Politics, Uncategorized

Country Over Party?

It was perfectly reasonable, though disappointing, for pro-life, pro-corporate, anti-tax Republicans to support Trump as their nominee, despite recognizing all of the obvious and disturbing aspects of his character. There was no shortage of rational, non-bigoted Republicans who knowingly voted for a racist, stupid, misogynist who was wildly unfit and unprepared to become the most powerful person in the world, voting merely so that they could get the judges and tax rates that they wanted. It is the inevitable byproduct of the two-party system, choosing between the lesser of two evils. The American left would have probably done the same had the shoe been on the other foot.

Now, Donald Trump is president, and the West Wing is crawling with reactionary Republicans. Neil Gorsuch will reign supreme, and Paul Ryan will have at least two years to pass sweeping, conservative legislation. Nothing will change without action from Congressional Republicans. However, even the most reasonable, responsible congressional Republicans still refuse to push back against Donald Trump with respect to Russia, corruption, and civil rights. The left is correct to accuse GOP leaders of putting party before country. That is a refrain worth amplifying.

However, before the left turns the smug disdain up to 11, let’s test this accusation of ‘party before country’ for validity and hypocrisy…

If, for the sake of argument, all Republicans care about is abortion and tax policy, it’s in their best interest to stand by President Trump. They need the Republican White House to be politically strong for the sake of passing legislation and re-electing a Republican president. That’s what we mean by putting party before country. Single-issue voting may be effective, but it produces an immoral disregard for the complexity of federal policy and the number of issues that are critical to consider when stepping into the ballot box. Don’t be a single issue voter. Don’t do it.

Let’s consider hypocrisy. Would Democrats be willing to put country before party? Fortunately, we weren’t forced to vote for a Trump-of-the-left, but liberals will have the opportunity to show their true colors very soon. If Donald Trump truly represents an existential threat to the country, and if Donald Trump must be defeated for re-election at all costs, who should the Democratic Party nominate for president in 2020?

The Democrats may be able to defeat Donald Trump with a liberal like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. They may be able to elect an establishment pick like Tim Kaine or Corey Booker. However, there is risk in that kind of choice. Such a general election will be another polarized slug fest, pitting left v. right over a few million votes, an election that could turn on a dime and risks a full four more years of Donald Trump with his finger on the armageddon button.

The Democratic Party can make a patriotic choice to ensure victory in 2020, but it requires putting their money where there mouth on Donald Trump and putting country before party.

They could nominate a moderate Republican. It’s not a comfortable thought, but it would transcend the ideological divide to produce an election about character, fitness for office, and experience. After all, the presidency isn’t supposed to be ideological.

jon_huntsman_by_gage_skidmore_2

Jon Huntsman, the only guy to look more presidential than Mitt

Jon Huntsman, who has advocated for a third-party since his presidential run in 2012 would be an ideal choice for me in this scenario. John Kasich, who was supposedly every Democrat’s favorite Republican in the 2016 primary, has to be on this list. However, his views about religion make him a nonstarter for me. Bill Weld is a highly qualified, former VP nominee of the 2016 Libertarian ticket and flirted with endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats could have a look at famous swing votes Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski from the Senate. Jim (RamboWebb is practically a Republican who probably voted for TrumpBob Dold is a youngish, socially liberalish, pro-choiceish Republican Congressman from Illinois who has been trading his job with Democrat Brad Schneider every 2 years. Colin Powell is too old, but perhaps a non-partisan administration official can come forward.

Would this work? Probably not. It would almost certainly elicit a third party left-wing revolt. However, consider that every problem with this scenario also applies to Republicans choosing to defy President Trump. How does the left’s characterization of Trump have any credibility while nominating someone from the left who forces rational, non-bigoted Republicans into the same choice they had to make in 2016?

Before you accuse Republicans of putting party before country, question if you would do the same. Put yourself in their shoes.

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Politics

Where Were We At This Time In the 2008 Primary?

