Democracy Must Be Resistant to the Coronavirus

Washington DC
The skyline of Washington DC at dawn (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

In a crisis, calls to do something, quickly, can be hard to resist. Politicians must still try.

On both sides of the Atlantic, governments are planning some of the largest peacetime interventions in the private economy to cope with the outbreak of coronavirus disease.

  • Familiar battle lines have been drawn in Europe, where conservative northern countries, led by Germany and the Netherlands, hesitate to free up EU funds for the crisis.
  • The roles are reversed in America, where once fiscally prudent Republicans are trying to rush through a stimulus twice the size of Barack Obama’s, and Democrats, who traditionally support a larger role for government, are stepping on the brakes.

The stallers are not unreasonable. We can take a few days to debate how to spend trillions of euros and dollars. Read more “Democracy Must Be Resistant to the Coronavirus”

Lockdown in Barcelona

Barcelona Spain
The Sagrada Família seen through two of the smokestacks of Les Tres Xemeneies in Barcelona, Spain, March 10 (Luke Strange)

I haven’t blogged much recently. What little news there is other than the coronavirus outbreak seems rather less important. Since I’m by no means an expert on pandemics, I don’t have a lot to write.

I can tell you what’s happening here in Barcelona. Read more “Lockdown in Barcelona”

Biden Is Not a Centrist

Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

Media reports commonly describe American presidential candidate Joe Biden as a “centrist”. He’s not.

Michael Bloomberg is a centrist. Biden may be moderate compared to his Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. But compared to the more likely alternative, Donald Trump, Biden is decidedly center-left.

This is not just semantics. If a centrist wins the Democratic nomination, some of Sanders’ supporters may be reluctant to vote for him. A center-left candidate, which Biden is, deserves their support. Read more “Biden Is Not a Centrist”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Joe Biden is now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

  • Delegates: Biden has won 642 pledged delegates against 566 for Bernie Sanders so far. 1,991 are needed to win the nomination outright.
  • States: Biden won ten of the fourteen states that held primaries on “Super Tuesday” and he is polling in first place in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, which vote next Tuesday. Sanders is ahead in Washington state.
  • Popular support: Biden’s national support has shot up from under 20 percent to an average of 34 percent since he won the South Carolina primary a week ago.
  • Party support: Sixty more prominent Democrats have endorsed Biden in the wake of his South Carolina victory.
  • Competitors: All other major candidates have quit, most recently Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Sanders Claims He Can Raise Turnout. He Hasn’t So Far

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, October 30, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Bernie Sanders argues he can defeat Donald Trump by convincing more Americans to vote. A self-declared socialist may lose some swing voters by campaigning on nationalizing health insurance and raising middle-class taxes, but he can make up for it, Sanders argues, by mobilizing young and working voters.

It’s always seemed unwise to me to bet on potential voters rather than actual voters. Now that skepticism has been substantiated. Read more “Sanders Claims He Can Raise Turnout. He Hasn’t So Far”

Why Democrats Are Scared of Sanders

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Brooklyn, New York, April 8, 2016 (Timothy Krause)

Why is the Democratic Party establishment in the United States scared of Bernie Sanders? Polls suggest the socialist from Vermont would do about as well against Donald Trump in a general election as his rival, Joe Biden.

I suspect there are three reasons:

  1. Democrats don’t trust the polls.
  2. They worry that, even if Sanders might defeat Trump, he would hurt down-ballot Democrats.
  3. They don’t want their party to be taken over by an outsider, like the Republican Party was in 2016. Read more “Why Democrats Are Scared of Sanders”

Democrats Don’t Have to Take Sanders’ Delegate Complaints Seriously

Democratic National Convention
Delegates listen to a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016 (DNCC/Chris Frommann)

The New York Times asked 93 of the 771 Democratic Party officials who will be automatically seated at the convention in July — the so-called “superdelegates” — if they would vote for Bernie Sanders if the socialist emerged with a plurality, but not a majority, of the pledged delegates.

Only nine said they would.

Sanders’ supporters are predictably up in arms, arguing the party “establishment” is conspiring to overturn “the will of the people”.

Some are threatening to sit out the election in November if their man doesn’t prevail.

Imagine being so safe and comfortable that you could stomach another four years of children being separated from their parents at the border and killed in detention, American citizens of color being harassed by immigration authorities, institutions being demolished, the rule of law turned into a dead letter and the liberal world order torn to shreds in the service of Vladimir Putin if the only alternative is voting for your second-best candidate. I’m not terribly well-versed in the rhetoric of the social-justice left, but I believe this is what they call “privilege”? Read more “Democrats Don’t Have to Take Sanders’ Delegate Complaints Seriously”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)
  • Joe Biden has risen in the South Carolina polls seemingly at the expense of the other center-left candidates.
  • Biden has also taken a commanding lead in the endorsement primary, most recently winning the support of South Carolina’s most prominent Democrat: Congressman James Clyburn.
  • Bernie Sanders has far less support from party officials, but he has won the endorsement of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, himself briefly a 2020 hopeful.
  • Biden needs a win in South Carolina, where one in six Democratic voters are black, to breathe new life into his campaign.
  • Sanders is wildly popular in California, the largest state to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, but Biden leads in the few polls that have been conducted in Florida and Georgia. In North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Sanders are neck and neck.
  • Bloomberg won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

A Better Way for Democrats to Elect Their Presidential Candidate

Bill De Blasio Tim Ryan Julián Castro Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren
New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julián Castro, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019 (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Democrats in the United States need to rethink how they elect their presidential nominees.

The problem with the current system is not just that two of the first four contests are caucuses, in which few voters can and want to participate; the first two states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are so rural and white that they hardly represent the Democratic electorate nationwide.

Iowa’s Democrats needed days to tabulate their votes this year, undermining confidence in the process. Nevada’s did better, but they still needed a full day to incorporate the results of four days of early ranked-choice voting into the outcome of the in-person caucuses.

The result: talented politicians of color, notably Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, felt they had to end their presidential bids before the first votes were even cast. Center-left candidates with little chance of winning the nomination, such Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, did reasonably well in Iowa and New Hampshire and are now making it harder for more viable moderates to break out.

By the time eighteen states and territories will have voted next week, on Super Tuesday, and 1,499 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination will have been allocated, the socialist Bernie Sanders, the top choice of one in four Democrats nationally, could be close to unbeatable.

Surely there is a better way? Read more “A Better Way for Democrats to Elect Their Presidential Candidate”