By Robert Reich
Republicans and even some Democrats are out to scare you about Medicare for All. They say it’s going to dismantle health care as we know it and it will cost way too much.
By Robert Reich
Republicans and even some Democrats are out to scare you about Medicare for All. They say it’s going to dismantle health care as we know it and it will cost way too much.
It didn’t actually cost the GOP all that much.
By Ronald Brownstein
Democrats debating whether to impeach Donald Trump may be misreading the evidence from the last time the House tried to remove a president.
It’s become conventional wisdom—not only among Democrats but also among many political analysts—that House Republicans paid a severe electoral price for moving against Bill Clinton in 1998, at a time when polls showed most of the public opposed that action.
But that straightforward conclusion oversimplifies impeachment’s effects, according to my analysis of the election results and interviews with key strategists who were working in national politics at the time. While Republicans did lose House seats in both 1998 and 2000, Democrats did not gain enough to capture control of the chamber either time. And in 2000, lingering unease about Clinton’s behavior provided a crucial backdrop for George W. Bush’s winning presidential campaign—particularly his defining promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the Oval Office.
By 44 Former U.S. Senators
From We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy — and must again in the Washington Post
Dear Senate colleagues,
As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.
We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.
Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.
Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.), John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Gary Hart (D-Colo.), Bennett Johnston (D-La.), Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), Don Riegle (D-Mich.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John W. Warner (R-Va.), Lowell Weicker (I-Conn.), Tim Wirth (D-Colo.)
In American jurisprudence, a criminal prosecution has a high burden of proof, and that is because a defendant’s life or liberty is in jeopardy. A civil suit has a much lower burden of proof than a criminal case, because it is only a defendant’s property that is in danger of forfeiture. In both situations, there is a presumption of a defendant’s innocence, and a requirement of due process, because something to which someone has a constitutional right is in jeopardy.
In the case of someone who has been nominated to serve in a public office, there is no right of entitlement whatsoever. Denying a nominee to a public office confirmation to that office does not deprive that person of either life, liberty, or property. Consequently, in evaluating a person’s fitness for public office, there is no requirement of a presumption of innocence. A candidate for public office is not on trial, and the burden of proving their fitness for office and qualifications is upon the candidate and not upon those tasked with evaluating their worthiness.
Interestingly, those who argue that Brett Kavanaugh is entitled to due process and a presumption of innocence, that he has some nonexistent constitutional right to become a Supreme Court justice, accord no such benefit of the doubt or right of due process to innocent persons, persons not accused of any criminality, who have fairly questioned Kavanaugh’s fitness for high public office.
There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence. Nothing less than the future of the planet – economically, socially and environmentally – is at stake.
At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the world’s top 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%, we are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian axis.
While these regimes may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything.
It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the rightwing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.
This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there’s no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.
We must understand that these authoritarians are part of a common front. They are in close contact with each other, share tactics and, as in the case of European and American rightwing movements, even share some of the same funders. The Mercer family, for example, supporters of the infamous Cambridge Analytica, have been key backers of Trump and of Breitbart News, which operates in Europe, the United States and Israel to advance the same anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda. Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson gives generously to rightwing causes in both the United States and Israel, promoting a shared agenda of intolerance and illiberalism in both countries.
In order to effectively combat the rise of the international authoritarian axis, we need an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power.
After winning the Democratic primary in New York’s Fourteenth Congressional District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now a national political figure. On Wednesday, she made a series of media appearances, including spots on CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Later in the day, Stephen Colbert hailed her win, joking that when he was twenty-eight he got his first can opener. On Thursday, she appeared on Colbert’s show, and an article in the Times described her as “an instant political rock star.”
Ocasio-Cortez deserves all the attention she’s getting, but it’s important not to focus only on her personal traits: her age, her gender, her ethnicity, and her inspiring life story. As she pointed out in her post-victory interviews, she ran on a platform that transcended these things. “Our campaign was focussed on just a laser-focussed message of economic, social, and racial dignity for working-class Americans, especially those in Queens and the Bronx,” she told Mika Brzezinski, of “Morning Joe.”
Of course, all politicians say that they are dedicated to the interests and well-being of their constituents. But Ocasio-Cortez, who had the support of progressive groups such as MoveOn and the Democratic Socialists of America, isn’t your average pol. She delivered an important message to the Democratic Party by running an explicitly populist, anti-establishment campaign. And, as the Party prepares for the midterms and the 2020 Presidential election, it would do well to listen to her.