Using prior election narratives as predictions of the current election season should make you roll your eyes. They are fun ideas to play with, comparing Bernie Sanders to Dean and McGovern, but not very informative. Even comparing 2007 Clinton to 2015 Clinton is greatly misleading, so don’t mistake the following data for that. I do think that it is useful to look back at this time in the last, open presidential primary as a measure of the overall presidential campaign season. It is also valuable to remember how different the environment was as a reminder to avoid such juxtapositions.

So, take a ride with me back to 2007, when George W. Bush was president, and Barack Obama had a babyface. The economy had yet to fall to pieces, and no one outside Alaska had yet ever heard of Sarah Palin. Gay marriage was opposed by most major Democratic candidates and only legal in Massachusetts. It was way, way back when we were 4 years into a war in Iraq and Afghanistan…

National Polls

Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president on February 10, 3 months earlier in the calendar than Bernie Sanders would do. I was there on that freezing, seriously fucking freezing day that Obama announced his run. Obama had faced speculation about a run since his kick-ass DNC speech in 2004, so his name recognition was pretty high going in. It’s interesting to see that he hovered around the low 20%’s for so long into the campaign. He entered the 30%’s after winning the Iowa Caucus, but didn’t catch up to Hillary until Super Tuesday, halfway through the actual voting.

2008 National Polls, RCP

2008 National Polls, RCP

With Sanders’ late announcement and the wide gulf in name recognition, the current national polling is to be expected, no matter what the eventual fate of the Bernie Sanders campaign will be. Though he is ~10 points behind where Obama was at this time, Sanders has actually made greater gains since announcing than Obama did. There’s a lot of time left until people actually vote; It’s still very early.

2015 National Polls, RCP

2015 National Polls, RCP

Iowa Polls

At this time in 2007, Obama had been consistently in 3rd place behind Edwards and Clinton, though they were all close enough for it to be anyone’s game. The first debate was April 26, but the polls in Iowa didn’t really start to move until the fall and winter. It’s surprising to me how many debates passed before the field evolved toward what would be a decisive win for Obama and a disappointing 3rd place for Clinton: 38% Obama, 30% Edwards, 29% Clinton

2008 Iowa Polls, RCP

2008 Iowa Polls, RCP

Considering that Bernie’s name recognition was nil going in, and with only one front-runner in competition, there was no place to go but up for him. What is compelling in all of these 2016 polls is that Biden and O’Malley have not made any gains. This is a legit, pro-Sanders momentum that is showing a true 2-person race. However, it is worth repeating this with every analysis of the 2016 polls: It’s way too early to be sure.

2015 Iowa Polls, RCP

2015 Iowa Polls, RCP

New Hampshire Polls

New Hampshire was by far the most interesting story in the 2008 primary campaign. The polls proved to be wildly inaccurate, as an Obama lead and even momentum out of Iowa turned into a loss to Clinton in the Granite State, foreshadowing a long slog of a primary. Edwards support began draining to the two frontrunners, and his hope for a resurgence in South Carolina would not come.

As for the polls, at this point in the year, Edwards was slowly losing support, and wouldn’t really recover. During the fall, Obama’s support was actually falling in NH, despite gains in Iowa. A late surge in NH had many convinced he was in for a big win. Of course, we were reminded that we have to let people vote, and that New Hampshire voters don’t give a fuck about what anyone outside the state thinks.

Results: 39% Clinton, 36% Obama, 17% Edwards

2008 New Hampshire Polls, RCP

2008 New Hampshire Polls, RCP

Though New Hampshire revitalized Clinton’s campaign, New Hampshire polls are the ones that most have Bernie’s supporters doing happy dances. Bernie has gained 15 points in a couple weeks, which is corresponding to a drop in Clinton’s support. It’s easy to imagine Bernie even passing her in this state before the first debate. But again, it’s too early to tell.

2015 New Hampshire Polls, RCP

2015 New Hampshire Polls, RCP

So What?

