Your Third-Party Statement Is Not Worth Trump

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton talks to voters in Iowa, November 22
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton talks to voters in Iowa, November 22 (Hillary for America/Adam Schultz)

Voting is an exercise in compromise: Any winner has to get the most votes — i.e., the “first past the post” system. I may believe my old professor, my local police captain, my boss or my well-read uncle would make the best officeholder in any particular election. But writing them in would be useless, since no one gets into office on the strength of one vote.

First past the post means that in the majority of American elections, only two candidates stand a plausible chance of winning: the Democrat and the Republican.

Does this limit our options? Of course. But a better system doesn’t (yet) exist, which means that when you vote for a third party, you abdicate your right to affect the outcome.

Third parties will tell you that viability isn’t the point. Voting for them sends an unfiltered, uncompromised message that your views are not represented by Democrats or Republicans. Instinctively, that makes sense. Who’s to tell you to vote against your conscience? And if both candidates are equally objectionable, is there harm done if withholding your support from one helps elect the other? Read more “Your Third-Party Statement Is Not Worth Trump”

Unloved Clinton Would Defeat Despised Trump

Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton prepares to make a speech in Boston, Massachusetts, February 29
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton prepares to make a speech in Boston, Massachusetts, February 29 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)

Whatever else can be said about the relative virtues of the two Democratic candidates running in the presidential primary election, the party should consider itself fortunate that the Republicans are about to nominate Donald Trump.

HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates favorability polls to provide a more holistic outlook, has Clinton’s favorability rating at -12.7. Trump’s net favorability is at -29.5.

Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders, by comparison, enjoys a net favorability of +11.1, alone among all candidates but John Kasich in being in positive territory.

According to CBS, both Clinton and Trump are viewed more unfavorably than any major-party frontrunner in polling history. Read more “Unloved Clinton Would Defeat Despised Trump”

Michigan Primary Suggests Sanders Has a Chance

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

The outcome of the Michigan Democratic presidential primary suggests Bernie Sanders might have a chance after all.

Although the Vermont senator did not win Michigan by a large margin, overcoming media expectations as he did on Tuesday night stands to give him the same “buzz” that a landslide would have.

How did Sanders manage it? Read more “Michigan Primary Suggests Sanders Has a Chance”

John Kerry: From Swiftboating to Swift Confirmation

Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, October 21, 2009
Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, October 21, 2009 (White House/Pete Souza)

John Kerry’s ascension to the position of secretary of state isn’t just the culmination of one’s man career in public service. The successful nomination to this post of the man who went down to defeat against President George W. Bush in 2004, who many expected could lose his reelection at the time, is a reversal of fortune few could have anticipated eight years ago.

Kerry’s fast confirmation to the position he now holds, with the near universal support of Republicans who have not been in the business of supporting President Barack Obama, is not only a reflection of his own qualifications and expertise. It’s indicative of a sea change in American politics since the 2004 election and an admission from the right that the Kerry worldview was right all along.

Yet the anti-war crowd wasn’t always so ascendant. Read more “John Kerry: From Swiftboating to Swift Confirmation”

Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!

View of Las Vegas, Nevada
View of Las Vegas, Nevada (Shutterstock/Andrey Bayda)

Often forgotten amid the larger, classic swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the American West is finding itself in a new position of prominence in the 2012 election and will likely retain that prominence as the country’s demographics shift in the Democrats’ favor over the coming years.

With the Midwest probably in President Barack Obama’s column and the entirety of the South probably in Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s (with the possible exception of Virginia), Tuesday’s election may come down to three states in the Rocky Mountains that all went for Obama in 2008, George W. Bush in 2004 and split between Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

The region was uncompetitive for Democrats in 2000, with the exception of New Mexico which Al Gore won by a mere five hundred votes that year. In 2004, the region was one of John Kerry’s many “backup” paths to victory (besides Florida and Ohio) that didn’t pan out. In 2008’s election between Obama and John McCain, it didn’t make the difference — preelection polls weren’t close and the election was effectively decided well before results came in from the West.

What will happen this time around? Recent history might offer a clue as to what we can expect — history as recent as the 2010 congressional elections. Read more “Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!”

Barack Obama Deserves Second Term

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama participates in a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in Hempstead, New York, October 16 (Obama for America/Scout Tufankjian)

Regardless of whether or not this presidential election is a referendum or a choice, President Barack Obama deserves to be reelected on both counts. On the economy and foreign affairs, the Democrat has shown himself to be a better candidate than any of Mitt Romney’s public personas. Read more “Barack Obama Deserves Second Term”

Ryan’s Struggles Betray Party’s Foreign Policy Rupture

Foreign policy was once the purview of the Republican Party but since it launched two major wars in the Middle East with no exit strategy and no plan to pay for it, the party has found itself in quite the bind. Contrast this with President Barack Obama’s record of ending an unpopular war in Iraq, toppling Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya with minimal use of force and no American casualties and the much hailed “pivot” to East Asia and Mitt Romney’s task to win back his party’s advantage on the subject becomes even more of an uphill climb.

The Republican candidate has been particularly critical of Obama’s alleged “apology” tours. This focus on the incumbent’s attempts to improve America’s standing in the world may stem from Romney’s misfortune of representing a strikingly diverse constituency on foreign policy as compared to George W. Bush eight years ago.

The party’s attempt to unite a warmongering neoconservative establishment with an anti-war libertarian constituency was perhaps no more evident than at this year’s convention. Glossed over in Clint Eastwood’s “old man and a chair” performance was the actor’s call for the United States to “get out of Afghanistan!” — a call that ignited raucous cheers from the crowd. (Imagine the reaction if a speaker did that in 2004.)

But true to form, the crowd listened and cheered afterward when Mitt Romney called for more confrontation in the Middle East. Read more “Ryan’s Struggles Betray Party’s Foreign Policy Rupture”

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Mitt Romney’s Collapse

A “convention bounce” isn’t news and it usually doesn’t last until November. Likewise, a week or so of lousy polls and bad news — even if it’s really, really bad news — doesn’t necessarily mean the end is nigh. Campaigns are about ups and downs. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should both expect highs and lows in the polls as election day draws nearer and so should each ticket’s supporters.

But given the fundamentals of this campaign, the very fact that President Obama has pulled sharply ahead, even if only by a few points, is likely to keep him ahead. It will precipitate a series of reactions and missteps from Mitt Romney, allowing the Democrats to stick their convention bounce and ride on through to victory in November.

In other words, the polls, usually a snapshot, are likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Read more “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Mitt Romney’s Collapse”