Archive

November 27th, 2016

The Democrats’ Real Turnout Problem

    Barack Obama’s two victories created the impression of a strong wind at the back of the Democratic Party. Its constituencies — the young, the nonwhite, the college educated — were not only growing but were also voting in increasing numbers. The age-old issue of voter turnout finally seemed to be helping the political left.

    The longer view is starting to look quite different, however. None of the other three most recent Democratic presidential nominees — Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore — inspired great turnout. George W. Bush, as you may recall, was widely considered to have won the political ground game. In off-year elections, Democratic turnout is even spottier, which helps explain the Republican dominance of Congress, governor’s mansions and state legislatures.

    Since Donald Trump’s shocking victory, much of the political diagnosis has focused on white working-class swing voters, and for good reason. Across the industrial Midwest, white voters who had supported Obama and previous Democrats abandoned the party for Trump.

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So Many Options, Yet Trump Picks the Ugly

    Early signs of what the Trump administration may look like: A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be White House chief strategist; a man rejected for a judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow will be national security adviser.

    No, this is not satire.

    I’ve repeatedly noted that my side lost this election, that elections have consequences, and that President-elect Donald Trump should be given a chance. He seems intent on blowing that chance.

    The announcement that Trump has recruited Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser is particularly alarming. Flynn is smart and knows the world very well, but he was fired from his last government job for incompetence. Worse, he today is regarded by many Republican and Democratic foreign policy specialists as a kook.

    It’s all complicated. Flynn had a brilliant military career and did an outstanding job in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five years ago, he was widely admired as the best intelligence officer of his generation.

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My Fair Trump

    "After meeting with Mr. Trump . . . Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said."

    -- The Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump sit in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden sits on the sofa, sipping tea.

    Trump: You said I was unfit for office, so I brought these barbells.

    Obama: Did you bring anything else?

    Trump: Was that pun not enough to win you over?

    Obama: No, Donald, it wasn't.

    Biden: (to Obama) No way. There's no way.

    Obama: I can make a president of him, Joe. Now he's a simple huckster, a mere orange con artist, but I can make something of him. I was a professor before I was a senator. I can make sure he knows the fundamental principles of our democracy, at least.

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In a Trump Era, Schumer Declares, Democrats Are ‘the Barrier’

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wasn’t planning on being leader of the Senate minority — and by extension the Democratic opposition — as the Trump era dawns in the nation’s capital.

    “Do I regret what happened? Yes,” said Schumer, who was hoping to be President Hillary Clinton’s right hand as Senate majority leader before both he and Clinton came up short of their Election Day goals. “Late moments at night, do I think what could have been? Yes.”

    “But I am fully occupied with the job at hand,” Schumer said in an interview in his Senate office on Friday, just a few days after being formally chosen by his colleagues to succeed his mentor, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as leader of the Senate Democrats.

    That job, in Schumer’s view, is to serve as the bulwark against a unified Republican government led by his former campaign donor, President-elect Donald Trump; to use the power of the Senate minority to try to force compromise when possible; and to stand in the way of Republicans when necessary.

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From an improbable to first independent president

    Viewed through any conventional lens, President-elect Donald Trump's candidacy was improbable from start to finish. Today, two things about his victory seem to be in sharper focus: one, that Trump's victory might best be understood as the success of the country's first independent president, and second, that the Trump coalition may be even more uniquely his than President Barack Obama's has turned out to be.

    Think again about how he prevailed. There are a handful of major events during a general election that give the nominees a chance to showcase themselves, their judgment and their vision. One is the selection of a running mate. Another is the staging of the conventions. A third is performance in the debates. Hillary Clinton did better than Trump on all three tests, though Trump's team believes the debates did not fall so decisively in her favor.

    Then there are the other factors that go into producing a successful candidacy. These include resources, the operations and mechanics of campaigning, and the skill with which candidates avoid mistakes and deal with the unexpected setbacks.

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Don't fall into the infrastructure trap

    As the White House official responsible for overseeing implementation of President Barack Obama's massive infrastructure initiative, the 2009 Recovery Act, I've got a simple message for Democrats who are embracing President-elect Donald Trump's infrastructure plan: Don't do it. It's a trap. Backing Trump's plan is a mistake in policy and political judgment they will regret, as did their Democratic predecessors who voted for Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981 and George W. Bush's cuts in 2001.

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Dancing in a Hurricane

    Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union followed by Donald Trump’s election in the U.S. constitute a single giant political event — one that makes 2016 a vintage year in history that will long be studied. Big political events have big causes. For the last three years I’ve been working on a book about what’s been happening beneath the surface — in the plumbing and wiring of the world — that’s roiling politics in so many places. My answer begins with a question: What the hell happened in and around 2007?

    2007? That’s such an innocuous year. But look again.

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Better post-election bubbles designed for people not satisfied with the results

    OK, you could live through the next four years. But if you have money and imagination, and are not afraid of robots, why not try one of these theme parks, cleverly designed for people not satisfied with the results of the election? We will deposit you there by helicopter and see to your every need. It is fine to live in a bubble if you pay for the privilege of living in that bubble and the security of that bubble is guaranteed by a sinister corporation.

    Pastworld: This magical world transports you to the American Past, where women and minorities DEFINITELY lack the rights that only might be jeopardized under a Donald Trump presidency. But, hey, you get to see passenger pigeons, and the uncertainty is gone.

    Trumpworld: This is our cheapest bubble package. You will still have to live through a Trump presidency, but none of the news stories you read about it will be correct.

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To resist a Trump presidency, ask, 'What would the abolitionists do?'

    In the days since the election, there have been many calls for anti-Trump forces to remain resolute in their resistance. "If the presidency of Donald Trump inspires anything, it should be a fierce spirit of opposition," Leon Wieseltier wrote last weekend in these pages. "The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives," Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine.

    But what can anti-Trump liberals and progressives actually do? With his party in control of the White House and Congress, and with Trump about to tip the balance of the Supreme Court, it's easy to despair over how little leverage the Democrats seem to have. However, there's an episode of history that reveals reasons to hope.

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They interned my family - don't let them do it to Muslims

    There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration's national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: "We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will," he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn't saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, "There is precedent for it."

    Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a "precedent" or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.

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