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“Net Neutrality”: To Remain Neutral In A Trump-Clinton Contest Is To Declare That One’s Conscience Has Been Compromised

Is there a more miserable figure than the man or woman who says they will abstain from voting for either Hillary Clinton or Deranged Donnie on November 8?

It’s difficult to have any respect for those (such as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner) who seem to view Trump and Clinton as equally repulsive. It’s odd that these folks would choose to advertise their cowardice rather than take their responsibilities as citizens seriously.

Let’s be honest: when one says they cannot choose between Trump and Clinton, they are saying, in effect, that Trump is only disgusting, not dangerous, and that they will not actively try to resist his rise. To remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is to declare that one’s conscience has been compromised.

It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s racism, sexism and xenophobia. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s irrationality and incompetence. It is illogical and immoral to remain neutral in the face of Trump’s threat to American civility and decency.

The decision to remain neutral in a Trump-Clinton contest is one that can only be made from a position of racial and economic privilege. The African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and disadvantaged Americans of all colors who would be beaten down by Trump’s policies don’t have the luxury of remaining neutral. Do the folks who say they will sit on the sidelines in a Trump-Clinton matchup realize how crucial the outcome of this election will be for America’s shunned and stigmatized?

Rush (the band, not the wingnut radio host) got it right 36 years ago in the song “Freewill”: If you choose not to decide/you still have made a choice. By embracing neutrality instead of resistance in the face of Trump’s extremism, those who plan to abstain from voting in the presidential election have chosen to sanction such extremism.

Do these abstainers have children and grandchildren? Do they not care about the behavior those children and grandchildren will witness in the White House over the next four to eight years? Presidents set a moral tone, and when they behave in an immoral fashion, children learn that such behavior is good, that one can get away with the most atrocious of actions. Ask yourself: What kind of moral example did Ronald Reagan set with Iran-Contra? What kind of moral example did George W. Bush set with his lies about WMD? And what kind of moral example would Deranged Donnie set for our children and grandchildren over the course of the next four to eight years?

Much has been made of Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Confessions of a Republican” ad and how it could apply to today’s election. Let us not forget the key line in that ad:

I’ve thought about just not voting in this election, just staying home — but you can’t do that, because that’s saying you don’t care who wins, and I do care.

The folks who say they will remain neutral in the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are saying they don’t care who wins, that they don’t give a damn about the destruction Trump could bring about as President, that they really do think Clinton is as immoral and irrational and intolerant as Trump. If you know anyone like this in your personal life, don’t cut off communication with them. In fact, you only need to say three words to them:

“Shame on you.”

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 15, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Exploitation Of White Resentment”: Donald Trump’s Ready-Made Constituency

There are competing narratives being discussed right now about what is driving the white male support for Donald Trump. Last weekend, David Atkins did a great job of articulating one of them.

In short, voters really are angry about the economy. They want greater security. They don’t want more jobs so much as they want answers for how their jobs are ever going to pay for the lifestyle and security they deserve. And they want justice and accountability against the people they believe have cheated them.

Another narrative about what is animating white male Trump supporters was recently described by Jamelle Bouie.

…we’ve been missing the most important catalyst in Trump’s rise. What caused this fire to burn out of control? The answer, I think, is Barack Obama.

Bouie goes on to suggest that, unlike the theories about this on the right, Obama has not implemented a radical political agenda. But there is something else at play.

We can’t say the same for Obama as a political symbol, however. In a nation shaped and defined by a rigid racial hierarchy, his election was very much a radical event, in which a man from one of the nation’s lowest castes ascended to the summit of its political landscape. And he did so with heavy support from minorities: Asian Americans and Latinos were an important part of Obama’s coalition, and black Americans turned out at their highest numbers ever in 2008…

For millions of white Americans who weren’t attuned to growing diversity and cosmopolitanism, however, Obama was a shock, a figure who appeared out of nowhere to dominate the country’s political life. And with talk of an “emerging Democratic majority,” he presaged a time when their votes—which had elected George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan—would no longer matter. More than simply “change,” Obama’s election felt like an inversion. When coupled with the broad decline in incomes and living standards caused by the Great Recession, it seemed to signal the end of a hierarchy that had always placed white Americans at the top, delivering status even when it couldn’t give material benefits.

