mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Trumpism Won’t Disappear When He Does”: In The End, Only One Thing Can Kill A Bad Idea

On Saturday, someone tried to kill Donald Trump.

You may not have heard about it. The story didn’t get much play, the attempt wasn’t well planned and the candidate was never in jeopardy.

Still the fact remains that authorities arrested one Michael Steven Sandford, 19, after he allegedly tried to grab a gun from the holster of a Las Vegas police officer with the idea of using it to kill Trump at a campaign rally. Authorities say Sandford, who carried a UK driver’s license but who had been living in New Jersey for about a year and a half, had visited a nearby gun range to learn how to handle a firearm. They say he has wanted to kill Trump for a year.

Let us be thankful he was not successful. The assassination of Donald Trump would have been a new low for a political season that is already the most dispiriting in memory. It would have deprived a family of its father and husband. It would have traumatized a nation where political murder has been a too-frequent tragedy.

And it would have imparted the moral authority of martyrdom to Trump’s ideas. That would be a disaster in its own right.

Like most would-be assassins, what Sandford apparently did not understand is that you cannot kill an idea with a bullet. Even bad ideas are impervious to gunfire.

Trump, of course, has been a veritable Vesuvius of bad ideas in the year since he took that escalator ride into the race for the presidency. From banning Muslim immigrants to building a wall on the southern border to punishing women who have abortions to advocating guns in nightclubs to judging judicial fitness based on heritage, to killing the wives and children of terror suspects, if there has been a hideous, unserious or flat-out stupid thought floated in this political season, odds are, it carried the Trump logo.

It is understandable, then, that even people who wish Trump no bodily harm might feel as Sandford presumably did: that if he were somehow just … gone, the stench of his ideas — of his anger, nativism, coarseness and proud ignorance — might somehow waft away like trash-fire smoke in a breeze.

But it doesn’t work that way. Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality did not die on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Nor did Adolf Hitler’s dream of racial extermination perish with him in that bunker beneath Berlin. Ideas, both transcendent and repugnant, are far hardier than the fragile lives of the men and women who give them voice.

So, any hope that Trump’s disappearance would somehow fix America is naive. America’s problem has nothing to do with him, except to the degree he has made himself a focal point.

No, America’s problem is fear. Fear of economic stagnation, yes, and fear of terrorism. But those are proxies for the bigger and more fundamental fear: fear of demographic diminution, of losing the privileges and prerogatives that have always come with being straight, white, male and/or Christian in America. It was the holy quadfecta of entitlement, but that entitlement is under siege in a nation that grows more sexually, racially and religiously diverse with every sunrise.

Trumpism is only the loudest and most obvious response to that, and it will not disappear when he does. Indeed, there is no instant cure for what has America unsettled. There is only time and the hard work of change.

In a sense, we are bringing forth a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women really are created equal. If for some of us, that fires the imagination, it is hardly mysterious that for others, it kindles a sense of displacement and loss. The good news is that their Trumpism cannot survive in the new nation.

In the end, you see, only one thing can kill a bad idea.

And that’s a better one.

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, Gun Violence | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bernie’s Math Problem”: Why Sanders Campaign Has Resorted To Arguments Of Swinging Superdelegates In His Favor

Bernie Sanders won the Indiana presidential primary and has so far garnered 43 delegates to Clinton’s 37. But that’s pretty much where the good news ends. As Nate Silver documented prior to knowing the final results:

But let’s suppose Sanders pulls it out and wins a narrow victory instead, claiming 42 of Indiana’s 83 pledged delegates. He’d still then need 611 of the remaining 933 pledged delegates to catch Clinton, or about two-thirds. Here’s a scenario for what that would look like: Sanders would need to win California by 31 percentage points, for instance, and New Jersey by double digits despite having lost every neighboring state.

Even if Sanders was able to pull off winning California by 31% and New Jersey by 13% (which would only happen if an unforeseen event upset the demographics that have dictated this race so far), he would still only manage to catch up with Clinton on pledged delegates. If you include superdelegates, Gabriel Debenedetti explains how the situation gets even more bleak for Sanders.

Here’s how it works: After winning Indiana, Sanders has 1,399 pledged delegates and superdelegates to his name, according to the Associated Press’ count. That means he needs 984 more to reach the threshold of 2,383 needed to win.

The remaining contests, however — Guam, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia — only have 933 pledged delegates to offer.

So even if Sanders were to win 100 percent of the pledged delegates in each of those states, he wouldn’t make it past the mark.

That explains why the Sanders campaign has resorted to arguments aimed at swinging the superdelegates in his favor.

To sum up Bernie’s math problem, he is now faced with needing to win the remaining states by improbable margins AND convince a significant number of superdelegates to change their minds. On the other hand, Clinton could lose all of the remaining states by the margin we saw in Indiana yesterday and still garner enough delegates to win the nomination. It is probably too soon to say that Hillary is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but it’s even more clear today that we are headed for a Clinton/Trump contest in November.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 4, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bernie’s ‘Momentum’ Is A Farce”: Sanders Owes His Recent Winning Streak To Demographics, Not Momentum

If the prevailing media narrative is to be believed, as we head into next Tuesday’s crucial New York state primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – by virtue of winning seven of the last eight Democratic nominating contests – has gained crucial momentum, while Hillary Clinton has seen her earlier momentum slip away.

But is that true?

It’s certainly a narrative that Sanders and his supporters have tried to popularize in their recent public comments. As Sanders told George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday on “This Week“: “In the last three and a half weeks, we have reduced [Clinton’s] margin by a third. … We believe that we have the momentum. We believe that the polling is showing that we’re closing the gap. Actually, as you may have noticed, of the last three national polls out there, we have defeated Secretary Clinton in two of them. So there’s no question I think the momentum is with us.”

In truth, the answer depends in part on what one means by momentum, which turns out to be a much-touted but often poorly defined concept. When pundits talk about momentum, they usually refer to one of two possibilities. The first refers to the winnowing of candidates, as typically happens early in the nominating process. When this occurs, it can appear that the remaining candidates gain “momentum” by virtue of picking up some of the departed candidates’ support. There is evidence indicating this type of momentum does occur. However, that’s not the type of momentum that pundits are referencing now, more than halfway through the fight for the Democratic nomination. Bernie’s recent victories haven’t driven anyone from the race.

There is a second type of momentum, however, one more consistent with how the term is being used in the current media narrative. It is the belief that a succession of electoral victories can increase the probability that the winning candidate will do better in subsequent contests simply by virtue of those previous wins. Under this scenario, winning begets more winning – the more wins, the greater the subsequent momentum – and losing has the opposite effect. When pressed to clarify how this type of momentum operates, proponents explain that winning leads to increased campaign contributions and more volunteers – resources that ultimately translate into more votes, and thus more wins. For those making this momentum-as-bandwagon argument, Bernie’s current winning streak is clear proof that his momentum is very real – each victory during the last three-and-a-half weeks made it more likely that he would win the next contest. For this reason, Sanders and his supporters believe he is poised to do very well in next Tuesday’s New York primary.

There’s only one problem with this scenario. There’s just not much evidence that momentum of this type exists, at least not in the recent context of Sanders’ victories. Instead, the likelier explanation for Sanders’ recent success (as I noted in my recent Professor Pundits contribution) is that the Democrats have held a string of contests on terrain that was particularly favorable to Sanders. Demographics, and not momentum, has been the key to his success.

It’s no secret that Sanders does best in caucus states dominated by more ideologically motivated participants and in states with low minority populations. As it turns out, six of Sanders’ last seven victories came in largely white caucus states. (Hawaii, a caucus state, was a demographic exception.) In fact, 11 of his 15 victories to date have come in caucus states. (He almost gained a 12th victory in the Iowa caucus, where he finished a close second to Clinton.) On the other hand, she has won 16 of the 21 primaries held so far. Indeed, if one constructs a regression equation to explain Sanders’ vote share, the two biggest predictors are whether it is a caucus state and whether it had a large proportion of white, liberal voters. By this standard, one might argue he actually underperformed expectations in Wyoming, a largely white, caucus state, where he won “only” about 56 percent of the vote, less than he earned in several similar nearby states. More importantly, he split the 14 Wyoming delegates evenly with Clinton. That’s not exactly the “momentum” he needs.

