“Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”: Why Would It Be Offensive For Hillary Clinton To Woo Republican Voters?
Clinton’s reported effort to attract support from Republicans terrified of Donald Trump is a logically sound decision: heck, it’s Political Strategy 101. It is rational for Clinton to try to reach Republicans when one takes into account the two main obstacles she faces in a general election:
1) The likely suppression of large numbers of Democratic votes, thanks to the Supreme Court’s atrocious 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, which effectively struck down the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As a result of that ruling, numerous states instituted restrictive voter ID laws, with the obvious purpose of blocking access to the polls for those who might find the Democratic Party’s message more palatable. No matter what the polls currently say about Trump’s popularity, Shelby County v. Holder gives Trump an advantage heading into November 8.
2) The bombastic “Bernie or Bust” movement, comprised of self-righteous snobs and egomaniacal elitists who regard Clinton as corporate America’s official escort service, and who turn up their noses in disgust at the thought of supporting a member of the so-called “Democratic establishment.” Many of these folks were the same ones who thought Al Gore was morally inferior to Ralph Nader sixteen years ago; they hate the former Secretary of State just as much as they hated the former Vice President.
In light of these political realities, it’s hard to argue against the logic of Clinton attempting to secure Republican support in the general election. If Clinton can siphon away a significant number of Republican votes to offset the number of Democratic votes she will not receive due to voter suppression and the “Bernie or Bust” movement, wouldn’t it be politically irresponsible for her not to do so?
Of course, some of the Republicans Clinton will try to attract will have to set aside 25 years of anti-Clinton propaganda in order to consider her candidacy. Some will find themselves unable to do so, their minds permanently poisoned by the lies of Limbaugh, the falsehoods of Fox and the BS of Breitbart News. However, if significant numbers of Republicans can come to the realization that human-caused climate change is not a hoax, why can’t significant numbers of Republicans come to the realization that Clinton is not, and never has been, corrupt?
I recognize the main argument against Clinton’s reported strategy, i.e., that it’s ridiculous to ask Republicans to put “country first,” so to speak, when they largely failed to do so in every post-Southern Strategy presidential election prior to 2016. However, the counterargument is that Trump is so uniquely ugly–far more loathsome than Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr., McCain and Romney combined–that a potentially large percentage of Republicans are now, at long last, open to seeking alternate political routes.
Some of these Republicans willing to cross the aisle will do so gritting their teeth. Consider this snark-filled endorsement of Clinton by former Maryland GOP official Michael Esteve:
I disagree with Hillary on a whole host of issues. She, too, may likely continue to abuse executive authority to circumvent an uncooperative Congress. She may try to curb Second Amendment rights (not without opposition from the likes of me). She may have repulsive political and personal ties and a dubious relationship with the truth.
But, honest to goodness (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), she’s at least surpassed the emotionality of a child. She doesn’t launch into personal tirades over minor slights, or worse yet, press criticism. She doesn’t shift her foreign policy at the drop of a dime, and form policy based on whatever stream of consciousness she’s in at any given moment. She doesn’t share tabloid stories as fact. She doesn’t scapegoat religious minorities for the nation’s woes. She doesn’t praise foreign dictators for strong leadership. She isn’t, in short, emotionally and politically unbalanced.
It’s also worth pointing out that for a Democrat, Hillary isn’t all wrong on the issues. She believes in a balanced approach to disincentivizing short-term thinking on Wall Street. She’s proposing keeping taxes flat for middle income families. Her foreign policy is neither as cavalier as George Bush’s nor as passive as Barack Obama’s.
For all of his sarcasm, Esteve at least understands that Clinton vs. Trump is rationality vs. radicalism, sagacity vs. savagery, analysis vs. anarchy. He at least understands that America under a Trump presidency will quickly move from democracy to dystopia, a vast wasteland of rampant prejudice and economic decline.
If enough Republicans share Esteve’s views–if enough Republicans recognize that the choice between Clinton and Trump is, in essence, a choice between decency and devastation–then Trump’s concession speech on November 8 will be shorter than Romney’s speech was four years ago.
By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 16, 2016
The other day Hillary Clinton made the kind of pledge that makes waves, but which should not, in all honesty, have to be made at all: “I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America,” she said to Rachel Maddow at MSNBC’s Democratic town hall, “and 50 percent of America is women.” I all but swooned.
Government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people should, by definition and without need for further clarification, represent all the people — though of course, when President Lincoln said those words in the killing fields of Gettysburg, the majority of people living in America (all women, millions of enslaved and free African Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Native Americans) couldn’t even vote. Fulfilling the Constitution’s promise that we will together build “a more perfect union” is clearly an ongoing task.
