Democratic Recriminations Argue for Switch to Multiparty System

United States Capitol
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15, 2017 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Democrats in the United States were hoping for more than a simple victory over Donald Trump. Polls had suggested they could win in a landslide.

That didn’t happen. Joe Biden decisively beat the president by more than six million votes, or a margin of 4 points, but Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives and failed to take the majority from Republicans in the Senate.

Democrats also lost seats in state houses, giving Republicans control of redistricting in most states; a power they could use to make it even harder for Democrats to win a majority of the seats even when they win a majority of the votes. (Districts are withdrawn every ten years following the Census.) Read more “Democratic Recriminations Argue for Switch to Multiparty System”

Biden Wins American Presidency, Trump Refuses to Concede

Biden Would Pull America from the Brink

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

The rest of the free world will never look at America the same way again.

Donald Trump’s election in 2016, coming on the heels of a disastrous Iraq War few Canadians and Europeans supported, disillusioned even the most fervent Atlanticists. The land of the free was no longer impervious to the dark forces of nativism that necessitated the Atlantic alliance in the first place.

A restoration under Joe Biden may be unlikely. America is drawn to Asia and Europe must take responsibility for security in its own neighborhood. But four more years of Trump could shatter even pragmatic cooperation between nations that are still committed to an open and just world. Biden would pull America from the brink and rejoin the West. Read more “Biden Would Pull America from the Brink”

Biden Outpolls Trump in Swing States

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Greenville, South Carolina, August 30, 2019 (Biden For President)

Polls puts Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump in the states that decided the outcome of the last presidential election:

Trump is narrowly ahead in the swing states Iowa and Ohio as well as once solidly Republican Georgia and Texas. As recently as 2012, Democrats didn’t even campaign or spend money in those two states.

National polls give Biden an average of 50 percent support against 42-43 percent for Trump.

Although the presidential election will be decided state-by-state, national polls tend to be of higher quality and are still useful. Polling guru Nate Silver points out that Biden would need to win the national popular vote by 3 points or more to have a higher than 50-percent chance of prevailing in the Electoral College. Read more “Biden Outpolls Trump in Swing States”

What Biden Wants

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)

Joe Biden could become the most progressive president of the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That might sound odd after he was declared a “centrist” and the “establishment” candidate in the Democratic primaries.

The former vice president isn’t as left-wing as some of his former rivals, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t want to break up big tech, defund the police, forgive all student loans or nationalize health insurance.

But the whole Democratic Party has moved to the left and Biden has moved with it. He has involved Democrats and allies from the left to the center, including environmental and minority rights groups, gun control advocates and trade unions, in drafting his program. Left-wing congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped write his climate policy. Biden incorporated Senator Cory Booker’s proposal to tie federal funding to looser building codes in his housing plan.

The result is that Biden has buy-in from across the Democratic coalition, which — provided the party wins not just the presidency but the Senate in November — means his plans stand a good chance of becoming reality. Read more “What Biden Wants”

Speechmaking Isn’t Governing

Dilma Rousseff Barack Obama
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff welcomes American president Barack Obama and his family in Brasília, March 19, 2011 (White House/Pete Souza)

American political culture puts too much importance on oratory.

Michelle Obama, the wife of former president Barack Obama, gave a good speech to the Democratic National Convention, held virtually this year, on Monday night and even intelligent commentators suggest she would make a “formidable” presidential candidate in 2024.

No matter that Obama has never held elected office or so much as contested an election.

Communication is an important part of the job of any politician, but it’s not the job. It’s a lesson Michelle’s husband learned in 2009. Read more “Speechmaking Isn’t Governing”

Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics

Cleveland Ohio
View of downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Shutterstock/Pedro Gutierrez)

America’s two major parties continue to trade voters based on education.

An analysis by Pew Research of the 2018 electorate found that one in ten voters have switched parties since the election.

Of the 2018 Republicans who now call themselves Democrats, most are college-educated. Of the 2018 Democrats who have become Republicans, most are not.

This reflects a longer-term trend of white Americans sorting into the two parties according to their educational attainment. (Education is less predictive of party affiliation for voters of color.) Read more “Education Has Become the Dividing Line in American Politics”

Harris Is a Good Choice

Kamala Harris
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

Joe Biden has tapped California senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate for the election in November.

It’s a good choice. Elite-educated, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, a former prosecutor and incumbent senator, Harris ticks many of the right boxes. Read more “Harris Is a Good Choice”

Democrats Should Give Caribbean and Pacific Islands Statehood

San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico (Unsplash/Wei Zeng)

Donald Trump is disliked by so many Americans that Democrats could win not just the presidency but the Senate in November.

Longer term, however, Republicans have baked-in advantages that make Democratic control of the upper chamber elusive.

The solution: turn America’s overseas dependencies into states. That would give 3.5 million Americans the federal representation they deserve and add ten more seats to the Senate, most of which would lean Democratic. Read more “Democrats Should Give Caribbean and Pacific Islands Statehood”

Biden’s Housing Plan Emulates Europe

Seattle Washington
Homes in Seattle, Washington, April 21, 2011 (Harold Hollingsworth)

One of the areas in which I think America should emulate Northwestern Europe is housing.

Stagnant wages, restrictive building codes and underinvestment in construction have caused home prices to rise faster than wages in eight out of ten metro areas in the United States.

Young Americans are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than their parents and grandparents, delaying their wealth accumulation and possibly family formation. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest in more than sixty years. Americans of all ages are less likely to move, which has contributed to a decline in social mobility and an increase in regional inequality.

I like the Dutch system, which is a combination of government-built social housing rented out at below-market prices and rental subsidies, which can reach up to a third of the average private rent, and for which about one in five households qualify.

Turns out that’s close to Joe Biden’s plan. Read more “Biden’s Housing Plan Emulates Europe”