In terms of the shock Barack Obama represented, I was reminded of something Jonathan Chait wrote after watching the movie 12 Years a Slave.

Notably, the most horrific torture depicted in 12 Years a Slave is set in motion when the protagonist, Solomon Northup, offers up to his master engineering knowledge he acquired as a free man, thereby showing up his enraged white overseer. It was precisely Northup’s calm, dignified competence in the scene that so enraged his oppressor. The social system embedded within slavery as depicted in the film is one that survived long past the Emancipation Proclamation – the one that resulted in the murder of Emmett Till a century after Northup published his autobiography. It’s a system in which the most unforgivable crime was for an African-American to presume himself an equal to — or, heaven forbid, better than — a white person.

Perhaps the specter of “calm, dignified competence” reminds you of someone. I have often said that freeing Black people from slavery and giving them civil rights were the first two challenges to the racism that was embedded in this country’s founding. But going from Black people as equals to Black people as leaders is the one Obama put on the table. Even a lot of people who don’t consider themselves to be racist have struggled with that one.

But we really don’t need to see the arguments made by Atkins and Bouie as opposing one another. That is because this country has a very long history of using racial resentment to exploit the economic anxieties of white working poor people. That is the basis on which the modern Republican Party was formed with the advent of the Southern Strategy. But it goes back much further than that. Tim Wise points out that it was the very reason for the development of the concept of “whiteness” in the late 1600’s to use racism as a way to divide and conquer.

Over this country’s history African Americans have gained their freedom from slavery, fought for equal rights, and even risen to positions of leadership. The one thing they can’t do is change the hearts and minds of white people who insist on blaming them for their insecurities. That is on us. Until that happens, the Donald Trumps of the world will have a ready-made constituency to exploit.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 12, 2016

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Trump Supporters, White Men | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Nothing Or Nothing At All”: Trump Or Cruz, It Sucks To Be A Republican Senator

If, as seems reasonable, Greg Sargent is correct that the spectacle of Senate hearings on an Obama-nominated Supreme Court Justice will empower hardliners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the Republican Establishment has a powerful incentive not to allow them.

At this point, though, we’re almost to the point where the Establishment should just give up on the prospect of having anyone other than Trump or Cruz as their nominee. We’ll soon know more when we get the results from South Carolina’s primary, but right now it looks very likely that Trump will win there, possibly in a walk, and that Cruz will come in second place. Among the also-rans, only Marco Rubio seems to be showing any life. And, after watching him get eviscerated by Chris Christie in New Hampshire, do the Republicans really want to hitch their wagon to the remote hope that Rubio will surge to win the nomination and then prove a match for the Democrats’ candidate?

Part of the problem with this whole plan to reject any Obama Supreme Court selection is that the Republicans are looking so unlikely to get their act together in time to win in the fall.

We can debate where this whole subject falls on the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scale, but I’m not convinced it helps the Republicans’ cause in November to simply refuse to consider any nominee by declining to give them the courtesy of a hearing and a vote. The logic of it is that the Republican base will be so dejected if partisan control of the Court is lost before the election that they won’t turn out. If, on the other hand, they think control hangs in the balance, they will turn out in droves. They won’t turn out to vote for a nominee they might hate or distrust, but they’ll turn out to keep the Court from flipping to a liberal majority.

That makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure that they would experience different turnout numbers depending on which road they take. But base mobilization is more of a midterm strategy than a general election strategy. The Republicans have only succeeded in winning the popular vote once in the last twenty-eight years (in 2004), and they barely won the Electoral College that year. They need to change the shape of the electorate in their favor, because their base just isn’t big enough.

And, consider, since 2012 they’ve definitely done damage with their prospects with Latino and Asian voters. They’ve further alienated the academic/scientific/technical/professional class with their anti-science lunacy. They’ve lost the youth vote over a variety of issues, including hostility to gay rights. They’re doing everything they can to maximize the black vote. Muslims will vote almost uniformly against them despite sharing some of their ‘family values.’ Women won’t be impressed if Cruz or Rubio are the nominees because they both oppose abortion including in cases of rape or incest. They’ll be unimpressed with Donald Trump because he’s a sexist, womanizing boor. I don’t think any of these groups will be more favorably inclined to the Republicans if they block Obama’s nominee without a hearing.