But okay, here we are. It’s 2016 and a mere 96 years after the 19th Amendment declared that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged… on account of sex,” we have a very real chance of electing a female president. Shirley Chisholm paved the way in 1972, and Clinton herself came pretty close in 2008, but now it really might happen.
To be sure, representation doesn’t require some kind of one-to-one proxy arrangement, and I’ve already argued that feminism doesn’t require a blood oath to candidate Clinton. I’ve felt very well represented by many men in politics — not least President Obama and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin — and rest assured that if the 2016 election had come down to Carly Fiorina and Any Male Democrat, I would have very happily (and with a certain degree of urgency) voted for Any Male Democrat.
Ideally, with no legal obstacles in the way, meritocracy would work as intended and the most qualified people would rise to the top of their respective fields as a matter of course. Easy-peasy, no quotas or sweeping pronouncements necessary. We can see how well that’s worked out for women in business, academia, the legal system, Hollywood, sports, journalism, punditry, and Clinton’s chosen field of endeavor, politics.
In fact, Clinton’s candidacy is its own a cautionary tale against such magical thinking. American women have had the vote for 96 years, and in that near-century of time, there has been a single viable female presidential candidate — not once, but twice. The same woman.
During that near-century, how many women have served in cabinet positions? Writing for The Washington Post, Paul Waldman did the math and the answer is dismal: 29 — eight of them in the last eight years. Alongside 509 men. No woman has ever served as secretary of the treasury or defense.
Humanity will not quietly shed centuries of cultural expectations, social conditioning, and institutional structures (such as, for instance, the rules that until the mid-20th century kept women out of America’s top law schools, which have always served as political launching pads) just because a few good laws are in place and a few nice things are said about equality. Consider that five decades after the Voting Rights Act was passed to ensure African Americans equal access to the most basic right and responsibility of citizenship, the battle to strip that right is once again underway. Human progress is not inexorable — we have to fight for, and then defend, every inch.
Classes of people who have been systematically prevented from participating in the fullness of civic life require more than good laws or good intentions. They require policies and actions that help mitigate the wrong that has been done. Put another way: If the only people in your professional contacts list are straight, white men — you need to start calling people you don’t know.
I would argue that the entire country — men, women, and children; black, brown, and white; straight, gay, and other — would benefit if we were to allow ourselves the wisdom, creativity, and experience of a genuine cross-section of our citizenry. You get a better country! You get a better country! Everybody gets a better country!
But honestly, much as I like sounding like Oprah with the cars, that’s not even my point. My point is that women — some of whom are black; Latina; gay; handicapped; Sikh; Muslim; and every other systematically underrepresented group in this country — have the right to be fully represented in America’s democracy. We are 50 percent of the country. We deserve to have a voice commensurate with our numbers.
And anyway, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did exactly what Clinton is proposing when he took office. When asked why, he shrugged and said: “Because it’s 2015.”
Come on, America, let’s get on it. We’re already a year behind Canada. And I, for one, am sick of waiting.
By: Emily L. Hauser, The Week, April 29, 2016
“People’s Legislative Power”: Arizona’s Nonpartisan Redistricting Plan Is A Slam Dunk At The Supreme Court
In a significant victory for election reform advocates, a unanimous Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s redistricting plan, which had been challenged by Republicans.
The case comes just a year after the Court’s liberals, plus Justice Kennedy, upheld the legitimacy of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which had been created by ballot initiative. That case was controversial, since the Constitution specifically requires districts created “by the legislature” of each state, not by an independently constituted commission. Justice Ginsberg, writing for the Court, said that the “people’s legislative power” was close enough. Not surprisingly, the Court’s more literalist wing was outraged.
It’s perhaps surprising, then, that today’s case, Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, was decided 8-0. On the one hand, the case may represent a consensus on at least some aspects of election law—and is thus very good news for electoral reform activists. On the other hand, since it basically defers to a state decision, it’s not a robust test case.
The facts of the case are straightforward. Despite being independent, the five-person Redistricting Commission is still divided among Democrats, Republicans, and ostensible independents: two, two, and one, respectively, with intricate appointment procedures. In April 2012, the two Democrats and one independent modified three districts, and the two Republicans voted against, arguing that the new plan favored Democrats.
Contrary to what you might expect, however, the Supreme Court has never said that partisan gerrymandering is against the law. If the districts disadvantage minorities, a redistricting plan might violate what’s left of the Voting Rights Act. And if they contain wildly different populations, the plan might violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. But it’s not actually against the law to be craven, manipulative, and duplicitous.
Given that, it’s not surprising that the petitioners lost—though it is surprising that they lost unanimously.
First, while Republicans alleged that the plan was designed to benefit Democrats, there was significant evidence in the record that showed it was actually designed to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act. (The plan was ratified before the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.) In particular, it seems those concerns swayed the one independent member of the commission.
