The current state of the media, with so many local news outlets decimated, means that almost all the news we consume these days is national and focused on relatively few media markets. So it might surprise those outside the Greater Cincinnati region to learn that, while the news is filled with "woe is me" stories about Democrats after Tuesday's election, we elected a new city council that is comprised of 8 Democrats and 1 Republican; it's also comprised of 5 African Americans, 4 women, and 1 gay man.

We elected our first Asian-American mayor, also a Democrat, and the first Asian-American to lead a major Midwestern city. While the public school board is non-partisan, all the candidates recommended by the Democratic party won. Five of the seven board members are African-American.

Our newest municipal judge is a Democrat and African-American.

While Ohio continues to trend more reliably Republican (aided in great part by Republican gerrymandering), Hamilton County Ohio - where Cincinnati is located -- has become more reliably Democratic with every election. The same holds true for the counties where all major (and some minor) Ohio cities reside. I've been told that Indianapolis, another blue island in a red sea, is similar.

How different and more nuanced the political climate might be if more reporting dug into the complete picture rather than cherry-picking the races they've already decided will be the national bellweathers for all political prognostication. I don't know about you, but I'd sure like to know what's going right in these places, and whether it can be duplicated elsewhere.

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The contests being waged aren’t Democrats vs. Republicans. They aren’t about the past. They aren’t about Biden’s poll numbers. The pundit analyses about what went wrong are, themselves, mostly wrong. These political contests are between a Trumpian, autocratic future and our democracy. What Trump, his acolytes and cultists have done far, far better than the Dems is having a unified message, no matter how vile. In the meantime, Democratic infighting is keeping from passage a unifying bill to rethink America. If the bill had passed two months ago, things would be different. As it is, the Dems look incapable of leading the country. People want simple. The messy, egocentric and power wielding arrogance of different factions and individuals is not helping. One other thing might also help: speed up the insurrection cases so that the January 6 folks, including congressmen and women, the former president and his cronies are all put in jail.

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Another great column, Judd. I love your examples of the press forecasting election gloom and doom that then faded with time. Thank you for doing all you do to hold corporations and government accountable.

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Democrats need to speak of what they are doing for people. A positive message goes a lot farther than a negative message about Trump. There is not enough positive marketing of what Democrats want to do and explain how it is going to help people. Then, they have to do it!

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I'm sure Virginians will be sorry in the next few years.

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It was clear early on that the Democrats would loose in Virginia. Youngkin brought energy to his campaign. Yes, he distorted and in some cases lied, but the average voter is not a political savant. Between balancing their jobs, home, the kids, and all the noise of daily living, they look at the broad picture. An in Virginia the broad picture was a younger energetic man who campaigned like he wanted the job. McAuliffe came off as an old hat, more of the same, tired politician out of touch with average people. Until Democrats can campaign on a short, direct message with energy and enthusiasm, they will continue to loose elections. They need to act like they are proud of what they have accomplished in the past, and passionately believe in their vision for the future.

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Progressives in my state and CD did about as well as they always do. There was a surge of novice candidates supported by the local GOP who ran for local town councils and school boards on the fake threat of critical race theory and various vaccine and mask conspiracies. Except for a couple of communities about 30 miles due east (North Idaho), they were soundly rejected by the voters, who seem, thank God, to still value competence over Tucker Carlson or Trump endorsements. The thing that struck me most as a big change in my community was the tripling of campaign contributions from PACs outside of my community. It was three to four times the last election for a couple of city council seats. One wonders why David Koch gives a damn about who sits of the Spokane City Council; but judging from the campaign reports, he does. This infusion of national money, particularly dollars coming from unaccountable PACs, not parties, is new and troubling in my community. Yet even there, one of the two candidates receiving this dark money still lost, so..... I wish that the Build Back Better agenda of Joe Biden had included a rebuild for our election system, one that included legislation to negate the Supremes' Citizen United decision, as well as the much discussed voter protections. All this anonymous money coming into my community is what I noticed most about this election.

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Even in the more trusted segments of the media what seems to drive the reporting of news is not information but shiny objects that will capture the attention of readers and bring them back. The elections just held were about far more than Virginia, but to look at headlines one would be hard pressed to see that. Local issues were voted on, mayors of color were elected, women were elected, and so on. And, as this article notes, reality is not static. A year from now it is possible that no race decided yesterday would turn out the same way if the election was held again.

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Thanks for an informed/historical observation about how those who prognosticate are often incorrect. Your point about change is key and frankly, I'm so over polling. For the most part, I've stopped reading "opinion" pieces. They often create anxiety with a great deal of doom and gloom. Bottom line - we will need to do the work in every upcoming election to see that competent and value-driven candidates are elected. There were MANY wins yesterday at the local level that are exciting. Let's just do the work and see what happens.

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I live in Maryland, in the DC area, and the evening TV shows were blitzed by ads from Youngkin, starting in June. They were sparkling, bright and showed a handsome, energetic man.

In contrast, the much fewer Macauliffe ads were dull, the perspective photos of Macauliffe showed a much older and tired looking man, not very good looking. I don't know what ad agency Macauliffe used, but it must have been staffed with Youngkin supporters, because the ads were not well written and did not show Macauliffe off very well.

