For And Against

It’s a political truism that turnout improves when voters are motivated by negativity. In other words, the impulse to vote against a candidate, party or issue is stronger than the desire to register support for those of whom we approve.

We’ve certainly seen that play out in the Presidential election. I happen to be one of those people who really, really likes Joe Biden, for reasons not relevant to this post, but it has been clear for some time that hostility to Donald Trump and his enablers is driving many more people to the polls than warm feelings for Joe.

Anger and disgust are also playing a major role in contests for the Senate, and  eye-popping fundraising totals have been one result. Friends of mine who never appear on lists of big donors–and who rarely give financial support to candidates outside their own districts–have been sending multiple small-dollar donations to Democrats around the country who are running against Republicans they find particularly odious.

I doubt that all the money going to Amy McGrath will allow her to edge out Mitch McConnell–it is, after all, Kentucky. I hope I’m wrong. I can think of no individual who has done more harm to America than “the turtle,” and I would love to see McGrath wipe that smarmy smirk off McConnell’s face. Whatever the result, the enormous success of McGrath’s fundraising testifies to the extent to which McConnell is a hated figure.

I do have hopes for Jaime Harrison, who is polling dead even with “Miss Lindsey” Graham. Harrison is a truly impressive candidate, but the astonishing success of his fundraising  is more attributable to the number of Americans who detest Graham than it is to his considerable virtues.

Frank Bruni recently wrote that the Harrison-Graham contest has become a “national obsession.”

It was a bit of news that came and went quickly amid the fury of political developments these days, but last weekend Jaime Harrison, the South Carolina Democrat who is fighting to unseat Lindsey Graham, announced that he had not merely broken the record for fund-raising for a Senate candidate in a single quarter. He had shattered it.

From July through September, Harrison took in about $57 million. That was nearly $20 million more than Beto O’Rourke, the previous record-holder, collected during the same span two years ago, when he waged his ultimately unsuccessful battle against Ted Cruz in Texas.

As Bruni observed, Harrison is the recipient of so much money because he’s the vessel of so much hope.

No other political contest in 2020 offers quite the same referendum on the ugliness of Donald Trump’s presidency. No victory would rebut Trump’s vision of America as emphatically and powerfully as Harrison’s would.

Remember the time before Trump’s Electoral College win, when Graham said the way to make America great again was to “tell Donald Trump to go to hell”? Now he’s not only Trump’s adoring golf buddy, he’s his obedient factotum. (His U-Turn on Trump was so dramatic, it raises speculation that Trump has something on him and is blackmailing him.)

Graham’s most odious, most despicable “U Turn,” of course, has been on vivid display in the frantic and unseemly haste to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

When he assisted Mitch McConnell in stealing Merrick Garland’s seat on the Supreme Court, Graham claimed that he’d never consider, let alone promote, a Supreme Court nominee in the last year of a president’s term. We’ve all seen the footage of him telling journalists to “mark his words and use them against him if the need ever arose.”

Somehow, the word “shameless” seems inadequate…

As Bruni wrote,

One of the main story lines of the Trump years has been the spectacular moral capitulation of most Republican lawmakers, who junked supposedly cherished principles to placate a president whose hold on his base and capacity for vengeance mattered more to them than honor, than patriotism, than basic decency. Graham is the poster boy of that surrender, Complicitus Maximus, in part because his 180-degree turn to Trump required that he show his back to his close friend and onetime hero John McCain.

It’s nice that Jaime Harrison is so admirable and qualified, but that $57 million dollars is a measure of how detestable most honorable Americans find Graham.

The massive early voting turnouts we are seeing would appear to confirm the political premise that more people turn out to express disgust than approval. Let’s hope that holds true even in the deep red states…


  1. Fingers crossed for Biden, Harrison and McGrath. America needs saving and these 3 are part of the team that can do it.

  2. I think we’ve donated small amounts to 21 candidates in national and state races and a good amount to 1 state race and 1 national race. We have never felt better about spending money.

  3. “Neither party appeals to all its voters, but Trump is more honest about who he wants to attract. Joe has a problem because his donors wish to one thing while voters want something different. He can’t be truthful, or he would disenfranchise either donors or voters. Joe’s platform was approved by Wall Street donors. Trump and the GOP don’t have a platform except for white patriarchal supremacy.”

    Before Todd jumps on here today with his continuing diatribe against Democrats; above is a paragraph I copied and pasted from Todd’s September 30th review in Muncie Voice of the Trump/Biden debate. He remains against both candidates and both parties and considers himself a “journalist” when, rather than posting facts about true conditions in this stranger-than-fiction presidential election, he posts his personal views to the troubled small town of Muncie, Indiana, part of “rural America” and the ruling Republican party. Which way do you think Muncie voters will cast their votes listening to these views and probably only watching Fox and Friends as their world news source. IF they vote when their “Voice” is against both parties.

    “It’s a political truism that turnout improves when voters are motivated by negativity. In other words, the impulse to vote against a candidate, party or issue is stronger than the desire to register support for those of whom we approve.”

    This is an election between Trump’s White Nationalism and saving democracy, Rule of Law and reinstating the Constitution as our Declaration of Independence from racism and bigotry. There is no Republican party or Republican candidate for president; there is Trump vs. the United States of America.

  4. We can do this! Vote Blue at the polls or at home. Fill out your ballot and get it in on time.

  5. Professor-as usual, you sent me to my Webster’s Dictionary do understand the meaning of the word “smarmy.” Thank you. I may have described his smile as “insincere” but I will try to use “smarmy” several times today?

  6. Is it any wonder, then, that Louis DeJoy is doing everything he can to disrupt the postal service’s role in processing mail-in ballots? He is, after all, a major donor to the orange hairball. Last night, Maddow ran a piece about how DeJoy has cut the escort protection for letter carriers in dangerous neighborhoods. He’s taken down high-speed sorting machines. He’s removed mailboxes from city street corners. He’s cut off overtime for all postal workers.

    And we talk about turnout during a major pandemic that is getting worse and worse. The Trump administration is doing everything it can to destroy our country for the sake of Trump’s psychopathy. And people like Todd and his constituents in Muncie are particularly responsible for allowing this to happen. A real journalist would be out there pumping the lies, the crimes and the deceits that are ripping us apart.

    Leave the whining to Senator Sissy and his boss. We must all overturn this criminal enterprise in the White House that includes its fetid tendrils across our government.

  7. Vernon; this past summer one of the carriers from my Post Office zip code was shot and killed on her route in the middle of the day. There was a loose vicious dog inside the fenced yard; carriers are not required to deliver mail when a known danger is obvious; this problem was ongoing for a long time. She was outside the fenced area and the dog was loose so she reminded the resident of the problem and died on the city sidewalk doing her job. There are many dangerous areas USPS carriers work in 5 days every week; this is not a new problem but one that has escalated due to Trump’s paranoia regarding Absentee Ballot voting.

    My 83 year old best friend in Santa Clara, CA, made three trips to her local post office to deposit her Absentee Ballot; all three times the parking lot was filled with voters, the first two times the drop boxes for Ballots were crammed too full for more to be deposited. This is another problem we haven’t heard of in Trump’s newly created problem with the USPS which is older than the government he is systematically destroying. She also told me that the problem of phony ballot drop boxes in San Francisco is a much larger problem than has been reported. More of Trump and DeJoy’s treasonous tactics to prevent votes from being cast by American citizens. How much more do we NOT know about what is preventing voters from their right to vote?

  8. As I’ve been advocating on Twitter, the global community needs a truth campaign to disrupt the propaganda being spewed by the media worldwide. I can tell you the young people are tired of it. They can see through it because they have very high bullshit detectors.

    Vernon and Joann are crying for party cheerleaders. You can find them on TV and social media. It’s dishonest, but it does confirm your own bias. As we’ve discussed here — it’s called an echo chamber. I could easily manipulate both sides with bullshit and make more money, but that would be dishonest to myself, and that’s all I care about.

