How Republicans Became the Party of Trump

I don’t think I will ever get used to hearing once-sensible Republicans singing Donald Trump’s praises.

Four years ago, the likes of Nikki Haley, Rand Paul, Tim Scott and Scott Walker knew that Trump was a bully without ideas; a would-be strongman with an unhealthy admiration for Vladimir Putin; a failed tycoon who didn’t grasp the basic principles of economics; and a thrice-married philanderer who had clearly never read a Bible.

Four years later, with the economy in free fall, America’s reputation in tatters, multiple former Trump campaign officials in prison and 180,000 Americans dead as a result of coronavirus, they’re telling the Republican National Convention that Trump is the only thing standing between them and the abyss.

How did this happen? Read more “How Republicans Became the Party of Trump”

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”

What If Trump Refuses to Leave?

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump boards Marine One outside the White House in Washington DC, July 31 (White House/Tia Dufour)

Democrats and political experts in the United States are worried that President Donald Trump might not recognize the outcome of the upcoming election.

When over 100 former politicians and government officials, civil society leaders and journalists gamed out four election scenarios, they ended up in a constitutional crisis, “featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition,” in all but one: a decisive win for Joe Biden. A close result could trigger civil and political unrest not seen in a century.

The last time a presidential candidate refused to concede was in 1876. Read more “What If Trump Refuses to Leave?”

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”

Trump Needlessly Disparages Postal Voting

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

The coronavirus pandemic will likely necessitate mail-in voting on an unprecedented scale in the United States.

At least 4.8 million Americans have been infected with the disease. Almost 160,000 have died. America has 4 percent of the world’s population but so far suffered 23 percent of the world’s COVID-19 fatalities.

With the virus showing no sign of abating, requiring 100+ million Americans to vote in person, indoors, would be hugely irresponsible.

Yet President Donald Trump disparages the best alternative. Read more “Trump Needlessly Disparages Postal Voting”

Why Republicans Need to Lose Decisively

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)

Anti-Trump conservatives in the United States are debating how much to punish the Republican Party for enabling a would-be strongman.

David French argues against voting out Republicans at every level, calling it “counterproductive for those of us who still believe that the conservative elements of the Republican Party provide the best prospects for securing the liberty, prosperity and security of the American republic” and “completely devoid of grace.”

It ignores the monumental pressures that Donald Trump has placed on the entire GOP and the lack of good options that so many GOP officeholders faced.

Charles Sykes is less forgiving, arguing it’s impossible to defeat Trumpism while leaving his bootlickers in power.

I agree. Going against Trump may have been difficult for Republican legislators; we don’t elect politicians to do the easy thing. Read more “Why Republicans Need to Lose Decisively”

Republicans Could Lose Presidency, Senate: Polls

Washington DC
Skyline of Washington DC with the United States Capitol in the distance, September 28, 2017 (Ted Eytan)

Republicans in the United States could suffer a crushing defeat in November.

FiveThirtyEight reports that Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump has been unusually large and stable: 9-10 percent since mid-June.

Polls in the swing states Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all of which Trump won in 2016 — also put Biden ahead.

Henry Olsen writes in The Washington Post that Republicans are at risk of losing their majority in the Senate. Polls put Democratic challengers ahead in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Montana and North Carolina. In Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff is neck and neck with Republican incumbent David Perdue. Republicans currently have 53 seats in the upper chamber against 47 for Democrats.

Republicans are unlikely to do better in the House of Representatives. Democrats have held an 11-point lead in generic polls this year so far, 3 points above their lead in 2018, when they took control of the lower chamber from Republicans.

National Republican defeats could reverberate at the state level. Republicans gained 680 state legislative seats in 2010. Democrats picked up 309 seats in 2018. Another Democratic landslide could hand them control of a number of key legislative chambers, writes Olsen — including Texas! Read more “Republicans Could Lose Presidency, Senate: Polls”

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”

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 become the presumptive Democratic nominee.
  • Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard, his last two opponents, have ended their campaigns and endorsed the former vice president.
  • So have Barack Obama, the former president, and Elizabeth Warren, another former rival. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Sanders Is Right to Quit

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Bernie Sanders has ended his bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the United States.

It’s the right decision.

Sanders had virtually no chance of defeating former vice president Joe Biden anymore. Prolonging the contest would only delay the reconciliation of Sanders’ supporters with a Biden candidacy and make it harder for Democrats to decide whether to vote at all amid the outbreak of coronavirus. Read more “Sanders Is Right to Quit”