Realistically, as this point they almost have to go with Trump because his fame and lack of orthodoxy will change the shape of the electorate. It’s not likely to change it favorably, and many life-long Republicans will bolt the party, perhaps never to come back. But it will change it.

Unless John Kasich catches fire there’s no hope of the GOP rebranding in a way that will undo the massive amount of damage they’ve done with the persuadable middle. Jeb would present a softer face to the party, but there’s no way a Bush is winning the general election in 2016.

The way I see it, the best deal the Republicans are going to get is right now. Obama will compromise with them. He might pick a relatively moderate Justice if he has assurances that they’ll be confirmed. People have mentioned Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, for example, who is a pro-choice Republican. He might pick someone older, like George Mitchell. He might pick a colleague of theirs. I think Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is his best option. The Republican senators like her and she’s no radical.

But, if they lose the general election, which the wise among them must know is becoming almost a certainty, they’ll also lose a bunch of Senate seats. They’ll be in a much weaker position to block Clinton or Sanders’s nominee or (if necessary) nominees. And they’ll probably have to deal with a nominee who is further to the left and much younger.

Why not use their considerable power now to get some real concessions rather than roll the dice on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz being our next president?

And, as Greg Sargent points out, who knows who Trump would nominate? He was pro-choice until he decided he needed to pretend otherwise if he wanted to win the Republican nomination. Why trust him?

So, it’s really down to Ted Cruz.

Cruz or nothing.

That’s how they want to go.

Except they universally loathe Ted Cruz with the heat of a thousand supernovas.

It sucks to be a Republican senator.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 18, 2016

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“More Socialism For White People”: Why Donald Trump Will Defeat The Koch Brothers For The Soul Of The GOP

In order to understand how Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field despite openly promoting tax hikes on wealth hedge fund managers, hedging support for universal healthcare and other wildly iconoclastic positions hostile to decades of Republican dogma, it’s important to note that the Republican Party was teetering on the edge of a dramatic change no matter whether Trump had entered the race or not.

Demographers and political scientists have long been predicting that the Republican Party is due for a realignment–the sort of tectonic political shift that occurs when one of the two parties either take a courageous political stand or falls into danger of becoming a permanent minority, shifting the demographics and constituencies that sort each party. The last big realignment in American politics is generally considered to to have occurred in the wake of the Civil Rights Act, when Democratic support for civil rights legislation moved racially resentful, mostly Southern whites into the arms of the Republicans while picking up support from women and minorities. Republicans, of course, hastened this process through their use of the Southern strategy to maximize conservative white fears and resentments. It is arguable that the Democratic shift toward the conservative and neoliberal economics beginning the late 1970s as a response to the increasing power of money in elections and the rise of Reagan was also a minor realignment that moved many wealthy social liberals out of the Republican fold at the expense of blue-collar Democratic workers.

Conventional wisdom has argued that demographic trends showing the rise of Latino and Asian voters would spell the need for another GOP realignment–this time away from minority-bashing Southern Strategy politics, toward a more ecumenical, corporate-friendly fiscal libertarianism and militaristic foreign policy that would in theory attract conservative-leaning voters across the racial spectrum who had previously felt unwelcome in the Republican fold due to its racial politics. Republican leaders are well aware that every election year the voting public becomes more diverse, and that permanently losing the Latino and Asian votes the way Republicans have the African-American vote would mean a permanent disaster for their party. The Blue Wall becomes more formidable for the GOP with every presidential election cycle, largely due to demographic change.

At no point did this become more clear than after the 2012 election. Most Republicans insiders had expected an easy Romney victory based on the standard indicators. But when the strength of the Democratic constituency became apparent, GOP leaders knew they had to act to pass immigration reform and begin the hard work of appealing to minority voters. This is the Koch Brothers agenda: the corporate agenda with a diverse, smiling face.

