Wednesday, December 12, 2018

If Democrats want to win in 2020, they won’t nominate a woman for president and will nominate a woman for vice president

By Marc Jampole

The Democratic Party is full of smart, experienced and personable women who would do a great job as president. The list begins with Hillary Clinton, but obviously nominating her would court disaster, as the irrational “lock her up crowd” is still rather quite large. Why give Republicans another reason to come out to the polls? Hillary would perform particularly poorly against any Republican other than Trump, because none of them would have Trump’s baggage and Hillary would still have hers.
The four women I like for president are Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand. I personally think it’s about time that a woman served as president.
But nominating any of these truly competent woman or any other woman would be a mistake. About 34% of all voters, including 59% of Republicans, do not personally want to see a woman as president in their lifetime. That’s a steep demographic hill to climb. We know that any male Republican candidate, but especially Trump, will attempt to associate a female candidate with weakness. The news media is sure to exercise its double standard for female candidates: questioning them for past actions and family situations that go unspoken when the candidate is a male.
There is plenty of evidence that a backlash against the very necessary and important #Metoo movement has formed. Leading the anti-#Metoo-ist charge is Trump Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who has pushed through new college regulations regarding claims of assault that favor the accused. Of particular interest is a recent Bloomberg News report that men at Wall Street investment banks, brokerages and other financial institutions are avoiding being alone with women, rather than risk an accusation of sexual harassment. These powerful business men, virtually all of whom had a mentor at the beginning of their careers, call it the Pence Effect, after Vice President Mike Pence, who will be alone in a room or at dinner with a woman only if it’s his wife. Now Pence can blame his squeamishness on his religion, but these Masters of the Universe blame it on the potential for a misunderstanding or false accusation. The article never mentions the fact that a mere 2% of sexual harassment or assault accusations are false. That means the likelihood of dining alone with a woman resulting in a false accusation is close to nil. That is, if the man keeps the conversation during business hours to business matters, and the dinner conversation to business or non-threatening personal matters. No physical contact beyond shaking hands, when appropriate. That these men don’t realize that all it takes to avoid assault charges is not to assault suggests a terrible truth about the lack of respect that women still suffer in the business and public worlds.
Whoever the Republicans run, it’s essential for Democrats to win in 2020. Why take a chance? What if the answer to the question, “Is America ready for a woman president?” is still no?
But on the other hand, it is extremely important that America moves forward. We have to lay the groundwork for a female presidency in the near future. A woman has twice run for vice president and once for president. Running a woman as a vice presidential candidate in 2020 keeps women in the presidential campaign limelight. And let’s face it, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren and Gillibrand are all more competent and presentable candidates than Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin were. A woman vice presidential candidate will make a Democratic ticket more attractive to millennial voters.
But whereas all four women would make wonderful presidents and vice presidents, I would not consider Elizabeth Warren as someone’s running mate, because she’s already 69. In four or eight years, she’ll be in her seventies, on the verge of being too old to run for our highest office.
Interestingly enough, running one of the three younger women as vice president makes Joe Biden a more appealing choice to head the ticket. Biden will turn 78 in 2020 and, if elected, figures to serve one term only. Whoever is his vice president will be the presumptive presidential frontrunner in 2024. Making it Harris, Klobuchar, Gillibrand or another woman sets up the probability that a woman is elected president in 2024, assuming the Democrats do what they say they’re going to do.
Biden wouldn’t be my first, second, third or fourth choice among Democratic men. I still don’t like the way he mistreated Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in 1991. Moreover, I would rather see a younger, more vigorous person in office.
But who should it be? Tune in tomorrow for the last in my series of articles on who the Democrats should nominate in 2020.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

With a deep bench of talent, the Democrat’s mantra should be ABB: Anyone but Beto