Second, the population deviations in the Arizona plan were around 4 percent. That’s well below the 10 percent threshold the Court has adopted when applying the Equal Protection clause. True, that variation was all on one side—Republican-leading districts were generally more populous than Democrat-leaning ones. But that’s not necessarily illegal, and anyway the variation can be explained by the need for the plan to conform with the Voting Rights Act.
Third, while part of the Voting Rights Act was held unconstitutional in 2013, in Shelby County, that doesn’t corrupt Arizona’s motives in complying with it back in 2012. At the time, the redistricting commission was trying to obey the law, not stack the decks.
Does this unanimous decision represent a new dawn for election reform? Not quite.
To be sure, the unanimity does suggest that the redistricting commission is now a fait accompli. No one dissented, or even wrote a separate concurrence, to protest its existence. One wonders if Justice Scalia might have done so, but Chief Justice Roberts, certainly, is not likely to question one of the Court’s recent precedents; he is particularly committed to the legitimacy of the Court and its decisions. On the contrary, he has now joined an opinion upholding the commission’s decision—and one that tends to favor Democrats.
On the other hand, the thing about unanimous decisions is that they tend to signal, at least retroactively, that these cases were relatively easy ones. They are precisely not the ones that indicate a lot of movement on key issues.
For example, while the Religious Right cheered a religious freedom case decided unanimously by the Supreme Court last year, the reason it was unanimous is that it was an old school, religious-liberty-as-shield-against-the-government case. That case involved a prison inmate wanting to grow a half-inch beard; no third parties were involved, no harm was done, and the prison’s safety rationales were ludicrous. That’s why it was uncontroversial.
While much of the Court may not like the context of the commission’s decision, that question is now settled, and what’s left is a far-fetched constitutional claim against a reasonable, and well-documented, state agency decision.
And, as usual in unanimous decisions, Justice Breyer’s opinion tends toward the minimalistic. No wild statements of law or policy here; this opinion was generated to build consensus, and it did so.
Still, this is a significant step forward for election reform. The Arizona Redistricting Commission is an innovative idea, with an elaborate attempt to minimize partisanship and increase accountability. There were constitutional grumblings last year when the Supreme Court decided “the legislature” could also mean “the people,” but as a matter of policy, the commission is an important model for how to improve the messy, dirty redistricting process. On it rides many hopes of democracy advocates.
And today, it won a ringing endorsement from a unanimous court.
By: Jay Michaelson, The Daily Beast, April 20, 2016
This one’s for John. He’s a reader who took issue with my recent column arguing that conservatism has become an angry and incoherent mess.
John was particularly upset that I described conservatives as resistant to social change. Wrote John:
“[sic] Tell that to the right side of the aisle who signed in the civil rights voting act in 1965. Which party resisted that? … Who resisted the proclamation that freed the slaves? Southern democrat party of course and who was it’s military arm during reconstruction? The KKK. Today that organization is tied into the liberalism more than conservatism. … Your party, the liberals who now call themselves progressives, are the party of Strom thurmond, Robert Byrd, Lester Maddox, George wallace — and … Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.”
Please note what John did there. He responded to a critique of social conservatism by mounting a defense of the Republican Party, as if the two were synonymous. Granted, they are now, but in the eras John mentions? Not so much.
Indeed, when Abraham Lincoln issued that proclamation John is so proud of, it was considered an act not of conservatism, but of radical extremism. And those Republicans who voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were moderates, i.e., the kind of people who have been driven out of a harshly conservative party that now considers moderation apostasy.
The truth, as any first-year history student could tell you, is that Republicans were the more socially liberal party and Democrats the more socially conservative for at least seven decades after Lincoln. But in the years since then, they have essentially swapped ideologies.
The reason John engages in this linguistic shell game, the reason he defends the party that wasn’t attacked instead of the ideology that was, is simple: The ideology is indefensible, at least where civil rights is concerned. You must be a liar, a fool or an ignoramus of Brobdingnagian proportions to suggest social conservatives have ever supported African-American interests.
They didn’t do it a century ago when “conservative” meant Democrats. They don’t do it now.
Sadly for John, pretending otherwise requires him to twist logic like a birthday party clown making balloon animals. How addlepated must you be to see common ground between the segregationist Lester Maddox and civil-rights activist Al Sharpton? How cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs are you when you consider the Ku Klux Klan and Strom Thurmond “liberal”?
And yes, you may think this a lot of energy to lavish on one man. But it isn’t one man. I hear John’s “reasoning” literally a hundred times a year from conservative readers. Indeed, a few weeks ago on CNN, a Donald Trump apologist pimp-slapped reality by branding the Klan a “leftist” group. So John is hardly the only one.