Ocasio-Cortez’s first point was that being opposed to Donald Trump and his actions, while essential, isn’t a sufficient political strategy. Ocasio-Cortez herself is vehemently anti-Trump. Last week, she visited a detention center on the Mexican border; after her victory, she said that she would vote to impeach the President. But she has also warned against fixating on him and his every offensive statement. “What we need to do is lay out a plan and a vision that people can believe in, and getting into Twitter fights with the President is not exactly, I think, where we’re going to find progress as a nation,” she said, on “Morning Joe.”
Ocasio-Cortez also expressed the view that Democrats have something to learn from Trump’s rise and, particularly, from his ability to mobilize voters who are detached from, or alienated by, the major political parties. “He spoke very directly to a lot of needs that were not being met by both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party,” she told the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald. “Our neglect of that is something we wholeheartedly have to take responsibility for, and correct for.”
Listen to the speeches of Senator Sherrod Brown, of Ohio; or of Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia; or of Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Ted Cruz in Texas; or of Conor Lamb, who won a special election in western Pennsylvania earlier this year; or of Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot who recently won the Democratic primary in New Jersey’s Republican-held Eleventh Congressional District. To be sure, these Democrats are attacking Trump and talking about immigration and the Supreme Court. But their main focus is on promoting social and economic empowerment for people living in their districts.
By Mattie Kahn
In the beginning, Anna Langthorn was just another Democrat with a broken heart. True, like most progressives, she’s spent the last six months in emotional turmoil. But this—the very beginning of her political career—was before all that. Langthorn, who at 24 was recently elected to be the youngest ever Oklahoma State Democratic Chair, hadn’t lost an election or seen her candidate concede. She’d never even voted.
That was almost a decade ago, and she was only 17—still in school and recently dumped. “This isn’t a very feminist story,” she cautions, laughing. But, she explains, she’d been broken up with and was “incredibly distraught.” In desperate need of a distraction, Langthorn picked a new hobby almost at random. Sure, she figured, why not politics. “I already read the news and was politically aware—probably more than the average 17-year-old,” she says. “But I wasn’t very involved or proactive.” She immersed herself in local campaigns, places where passion, even obsession, were not only considered normal, but rewarded. Langthorn got involved with the local Democrats and volunteered, landing internships during her last two years of high school with candidates and the state party apparatus itself. She skipped most of the pomp and circumstance of her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention (“I couldn’t miss it!”) and worked on campaigns throughout college.
I believe, deeply, that we have to be leading on women’s issues and LGBT issues and the issues that are affecting communities of color while we drill down on that economic populist message. We need to fight for fairness, but we need people to know that we’re fighting, which isn’t happening in the state now.
But I don’t think we have to temper our message or water down progressivism to appeal to older voters. Voters want good health care and they want good housing and good education. They may say, in rural Oklahoma, that they’re less concerned with black lives, but there are black rural voters that need to be reached and engaged too. They may say they don’t care about abortion, but plenty of women are getting abortions and even more are getting access to birth control under our current laws.
By Stanley Greenberg
Hillary Clinton’s tragic 2016 campaign faced withering criticism in the press, social media, and now, in Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s inside account, Shattered. From my vantage point as lead pollster for the Democratic nominees in 1992 and 2000, part of the closing clutch of pollsters in 2004, and invited noodge in 2016, I have little quarrel with the harshest of these criticisms. Malpractice and arrogance contributed mightily to the election of Donald Trump and its profound threat to our democracy. So did the handling of the email server, paid Wall Street speeches, and the “deplorables” comment. And her unwillingness to challenge the excesses of big money and corporate influence left her exposed to attacks first by Bernie Sanders and then by Donald Trump and unable to offer credible promise of change.
Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.
The campaign’s approach senselessly and increasingly drove up Trump’s margin in white working-class communities, tipping Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Despite overwhelming evidence that the Democratic base wasn’t consolidated or excited, the campaign believed Trump’s tasteless attacks and Clinton’s identification with every group in the rainbow coalition would produce near universal support. Thus, they stopped trying to persuade voters and measured only the probability of support for Hillary. The campaign’s task was turning out those Clinton voters, and they fell frustratingly short.
