Seventeen. That is the number of seats Democrats need to pick up in the House to ensure a majority in 2014. It would be a post WWII mid-term record, for the President’s party to pick up that many seats in the House. It has only happened twice before, and the record was set by Republicans who picked up 8 seats in President Bush’s 2002 midterm. So for Democrats to more than double that record, is quite a battle. But not impossible.
The reason the party in the White House tends to lose seats, or gain few seats in the mid-terms is usually down to their supporters not turning out to express satisfaction with the party, whilst the opposition voters turn out to express dissatisfaction. But this mid-term is a little different. At the 2012 election, Republicans lost the national vote in the House by 1.4 million votes, only managing to hold the House due to redistricting. Democrats easily won the national vote. The Republican vote was down by 4.8%, with the Democrats up by 3.4%. Redistricting makes it difficult for Democrats to pick up 17 seats, but with Congressional approval ratings at an all time low, the Republicans offending everyone they possibly can on their journey to far reaches of the right wing, this election will come down to candidates. And so this is part IV of a series focusing on one particular Congressional race that Democrats – though difficult – need to win.
Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District:
Dave Heaster has a mountain to climb if he is to claim Wisconsin’s 5th from Republican incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner. Heaster won 32% of the vote in 2012, to Sensenbrenner’s 68%. But Sensenbrenner has a voting record, and positions, that is in keeping with the Tea Party take over of the Republican Party in the second decade of the 21st Century, and should be drawn upon strongly by the Heaster team if it is to win the seat in 2014.
Heaster supports campaign finance reform (opposed by Republicans; mainly due to who it is that actually funds them) and believes the government should not legislate against a woman’s right to her own body. The “small government” Sensenbrenner disagrees, and is one of those Elephants in the womb. It’s a curious paradox for 21st Century Tea Party Republicans; small government seems to only apply when it’s for the benefit of of white, Christian, wealthy men, and support for big government for everyone else… as we’ll see in this article.
Earlier this year, Sensenbrenner released this press release.
Importantly, it reads:
“Not coincidentally, 75% of the towers the Obama administration is closing are located in Republican Congressional Districts”.
– This is in relation to the 149 Air Traffic Control towers closing due to sequestration cuts. The implication being, that the Obama administration is playing politics with passenger safety, and jobs. The problem is, the claim is completely untrue. Just invented. No substance whatsoever. Apart from the couple that are inbetween Congressional districts, 58% are in Republican districts, and 42% in Democrat districts. Republicans hold about 52% of Congressional seats. 58% is significantly lower than 75%, and as Politifact point out; many of those affected are in rural areas, which lean Republican.
There is no reason to claim this is at all politically motivated.
In an article to the Guardian earlier this year, Sensenbrenner on the NSA scandal:
“‘Big Brother’ is watching. And he is monitoring the phone calls and digital communications of every American, as well as of any foreigners who make or receive calls to or from the United States.”
– Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Patriot Act to the House. This includes section 215, which sets out what the FBI Director can apply to obtain without a warrant. These are set out as “tangible things” such as:
“books, records, papers, documents, and other items”
It also provides a gagging order for absolute secrecy, meaning that the government can demand your details, conversations and records, without your knowledge, from third parties who don’t have to inform you, as long as FISA grants it. None of this is new to the Obama Administration:
“No person shall disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things under this section) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things under this section”.
– Apart from being a complete disregard for the Fourth Amendment, the leaked Prism documents show the NSA really jumped on board with what falls under “tangible things” and “other items” to include videos, photos, emails, VOIP. The spying hasn’t suddenly appeared under President Obama. Between 2001, and 2005, no one said a word. The ACLU made their case against government agency spying, but Republicans at large kept quiet. So why the outrage now? It is the inevitable product of the Big Brother Patriot Act introduced into the House by Jim Sensenbrenner. The power Sensenbrenner was willing to provide the Bush administration, he now ironically claims is an example of the Obama Administration’s style of big government abuse.
