Picture of Raphael J. Sonenshein

Raphael J. Sonenshein

The forgotten people in the 2012 election

Raphael J. Sonenshein is chair of the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice at California State University, Fullerton. Remember Osama bin Laden? Anyone who thought his death would determine the 2012 elections only had to wait a few weeks for the story to disappear and the bad new job numbers to remind us that the economy is still the main issue in American politics. The 2012 election is certainly looking more competitive.

BUDGET: Obama’s way: Maintain support for social programs

In the midst of the near shutdown of the federal government, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) launched an attack on Democratic-created safety net programs. He proposed an entirely new budget, calling for the privatization of Medicare and the devolution of Medicaid to the states, where Republican governors would be able to cut health care for the poor at will.

On Wisconsin, Fight, Fight, Fight

During his 1948 presidential campaign against underdog Democrat Harry S. Truman, Republican Thomas E. Dewey was on the campaign trail. As a crowd surged toward the back of his train, an irritated Dewey told the crowd, “That’s the first lunatic I’ve had for an engineer. He probably should be shot at sunrise, but we’ll let him off this time since nobody was hurt.” Lee Tindle, the 54-year-old engineer, told a reporter, “I think about as much of Dewey as I did before, and that’s not much.” Democrats chalked “Lunatic Engineers for Truman” on train after train, and hounded the candidate with references to it until the end of Truman’s winning campaign.

Harman’s departure: what does it mean for Jews?

The outcome of the decision by Jane Harman to quit her 36th congressional seat in the South Bay will likely be a signpost of the changing role of Jewish politicians and the Jewish vote in California politics and government. The Jewish presence in Southern California politics remains strong — after all, this is still a heavily Democratic state with two Jewish women as U.S. senators and a reliably Democratic loyalty among Jewish voters.

Can Gov. Brown Fix California?

Watching Jerry Brown’s low-key but curiously dramatic press conference on the state budget Jan. 10 reminded me that the central task of Democrats, once they are in power, is to prove that government can work. Without that, all great ideas about equality and justice go nowhere. A Democratic leader has to be able to sell his or her own base on the idea that government can’t do everything in order to have a chance to prove to the rest of the electorate that it can actually do quite a lot. Today, with hatred of government running rampant and some being goaded into violence by reckless and irresponsible public figures, governing with reason is a hard but critical task. Furthermore, the federal government has largely abandoned the states to their own devices during this economic downturn. We’re basically on our own.

A Democrat’s lament, and a glimmer of hope

There is a sick feeling of demoralization settling over Democrats, like drizzle on a cloudy day. It’s not because of losses in the midterm elections; it’s the unnerving realization that we are on our own.

California’s big chance on the national stage

Everybody knows by now that California swam against the tide on Election Day, giving Democrats a near sweep of statewide offices. But what’s even more important is what this will mean for national governance over the next two years.

The Democrats’ new adversary

An election year that was looking hopeless for Democrats has taken a slight turn for the better. The generic ballot measure has tightened up. Since Labor Day, President Barack Obama has marked off a new, more aggressive political stance that is perking up the ears of demoralized Democrats. The interest level of younger voters, a key Democratic constituency, is picking up. Statewide races in California are looking better for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer.

It’s corporate power vs. government oversight in November election

I was going to write about the Glenn Beck White People’s March on Washington, but then I read Jane Mayer’s path-breaking article in the Aug. 30 New Yorker about the billionaire Koch brothers (David and Charles) and their financial backing of the anti-Obama movement. Why should I be paying so much attention to the paid clowns and crazies when it’s the quiet, hidden monied folks who are pulling the strings and will reap the real benefits of a Republican takeover of Congress in November?

Are Jewish Voters Really Leaning Away From the Left?

Few people have a better grasp of the internal dynamics of the Jewish community than Steven Windmueller, so I take seriously his concerns about the angry Jewish voter. Something is clearly happening when the Anti-Defamation League opposes building a mosque near the Twin Towers. Whether this portends a turn to the right for the Jewish community, though, is another thing.


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