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from Jim Gaines:

Teddy Roosevelt v. Citizens United

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How is it possible that, given overwhelming public concern about the direction of the country, we could be facing historically low turnout in the midterm elections on Nov. 4?

The question isn’t new. As trust in government has swung up and down in the past half century, turnout for midterm races, as in presidential years, has varied relatively little, each staying within a 10-point range. Studies of nonvoters have found many reasons, but one of the big ones is that people know a single vote rarely if ever determines the outcome of an election.

By this reasoning, of course, why would anyone ever vote?

A portrait of U.S. President William McKinleyFor those with no family member to vote for, the best answer is usually “civic virtue,” which just means caring about the country, its direction and its future. That old answer to an old problem takes on new urgency in elections when the country faces some form of peril.

One of those moments came in 1896, after the panic of 1893, a time when the Gilded Age’s concentration of great wealth among the very few made a sharp contrast with the deep economic depression that most of the country was suffering through.

from The Great Debate:

One reason Congress is broken? Negative ads cripple even the winners.

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North Carolina is nearing the end of the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in its history. The volume of negative ads in the race between Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis is unprecedented. These ads matter -- but not in the ways that the candidates and their campaign consultants hope they do.

When the negative barrage of ads is over, the winner will likely emerge with an approval rating well under 50 percent, meaning that whoever wins will likely be sworn in with a majority of North Carolinians already disapproving of her or him. Neither Hagan nor Tillis will have a popular mandate.

from The Great Debate:

An election Democrats can win

Obamacare versus Ryanomics. That's the battle line for 2014. It's also a battle Democrats can win.

Why? Because most Americans are pragmatists. Pragmatists believe that whatever works is right. Ideologues believe that if something is wrong, it can't possibly work -- even if it does work. That's the Republican view of Obamacare: It's wrong, so it can't possibly work.

from The Great Debate:

Democrats: Beware the Ides of March

For Democrats, the Ides of March came early this year.

On March 11, to be precise, in a special election in a swing congressional district in Florida. A mostly unknown Republican knocked off a much better known Democrat, just like Roman conspirators knocked off Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Caesar's killers used a knife. The Republicans' deadly weapon? Obamacare. Three-quarters of Republican TV spots mentioned Obamacare.

Democrats need to practice saying, “Just wait until next time.” Because while 2014 is looking worse and worse for Democrats, 2016 is looking better and better.

from The Great Debate:

2014: The Democrats’ dilemma

Washington has been fascinated by Republican self-laceration since the 2012 election. Karl Rove triggered a circular firing squad by vowing to take out unwashed challengers in GOP primaries. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal begged Republicans to stop being the “stupid party.” Strategists say the party can’t survive as stale, pale and male. Tea Party legislators knee-cap GOP congressional “leaders” and well-funded political PACs strafe any who dare deviate from the party’s unpopular gospel. Republicans are even talking about changing “Grand Old Party” to something more fashionable.

Representative Paul Ryan’s newest budget will put every Republican on record voting to turn Medicare into a voucher, gut Medicaid, repeal Obamacare, savage investment in education and leave some 50 million Americans without health insurance. Not surprisingly, polls suggest Congress is less popular than colonoscopies, and Republicans poll at lowest levels on record.

from Tales from the Trail:

Congress gets ready for lame duck, and it’s not even Thanksgiving

Congress returns next week for that peculiar order of business known as a lame-duck session. It's a post-election gathering where lawmakers who lost re-election get to take any final votes, while newcomers who won in the Nov. 2 midterms have to sit it out.

The hot item to watch will be whether extending the Bush-era tax cuts will fly, but don't expect any Peking duck, as legislation on China's currency is unlikely to be on the menu. (Hey, it's Friday).

from Tales from the Trail:

Did GOP victory boost economic optimism?

USA-TAX/It's not exactly a tsunami of euphoria. But Republican victories in the midterm elections may have helped goose economic optimism, at least among ...well... Republicans.

A new Gallup survey finds that Republicans grew more optimistic during the first week of November, as Tea Party candidates led a GOP charge that captured the House and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

from Photographers' Blog:

Beachside politics

U.S. Election Day has its recurring motifs: red, white and blue vote signs, corrugated plastic voting booths, ballot boxes, stars and stripes. Voting photos quickly become repetitive, even before the sun rises on the West Coast.

An election worker puts up signs as the sun rises at a polling station on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, November 2, 2010.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Quirky polling stations such as laundromats, beauty salons and churches are hard to find, buried among hundreds of voting places listed only by address.

from Tales from the Trail:

Christine O’Donnell is not going away

Christine O'Donnell may have lost her Senate race. But she's not exiting the spotlight. In fact, she's sounding a bit like Sarah Palin.RTXU581_Comp-150x150

The Tea Party darling of Delaware cheerfully tells NBC's Today show that she's pursuing a book deal. She likes being involved in documentaries. And she's going to fight tooth and nail against whatever Democrats try to pull during the upcoming lameduck session in Congress (how isn't quite clear).

from Tales from the Trail:

No politics or punditry for George W. Bush

When George W. Bush says he's done with politics -- believe it.

bush1Not even the queen of daytime TV could draw the former Republican president into commenting on the current political scene when Bush sat down with her to discuss his new book.

He makes it clear he has moved on from politics and that punditry is not his thing.

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