But then something interesting happened: base Republican voters said no. Tea Partiers continued to sweep establishment Republicans out of office. Eric Cantor, once considered heir apparent to Speaker John Boehner, suddenly found himself toss out of Congress on the strength of an anti-immigrant intra-party challenge. Immigration reform stalled due to a near revolt by the conservative base. Meanwhile, the continued ability of Republicans to make gains in midterm elections due to weak Democratic turnout, and to lock down the House of Representatives due to the Big Sort and intentional gerrymandering, meant that Republican legislators saw no upside in enraging their base.

The rise of Donald Trump should come as no surprise in this context: it was presaged well in advance. Pundits who assumed Trump would flame out quickly were as misguided as those who assumed that Eric Cantor would safely hold his seat. After decades of stirring up their primary voters into a froth of paranoia and hatred of various “others” in society, Republican voters were not about to be led by the nose to a multi-racial corporatist utopia. After telling the religious right for decades that they would ban abortion and force women back into traditional gender roles, it’s no surprise that those voters continued to chose candidates like Todd Akin who could not stop themselves from angering most women voters.

But the Republican Party does have to change. After all, it cannot continue to survive on its present course. Presidential elections are only getting tougher, and the GOP lock on the House will not survive the 2020 census if all else remains unchanged.

That’s where Donald Trump’s brand of politics comes in. Reminiscent of European far right parties that meld anti-immigrant furor with a broader anti-elite sentiment and greater favor to the welfare state, Donald Trump does away with sops to diversity and polite niceties in the service of unfaltering plutocratic agenda. He does the exact opposite–openly bashing women and minorities in the sort of rude way that millions of Republican voters do behind closed doors but not in polite society, while also giving them hope that they can keep their healthcare and social security in the bargain.

After all, it’s important to remember that hardcore conservative Republican voters of today are only a generation removed from the coalition that supported FDR. These are voters who, despite having been hardened against socialist appeals by decades of Fox News style propaganda, nevertheless supported FDR and other Democrats well into the Reagan era. These are voters who don’t actually hate the welfare state and social spending, so much as they hate the idea that their tax dollars are going to social spending for the wrong people. It’s not so much that they don’t like government heatlhcare: after all, in many poor Republican counties most conservative voters are being taken care of by Medicaid, Medicare and the VA. It’s that they don’t like the idea that poor minorities and “loose” women might be getting free healthcare “on their backs.” And as for Wall Street, most Republican voters can’t stand them: they see them as crony capitalist, corrupt liberal New Yorkers who got a bailout. Most GOP voters won’t shed a tear if Trump raises taxes on the hedge fund crowd.

Donald Trump reassures these voters that the “wrong kind of people” won’t be getting any freebies on his watch. That’s all they really care about–so if Trump supports universal healthcare it’s simply not that big a deal.

And this ultimately is what the real GOP realignment is going to look like: less racially diverse corporatism, and more socialism for white people. It stands to reason. Blue-collar white GOP voters aren’t about to forget decades of fear-based propaganda, and their economic position remains precarious enough that they still need the welfare state help.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 5, 2015

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Koch Brothers, Socialism | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Get The Facts Jeb”: Why Jeb Bush Should Pledge To Roll Out The Welcome Mat For Asian Birth Tourists

Jeb Bush used to be the Mr. Rogers of GOP presidential candidates — a gentle fellow who would put you to sleep a few minutes after coming on TV. Now Bush is the GOP’s Bambi — a frozen deer who doesn’t know which way to turn as the headline-beaming monster truck that is Donald Trump bears down upon him.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Bush’s recent cringe-inducing suggestion that the real abusers of America’s birthright citizenship are Asian birth tourists — not Latino “anchor babies,” as Trump claims.

But as the GOP’s token pro-immigration candidate, if Bush had half of Trump’s cojones, he wouldn’t throw Asians under the bus to save Latinos. He’d tell Trump that “anchor babies” are a problem more hyped up than Trump’s bouffant — and birth tourism is a blessing that America should wholeheartedly welcome.

