GOP

The right’s sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

The right's sham Christianity: How an attack on John Kasich exposes the fraud

Gov. John Kasich (OH-R) | (Credit: AP/Tony Dejak)

Salon

Ohio’s GOP governor was the darling of the right — until he sought to help poor people, in the name of Christ

Could Republican Gov. John Kasich run for president? According to the Washington Post, he’s poised to, and he certainly seems to be among the better options out there, with the other obvious choices either clearly deranged (Ted Cruz) or totally uninterested (Mitt Romney). But conservatives have not been roundly pleased with Kasich, in part because he is evidently something of a committed Christian.

Last year, Kasich fought doggedly to expand Medicaid coverage in Ohio, extending healthcare to some 275,000 poor people. When queried as to why a conservative would push for expanded coverage, Kasich explained his reasoning thus:

“I had a conversation with one of the members of the legislature the other day. I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith.  Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’  ”

Conservative critics did not have a good answer. If Kasich’s challenge required a faith-based, well-reasoned critique of Medicaid to defend Republican animus, that wasn’t what it received. Instead, Kasich’s right-wing opponents produced a series of attacks that seemed straight out of the Richard Dawkins school of rhetoric. At RedState, for instance, Jason Hart complained that “Kasich leaned heavily on his Christian faith to push the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” and glossed over Kasich’s explanation of his Christian reasoning as: “anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for their opposition when they die.”

Of course, Kasich didn’t suggest that anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion will have to answer for such at the pearly gates; he merely pointed out that, at this point in time, Medicaid expansion is the only option for extending healthcare coverage to poor people in Ohio, making it the most sensible Christian option. Were there other options – that is, if Republicans had some small-government program that resulted in equal or better coverage – Kasich’s argument would fall out in favor of that. But as it stands no such substitute exists. It’s notable that misrepresenting Kasich’s Christian defense of Medicaid expansion remains a popular smear. Consider the National Review’s Avik Roy:

Roy’s lie is as glib as it is lazy, suggesting two simultaneous pathologies: first, that conservatives have mostly given up on an actual faith-based critique of extending healthcare coverage to poor people; second, that unless Christianity is acting as a helpful crutch to prop up libertarian fiscal policies, it’s more or less a joke.

True to form, the Wall Street Journal had an absolute field day making fun of Kasich’s Christian reasoning. “Believe it or not, there are still a few disciples with faith in an ObamaCare higher power,” the article titled “Medicaid and the Apostle Kasich” opens, and the faith-themed snark just rolls on from there. Both theologically tone-deaf and redolent with Hitchensian disdain of Christian thought, the piece sneers that Kasich “really must feel like he’s guided by the Holy Spirit” (perish the thought!), and sniffs that Kasich’s “government-as-thy-brother’s-keeper riff needs some moral fine-tuning.” But the most damning line is the last: “Republicans get a vote before St. Peter does.”

It seems this is where Kasich and his critics depart: For the governor, and for any faithful Christian, Christian ethics precede party politics. For some time the line from Christian politicians like Paul Ryan has been that their faith inspires their political affiliation, not vice versa. But the response of various conservative venues to a Christian argument that, while theologically orthodox and sensible, nonetheless reverses a cherished partisan position, suggests another situation of priorities.

Kasich’s sin is to present a vision of fiscal conservatism that is limited rather than necessitated by Christian ethics. His argument, despite what Roy, Hart and the Wall Street Journal would present, is actually sophisticated: He points out that Christian doctrine directly requires the consideration of the poor ahead of the interests of profit. It is not that Christian doctrine has traditionally held that any profit from business is wrong (though more radical strands have moved in that direction), but that excess wealth has generally been viewed by Christian authorities as acceptable only insofar as the needs of the most vulnerable have been met. This is foundational, ancient Christian teaching, ranging from the earliest church fathers to the medieval scholars and into the modern day.

Naturally, Kasich’s critics don’t bother to attempt a reversal on theological grounds. Instead they suggest, pace Hart, that there is some small-government solution directly at hand that Kasich has ignored. Yet they have roundly failed to produce it. If you could link to a policy proposal that better accomplishes the goal of ensuring the poor healthcare coverage, why sneer about “hating Jesus” instead?

Because, it seems, the comedy of Christian sentiment opposed to conservative dogma is rote among right-wingers. Conservatives are smart to saturate airwaves with turf wars over social issues, wherein they’re more than happy to prop up Christian views; but Christian voters should be wary of the swiftness and viciousness with which conservatives seem prepared to dismiss even perfectly solid Christian reasoning altogether when it no longer suits them. If party policy is that the interests of the GOP precede the interests of the Prince of Peace, there’s not much room for negotiation.

Chinese, GOP Agree Non-Rich Shouldn’t Vote

2014-10-26-votingphoto.jpg

The Huffington Post

Speaking just like an American Republican, the Communist Chinese-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that if the state granted democratic rights to its poor and working class, they could dominate elections and choose leaders who would meet their needs.

If Hong Kong’s 99 percenters picked their leaders, Mr. Leung said, “Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”  To ensure politics and policies favoring Hong Kong’s one percent, Mr. Leung insists that a committee appointed in Beijing approve all candidates to succeed him.

Mr. Leung fears rule by the majority – just as U.S. Republicans do. It’s the reason the GOP has launched a massive voter suppression campaign across the country. Republicans believe in rule by and for the one percent. To accomplish that, they must do what Mr. Leung and the Chinese Communist party did: foil democracy. That’s the GOP goal when it subverts America’s precious one person-one vote equality. Every American who holds democracy dear must do whatever it takes to defy GOP attempts to deny them access to the ballot next week.

Protesters demanding democracy in Hong Kong have thronged streets and faced down baton-wielding police for three weeks. Mr. Leung’s anti-democracy remarks further inflamed the demonstrators who live in a state with among the highest income inequality in the world. Mr. Leung said he could not allow the state’s majority – workers and the poor – to choose nominees because then those candidates would address the demands of the majority.

“If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation,” Mr. Leung said, “then obviously you (candidates) would be talking to half of the people of Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.”

That is exactly who Republicans don’t want to talk to – America’s middle class and working poor. The GOP presidential candidate, quarter-billionaire Mitt Romney, said that it was his “job not to worry about those people” who are elderly or too poor to pay federal income taxes. To make sure Republicans can focus on the rich and forget the rest, they’ve passed a multitude of laws to stop the working poor, seniors, people of color, women and students from voting. The intent is to prevent them from choosing who will run the government that, in a democracy, is supposed to represent them.

The Brennan Center for Justice calculated that if all the suppression laws passed by nearly two dozen states in the past five years took effect, 5 million citizens would confront new obstacles to exercising their right to vote. The laws would likely deny suffrage altogether to some citizens, such as those lacking birth certificates because they were born at home.

In addition to demanding specific ID, some states restricted early voting, ended same-day registration, purged voter rolls, and failed to process tens of thousands of registration forms collected by groups encouraging low-income and minority citizensto vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the NAACP and other voting rights groups challenged these schemes in court.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by Republicans, issued preliminary rulings approving voter suppression in three states for the Nov. 4 balloting.

In a fourth, Wisconsin, the court temporarily barred the voter ID mandate. The Supremes will hear the case later and may allow the state to demand specific identification. That would be ID requirements that Federal Judge Lynn Adelman determined could disenfranchise 300,000 Wisconsin voters, particularly poor and minority citizens, because they lack the requisite documents.

Judge Adelman, who ruled the law unconstitutional, concluded that in Wisconsin, there were no cases of the in-person voter fraud that Republicans claim the law is intended to prevent.

Texas was among the three states that Republicans on the Supreme Court granted permission to begin demanding specific voter identification. The court ignored the fact that Texas passed the law within hours after the Republican Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act.

