From Obama’s Farewell Address

President Obama never mentioned Donald Trump’s name, but when he discussed the need for workers to stand together it was clear whose tactics he was talking about.

Obama said, “But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.”

Workers of all ages, races, genders, and professions can’t allow themselves to be divided by the Trump tactics. Trump won the election by dividing workers. He made white workers in manufacturing, mining, and energy feel like they were fighting for their lives. Trump demonized Hispanics and African-Americans.

The only people that benefit from dividing workers are those who can keep wages down with division.

Instead of fretting over attracting white workers to their party, Democrats need to be talking to all workers. Trump does not have a pro-worker agenda. Trump’s agenda is pro-corporation, millionaire, and billionaire. Workers will only win if they stand together.

Morning in America Delivered by Democrats

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.


Author: Leo Gerard

Emphasis Mine

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity.

That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”

To hoist America up out of that bogus hellhole, Trump proposes the same tired-and-untrue tax- and regulation-cutting formula that Bush did. The one that actually did drop the country into a hellhole – the Wall Street collapse, massive foreclosures and high unemployment.

Trump offered yet another tax plan last week – the third of his campaign. This one, just like Bush’s, lavishes tax cuts on the rich. He would hack the 35 percent business tax rate to 15 percent. He would eliminate the estate tax paid only by the nation’s richest 0.2 percent. So, basically, Trump would cut taxes for himself – a 10 billionaire.

In Trump’s previous tax plan, low-income people, those in the lowest taxbracket, would have paid 10 percent, but now Trump makes them pay more. They’ll have to cough up 12 percent.

At the same time, Trump said, he’d eliminate all that pesky government regulation that’s getting in the way of business doing whatever it wants. So, for example, he’d abolish that annoying regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s the one that just fined Wells Fargo $100 million, part of a total of $185 million in penalties, for issuing credit cards and opening accounts without customers’ consent, sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees and damaging credit. Republicans like Trump have tried to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the day Democrats created it.

By cutting taxes on the rich and letting businesses run roughshod over consumers, Trump claims he would create 25 million jobs over a decade. This is Reagan and Bush trickle-down economics. It worked great for the rich. They got richer and richer. It never worked for the rest. The rest always do better when there’s a Democrat in the White House, as there is now. The Census report issued last week showing progress on wages is testament to that. But there’s more. Far more.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found in 2013 that since World War II, the economy performed significantly better under Democratic presidents, regardless of the measurement used. For example, Democratic presidents average 4.35 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Under Republicans, it was 2.54 percent.

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.

Economist Steven Stoft analyzed 72 years of jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during which Democrats controlled the White House for 36 years and Republicans for 36 years. He found that 58 million jobs were created under Democrats and 26 million under Republicans. That means Democratic presidents created more than twice as many jobs.

Significantly, because Trump is telling African-Americans how horrible their lives and their communities and their schools are, and how great he would be as a Republican president for them, a study published by the American Political Science Association found that that over 35 years of Republican presidents, black unemployment rose 13.7 percent. On the other hand, over 22 years of  Democratic presidents, black unemployment fell 7.9 percent.

And here’s another noteworthy fact as Trump runs around claiming he’s going to bring manufacturing back, even though he manufactures his own signature suits and ties and shirts offshore in places like China and Mexico and Bangladesh: Democrats create manufacturing jobs; Republicans destroy them.

Bloomberg news service analyzed data from the past eight decades and found manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republican presidents.

Even as employment expanded, manufacturing jobs declined under Republican presidents. The largest losses occurred under Reagan and the two Bushes – an average of 9 percent.

Republicans are bad for jobs. They’re bad for manufacturing. They’re bad for the GDP in general. Trump’s 25 million job promise? Malarkey.

Moody’s Analytics looked at his tax, trade and immigration policies and projected they’d cause a recession and eliminate 3.5 million jobs. That was before he changed his mind on taxes again and released the third plan this week, but it’s virtually unchanged from the previous two, other than costing low-income people more.

Americans should reject Trump’s Republican trickle-down promises that have done nothing for workers in the past but swipe their cash and flood it up in torrents to billionaires like Trump.

Americans who want a job, a raise, improved GDP, more American manufacturing, better health insurance – just improved security in general – should look to the Democrats. They’ve got a long track record of actually delivering on those promises.

Leo W. Gerard is president of the United Steelworkers union. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @USWBlogger.


What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the “War on Terror”

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.

Source and Author: Sam Harris

Emphasis Mine

The following is part of a speech that I think Hillary Clinton should deliver between now and November. Its purpose is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern, especially in the aftermath of any future terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe.—SH

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important and divisive issues of our time—the link between the religion of Islam and terrorism. I want you to know how I view it and how I will think about it as President. I also want you to understand the difference between how I approach this topic and how my opponent in this presidential race does.

The underlying issue—and really the most important issue of this or any time—is human cooperation. What prevents it, and what makes it possible? In November, you will be electing a president, not an emperor of the world. The job of the president of the United States, even with all the power at her or his disposal, is to get people, both at home and abroad, to cooperate to solve a wide range of complex problems. Your job is to pick the person who seems most capable of doing that.

In the past, I’ve said that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. And President Obama has said the same. This way of speaking has been guided by the belief that if we said anything that could be spun as confirming the narrative of groups like ISIS—suggesting that the West is hostile to the religion of Islam, if only to its most radical strands—we would drive more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists and the theocrats, preventing the very cooperation we need to win a war of ideas against radical Islam. I now see this situation differently. I now believe that we have been selling most Muslims short. And I think we are all paying an unacceptable price for not speaking clearly about the link between specific religious ideas and the sectarian hatred that is dividing the Muslim world.

All of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, must oppose the specific ideas within the Islamic tradition that inspire groups like ISIS and the so-called “lone-wolf” attacks we’ve now seen in dozens of countries, as well as the social attitudes that are at odds with our fundamental values—values like human rights, and women’s rights, and gay rights, and freedom of speech. These values are non-negotiable.

But I want to be very clear about something: Bigotry against Muslims, or any other group of people, is unacceptable. It is contrary to the values that have made our society a beacon of freedom and tolerance for the rest of the world. It is also totally counterproductive from a security point of view. However, talking about the consequences of ideas is not bigotry. Muslims are people—and most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims simply want to live in peace like the rest of us. Islam, however, is a set of ideas. And all ideas are fit to be discussed and criticized in the 21st century.

Every religious community must interpret its scripture and adjust its traditions to conform to the modern world. Western Christians used to murder people they believed were witches. They did this for centuries. It’s hard to exaggerate the depths of moral and intellectual confusion this history represents. But it is also true that we have largely outgrown such confusion in the West. The texts themselves haven’t changed. The Bible still suggests that witchcraft is real. It isn’t. And we now know that a belief in witches was the product of ancient ignorance and fear. Criticizing a belief in witchcraft, and noticing its connection to specific atrocities—atrocities that are still committed by certain groups of Christians in Africa—isn’t a form of bigotry against Christians. It’s the only basis for moral and political progress.

One thing is undeniable: Islam today is in desperate need of reform. We live in a world where little girls are shot in the head or have acid thrown in their faces for the crime of learning to read. We live in a world where a mere rumor that a book has been defaced can start riots in a dozen countries. We live in a world in which people reliably get murdered over cartoons, and blog posts, and beauty pageants—even the mere naming of a teddy bear. I’m now convinced that we have to talk about this with less hesitancy and more candor than we’ve shown in the past. Muslims everywhere who love freedom must honestly grapple with the challenges that a politicized strand of their religion poses to free societies. And we must support them in doing so. Otherwise, our silence will only further empower bigots and xenophobes. That is dangerous. We are already seeing the rise of the far right in Europe. And we are witnessing the coalescence of everything that’s still wrong with America in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, it is true that this politicized strain of Islam is a source of much of the world’s chaos and intolerance at this moment. But it is also true that no one suffers more from this chaos and intolerance than Muslims themselves. Most victims of terrorism are Muslim; the women who are forced to wear burkhas or are murdered in so-called “honor killings” are Muslim; the men who are thrown from rooftops for being born gay are Muslim. Most of the people the world over who can’t even dream of speaking or writing freely are Muslim. And modern, reform-minded Muslims, most of all, want to uproot the causes of this needless misery and conflict.

