Democratic Primary News

Hillary Clinton Cory Booker
Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks with New Jersey senator Cory Booker in Newark, June 1, 2016 (Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney)
  • Cory Booker has dropped out of the presidential contest.
  • Bernie Sanders is criticized for going negative. His campaign has accused Joe Biden of “betraying” black voters (Biden is the favorite candidate of black voters) and Elizabeth Warren of being the candidate of wealthy white liberals. NBC reports it’s bringing back memories of 2016: “Sanders, his supporters and his surrogates go on the attack; Sanders downplays or dismisses the attacks; and the party becomes more divided.”
  • Biden still leads in the endorsement primary, but it’s slow going. Only a third of Democratic governors, senators and representatives have endorsed a candidate. Party leaders may be waiting to see what happens in the first few primaries before making up their minds. Or perhaps this will be like the Republican primary of 2016, when “the” party collectively decided not to decide.
  • Michael Bloomberg has said that, even if he loses, his campaign — the biggest and most expensive of the Democratic candidates — will remain in place to help defeat Donald Trump. He has also shot down criticism, notably from Warren, that he’s trying to buy the nomination, saying, “Do you want me to spend more or less?” Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Iranians Take to Streets After Government Admits It Shot Down Passenger Plane

  • Protests have erupted in Iran after the government admitted responsibility for shooting down an Ukrainian passenger jet on the same night as it fired missiles into Iraq to avenge the death of its top military commander, Qasem Soleimani.
  • Soleimani, who led Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, was killed in an American drone strike on President Donald Trump’s order.
  • No Americans or Iraqis were killed in the reprisals. All 176 passengers and crew aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, including 82 Iranians, were killed when the plane crashed outside Tehran on Wednesday morning. Read more “Iranians Take to Streets After Government Admits It Shot Down Passenger Plane”

America’s Rigid Two-Party System Is What Its Founders Feared

Washington DC
The sun sets on Washington DC (Shutterstock)

Lee Drutman, a political scientist, argues in The Atlantic that America has become the rigid two-party system its founders feared.

The authors of America’s Constitution wanted to make it impossible for a partisan majority to ever unite and take control of the government, which they could then use to oppress the minority.

The fragile consent of the governed would break down, and violence and authoritarianism would follow. This was how previous republics had fallen into civil wars and the Framers were intent on learning from history, not repeating its mistakes.

They separated powers across competing institutions to prevent any one faction from dominating others. But they did not plan for the emergence of political parties, let alone just two parties. Read more “America’s Rigid Two-Party System Is What Its Founders Feared”

Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump attends a World War I memorial in Suresnes, France, November 11, 2018 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

American president Donald Trump and his supporters have learned one lesson of the Iraq War: To quash legitimate concerns about an ill-advised military operation, call the patriotism of your critics into question.

It sometimes works — but only briefly, and it hurts you more than helps in the end. Read more “Don’t Call Your Opponents Traitors”

Don’t Pull NATO into the Middle East

Jens Stoltenberg Donald Trump
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters at the White House in Washington DC, April 12, 2017 (NATO)

American president Donald Trump has called on NATO to get more involved in the Middle East.

Speaking a day after Iran retaliated for the assassination of its top general, Qasem Soleimani, in Iraq by attacking American military bases in the country, Trump pointed out that the United States are no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

He didn’t elaborate, but I can think of at least four problems with the idea. Read more “Don’t Pull NATO into the Middle East”

Democratic Primary News

Elizabeth Warren
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts visits a high school in Des Moines, Iowa, October 21, 2019 (Phil Roeder)
  • Julián Castro has thrown his support behind Elizabeth Warren. This has helped Warren move up in the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party actors. She is now in second place, behind Joe Biden but ahead of Bernie Sanders.
  • Although Sanders has raised the most money in total, Biden is ahead in donations from people who also give to the Democratic Party. This is perhaps unsurprising given that Sanders, who isn’t even formally a Democrat, is running as much against the Democratic establishment as he is against the Republicans. Warren and Pete Buttigieg share second place in big-dollar donations from politically engaged Democrats, but neither is far behind Biden, suggesting there isn’t a consensus among donors yet.
  • Biden continues to lead the polls with 25-30 percent support nationwide. Biden shares first place in the Iowa polls with Buttigieg and Sanders. Each has around 20 percent support. Warren is at 15. It’s a similar picture in New Hampshire, where Sanders — from neighboring Vermont — is slightly more popular. Nevada and South Carolina haven’t been polled since November, but at the time Biden was ahead in both states.
  • California shows a three-way race between Biden, Sanders and Warren. Texas has Biden in the lead. Both states will vote on March 3, Super Tuesday, and together send 644 out of 3,979 pledged delegates (16 percent) to the convention in July.
  • Michael Bloomberg has moved into fifth place with 5-6 percent support nationally. He has also hired some 500 new staffers across thirty states, bringing his total campaign staff to 800 — more than any other candidate. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Julián Castro, Barack Obama’s housing secretary, has ended his presidential bid.
  • Bernie Sanders out-fundraised the other candidates in the final quarter of last year, bringing in $34.5 million against $22.7 million for Joe Biden. President Donald Trump raised $46 million for his reelection campaign in the same period.
  • Trump’s airstrike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq has divided Democrats. Only Sanders and Andrew Yang opposed it outright. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Soleimani Assassination Divorced from Strategy

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump answers questions from reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, July 18, 2019 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

The killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in Iraq could turn out to be a brilliant gamble that in the long term stabilizes the greater Middle East.

More likely, it will be a major political and strategic problem for the region and the United States broadly speaking within the context of renewed great-power competition, particularly with respect to Sino-American competition. Read more “Soleimani Assassination Divorced from Strategy”

The Underestimated Joe Biden

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Former vice president Joe Biden has consistently led the polls, with 25 to 30 percent popular support, as well as the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party members, for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

The only other candidate with such a solid base is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, but his support is under 20 percent and few elected and party officials back him.

So why are we treating Sanders’ supporters as true believers and Biden’s, as Jonathan V. Last puts it, as “just a group of voters who haven’t abandoned him yet”? Read more “The Underestimated Joe Biden”

Nord Stream Sanctions Are No Way to Treat European Allies

American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Senators in the United States have approved sanctions against companies that are involved in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany.

The sanctions, which President Donald Trump has yet to sign into law, are a last-ditch attempt to halt the pipeline’s construction, which the Americans argue will only increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and hurt Ukraine’s position as a transit nation.

They’re not wrong, but placing sanctions on allies is no way to go about it, especially when they have no alternative. Read more “Nord Stream Sanctions Are No Way to Treat European Allies”