In fact, I was surprised when I saw recent photos of Macaulffe; he looked younger and more virile than in his ads.

No one has talked about Macauliffe's campaign, but I don't think he did a good job.

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I don't think your tale of Donald Trump being elected is exactly true. He never was elected by the people of this country. He was given the presidency by a body of individuals that should not exist in a democracy. The majority did not elect him. That is all that should matter.

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As Rachel Bitcofer like to remind us, it’s all about turnout. Polls are very bad at predicting who will actually vote. Punditry based on non presidential years with low voter turnout should keep this fact in mind.

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I was upset 20 years ago when 19 corporations owned 95% of the TV and raio stations, magazines and newspapers. Now that has consolidated to 5. The next time someone wants to differ with you, ask them to say something that they didn't hear on TV or the internet. Local working class organization has almost disappeared along with newspapers like the PTA, the Church, local unions and even in recreation activities like bowling where the leagues have faded away.

50 years ago, there was a pamphlet that came out of France called "The Society of the Spectacle." It's contention was that we had become divorced from nature and that everything that we view is a facsimile. Rather than living in natural time cycles, we live in spectacular time, geared to social and economic regulation. Money, becomes capital becomes spectacle. Spectacle becomes commodity which is presented as reality when it is a represntation. We are observers of the spectacle and not participants. We consume the spectacle presented to us as commodity and natural life becomes suppordinate to the artificial. The spectacle becomes all consuming as it determines social, political and economic dialogue. The virtual reality wi9thin which we are having this dialogue.is itself a part of the spectacle.

Zuckerberg recently presented us with the ultimate evolution of this concept in the meta universe where every one will live in a virtual reality within a virtual shopping center of spectacle as commodity subject to the manipulation of the owner. Has that not been the partial achievement of the 24 hour news cycle tracking politics as a game or race or media outlets like Twitter, selling us / determining our prefered reality?

It is like pulling teeth to get people to vote in local elections. Maybe 20% will participate in municiple elections and even less for school boards, parks, libraries and the like. And yet, these are the institutions that have the most direct impact on personal lives. These do not get cable coverage and yet the right has concentrated their efforts on capturing these offices over the past forty years while attacking the unions, mainstream denominations and now the deomcratic institutions of our Constitution. The Dems have done well in the cities but ignored rural America and made some inroads into the suburbs. The R's are working the tribal angle and have media sponsorhip of those ideas.

The I am running a grassroots electoral campaign, I know that the R's will be at the ballot box no matter what. It is their tribal culture. I pray for a warm, sunny day. Here where it's cold, the local and primary elections are held when it's cold. Try to get volunteers to go door to door in January and February after the nominating petiions were due December 15. Not so easy if you don't know your neighbors. Even harder if you've been in front of a screen for most of you shrinking leasure time rather than engaging in human interaction.

All change comes from the bottom up, with you. I tell my students to go home, turn off the TV and tell the people that they live with that they love them. Learn to live independent of the media and internet for a certain period every day when you interact with those that you love. Make the journey within as well as without. Get to know your neighbors. Interact with them. Saul Alinsky started most community organizing with a stop sign at a busy corner using actors in existing local institutions and went from there.

With your friends and neighbors, pick out your stop sign and get started in this reality. You'll meet the active R's in your town when you do because that is already their reality. If your persistant, you may get someplace in electing like minded people to office. Then you can work on the procedural rules of access to the power to determine substantive rules which is how the pie is divided. Then, you are interacting in this reality and the spectacle can be seen for what it is.

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I think Michael Moore's film Capitalism a Love Story, contained the interview of

Stephen Moore, wealthy Repub with years in the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Club for Growth and Wall Street Journal editorial board. In that interview Stephen M. said,

“Capitalism is a lot more important than democracy....I’m not even a big believer in democracy."

While 'capitalism' is never mentioned in the Constitution which talks a lot about democracy, people in the U.S. now grow up in the reverse frame. The U.S. also sports an extreme version of capitalism, much more regressive, primitive and sensational than in most countries.

When I need a refresher on what democracy is based on, I reread K.E. Boulding, late president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He devoted his 1980 A.A.A.S. presidential address to the historical and ethical bases shared by the subcultures of both science and democracy. They both had to crawl out from under the very dangerous heels of king and church -- traditional definers of outer reality.

Underlying values of democracy (and science):

1 -- veracity. Trying to tell the truth as best we can.

2 -- strong individualism. Versus stereotyping.

3 -- commitment to testing (of assumptions). To balance all the individualism.

4 -- curiosity. Not really a popular value. "Curiosity killed the cat."

5 -- rejection of the use of threat to change minds.

Pretty handy reminders.

(Boulding's full presidential address is reprinted in Science, Feb. 1980).

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Just as generals always seem to fight the last war, political consultants, political pundits and politicians seem to run the last election. Time for a new approach.

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I hope that your optimism is justified. I live in NJ and was horrified by Governor Murphy's narrow escape. All of the polls had him winning by at least eight points. National Republicans pretty much ignored the state. The fact that it was so close should alarm Democrats everywhere. And, of course, true to their new playbook, the Republicans are screaming "voter fraud" and are promising litigation. Because, you know, the other side can ONLY win if it cheats...........

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