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U.S. Politics

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Jun 22, 2009
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auscyclefan94 said:
Thanks for the response. I find it interesting how you say that not having smaller parties involved as quite interesting. The past election in Australia saw neither major party (ALP and LNP) acheiving the absolute majority of 76 seats in the House of Representatives. Therefore 4 independents and 1 Green member decided who could form a minority government. Over the past year of Government, a lot of people are unhappy that the left wing Labor Party is being 'held ransom' by these 5 MP's because of their support in passing legislation such as the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax. Many People are hating the involvement of these minor parties which I find interesting compared to your answer to my question.

Again, thanks for answering.:)
I guess most people wish for a system that's different to the one that they have!;)

I know exactly what you're saying about that feeling of being held to ransom. We have a slightly comparable situation in Holland, where coalitions are a long-standing way of life because no single party ever gets a majority. Off the top of my head, I think that there are currently 10 parties represented in parliament!:eek:

Ten parties are far too many, imho. What we have today is a minority coalition between the two mainstream right-wing parties (CDA and VVD), who are 'enabled 'to govern with the support of the right wing loony PVV, the party of the populist rabble rouser, Geert Wilders. Even many supporters of the CDA and VVD are unhappy with this state of affairs, and many, including myself, do not see this coalition lasting its full term. Then, we'll have early elections, followed by months of discussions that inevitably lead to another permutation of parties (usually at least three) forming a coalition that enjoys a working majority. And so it goes......

edit - apologies for running off topic with this explanation.
 
Jun 1, 2010
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I really dislike two-party systems. Multiple parties however, despite being preferable to two parties, is still far from perfect. The problem with multiple parties is that you often get a government with more than half of the votes, which less than half of the voters support.

Look at Britain at the moment: the conservatives and the liberal democrats form a coalition government together and have well over half of the votes. However, many of the people who voted liberal democrat really dislike the conservative policies, and thus do not support the government. This way the majority of the population opposes the government from the very start (it is only natural to have more people opposing it later on, but at the start at least a government should be widely supported). And that's just with 3 parties large enough to have an effect in the parliament.

In countries like the Netherlands and Belgium there are even more parties active. This has led to the fact that in the Netherland most governments since the 1990's have been supported by just a minority of the population. And in Belgium, well, you all know that story.

A two party system is terrible, as seen in America. However, multiple parties don't necessarily make life easier either.
 
auscyclefan94 said:
Thanks for the response. I find it interesting how you say that not having smaller parties involved as quite interesting. The past election in Australia saw neither major party (ALP and LNP) acheiving the absolute majority of 76 seats in the House of Representatives. Therefore 4 independents and 1 Green member decided who could form a minority government. Over the past year of Government, a lot of people are unhappy that the left wing Labor Party is being 'held ransom' by these 5 MP's because of their support in passing legislation such as the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax. Many People are hating the involvement of these minor parties which I find interesting compared to your answer to my question.

Again, thanks for answering.:)
Having more parties leads to more democracy, but less political stability as in some European parliaments. On the other hand, having a two-party centrist system like the US one (which by European standards means center right and far right), leads to more robust governments, but has ultimately reduced democracy to mainstream party politics that act in the interests of the strong powers that’s crippled the system – note the failure of the super-committee to establish reforms.

It could be argued that a European union formed essentially as a monetary and economic unit and nothing more (my biggest criticism, which the current political-economic vicissitudes seem to validate), has resulted in a tendency for liberalism to take over the political spectrum here too, which, like the US, is basically centrist and thus devoid of the ideological clashes that once characterized the political debates of the Continent during the Cold War.

At any rate I hear the founder of Huffington Post has discharged Obama...
 
Amsterhammer is correct. In theory, yes. In practice, no.

The third biggest party in the US is the Libertarian Party. I guess the Green Party would be 4th. They both have less than 1% of the voters I believe. They have no members in Congress, and there is no way either will get anyone elected to anything beyond some county seat. In the US House of Representitives there are currently 242 Republicans, 192 Democrats, and 0 anything else. In the US Senate there are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents (both of whom were once Democrats, and align with the Democrats).