“Anchor babies” are a myth invented by restrictionists to try and scrap America’s constitutionally guaranteed right to birthright citizenship. The term used to refer to pregnant Latino women who supposedly deliberately and illegally came to America to give birth to American children who would become mom and dad’s green card sponsors. But this scheme can involve wait times of up to 31 years (kids can’t sponsor before age 21, and parents sometimes have to wait 10 years outside America before qualifying). Hence, restrictionists couldn’t find many examples to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria. So now they have dubbed every one of the 300,000 children born to undocumented parents annually as anchor babies whose real purpose is to prevent their unauthorized parents from being deported.

This argument is ridiculous. Vanishingly few undocumented immigrants have children specifically to escape deportation. They have children because they want to — for any number of non-cynical reasons. And yes, this can sometimes help them escape deportation. But don’t conflate that consequence of birth with the motives for pregnancy.

Anchor babies don’t exist in any meaningful sense. Birth tourism, however, does. And that’s a good thing.

No super-reliable figures are available, but the number commonly bandied about puts birth tourist babies at a mere 35,000 annually. Unlike the poor, unauthorized Latino parents of mythical “anchor babies,” birth tourism involves relatively well-off couples, the vast majority from China, who come to America when it comes time to give birth so their kid will score U.S. citizenship.

Another benefit for these Chinese couples: Beijing’s autocrats don’t count children born with other nationalities against a couple’s one-child quota. No doubt, a U.S. passport for their newborn is a huge attraction. But America is not the only destination for couples trying to dodge China’s draconian birth control policies. Mainland Chinese couples also flock to Hong Kong (all of which the pro-life, pro-family conservative editors of National Review Online should understand and applaud rather than running confused pieces like this conflating “anchor babies” and birth tourists to promote their anti-birthright citizenship crusade).

Immigration restrictionists love to deride “anchor baby” parents for being in the United States illegally. But that’s not true with birth tourists. They come here legally. Even a recent Rolling Stone “expose” of Los Angeles-based maternity agencies acknowledged: “Birth tourists, arriving on legal visas, aren’t breaking any laws while in the country.” Meanwhile, a May Bloomberg Businessweek story about these agencies — that for a fee of up to $50,000 help a couple obtain U.S. visas, put them up in hotels during their long stay in America, arrange doctors and hospitals and then passports for their infant — found that most of them go out of their way to coach their clients in “cheng shi qian” (honest visa applications). This is not to say that no one lies, but it is far from standard practice — which is why a Department of Homeland Security raid on maternity hotels earlier this year didn’t seem to come up with many instances of visa fraud, despite a long undercover investigation.

Restrictionists constantly accuse “anchor baby” parents of mooching off American taxpayers by using emergency services for child delivery and collecting welfare through their American child. (Never mind that unauthorized parent-headed households receive far less welfare than native ones of similar income, and are far less prone to welfare dependency.) But none of that applies to birth tourists, who, with few exceptions, pay for the entire cost of delivery out of pocket. In fact, the agency that formed the cornerstone of the Bloomberg story went out of its way to ensure that its clients don’t use public money, and keep copious documentation to prove that.

More to the point, birth tourist babies go home to be raised during their most expensive phase — only to possibly return to America after their 18th birthday, during their most productive phase. In effect, birth tourism allows America to outsource the raising of its citizens, resulting in enormous savings, given that it costs a whopping $300,000 to raise a child in a middle-income family in America today.

Every adult immigrant, even poor Latinos, constitute a windfall for America, given that America reaps the dividends of another society’s investment in them. (Indeed, immigration is arguably a far cheaper way than having children for a society to maintain its population level.) But birth tourist babies are a special boon because they are the product of super-ambitious parents who are obviously sparing no expense or effort to build their child’s full potential and give him/her options.

This is why it is all the more unfortunate that Jeb Bush put birth tourists in the crosshairs of his party’s ugly war on immigration. He has said in the past that Latinos who come to America illegally to give their children a better life are engaging in an “act of love.” This is equally true for Asian birth tourists.

Bush should have used their example to defend and strengthen America’s birthright citizenship against Trump’s attacks. Instead, in his panic about his nose-diving poll numbers, he may have done the opposite — none of which inspires much confidence in another Bush presidency.

 

By: Shika Dalmia, The Week, August 28, 2015

August 30, 2015 Posted by | Birth Tourism, Immigrants, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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