In response to terrorist atrocities of the sort that we witnessed in Paris, Nice, and Orlando, we need to honestly acknowledge that we are fighting not generic terrorism but a global jihadist insurgency. The first line of defense against this evil is and always will be members of the Muslim community who refuse to put up with it. We need to empower them in every way we can. Only cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims can solve these problems. If you are concerned about terrorism, if you are concerned about homeland security, if you are concerned about not fighting unnecessary wars and winning necessary ones, if you are concerned about human rights globally, in November you must elect a president who can get people in a hundred countries to cooperate to solve an extraordinarily difficult and polarizing problem—the spread of Islamic extremism. This is not a job that a president can do on Twitter.

I want to say a few words on the topics of immigration and the resettlement of refugees: The idea of keeping all Muslims out of the United States, which my opponent has been proposing for months, is both impractical and unwise. It’s one of those simple ideas—like building a wall and deporting 11 million undocumented workers—that doesn’t survive even a moment’s scrutiny. More important, if you think about this purely from the point of view of American security, you realize that we want Muslims in our society who are committed to our values. Muslims like Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his fellow American soldiers from a suicide bomber in Iraq. Or his father, Khizr Khan, who spoke so eloquently in defense of American values at the Democratic National Convention. Muslims who share our values are, and always will be, the best defense against Islamists and jihadists who do not.

That’s one reason why the United States is faring so much better than Europe is. We have done a much better job of integrating our Muslim community and honoring its religious life. Muslims in America are disproportionately productive and prosperous members of our society. They love this country—with good reason. Very few of them have any sympathy for the ideology of our enemies. We want secular, enlightened, liberal Muslims in America. They are as much a part of the fabric of this society as anyone else. And given the challenges we now face, they are an indispensable part.

Despite the counsel of fear you hear from my opponent, security isn’t our only concern. We also have an obligation to maintain our way of life and our core values, even in the face of threats. One of our values is to help people in need. And few people on earth are in greater need at this moment than those who are fleeing the cauldron of violence in Iraq and Syria—where, through no fault of their own, they have had to watch their societies be destroyed by sectarian hatred. Women and girls by the tens of thousands have been raped, in a systematic campaign of sexual violence and slavery. Parents have seen their children crucified. The suffering of these people is unimaginable, and we should help them—whether they are Yazidi, or Christian, or Muslim. But here is my pledge to you: No one will be brought into this country without proper screening. No one will be brought in who seems unlikely to embrace the values of freedom and tolerance that we hold dear.  Is any screening process perfect? Of course not. But I can tell you that the only way to actually win the war on terror will be to empower the people who most need our help in the Muslim world.

The irony is that my opponent in this race, who imagines that he is talking tough about terrorism and ISIS and Islam, has done nothing but voice inflammatory and incoherent ideas that, if uttered by a U.S. president, would immediately make the world a more dangerous place. Being “politically incorrect” isn’t the same as being right, or informed, or even sane. It isn’t a substitute for actually caring about other people or about the consequences of one’s actions in the world. It isn’t a policy. And it isn’t a strategy for winning the war against jihadism, or a war of ideas against radical Islam…

Donald Trump Is a Terrible Politician

Some journalists believe he’s brilliant and cunning. They are very wrong.


Author: Brian Beutler

Emphasis Mine

Back when Donald Trump was winning primaries, Mark Halperin, the famously well-compensated political journalist at Bloomberg, went on TV and said Trump is a terrific politician.

“He is one of the two most talented presidential candidates any of us have covered,” Halperin opined. “He just is.”

Trump’s skill, he explained, exceeds Barack Obama’s because, unlike Trump, Obama “had David Axelrod and David Plouffe and a squadron of people around him who knew what they were doing.” Trump flies solo, ergo every supporter he counts, every stadium he packs, is somehow more rightfully his.

Halperin has also defended Trump from accusations of racism on the grounds that “Mexico isn’t a race,” and posed for this notorious picture, so unspoken affinities may be affecting his analysis. But to this day, as Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton in every poll, it is still commonly suggested that Trump has mysterious political powers. No matter what he says, his supporters love it! If he’s losing, it might be because he’s “deliberately trying to avoid winning.”

I would like to propose an alternate hypothesis: Donald Trump is bad at politics. He won the Republican primary because he is a bad politician, he is losing today because he is a bad politician, and part of what makes him a bad politician is only doing the kinds of things his supporters love, which can appear to be good politics to incurious journalists, but is actually not.

Case in point: On Wednesday night, Trump returned in characteristically Freudian fashion to Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News and announced he would forcibly remove not just immigrants, but citizens from the U.S. if they’re found to have extremist views. “Whether it’s racial profiling or politically correct, we better get smart,” he said.

Trump isn’t exactly winging it. Some Americans are scared, authoritarian, and racist. In a big country such as ours, there might even be millions and millions of them. Fear, authoritarianism, and racism are also strong sentiments, so it stands to reason that the people who exhibit them would be loyal Trump supporters, and unusually inclined to attend his rallies, where the themes are frequently fear, authority, and racism.

This appeal was sufficient to win Trump the primary not because he demonstrated raw talent, but because the Republican Party is broken to the point where demagoguery is a more valuable currency than governing experience, donor networks, “ground game” and other attributes. If Trump exhibited any talent at all, it was recognizing just how vulnerable the GOP was to being overtaken by its own Id.

When the primary was all over, Trump had an extremely loyal core of support. By dint of being the nominee of a major party, millions more reflexive or reluctant or low-information voters accreted around that core, leaving Trump with the support of perhaps 40 percent of likely voters, and nowhere to go but down.

Saying things like we should exile U.S. citizens will help Trump fill arenas, but it also underlines how, contra Halperin, Trump is an almost comically untalented politician.

Kicking citizens out of the United States for having extreme ideological views is unconstitutional. Not unconstitutional in the way that conservatives imagine the only policy regimes allowed under the Constitution are ones they like, but unconstitutional in a clearly delineated way.

This was, in essence, the point Khizr Khan was making at the Democratic convention three weeks ago when he asked Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?”

Trump’s decision to respond by attacking the Khan family was, in itself, open-shut evidence of his near total lack of political talent, but Trump and his surrogates justified his decision to defend himself on the grounds that Khan had attacked him unfairly—i.e. that it’s wrong to suggest Trump has never read the Constitution.

Based on a number of things Trump has said—including that the Constitution has (at least) twelve articles (it has seven)—Khan was on solid ground thinking maybe Trump never read the thing. But from the moment Khan’s speech captured the country’s imagination, and Trump responded as if he’d been slandered, that question—have you even read the Constitution?—made the metaphysic transformation from rhetorical to literal. Nearly a month has passed, and Trump has done nothing to address this glaring deficiency. He continues to propose unconstitutional ideas on a weekly basis, and it is a safe bet that when he and Clinton meet for their first debate next month, he will be confronted with some trivial question about the Constitution and have no clue how to answer.

Trump created this liability for himself over the course of a year, so sitting down and reading the Constitution—all 4,453 words of it, or less than a half hour of reading time—would only be the first step toward assuring skeptics and critics that he’s intent on safeguarding the country’s laws and traditions. But whether it’s because he’s irremediably lazy, or that he believes this kind of ignorance allows him to pander to scared, authoritarian racists without a filter, he is unwilling to do it. He would rather keep his crowds big and his polls bad. Even if it means allowing Hillary Clinton to shove him into a buzzsaw in front of a huge TV audience a few weeks from now.