FiveThirtyEight did a great piece on Iowa and New Hampshire’s demographics misleading us in their affinity for Bernie Sanders. Read it. It emphasizes the need for Sanders to campaign and show progress beyond the early states, so take these results with that in mind. Unfortunately, there is hardly any polling in the Carolinas, where I really want to see how Sanders performs. I believe that once Sanders is in the debates and gets to tell stories of his role in the Civil Rights movement, his support will broaden a great deal. We also need to hear more of his personal narrative for him to be for real. If anything is clear it is that we’ve only just gotten started. Despite the compelling story of the Sanders Surge of Berniementum, the GOP primary is still the circus to watch. I mean, fucking Trump can be called one of the frontrunners. I’m popping the popcorn already.

GOP National Poll, RCP

GOP National Poll, RCP

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Politics

Go home SCOTUS, you’re drunk

In protest of the immediacy of modern media, I’m commenting on the State of the Union Address nearly a month after it happened.

The most consistently entertaining parts of President Obama’s State of the Union is Joe Biden’s facial expressions and whatever new lows Congressional Republicans can find to disrespect the office. Neither disappointed during last month’s speech.

A close third is trying to decide who has darker skin, Barack Obama or John Boehner. One is orange, and one is a Kenyan muslim. Tough call.

Then there’s the awkward applause decisions of the members of Congress. “Do I applaud, stand, glare at the other side? Shit, I’m the only one standing! Do I take a bold stand or pretend I was shifting in my seat?”

One day, I’d like to see the president just mess with people…

“The state of our union is STRONG [standing ovation] enough to raise the minimum wage!”

“Yesterday I spoke with a wounded soldier who bravely served his country, [standing ovation] Russia”

“As a new generation of veterans come home, we owe them every opportunity [standing ovation] to marry the person they love regardless of gender”

“And for all her work for this country, I want to thank my wife, Michelle. [standing ovation] especially for that thing you finally did last night [wink]”

SCOTUS and military officials provide an entertaining visual during the speech. They are “required” to attend, but are expected not to applaud any partisan or political speech. The whole objective of the speechwriters is to spin partisan speech as something non-controversial, so SCOTUS members and military officials spend a lot of time awkwardly trying to decide if it’s ok to applaud. It’s even more entertaining to use the word SCOTUS, because describing wrinkly, old justices with a word so close to “scrotum” is serendipity at its best.

Scalia, Thomas, and Olito, the three conservative associate justices boycotted the event, because, according to Scalia, it’s become a childish spectacle that he doesn’t want to lend credibility to. Scalia, a strict constructionist who interprets the constitution literally is taking a brave stand in trivializing a constitutionally mandated practice.

The rest of the justices just wished that the seats were a bit more comfortable. 81 year old Ruth Bater Ginsberg was caught dozing off in the middle of one of the President’s long dramatic pauses.

ruth bader ginsburg

Left to right: Chief justice Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan

Let’s marvel at this picture for a moment. Ginsberg is 81. The State of the Union can be boring and tedious. Let’s give RBG a break.

Kennedy’s face is priceless, because we’ve all been there. “Should I wake her up? She might be embarrassed… Would she want me to wake her up? Which is more likely, she mad at me for not waking her up, or she’s mad at me for waking her up… She’s starting to fall over on me…”

Kagan is my favorite in this picture though. She is the youngest justice by far, and she appears to be the only one who gives a fuck about RBG. Oh the though bubbles I can imagine over her head…

It came out today that Ginsberg and many of the justices got pretty sloshed before the speech. The awesomeness of this speaks for itself.

There’s plenty of State of the Union drinking games, but apparently, the TV viewers weren’t the only ones who took a few drops of the creature to make it through the speech. Props to Anthony Kennedy for being the Good Guy Greg to Scalia’s Scumbag Steve.

Scumbag Steve - Scalia: We're too old for this shit Compromises principles in principled refusal to attend sotu

Good Guy Greg - Kennedy: We're too old for this shit I'll bring the booze

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