This is not to say that momentum is a completely meaningless concept. There is some evidence that voters’ choices in the primaries are influenced in part by perceptions regarding how likely it is that the candidate is going to be elected. If a candidate can clear a certain threshold of perceived electoral viability, her chances of gaining additional votes increase.

But this is precisely where the Sanders’ momentum argument works against itself. Because Sanders’ recent victories have come predominantly in smaller caucus states and because of the Democratic Party’s proportional delegate allocation rules, Sanders’ winning streak hasn’t substantially cut into Clinton’s delegate lead, at least not nearly enough to alter the perception that she remains the clear favorite to win the nomination. Since March 22, when Sanders’ current win streak began, he has gained a net of only 70 pledged delegates on Clinton and still trails her by more than 250 pledged delegates. Her lead expands to more than 700 if one includes superdelegates. Moreover, Clinton can more than wipe out Sanders’ recent gains with a strong showing in her home state of New York next Tuesday, where there are 247 pledged delegates at stake.

This failure to clear the viability threshold has two unfortunate consequences for Sanders. First, despite his claims to the contrary, his recent victories provide little reason for Clinton’s superdelegate supporters to change their minds and back Bernie. Second, to the extent that perceptions of electoral viability matter to prospective voters in upcoming states, it is Clinton and not Sanders who is most likely to benefit. She is the perceived front-runner, and thus she is more likely to gain the support of voters who want to back the race favorite. And those perceptions of viability are not likely to change in the foreseeable future, as the Democratic race returns to terrain, in the form of larger, more demographically diverse primary states, likely more favorable to Clinton, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. On the other hand, and unfortunately for Sanders, only one of the remaining 16 Democratic contests is a caucus state.

Does momentum exist? Yes, if one means the added benefit a candidate receives by virtue of being perceived as the most viable candidate, electorally speaking. Based on that definition, at this point in the Democratic race, it is Clinton and not Sanders who has the better claim to possessing the “Big Mo.” And that’s not likely to change in the immediate future.

 

By: Matthew Dickinson, Professor, Middlebury College; Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Momentum, New York Primaries | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Trumpkins Beware, It Get’s Worse”: Why We’re Segregated On Super Tuesday And How It Helps Explain Trump

The most segregated place in American politics just might be a partisan primary.

The massive racial disparities in voter turnout between Republicans and Democrats help explain how Donald Trump seems to be insulting his way to the nomination. But this same dynamic also underscores how screwed the GOP is in terms of national demographic shifts if they choose to go further down this dangerous path.

Today is Super Tuesday, nicknamed the SEC primary because it includes many states in the Southeastern college sports conference. Contrary to stereotypes, the South is more racially diverse than many regions in the United States. Also contrary to stereotypes, Republicans field a more diverse set of statewide elected officials than Democrats, as evidenced by the presence of two Hispanic senators from the South running for president on the right side of the aisle.

But the good news stops there. The racial polarization beneath our politics becomes clear when you look at who turns out to vote in partisan primaries.

Let’s start with a look at South Carolina—a state where black people make up 28 percent of the population, roughly double the national average.

Hillary Clinton won a massive victory there this past weekend, winning 86 percent of black vote in a primary where African Americans made up 61 percent of the turnout.

A week earlier, Republicans ran in the same state and CNN exit polls showed that black support for Republicans was almost nonexistent—or, in the statistical parlance of exit polls, “n/a”—not applicable.

This troubling trend is likely to become only more pronounced on Super Tuesday. Eight years ago—the closest comparison we have to this open-seat presidential cycle—voter turnout was high but the diversity was also skewed to one side, especially in the South.