This isn’t ultimately a question of instinct or strategy, because in a sense it’s both. But in a more important sense it doesn’t matter. Talented candidates will bridle their instincts long enough to ensure they’re making good strategic decisions that help them win elections. Donald Trump isn’t doing that, because he’s a bad politician. Most well-compensated journalists get that.


The Revolt of the Banana Repubicans

The travesty that unfolded in Cleveland…

Source: Tablet Magazine

Author: James Kirchick

Emphasis Mine

Sitting with me in the van to the airport on my way to Cleveland was a German family. Our driver turned the radio on, and a top-of-the-hour news update rehearsed the familiar litany of American woe. First, an excerpt from a somber speech by President Barack Obama discussing the latest episode of gun violence, this time in Baton Rouge. Next, a reply from Donald Trump, days away from receiving the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, who attacked the president on Twitter for turning the country into “a divided crime scene.” Rounding it out was an item about the Cleveland Police Department’s worry that demonstrators outside the Republican National Convention would take advantage of Ohio’s concealed carry law by arming themselves to the teeth. Listening in the back seat of the van to this recitation of carnage and absurdism, my thoughts drifted immediately to a friend of mine, the Washington correspondent for a major German daily, with whom I had been emailing earlier in the week. He could make a name for himself as a sort of reverse William Shirer, I would tell him, only half-jokingly, chronicling for a German readership the rise of fascism in America.

July 19, 2016, should go down in history as the date the Republican Party deservedly died—“political Jonestown” as the novelist Thomas Mallon called it earlier this month. For that was when the GOP finally nominated Donald Trump for president, officially sanctioning the idea that the fate of the free world ought to be entrusted to an aspiring authoritarian reality television show host. Mallon is an ingenious novelist of historical American political fiction, but I doubt even he could have dreamed up a scenario so bleak as the travesty that unfolded in Cleveland last week, one that, as an agitated observer of the Trump phenomenon, I felt compelled to witness from the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena, or “the Q,” as it is affectionately called.

My sojourn into the madness of Trumplandia began with a Monday noon foray to the “America First Unity Rally” held on the banks of the Cuyahoga River just a few blocks from the convention center. Organized by the conspiracy theory-spouting radio host Alex Jones (whose usual fare consists of claims like juice boxes are part of a government plot to make children gay or that the “chemtrails” from jetliners are elements of a giant mind-control experiment) and Nixon-era political operative Roger Stone, the event had the feel of a Guns ‘n Roses concert put on by the John Birch Society. Over the course of several hours, a motley cast of characters addressed a crowd of about 200 people, all united by grievance toward “the establishment,” a pathological hatred of Hillary Clinton, and an abiding belief that Donald Trump will single-handedly fix America’s problems. The mother of a man murdered by an illegal immigrant shared the heartbreaking story of her son’s death. A black Tea Party activist and perpetual congressional candidate from Maryland reassured the audience that Trump (“an outsider like myself”) is no racist, and closed out his pep talk with a put-down of the “disgusting, disgusted, and busted” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Musical interludes were provided by a low-rent, right-wing Stevie Nicks lookalike and a 16-year-old Russian immigrant who sang her own song titled “Political Correctness.” John McCain’s Tea Party challenger in the Arizona Republican senate primary railed against a “global tuxedo club” of elitist overlords and declared herself ready and able to “mix the mortar to fix the border.” Offering muscle for the afternoon was “Bikers for Trump,” the leader of which boasted that “we’ve got guys all over the city” to “do whatever’s necessary” to keep the peace.

There exists a vast academic literature on the sociological composition of American voters (at the demonstration, graduate students from a nearby university passed out questionnaires to attendees as part of a research project on the attitudes and backgrounds of Trump supporters). Reams of articles have been written on Trump’s appeal to downscale whites, who appeared to compose the majority of people at the riverside rally (far from all Trump supporters are working class, however; the median income of his voters is $72,000). But there are elements of a candidate’s support base that are unmeasurable, common characteristics that no sociological study or series of polls can reveal. This is particularly true of Trump’s more high-profile backers and official surrogates. Indeed, the degree to which supporters of Donald Trump reflect the candidate in temperament, style, and even diction, across subgroups like gender, race, sexual orientation and class, is remarkable.

The Donald Trump for President campaign has become a fly-trap for seemingly every American dimestore huckster, grifter, scrounger, has-been and wannabe. The roll call of D-list celebrities and politicians who spoke at the convention, along with the raft of lesser-known opportunists and frauds who decided to become Trumpkins so as to get on TV, resembles a list of fictional characters from the collected works of Billy Joel. Scott Baio, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Robert Davi embody the distinctly bridge and tunnel, alpha-male thuggishness of Trump’s “celebrity” support. Scott Brown, whose political career crashed and burned years ago after a brief stint as senator from Massachusetts, enlisted himself with Trump in hopes of escaping life as a hawker of diet supplements, ironically the perfect preparation for a snake-oil dispensing presidential campaign. (Brown, unsurprisingly, brought along to the convention his aging local news anchor wife and daughter, a former contestant on American Idol and budding starlet.)

The porcine duo of Newt Gingrich and Dick Morris, both of whom waddled past me on the convention’s first day, are physical manifestations of what the Republican Party has become under Trump, whose fleshy jowls at times render him indistinguishable from a bullfrog. Unlike the fit and trim House Speaker Paul Ryan, a visibly reluctant Trump supporter who clearly would have rather spent the entirety of last week in a dentist’s chair, Gingrich and Morris are engorged, mercenary, and utterly lacking in self-control, as willing to stick whole plates of food down their gullets or reach for the nearest “beautiful piece of ass” (or prostitute’s toe) as they are ready to adapt their principles to the moment. Listen to Eric Trump talk about his father’s future cabinet and you get the gist of the intellectually hollow, wise-guy chutzpah that exists in place of a governing ideology or worldview for those who’ve chosen to degrade themselves by supporting Trump. “If we’re going to have the biggest deals in the world, which are trade deals, why not have the best guys negotiate this?” he told The Hill, as if taking a sip from his tall boy on the LIRR. “Why not have the Carl Icahns or the top guys of Wall Street? It’s why they’re worth millions and billions of dollars. It’s because they’re tough and they’re shrewd.”

Reflecting the outsider status of its sponsors Jones and Stone, the “America First” rally initially seemed to be a gathering of people too wacky to speak from the convention stage. But it became readily apparent Monday evening that the themes of this “shadow” convention would, in fact, be parroted by the ostensibly more respectable delegates inside the Q.

The night began with a benediction from Brooklyn priest Kieran Harrington, who, head bowed, made reference to “deliberations,” declared “we stand before you, contrite,” and asked the Lord to “bless those who endured torture,” sentiments completely at odds with those expressed by the man about to receive the crowd’s enthusiastic nomination for president. Following that uncharacteristically humble opening, the message of the evening proceeded as follows: Mexicans and Muslims want to rape and kill you. Relatives of people murdered by illegal immigrants joined people like Pat Smith, mother of a foreign service officer killed in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, in a festival of fear and loathing.

It would have been one thing if this shameless retailing of victimhood (something conservatives usually blame liberals for doing) was limited to tales of self-pity. What made it truly terrifying were the calls for blood. At the “America First” rally earlier in the day, I had seen dozens of people sporting “Hillary for Prison” T-shirts, what I took at the time to be nothing more than a token of Roger Stone’s virulent mischief. Inside the hall, I was appalled to hear, repeatedly and on every night of the convention, delegates cry “Lock her up!” whenever Clinton’s name was mentioned. It was an exhortation issued directly from the stage. Darryl Glenn, a senate candidate in Colorado, declared that Clinton should be outfitted in a “bright orange jumpsuit.” Pat Smith, who, in the exploitation of her grief the right has fashioned into its own Cindy Sheehan, insisted that the former secretary of state “deserves to be in stripes.”