The court ignored the fact that the trial judge in that case, Nelva Gonzales Ramos, calculated that it could disenfranchise 600,000 voters, particularly black and Hispanic Texans. These are citizens who don’t have a gun permit or driver’s license allowed as voter identification by the law, but who do possess other ID, such as student cards, forbidden by the law.

The court ignored the fact that Judge Ramos found only two cases of in-person voter fraud out of 20 million ballots cast in Texas over 10 years.

Consider what red, white and blue-wearing, flag-waving, democracy-praising Republicans have said about their voter suppression campaigns.

Georgia state Rep. Fran Millar complained about a decision to allow Sunday voting in a location near a mall that, as he described it, “is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist.”

When accused of racism, he said, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”

In other words, he only wants some people to vote, not all people.

That’s not democracy.

In Ohio, where Republicans tried to allow GOP-dominated counties to add hours for early voting but deny it in Democratic areas, Doug Priesse, the chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, where Columbus is located, said it was fine to make voting more difficult for black citizens:

“I guess I really feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine.”

That’s not democracy.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai shepherded voter ID through the legislature in 2012, then announced  to a GOP gathering: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.” In other words, the law would stop voting by the working poor, minorities, student and others who tend to vote for Democrats.

That’s not democracy.

The ACLU got an injunction to stop the Pennsylvania ID law. President Obama won the state. And the state Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.

The rich are represented in government, and as a result, highly profitable oil companies get tax breaks. Wall Street gets bailouts. And one percenters get tax deductions for yachts. By contrast, no one bailed out underwater homeowners.Twenty-four states refused to expand Medicaid to millions of working poor citizens. And the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in five years.

In a democracy, there’s nothing more important to securing representation in government than the vote.  Don’t let Republicans take it from you.

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Warren: ‘The Game Is Rigged, And The Republicans Rigged It’

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AP Photo / Brennan Linsley

I doubt that Hillary Clinton would ever say the above and Sen. Warren didn’t go far enough.  The entire GOP machine is rigged, IMHO.

TPM LiveWire

Warren told the crowd that she would fight against the banks that oppose her legislation that would allow students to refinance their student loans.

“We’re coming after them,” she said.

Republicans want you scared of ISIS. Democrats want you scared of the GOP.

Don't let fear dictate your vote.

Don’t let fear dictate your vote. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Week

But in truth, we have nothing to fear but fear itself

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s not a great guide when you’re making a decision, but in an election year like 2014 — in which the main voter sentiments seem to be disenchantment and disgust — politicians apparently think it’s their best bet. Republican campaign ads and debate talking points aren’t all that subtle on this point. Democrats are only a little more indirect.

“Republicans believe they have found the sentiment that will tie congressional races together with a single national theme,” says Jeremy W. Peters at The New York Times. The theme is that things are really bad right now — Ebola, ISIS, even years worth of mishaps at the Secret Service — and that it’s mostly President Obama’s fault. And since Obama isn’t on the ballot, all Democrats running for Congress are Obama’s “lieutenants,” as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus explained to The New York Times.

The Democrats’ big perceived soft spot is ISIS. Congress — after quickly and bipartisanly agreeing to Obama’s request for money to train anti-ISIS Syrian fighters — opted to go home and campaign rather than to debate what, if anything, Obama should be doing differently in Iraq and Syria. But the long-term plan Obama laid out to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS without U.S. ground troops hasn’t stopped ISIS from gaining some new territory, so Republicans are calling it a dangerous failure.

“ISIS is just one of the things leading to a crisis mentality among voters,” Joe Pounder, president of the GOP opposition-research company America Rising LLC, tells The Daily Beast‘s Josh Rogin. “And when you don’t have much new in the way of the economy going on, this is the new issue.”

This isn’t a dumb strategy on the GOP’s part. The American electorate cares about ISIS. “The situation with Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria” was voters’ No. 4 concern in a Gallup analysisreleased Monday, with 78 percent saying it is extremely or very important to their vote — and voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to deal with the situation. Tellingly, ISIS was the No. 2 issue for Republican respondents, with 85 percent calling it really important to their vote.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday, Obama’s approval rating on ISIS had plunged 15 percentage points in two weeks, to 35 percent; 51 percent disapproved.