By Marc Jampole
The Democrats are blessed with a large number of candidates whose experience, politics and personality make them qualified to assume the office of the presidency. Even if we rule out the most well-known but all fairly ancient Democrats—the septuagenarians Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders—the Democrats’ cup runneth over with talented candidates.
Unfortunately Beto O’Rourke is not one of them.
Yet, Beto is the one that the mainstream news media want to focus on. The other day, MSNBC’s pseudo-progressiveChris Matthews pumped up O’Rourke’s candidacy. This week, The New York Times ran a front-page feature focused  focused on his potential candidacy. The only other possible candidates mentioned in the article are those the writer believes Beto particularly threatens—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Joe Biden
What’s more, strong anecdotal evidence exists that large numbers of probable Democratic voters are intrigued by Beto. Other than Biden, Bernie and Hillary, O’Rourke attracted the most support in a recent national poll, although he won a mere 9% of participants. My Facebook universe of more than 3,500 friends, which is decidedly Democratic and progressive, generates at least two dozen updates a day about the 2020 election. About a sixth of the posts wail over the possibility of Hillary running and another sixth propose Bernie as the top choice. A handful of posts mention other candidates, while the remainder—about two-thirds—propose Beto as the top candidate.
Yet what has he done? Not much, as it turns out.
He served three undistinguished terms as a back bencher in the House of Representatives. Between forming an environmental coalition, speaking out (sometimes inaccurately) on many issues and paying her interns a decent wage, the spunky Alexandria Octavio-Cortez has already had a greater impact as a congressional representative than Beto did in six years, and she hasn’t even taken office yet. Before he ran for office, he had an undistinguished career in business.
Beto, like JFK, both Bushes, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown and Mitt Romney, does have the advantage of coming from a politically connected family. His mother is the stepdaughter of the Secretary of the Navy under JFK, while his father served as county commissioner and county judge and is a longtime political crony of former Texas Governor Mark White. We can assume that Beto called in decades of chits in first running for office as an unknown mediocrity.
When the news media and social media gush about O’Rourke, they focus on one fact and two feelings. First and foremost, they mention his charisma, which is, to quote Webster’s “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure.” Charisma is an amorphous feeling that has been applied to JFK, Reagan, Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush (only in comparison to his 2000 opponent, Al Gore). No one likes to use the “c” word when talking about Donald Trump, Adolph Hitler, Huey Long or Mussolini, but we know that large numbers of people were irrationally devoted to these individuals. Some individuals with charisma were decent leaders, but most were fairly mediocre like JFK or Clinton, or full scale disasters like Ronnie and Georgie. Then there are the manipulative, lying demagogues. Many Democrats seem very likable, especially Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Corey Booker. Others have the gravitas that I prefer in a leader, including Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee and Sherrod Brown. All have greater credentials and have accomplished more in their lives than Beto.
Beto-heads like the fact that O’Rourke raised so much money from so many small donors for his failed campaign to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz. That’s the fact. We’ll never know, however, what portion of the small givers were as much anti-Cruz as they were pro-O’Rourke. A lot of people despised Cruz before they ever heard of Beto. Remember that Cruz is considered unctuous, hypocritical and untrustworthy by large numbers of people, and is even disliked by many of his allies in the Senate. No one has ever written that Ted has even a modicum of charisma, charm or even likeability.
Finally, supporters of O’Rourke believe that his great showing against Cruz in Texas demonstrates that he can beat Trump nationally in 2020. The implicit reasoning behind this feeling seems to be that the nation as a whole is more liberal than Texas. Yet Texas has a lot of minorities. Its demographic future seems to be similar to the path taken in Nevada, Virginia and Colorado, all states that are turning or have turned blue. Besides, it is Trump not Cruz who commands the so-called Republican base of evangelicals, those opposed to immigration and racists. They preferred Trump over Cruz in the 2016 primaries. If Beto couldn’t beat a despicable Cruz, why does anyone think he can handle the more formidable Trump?
Compare Beto to the last newcomer anointed as a charismatic Democratic savior who leaped ahead of more experienced Democrats, Barack Obama. First of all, Obama had far more relevant experience. He had been a prominent Senator who had made noises during his four years representing Illinois, and a Constitutional law professor before that. When we focus only on domestic affairs, Obama turned out to be a good president, but during his first few years in office he made several mistakes stemming from his lack of experience as an administrator. Can we expect the less experienced and less well-educated O’Rourke to do any better than Obama?
It’s not just that Beto is at best marginally qualified to be president. It’s that the Democratic bench is so deep and talented that it makes little sense to put the nation’s future in Beto’s hands.
In a related column tomorrow, I will consider some of these other Democrats from the standpoint of what should be the most important factor in 2020—electability.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Editorial: Turn Rural America Purple

It took a blue wave, partly motivated by the need to check Donald Trump’s authoritarian impulses, to unseat 40 Republican members of Congress in the midterm elections and give Democrats the House majority for the first time since 2011.

Democrats have faced an uphill battle in the House since a Republican wave in 2010 gave the GOP control over drawing new congressional maps in a majority of states in 2011. Those maps drawn by Republicans allowed Democrats to get huge margins in urban districts, but they gave Republicans healthy partisan margins in more suburban and rural districts.

A Brennan Center analysis of the 2012 election showed that in states where Republicans controlled redistricting, their candidates won 53% of the vote and 72% of the seats. That year, Republicans won 48% of the vote nationwide while taking 54% of House seats. In 2016, they won 49% of the vote and 55% of the seats — a 6 percentage-point gap.

In the November midterms, a combination of shifting populations, high voter turnout, a revolt of suburban female voters, and court-ordered redrawn congressional maps in key states allowed Democrats to capture seat totals closer to their share of the vote, Bloomberg News noted..

Republicans added to their narrow Senate majority, Dan Balz noted in the Washington Post, as Trump and his allies maximized support in red states among voters in rural areas and small towns. But the Trump-centric strategy backfired in the race for control of the House, as suburban voters — particularly women — revolted against the president, delivering a rebuke to his party’s candidates in district after district.

Among the 11 most rural districts considered competitive by the Cook Political Report before the election, Republicans held nine of the 11, Balz noted. When the new Congress assembles in January, they’ll still hold eight of the 11.

GOP losses in the next category, suburban-rural districts, were also modest, as seven of 19 districts in this group changed parties, with five shifting to the Democrats and two to Republicans, and one remaining to be decided.

The damage to Republicans grows in suburban-grounded districts. In 30 districts categorized as suburban-sparse, Republicans went into the election holding every one of them. Democrats won 16 of the seats in the election.

In 15 districts described as suburban-dense, something similar happened. Republicans held all 15 before the election. In January, they’ll represent just three. In nine districts categorized as urban-suburban, Republicans go from holding seven to holding just one.

Democrats will have a better chance of winning a Senate majority in 2020. While Democrats and independents who caucus with them were defending 26 Senate seats this year, only nine Republican-held seats were up for election. Democrats flipped two Republican seats while Republicans flipped four Democratic seats, and likely have a 53-47 majority (the Mississippi seat was up for grabs when we went to press). In 2020, the GOP is expected to defend 22 seats, including a special election for the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, while 12 seats held by Democrats are up.

Among the most endangered senators in 2020 are:

• Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who won a special election in 2017 to replace Jeff Sessions. Unless he can get the GOP to renominate Roy Moore, Jones will have trouble in a state Trump won by 28 points in 2016.

• Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has been a faithful Trumper in the Senate despite his state’s increasingly blue lean.

• Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was appointed to the seat in September after John McCain’s death. But Kyl indicated he’ll step down early next year, so another Republican will run in 2020 in an increasingly competitive state, where Kyrsten Sinema (D) narrowly defeated Martha McSally (R).

• Susan Collins (R-Maine), a four-term senator who faces criticism from Republicans for her vote against Obamacare repeal while Democrats, spurred by her support of Mean Drunk Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have already crowdfunded $3 million for a challenger in a state Democrats have carried in the past three presidential elections.

• Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) has been a faithful Trumper who may seek a second term in a swing state that Trump won by three point in 2016 but narrowly elected Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on the same ballot. Tillis is rumored to be considering running for governor.

• Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) would be seeking a third term in a state that has gone from reliably Republican to a swing state as Democrats have moved into Boston’s outer suburbs.

• Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is seeking a second term in a state that Barack Obama carried twice but Trump carried by nine points.

Other Republicans who are potentially vulnerable include David Perdue in Georgia, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky (OK, we wish) and Steve Daines in Montana, particularly if term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) runs. Republicans also likely will target Tina Smith, seeking her first full term in Minnesota, and Mark Warner in Virginia, who would be seeking his third term.

Republicans are counting on the urban-rural divide, as well as racially polarized voting, to keep Republicans competitive in 2020.

Democrats used to be competitive in rural areas and they should be again. Tom Vilsack, a Democratic former governor of Iowa who was Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary for eight years, told The Guardian his party needs to connect with the rural voters to win the next presidential election.

Vilsack said Democrat J.D. Scholten worked hard in his challenge of right-wing Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), losing by only three points in a rural western Iowa district that King won by 22 points two years ago. Vilsack said Scholten was let down by the failure of the Democratic Party, particularly its national leadership, to offer a vision to rural voters who feel the party has little to say to them and is focused on urban supporters.

Vilsack thinks the party should talk more about rural challenges, such as the rapid contraction of small family farms, the disappearance of factory jobs, and shrinking populations as small towns are left with boarded-up businesses and aging residents. Democrats should have a plan for a future beyond an extraction economy and the kind of jobs that will keep young families in rural towns. He also wants the party to challenge the GOP’s anti-government rhetoric by championing the role of federal programs in helping rural communities by guaranteeing property loans, expanding access to clean water and reaching millions of people with broadband internet access.

Vilsack is right. Rural America hasn’t gotten much in return for its support of the Republican Party, which has neglected rural schools, health care facilities and economic development — and now Trump’s ill-considered trade war with China has left farmers with bins full of corn and soybeans and no place to sell them. Trump promised a $12 billion emergency farm aid package, but the average payment to farmers is $7,236, according to the Environmental Working Group, and many of the checks are less than $25, as corn growers are getting only a penny a bushel. “The corn payments are a joke. Someone at USDA made a mistake” in determining the formula for assistance, said Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University economist, to the Des Moines Register (Nov. 28). Farm bankruptcies are up in North Central states, and experts fear the trend will get worse as farmers cope with the fallout from Trump’s trade war with China.

Had enough? Vote Democratic.

From The Progressive Populist, December 15, 2018

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Selections from the December 15, 2018 issue

COVER/Art Cullen
‘Vaya con dios’: the impossible life of a judge on the US immigration frontline 

Turn rural America purple 


Dennis Kucinich, the blue wave and hope for the Dems 

RURAL ROUTES/Margot McMillen
Winning on issues is consolation prize 

Centrist Dems work with Wall Street to block Pelosi House Speaker bid.
After Trump threat, Mexico announces asylum agreement may be off.
White House admits Trump climate policies will cost US $500 billion a year.
GM plant closings contradict Trump rhetoric.
Health care drives new voters.
Dirty farm water makes US sick, but Trump's FDA delays testing rule.
Arkansas Medicaid work requirement fiasco actually causes man to lose job.
Gowing Latino vote could make Texas 'fully competitive' in 2020 ... 

California is on fire. Trump’s solution: rakes? 

We call BS, now, will you please get over this partisanship? 

Mexican saints and trumps emerge in migrant/refugee drama 

Can we talk about guns? 

Losing Paradise 

The Trump tax cut: Heavy costs, little benefit to the markets 

Pax Vobiscum. Who are the patriots? 

Cash buys elections — and continued fossil fuel dominance 

The demise of American denim? 

HEALTH CARE/Joan Retsinas
Hubris at the feast 

With Amazon HQ2, be careful what you wish for 

BOOK REVIEW/Heather Seggel
What’s wrong with the economy, and what can we do about it? 

Now the hard part 

Defeating the Fasclican Party 

US-led ‘great power rivalry’ causing instability in Asia 

‘Big victory’: Another Trump whopper 

Declaring war on bad Christmas music 

SATIRE/Rosie Sorenson
The big o’s drive-by 

Foreign affairs at AFI: ‘Nonfiction’ and ‘Roma’