The degeneration of the Republicans into banana Republicans reached its apotheosis on Wednesday evening, when Chris Christie, apparently worried that his reputation as a fat creep hadn’t yet taken hold within the minds of a majority of Americans, led the crowd in a call-and-response show trial-cum-lynch mob. Going through a laundry list of Hillary Clinton’s alleged crimes, the former federal prosecutor ended each accusation with the question, “Guilty or not guilty?” Most of Christie’s charge sheet consisted of political initiatives like the Russian reset and opening to Cuba, which, whatever their wisdom (and I, for what it’s worth, think they lacked it), had not the faintest whiff of criminality. But none of this mattered to the Jersey boy play-acting as Red Army hanging judge.

On the surface, the proliferation of anti-Hillary revenge fantasies smelled like the work of Paul Manafort. Trump’s roguishly handsome campaign manager spent years working as a consultant to former strongman president of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych, who in addition to stealing vast amounts of money from the public purse, was also famous for locking up his major political opponent. If Clinton weren’t imprisoned under a Trump regime, I cynically speculated, she might become the victim of dioxin poisoning, the fate that mysteriously befell Yanukovych’s other main rival.

But the single-minded obsession with throwing Clinton behind bars is an organic malady rather than a Manafortian import. It’s but one of many fixations that used to exist on the right-wing fringe but which the GOP decided to place front and center as part of its policy agenda. Last week’s convention saw an entire alternative media and political ecosystem (a potpourri of websites, podcasts, radio talk shows, and personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter) take control of the party apparatus and dictate its own version of reality. Trump’s followers inhabit an America in which “SJWs” (social justice warriors) make life intolerable for white men, where unsuspecting individuals are forced to watch a feminist Ghostbustersmovie like Alex was subjected to audiovisual torture in A Clockwork Orange, and everyone must dodge a proliferating number of Mexican and Muslim rapists and murderers. When Uday and Qusay Trump ceremoniously announced the votes of the New York delegation, and the light board in the rafters flashed “OVER THE TOP!” it was more than just a literal description of Trump’s campaign.


With the ritualized incantations of approved slogans, resolute messaging from the dais and deification of the candidate, political party conventions are the closest America comes to the one-party state. In this respect, the Donald did not disappoint. A biographical video that was more “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” than “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” praised him for “dominating” the world of real estate and, now, politics. As an image flashed by of Trump in a ridiculously oversized top coat waving his hands at a crew of actors posing as hard-hatted construction workers, I was reminded of the parody website “Kim Jong Un Looking at Things,” which features photos of the North Korean dictator hectoring generals and inspecting random objects like an airport lounge table or processed food machinery.

With Trump, however, the authoritarian milieu extends beyond the mere aesthetic. It’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to showcase his attractive family. But never before has the nominee’s progeny played a more crucial role in a campaign, with the promise that they will play a crucial role in the future administration—the sort of dynastic nepotism one expects in a Third World country. I’ve lost track of the number of Trump supporters who cite his children as a chief reason for their support of the man; Maureen Reagan, Meghan McCain, and the five Romney boys never inspired such fawning.

Supporting Trump is an inherently masochistic act, and not only because one must surrender his conscience to do so. It is a form of intellectual and moral surrender. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump declared, in the most chilling and terrifying line of his acceptance speech. Trump’s tacit admission of corruption was paired with the implication that, if elected, he would be corrupt on behalf of the American people. This, I believe, is why the never-ending stream of stories attesting to his gross deceit and venality has done, and will do, nothing to dissuade his hypnotized supporters. Buddy Cianci, the tough guy former mayor of Providence, had a similar appeal, earning high approval ratings not in spite of, but because of his corruption: Citizens thought he was greasing the wheels to “get things done” for their city. A pair of political scientists even wrote a research paper on the phenomenon, titled “Popular Rogues.” But even if Trump could boast Cianci’s record of achievement in public office, which he can’t, his sins are far greater than those of the racketeering ex-mayor of the Renaissance City.

Overpromising is nothing new in politics, but Trump takes it to another level. He is a political alchemist whose followers longingly see him as a Rumpelstiltskin ready to spin their hay into gold. “Come January 17, all things will be possible again,” promised the alluring and attractive Ivanka Trump, sounding (and looking) nothing so much like one of those models in a television ad for a phone-sex line (and curiously choosing the date three days before the inauguration as that of America’s salvation). When Trump took the stage, his promises repeatedly brought the audience to its feet. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” he declared. “Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

“I am going to turn our bad trade agreements into great ones.”

“I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.”

“I’m going to make our country rich again.”

I, I, I. But nothing about how.

Hours before Trump’s address, Manafort tried to explain how his candidate would appeal to women. “They can’t afford their lives,” he told MSNBC. “Their husbands can’t afford paying the family bills.” A similar explanation has been offered for President Vladimir Putin’s popularity with Russian women, many of whom lack a father figure or reliable husbands, having lost them to the bottle. Trump’s repeated avowals of being a singularly transformative figure (“I alone”) make his predecessor’s prediction of lowered sea levels upon his own election look tame by comparison. A party that spent the past eight years lambasting Obama’s expansion of executive powers lost all credibility as I stood among a sea of people imploring an aspiring authoritarian to “Keep us safe!”

There is an unspoken social contract in democratic politics: Candidates should not overtly appeal to citizens’ basest instincts. As citizens in the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, we place a great deal of faith in the judgment of individuals, trusting that they would never willingly elect a tyrant to power. And thankfully, there are multiple, mediating institutions in our system of republican government to prevent a single individual or movement from assuming absolute control. But what if a totally unscrupulous demagogue—one with undeniable charisma and mass media appeal—comes along and decides that the unspoken social contract, like every other rule he has ever encountered, does not apply to him?

That is what Donald Trump has done: He has broken the social contract between the American people and their political leaders by banking on the assumption that unvarnished nativism, bigotry, and ignorance will win him the presidency.

Even worse, Trump has been rewarded by purportedly responsible and reasonable people, people whom I once respected and had to watch barking like seals as this madman and would-be tyrant brought them up to their feet again and again with his empty promises of salvific national recovery. When the delegates cheered him, did they think about the time he ridiculed John McCain for being “captured?” For me, like many others, that was the first moment I thought, “it’s over” for Trump. How many insults, stunning professions of ignorance, and outrageous revelations ago was that “gaffe”?

As they rose to hoot and holler, did the Republicans in Cleveland remember, even in the distant recesses of their minds, when he mocked a physically handicapped reporter? Did they recall the many loathsome remarks he made about women, or the praise he offered the Chinese communists for running their tanks over people in Tiananmen Square, or the encouragement he bestowed—just a day prior—upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruthless purge? The morning after accepting their nomination, when Trump—citing a supermarket tabloid—once again speculated that Ted Cruz’s father had been involved in the JFK assassination, did they reflect upon what enabling a plainly demented individual says about their patriotism? Did these latter-day Pontius Pilates, many of whom pridefully advertise themselves as adherents of Judeo-Christian faith, pause a moment to consider what their ancient texts say about the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, about those who lust for power at the expense of everything else? I hope they did, and that they felt at least a pang of guilt at their participation in this moral obscenity masking itself as an exercise in American democracy.

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How Brexit Will Hit America

Three American scholars of the EU explain what Americans should be prepared for after Britain’s vote.

love at most recent sight
love at most recent sight

Source: The New Republic


  • The UK has voted to leave the European Union, 51.9 to 48.1 percent
  • Prime Minister David Cameron announced early Friday that he will step downin three months time.
  • Unwinding the union will be a messy process that will take months, if not years, and have broad political and financial impacts.
  • The pound dropped in value on the London exchange early Friday morning.
  • Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called the Brexit “a great thing.”

We asked three American scholars of the EU to tell us what Americans should know about the vote.

Mabel Berezin, Cornell University: Brexit: Neo-Nationalism wins, Europe loses

Britain voted to leave the EU by a slim margin – but not as slim as one would expect. The headlines are already blaring with words such as “surprising,” “shocking,”and “earthquake.”

Should we be surprised?

Only if we look at Britain without comparing it to its European neighbors.

