America’s 2020 election

2020-02-04

in Politics

Now that it seems virtually certain that the US senate will acquit Donald Trump the key question about resisting him effectively is who the Democrats could nominate to beat him in November.

There are passionate arguments in favour of both a progressive and a moderate. William Saletan at Slate argues that being able to run against Bernie Sanders and socialism is just what Trump wants: enough Americans are or can be made fearful enough of socialism to give him a path to victory. On the other side are those who argue that a moderate candidate like Joe Biden has the best chance of winning, even if there may be less reason to hope that such an administration will make big positive changes. Of course, there are also those who argue that a progressive candidate will be so out of step with congress that even if they win they will spend their term getting blocked from implementing all their big ideas.

What’s happening in the US is frightening. Republicans have proved terrifyingly willing to back an incompetent president who aspires to authoritarianism, and America’s checks and balances have somewhat hampered but not really impeded his agenda. Republicans seem to have made the cynical calculation that supporting Trump can get them what they care about – whether that’s gun rights, conservative judges, uncritical support for Israel or whatever else – and that the steamroll strategy which blocked Obama’s last supreme court nominee can help them keep winning. At the same time, relatively mainstream Republicans perceive the intense emotions of Trump supporters and fear what will happen to them if they openly break ranks.

It’s a mark of the decay of US politics that it was ever possible for Trump to be nominated and elected. It’s even more disturbing that his contempt for the law has now been ratified by the senate and chief justice. Virtually anybody would be better and might have some chance to start repairing the damage, but it’s also quite possible the Democrats will elect someone whose flaws are sufficient to let Trump win again. If so, we can expect a second term to be a further erosion of the supports which maintain America as a free and democratic society.

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. February 5, 2020 at 12:02 am

What to expect as the Trump impeachment drama draws to a close

As the impeachment drama skids to a close, Republicans and Democrats alike turn their attention to the Iowa primary, the State of The Union speech and the 2020 Presidential campaign. But the echos of the trial seem likely to linger, says The Nation’s National Correspondent Jeet Heer.

. February 5, 2020 at 2:13 am

When Iran Took Americans Hostage, Bernie Backed Iran’s Defenders

As Democrat Socialists condemned Khomeini’s hostage taking, Sanders stood with a communist party that condemned “Carter’s war drive against the Iranian people.”

. February 5, 2020 at 2:36 am

‘Try to stop me’ – the mantra of our leaders who are now ruling with impunity

Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, Johnson. Across the world, flouting the law has become normalised. We have to stop it

. February 26, 2020 at 8:16 pm

A Bernie Sanders presidency could be a nightmare for Saudi Arabia | Saudi Arabia | Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia spent $18bn on US weapons in 2017, has nearly doubled its ownership of US government debt under Trump to just under $180bn, and is now the biggest source of capital for US startups. It could threaten to shift its resources to China and Russia, among other places.

. March 24, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Trump has improved his numbers with the evangelical Christians, Tea Party supporters, and observant Catholics who make up the core of his Republican Party, but it is a diminished party. The percentage of people identifying as Republican since Trump took office has dropped from 39 to 36 percent, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Trump has pushed moderates out of the party, and those moderates are changing their voting patterns accordingly. Fully 5 percent of the voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary had previously voted in the state’s Republican primary. In Michigan, Republican strategists tried to make sense of the 56 percent increase in Democratic turnout in Livingston County, a white, college-educated, upper-class community that Trump won by 30 points. Republicans are shedding voters.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/the-democrats-dont-understand-their-own-strength/608611/

. March 30, 2020 at 12:05 pm

According to our analysis of states that have reported, as well as estimates for California, Mr Biden now has roughly 671 of the 1,991 delegates he would need for the nomination. Mr Sanders has 589. (Ms Warren, with only 89, dropped out of the race on Thursday). That leaves plenty of room for doubt about which septuagenarian will prevail. Yet Mr Biden has demonstrated his advantage. While Mr Sanders mainly won votes from his usual fanbase—made up of white lefties, young voters and Hispanics—the former veep drew support from across the party. For example, he also did well in the sorts of affluent, mostly white suburbs that gave Democrats their House majority in 2018 and where they would need to win again to defeat Mr Trump in November. In Virginia, for example, where he beat Mr Sanders by 30 points, he ran up sizeable margins in both the heavily black Tidewater region and in the diverse, highly educated suburbs of Washington, dc.

. June 24, 2020 at 1:28 am

Unfortunately for Trump, his chances of getting to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win a second term are looking, at least the moment, quite dim.

Over the past week, two major political prognosticators — Amy Walter at the Cook Political Report and Nate Silver of 538 — have released updated looks at the electoral map. And the picture they paint for Trump is dire.

“With just under five months until the election, President Trump is a severe underdog for re-election,” writes Walter, who puts 248 electoral votes solidly or leaning to Biden and 204 solidly or leaning to Trump.

Adds Walter:

“To win the Electoral College, Biden would need to win just 26 percent of those Toss Up states/districts, while Trump would need to win over 75 percent of them. In other words, Trump has little room for error, while Biden has a wider path to winning.”

Silver’s analysis is similar.

“Overall — assuming that states that haven’t been polled go the same way as they did in 2016 — Biden leads in states worth 368 electoral votes, while Trump leads in states totaling 170 electoral votes,” he writes.

. June 26, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Trump Suggests Navy Sent $5 Billion to Wisconsin Firm to Help Him Win Election

IN WHAT SOUNDED like a confession that his administration is corruptly using federal funds to boost his re-election campaign, President Donald Trump told workers at a shipyard in Wisconsin on Thursday that “one of the big factors” in the Navy awarding a $5.5 billion contract to their firm was, “your location in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth.”

The president’s startling admission came as he veered off-script during a speech to employees of Fincantieri Marinette Marine, the firm chosen by the Navy on April 30 to build 10 new guided-missile frigates for its FFG(X) program. The Wisconsin firm was chosen over rivals that build ships in Alabama, Mississippi and Maine — three states that are far less important in the electoral college.

. June 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm

In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.

The calls caused former top Trump deputies — including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials — to conclude that the President was often “delusional,” as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.

. June 29, 2020 at 8:13 pm

The idea that his loss is so certain that he might drop out of the race, while still a very long long shot, is ever so gently bubbling up out of the netherworld from which “buzz” is born. Things don’t always happen for entirely linear, logical reasons. Sometimes someone just says something, and then someone else picks it up, and eventually the idea has so much “momentum” that people in charge think they need to do something about it, just because everyone else is doing it, and all of a sudden you can’t find a plastic straw anywhere even though banning them has only a negligible effect on the environment. (A recent political example of this is when Democrats delayed the start of Trump’s impeachment trial for several weeks for no other reason than a law professor suggested it and it seemed like a good idea.) On Friday, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough speculated that Trump might drop out of the presidential race if he didn’t think he could win; over the weekend, Fox Business macho man Charles Gasparino reported that anonymous “GOP operatives” were discussing the possibility too. At this stage, all that we have are wisps of hypotheticals chasing themselves in a circle, but if the polls continue to be bad, and the rallies empty, and the news cycles gruesome, more pundits will start talking about Trump dropping out, and more Republican donors will worry if they should spend their money on a lost cause, and more Republican politicians will wonder if the MAGA brand is the right fit for their future ambitions.

. July 8, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Trump has a plan to stay in the White House if he loses election, former senator says

Tim Wirth shares theory on how Trump can stay in White House after election loss

. July 8, 2020 at 3:25 pm
. July 9, 2020 at 1:42 am
. July 14, 2020 at 4:20 pm
. July 30, 2020 at 3:30 am

Elizabeth Warren calls on agency chiefs to commit to not deploying federal forces on Americans should Trump not leave office – CNNPolitics

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/28/politics/warren-letter-agencies-federal-forces-protesters-trump/index.html

. July 30, 2020 at 6:01 pm

How Donald Trump Could Steal the Election – The Atlantic

The danger begins with the fact that, regardless of what people believe, the Constitution does not give Americans the right to vote for their president. Rather, the Constitution says that a college of electors votes for the president, and Article II of the Constitution gives states nearly unlimited power to decide how these electors are chosen. In the early years of the American republic, many state legislatures decided which presidential candidate the state’s electors would support. South Carolina used this method until 1868. Today, all 50 states grant their residents the right to vote for president, and the people’s vote determines which electors from each state will select the next president. However, any state could change its law and instead allow its legislature to decide which electors will choose the next president.