The Republicans don’t have to have a better plan, or really any plan, to dispatch ISIS — if they disagree with Obama about anything, it’s mostly to plug sending in U.S. ground troops, hardly a popular suggestion. They just need to not control the White House.

Presidents normally want to exude sunny optimism on their watch, with varying degrees of success. But in a pinch, the party in power will be happy to paint the other side as dangerous and slightly unhinged.

Democrats can read polls, too, of course. They want you to be afraid of Republicans — or at least they want dispirited and unenthusiastic Democrats to be afraid enough that they’ll vote. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, Democrats actually lead Republicans in voter preference for House races, 46 percent to 44 percent — but Republicans take a 50 percent to 43 percent lead when it comes to likely voters.

Republicans are less popular nationally than Democrats — 33 percent favorability to 39 percent, per ABC News/Washington Post — and Democrats would like this to be an election about the minority party. It usually doesn’t work that way.

To get Democrats worried or angry enough to vote, Democrats are focusing on the points where voters in general, and Democrats in particular, rate the GOP poorly. In the latest Gallup poll, the Democrats’ No. 2 issue is equal pay for women, which 87 percent of Democrats say is extremely or very important to their vote. Abortion and contraception access is the No. 12 concern for Democrats, but 60 percent of them still call the issue very important (versus 43 percent of Republicans). Democratic ads and talking points reflect those priorities.

But in the favorite words of a man many American politicians cite as their hero: Don’t be afraid. It’s a lousy way to live, and a terrible basis for voting. If you’re afraid, there’s a good chance somebody is trying to pull your strings.

You’re almost certainly not going to get Ebola or even personally know anyone who does. ISIS isn’t going to invade across America’s southern border (which is much more guarded that it was in 2001). Republicans won’t win enough seats to get anything done — at least not for two years. If they win the Senate, we’ll probably get deeper gridlock, which should feel pretty familiar about now.

Fear is also pretty good for the news media. But on Wednesday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went a little off-script. “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television, or read the fear-provoking words online,” he said of Ebola. “You have to remember,” he adds — going “big picture” — “that there is politics in the mix.”

With midterm elections coming, the party in charge needs to appear to be effectively leading. The party out of power needs to show that there is a lack of leadership. So the president has canceled a fundraising trip and is holding meetings, and his political opponents are accusing his administration of poor leadership. For the purpose of this fact-dissemination exercise, those matters are immaterial. [Fox News]


He could be discussing just about any big issue of this election.

By all means, vote on Nov. 4 (or earlier, if applicable). There are big policy issues at stake, as well as judicial appointments and other things that may very well have a real impact on your life. But vote for the party or candidate whose ideas you think are better, not the one that scares you the least.

NIH director: Budget cuts delayed Ebola vaccine, treatment

Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) | attribution: Information Technology Innovation Foundation/Flick

For all those followers of the scare-mongering GOP, let this sink in for a minute or two…

Daily Kos

Here are the results of austerity, and of a Republican Party hell-bent on proving government can’t work by starving it. From Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institute of Health:

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

“We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.

Funding for the NIH since 2004 has been stagnant; $28.03 billion in FY2004, and $29.31 billion last year. That represents a 23 percent loss of purchasing power. The funding gap is even more disturbing for the agency within the NIH that deals most directly with infectious diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which has been slashed in the past decade from $4.3 billion to $4.25 billion. As Collins said, it’s not as if the research community in the U.S. didn’t know Ebola was the massive infectious disease crisis that it is—it’s been hobbled by Republicans indiscriminately slashing budgets to try to get more tax cuts to the rich.

There is no private investment in finding an Ebola vaccine, so it’s got to come from government. That could still be a couple of years away. That’s on the prevention side, but the funding cuts have hurt on the therapeutic side, as well. Collins says, that while there’s a drug cocktail that’s so far proving promising for treatment, it hasn’t been fully tested and there just isn’t enough of it, again thanks to budget cuts. “Had it not been for other shortages, we might very well by now know that it works and have a large stock of it,” he told Huffington Post.

Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well.

The Republican stranglehold on the budget has to end.

An ‘Utterly Exasperated’ Mike Huckabee Threatens To Leave The GOP Over Gay Marriage

Two words for the thoroughly exasperated former Governor:  Buh Byeee!

Right Wing Watch

This morning’s broadcast of the American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues”program was dedicated to promoting the AFA’s “A Time to Speak” documentary, which is aimed at getting pastors to mobilize their congregations to vote in the upcoming elections.

One guest on the program was Mike Huckabee, who began his interview by threatening to leave the Republican Party if the GOP does not take a stand against the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday not to hear appeals of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in several states.

Incensed by the decision, Huckabee declared that “I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue,” warning that by doing so the GOP will “guarantee they’re going to lose every election in the future.”

“Guarantee it,” he said before proclaiming that the Republicans are going to “lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people” if the party does not stand and fight on the issues of gay marriage and abortion.

“I’m gone,” Huckabee warned. “I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this”…

NY Post Mocks Chelsea Clinton’s Baby. No, Really.

I didn’t want to post this at first.  Then I thought, wait a minute, these people are batshit crazy!  This is the mindset that wants the GOP to retain its majority in the House and take over the Senate. OMG!

The Huffington Post

new york post

New York Post – Great job Ruppert Murdock, owner of this rag…

 

Republicans Deploy The Buffoon Squad Of Rick Perry and Sarah Palin To Save Kansas For The GOP

Half-term former Gov of Alaska: Sarah Palin and Tx. Gov. Rick Perry | no attribution

The title says it all…

Politicus USA

Yeah, this will help. With Republicans losing both the governor and Senate races in Kansas, the GOP is deploying the dream duo of Rick Perry and Sarah Palin to the state to help their sinking candidates.

According to The New York Times, hillbilly brawler Sarah Palin is heading to Kansas to help sinking Senate incumbent Pat Roberts, “Roberts is flying in a motley crew of GOP surrogates — including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush — to stir suspicions about Orman and convince voters that a GOP majority hinges on Roberts’s reelection.”

Meanwhile, the flatlining gubernatorial campaign of Gov. Sam Brownback is looking for a boost from indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be in Wichita on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. rally at the Republican Party headquarters followed by two private receptions for donors.”

The only way this would make sense is if Republicans thought that the problem with Kansas was that it wasn’t conservative enough. But the very reason Republicans find themselves in jeopardy of losing Pat Roberts’ Senate seat to an Independent is precisely because Governor Brownback purged moderate Republicans from the state legislature 2012.

Those moderates want their state back. They are siding with the moderate/sane people. They are against extremists. Clearly this rules out secessionist cheering Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Sending Perry and Palin into Kansas as fixers is the equivalence of a white flag surrender.

Yes, Perry and Palin can whip up some frothing hatred, misunderstanding of government and a dazzling ability to con voters into ignoring their own self interest, but Perry and Palin are political failures as politicians. Perry has been indicted and Palin had to quit her “job” as governor after blatantly lying about being found guilty of abusing her power on the trail.

Hate President Obama and think he should be impeached for daring to act as President even though he was elected in a landslide? Perry and Palin are your peeps. Too ignorant to understand just how ignorant these two are? Perfect GOP voter. Need to save your party due to the influence of Republicans like Perry and Palin? Don’t send Perry and Palin to fix that.

Only in the Republican Party could being one of the least popular politicians and being indicted be a bonus. If this sentence is not enough to give Republicans pause, they are never going to fix their national branding issues.

Psst, GOP: When the best solution to your problem — any problem — is Rick Perry or Sarah Palin, you have bigger problems than you know.