Up until 2014, Britain was relatively free of the Neo-Nationalist parties that were gaining traction across the continent. It had its flirtation with right wing parties but they had virtually no electoral salience. But then the UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage made Euroskepticism its calling card. It had support from movements such as Britain First which took up the anti-migration theme and left UKIP to speak mainly about Europe. In the spring 2015 European Parliamentary elections, UKIP was the leading party.

However, if we look comparatively across the continent, the results are less surprising. National referenda have not been kind to the EU.

In 2005, both France and the Netherlands voted to reject the proposed European constitution. Greece voted in summer 2015 to reject a debt re-structuring plan proposed by the EU. In spring 2016, the Dutch voted in a minor referendum against extending trade benefits to the Ukraine.

Citizens of European states do not like the EU. They have not been pro-Europe for at least the last 10 years — if ordinary citizens ever were.

The triple crises of 2015 — debt, refugees, and security –hit the continent hard.

British citizens were surely looking at their neighbors across the channel and not liking what they saw. Given this context, David Cameron’s decision to put membership in the EU to a popular vote was an extreme and foolish political miscalculation.

The ultimate cost may be the collapse of EU. Marine Le Pen, National Front leader in France has been calling for Frexit for a long time. Other countries may follow Britain’s lead.

Analysts argued that the Brexit campaign revealed a chasm between locals and cosmopolitans. They saw two Britains – a highly educated and mobile group and an older place-bound group left behind by globalization. Ironically, this vote will only reinforce that division in the UK and across Europe.

Mabel Berezin is a Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. She is the co-editor ofEurope without Borders: Remapping Territory, Citizenship, and Identity in a Transnational Age and the author of Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Culture, Security and Populism in the New Europe.

Terrence Guay, Pennsylvania State University:Britain’s summer of discontent reflects worst of times

The Brexit outcome is, to those who voted “remain,” a Shakespearean tragedy.

The UK’s relationship with the institution created by its European neighbors has long been fraught with seeds of discontent. Squabbles over payments to the EU’s budget, complaints by small businesses about regulations emanating from Brussels, opposition to the expansion of policy-making beyond trade, worries about handling financial crises, and anger over immigration both from other member states and lands beyond finally delivered the result that the “leave” campaign sought .

While virtually every analyst expected a close outcome, the result is shocking financial markets and companies. Eventually the dust will settle, currency and stock markets will stabilize, and a “negotiated divorce” will take place over the next two years.

This will be an important time for U.S. companies to reassess their European strategy and operations. U.S. companies have $588 billion dollars invested in the UK. That represents 23 percent of U.S. corporate investment in the EU. Now the UK is likely to see its position diminish as a favored launching pad to enter the European market. With trade barriers, mainly tariffs, likely to rise for products exported from the UK to the 27 other EU countries, the UK will be a less desirable location for U.S. firms.

Perhaps more important will be the disappearance of London’s voice in EU matters that are of concern to U.S. commercial and foreign policy interests.

London’s position on financial services regulations issues more closely match Washington’s than that of any other European country. These include the imposition of sanctions on Russia, relations with the Middle East, and the still-under-negotiation Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – which is now almost certainly dead as a result of the Brexit vote.

It is all but certain that the UK will be a less reliable ally to U.S. interests, not just in Europe, but globally. By the end of President Clinton’s or Trump’s second term in the White House, the phone number for 10 Downing St. will be further down on the president’s call list.

Terrence Guay is clinical professor of international business at the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. This year he published European Competition Policy and Globalization with co-author Chad Damro.

Peter Harris, Colorado State University: With Brexit, new challenges for U.S. grand strategy

U.S. grand strategy has just been dealt a double whammy.

Not only has America’s strongest ally in Europe just voted to relinquish its seat at the table in Brussels, but the new reality of Brexit means that decision-makers in Washington will now be having to fight fires in Europe instead of catering to more pressing geopolitical exigencies.

The U.S. has long depended on a united, strong, and vibrant Europe to help anchor the rules-based international order that it hopes will persist long into the 21st century. And since joining the European Economic Community in 1973, Britain has been an effective ally in the service of this goal, always a reliable proponent of an enlarged European Union organized around liberal economic principles.

Without London as an interlocutor, the U.S. will have to undertake the costly endeavor of shifting its diplomatic footprint from London to Berlin, Paris, or Brussels. How to push through the free trade deal between the U.S. and EU? How to make sure that Europe does not bend in the face of Russian predation? Britain is now far less able to help deliver on such issues.

Even more worrying from the U.S. perspective, however, is the possibility that more EU nations will begin to contemplate leaving the organization. This danger should not be underestimated: the EU has malcontents across the continent, and even pro-EU leaders can find themselves consenting to plebiscites against their better judgment. After all, David Cameron only pledged a referendum on Brexit in January 2013 as a gambit – ill-judged, it now seems – to placate restive Eurosceptics within his party.

All of this comes at an incredibly bad time for U.S. strategic planners, who are in the midst of an ambitious “pivot” to Asia that they see as critical to safeguarding the international security architecture of the Western Pacific and the wider world. For them, disunity in Europe is an unwanted, costly, and tragically unnecessary distraction.

Peter Harris is an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University. He recently published All Brexit is Local in National Interest magazine.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.





Author: Laurence Lewis

Emphasis Mine

You’re going to be reading a lot of stories about the Brexit vote being a warning that Donald Trump can win. Those stories will be wrong.

Brexit apparently has won, and the primary reason is the economic turmoil wrought by the greed and at times open cruelty of British austerity, as imposed by David Cameron and George Osborne. Labour didn’t run against austerity in the last British election, and was punished for it. The British people were punished with more austerity. A brutal economy always feeds extremism, and that is how Britain got Brexit. The irony was that Cameron and Osborne had to fight desperately against the consequences of their own policies. And if you think I’m ignoring Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that’s because he was almost invisible during the Remain campaign, and his support was tepid if not feigned. Britain has austerity and no credible national leaders. Hence Brexit.

While much of Europe was electing right wing governments that imposed austerity, the United States was electing Barack Obama. The Obama stimulus was a starkly different approach from European austerity. A larger stimulus would have done more to fuel a robust recovery, but the stimulus that was enacted stopped the economic free fall, and got the United States back on the right track. More needs to be done, and will be done, but the difference with Europe and particularly Britain is obvious. The extremism fueling the Trump campaign is neither as broad or deep as the extremism fueling Brexit. Because President Obama and Congressional Democrats ensured that the United States did not end up with the sort of brutal economic program the Republicans would have imposed, and that Cameron and Osborne in Britain did impose.

Simply put, the extremism fueling Brexit does not have the same resonance in the United States. Because our economy is not suffering the way Britain’s economy is suffering. And the economic agenda of Hillary Clinton is very deliberately designed to build on the success of the Obama economic agenda. The United States has alternatives that Britain did not have. And the United States will not follow Britain’s path into extremism because it hasn’t been on a parallel economic path.


Obama to Bernie supporters: Don’t let disillusionment set in


Author: Greg Sargent

Emphasis Mine

Any day now, some very prominent Democrats will get down to the business of helping to unite the party behind likely nominee Hillary Clinton. One of them will be President Barack Obama, who is popular among young Democrats and thus well positioned to argue to Bernie Sanders supporters that it in their interests — and the interests of the larger Sanders movement — to support Clinton.

The President is set to give a speech at Rutgers University next week, at which (given the audience) he might begin to lay out this case. And in an interview with The Daily Targum, a student paper at Rutgers, he offered a long monologue that is perhaps a preview of the bigger argument he’ll make.

Notably, Obama called on people not to “oversimplify” how change is achieved, and argued that “incremental changes” via “consensus building” can add up to meaningful progress. Asked about the fact that many Americans who are worried about stagnant wages, the shrinking middle class, and rising inequality are turning to Bernie Sanders, the President answered:

“It is absolutely true that there are a lot of folks who still are struggling out there, and we can’t minimize that. There (are) trends that have been taking place over the last 20 (or) 30 years that have dampened wage growth, that have made it tougher for folks to save for retirement or for their kids’ college education…

“More needs to be done there. And some of the steps that we’ve taken are going to pay off over the course of the next 20 years. There are things like raising the federal minimum wage or rebuilding our infrastructure — that would put people back to work right away and that would accelerate growth….

