October 3, 2012 at 5:43 PM
Want to join in the conversation about the presidential debate tonight? The Seattle Times politics team will be chatting in real time, joined by Election Eye contributors David Domke, political communications expert and chairman of the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, and Elizabeth Wiley. We welcome your comments, critiques and questions.
October 3, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Presidential debates are spectacles, watched by millions of U.S. voters. This evening we kick off a three-week run that includes three presidential debates and one vice-presidential one. Tonight we’ll be live-chatting the debate along with Times reporter Jim Brunner. Here’s a primer on why we’ve just arrived at The Biggest Moment of the Campaign.
For the past couple weeks I have read countless pieces by pundits, strategists, and analysts insisting that presidential debates don’t matter, and the debates are meaningless rituals. They point to the polls this year, which have hardly budged — as the realclearpolitics average of polls shows.
So, the conventional wisdom is that the debates won’t matter.
I don’t buy it.
Here’s my view: The first presidential debate — scheduled for 6 pm Pacific time tonight — will be the moment that turns the 2012 presidential election upside down, with Mitt Romney suddenly asserting himself as the dominant candidate. Or, alternatively, the debate this evening will be the moment that Barack Obama clinches a second term in the White House.
It will be definitively one or the other. By 9 am Thursday morning the race for the White House will be a brand new one, or it will be over. Tonight will matter.
I offer five reasons, after the jump.
September 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM
SEATTLE — The YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish (YWCA) and their advocacy network, Firesteel, are hosting two round table discussions with the 2012 candidates for Washington state governor, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna. Each one will answer questions about women’s socio-economic issues, domestic violence, and homelessness.
A roundtable with gubernatorial candidates is not a new thing, but this roundtable will be unique because of where it will take place: over Google+ Hangout.
So what makes this Google+ Hangout so exciting? Over the past four years, social media have been hyped for their ability to allow presidential campaigns to reach out and have two-way conversations with citizens. The reality is, with a constituency as large as the United States, it’s challenging to have legitimate conversations with potential voters. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research study, the current presidential campaigns rarely interact on Twitter. President Obama’s campaign retweets about 16% of the time, while Romney’s campaign only retweeted once in a two week span. (more…)
September 24, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Presidential advertising is off the charts this election, but we wouldn’t know it because Washington is not a battleground state. Here’s a glimpse of what we’re missing.
In 2008, I traveled to Iowa right about this point in the presidential campaign.
Iowa was a hotly contested state, eventually won by Barack Obama, 54%-44%, over John McCain. When I turned on the television my first evening in Iowa, I was immediately run over by ad after ad after ad after ad.
It was nonstop.
And there are even more this year.
September 19, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Washington, D.C. — We walked in silence in the mid-morning hush that hovered over the National Mall. It was Sunday, three days ago, and I was in town covering the Values Voter Summit, a conservative gathering that mixes faith, politics, and policy. A friend and I were on our way to church service at Capitol Hill Baptist.
It’s a site frequented by politicos, civil servants and students, heirs of a robust intellectual tradition within Christianity. I’ve been wanting to hear the pastor, Mark Dever, since I heard him talk at the University of Cambridge a few years ago.
Walking past the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court on the way to church is a fascinating experience. It’s here that our nation’s laws get made, and fought over.
And now we found ourselves at an intersection lined with sleepy trees and charming brownstones.
A woman approached us.
“Are you two here for the ‘weekender’?” she asked.
“The what?,” we wondered aloud, thinking she had meant to inquire if we were in town for the weekend, “sure.”
“Then follow me,” she said, “I’m going to CHB.”
On the way, we figured out what she had meant. The “Weekender” was a quarterly gathering of ministers of American and international ministers.
She had thought we were pastors. I suppose wearing a blazer and bearing Bibles and notepads might have encouraged that perception. My press badge was tucked away, in more than one sense.
September 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Washington, D.C. — That African-American Christians tend to vote for Democrats is axiomatic in the political world. But that might be changing, as some evangelicals work with conservative African-American pastors on shared opposition to same-sex marriage.
In a carpeted conference room, he urged a better mutual understanding of the black Christian vote, which is theologically diverse and suspicious of outside critique. It is also not necessarily pledged to either political party, he said.
“We need to have some black and brown faces bringing the message on marriage,” he said. But those voices will only come if white evangelicals approach black evangelicals with more humility.
White Christians may not understand why urban poverty and the impact of gambling in the black community, for example, seem to mater more than abortion to black congregations. Black Christians may not understand why devoting limited resources to stopping human trafficking makes sense (instead of addressing enduring local issues like access to education).
Jaskson said that it’ll take “respect” and “reciprocity” from traditionally white churches to earn the trust of black pastors.
“You start with the issue of marriage, and go from there,” he said. As a kind of “bridge,” it could have the potential to bring blacks and whites (and Latinos, he added) together. But again, this can only happen if evangelicals can understand each other’s differences, he continued. Sometimes, he feels like the black conservative vote is trapped in the middle.
“I got goofy people on the right, and insane people on the left, and urban black poor in the middle,” he said.
Evangelicals as a whole, both black and white, can’t “just wait until the next crisis …and do nothing” to make connections with each other in the meantime, he said. That will only come with time and investment in relationships.
“I believe that God has an issue with the American church. I think part of God’s issues with the American church is that we have had a 400 year problem with race and racism.”
September 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM
Washington, D.C. — Not everyone here was a veteran culture warrior, such as Gary Bauer or Tony Perkins, and there were plenty of other, perhaps more representative, social conservatives in attendance.
Some come because they’re worried about such perennial topics as same-sex marriage and abortion, and now the HHS mandate. Some, such as former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith (R-Wash.), are deeply concerned about social-justice.
Smith, who served in Congress from 1995-98, founded Shared Hope International, a Northwest-based nonprofit that fights domestic human trafficking.
While she was invited to speak by Perkins, she hopes to get people who oppose abortion to care, too, about those abused and neglected as adults, and become interested in other social-justice causes as a result.
Addressing a small crowd during one of the afternoon “break-out” sessions, she said that efforts to stop the sell and trade of minors in the sex industry should be an extension of the “pro-life” cause.
“Believers and conservatives should put this issue in its proper position,” and not treat it as tangential, she said.
September 15, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Washington, D.C. — Though a bit few and far between, there are a few people here who are from the Northwest.
Speaking this morning on a panel of local leaders who oppose same-sex marriage atthe state level, Joseph Backholm, the director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and the chair of the anti-R74 group, Preserve Marriage Washington, made it clear to the cultural conservatives that they have ideological allies far away from more “red” states.
“We’re way up in the corner, and everyone writes us off as a lost cause,” he says. “But this is a national movement, and what happens to one of us, affects everyone.”
Backholm, who’s been a crucial organizing force in gathering enough signatures to get R74 on the ballot, knows he has a tough sell to Washingtonians, especially in Seattle, to some.
But while more liberal on this issue, as a state “we are a beachhead in this movement,” he says, referring to the larger, national fight for and against same-sex marriage.
“We have the right of referendum, which is a blessing.”
That referendum, he says, forces people to make a false choice.
“People support same-sex marriage … as a way to prove that they don’t hate gay people,” he says. He compares the situation to the early anti-abortion debate in the 1970s, and the need to reframe it.
As part of that process, Backholm insists that the domestic-partnership laws in Washington give the same rights as traditional heterosexual marriage, but that the state shouldn’t be the one defining the latter.
“We must be able to penetrate that narrative [the narrative that says that voting against the referendum is tantamount to discrimination], he says. “We do treat same-sex couples equally.”
September 15, 2012 at 7:15 AM
The Values Voters Summit is an annual gathering of cultural conservatives. It is also a contested space.
Washington, D.C. — In the still-mild twilight of a September evening, Felipe Matos and about a half-dozen gay and lesbian activists from around the country held up a large brown-paper sign. It read “Your ‘values’ are killing us.”
They carried large poster-pictures of young people they say have committed suicide in response to bullying stemming from their sexual orientation.
Chants of, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Republicans have got to go!” echoed along the busy road.
Passersby, some of them from the Values Voter Summit being held across the street, wore looks that alternated between deep, angry frowns and slight smiles. Some shouted snarky comments at the protesters, who responded in kind. The occasional car honked a horn, but the mood was somewhere between ambivalent and tense.
Some people stopped to talk.
September 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM
Washington, D.C. — As is his job as the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan dutifully came to the Values Voter Summit this morning, making the case that his boss was the best person to carry the Republican cause forward in the fall.
But the congressman from Wisconsin was also here, it seems, to rally cultural conservatives and to help ensure that they stay energized enough to vote come November.
It wasn’t his line about how Romney is “an honest man with a charitable heart; a doer and a promise keeper,” nor his criticism of the president’s economic polices, that got the biggest standing applause.
For while he said that “in this election, values voters are also economic voters,” and tried to connect the economy under the president to social issues, Ryan was much more in his element toward the end of his speech, when he addressed worries about the HHS mandate and its impact on religious non-profits, especially those run by or associated with the Catholic Church.
“You would be hard pressed to find another group in America that does more to serve the health of women and their babies,” Ryan, who is Catholic, said.
But he claimed that the mandate is “not a threat and insult to one religious group; it is a threat and insult to every religious group.” It’s a standard line from the Romney campaign, but meant something different here.