    I do hold both sides accountable because that is the role of our free press. I also hold our government accountable, which has landed Julian Assange in a world of trouble. If we had a free press in this country, they’d be picking apart the blatant attempts of torturing Assange by the USA and UK. They’d point out how a major campaign contributor to the GOP and our POTUS, Sheldon Adelson, used his money and security firm to spy on Assange while he was in an Ecuadorian embassy after the USA completed a coup in Ecuador to install a friendly government.

    The USA did the same thing in Bolivia over one year ago but was corrected by the people this weekend.

    You see, when corrupt vessels like Sheldon Adelson hand money over to the GOP or Trump, guess where most of that money is spent?

    In newspapers and TV, which our entertainment complex owns and controls. All that money pays for six-figured cheerleading mouthpieces to feed the American people truckloads of propaganda to consume. It’s called a racket.

    And because it’s a racket, we end up with a presidential race consisting of a career politician who has done nothing to fix the plight of the American but has created enormous wealth for himself, or a silver-spooned racist. Hell of a choice. It’s called a kakistocracy.

  9. JoAnn – LOL

    Don’t worry, Joe is going to win the election. However, wouldn’t it have been nice if the Democrats actually showed opposition to the worst SCOTUS candidate in history? Feinstein even hugged Miss Lindsey and thanked him. 😉

    If Biden appoints more republicans to his cabinet than progressives, he’ll have two years before hemorrhaging seats like Obama did in 2010. If the DNC screws over progressives again, you’ll also get Trump again in 2024 if not in federal prison.

  10. I will agree that Senate Republicans are completely evil and don’t see anything wrong with ignoring the Constitution, or their oath of office for personal power and gain.

    Today there was a NY Times article about McConnell holding up additional stimulus money. Here is a facebook post I wrote about it:

    This is the same song, second verse by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans.

    In 2008, the economy was in tatters and the US was in the start of the great recession. Obama had just been elected and Republicans spoke openly about “We are going to make sure he is a one term President”. What they did not say out loud was how they were going to do this. What actually happened, was an economic stimulus bill did get passed, but the “deficit hawk” Republican Senators forced a lot of compromises and we then started on a long but weak economic recovery. This worked exactly the way they had planned, and by the time the mid-term elections happened, there were still a lot of un-happy people, and Republicans gained a majority in the Senate. Only in the last few years have things started to heat up and we started getting some real wage growth, but it is because with Republicans in charge of everything they needed to make enough people happy to stay in power.

    In 2020, the economy tanked again, and because Republicans knew that without a strong economy, they could lose in November, those same fiscally conservative deficit hawk Republicans pumped trillions of dollars into the economy, ignoring any deficit. At the same time, the party line was to ignore COVID19 and they badly underestimated the result of not controlling the pandemic.

    Here is the second verse: Now that it looks like Republicans are going to lose in November and Democrats may win the Presidency, they have suddenly become fiscally conservative again. It seems like they want to make sure the economy inherited by the next President is in as bad a shape as possible. If they are lucky, they may retain enough seats to be able to control any stimulus passed by the next administration. If they can make Americans miserable enough, they will use that to win elections in the next mid-term.

    It seems Senate Republicans are only there to make sure they stay in power. They don’t seem to care about Americans. They don’t care about having a strong economy. We saw this same power play 2008.

  11. “Voting against” is destroying our democracy. The two largest reasons people don’t vote are “I don’t like any of the candidates ” and/or “I don’t believe any of the candidates are going to make my life/our country better”.

    The more non-voting and voting against occur, the faith/trust in government further deteriorates and the greater opportunity for desperation fueling authoritarianism and/or anarchy.

    We MUST elect servant leaders who care less about Party and/or ideology and more about community/equal opportunity for all. Just sayin’…

  12. Trump reminds me of the GCB’s (Good Christian Bitches) of an amusing but short-lived TV show a few years back. He wants Biden locked up quickly, before election day, and he’s ordering his AG Barr the Sycophant to do so. Trump, a devout Christian who wants nothing to do with religion, apparently believes Biden should be imprisoned for thought crimes, since he can’t name any real crimes he thinks Joe may have been involved in. In Trump’s mind, being anti-Trump is a felony in and of itself.

