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“We Shouldn’t Wait Until Trump Loses 40 States To Ask”: The Biggest Reason For The GOP’s Black Voter Problem? Apathy

Hey, remember when the GOP said it would try to reach out to black voters?

In the wake of the Republican Party’s crushing loss in 2012, it made a big show of trying to woo black voters. The RNC even hired a bunch of young, smart, black Republicans to work on outreach efforts.

It was a pretty good idea, too, since without its super majorities of the black vote, the Democratic Party becomes uncompetitive nationally. More importantly, though, if you’re living in a country where one political party has a super majority of the white vote and the other a super majority of the black vote, maybe that’s a problem and you should do something about it?

But all of those black Republicans are gone now. And a story in The New Republic by two scholars, Theodore R. Johnson and Leah Wright Rigueur, notes instances of casual racism by state-level GOP grandees towards black staffers.

The reasons why black voters don’t want to vote for the GOP are well known. They aren’t driven so much by policy — spend enough time in an African-American church, and you will hear things said about welfare and crime that would make Newt Gingrich blanch — but by the perception that the GOP doesn’t have black people’s interests at heart.

In a way, this is deeply unfair. The most successful anti-poverty programs of the past 30 years have been the Earned-Income Tax Credit and welfare reform, both Republican efforts. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the EITC lifted 9.4 million people (including five million children) out of poverty and improved the lives of 22 million more. As the scholar Scott Winship points out, the poverty rate basically didn’t change between 1967 and 1993. But after welfare reform, poverty, especially child poverty, plummeted, even as welfare rolls shrank and work was boosted to an unprecedented degree. This is probably why 2008 Barack Obama praised welfare reform, even though he had opposed it at the time.

And perhaps the single biggest obstacle to black empowerment has been bankrupt school bureaucracies supported by teachers’ unions which are a pillar of the Democratic Party. Conservatives have also taken the lead on prison reform.

But in another way, the perception is perfectly accurate. Most Republican elected officials and staffers don’t actually care about the interests of the black community. And it shows in their actions and priorities. This isn’t just about the infamous Southern strategy or any specific policy; it’s about the fact that most Republican officeholders don’t see the black community as an important constituency.

And, of course, there is the case of Donald Trump, whose candidacy is transparently about white identity politics.

America’s growing ethnic diversity isn’t happening without problems, and racial polarization, while perhaps not unavoidable, is also not surprising. And let’s not say the GOP is only to blame. Obama’s deft trolling of the GOP seems almost designed as a kind of “Southern strategy in reverse,” in a context where the Democratic Party needs a high turnout among minorities to win elections yet is running an underwhelming rich, old, white, out of touch candidate. To a much greater extent than the GOP, the Democratic Party’s electoral playbook requires that the electorate be, and remain, polarized along racial lines.

That being said, just because the Democrats are baiting doesn’t mean the GOP should take the bait. And it remains an uncomfortable fact that white identity politics remain attractive to many voters and, therefore, many politicians. Johnson and Rigueur put the GOP’s dilemma very well:

[National Republicans] can’t make explicit appeals to African Americans for fear of alienating segments of their state constituencies already fearful of power diffusion, but they can’t appear to be insensitive to the plight of minorities. As a result, they speak in terms of colorblind policies that purport to help everyone in general and no one in particular. This allows citizens to read into party policies whatever they’d like, which only serves to further racialize the issues and galvanize the electorate. The ambiguity provides cover for the states while leaving the national party both blameless and fully responsible for the continuing gulf between blacks and the party. [The New Republic]

The bottom line is: The reason why black voters don’t want to vote Republican is because Republicans don’t want them to. Not consciously, for most of them. But while almost every Republican would like for more black people to vote Republican, in a world of competing priorities and trade-offs, this one gets left on the cutting-room floor. One basic truth which they teach you in business school — and I’m told Republicans respect business wisdom — is that if you have 10 priorities, you have none.

So, is it a priority, or not? Until the GOP can answer that question, all the talk about “outreach,” and yes, even policy, will be moot. And maybe we shouldn’t wait until Trump loses 40 states to ask it.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel  Gobry, The Week, May 2, 2016

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Black Americans, GOP, White Voters | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Inside Donald Trump’s Secret Policy Shop”: Yet Another Reinvention To Transform From Entertainer To Candidate

In the fall of 2015, Donald Trump had an early attempt at reinvention, releasing a series of tax and veterans administration proposals with the intention of adding some policy substance to the businessman’s rhetoric.

It was one of Trump’s first attempts to transition from entertainer to candidate—a common narrative that has failed to last more than a day or two. In fact, there have been so many reinventions—on so many topics—that it’s hard to know what version of Trump we’re on.

But he has established a pattern: as much as he derides the Washington establishment, if he sees that a reinvention is needed, he’ll find an insider to help him do it. This was the case with the recent hires of longtime D.C. lobbyist Paul Manafort and former Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley.

The veterans and tax plan were no different.

Initially, it was a mystery who wrote the plans that Trump had put out—the only hint was an $82,000 charge for in policy consulting work listed in Trump’s campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission under the name ‘JBC Research, LLC,’—payments which started in the fall and ended in December 2015.

The author, it turns out, is one of the best-known policy and opposition researchers in D.C.

The company has not been associated with any other federal campaigns, and there is nothing specific about it online. The only indication of who JBC Research might be affiliated with was the address listed on the Trump campaign’s filing: the eighth floor of a building just south of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

If you go to the front desk and asks for JBC Research, you’ll be directed to the offices for Delve, a recently-formed opposition research firm founded by GOP operative Jeff Berkowitz, a veteran of the Republican National Committee, the State Department and the George W. Bush White House—not exactly the first person you’d expect to be involved in the Trump campaign.

Berkowitz, according to his LinkedIn page, specializes in “competitive intelligence and opposition research for companies, campaigns and causes.” He worked on a presidential campaign for Rudy Giuliani, who is supporting Trump. He is a longtime activist for conservative and Republican causes stretching back to the 1990s.

But nowhere online or in his LinkedIn page is ‘JBC Research’ listed.

JBC Research is an entity separate from Delve that focuses only on policy work, Berkowitz told The Daily Beast, and JBC Research did not do any opposition research for the Trump campaign.

“Last summer, a mutual associate familiar with our policy analysis capabilities asked us to assist in developing policy papers connecting the campaign’s vision with tried and true conservative policy proposals on tax reform, economic growth, and support for our veterans,” Berkowitz said. “We’re happy to have assisted in developing these specific proposals, as we have done for any number of center-right campaigns and clients.”

Their work for the Trump campaign finished in October, with payments through December 2015—and no further work was done or requested, Berkowitz said.

This week Trump is trying yet another reinvention, with a series of speeches intended to demonstrate his intellectual fitness for office, starting with a foreign policy talk Wednesday. That’s an attempt to reboot after he announced a roster of foreign policy advisers in March who were mostly unknown in national security circles—including one who listed the questionable credential of participating in a model United National conference on his LinkedIn page.

Odds are that he’ll have paid for, and will do his best Wednesday to sound like, the Beltway experts he so often likes to bash—at least when he’s not paying to tap their ideas.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“On Tax Deductions, Sanders Is No Hypocrite”: Conservatives Confused About How Hypocrisy Works On A Conceptual Level

When Bernie Sanders said his tax returns would turn out to be pretty boring, he wasn’t kidding. After a bit of a delay, the senator’s campaign released his 2014 returns last Friday night, and as expected, there wasn’t much in there of interest.

At least, that’s what I thought. National Review published a piece this week making hay of the senator’s deductions.

Sanders released his 2014 tax return this weekend, revealing that he and his wife took $60,208 in deductions from their taxable income. These deductions are all perfectly legal and permitted under the U.S. tax code, but they present a morally inconvenient, if delicious, irony: The Democratic socialist from Vermont, a man who rages against high earners paying a lower effective tax rate than blue-collar workers, saved himself thousands using many of the tricks that would be banned under his own tax plan. […]

What Sanders did, using every option and advantage available under a Byzantine tax code to minimize his tax payment, is a normal practice for many Americans. But it’s also exactly what the targets of his anger do. You can argue about whether or not that’s greed, but it’s impossible to argue that it isn’t hypocrisy. The paragon of liberal purity is not as pure as he’d like the world to believe.

Actually, it’s quite possible to argue that this isn’t hypocrisy, because, well, that’s not what hypocrisy means.

Current tax laws allow Americans to take a variety of deductions, and Sanders followed the laws as they’re written. Does Sanders hope to change the laws related to deductions? He absolutely does, even if that means he and his family have to pay more. But those changes haven’t yet happened, so the senator continues to do what he’s permitted to do.

