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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Memoriam: Becky Young

In Memoriam: Rebecca Conrad Young

Rebecca (Becky) Young succumbed at home to cancer she had battled since 1997 on November 18 at the age of 74. She was born in Clairton, Pennsylvania, on 28 February 1934, graduating from Clairton High School in 1951. After completing a B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1955, she worked for two years in Casablanca, Morocco. Married to Crawford Young on 17 August 1957, she completed an MA in Teaching at Harvard University in 1963, and a J.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. She was elected to three terms on the Dane County Board of Supervisors beginning in 1970, then served as Commissioner on the State Highway Commission 1974 to 1976. She was Deputy Secretary of Administration 1976-77, and was elected to two terms on the Madison School Board 1979-85. After completing Law School, she was an Associate with Julian & Lawton 1983-84. She won election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1984 representing the 76th District, serving seven terms and retiring in 1999. Among her major awards were NOW Feminist of the Year (1996); Eunice Zoghlin Edgar Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Civil Liberties Union (1997); Outstanding Legislator Award from the Wisconsin Counties Association (1998); Vote for Choice Award from Planned Parenthood (1998); Luan Gilbert Award for Outstanding Activities in Domestic Violence Intervention and Prevention, from Domestic Violence Intervention Services (1998); Eleanor Roosevelt Award, from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (2005); Extraordinary Commitment to Justice Award, from the Benedict Center (2008); Inspiring Leadership to Countless Women, from Wisconsin Assembly Democrats (2008); Lifetime Advocacy Award from Disability Rights Wisconsin (2008), and the Marlys Matuszak Statewide Impact Award for positive and lasting impact on the Democratic Party and State of Wisconsin (2008). She is survived by her husband M. Crawford Young, daughters Eva Young (Minneapolis), Louise Young (Madison), Estelle Young (Baltimore), and Emily (Imperial Beach, California), and grandchildren Israel and Daniel Dedina, and Celia and Anthony Chambers.

Visitation will take place on Friday, November 21 from 3-6 p.m. at the Cress Funeral Home, with a private funeral to be held for family members. A memorial service is planned in the near future; details will be announced shortly. In lieu of flowers, a contribution in her name might be made to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin or Family Connections.

Cross posted at: Please leave comments there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seifert v Emmer

Seifert won the election for minority leader of a smaller caucus. Triple A had supported Tom Emmer. His commenters debated the race:

J. Ewing Says:
November 13th, 2008 at 11:01 am
I like Tom Emmer, but I just don’t recognize the Marty Seifert you’re talking about. He is the most outspoken, dynamic and brazen conservative I have ever seen in the MN GOP. I’ve noted dozens of places where he has pushed the DFL into a corner on our issues, either succeeding or making them take votes that we can later use against them. He held the caucus together better than could be expected considering the “gang of six.” I’ve heard rumours he may not want the job any more, but I can’t see pushing him out. Maybe he wants more time to run for Governor. I could go for that.

Larry1 Says:
November 14th, 2008 at 11:58 am
Seifert has done a fine job.

Emmer would be a divider, he’s opposed to a governor that has a 61% approval rating.

It would be difficult to recognize common sense from a person whose top legislation was to have people castrated.

LibertyFirst Says:
November 15th, 2008 at 7:15 am

The Pawlenty/McCain direction for the Republican party is destroying it. How many more seats do we have to lose before we abandon these liberal Republicans? If Tom Emmer will stand against Governor Global Warming, that is good enough for me.

J. Ewing Says:
November 16th, 2008 at 2:53 pm
Just to recap, it’s over and Seifert won. I think the GOP minority is in good hands. They’ll have to stick together even better this time around. Fortunately that is made easier by getting rid of at least six unreliable GOP votes.

Personally, I'm disappointed Tom Emmer didn't win. I believe he would have provided a rich motherload of entertainment as minority leader. It is ironic that Triple A's commenters are celebrating making the party smaller.

Christine Todd Whitman - 'I told you so'

Republicans fail to hold the center

November 15, 2008

Four years ago, in the week after the 2004 presidential election, we were working furiously to put the finishing touches on the book we coauthored, "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America."

Our central thesis was simple: The Republican Party had been taken hostage by "social fundamentalists," the people who base their votes on such social issues as abortion, gay rights and stem-cell research. Unless the GOP freed itself from their grip, we argued, it would so alienate itself from the broad center of the American electorate that it would become increasingly marginalized and find itself out of power.

At the time, this idea was roundly attacked by many who were convinced that holding on to the "base" at all costs was the way to go. A former speechwriter for President Bush, Matthew Scully, who went on to work for the McCain campaign this year, called the book "airy blather" and said its argument fell somewhere between "insufferable snobbery" and "complete cluelessness." Gary Bauer suggested that the book sounded as if it came from a "Michael Moore radical." The National Review said its warnings were "at best, counterintuitive," and Ann Coulter said the book was "based on conventional wisdom that is now known to be false."

What a difference four years makes -- and the data show it.

While a host of issues were at play in this election, the primary reason John McCain lost was the substantial erosion of support from self-identified moderates compared with four years ago. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry held a margin of just 9 percentage points over President Bush among moderate voters. This year, the spread between Barack Obama and McCain was 21 points among this group. The net difference between the two elections is a deficit of nearly 6.4 million moderate votes for the Republicans in 2008.

In seven of the nine states that switched this year from Republican to Democratic, Obama's vote total exceeded the total won by Bush four years ago. So even if McCain had equaled the president's numbers from 2004 (and he did not), he still would have lost in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia (81 total electoral votes) -- and would have lost the election. McCain didn't lose those states because he failed to hold the base. He lost them because Obama broadened his base.

Nor did the Republican ticket lose because "values voters" stayed home. On the contrary, according to exit polls, such voters made up a larger proportion of the electorate this year than in 2004 -- 26 percent, up from 23 percent. Extrapolating from those data, McCain actually won more votes from self-identified white evangelical/born-again voters than Bush did four years ago -- 1.8 million more. But that was not enough to offset the loss of so many moderates.

Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.

Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.

In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.

Christine Todd Whitman, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2001 to 2003, is cochair of the Republican Leadership Council. Robert M. Bostock, a freelance speechwriter, was her coauthor for the book "It's My Party Too." They wrote this article for the Washington Post.