Beyond the Senate: The 2014 state losses

Certain people of this country have realized that their true political power lies in their local governments. The states and counties that they reside in have lots of power thanks to the 10th amendment, and by golly they intend to use it to the fullest extent.

This November, not only did the Republicans shellack the Democrats on a national level, they improved their ground game and hit them where it hurts. Jill Lawrence, writing for Al Jazeera America, recaps:

Republicans took over 11 state legislative chambers that had been held by Democrats. They now control 23 states entirely — governor and both legislative chambers — versus seven for Democrats. They netted three new governors for a total of 31, versus 18 for Democrats. They gained more than 300 legislators and now hold the most state legislative seats since 1920.

 

Map of 2014 United States state legislature election results, comparing partisan control of the legislative chambers and governor's office in each state. (Credit: ArsenalForDemocracy.com) Note: Alaska's governor is an independent.

Map of 2014 United States state legislature election results, comparing partisan control of the legislative chambers and governor’s office in each state. (Click map for full-sized view.) Note: Alaska’s governor is an independent.

The significance of these gains is two-fold. First, implementing policy on a national level is difficult when it means communicating and negotiating with Republican dominated state houses. Landmark legislation like the Affordable Care Act depends on cooperation of the states. 25 states didn’t expand Medicaid as a part of the ACA, essentially making the law useless for the low-income uninsured.

Similarly, any hope for increasing the minimum wage in individual states rather than nationwide will be impossible in states with the Republican held legislatures. State Republicans that continue to base their decisions on party politics instead of the needs of the people are sure to face repercussions later down the road, but for now they have other intentions.

Which brings me to my second point. These newly elected Republican legislatures and governors will no doubt pass questionable legislation, as they have done in the past. In 2013, North Carolina tried to establish Christianity as their state religion, until someone realized that would be totally unconstitutional. Michigan lawmakers extended gun owners the right to conceal and carry in daycares, but it was vetoed by the Republican Governor a few days after the Sandy Hook shootings. And Tennessee attempted to pass a bill that would cut low-income families’ welfare if their children received poor grades in school.

State legislatures fly under the radar of most people, but local advocates have been able to push their agenda through these state houses. Based on their recent track record, the new Republican majorities will inevitably bring a fresh onslaught of anti-abortion laws to states that have already restricted a woman’s right to choose, as well as to new states. Laws that would clearly never make it through a national Congress, are snaking through the states and slowly but surely making it more difficult for a woman to have fair access to an abortion.

Issues like this are where some people have realized their true potential as voters. Local laws reflect local attitudes. And despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, local attitudes will continue to work towards limiting, and potentially barring, access to legal abortions.

So as concerning as it may be for Democrats that they lost control of the U.S. Senate, focus should instead be on the amount of power Republicans now hold in the states. And most importantly, how they intend to use that power.

October 1, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 101

AFD-logo-470

Topics: UAE and Russia milestones for women in air and space, illegal contraception co-pays in the US, death penalty in Kenya case, Big Ideas in voting and internet technology, Thai government’s food robot. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: September 29th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– The 1st UAE female combat pilot, the 4th female cosmonaut, CVS charging illegal co-pays on contraception, and more
– Big Idea: Could the U.S. use the goal of secure internet voting as a moonshot project to strengthen internet security in general? What interim measures should be taken to make voting easier?
– Why Thailand’s government is trying to build a robot to measure Thai food authenticity

Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya:
Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya – AFD 101
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech:
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech – AFD 101
Part 3 – Thai Food:
Part 3 – Thai Food – AFD 101

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: Russia & UAE: A big week for women in air and space
Gawker: Fox News Host Calls Female Fighter Pilot “Boobs On the Ground”
House.gov: Congresswoman Speier Discovers CVS Illegally Charged 11,000 Women for Contraceptives
AFD: Kenya sentence an urgent reminder of the need for legal abortion

Segment 2

Wikipedia: Electronic voting in Estonia
ThinkProgress: Georgia State Senator Complains That Voting Is Too Convenient For Black People

Segment 3

New York Times: You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge
The Globalist: Exporting Japanese Food Culture

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Kenyan sentence an urgent reminder of the need for legal abortion

A nurse has been sentenced to death in Kenya after being held responsible for the death of a young woman or girl who tried to get an abortion, back in 2009. He maintained that she had first tried to get one from unsafe source and then sought help from him as she developed complications but died anyway. The last death sentence in the country was applied in 1987.

Judge Nicholas Ombija said the court had established “that the accused caused the death of the deceased” and convicted him of murder.

 
Abortions are only legal in the country to save the life of the mother, and 120,000 women are treated annually for complications from failed attempts to obtain one illegally. The defendant is to be hanged for his role in the young woman’s death. Due to pressure by religious leaders, the law that really killed her is not expected to be changed.

Have Dems finally resolved their internal social issues split?

“Turning Tables, Democrats Use Cultural Issues as a Cudgel,” blares the New York Times today. Amid all the gloomy news for Democrats across the country in 2014, this may be the single article that has brought the most joy to me, featuring one race after another where the Democrat is running strongly on — not away from — social issues, on the progressive side.

This is a clear sign to me that, although we’re still facing huge challenges on these issues, the tide has finally turned — not just among voters but among Democratic candidates. For example, in just a few years we’ve gone from Democratic senators being terrified to endorse repealing DOMA to them gleefully beating their opponents over the head with that. It’s a similar story for reproductive freedom issues. While the policy tide on the latter is still running hard in the wrong direction in dozens of states, the campaign trail story is encouraging. And best of all, there’s been no sudden uprising by Christian conservative voters in response.

When I flash back to the dark days of November 2009, as the anti-choice Stupak Amendment suddenly appeared on the U.S. House version of the health insurance reform bill and looked like it might be mirrored in the Senate bill, despite a Democratic majority in both chambers, and I recall my angst over whether socially progressive Democrats should be doing more to purge socially conservative Democrats like Bart Stupak from the party so they would stop hurting the Democratic base (women, gays, et al), I feel a lot better today.

In no small part, that’s probably because the 2010 midterm voters did most of the heavy lifting on purging many of those rotten Democrats out of office. In the short run, it meant that even more hardline socially conservative Republicans often took their seats, unfortunately. But the broader result was that those hardcore socially conservative Democrats were no longer in an authoritative place inside the party over the past three and a half years to shout down the lefty Democrats as they persuaded the moderates to switch positions or take stronger positions, in line with the rapidly shifting electoral landscape. Extremist Republicans in winnable districts will be easier to replace in the general elections of coming years (with socially progressive Democrats) than anti-gay, anti-choice Democratic incumbents would have been in primaries. Meanwhile, moderate Democrats in competitive districts will be better able to rally the Democratic base on progressive social values, to remain in office.

This internal transformation has allowed the Democratic Party to define itself much more clearly, which helps motivate activism and turnout among ordinary Democrats. As to the socially conservative voters who will vote exclusively or heavily on these issue, they’ve already become confirmed Republicans at this point and are now out of reach to even the most conservative Democratic candidates.

July 2, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 90

AFD-logo-470

Topics: Buffer zones, search and seizure, recess appointments, and Detroit water shutoffs, plus Jameis Winston and the flaws of college athletics. People: Bill, Sasha, Persephone, Greg, Nate. Produced: June 28-30, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Detroit begins shutting off water for thousands of poor people
– The Supreme Court rules against abortion clinic buffer zones
– The Supreme Court rules that cell phone searches require warrants
– The Supreme Court blocks President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointments
– Is Jameis Winston everything that’s wrong with college athletics in America — but not the way people think?

Part 1 – Supreme Court:
Part 1 – Supreme Court – AFD 90
Part 2 – Detroit Water Shutoffs:
Part 2 – Detroit – AFD 90
Part 3 – Jameis Winston:
Part 3 – Jameis Winston – AFD 90

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

– Reuters: U.S. high court curbs state limits on abortion clinic protests
– AFD: Supreme Court says cell searches require warrants
Flashback to Salinas v. Texas (2013) on “right to remain silent”
– NYT: High Court Finds Against Obama in Recess Case
– Previous coverage on AFD Radio – Recess appointments case: AFD Ep 36 (Jan 29 2013)

Segment 2

– Detroit News: Groups seek UN aid for Detroit water shut-offs
– Rep. John Conyers: Detroit’s Water Cutoffs: Counterproductive and Coldhearted
– Michigan Radio: Welfare rights group backs UN criticism over Detroit water shutoffs
– CityLab: Outraged Canadians Report the Detroit Water Authority to the UN for Human-Rights Violations
– Michigan Live: U.N. panel calls Detroit water disconnection ‘violation of international human rights’

Segment 3

– Deadspin: Who Does Jameis Winston Think He Is—Joe Namath?
– Deadspin: FSU Athlete Explains Why Jameis Winston Allegedly Stole Food

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

May 5, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 83

Topics: Minimum Wage, Ukraine, Cosmo. People: Bill, Greg, and commentator Sarah.
AFD-logo-470

Talking Points:

– How high should the U.S. minimum wage be? Should cities raise their own?
– What is going on in Ukraine? Does Putin have any allies on this?
– Cosmo: 9 sexy but confusing ways to listen to community radio this spring. Why is the magazine finally devoting attention to reproductive freedom?

Part 1 – Minimum Wage:
Part 1 – Minimum Wage – AFD 83
Part 2 – Ukraine:
Part 2 – Ukraine – AFD 83
Part 3 – Cosmo with Sarah:
Part 3 – Cosmo – AFD 83

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

Read more

April 14, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 80

AFD-logo-470
Description | Topics: Hobby Lobby contraception case, Catalonia and European nationalism in the 21st century, autism awareness month. People: Bill, Sasha, Persephone, and guest Monika Brooks.

AFD 80

(Nate and Greg are off this week.)

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

Think Progress: “If Hobby Lobby Wins, It Will Be Even Worse For Birth Control Access Than You Think”
Think Progress: “Justice Kennedy Thinks Hobby Lobby Is An Abortion Case — That’s Bad News For Birth Control”
Think Progress: “A Hobby Lobby Win Would Put Birth Control Coverage In Jeopardy At 71 Other Companies”
TIME: “Catalonia Independence Referendum Ruled Unconstitutional”
AFD: “Mocha Autism Network: Autism Awareness Month”

Mocha Autism Network
Website: mochaautismnetwork.com
Facebook: facebook.com/BayAreaMochaAutismNetwork
Twitter: @MochaAutismNTWK
Instagram: @mochaautismntwk
Google Plus: +Mocha Autism Network

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.