In delegate-rich Texas, for example, black people make up 10 percent of the population, but made up only 2 percent of the voters in the 2008 Republican primary. Hispanics made up 38 percent of the Lone Star State population, but only 10 percent of the Republican votes. But in the Democratic primary, black Americans were 19 percent of the vote and Hispanics 32 percent of the vote, respectively.

In Alabama, black people make up 26 percent of the population, but made up only 4 percent of GOP primary voters in 2008. On the Democratic side of the aisle, black voters made up 51 percent of the primary electorate.

The same dynamic was evident in Georgia. Black Americans made up 31 percent of the population in 2008, but only 4 percent of the GOP primary vote. In contrast, black voters made up 52 percent of the Democratic primary turnout.

We’ll round out the sample set with Virginia, where black people make up 19 percent of the total population but made up only 3 percent of GOP primary voters in 2008. On the Democratic side, black voters constituted 30 percent of the primary turnout.

If you’re from the South or have spent much time there, these results may seem unremarkable. But they are a sign of a deeper sickness in our political system, where race is too often a partisan signifier.

Here’s the short version of how this happened in the South: This division is rooted in the legacy of slavery and the Civil War: The states of the former Confederacy voted against the Party of Lincoln for a hundred years (and blacks who could vote were loyal Republicans) until conservative Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Southern Strategy began. White Southern Democrats became Republicans, but they remained conservative populists.

This dynamic was compounded in recent years by collusion between the two parties in the form of the rigged system of redistricting, which gerrymandered the South into white and black congressional districts, rural and urban, driving the Bill Clinton-era Blue Dogs—centrist white Southern Democratic congressmen—into extinction. There are no swing seats left but the racial polarization of the parties in the South is intact, further reinforcing the sense that partisans can simply play to the political and racial base rather than reach out to form new coalitions.

Almost needless to say, this racial polarization does not mean that voters in the respective parties are racist—especially by the standards of a generation ago—but it does mean that the rank and file of our political parties are more segregated than our society at large. And the elevation of Donald Trump to the GOP nomination will only compound these problems.

This primary turnout explains how the rise of a Trump is possible while spewing divisive racial rhetoric: There is no short-term political cost and quite possibly some short-term political benefit in playing to fears of demographic change, cultural and economic resentment and anger toward the first black president. But the long run is all downside.

That’s because partisan primary turnout is often unrepresentative of the overall state. So you can win a partisan primary without having those results be a predictor of how the state will vote in the fall, especially in the case of a crucial swing state like Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, or Virginia. The primaries become the tail that wags the dog: A small number of voters, represented by an even smaller number of professional partisan activists and special interests, get massive attention from candidates trying to win the nomination. If you’re campaigning for the Republican nomination, you can safely ignore diverse communities, but that play-to-the-base path to winning the nomination is a surefire path for losing a general election.

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but he was genuinely passionate about increasing the reach of the Republican Party into communities of color. The foundation of his 2000 presidential run was his landslide re-election as governor of Texas in 1998, when he won 40 percent of the Latino vote.

Trumpkins will point out that The Donald won the Latino vote in the Nevada caucus last month. This is true and doubly impressive/depressing running against two actual Hispanics, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz—as Ruben Navarrette predicted in The Daily Beast. But it’s not incidental to point out that while a record 75,000 Republicans caucused, only an estimated 6,000 were Latino—well below the 27 percent of the population that is Hispanic. Cut this stat with two other facts—President Obama won the Latino vote by 50 points in Nevada and 80 percent of Latinos nationwide have a negative view of Trump—and you quickly pack up any notions that Trump’s Nevada caucus victory is an indicator of general-election strength.

And so it goes. The increasingly narrow base of the GOP, dominated by conservative populists, has created the conditions for a celebrity demagogue like Donald Trump. The absence of a strong center-right or real depth of diversity among the Republican constituency means that the party can be too easily hijacked in five weeks of partisan primaries by pandering to an electorate that doesn’t look much like the America that candidate will have to win—let alone govern.