“If we are changing just a few laws that make it easier, for example, for workers to organize, that close corporate tax loopholes or tax loopholes used by wealthy individuals so that they’re not paying their fair share — if we take that money and make sure that we’re investing in the kinds of things that make an economy grow, if we ensure that we’ve got a healthcare system that is affordable and accessible for all people, then I’m confident that America’s best days are still ahead….

“We have to make sure we also recognize this is a big country, and there’s very rarely a single set of silver bullets out there that would immediately solve all of these problems. We’re part of an interconnected global economy now, and there’s no going back from that. It’s important for us to not oversimplify how we’re going to bring about the kind of change we need.

“We’ve got to also recognize that, in a democracy like this, it’s not going to happen overnight. We have to make incremental changes where we can, and everyone once in a while you’ll get a breakthrough and make the kind of big changes that are necessary. That consensus building is important because that’s historically how change has happened in America. Those are the kinds of things that I’ll be talking about at the commencement.”

This is both a subtle rebuke to Sanders’s call for a revolution and a preview of the argument he’ll likely make in urging his supporters to get behind Clinton. Obama’s warning against oversimplification is an implicit criticism of Sanders’s suggestion that liberating lawmakers from the grip of plutocratic money and rallying millions to storm the ramparts of Congress would compel the sort of far reaching, transformative social democratic reforms that Sanders envisions — single payer, free public college, enormously ambitious action on to combat climate change.  

More to the point, though, Obama is previewing an argument he’ll likely make against allowing unrealistic assessments of what is possible to morph into political disillusionment. Here Obama makes the case that change has historically been won in a long, hard, incremental slog, and that the big breakthroughs are historically very rare. There is a lot to this: throughout the progressive era, gains in the areas of economic regulation, the minimum wage, and the graduated income tax proceeded fitfully and with great difficulty, suffering big setbacks in the courts. It took decades until a horrific depression and landslide electoral wins for Democrats helped lead to the big New Deal sea changes, which included the Supreme Court upholding (among other things) wage floors, unemployment insurance and social insurance for the elderly. Yet even Social Security had to be subsequently expanded many years later to cover millions who’d been excluded from it.

Likewise, Medicare was only achieved more than 15 years after President Harry Truman called for universal health care in 1949, and its core guarantee of government health care for the elderly actually represented a scaling back of reformers’ goals, disappointing many liberals who lamented that it only reached a segment of the population.

As the above remarks indicate, Obama will likely make the case against being dismissive of the incremental changes that Hillary Clinton has promised to pursue. He’ll argue for the value in achieving a $12 minimum wage (and $15 in certain localities); continuing to build on Obamacare (though Clinton should be pressed on how she’d do this); investing more in infrastructure (even if it isn’t as much as Sanders would invest); and tax reform that makes the system marginally more progressive. Also, Clinton would seek to implement the Paris climate deal, while a Republican president would pull the U.S. out of it.

To be clear, none of this is to denigrate Bernie Sanders’s ambitions. Indeed, I hope that Obama will make a genuine effort to acknowledge the force of Sanders’s big argument — his insistence that the constraints of our political system, however real the obstacles they pose, ultimately should not cause us to scale back our idealized vision of a far more fair economy and just society. I also hope he’ll make the case to Sanders’s supporters that they have an important role to play in trying to pull Clinton and the Democratic Party towards them on their issues and in trying to erect a bulwark in Congress against any caves to regressive centrist deal-making. If the goal is to prevent disillusionment from setting in, those might serve as two key pieces of the argument.


Trumpism Can’t Last Forever, Right?

Source: AlterNet

Author: Simon Radford

Emphasis Mine

So what’s The Donald’s plan? He’s donning his camouflage, dusted off his traps and nets, and setting off in search of that rarest of beasts: the white man.

But he can’t win, right? As Donald Trump rolls towards a Republican convention where he will be the overwhelming favourite to take the party’s nod as their general election candidate, the same question repeats in tasteful living rooms, oak-paneled boardrooms, and faculty common rooms. Donald Trump might have been defeating the political gravity of common sense, but it can’t last forever, right? The quiescence underpinned by the conviction that Trump would implode in a hailstorm of bluster and bad hair has turned to an urgency that something this mad can’t actually come to pass. But as the Economist Intelligence Unit now lists the threat of a Trump presidency as a quantifiable possibility to be hedged against, we should dust off a tome from 2002 for reassuranceThe Emerging Democratic Majority argues that a combination of professionals, women, and minority voters give the Democrats a powerful in-built advantage towards winning presidential elections. With the Donald’s approval ratings rivalling Charles Manson’s amongst women and Hispanics, and urban professionals showing no signs of deserting their Democratic home, it’s a coalition that “white men can’t trump”.

In 2002 this emerging Democratic majority was less easy to see. John Judis, a veteran of the world of Washington political magazines, teamed up with Ray Teixeira, a demographer and political scientist, to make the case that America was in the midst of an historic shift in American Political Development (APD). APD is a sub-field of political science that aims to show how shifting constellations of political forces create durable governing coalitions. Judis and Teixeira argued that the era of New Right Reaganism was coming to an end. The 1980s may have seen the Democrats control Congress while Republicans won national elections, but the 1990s saw Newt Gingrich take back the House for the Republicans for the first time in 40 years. Conservatism might never have seemed so strong, but this too would pass and a nascent Democratic permanent revival was in the works. 

For a liberal in the 90s this seemed hard to believe. Three traditional Democratic candidates, each with impressive credentials, were crushed at the polls. To win back the White House, Bill Clinton never had to win 50% of the popular vote, but still felt the necessity to assert his distance from traditional Democratic constituencies by visibly enforcing the death penalty and being “tough on crime”, using an invite from Jesse Jackson to critique hip-hop and violence against the police, and proclaiming that “the era of Big Government is over” while reforming welfare. Clinton’s victories convinced many that it was a Republican world and liberals just lived in it. To win, they needed the votes of the white men who deserted the party for Reagan. A Democratic consultant called “Mudcat” advised candidates on Nascar, grits, and whistling Dixie. A Democrat who compromised with a radical Republican party was still better than having a radical Republican elected.

Even the strong currents of a booming economy, a balanced budget, and a bumbling Republican candidate, hobbled by a last-minute drink driving scandal that may have cost him millions of votes, couldn’t get Al Gore to the White House and the Democrats a third term. Bush’s chief strategist boasted of having createda permanent Republican majority”. So it was with that, Judis and Teixeira’s book resembled a friend’s reassurance after a particularly nasty break-up: things might be rough now but your time will come. Things would get better. Past isn’t destiny, it’s merely prologue.

And lo! It came to pass! And president Obama delivered us from permanent conservatism. But if you had told Al From and William Galston, who pioneered Clinton’s pivot between 80s liberalism and Reaganite orthodoxy, that the Democrats would nominate an African-American candidate, known for opposing a war in the Middle East, with a liberal policy agenda and a funny name – and win! – they would have pegged the odds somewhere around Jerry Springer becoming next Fed Chairman. But Obama was nominated. And he did win. And he won with a coalition that neatly resembled that detailed by Judis and Teixeira. Perhaps 2008 resembled what some political scientists called a “crucial election” and the Democrats could move from being the political brake pedal to the accelerator again.

So why wouldn’t the same coalition power Hillary to victory once more? Three answers get bandied around: firstly, that Hillary is a poor candidate; secondly, that holding the White House for a third time is not the same proposition as winning it for the first or second time; and, relatedly, that turnout for Hillary’s campaign is likely to be down from 2012. Finally, Republicans who refuse to believe that they must adjust their political project due to new demographic realities speak of ‘the missing white voters’. The case that Trump can win hinges on these claims, although Ted Cruz has made a similar claim about missing evangelical voters, and they rely more on hope than cold analysis.

Firstly, Hillary is indeed a poor candidate. Her voice is scratchy and the noise in the room often leads to her seeming to shout to those watching on TV; her pitch tends to be more about her than about those she claims she wants to fight for; and she lacks an overarching diagnosis of what ails America and how best to fix it. The fact that she has been in or close to power for so long and often hob-nobs with the rich and powerful, makes it seem that she has more invested in piecing back together the status quo than trying to fix the underlying problems that see so many fearful for their economic future. Especially to millennials who crave authenticity, tend to be suffering economically and reel under a barrage of student loans and poor job prospects, Hillary can often seem like the ‘let them eat cake’ candidate. Her attempt to use ‘the gender card’ against Bernie caused resentment among the young, female voters who she needed to win over, while her lack of an overarching message turns off those who tend to be left out of identity politics coalition stitching. Hillary’s main weakness – working class male voters – are exactly those who are most pissed off and most open to entertaining a pitch from Donald Trump.

However, while Hillary might be more Al Gore than Bill Clinton when it comes to inspiring or “the vision thing” (as George H.W. Bush called it), she does have a savvy campaign team and the potential to expropriate much of Bernie Sander’s message once he exits the race. Hillary will inherit a sophisticated voter-targeting machine from the Obama campaign – updated with fresh real-world election data thanks to the primaries – while the Koch Brothers and their extensive fundraising network and data provider to Republican candidates might just sit this one out with Trump as the nominee. Hillary also has the opportunity to supplement her campaign by choosing an effective vice-presidential running mate. Her weakness with white, working-class men (especially in key, swing states) might see her plump for someone like senator (and former SNL funnyman) Al FrankenSherrod Brown, or Tom Kaine; if she felt the need to motivate Hispanic voters, labour secretary Tom Perez might prove a savvy outsider choice. As a candidate Hillary Clinton is not RFK, but there is plenty to argue that she will run a competent, if somewhat uninspiring, general election campaign.

Secondly, it is hard for any party to hold the White House for a third term. Grievances accumulate over time and it is only natural that people should blame the party in charge of the most visible part of the government. Indeed, in election prediction models, the length of time a party has held the White House is a powerful variable in predicting the election outcome. The most well known of these models, Alan Abramovitz’s “Time for a Change” model, has an elegant simplicity in how it comes to make its predictions: “The basic Time for Change Model uses three factors– the incumbent president’s net approval rating at the end of June, the change in real GDP in the second quarter of the election year, and a first term incumbency advantage, to predict the winner of the national popular vote.” Hillary will lack any incumbency advantage that Obama could lay claim to in 2012, but the latter’s job approval ratings have hovered around 50%, having climbed over the last year. Economics news has been bumpy but much of voters’ economic assessment is baked into the president’s job approval ratings. A strong Republican candidate would like these numbers when sizing up their chances of taking out Hillary but as headwinds go, the numbers seem like more of a gust than a hurricane.

Thirdly, turnout is indeed a worry. While many fret about turnout during primary season compared to the records of 8 years ago, there is a good argument that this is a data point not worth getting hung up over. However, there is still the question mark over how much the Obama coalition was due to Obama. The infamous Bannock Street project, larded with $60m of donor largesse, promised to activate these voters to keep the Senate in Democratic hands in 2014, with arguable results. Millennials have largely shunned Hillary’s candidacy and will have to be persuaded with difficulty to warm to her; African-Americans don’t have one of their own in the Oval Office to fight for; and Hispanic voters feel let down that Obama did not pursue comprehensive immigration reform with enough vigour. Unions failed to secure card-check legislation under Obama, have further declined in power, and have injected themselves into a Democratic civil war over TPP. Meanwhile Republicans have been pouring money into catching up the Democrats’ technical advantage and overtaking it. Hillary might well struggle to inspire the Obama coalition to the ballot box in the same numbers. A Republican candidate that would reach Hispanic voters or young people, as argued by the GOP’s own 2012 “Autopsy” report, could steal from a fragile Democratic base and win the White House. But so far the party has not tried to find a message that can win over these voters. Still, even with this lack of active competition for their affections, Hillary will have to reach her turnout figures regardless.

So we see a somewhat lukewarm prognosis for Hillary’s general election chances, but Hillary has one secret weapon: Donald Trump. Hispanic voters unsurprisingly loathe the Donald. Professionals who remained in the Republican camp are still trying to steal the Republican nomination from his clammy, short-fingered, grasp. And Trump’s ratings among women are about as healthy as his comments about dating his own daughter. Indeed, just as fellow-conservative Newt Gingrich previewed how the Democrats would define Mitt Romney before he had a chance to create his own image for the voters, Republican SuperPACs have already shown exactly what is coming Trump’s way over the airwaves from now until election day. The Democrats already had a ‘women gap’ in their favour, this is likely to make it grow to record levels. He’s just lucky that kids don’t vote.

With 2016’s electors set to be the most diverse in history, Trump is driving the Obama coalition into Hillary’s hands. While mass defections to Hillary from Republican stalwarts is overblown because of partisan polarisation and reverse-partisanship, Democrats who might have had trouble getting voters enthused enough to vote for Hillary will now have plenty of fuel to stoke their enthusiasm. So what’s Trump’s plan? He’s donning his camouflage, dusted off his traps and nets, and is topping up his liquid sustenance, and setting off in search of that rarest of beasts: the white man. 

The counterweight to the demography-as-destiny argument of the “emerging democratic majority” is themissing white voter” thesis. This argument makes the claim that almost 6 million fewer white voters went to the polls in 2012 than we should have expected based on projections. If this number reverted to the mean or a candidate enthused these voters, then the GOP could get back to the White House without changing its coalition of voters. This missing bloc is crucial because if one looks at the 2012 electorate, then Trump’s path looks extremely narrow, as Bill James points out:

“The math suggests Trump would need a whopping 70% of white male voters to cast their ballots for him. That’s a larger percentage than Republicans have ever won before — more than the GOP won in the landslide victories of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and far more than they won during the racially polarized elections of Barack Obama.“

Of course, all white voters are not the same. There is a striking class difference in the Trump base. Blue-collar voters tend to be much warmer than those who belong to the professional classes. This difference is crucial, as Teixeira himself explained in a recent sit-down with the New Yorker:

“In Ohio in 2012, Mitt Romney won the white working-class vote by a 16% margin: 57% to 41%. According to Teixeira’s projections, Trump, to carry Ohio in November, would need to increase this margin to 22 or 23 points. “That’s a big ask,” Teixeira said. And Trump would also need to retain, or even increase, Romney’s ten-point margin among college-educated white Republicans, even though at least some members of this group may be sufficiently put off by Trump’s extremism to stay at home, or even to switch to the Democrats.”

Teixeira’s baseline there, of course, uses 2012 and treats these missing white voters as permanently gone, even though these missing voters seem to resemble the blue-collar, anti-free trade voters that would most respond to Donald Trump’s economic populist appeal. However, even those analysts most closely associated with the ‘missing white voters’ hypothesis, contend that those missing white voters would not have been enough to have coronated a president Romney in 2012: 

“But while this was the most salient demographic change, it was probably not, standing alone, enough to swing the election to Obama. After all, he won the election by almost exactly 5 million votes. If we assume there were 6.5 million “missing” white voters, than means that Romney would have had to win almost 90% of their votes to win the election. Given that whites overall broke roughly 60-40 for Romney, this seems unlikely. In fact, if these voters had shown up and voted like whites overall voted, the president’s margin would have shrunk, but he still would have won by a healthy 2.7% margin.”