    I don’t wish any ill on the president before the election, but if his lungs fall onto the Oval Office floor on November 4 from a cytokine storm I will be absent from the line of mourners.

  13. I kind of like the idea of Biden and the Democratic party moving to the right a little bit. It forces the Republican party to move to it’s radical right in an effort to regain votes it lost to Biden’s veer to the right. So, now, Biden has forced the Republican bus onto a tract that puts two wheels off the edge of the cliff.

  14. Unfortunately McGrath isn’t the greatest candidate and Kentucky is very red. Take Indiana’s support for Trump and then double it. That’s Kentucky. People wanting to donate money to a lower tier race to help the Democrats win the Senate would be better advised to donate to other races – like Bullock in Montana, Gross in Alaska, Greenfield in Iowa, even Bollier in Kansas. I wouldn’t advise sending money to Harrison. He’s loaded and has plenty of money to fund his race. More $$$ won’t make that much difference in SC. It’s the law of diminishing returns when it comes to political spending.

  15. It is obvious to me that the Senate Republicans especially Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell have no integrity. They blocked Merrick Garland “because it was an election year”, but now they rush through Barrett’s confirmation even though we are much closer to a presidential election.

    I mailed in my blue ballot in the first week of Oct. And yes, would it not be amazing if somehow Amy McGrath was a surprising upset over “the turtle”. She certainly was on point during the debate while all he could do was duck and evade.

  16. Todd @ 10:28 wrote: “If Biden appoints more republicans to his cabinet than progressives, he’ll have two years before hemorrhaging seats like Obama did in 2010.”

    I would mildly disagree with part of your statement. The Big Wall Street Firms have a stable of nominal “Republicans and Democrats” to slot in to cabinet positions depending upon who wins the White House. These “Nominals” could care less about the Social, Economic or Cultural issues that the Voters have.

    The “Nominals” sole purpose is to protect and defend Wall Street and the 1%, from any kind of Progressive Reform. This where you get the reach across the aisle BS. Feinstein hugging Lindsay Graham is good example.

    I do agree unless Biden can commit to a Progressive Agenda, he will have only two years to accomplish any meaningful reform of our political system. It will take an FDR Level of commitment to change.

  17. Paul,

    We at CommonGoodGoverning are working with Amy McGrath and she has a lot of momentum coming out of her debate with McConnell (you can watch it hear and see his creepy/misogynistic laughing about helping folks suffering through Covid)

    Her real problem is the fact that her “progressive” opponent in the Dem primary hasn’t lifted a finger to help her win over Blacks and young people. He is more interested in being an AOC “star” – ideology over country.

  18. Lot’s of people have dreamed up two axis maps of political leaning with oversimplified questionnaires that allow everyone to see what they already know. That, I believe, entitles me to do the same.

    The two axis that I choose are liberal to authoritarian, freedom loving to order loving, and the other is progressive to conservative, future vs past orientation. That gives four quadrants but only two are necessary here and now. Republicans are authoritarian/conservative because they clearly don’t want to lose the past that entitled them and that privilege was true because of social order. Democrats are liberal/progressive because we celebrate the liberal democracy of the Constitution, and we see as clear as day that the world has to change because our population and lifestyle are overwhelming the earth. I don’t hear from any liberal authoritarians or progressive conservatives, in fact the terms seem oxymoronic.

    So Democrats are voting to restore tradition government here but change social order, while Republicans really want to destroy government to the size that they can take home and drown in the bathtub, and restore past social order. There simply is no in between, no half way.

    The outcome is monumental to the country certainly but also considering our traditional role in security and trade, the entire world. It’s up to only us though to break out of authoritarian/conservative prison.

  19. I’m sort of agreeable to a Democratic swerve to the left…after we have run the Republican bus off the cliff to the right.

    However, my agreeableness to a leftward shift is a lot more contingent upon whether a move to the left strengthens or weakens the country. Making life easier, more just, or more livable for the lower classes may make the country more beneficent, but altruism arguably does not automatically make the country stronger.

    It certainly won’t strengthen the country if the move to the left weakens Wall Street and Big Business to the point where they cannot compete with their equivalents around the world. The power and influence at the top end of the American economy has more influence than anything else insofar as international leverage is concerned. And it is America’s international leverage that warrantees the safety and freedom all of us have to participate profitably in the world economy. Just as it is possible to give in too much to the bourgeoisie, a mistake America already may have made, it is possible to give in too much to the proletariat, also.

    Which is why I like Biden. The signs I read indicate that he and his team favor policies that help the proles without giving up the international leverage our super corporations give us. When walking the tight rope two thousand feet above the Colorado river and finding that you have leaned a bit too far to the right, what good will it do to jump off the rope to the left.

  20. Politics involves the art of the possible and those of us who demand more than what is possible will never be happy.

    Thus I have not always been happy, even when Democrats and their policies are running the show. For instance, my all time favorite president was and is FDR and I thought and think his New Deal was the answer for a horrendous depression and that parts of it could be profitably used today since such parts would work to our advantage whatever the state of the economy. However, he was not perfect. He had a good thing going in 1938 when he abandoned his Keynesian deficit financing under Republican budget hawk pressure and we had a mini-recession just when we were in recovery mode from the Great Depression. I am still torn on whether to blame my all time hero for backing off while winning or Republicans playing politics in a hungry America, since the recession perhaps extended the depression for months or more.

    Another way to look at this lapse in judgment by my hero is that I don’t know the ins and outs or wherefores he was facing or what he gained from the Republicans in temporarily surrendering his Keynesian instincts, so I comfort myself with the idea that he was practicing the art of the possible. I learned that policy formation comes from hard scrabble negotiation and that, while ivory towers have their place in setting the philosophical stage, no ivory towers need apply at the level of desk-banging negotiation as measured by the art of the possible, and that purists will always be disappointed with what they had to give up in order to get some of what they wanted, but that’s the reality of the art and I for one as a retired table thumper have learned to live with it.

  21. Gerald,

    FDR and the New Deal saved capitalism from itself. So, naturally, Republicans have been fighting against that salvation since the ink dried. The party has always been a self-immolating death cult. But now, they are leaderless and the worst angels of their nature have taken over.

    The inherent greed and lust for power in the GOP has been there since the day after Lincoln was shot. It is the most primitive of behavior suites human still possess even after a half-million years of social/biological evolution.

  22. This morning a friend sent me this interesting and informative Editorial from the Wall Street Journal — WSJ is controlled by Rupert Murdoch BTW, also the owner of Fox News. The bottom line is that a majority of Americans surveyed in an Annual American Values survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution favor Joe Biden on virtually every issue; in particular on the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which the survey found to be the issue of greatest concern to most Americans. And also that solid majorities also strongly favor progressive policies of affordable child care, a guaranteed minimum income, free tuition at public universities, and some version of Medicare for all. Perhaps a slight ray of hope, if — IF — Biden/Harris win and the Dems can get control of the Senate:

  23. Yes, David F, you read right, and from the WSJ, no less. Many surveys among self-styled “conservatives,” when questioning is reduced to single issues suchas minimum wage, healthcare etc. show that they are not conservatives at all but are either liberals and don’t know it or don’t want to admit it – or are open to persuasion, so perhaps the arbitrary categorization of liberal or conservative doesn’t tell us much about what such self-styled conservatives really think. I think some such people are having trouble trying to reconcile 2020 science and technology with a 1950 Norman Rockwell styled dainty little girl in her Easter dress and basket tripping down the neighborhood sidewalk version of reality, hence their confused answers.

  24. Hey y’all; how about we vote for the Democratic candidates on the foundation they are running on and worry about changing direction IF THEY ARE ELECTED. Geez; you want what you want right now, the candidates are on the ballots, your time to change their direction was before the Primary Election.

    Todd; did you completely miss the Senate hearings on Amy Cony Barrett where the highly qualified Democratic Senators questioned her at length while voicing strong concerns against filling the SCOTUS vacancy at this already chaotic election during a Pandemic?

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