Friday, May 20, 2011

The Gathering Storm

Lots of bad news for lots of politicians and citizens today.

  • In Florida and Wisconsin, the GOP governors there signed into law controversial measures requiring photo identification to vote, joining eight other states who have done the same thing. In Wisconsin, the Republican-led state Senate cut off voting before all members could actually vote. In Florida, the law prohibits voter registration work by independent third parties, like the Boy Scouts or the League of Women Voters. Expect lawsuits to be filed across the country by the ACLU.

  • In South Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, New Hampshire, and (again) Florida, Republican governors have slashed or entirely eliminated funding for the arts. Kansas governor Sam Brownback and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley also are expected to line-item veto proposed budgets for public and educational broadcasting in their states.

  • In Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial bill into law that requires any woman seeking an abortion first to get a sonogram and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure. Women may decline to look at the screen and/or hear heartbeat sounds, but doctors are required to describe the condition of the embryo or fetus to their patients (and women have to sit through that description unless they are victims of rape or incest or if the developing baby has serious fetal abnormalities). The Texas legislature also plans to slash funding for the state agency that has been fighting the horrible wildfires in that state which have burned nearly 2.5 million acres.
But while these state-level Republican efforts will cause serious harm to citizens in their states and elsewhere, they do not come without some cost to the politicians. Newly-elected Republican governors across the country, many of whom were heavily backed by the Tea Party movement, are seeing their job approval ratings plummet:

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott took less than 100 days to see his approval rating drop into the low 30s, while his disapproval rating has climbed to a whopping 55 percent.

  • "Genial" Governor John Kasich of Ohio has approval numbers at only 38 percent, while disapproval is near 50 percent. Among women in Ohio, there is an 18 percent margin between disapproval (51 percent) and approval (33 percent).

  • Maine governor Paul LePage, who won election by only 7,500 votes last year, has approval ratings of only 30 percent. This is the guy who dismissed the dangers of the chemical BPA by saying, "The worst case is some women may have little beards."

  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who earlier this year signed a bill into law that greatly reduced the collective bargaining rights of public employee union workers, and who recently is trying to rescind a law granting hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners, will have trouble winning over that state's large bloc of independent voters.

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was loudly booed today during his commencement speech at his alma mater, Seton Hall University. One graduate yelled at him to "Shut up." Christie has proposed huge budget cuts to New Jersey's education system.

We are definitely witnessing a backlash backlash, as voters across the country experience buyer's remorse for having elected unqualified, polarizing figures to run their state and local governments. To say the least, it will be interesting to see how things play out later this year and next year on the national level.

No comments: