TPM Cafe: Opinion

After reading any number of essays (e.g., here and here) on the lessons American conservatives should learn from David Cameron’s triumph last week in the UK elections, my very first reaction was pure mockery:

Republicans should boast of their successful management of an economic recovery while attacking their opponent’s irresponsibility in office during the last decade and exploiting fears of a regional secession movement. Towards the end of the election cycle they should cannibalize the votes of their coalition partners and execute a surge to 36.9% of the electorate!

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Finale season on network television is also a glimpse at the future; this week we saw a flurry of pickups, renewals and cancellations. Among them were two major casualties, both female minority showrunners: Mindy Kaling of FOX’s critically-acclaimed but perennially low-rated The Mindy Project, and Cristela Alonzo of ABC’s endearing Cristela. To network executives, these are just two of more than 30 shows that got the boot; to viewers of color, however, their departure from the airwaves holds far greater significance.

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Last week, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig at the New Republic wrote a piece dismissing Mike Huckabee’s presidential chances in 2016. Her conclusion was not a particularly controversial one—I doubt even Mike Huckabee thinks he’ll win so much as scare up some new names to advertise to on his email list—but the reasoning she used to get there was totally misplaced. “But the culture wars are over, and things did not shake out in evangelicals’ favor,” she writes, arguing that Huckabee is a relic of a time long ago (okay, just a few years ago), and the time of the Bible-thumper has passed.

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My first experience with sexual harassment happened in elementary school. A group of boys became fascinated with me and my sister: They pulled our hair, knocked over our crayons and enjoyed putting their index finger through the zipper of their jeans as if it were a penis. No matter how often I informed the counselors of the boys’ behavior, their punishment was always tepid: “Boys, stop it.”

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When I moved to Washington, DC as a recent college graduate back in 2006, I had no intention whatsoever of working in Congress. Like most Americans, I had a profound lack of respect for the institution (Congress received an approval rating of only 18 percent in Gallup’s latest poll, and in June 2014 Americans ranked their confidence in it far lower than banks, the criminal justice system, big business, and even television news). Because I wanted to look like I was doing something with my free time while I applied for job after job at respectable organizations, I swallowed my pride and got an unpaid internship in one of my senators’ offices. I hoped that I would soon be able to drop that embarrassing mark from my resume and never mention it again.

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Mea culpa time.

A couple of weeks ago, Avengers stars Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans were the topic of that day’s social media outrage. Renner had jokingly called Black Widow, a character played by Scarlett Johansson, a “slut”, in response to a reporter asking about Black Widow hooking up with the Hulk when fans had previously ‘shipped her with Renner's Hawkeye and Evans' Captain America. Chris Evans laughed and replied that she was “a complete whore."

I publicly rolled my eyes at the social media outrage on Twitter, and asked everyone to stop playing to ugly and untrue stereotypes about feminists being humorless.

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I had been in South Africa for five weeks before I heard someone try to justify apartheid.

It was at a wine festival in the farming town of Paarl, a cradle of Afrikaner heritage in the winelands of the Western Cape. Pieter had been pleased to meet a young American and recounted with nostalgia his many decades living in the town. But when I told him that I was in South Africa to study history for a semester, his demeanor turned grave.

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It’s no secret that white non-college educated voters have become a solidly pro-Republican demographic category. In the last three presidential elections, these voters tilted to the GOP by an average of 22 points. That margin ballooned to 30 percent in the 2014 midterms.

This phenomenon has been a constant source of frustration for, and agonized discussion among, Democrats, who feel a sort of moral responsibility for appealing to the white working class, its bulwark for so many decades, even if they are convinced gains elsewhere offset these losses (as they increasingly do given the shrinking percentage of white voters who do not go to college).

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Liberals generally contend that a robust safety net and a progressive tax system are not just economically sound policies, but that they are also characteristics of a moral society. At the federal level, Democratic politicians generally push policies aligned with this core liberal belief. However, at the state level, many Democratic politicians are less prone to implement this type of policy. While liberal states in general tend to have fairer tax systems and thicker safety nets than conservative states, three solidly blue states have the opposite.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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