These people must lie about history in order to exonerate conscience. Yet the truth is what the truth is. John need not take my word for what conservative means. Merriam-Webster backs me up. He need not even take my word for the history. A hundred history books back me up.
But honest, grown-up Republicans, assuming there are any left, may want to take my word for this: They cannot achieve their stated goal of a more-welcoming and inclusive party while clinging to an ideology whose entire raison d’etre is exclusion. You see, social conservatism only works for those who have something to lose, those who have an investment in status quo.
I’m reminded of an anecdote about a Howard University professor who visited the Soviet Union in the 1930s. He explained to his hosts that some “Negroes” were politically conservative. They were astonished.
“Why?” asked one. “What do they have to conserve?”
By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald;The National Memo, April 17, 2016
“What Are You Waiting For, Democrats?”: Voter ID Laws Are Having Their Intended Effect. It’s Time To Do Something
The biggest news out of the Wisconsin primary isn’t about the horse race, which is largely unchanged. It’s about the election itself—about how the voting happened. As soon as polls opened in urban centers like Madison and Milwaukee, there were reports of long, almost intolerable waits. Students at universities around the state faced hourslong lines to cast a ballot. Others waited just as long for a chance to change their registration.
The proximate cause of these long lines in urban, student-heavy areas is the state’s new voter identification law backed by the Republican legislature and Gov. Scott Walker. It implements strict new requirements for valid identification that excludes most student IDs (in response, some Wisconsin schools have begun issuing separate identification cards for students to vote) and requires voters without official identification to go through a cumbersome process even if they’ve voted in the past. Writing for the Nation, Ari Berman describes elderly, longtime voters who were blocked from the polls for want of the right papers. “Others blocked from the polls include a man born in a concentration camp in Germany who lost his birth certificate in a fire; a woman who lost use of her hands but could not use her daughter as power of attorney at the DMV; and a 90-year-old veteran of Iwo Jima who could not vote with his veterans ID.”
But this was more than predictable—it was the point. “I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up,” said one Wisconsin Republican congressman, Rep. Glenn Grothman. “And now we have photo ID and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.”
If the urgency of the issue wasn’t obvious, Grothman made it plain. Voter ID laws in Wisconsin and beyond are a direct attack on democracy, an attempt to rig the game by blocking whole groups of Americans from the polls. In what appears to be a strong cycle for their party, Democrats should take what happened in Wisconsin as a siren for action. Restoring democracy and protecting it from these attacks should be at the center of the party’s agenda.
The burden of voter ID laws falls hardest on the marginal members of society, who are predominately nonwhite, elderly, or both. In Wisconsin, 9 percent of registered voters (300,000 people) lack government-issued identification and fall disproportionately under those groups. And while Wisconsin provides voter ID at no cost through its Department of Motor Vehicles, the dirty secret is that this is a difficult and cumbersome process given the extremely limited hours for DMV offices. (Just 31 of Wisconsin’s 92 DMVs hold normal business hours and most are open just twice a week.) And worse, as Berman notes, Republican legislators in the state made no provision for voter education. They also shut down the state board that monitors elections.
Wisconsin isn’t the only place where voting has been hampered by voter identification laws. In Arizona, a similarly strict law—compounded by a Republican-led drive to close voting precincts in heavily populated areas—brought long waits for people who wanted to cast a ballot. As many as 20,000 Americans weren’t able to vote, many of them Latino.
Three years ago, the Supreme Court struck down the “preclearance” provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of discrimination to get the federal government’s permission before making any changes in how they run elections. Since then, Republican legislatures like those in Wisconsin and Arizona have adopted draconian identification laws that stand as meaningful barriers to the right to vote. They act as de facto poll taxes, forcing voters to spend time and money in order to exercise their constitutional rights. Thirty-three states will require voters to show identification at the polls this November, and the likely outcome will be long lines and complications for countless voters.
Beyond the sort of educational measures that Wisconsin didn’t bother with, it’s too late to do anything this year about the spread of voter ID and other barriers. But this should be a wake-up call for Democrats. Unless there’s pushback, these restrictions will become part of the firmament of our elections, effectively disenfranchising those on the margins of American life. For Democrats now and in the future, reversing those laws—and enhancing voter access—has to be a priority. On the national level, both Clinton and Bernie Sanders should tout their plans to restore the Voting Rights Act and build more voter protections. Below that, prospective Democratic governors and state lawmakers should place voter access at the top of their agendas, a first item for incoming administrations. Everything, from automatic registration and mail-in balloting to ending felon disenfranchisement, should be on the table.
This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. If Democrats believe that they benefit from more voters and larger electorates, then they would do well to mimic the Republican approach, but in reverse: Use their power to tilt the playing field toward more access, more participation, and more democracy.
By: Jamelle Bouie, Slate, April 6, 2016