Immigration is still a huge problem for Republicans

The Washington Post – Greg Sargent

A new narrative seems to be taking hold: Obama’s delay of executive action on deportations — and the backlash it has sparked from enraged advocates — shows the politics of immigration are now perilous for Democrats. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, claims that it shows immigration is a “toxic” issue for Dems as well as Republicans.

That’s true in the short term, but the big picture matters more. And that big picture is this: If Obama does something reasonably ambitious on deportations after the elections, it will very likely restore the larger political dynamic that has been taking shape all year, in which Republicans continue to solidify their image as hostile and unwelcoming to Latinos and Democrats continue to establish theirs as the pro-immigration party.

As I’ve detailed here, Senate Democrats decided, for a range of reasons, that any action on deportations now could imperil their already-tenuous chances of holding the Senate. But the flip-side of this is that after the elections are over, all of the political incentives for Democrats will be flowing in the opposite direction — that is, Dems will stand to benefit politically across the board from ambitious executive action.

There are a number of reasons for this. Democrats have an interest in seeing this happen just before the GOP presidential primary, because it makes it more likely the GOP candidates will out-demagogue one another in calling for Obama’s protections from deportation for millions to be rolled back, pulling the GOP field to the right of Mitt Romney’s “self deportation” stance in 2012. Beyond the debate over the propriety of executive action, Republicans continue to deepen their opposition to theenforcement priorities underlying Obama’s coming action — they haveboxed themselves into a place where they are inescapably calling for enforcement resources to be directed back towards maximizing the deportation of low-level offenders with longtime ties to communities.

What’s more, even as Republicans cling to increasingly toxic positions among Latinos, Dems would presumably stand to benefit in the 2016 general election if the Democratic Party reestablishes — and strengthens — its bond with Latinos, which ambitious executive action would do. Also, asCook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy has noted, some of the 2016 DemSenate candidates will be running in states with increasing Latino vote shares, amid a presidential year electorate. They too might benefit from action, which conceivably could help Dems increase their majority or recapture it if they lose it this year.

It’s still unclear how far-reaching Obama’s action — which will presumably depend on what the administration determines is legally possible — will turn out to be. But unlike now, the political incentives will all point in the direction of doing something ambitious. Indeed, I suspect one reason advocates are beating the heck out of Obama over his delay right now is to raise the price of reestablishing good relations with activists and Latinos, on the understanding that the President will see that so doing carries great political rewards over the long term. Some advocates fear that if Republicans take the Senate, Obama may punt once again. But it’s also quite possible, given that the political incentives favor “going big” no matter who controls the Senate, that advocates may get their way soon enough.

None of this is to minimize the current anger advocates feel about Obama’s delay. The White House did mishandle the issue by promising action at the end of the summer (though Senate Dems did hamstring Obama by also suggesting the President follow a timetable). The human toll of the delaywill be far-reaching and very real.

However, this issue may end up unfolding just as the gay rights debate did. Gay advocates were deeply frustrated for years with Obama, particularly over his slow evolution on gay marriage. But Obama ended up compiling a very good record on gay civil rights. The result: Gay rights is one of many issues where the Democratic Party has continued to reshape itself around the cultural priorities of an emerging coalition that is giving it a built-in advantage in national elections. As Ron Brownstein has explained:

Combined, these confrontations are stamping the GOP as what I’ve called a “Coalition of Restoration” primarily representing older, white, religiously devout, and nonurban voters who fear that hurtling change is undermining traditional American values. Democrats in turn are championing a younger, more urbanized, diverse, and secular “Coalition of Transformation” that welcomes the evolution in America’s racial composition and cultural mores.

As Obama struggles through his second term, it’s clear one of his signal legacies will be cementing the Democrats’ connection with that coalition’s cultural priorities. It’s easy to imagine Hillary Clinton or another future Democratic presidential nominee offering more centrist fiscal or foreign policies than Obama. But on cultural issues Obama has led his party across a Rubicon…The party’s deepening embrace of cultural liberalism may make it tougher for it to hold some red-state House and Senate seats, but is improving its position with the cosmopolitan states and growing demographic groups that key its presidential majority.

