned in 2000 and 2016 Presidents are elected by geography not necessarily number of votes, and as we see every day in votes in the U.S. Senate which is based on geography not population - each state must be considered separately.

In my humble opinion it's time for the National Democratic Party and its supporters to quit looking for a popular Blue Wave in some biennial election and start working to roll back the electoral Crimson Tide state-by-state in 32 states. It will be difficult as it means struggling for victory within that 77% of the geographic area of these United States.

In the meantime,  dealing at the personal level with those slowly evolving questions in the political divide context, all I can answer is "I'm a Californian" who believes the current Democratic Party state-by-state must counter the Koch Bros Neoliberal organization using their own organizational model. To get a more complete picture of the history and organization of the Neoliberal organization  click here.


  1. "Crimson Tide" is a metaphor used here to reflect both the poisonous effects of a Red Tide, a phenomenon associated with wildlife mortalities and harmful human exposure caused by the bloom of an algal species, as well as the name by the University of Alabama sports teams; see Red tide found on Alabama coast; health officials urge caution.

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