There is an argument that a Republican strategy of targeting ‘missing white voters’ would have a chance at high-tide if the Democratic coalition turned out as if it were at low-tide. However, Trump’s ability to turn out these working class white voters founders on the irony that by doing so he activates the very Democratic coalition he seeks to overpower. Mitt Romney only won 27% of Latinos in 2012, but Donald Trump might struggle to win two-thirds of Romney’s total in a national voting population more Latino than ever and energised to turn out to vote against him. African-American turnout might struggle to reach the levels reached under president Obama, but the president will surely be relied upon again to turn out the vote in key states like North Carolina and Virginia. Trump’s use of a megaphone rather than a dog-whistle might activate these missing white voters, but at the very real risk of seeing defections from normally Republican women in the suburban battlegrounds of previous elections. While reverse-partisanship – the idea that many people vote against a candidate rather than for their own – might see Republicans rediscover their loathing for secretary Clinton and vote for Trump reluctantly, some professional-class Republicans will surely “do a France” and hold their nose to vote against Mr Trump or simply sit this race out.

The Republicans could have stopped a president Hillary Clinton if they had nominated a Republican candidate who would speak to voters in the veterans’ halls and union homes without turning off the country club and Rotary Club regulars. Adding the ‘missing white voters’ to the Romney coalition by discovering a more populist economic message on trade, taking on corporate welfare, and joining in the Democrat populists’ assault on dodgy practices on Wall Street, could have seen a Republican win even without gaining much ground in the short-term with Latinos and other minority groups. While John Kasich hangs around, hoping that Cruz and Trump’s antipathy sees delegates alight upon his inoffensiveness in the latter rounds of convention voting, he might hope to be able to perform this balancing act. But navigating what political scientists call a “two-level gamebetween the Republicans’ primary electorate and the narrow path to beating a large Democratic demographic bias in a changing American electorate might have been a quixotic hope from the get-go.

There was every prospect that Hillary’s weaknesses as a candidate could have allowed the Republicans to squeeze one more victory out of a dying voter profile that had previously served them so well.  Perhaps Trumpism will test Republican optimism to destruction just as Democrats trotted out liberal candidates in the 80s and were confounded by the electorate before realising that they had to accommodate with electoral reality. But both parties have made clear where each party needs to make gains if they are to win the White House in the future: Hillary will need Bernie’s authenticity and appeal to working-class white voters on trade and economics; Republicans will need to learn Spanish.Hasta la Vista, Trumpy.


Simon Radford is a Provost’s Fellow at the University of Southern California, a political consultant, and contributes regularly on politics to a variety of magazines and newspapers, both in the US and UK.


Obamacare is helping a lot of people. Not everyone thinks that’s good news.

Source: WAPO

Author: Paul Waldman

Emphasis Mine

In politics there are some issues where liberals and conservatives share the same goal, but disagree about how to achieve it — we all want to have as little crime as possible, for instance, but there are different ideas about how to accomplish that. Then there are issues where the two groups have different goals — liberals want to preserve women’s reproductive rights, and conservatives don’t. And sometimes, there are issues we think fall in the first category, but actually belong in the second.

Health care may just be that kind of issue, where we talk as though we all have the same fundamental goals, but we actually don’t. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today on a major success of the Affordable Care Act that demonstrates why we’ll never stop arguing about it. Here’s how it begins:

The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.

Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains.

Before we go farther, we should remember that the ACA is a complex piece of legislation that affects every area of American health care, but for now we’re going to talk just about insurance coverage. When liberals see a report like this one, they say, that’s terrific — some of the most vulnerable people in America, and those who had the hardest time getting covered before, now have health insurance. They offer this as practical evidence of the law’s success.

But conservatives (not all conservatives, but many of them) don’t see that as a success at all. If the government is helping an immigrant who washes dishes for a living get health coverage, then to them that means means that government is redistributing tax money from deserving people to undeserving people. The two groups look at the same practical effect, and interpret it in opposite ways.

That isn’t to say that the ACA didn’t give benefits to everyone, because it did. Millions of middle-class and even upper-class people were hurt by the fact that insurance companies used to be able to deny you coverage if you had a pre-existing condition, but the ACA outlawed that. And if the payment reforms in the law bring down overall health spending, we all benefit. But the most visible and dramatic parts of the law relate to the tens of millions of Americans who used to be without health coverage but now have it.

This is why Republicans continue to call the ACA a “disaster” and a “catastrophe” despite the good it has done. Liberals hoped that once the law was implemented and its practical effects became clear, the law would become hugely popular. Instead, views of the law divide closely on ideology and partisanship, and that hasn’t changed and won’t change.

That’s because there’s a fundamental clash of values at work, which means that liberals and conservatives will always judge it according to different standards. Because the law did a large amount to bring coverage to those who couldn’t afford it (through both the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies), and because it included a raft of new regulations meant to solve a variety of problems within the health care system, conservatives will always oppose it, whether it succeeds on its own terms or not. To doctrinaire conservatives, a government regulation that accomplishes what it sets out to isn’t a success at all; it’s a moral failure by definition. That’s why liberals will never convince them to support the ACA by pointing to its practical successes.

That isn’t to say that conservatives don’t make practical arguments against the ACA, because they do. But they’re mostly window dressing placed atop their moral objections to government involvement in health care. So yes, they predicted that Obamacare would destroy the economy, and cost millions of jobs, and lead to fewer people with health coverage, and balloon health care spending, and make premiums skyrocket. When they turned out to be wrong about all these things, conservatives didn’t say, “Well gee, I guess this law was a pretty good idea after all.” Because the fundamental moral objection remains, whatever the practical impact.

You can see it in the decision to accept or reject the law’s expansion of Medicaid. The federal government offered states a huge pot of free money to provide coverage to their poor citizens, and though some conservative governors tried to argue that it would be too expensive, those arguments were laughably weak. As one independent analysis after another has shown — from groups like the Rand Corporation, not exactly a bunch of lefties — taking the expansion leads to healthier state finances and better economic growth, on top of helping your state’s constituents. But for many governors, insuring poor people isn’t a moral good at all; just the opposite, in fact. So they were even willing to incur economic damage in order to avoid it (and to give Barack Obama the finger, of course).

Where this all leaves us is that the ACA will never become something we agree on, no matter what it does or doesn’t do in the real world. But even that’s not the whole story, because there are political factors at work. Smart Republicans understand that with each passing year, the law becomes more and more entrenched and harder to unwind, no matter how much they hate it. It’s one thing to keep people from getting insurance, but it’s something quite different, and far more politically dangerous, to take away insurance people already have — and if they really repealed the law, that’s what they would be doing, not just to a few people but to 20 million or so.

That’s why Republicans have so much trouble coming up with their “repeal and replace” plan. It’s not because there aren’t conservative health care wonks who could give them an outline. It’s because any real repeal would be so spectacularly disruptive to the system that it would a political nightmare. Just today there’s an article in The Hill on the efforts of the Republican task force charged with producing the new repeal-and-replace legislation, under the title, “GOP group promises ObamaCare replacement plan — soon.” If you’ve been following this issue, you know that title is a joke. As the piece says:

Coming up with a plan to replace ObamaCare has been an aim for the Republican Party for so long that it’s become a laugh line even in conservative circles. Despite voting more than 50 times in the House to repeal the law, the GOP has not once voted on legislation to take its place.

But every couple of months, they say that they’ll be releasing their plan any day now.

If Republicans actually took the White House and held Congress, my guess is that they’d pass something they called “repeal and replace” but which would leave the ACA largely intact. Just as they propose to privatize Medicare but rush to tell seniors who love it that their own coverage wouldn’t be affected, it would be some kind of time-delayed change that would avoid kicking people who now have insurance off their coverage. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected in the fall, it’ll be another four or eight years before they could even try this. No matter what happens between now and then, conservatives won’t ever decide that the ACA has worked out well, whether it actually did what it was designed to do or not. As far as they’re concerned, the design itself was the problem. But they may decide, as they did with Medicare, that doing away with it isn’t worth the bother — at least not worth bothering to to try all that hard.

Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Plum Line blog, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.