If Obama’s actions on deportations is reasonably ambitious, it seems likely that this broader dynamic will remain in force when it comes to immigration and Latinos, too — whatever current political problems Democrats have run into right now.

GOP’s Obamacare Nightmare Is Coming True: It’s Working

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AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

TPMDC

The politics of the health care law have undergone a sea change since its disastrous rollout last fall, when many conservative operatives were salivating at the prospect of a GOP wave in the midterm elections due to an Obamacare “train wreck.”

But the train never wrecked. The law rebounded, surpassing its signups goal and withstanding a flurry of attacks. The issue seems to have mostly lost its power as a weapon against Democrats, and a growing number of Republican governors — even in conservative states — are warming to a core component of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion.

To get a sense of why this is worrying for Republicans in the long run, look no further than conservative strategist Bill Kristol’s 1993 memo — “Defeating President Clinton’s Health Care Proposal” — warning that reform would paint Democrats as “the generous protector of middle-class interests” and strike a “punishing blow” to the GOP’s anti-government ideology.

“But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse — much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government,” Kristol wrote.

In other words, the real fear back then was that health care reform would succeed.

Two decades later, Kristol’s prophecy is haunting Republicans. Obamacare has provided a lifeline by providing coverage to 8 million people on the exchanges, 7 million under Medicaid expansion and 5 million who bought insurance outside the exchanges but benefit from new regulations like the coverage guarantee for individuals with preexisting conditions. Even Republicans in deeply conservative states are suggesting that the popular new benefits cannot be taken away, even if the Obamacare brand still struggles.

The shift has been crystallized in contentious Senate races this fall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently signaled that Kentuckians benefiting from the state’sObamacare exchange and Medicaid expansion should be able to keep their coverage. Senate GOP candidates Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Scott Brown of New Hampshire and Terri Lynn Land of Michigan have all refused to call for rolling back Medicaid expansion in their states. The number of television ads attacking the law have plummeted in key battleground states since April, and now even vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is touting his vote for protecting Americans with preexisting conditions under Obamacare.

But even if the Obamacare attacks are fading, Republicans remain poised to make gains in the midterms due to a variety of structural advantages. They continue to oppose Obamacare as a whole, and point out that Americans still react negatively when asked about the law.

“Ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to coverage has long been a popular policy, and one where there is bipartisan agreement. It’s the the entirety of ObamaCare that remains EXTREMELY unpopular,” Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told TPM in an email.

Conservative health-policy experts have argued that Obamacare cannot be repealed without a viable alternative to fix broken parts of the system, but Republicans have failed to come up with one that the party can unite behind.

These are signs that Obamacare is weaving into the fabric of American culture and that the dream of repealing or unwinding it is fading. The massive health care industry is adapting to the post-Obamacare world and fears of double-digit hikes in premiums are fading: early datasuggest the prices for benchmark “silver” plans in 2015 are poised to decline slightly.

“We don’t yet have data for all states, but from these 15 states plus DC I think we can start to see a pattern emerging,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an email. “In general, changes in premiums for the low-cost plans in the marketplaces are quite modest, and actually decreasing in many places.”

Stability in premiums means “government costs for premium subsidies … are under control, which is good news for taxpayers,” Levitt said.

In the courts, an ongoing conservative lawsuit to cripple Obamacare suffered a major setbacklast week when a federal appeals court vacated a ruling that would have blocked subsidies in 36 states. Legal experts say the full court is likely to uphold the subsidies when a panel with a majority of Democratic-appointed judges re-hears the case.

For Democrats, the dream scenario was that Obamacare would eventually join Social Security and Medicare as an unassailable feature of the American safety net. Like those other major programs, Obamacare won’t be without its share of problems — cost uncertainties for automatically-renewed plans among them. But after more than 50 House votes to repeal or dismantle the law, few could have predicted that Republicans would start warming up to central pieces of the law within a year of its rollout.

(Photos by the Associated Press)