The fatal conclusion the Clinton team made after the Michigan primary debacle was that she could not win white working-class voters, and that the “rising electorate” would make up the difference. She finished her campaign with rallies in inner cities and university towns. Macomb got the message. “When you leave the two-thirds of Americans without college degrees out of your vision of the good life, they notice,” Joan Williams writes sharply in White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.
Additionally, Sanders campaigned against bad trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP to show he’d battle for working people. NAFTA was the work of Bill Clinton and the TPP was a signature initiative of Obama. Hillary Clinton needed some distance. My wife, Representative Rosa DeLauro, headed up the anti-TPP forces in Congress, but despite her incessant lobbying of Podesta, Clinton offered only a muddled opposition.
Obama’s refrain was severely out of touch with what was happening to most Americans and the working class more broadly. In our research, “ladders of opportunity” fell far short of what real people were looking for. Incomes sagged after the financial crisis, pensions lost value, and many lost their housing wealth, while people faced dramatically rising costs for things that mattered—health care, education, housing, and child care. People faced vanishing geographic, economic, and social mobility, as Edward Luce writes so forcefully. At the same time, billionaires spent massively to influence politicians and parked their money in the big cities whose dynamism drew in the best talent from the smaller towns and rural areas.
And in her book What Happened, she acknowledges “Stan’s” argument that “heralding economic progress and the bailout of the irresponsible elites” while the working class struggled financially alienated the working class from Democrats. She says, “That’s another reminder that, despite the heroic work” of Obama, many “didn’t feel the recovery in their own lives.”
About the author: Stan Greenberg has advised the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, as well as hundreds of other candidates and organizations in the United States, Latin America, Europe and around the world, including Gerhard Schröder, the former Chancellor of Germany, Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, and Joko Widodo, the current President of Indonesia.” – Wikipedia
His wife, Rosa DeLauro, has been a member of Congress for over 25 years.
A proposed resolution advocates for overturning the 17th Amendment so Republican-controlled state legislatures could pick senators.
By John Nichols
The United States Senate is an undemocratic institution. Just do the math: Progressive California Senator Kamala Harris was elected in 2016 with 7,542,753 votes. Yet her vote on issues such as health-care reform counts for no more than that of conservative Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, who was elected in 2014 with 121,554 votes.
This is an absurd imbalance. In fact, the only thing that would make it more absurd would be if voters were removed from the equation altogether.
Say “hello” to the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, the corporate-funded project to impose a top-down right-wing agenda on the states. ALEC is considering whether to adopt a new piece of “model legislation” that proposes to do away with an elected Senate.
The idea of reversing 104 years of representative democracy and returning to the bad old days when senators were chosen via backroom deals between wealthy campaign donors, corporate lobbyists, and crooked legislators, is not new. The John Birch Society peddled the proposal decades ago. But with the rise of the “Tea Party” movement, the notion moved into the conservative mainstream.
Papering over the party’s internal conflicts only led to defeat. Without open debate, victory will never come
By Bill Curry
In April, Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez took off on a bumpy cross-country road trip. Their “unity tour” mostly served to highlight their differences and remind people that Sanders is not actually a Democrat. May it be a lesson to Democrats: Unity requires agreement, which requires debate.
Many expected 2016’s losing party to engage in fierce debate and a bloody civil war. Had Republicans lost, they’d have opened fire on one another in their concession speeches. Democrats took another tack. First, they rehired all their top management; their discredited consultants and decrepit congressional leaders. Then, in the spirit of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, they cancelled the debate.
Party elders say it’s no time to squabble. They always say that. The specter of an emotionally arrested, proto-fascist fraud in the White House adds force to their argument, but ducking debate is what got Democrats here in the first place. This is in fact the exact right time, maybe even their last chance, to have one. So, what’s stopping them?
In 2016 Sanders backers fumed over the Democratic National Committee’s conniving with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the DNC could screw up a two-car funeral. It’s too ineffectual to effect anything as big and complicated as an election. Progressives made Clinton. Without labor, she’d have opened the 2016 campaign with three straight losses (in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada). Labor’s top goals were blocking trade deals and enacting a living wage. Sanders was with labor. Clinton wasn’t. He outperformed her in nearly every general election poll. Labor went with her anyway, often without consulting the rank and file.
Most old line, Washington-based African-American, women’s, LGBT and environmental groups did likewise. It was the progressive establishment, not the party establishment, that secured Clinton’s nomination. The democratization of the Democratic Party starts with the democratization of the left.