. July 31, 2020 at 11:13 pm

McConnell signal to Republican Senate candidates: Distance from Trump if necessary – CNNPolitics

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/31/politics/senate-mcconnell-trump-firewall/index.html

. August 2, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Polls show Biden leading, but these swing voters favor Trump

Polls show a widening lead for former Vice President Joe Biden, even in traditional swing states; but in focus groups among actual swing voters, it seems President Donald Trump still holds sway.

. August 12, 2020 at 8:57 pm

“Ultimately, every day that Trump stubbornly refuses to change course [on the coronavirus pandemic] is another day that it becomes increasingly likely he may not only tank his own re-election bid but could be on a kamikaze mission to take the Republican-held Senate down with him. At this point, a net gain of five to seven seats for Democrats looks far more probable than the one to three seat gain that would leave them shy of a majority.”

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/12/politics/2020-senate-control-democrats-gop/index.html

. August 12, 2020 at 10:51 pm

Facilitating the smoothest possible transition—if one should happen in January 2021—is of paramount national importance, particularly at a time of ongoing upheaval at home and abroad. If elected, Joe Biden would face the extraordinary challenge of seizing the reins of government amid the triple crises of a global pandemic, an economic collapse, and a national reckoning over racial justice, and his effectiveness in managing these would redound to the entire nation’s benefit. Yet there is ample reason to worry that the outgoing Trump administration will disregard the laws and the norms that are supposed to govern the transition period. Without question, a stolen election or a refusal to accept electoral results is the nightmare scenario. But well short of a constitutional crisis, the Trump administration can nevertheless hobble the incoming Biden team and endanger the nation with a scuttled transition process.

Biden may also face an outgoing administration that hinders his efforts, whether because of incompetence or malign intent. Planning, coordination, and information-sharing across government agencies and functions are vital to a successful transition. With an administration that remains dramatically understaffed, senior Trump officials may simply lack the bandwidth to reach into their bureaucracies to collect data on personnel and policy, collate it in neat binders, and brief its contents to successors. If the president is not reelected, and especially if he behaves as a sore loser, some of his appointees may begin shirking their responsibilities as they start searching for new opportunities and lose interest in fighting for a lame-duck agenda.

The risk of information loss is particularly acute for matters of national security—an area where the president’s pique toward the intelligence community and the so-called deep state might make him particularly resistant to cooperation. Ths is a concern prior to the election, when major-party candidates usually begin to receive horizon-scanning classified briefings on global events after their nominating conventions—and all the more so if Biden wins, as postelection briefings typically delve into sensitive national secrets such as planned military operations or covert actions, particular threats, and diplomatic secrets. Unlike the formal transition planning process, the content of intelligence briefings to presidential candidates and presidents-elect is discretionary, not legislatively mandated, creating considerable latitude for dangerous omissions.

Imagining more extreme forms of sabotage is also possible. Even as a lame duck, President Trump will remain the commander in chief until Biden takes the oath of office on January 20, 2021. Already, the Trump team is reportedly working to lock in its foreign-policy priorities by killing the Iran nuclear deal, pushing through troop withdrawals from Germany, and levying new rounds of tariffs and tech restrictions; after the election, the president could undertake more dramatic moves, such as announcing an intent to leave NATO or ordering all combat troops to depart Afghanistan. Though improbable, Trump could defy the norm of consultation with the president-elect and lead the nation into conflict with a foreign adversary such as Iran—or decline to act when faced with an imminent domestic or global threat. Even if Biden immediately reversed or denounced such eleventh-hour maneuvers, the policy whiplash would undermine America’s already-damaged credibility as an ally and an adversary.

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