While the polls show that Donald Trump is primed for a big night, don’t believe the hype: No matter how “yuge” the win, the underlying electoral math is apocalyptic for any party that chooses to not only ignore but insult the growing diversity in America.

 

By: John Avlon, The Daily Beast, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Partisan Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump Is The Product Of Our Failed Political System”: Questioning The Traditional Liberal Vs Conservative Paradigm

Donald Trump’s shocking transformation from reality-show host to Republican presidential front-runner is not some random and bizarre twist of fate. It grows from the failure of our political system to adapt to demographic change, economic disruption and a reorganizing world.

Trump’s victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary appears to have cleared away the cobwebs of denial. However improbable, outlandish or frightening it may be, Trump has a very good chance of becoming the nominee. He can still be beaten, but the debilitated Republican establishment does not seem up to the task; poor Jeb Bush bowed out after winning less than 8 percent of the vote.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz essentially tied for second place, 10 points behind Trump’s winning 32.5 percent. Since John Kasich and Ben Carson turned out to be non-factors, the Republican race is left with three leading candidates — none of whom offers viable solutions. Trump is a wrecking ball, Cruz is a conservative ideologue, and Rubio tries to be all things to all people.

None addresses the nation and the world as they really are. Rubio promises an aggressively interventionist foreign policy of the kind that gave us more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cruz pledges to double down on failed economic policies — deregulation, tax cuts, tight money — and turn back the clock on social changes such as same-sex marriage. Neither offers much that sounds new or promising.

So it should be no surprise that substantial numbers of Republicans are seduced by Trump, who proposes knocking the house down and starting over. His demagoguery succeeds not just because of his fame and charisma. In sometimes appalling ways, he addresses the hopes and fears of much of the Republican base.

His pledge to build a physical wall along the border with Mexico hits a nerve with white voters worried about the “browning” of the nation. His disparagement of free-trade agreements gives hope to blue-collar workers left behind by the flight of manufacturing jobs. His advocacy of restraint in the deployment of U.S. troops, even with the Middle East in flames, draws nods from war-weary military families and veterans.

And Trump’s diagnosis of what is wrong with our politics — that the politicians are bought and paid for by special interests — is essentially correct. His supporters may disapprove of his extreme rhetoric, some of which is racially tinged, but still appreciate the fact that he is beholden to no one.

Can either Cruz or Rubio stop him? It looks doubtful. Trump’s support in the party may be well short of a majority, but he is far ahead of the others. Cruz’s showing in South Carolina was a disappointment; the evangelical Christian vote, which he desperately needs if he is to stay competitive, went narrowly for Trump. Rubio would seem to have wider appeal and thus be the more potent challenger, but there is no guarantee that he will scoop up all of Bush’s support — or that of Kasich and Carson, assuming they eventually drop out. At least some of those votes will go to Trump. And perhaps most ominously for the others, a majority of Republicans now believe Trump will be the nominee.

If he is, however, his appeal to independents should be limited. The Democratic nominee — and that is likely to be Hillary Clinton, following her decisive win over Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses — would begin the general election campaign with a big advantage.

To be sure, Clinton has exploitable weaknesses — notably the fact that so many voters do not consider her trustworthy. But her long record leaves no doubt that she would be a steady hand in the White House, as opposed to Trump, who would be anything but. Passionate anti-Trump sentiment could boost turnout and give Democrats a sweeping victory.

Such a result would not mean, however, that the Democratic Party has done a significantly better job of responding to new realities than the GOP has. It would just mean that most Americans believe putting someone with Trump’s views and temperament in the White House would be unthinkable.

Sanders’s core message is the same as Trump’s: that the system is rigged to favor the rich and powerful. Trump offers himself as an autocratic strongman; Sanders promises a “political revolution.” Together, they have shown that the establishments of both parties have lost touch with big segments of voters.

Many Americans seem to be questioning the traditional liberal-vs.conservative paradigm. The parties might want to pay attention.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 22, 2016

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: