Time for Sanders’ Opponents to Put Their Heads Together

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

After the New Hampshire primary, I argued it was too soon for center-left Democrats to panic about a possible Bernie Sanders nomination. Now that it looks like the self-described socialist will walk away with at least half of Nevada’s delegates, it’s time for his opponents to worry.

Unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t award their delegates to whoever receives the most votes in a given state. So there is little risk of Sanders winning a majority of the delegates to the national convention in July against two or three opponents, like Donald Trump was able to prevail with 45 percent support against Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio in 2016.

However, if more candidates split the anti-Sanders vote, each would struggle to meet the 15 percent support required to qualify for delegates. Under those circumstances, Sanders could win a majority. Read more “Time for Sanders’ Opponents to Put Their Heads Together”

Democratic Primary News

Michael Bloomberg
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg attends a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 10, 2019 (Mike Bloomberg 2020)
  • Bernie Sanders is now faraway the frontrunner with recent polls giving him 27 to 32 percent support nationally. Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg are vying for second place with an average of 16-18 percent support each.
  • Sanders also leads in the few polls that have been taken in Nevada, where Democrats caucus on Saturday.
  • Biden is still ahead in the endorsement primary, winning nine more endorsements from prominent Democrats this month, but Bloomberg is catching up fast, with twenty endorsements in February.
  • Bloomberg is also making inroads with black voters. He has been endorsed by three members of the Congressional Black Caucus. A Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) gives the former New York mayor 22 percent support from African Americans, trailing only Biden, who has 27 percent.
  • Bloomberg is spending more money on television commercials than all the other candidates combined.
  • Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang have ended their presidential bids after failing to qualify for delegates in New Hampshire. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Dutch Senate Could Torpedo EU-Canada Trade Deal

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, June 13, 2018 (European Parliament/Genevieve Engel)

Dutch parliamentarians narrowly approved an EU trade agreement with Canada on Tuesday, but ratification of the treaty faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling parties do not have a majority.

If the pact isn’t supported by the Netherlands — one of the EU’s most liberal and free-trading nations — it would be a serious blow to the bloc’s ambition to uphold the global trade regime in lieu of American leadership.

Since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the EU has completed free-trade agreements with Japan and South America. The first went into effect in 2019, the second has yet to be ratified. Read more “Dutch Senate Could Torpedo EU-Canada Trade Deal”

Labour Leadership Election News

Keir Starmer Jeremy Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn chairs a meeting in London flanked by Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, April 3, 2019 (PA/Stefan Rousseau)
  • Lisa Nandy has won the endorsement of the Jewish Labour Movement, one of the party’s largest affiliated socialist societies.
  • Keir Starmer has been endorsed by most affiliated groups and trade unions, most recently the TSSA transport union.
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey, the most left-wing candidate who is seen as outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ideological successor, has also qualified for the third and final voting round by members.
  • Emily Thornberry fell short. Read more “Labour Leadership Election News”

How Alike Are Corbyn and Sanders?

Britain’s Labour Party suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1935 in December, because it chose to be led by a far-left extremist.

Center-left Democrats in the United States worry their party is about to make the same mistake. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist from Vermont, won the most votes in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and now places first in national polls. (Although he has yet to get more than 26 percent support.)

James Carville, the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory, warned Democrats this week: “if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it’s going to be the end of days.”

Andrew Sullivan, a British-born conservative commentator, believes a Republican campaign against Sanders would be brutal:

He’s a man … who sided with a Marxist-Leninist party that supported Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis in 1979. He loved the monstrous dictator Fidel Castro and took his 1988 honeymoon in the Soviet Union, no less, where he openly and publicly criticized his own country and praised many aspects of the Soviet system.

On the other hand, Sullivan points out Corbyn had a net favorability rating of -40. Sanders is only at -3. Most polls show him beating Donald Trump with between 2 and 8 points.

Corbyn and Sanders are not the same — but they are not completely dissimilar either. There are differences in policy, but worrying similarities in strategy. Read more “How Alike Are Corbyn and Sanders?”

What Is a Brokered Convention? Could It Happen?

Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 30, 2012 (Think Out Loud)

It’s every political junkie’s dream: a contested convention. When no American presidential candidate wins a majority of the delegates in state-by-state contests before the party’s convention in the summer, the assembly — normally stage-managed for television — will have to go through as many voting rounds as it takes to elect a nominee. Imagine the theater!

It hasn’t happened in almost seventy years, and for good reason.

The last time Democrats needed to “broker” their convention was in 1952. The last time Republicans had one was in 1948. At both times, the parties went on to lose the general election. The spectacle of a party struggling to find a presidential candidate doesn’t inspire much confidence in voters that they’ve made the right choice.

Could the same happen to Democrats this year? Read more “What Is a Brokered Convention? Could It Happen?”

Trump Attacks the Rule of Law

Caudillo Donald Trump
The “Yankee caudillo” Donald Trump (The Washington Post)

When Donald Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2017 — before the court even had a chance to sentence him for contempt — it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”

Now we know just how far Trump is willing to take America down the path of a banana republic. Read more “Trump Attacks the Rule of Law”

Panic About Sanders Is Premature

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Having placed first in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders can expect stronger opposition from moderate Democrats who fear he would lose to Donald Trump. There are already calls to unite behind a single, center-left presidential candidate. Those calls will grow leader.

This overlearns the lesson of 2016. Trump was able to win the Republican nomination that year with plurality support against several center-right candidates. But most Republican contests are winner-takes-all. The Democrats award their delegates — who will elect the nominee at a convention in July — proportionally. If several centrist and center-left candidates remain in the race, the most likely outcome is not a Sanders nomination but a brokered convention, where the moderates would need to join forces. Read more “Panic About Sanders Is Premature”

Kramp-Karrenbauer Quits, Throwing Race to Succeed Merkel Wide Open

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer of Saarland attends a session of the Bundesrat in Berlin, Germany, July 10, 2015 (Bundesrat/Henning Schacht)

Angela Merkel’s heir apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has unexpectedly quit, throwing the race to succeed the German chancellor wide open.

Kramp-Karrenbauer is stepping down as leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a position she has held since 2018. She will remain as defense minister.

Merkel elevated Kramp-Karrenbauer from the prime ministership of Saarland, on the border with France, to national politics in order to prepare her for a run in 2021. Although Kramp-Karrenbauer is socially more conservative than Merkel (she opposed marriage equality), she was seen as likely to defend the chancellor’s centrist legacy.

Merkel has said she will not serve a fifth term. Read more “Kramp-Karrenbauer Quits, Throwing Race to Succeed Merkel Wide Open”

Judicial Reforms Create Parallel Legal System in Poland

Mateusz Morawiecki
Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki gives a speech at the Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw, April 11, 2019 (KPRM/Adam Guz)

Poland’s ruling conservative party’s obsession with bending the legal system to its will is creating what the Financial Times calls a parallel legal system: one set of judges are loyal to Małgorzata Gersdorf’s still-independent Supreme Court while another obey the government-friendly Constitutional Tribunal. Read more “Judicial Reforms Create Parallel Legal System in Poland”