Sunday, December 05, 2010

What Obama Can Do to Get Out of the Partisan Clutches of a Polarized Congress

Lee Hamilton makes a good point when he says the President needs to "get in on the act" of changing the dynamics of polarization. "He must constantly remind people that the job of the policymaker is to put country first and politics second, and he must lead by example." [see below]

Jackie Salit offered this recent post-midterm analysis:
"Obama expressed a post-partisan vision in his 2008 campaign, which is why so many independents supported him. Need we add that the vote was to put him, not the Democratic Party, in the White House? To the extent that he has fallen into the partisan clutches of a polarized Congress with an unstable Democratic majority, independents are unhappy."
So, how can Obama extricate himself from those partisan clutches?

He can't. That's our job. We have to keep building the independent movement. However, what Pres. Obama could do is sit down with important independents like Salit and find out what our ideas are, what indies are looking for in terms of structural political reform -- in short, he could listen to independents.

And now for the news:

OPEN PRIMARIES
  • Columnist: We can reconcile polarized politics (By LEE H. HAMILTON, Journal Star - Nebraska) Open primaries, along the lines of what Californians recently voted into place, would allow independents and moderates to exert more influence on primaries -- and to move party nominees toward the center… Next, the president needs to get in on the act. Changing the dynamics of polarization will require politicians to focus more on making the country work and less on maneuvering for partisan advantage. The president is the central actor in our governmental system, so much of the initiative has to come from him. He must constantly remind people that the job of the policymaker is to put country first and politics second, and he must lead by example.
  • New Voices: Open primaries lead to open government (By James Poindexter, Orlando Sentinel)
    California GOP: Shutout in 2010, apocalypse in 2012? (By Ford O'Connell and Steve Pearson, The Daily Caller) Triggered by the passage of Proposition 14 in June 2010, this new primary system effectively removes the GOP’s guaranteed lines on California’s November ballots.
REDISTRICTING
2012
KENTUCKY
  • Galbraith to run for governor as independent (By Ronnie Ellis, Richmond Register) Gatewood Galbraith, a frequent statewide candidate known for his support for decriminalizing marijuana, filed candidacy papers Wednesday with the Secretary of State to run for governor as an independent.
NORTH CAROLINA
  • Pollster: N.C. might pick Obama in 2012, too (COMPILED BY ROB CHRISTENSEN AND MARY CORNATZER, NEWS OBSERVER/Under the Dome) PPP recently took a similar poll in Virginia, which also went for Obama in 2008, finding that Obama was leading all Republicans there by five points. The firm found that Obama had lost more independent voters in North Carolina than he had in Virginia during the past two years.
NEW YORK
  • Why GOP can't turn tables in NY (By Greg David, Crain's New York) Speaking at an election postmortem event at Milano the New School, Mr. Tusk said his candidate would not have won even if Carl Paladino had not been such a disaster at the top of the ticket. Winning the Independence Party line would have helped, but only marginally. The simple truth, he said, is that Mr. Donovan couldn't win because he couldn't raise enough money. [By the way: BRADLEY TUSK WILL BE HONORED NEXT SUNDAY by the NYC Independence Party at its 11th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards -- scroll down here.]
  • NY Conservative Party regains 'Row C' (By: David Freddoso, Washington Examiner)
    Dawidziak: Conservatives flexed muscles (By MICHAEL DAWIDZIAK, Newsday)
EDUCATION REFORM
  • CMS turnaround plan: Bright spots, questions - Strategic staffing has limited success, and much work is ahead for 3-year venture. (By Ann Doss Helms, Charlotte Observer) Sterling is a pioneer in Superintendent Peter Gorman's strategic staffing plan, which puts teams of top administrators and teachers into struggling schools. National experts and media hail the plan as a model for urban reform.
  • The keys to keeping education reform rolling in D.C. (By Susan Schaeffler, the writer is the founder and chief executive of KIPP D.C. public charter schools, Washington Post)
  • Strange Bedfellows: The Politics of Education and the Future of Reform (by Andrew Kurtzman, The Citizen - The student newspaper of the Harvard Kennedy School) Rhee believes that politicians will be a harder sell than the public, because so many receive substantial campaign money from the teachers unions. “I am not anti-union at all,” Rhee said. “The unions are doing what they are supposed to be doing: protecting their members. The problem is that there is no organized interest group defending and promoting what is good for kids. Therefore, there is a risk that policies will be unbalanced or skewed as a result.”
  • Time to pay attention to a reform that works (By Valerie Strauss: My guest is Marci Young, director of Pre-K Now, a project of the nonprofit Pew Center on the States that advances high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all 3 year olds and 4 year olds. Article By Marci Young, Washington Post/The Answer Sheet) voluntary, high-quality pre-kindergarten.
LAST WORD
  • The Court vs. the Reformers - The First Amendment vs. an Arizona law. (Newsweek) The 1907 law forbidding direct corporate contributions to candidates still stands. Writing in The Weekly Standard, William R. Maurer of the Institute for Justice explains the actual significance of Citizens United: “Corporations and unions are not individuals, but they are made up of individuals who have banded together for common purposes … To hold that First Amendment rights dissipate the minute one person begins to act in concert with another would neuter the Bill of Rights.”

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