As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum put it, “If you don’t like the designated hitter rule in baseball, does that mean you should send your pitcher to the plate just to prove how sincere you are? Of course not. You play by the rules, whatever those rules are.”

All of which leads me to an ongoing point of concern. When I argue that many conservatives don’t seem to understand what hypocrisy means, I’m not being coy or snarky. I mean it quite literally: some on the right throw around accusations about various figures on the left being hypocrites in a way that suggests they’re genuinely confused about how hypocrisy works on a conceptual level.

A few years ago, for example, President Obama attended a fundraiser with some wealthy donors. The Republican National Committee insisted it was “the definition of hypocrisy” for the president to “run against” the wealthy while seeking campaign contributions from wealthy contributors.

The trouble, of course, is that this wasn’t even close to the “the definition of hypocrisy.” Having a policy agenda that asks more from the very wealthy does not preclude seeking contributions from those who also support that agenda, including accepting donations from the very wealthy.

Last year, Hillary Clinton was accused of being “hypocritical” for criticizing the existing campaign-finance system, even while raising money within that system. But again, that’s not what “hypocrisy” means – there is no contradiction when a candidate plays by the rules while hoping to someday change those rules.

Circling back to an old post, hypocrisy in politics is not uncommon, and it’s worth calling out once it’s uncovered. But can we try to separate legitimate instances of hypocrisy and stuff that looks kind of funny if you don’t give it a lot of thought? They are two very different things.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Conservatives, Hillary Clinton, Tax Code | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Here’s A Shocker”: Republican Voters Really Don’t Care For The Idea Of Party Elites Picking The Nominee

It’s understandable that everybody’s absorbed with figuring out the various ways Republican Party elites could find to screw Donald Trump and/or Ted Cruz out of the presidential nomination and impose on the GOP a candidate more to their — and general-election voters’ — liking. After all, the whole “contested convention” thing is pretty novel, as is the white-hot antipathy of so many prominent Republicans to their party’s most likely nominee in a year when they thought they were going to have a downhill path to the White House.

What most of this speculation ignores is the growing evidence that actual Republican voters would not take too kindly to being shoved out of the decision-making process for a nominee. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points to two emphatic data points:

A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds that 63 percent of Republican voters nationwide think that the winner of the most delegates should get the GOP nomination, even if he does not win an outright majority. Only 33 percent say the delegates at a contested convention should pick the nominee instead …

  [A] CNN poll earlier this week … found that by 60-38, Republican voters think the candidate with the most delegates should get the nomination, even without a majority.

As Sargent notes, both polls also showed Trump losing to Hillary Clinton in a general election, which will be the party elites’ excuse for taking over the nomination process if they can — and if they dare.

But they could be courting disaster if they do so. An even more emphatic indicator of rank-and-file antipathy to a bossed convention comes from a HuffPost/YouGov survey, which shows only 16 percent of self-identified Republicans and leaners being “satisfied” with a nominee chosen from outside the current field, while the idea makes 55 percent angry. The second-worst idea, respondents to the survey say, would be to nominate John Kasich, the closest thing to an acceptable-to-the-Establishment candidate left in the field and the brandisher of many a general-election poll. Seems Republicans who keep passing up opportunities to vote for Kasich may mean it.

There is, of course, more than a little irony in the insistence of Republican voters on intra-party democracy. This is, after all, the party that’s busy creating potholes in the path to the ballot box anywhere it can. And you could make the argument that latter-day “constitutional conservatism” is all about creating iron-clad protections for conservative governing models (and the interests that benefit from them) against popular majorities acting through Congress or the presidency to enact progressive policies. There’s very significant support among conservative activists for repealing the 17th Amendment to take away direct election of U.S. senators in favor of returning the privilege to state legislators.

In that context, this sort of opinion expressed by North Dakota RNC member Curly Haugland isn’t so surprising:

“Do the primaries choose a nominee or do the convention delegates?” he asked. “It can’t be both.” “Democracy is pretty popular,” he added, “but it’s simply not the way we do it.”

I suspect party leaders like Haugland are in the process of finding out that Republicans want democracy for themselves even if they are occasionally willing to deny it to those people who are presumed to want to live off the hard work of virtuous older white people, or murder their own babies, or force bakers of conscience to create same-sex-wedding cakes. And a “brokered convention” that ignores this sentiment may soon find those sunny general-election polls showing some non-Trump or non-Cruz candidate winning may be premature.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Voters, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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