Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Should I really be happy that Thad Cochran narrowly defeated his teabagger challenger, Chris McDaniel, in the GOP Senate runoff in Misissippi yesterday, with the help of Democratic crossover voters?

Yes, McDaniel is a bomb-thrower who promised to stand with fellow bomb-throwers such as Ted Cruz who are already in the Senate. But Cochran is part of an actually existing Congress that's been stymieing the agenda of a duly elected president for six years. Cochran is part of the superminority that's turned the filibuster into an everyday weapon of partisanship, thus destroying majority rule in the Senate. As Jonathan Bernstein says,
The correct count of how many bills have been filibustered during Obama's presidency is: approximately all of them.

That's what it means to have a 60-vote Senate, which is what Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans declared as soon as Obama was elected. Almost every measure and, until Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats invoked the nuclear option last fall, almost every nomination, had to have 60 or more votes to pass. That's a filibuster.

... as long as the minority party insists on a 60-vote Senate, the correct answer for the number of filibusters is every measure to which the 60-vote threshold applies.
That's what crossover Democrats voted for. What did they vote against? Um ... another vote to block funding for the Export-Import Bank? That's it?

I know that's not it. I know that, as a senator, McDaniel would have voted to put the full faith and credit of America at risk by opposing a debt ceiling increase. I know he'd have sought to eviscerate the social safety net even more than the typical Republican. I know he would have been a vote to convict if the House impeaches President Obama (but won't all Republicans vote to convict?). I know he'd have pursued show trials like Darrell Issa and obstructionism like Ted Cruz.

But I also know he's a loose-tongued bigot who, between now and November, had the potential to be this year's Todd Akin. Even if Democrat Travis Childers couldn't have beaten McDaniel in Mississippi -- though one early poll said the race would have been close -- McDaniel could have been a liability to the GOP in other races. Why should Democrats have saved the GOP from him?

And maybe Cochran will keep federal cash flowing to Mississippi, but why should Democrats and progressives elsewhere in America be happy about that? Mississippi is the #1 "taker" state in America, getting $3.07 for every dollar it pays in federal income taxes -- and yet it's full of voters who think blue states and Democratic voters are the real parasites. The preservation of that status quo is supposed to make me feel good?

Cochran's win helps quell talk of a newly resurgent tea party and returns us to a state of affairs in which political insiders can prattle on again about how nice and reasonable and cuddly the GOP is and how Democrats could get things done via compromise with the GOP if they'd only lead harder. Ron Fournier must be in heaven.

Not me. Chris McDaniel was a Frankenstein monster Republicans created. They should have had to own him.


Victor said...

Yes, the lesser of two evils, is still evil - but sometimes, it's the devil you know...

Ok, enough old sayings.

It'll be interesting to see what that sociopathic loon, McDanel, does next.

It's too late for a 3rd Party run - but not too late for him to demand that he be a write-in (or, right-in) candidate.

And that could throw the election the Democrats way.

Victor said...

Also, too:
I frequently wonder why the remaining old-school Republicans don't accuse the Teabaggers of being the RINO's?

Thad Cochrane is an old-school Republican - as was Dick Luger.

And sure, they both did everything to try to stop President Obama, but not to the extent that these new sociopathic Nihilists are trying to damage the country where they live - all because of some conservative ideology, ostensibly based on some deranged interpretation of Christianity.

Victor said...

Also, three:
This shows the motivation that Democratic voters have, even in as backwards a state, as MS.

Tom Hilton said...

I agree. The only possible bright side in this is the bitterness of the Teabots. I expect they'll probably fall in line come November, but then I don't know of another race where the Republican openly courted Democratic voters in the primary. It depends on how hard the wingnuts flog the DolchstoƟ narrative.

Leah said...

I agree; seemed to me that the Democrat had a chance to win with a big-mouth like McDaniel running.

I suppose the same quasi organizing that brought African-American voters out could be used to get them to the poles on behalf of the Democratic candidate, whose a smart academic, but here's what worries me:

Any such attempt is going to be viewed as potential election fraud because of that part of Miss election law which says you can't intend to vote for anyone other than for whom you voted in a primary. Not only that, but True The Vote types will show up to disrupt voting in black neighborhoods by questioning the validity of each black vote on the basis of that crazy state law.

One can only hope that any effort to get blacks to the polls on behalf of a Democrat will be prepared to handle Republican determination to make voting as difficult and time consuming as possible.

aimai said...

I think one's attitude depends a lot on how you see the value of a Senate Seat from the perspective of the actual residents in that state. Its true that from a national democratic perspective we are better off, as a party, if the tea party goes full crazy in public. But the actual constituents, especially the African American ones, in Missisippi *aren't.*

Getting democratic voters riled up and ready to vote in the general election can never be a bad thing. The Democratic candidate in that election is a blue dog democrat who is as conservative as he can be in order to lure a few white voters to vote for him. The Miss. AA voters are not a big enough or reliable enough voting bloc to put the Democrat over the top on their own. But in addition they don't turn out (I think) 100 percent because, after all, the Republican usually wins anyway.

Maybe seeing all the hatred and anger aimed at them so publicly by the entire republican voting base, maybe flexing their muscles with Cochrane during the primary, will energize those voters to get out and vote for the Democrat. And if rage at the Republican machine makes some Republican voters sit on their hands in this upcoming election it may depress Republican turn out.

At any rate, if it doesn't affect anything then the democratic and aa voters of Missisippi haven't lost anything at all because the Democratic guy was never going to win with the electorate poised between a rabid republican majority and a disheartened AA/democratic minority.

aimai said...

As for worrying about "True the Vote" retrospectively challenging AA voters--on what basis? A secret ballot during the general election means you can't tell who any given voter is voting for even if you can be present to try to check who voted for Cochrane in the primary. Its far from clear that the provision you cite is really legal or really legally actionable and the end result of trying "on the ground" challenges is likely to be a disasterous blow out by angry AA voters rather than a successful challenge to any individual vote. And I don't think that Mississipi AA voters are at all naive about voter suppression at the polls.

Victor said...

"And I don't think that Mississipi AA voters are at all naive about voter suppression at the polls."

aimai, nailed it!
As usual.

Once the AA voters were enfranchised in the mid-60's, they're very careful about efforts to re-disenfranchise them again.

The AA voters won't miss a trick.

Leah said...


thanks for clarifying the point I was trying to make. I agree that having organized so quickly can be a model for the Nov election, and that watching McDaniel and company at work on voter suppression will be an organizing tool, nor did I mean to suggest that AA voters are in any way naive about such efforts.

Phoenix Justice said...

Sadly, the DNC & the DSSC were never going to put a dime into Missippi on behalf of the Democratic candidate. Unless the candidate had a 75% chance of wining, it just wasn't going to happen.

The money is going to Iowa, Kentucky & a few other "must win" Senate races.