The way the US system is also set-up is to insure that these two parties remain in power exclusively. It's this same Congress that votes and implements all election rules and laws. With that comes funding. So unless someone is a billionaire (Perot, Trump, Blooomberg), they are not going to be able to run for any major office outside of the two parties. But even Trump, Bloomberg and Steve Forbes campaigned under party banners at times.

I agree with maybe the most successful non-wealthy independent: Jesse Ventura. I think the two party system should be eliminated and replaced with open primaries. Groups and action committees could still be formed, and would be. Many would align with large groups likely to call themselves "Republicans" or "Democrats". But the money used to leverage party votes would be diminished. And in some races a primary could see three "Democrats" running against each other. Or four "Conservatives".

Of course that's not a solution for all the horrible corruption that exists which really is the root of the problem, but it would help diminish the hard line in the sand and division of two sides on nearly every issue and every vote in Congress.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
I think the two party system should be eliminated and replaced with open primaries. Groups and action committees could still be formed, and would be. Many would align with large groups likely to call themselves "Republicans" or "Democrats". But the money used to leverage party votes would be diminished. And in some races a primary could see three "Democrats" running against each other. Or four "Conservatives".
Open primaries would not do much. The U.S. needs proportional representation, but that will never happen.
 
Sep 10, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Open primaries would not do much. The U.S. needs proportional representation, but that will never happen.
If nothing else, we need to get rid of the electoral college, where only certain key states really matter and where individual votes are disproportionately important - can't remember the exact figure, but something like 1 vote in Wyoming is equal to 3 votes in California, because of the electoral college system.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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VeloCity said:
If nothing else, we need to get rid of the electoral college, where only certain key states really matter and where individual votes are disproportionately important - can't remember the exact figure, but something like 1 vote in Wyoming is equal to 3 votes in California, because of the electoral college system.
This has a decent chance of happening. There is a movement to have presidents elected this way. It will force candidates to cater to all states instead of a few strategic ones. Also the contest to see which states can have the earliest/most important primaries has become ridiculous.

But as long as Congressman and Senators are confined to representing small geographic regions we are boned. It makes no sense that if 20% of the population supports a political philosophy then they cannot get a single representative unless a bunch of them happen to be concentrated in a physical location.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Amsterhammer said:
I guess most people wish for a system that's different to the one that they have!;)

I know exactly what you're saying about that feeling of being held to ransom. We have a slightly comparable situation in Holland, where coalitions are a long-standing way of life because no single party ever gets a majority. Off the top of my head, I think that there are currently 10 parties represented in parliament!:eek:

Ten parties are far too many, imho. What we have today is a minority coalition between the two mainstream right-wing parties (CDA and VVD), who are 'enabled 'to govern with the support of the right wing loony PVV, the party of the populist rabble rouser, Geert Wilders. Even many supporters of the CDA and VVD are unhappy with this state of affairs, and many, including myself, do not see this coalition lasting its full term. Then, we'll have early elections, followed by months of discussions that inevitably lead to another permutation of parties (usually at least three) forming a coalition that enjoys a working majority. And so it goes......

edit - apologies for running off topic with this explanation.
Well this was the first minority Governemnt in Australia since 1940, so it doesn't happen that often.
Alpe d'Huez said:
Amsterhammer is correct. In theory, yes. In practice, no.

The third biggest party in the US is the Libertarian Party. I guess the Green Party would be 4th. They both have less than 1% of the voters I believe. They have no members in Congress, and there is no way either will get anyone elected to anything beyond some county seat. In the US House of Representitives there are currently 242 Republicans, 192 Democrats, and 0 anything else. In the US Senate there are 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents (both of whom were once Democrats, and align with the Democrats).
.
From reading a lot of posters on here, many of you seem to be sick of both sides of Politics (especially the Republicans) and I'd imagine that many other people would feel the same way. If that is thecase then you'd think that more people would be voting for the minor parties. In Aus a lot of people weren't happy with the major parties which was why minor parties did quite well.
BroDeal said:
Open primaries would not do much. The U.S. needs proportional representation, but that will never happen.
The proportional system is used in the Senate in Australia. At the moment Australia has 6 different parties represented though with certain alliances, the Greens part has quite a few numbers to control who has the majority in the Senate. I personally sit on the fence regarding if proortional or prefferential system is better as I think both have their pros and cons tbh.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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Newt Gingrich facing GOP backlash over 'humane' immigration policy

The latest frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, Newt Gingrich, faced a conservative backlash on Wednesday after advocating a "humane" approach to illegal immigrants, a red hot issue for Tea Party activists and other rightwingers.

His proposal to allow most of the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to remain in the US – which he made during Tuesday night's nationally televised GOP debate in Washington – runs counter to Republican orthodoxy, which is opposed to amnesty and in favour of expulsion.

Conservative activists predicted that the comments from Gingrich, who has enjoyed a surge over the last week that has seen him rise to the top of polls of likely Republican voters, will explode in his face.

"I think he will take a hit," said Ryan Rhodes, leader of the Tea Party in Iowa, where the first of the Republican presidential contests is to be held on January 3. "I think that is an issue where he parts company with conservatives."

He added: "He has opened up a chance for someone else to step up again."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/23/newt-gingrich-republican-backlash-immigration

Ok, who's next?
 
BroDeal said:
This has a decent chance of happening.
While that would be better, I honestly don't know even that would be effective under the two-party, winner takes all, money funds and owns all, system we have.

auscyclefan94 said:
...Many of you seem to be sick of both sides of Politics (especially the Republicans) and I'd imagine that many other people would feel the same way. If that is the case then you'd think that more people would be voting for the minor parties.
Not when hardly any get on the ballot, are never in any debates, don't get any media time, don't have any advertising backing, etc.
 
Because it all boils down to money. The fact that nobody can get elected without raising a couple of hundred million dollars, phases out all the competition, voices that have something to say, either never get heard or else get ridiculed.

This is what is meant by the market forces taking over democracy. And it is the worst thing about democracy today, anywhere.

What's truly amazing is the power that buying publicity and communication has over the public mindset. The market melded within the very fabric of democracy itself, seem to be the true legacy of post-modernism, its kulturgeschichtlich.
 
rhubroma said:
This is what is meant by the market forces taking over democracy. And it is the worst thing about democracy today, anywhere.

What's truly amazing is the power that buying publicity and communication has over the public mindset.
True.

But it's not democracy as you well know. It's not capitalism either. The terms that come to mind to define the US political system (and much of Europe it seems) are kleptocracy, plutocracy, or CitiBank's own term for it: plutonomy. Even though people in great numbers would have you believe this isn't much of an issue, or remain willfully ignorant of it.

:mad:
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
True.

But it's not democracy as you well know. It's not capitalism either. The terms that come to mind to define the US political system (and much of Europe it seems) are kleptocracy, plutocracy, or CitiBank's own term for it: plutonomy. Even though people in great numbers would have you believe this isn't much of an issue, or remain willfully ignorant of it.

:mad:
But it is what the course of capitalism, the direction it has taken, has caused for our beguiled democracy.

As far as Europe is concerned, and I prefer the term kleptocracy out of those you so aptly listed, there is little glasnost in the way in which the EU countries operate in terms of how the financial apparatus that seems to control everyone’s lives is rationalized and administered.

I mean the governments work with the banking commissions in ways that have directly determined the economic situation and outlook, but none of their decisions have any democratic bearing whatsoever. As in America, the strong powers have gained a political consensus, for which the public policies are set by their interests alone and according to what is exclusively befitting to them, without taking any recourse to public opinion. And if one isn't an expert in finance or the economy, as most obviously aren't (including yours truly) then how is one capable of formulating an informed opinion, or to understand what's in the collective interests versus those of the kleptocracy?

At any rate, speaking of glasnost, it's pretty incredible how easily democracy can become suspended when the imperatives of the financial Lords of the Universe take over the state; as for instance in what's recently happened to Italy with the way Monti's technocrat government is operating (or the fact that it even came into existence in such a matter of fact way, without suffrage, following Berlusconi's resignation). Those who are perplexed, with reason, wonder just what "impressive measures" to get Italy back on good market terms the dynamic duo Merkel and Sarkozy were referring to, since nobody in Italy knows, the new prime minister not having disclosed them yet. It's amazing that something so vital to the public interests hasn't been exposed to public opinion, but only in the meeting room of the EU parliament. While after years of Berlusconism, such silence here in Italy might very well be seen as a form of convalescence, it does speak volumes of how today's democracy appears much more as an abstraction than it does a concrete reality.

But back to the US election, it's reported today that Bloomberg is running on an independent ticket.
 
May 23, 2010
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""Why Romney Lied

The Romney camp is trying to spin its blatantly false advertising as a brilliant ploy for attention.
But Greg Sargent gets it right:

My view is that all the boasting from Romney’s advisers about their own strategic brilliance is just bluster. If they’re willing to run an ad this dishonest, why would anyone believe anything they say about it? It’s more likely that they lied, got caught, and came up with another set of falsehoods to explain the lie away. But who knows — maybe the above interpretation is true. Maybe the Romney team thinks a deliberate show of dishonesty will carry appeal for GOP primary voters who hate Obama so much that they want a candidate who will throw even the most basic standards of honesty and decency out the window to defeat him. If so, that says a lot about the Romney campaign’s regard for those voters, doesn’t it?
""

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/morning-open-thread/2011/11/25/gIQAuoNNvN_blog.html
 
Sep 10, 2009
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Dems need to get this message out more, and hopefully they will during the general (and if they do, Obama will be re-elected).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/opinion/sunday/Kristof-President-As-Pinata.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for. He took office in the worst recession in more than half a century, amid fears of a complete economic implosion. As The Onion, the satirical news organization, described his election at the time: “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.” The administration helped tug us back from the brink of economic ruin. Obama oversaw an economic stimulus that, while too small, was far larger than the one House Democrats had proposed. He rescued the auto industry and achieved health care reform that presidents have been seeking since the time of Theodore Roosevelt. Despite virulent opposition that has paralyzed the government, Obama bolstered regulation of the tobacco industry, signed a fair pay act and tightened control of the credit card industry. He has been superb on education, weaning the Democratic Party from blind support for teachers’ unions while still trying to strengthen public schools. In foreign policy, Obama has taken a couple of huge risks. He approved the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in ****stan, and despite much criticism he led the international effort to overthrow Muammar el-Qaddafi. So far, both bets are paying off. Granted, the economic downturn overshadows all else, as happens in every presidency. Ronald Reagan, the Teflon president, saw his job approval rating sink to 35 percent in January 1983 because of economic troubles. A faltering economy sent the popularity of the first president Bush into a tailspin, tumbling to 29 percent in 1992. By comparison, President Obama has about a 43 percent approval rating, according to Gallup.
It's frustrating how we've let the Republican/conservative message that Obama is a failure dictate when in fact Obama has done a pretty damn good job, especially considering the total obstruction he's had to deal with from the Republicans right from the beginning of his presidency (his biggest mistake was trying to compromise with Republicans when he should have taken advantage of the Ds controlling Congress and just ignored the Rs).

Imagine if it had been McCain/Palin running the country these past 2 years.
 
Apr 20, 2009
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VeloCity said:
Dems need to get this message out more, and hopefully they will during the general (and if they do, Obama will be re-elected).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/opinion/sunday/Kristof-President-As-Pinata.html?_r=1&ref=opinion



It's frustrating how we've let the Republican/conservative message that Obama is a failure dictate when in fact Obama has done a pretty damn good job, especially considering the total obstruction he's had to deal with from the Republicans right from the beginning of his presidency (his biggest mistake was trying to compromise with Republicans when he should have taken advantage of the Ds controlling Congress and just ignored the Rs).

Imagine if it had been McCain/Palin running the country these past 2 years.
i doubt the US would be much different.

obama has been a pretty good copy of his predecessor on foreign policy, domestic security policy, economics and energy policy. the only difference is the people who were pissed about the policies during bush's terms are strangely silent now that obama is pursuing largely the same agenda.
 
Sep 10, 2009
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gregod said:
i doubt the US would be much different.
McCain was against both the automaker bailout and the Recovery Act. The US would be significantly different - and in much worse shape. Foreign policy would've been significantly different. Domestic policy would've been significantly different.

obama has been a pretty good copy of his predecessor on foreign policy, domestic security policy, economics and energy policy. the only difference is the people who were pissed about the policies during bush's terms are strangely silent now that obama is pursuing largely the same agenda.
Except that none of that is true.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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VeloCity said:
Except that none of that is true.
Bush put 100K troops in Iraq and 30K troops in Afghanistan. Obama put 30K troops in Iraq and 100K in Afghanistan. Yup, it's different. True that Obama has only launched one unprovoked war instead of two, but give him five more years and he'll make up for it.
 
May 13, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Bush put 100K troops in Iraq and 30K troops in Afghanistan. Obama put 30K troops in Iraq and 100K in Afghanistan. Yup, it's different. True that Obama has only launched one unprovoked war instead of two, but give him five more years and he'll make up for it.
Obama missed his chance at pulling out of Afghanistan. He should have started the process the day after Osama was killed. There's absolutely nothing in Afghanistan of any importance whatsoever to the US.

As to Iraq, Obama is simply following the withdrawal procedure which Bush negotiated.

In terms of foreign policy, Obama has been a disappointment. No progress on the Palestine conflict. Nothing on Iran. A very lackluster performance wrt the Arab revolution. Europe is left to itself. Mexico is rapidly becoming a failed state. Obama/Hillary seem to try, but there's really not much forthcoming in terms of results. At least it's not an outright disaster as the Bush/Rice show was.

ETA: and there's a lot to be said about Guantanamo and many of the Bush policies left in place by Obama. I understand people complaining that the Obama and Bush policies are very similar. I feel the same.
 
Apr 20, 2009
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VeloCity said:
McCain was against both the automaker bailout and the Recovery Act. The US would be significantly different - and in much worse shape. Foreign policy would've been significantly different. Domestic policy would've been significantly different.

Except that none of that is true.
i think even red and rhub would agree with me on this.

on your first point; just as obama has legislated he far differently from what he campaigned on, there is no reason to suspect that mcsame would be much different when confronted with the same political lobbying that obama faced.

on your second point; i defy you to show me how bush and obama are different in foreign policy. on domestic security policy, obama is uber-bush. he has increased secrecy, prosecuted more whistle-blowers than all other administrations combined, insisted on the right to assassinate US citizens (which even bush/cheney didn't have the temerity to insist on), and curtailed civil rights in numerous other ways. on economic policy; he has continued the bailouts begun under bush, insisted on austerity for the 99% in spite of all of the evidence of its contractionary economic effects, continued bush tax cuts, and on and on. on energy policy; he has pushed for more nuclear, tar sands, more drilling in the gulf and more.

he is different from bush in one way. at least obama can speak english.
 
gregod said:
i think even red and rhub would agree with me on this.

on your first point; just as obama has legislated he far differently from what he campaigned on, there is no reason to suspect that mcsame would be much different when confronted with the same political lobbying that obama faced.

on your second point; i defy you to show me how bush and obama are different in foreign policy. on domestic security policy, obama is uber-bush. he has increased secrecy, prosecuted more whistle-blowers than all other administrations combined, insisted on the right to assassinate US citizens (which even bush/cheney didn't have the temerity to insist on), and curtailed civil rights in numerous other ways. on economic policy; he has continued the bailouts begun under bush, insisted on austerity for the 99% in spite of all of the evidence of its contractionary economic effects, continued bush tax cuts, and on and on. on energy policy; he has pushed for more nuclear, tar sands, more drilling in the gulf and more.

he is different from bush in one way. at least obama can speak english.
This only goes to demonstrate that in the United States, as with the other so called democracies, there are higher powers than our political leaders that run the show. The elected officials have to, more or less, work within a system, the major contours of which have already been defined. Then there is a wall of opposition, as well as often majority, that blocks any leader's real decision making authority. Naturally unless that leader has no qualms about catering to the interests of the powers that be. In this the republicans are at a natural advantage over the democrats from the beginning. Even if the democrats are in reality, no different.