Jim Sensenbrenner is another old, rich Republican male who voted no to reauthorise the Violence Against Women Act. Republicans argued that the law represented a “feminist attack” against family values. Before the Violence Against Women Act, there was little incentive for women to report domestic abuse. The 1994 Act changed that, and has worked ever since. This year, House Republicans let it die, because it included protections for the LGBT community, Native American women, and undocumented female workers. All three of these groups are incredibly vulnerable to abuse, with 40% of Native American women facing domestic violence. The new provisions seeked to address those problems. House Republicans didn’t approve. All women suffer as a result of Republican bigoted, anti-women principles. Sensenbrenner is one of those.
As the ranking Republican on the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, Sensenbrenner chose to ignore the scientific consensus and vast evidence produced and supported by agencies all across the World, deciding instead to side with faith, and big business. Two entities that should not be allowed anywhere close to scientific policy. He Voted NO on expanding vital, life saving research to more embryonic stem cell lines. He Voted Yes on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Voted No on tax incentives for renewable energy, whilst voting to sustain Federal subsidies for oil & gas exploration. If anything, he has voted to keep science out of policy.
Sensenbrenner is a Republican who decries “Big government” when it suits his debating point, but he voted for the biggest government intrusion into the private lives of individuals possible. He voted for a Constitutional Amendment, banning same sex marriage, and he voted to ban same-sex adoption. Neither of those positions are based on evidence or reason, but on religious conviction alone. In fact, there is absolutely no reasonable excuse to oppose same-sex adoption. The position taken up for opposing same-sex adoption is almost always based on the idea that a child requires a mother and father and anything else is damaging. This of course, isn’t borne out by facts, or any credible research.
It isn’t loving families that happen to be same-sex, that harm a child’s development; it is lack of opportunity, and perpetual poverty. Sensenbrenner voted to authorise the Bush Tax Cuts, which resulted in the median income falling from $52,500 in 2000 (inflation adjusted) to $50,303 in 2008. In 2000, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, 39.8 million were in poverty.
During the 2012 ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, the House Republicans passed 39.8 million DOA Plan B 215-209-1. This Bill didn’t make it to the Senate, but its interesting to note that the proposal from Boehner, included throwing 300,000 children off of food stamps, whilst the Tax Policy Center found that the same proposal offered an average $108,000 tax cut for millionaires, in a typical Republican move to redistribute wealth upwards, whilst endangering and impoverishing the lives of children. If you believe that having same-sex parents is more damaging to child than pushing their head under a sea of poverty, for the sake of wealthy tax breaks, then go ahead and vote Jim Sensenbrenner.
This represents an attempt to smash down the Constitutional wall of separation between church & state, but also to place government right in the centre of the private lives of anyone who isn’t considered the “correct” sexuality by religious fundamentalists, whilst limiting the amount of loving and caring parents available for children in desperate need of adoption.
Sensenbrenner not only has no problem with violence against women, but he has no problem with violence against gay people, having voted No to enforce against anti-gay hate crime.
On jobs, Sensenbrenner voted No on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He believes a company should be allowed to refuse to hire you based solely on who you’re attracted to in your private life. Your ability to do the job is irrelevant to Sensenbrenner, if you happen to be gay. It’s what Jesus wants.
If you’re middle or working class, and worried about job security, then it’s probably best not to vote Republican. Sensenbrenner voted No on any assistance provided to you if you lose your job due to jobs being shipped abroad.
And whilst he currently makes headlines trying to appear as if he cares for minorities affected by the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down a key section of the Voting Rights Act; let’s not forget that Jim Sensenbrenner voted Yes to require voters produce a photo ID in Federal elections, voted No on $84 million in grants for struggling Black and Hispanic colleges whilst voting Yes to Federal funding of schools that allow voluntary prayer, and received only 33% approval rating by the NAACP. Jim Sensenbrenner is no supporter of minority rights; be they gay rights, women’s rights, African American rights. He will use the power of government to ensure perpetuated privilege for white, heterosexual, Christian men.
It is of course no surprise that Rolling Stone refer to him as “The Dictator”.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in July 2012 Heaster had about $500 in hand for his campaign, to Sensenbrenner’s staggering $350,000. So the outcome of 32% to 67% was not a shock. Hopefully Heaster can turn those fortunes around in 2014 and defeat the big government, anti-women, anti-minorities, anti-science, anti-children, anti-middle class, pro-Corporate socialism Jim Sensenbrenner.
Vote Dave Heaster for Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District in 2014.
See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.