Was Clinton any less economically liberal than Reagan? Was not his most famous one-liner: "It's the economy stupid?"

In this scenerio "change" becomes no more than a bet.

In 1976 Jimmy Carter was elected on the basis of populist promises, like cuts in Pentegon spending and to put an end to financing oppressive regimes. But Carter augmented by $10 billion Pentagon spending and the major part of the arms sales to dictators continued. The economic policy of Carter was gauged at pleasing Wall Street and to reassure the business community. Workers and the poor heavily bore the effects of unemployment and inflation.
 
Sep 10, 2009
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gregod said:
on your first point; just as obama has legislated he far differently from what he campaigned on, there is no reason to suspect that mcsame would be much different when confronted with the same political lobbying that obama faced.
Why is there reason to believe that? And Obama doesn't legislate, no president does.

on your second point; i defy you to show me how bush and obama are different in foreign policy.
Well, let's take "the war on terror", which btw doesn't exist anymore - this guy puts it better than I ever could:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/obama-and-bush-two-very-different-wars/238521/

insisted on the right to assassinate US citizens (which even bush/cheney didn't have the temerity to insist on)
Yep, they did. The Bush administration initiated that policy after 9/11, giving both the CIA and the military authority to kill US citizens abroad if there was evidence that they were involved in terrorist activities against the US. They never actually carried it out, though. Course, they couldn't find bin Laden, either.

and curtailed civil rights in numerous other ways.
No president has the power to unilaterally "curtail civil rights". This isn't a dictatorship. And exactly what civil rights have been curtailed anyway?

on economic policy; he has continued the bailouts begun under bush
Which any president would've have to do for the good of the country. Had nothing to do with it being Obama; he had no choice.

insisted on austerity for the 99% in spite of all of the evidence of its contractionary economic effects
um, no. That was the Republicans.

continued bush tax cuts
Obama has always opposed extending the Bush tax cuts, but if he hadn't extended them, then everyone - not just the rich - would've seen their taxes increased, and a recession is not exactly the best time to be hitting the middle class with increased taxes.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20026069-503544.html

"Mr. Obama, who had long opposed extending the Bush tax cuts for America's highest-earners, has argued he had no choice but to agree to GOP demands to do so in order to avoid a tax increase on the middle class."

on energy policy; he has pushed for more nuclear, tar sands, more drilling in the gulf and more.
Not really.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/30/news/economy/obama_energy_plan/index.htm

I agree that it's not always obvious, but Obama really has been quite different from Bush, and would've been even more so if not for the restrictions of a poor economy and hostile, do-nothing Republicans in congress.
 
The end result of legislation and votes, yes very little difference. But I do feel if he were pushed, Obama would have no problem governing center-left policies as opposed to the center-right signatures he usually gives and supports.

I see little difference on the next President as well. Be that 2012, or 2016.

As Paul Tsongas once said after leaving office, politicians are like weather veins, they go where the wind blows.

rhubroma said:
The economic policy of Carter was gauged at pleasing Wall Street and to reassure the business community. Workers and the poor heavily bore the effects of unemployment and inflation.
Mostly true. A lot of people point to Carter and think of him as being a socialist. But he cut capital gains taxes in half, and came within $100m of balancing the budget due to various cuts, many of which he agreed to with Republicans against an (at the time) liberal Congress (think, Kennedy, Massenbaum, Cranston, Mansfield, Albert, etc). He was also pro-nuclear power without hesitation. His policies actually were addressing the stagflation of the time (and Paul Voelker, who he appointed, is credited with fixing it), even though he's still blamed for it to this day, even though stagflation started before he even got into office. It wasn't any "socialist" politics that cost Carter the presidency, it was the Iranian hostage crisis, and his dour "malaise speech" where he told a truth a lot of people didn't want to hear.

As a friend of mine's father once taught me some 30 years ago "The Republicans represent the bond holders, and the Democrats represent the share holders". Food for thought.
 
May 23, 2010
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“Those who are going to be over 21 on November 12th, I ask for your support,” the candidate told students. “Those of you that won’t be, just work hard. Because you’re… counting on us.”
---Rick Perry (R-DFistan)
 

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