Category Archives: Elections

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donald trump first amendment

Trump and Free Speech

Trump and freedom do not go hand in hand.  His rhetoric is repugnant to the Constitution and to American values.  Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely attacked the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, all of which are integral to the American rule of law and provide us with the freedoms and liberties inherent in the American condition.

But Trump is rarely, if ever, called out on his calls for disobeying and flagrantly ignoring the Constitution.  His supporters – a number of whom claim to love liberty and our government’s founding document – make excuses or promote a vision of American freedom that draws from the early 1800s before America became the beautiful melting pot it is today, before the white majority became but a large segment of a plural society that embraces the equal, fundamental rights of everyone – women, men, and ethnic and religious minorities.  Their view of freedom is perverted and it’s being legitimized by Donald Trump.  Defeating Trump is imperative to sustaining our freedom and our Constitution.

How, exactly, does the Donald seek to trample our freedoms?  We’re compiling a handy list about Trump’s attempts to strip our freedom.  This first edition covers his attempts to stifle speech and press.

Please feel free to share with those who oppose and support America’s worst nightmare.  (And, if you like our piece, please consider donating so we can reach a wider audience!)

Free Speech: Trump’s response to protesters is truly frightening.  At various times, he’s called for:

But that’s not all.  He’s also said he would:

  • Pay the legal fees for those who hurt protesters
  • “Like to punch [a protester] in the face”

Trump clearly detests protesters and has no problem with his supporters and rally-goers beating them up or in other ways causing them physical harm.  No protesters should ever fear for their safety when presenting political arguments.  But that’s exactly Trump’s goal: by creating and fostering an environment in which protesters are subject to violence and must fear for their well-being, Trump successfully squashes dissent.  People won’t show up to protest his rallies because doing so imperils them; the only speech heard, then, is Trump’s divisive rhetoric.  There’s no opposition and no challenge to Trump’s arguments.

If Trump’s actions towards protesters indicate how he would act while in office, we all have reason to fear.  Trump extending his candidacy’s stance towards speech into the Oval Office would lead to a crackdown on opposition and dissension.  Perhaps Trump supporters would continue to attack those appalled by Trump’s beliefs, perhaps Trump would take Nixonian or true authoritarian  measures in order to prevent arguments from being made and to discourage anyone from speaking out against Trump.  That could easily be done against protesters – any mass protest at a university or in a city could end with Trump using the National Guard to “restore order” – likely at the physical expense of the protesters.

But ending demonstrations and cracking down on those who oppose the administration (would President Trump move to withhold federal funds from universities whose professors challenge him?  Try to cut any funds from public radio organizations who aren’t kind to him?) present just one facet of how Trump attacks and would attack free speech.  Trump also despises the free press and his animosity seems to know no bounds.

And no, these protesters are not inciting violence.  That is, unless you think this man wearing an American flag shirt deserved to be sucker punched, thrown to the ground, and kicked.  Trump supporters are egged on by the candidate inflammatory rhetoric and calls for physical altercations, not by supposed and alleged violence on behalf of the protesters.  But the latter provides a nice opt-out for Trump, who enjoys blaming others for problems he causes.

Free Press: Trump has no respect for the free press and its crucial role in democracy.

It’s become a fixture in Trump rallies for him to viciously attack reporters, calling them “scum,” saying ”they are really dishonest,” and that “they are disgusting.”  Supporters take cues from Trump.  This tweet from NBC’s Katy Tur shows a common occurrence at Trump rallies:

donald trump first amendment

Another journalist described the vitriol and hatred emanating from Trump rallygoers prompted another journalist to remark “I’m surprised there hasn’t been an incident of someone throwing a blunt object and hitting a reporter in the head. I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened.”

Trump is creating a hostile environment for reporters at his rallies.  But that’s not all – he actively punishes reporters who dare write things he finds “mean.”  Ben Schreckinger of POLITICO found his press credentials rescinded by the campaign after he published a story critical of Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski.  He was turned away from Mar-a-Lago during a – you guessed it – press conference.

Other reporters often face Trump’s harsh rhetoric on Twitter whenever they publish negative pieces about Trump or challenge him in debates.  The aforementioned Katy Tur has faced Trump’s Twitter wrath, being called a “third-rate journalist.”  Megyn Kelly of Fox News has been repeatedly subject to Trump’s vile rhetoric because she challenged Trump on his statements about women.

And let’s not forget Lewandowski’s battery charge for violently grabbing and throwing back Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields.   Trump supporters love to claim the incidence never happened or that Fields lied.  However, the facts and videos show otherwise (and how else did Fields get these bruises?).donald trump political beliefs

Lewandowski originally claimed that the event never happened and that Fields was “delusional.”  Well, that claim was undermined with video evidence, eye witness account, and Lewandowski’s arrest for battery.  Rather than disavow the actions of his campaign manager, Trump stood by him, opting to use Twitter – his favorite platform – to accuse Fields of being a threat.  He pointed to an object in her hand, alluding to the possibility that it could be a bomb (has Trump never seen a reporter holding a pen?).  However, if Fields were such a threat, why did the Secret Service Agent standing by Lewandowski and Trump do nothing?  Why did the campaign manager feel a threat, not the individual whose job is to protect the candidate?

In other words, no threat existed.  Trump used Twitter to bully Fields and to blame the victim of a grossly violent act carried out by Trump’s thug of a campaign manager.

Beyond physical intimidation, Trump has also stated that as president he would loosen libel laws, making it easier to sue newspapers.  That’s a direct attack on the free press – small outlets would not be able to publish critical pieces for fear of frivolous libel suit that would bleed them dry.  Even a suit the outlet would win could cost millions of dollars in defense; a Trump administration would likely extend the proceedings as long as possible, regardless of veracity, to put financial pressure on the newspaper or source, using fiscal pressure to beat them into submission.  That’s not freedom – that’s intimidation, bullying, and an attack on liberty.

The press plays an integral role in American democracy.  Reporters and journalists hold politicians accountable for statements and for policy proposals; they offer unbiased, factual accounts of campaign happenings.  They vet ideas and provide the information voters need to make informed decision at the polls.  Without a strong Fourth Estate, voters would be ill-informed and democracy would suffer.

Trump’s attempts and successes in undermining trust in the press leads directly to voter misinformation and ignorance.  His supporters refuse to believe any “mainstream” media outlet because Trump has denounced them.  They instead believe every word Trump speaks or they turn to the right-wing fever swamps for distorted information and conspiracy-laced policy arguments.  The press serves as the neutral arbiter in politics; Trump is ensuring that millions of people are deaf to objectivity and fact, only capable of hearing information through the biased (and very often wrong) mouth of Trump.  He creates a situation in which all dissenters and doubters are not to be trusted.  Opposing speech – whether subjective or objective – does not enter Trumpian and Trump supporter discourse because it has been injudiciously and illiberally chastised.

In short, Trump promotes ignorance and misinformation, which, in turn, perhaps furthers his candidacy.

A Trump presidency and free speech cannot coexist.  His candidacy relies on misinformation and stifling dissent through intimidation or point-of-origin attacks.  Free speech, perhaps the most important liberal element of a democracy, is weakened by Trump.  We must ensure that he does not win the GOP nomination and certainly not the presidency or else our fundamental freedom will be suppressed.

 


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strategic voting winner take all

The March 15 Strategic Voting Guide

Super Tuesday has concluded, but the hopes of stopping Donald Trump have not.  In fact, Ted Cruz’s victories in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, as well as Marco Rubio’s win in Minnesota, prove that Trump can be defeated.  He’s far from inevitable – the #NeverTrump movement has succeeded in stemming his momentum and presenting to the voters the true ramifications of a Trump nomination.

We need Republicans and Democrats to cast their ballot in a manner that stems Trump’s momentum and erodes his delegate advantage.  This might entail voting for a candidate who isn’t your number 1 choice; however, as long as you fear a Trump nomination – both for its ripping the Republican Party and its tyrannical/authoritarian/proto-fascist potential – then you need to act in a strategic manner.

Moreover, we’ve seen that strategic voting works.  Analysts predicted that Trump would win around 280 delegates in the Super Tuesday contests.  Instead, he only won 254.  Cruz and Rubio’s outperforming polls and delegate expectations point both to Trump’s inherent weakness and to beneficial effects of people casting their vote in a way that maximizes the chance Trump falls short of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

March 15 marks the beginning of winner-take-all (WTA) states.  Huge amounts of delegates rest on the table, ready for the taking.  We cannot let Donald Trump win those delegates.  These contests mark the best opportunity to eat into his lead and prevent Trump from reaching the magic number of 1,237.

Florida (primary): 99 delegates given to the candidate receiving the highest number of statewide votes.

Florida is a huge state with enough delegates to alter the primary landscape.  Is is easily the most important state on March 15.  Donald Trump cannot win Florida.

Vote Marco Rubio.  He’s trailing in polls but is the only candidate who could catch Trump.  It’s his home state and that will provide a natural boost to his vote count. Rubio is up in early voting – and his lead is large enough to preclude a Cruz victory in the state.  Adding Cruz and Kasich voters to Rubio’s polling numbers puts him neck-and-neck with Trump and in a place where a strong organization and late boost would and him a victory.  This isn’t about handing the nomination to Rubio; it’s about stopping Trump from winning the nomination.  99 delegates is a huge amount.  Trump cannot win these or else he would be well on his way to the Republican nomination; voters must rally to Rubio’s cause in Florida.

Illinois (primary): 69 delegates, 54 directly elected at the congressional district levels, and 15 statewide, WTA.

At the district level, voters directly choose delegates (who are listed with their presidential preference).  Statewide delegates are awarded to the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the state.

Vote Ted Cruz.  Cruzis the only candidate with an opportunity who could catch and beat Donald Trump.  Though not as delegate rich as Florida, Cruz would stand a good chance to rack up votes in Chicago and her suburbs, increasing his district delegate count and bolstering his statewide count.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to hand Trump a needed loss and for Cruz to net delegates at Trump’s expense.

Missouri (primary): 52 delegates, 5 at each of the 8 congressional districts and 12 at-large with a statewide WTA trigger.

In each congressional district, the candidate receiving a plurality of the votes receives all 5 delegates and the candidate with the most statewide votes wins all 12 at-large delegates.  However, if a candidate wins a majority of the vote statewide, he wins all of Missouri’s 52 delegates.

Vote Ted Cruz.  With little polling, it’s hard to exactly pinpoint the state of the Missouri race.  However, the most recent poll shows a Cruz lead and the momentum from his victories in Texas and Oklahoma could translate into Missouri votes.  With the potential to win so many delegates – either at the district level or statewide – it becomes imperative that voters rally around Cruz so he, and not Trump, can win Missouri’s many delegates.  Missouri is another wonderful opportunity to eat into Trump’s delegate advantage.

North Carolina (primary): 72 delegates awarded proportionally based on statewide returns.

Vote Ted Cruz.  North Carolina is fairly proportional, so it doesn’t provide a great opportunity to net delegates over Trump.  However, a victory here would slow Trump’s momentum and that’s incredibly important.  Cruz stands a good chance of winning here; a strategic vote for him would hurt Trump’s chance of winning the nomination.

Ohio (primary): 66 WTA delegates.

Vote John Kasich.  This is really important.  Ohio, of course, is Kasich’s home state and he’s almost tied with Trump in the polls.  66 delegates is a lot.  Cruz and Rubio supporters strategically casting ballots for Kasich would ensure his victory and would prevent Trump winning 66 delegates, enough to move him substantially closer to the nomination.

 

All of these states are potential pickups for non-Trump candidates.  March 15 states offer many delegates, a number of which on a WTA basis.  Through strategic voting, Republicans can stop Trump’s amassing of delegates and eat into his lead.  Doing so naturally lowers his chances of winning the nomination and ensures that political discourse is not hijacked by a lying fraud whose ideas are repugnant to the Constitution and who is a cancer on conservatism.

 

Sources for delegate allocation come from FHQ and The Green Papers.

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strategic voting winner take all

Strategic Voting Guide, March 5-8 Contests

Super Tuesday has concluded, but the hopes of stopping Donald Trump have not.  In fact, Ted Cruz’s victories in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, as well as Marco Rubio’s win in Minnesota, prove that Trump can be defeated.  He’s far from inevitable – the #NeverTrump movement has succeeded in stemming his momentum and presenting to the voters the true ramifications of a Trump nomination.

Moreover, we’ve seen that strategic voting works.  Analysts predicted that Trump would win around 280 delegates in the Super Tuesday contests.  Instead, he only won 254.  Cruz and Rubio’s outperforming polls and delegate expectations point both to Trump’s inherent weakness and to beneficial effects of people casting their vote in a way that maximizes the chance Trump falls short of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Based on popularity and result, we’ve decided to publish a strategic voting guide to the March 5-8 contests.  Without further ado:

Kansas (caucus): 40 delegates, 25 at-large, 12 for congressional districts, 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with a 10% threshold at both the statewide and congressional level.

Vote Marco Rubio.  Though polls are scarce in the state and the scant data available show a Rubio and Cruz draw, Rubio has the backing of Kansan Governor Sam Brownback (which will likely boost Rubio in the polls if Brownback stumps for him).  As it currently stands, neither Rubio nor Cruz hit the 15% threshold, though many undecided voters remain.  Given Rubio’s endorsement advantage and proven ability to win late-deciders, Kansas is a state ripe for Rubio pick up at the expense of Trump.  Republicans and Democrats alike would be wise to strategically caucus for Rubio to boost his delegate count and decrease Trump’s.

Kentucky (caucus): 46 delegates, 25 at-large, 18 for congressional districts, 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with a 5% threshold.

Vote Marco Rubio.  The most recent poll has Rubio trailing Trump by 13 but leading Cruz by 7.  Given the low threshold, even with the majority of Cruz supporters rallying around Rubio, Cruz will still receive delegates.  Adding half or more of Cruz’s support to Rubio significantly cuts into Trump’s lead.  Add in Kasich supporters and some undecided voters and Trump will be defeated.  Caucuses are Trump’s weak spot.  He fails to get people to caucus locations.  Rubio will have better luck doing that (as evidenced by Minnesota) and, with the backing of other candidate supporters, will defeat Trump.  All Trump losses slow his increase in delegates and make it harder for him to win the nomination.  A vote for Rubio here is a must.

Louisiana (primary): 46 delegates, 25 at-large, 18 for congressional districts, and 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with a 20% statewide threshold (but none in the congressional districts).

Vote Ted Cruz.  Again, polling data is scant.  That said, Cruz tends to perform well in Southern states and Louisiana will likely be no exception.  With Louisiana’s high statewide threshold, it’s imperative that Rubio voters flock to Cruz so that their vote is not divided and Cruz is viable for the at-large delegates.  Trump would win all 25 through a backdoor winner-take-all (WTA) if Cruz and Rubio fail to reach 20%.  At the district level, adding to Cruz’s vote total takes delegates away from Trump.  In a race dominated by delegate math, every little bit helps.  A strategic vote for Cruz in Louisiana will advance the goal of preventing a Trump nomination.

Maine (caucus): 23 delegates, 20 at-large and 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with a 10% threshold.

Vote Marco Rubio.  No polls guide this decision, but rather the intuition that Rubio runs better in New England than does Ted Cruz (as polls are taken, we will update this section).  Maine’s low threshold means that even in half of Cruz’s support goes to Rubio, Cruz will likely receive delegates.  Kasich, though strong in New England, would likely stand below the 10% threshold (based on national trends – again, this will be updated with polling data if some comes available); his supporters should caucus for Rubio.  Again, caucuses favor Trump’s challengers.  Maine is another opportunity for the non-Trump coalition to pick up a victory and delegates and to show America that Trump is not a viable candidate.

Hawaii (caucus): 19 delegates, 10 at-large, 6 in the two congressional districts, and 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with no threshold.

Vote Marco Rubio.  We’re operating in the dark here.  No polls have been taken in the Aloha State.  However, Hawaii tends to be an establishment-friendly state that has voted for moderate candidate in past primary seasons.  Marco Rubio, then, would stand the best chance of defeating Trump.  (If polls are taken and released, we’ll update this portion).

Idaho (primary): 32 delegates, 29 at-large, and 3 unbound.  Proportional allocation with a 20% threshold.

Voted Ted Cruz.  The most recent poll shows Trump in the lead but Cruz within striking distance.  Idaho tends to be a deeply conservative state, which favors Cruz.  The poll has him just below threshold – if Carson and Rubio voters rally to Cruz, he will easily surpass 20% (Rubio is not close) and will likely challenge Trump for delegates here.  Cruz is the only non-Trump candidate who could be viable for delegates and who could hand Trump a needed loss.

Michigan (primary): 59 delegates allocated proportionally with a 15% threshold and a WTA trigger.

All candidates above the 15% threshold are eligible to receive delegates unless one candidate earns a majority of the statewide votes, in which case he wins all 59 delegates.

Vote Marco Rubio.  It’s close, but he leads Cruz in the polls and, barring new data that dramatically changes our calculations, stands the best chance of beating Trump in this crucial state.  Rubio is above the 15% threshold, though not by much.  He needs new support to keep well above 15% – otherwise, Trump sweeps 59 delegates.  Trump leads in Michigan, but aligning around Rubio should double his poll numbers (this includes Kasich and Cruz supporters.  Kasich will not be viable.  His supporters must rally around Rubio).  Strategically voting for Rubio makes him competitive with Trump, will keep the delegate count close, and may even hand Trump a stunning loss.

Mississippi (primary): 40 delegates, 28 at-large and 12 at the congressional district level.  Proportional with a 15% threshold statewide and at the congressional level; WTA district trigger.

Candidates above 15% statewide are viable for delegates; those above 15% in congressional districts earn at least one delegate unless a candidate gets a majority of the votes in that district, in which case he wins all 3.

Vote Ted Cruz.  Little polling data is available, but Cruz, who runs well in the South and in religious statements, is best positioned in this state (as part of his “southern firewall”).  Trump also does well in the deep South – see his Georgian and Alabamian victories – and could use Mississippi to net many delegates.  Considering he has the potential to win congressional districts and net 12 delegates there, it is imperative that voters flock to Cruz to keep him above the 15% threshold and to keep Trump from earning a majority of the votes anywhere in the state.  It’s an opportunity for Cruz to prevent Trump from expanding his delegate lead and perhaps even eroding his current advantage.

 

March 15 marks the beginning of WTA states.  To a large extent, momentum from these March 5 and 8 contests will shape the trajectory of primaries held in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina.  These caucuses offer a prime opportunity to hand Trump losses, eat into his delegate lead, and reshape the narrative of the race.  Please, use this guide to cast strategic ballots and ensure that Donald J. Trump and his fascist tendencies do not represent the Republican Party come November.

 

Sources for delegate allocation come from FHQ and The Green Papers.

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trump nuclear triad

Temperament

The President of the United States of America is the one person in the country with the nuclear launch codes.  As Commander-in-Chief, the president is uniquely able to commence mass destruction, violence, and death.  We all know the dangers of nuclear weapons.  We all know the repercussions of a nuclear strike.  With great power comes great responsibility – we cannot entrust the unique power to kill millions into the hands of a loon or someone whose temperament imperils American and global safety.

We cannot allow Donald Trump to be in control of our nuclear stockpile (and nuclear triad, which he can’t even name, let alone understand).

A quick stroll through Trump’s Twitter feed reveals a man so riddled with insecurity that the slightest perceived wrong warrants excessive, baseless, and unnecessarily personal attacks.  No one is spared when they say something “mean” about Trump – he despises the freedom of expression and the ability of others to exercise free speech (because they might say something not nice to him).

Here are just a few of his responses to those that seek answers about policy:

Ben Sasse asked Trump to clarify liberal statements he made in the past.  The result:screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-29 20-29-45screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-29 20-31-11

Trump’s favorite target is journalists, whose role in informing the electorate is absolutely imperative to a functioning democracy.  Trump, however, likes to bully and intimidate journalists, preventing them from playing the vital role of the Fourth Estate.

screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-11-30screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-12-14

screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-17-28screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 22-03-03screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-35-16screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-25-43screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-25-36screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-24-01screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-24-43

Not to mention his mocking a reporter’s disability:

And, of course, the many others who dared challenge The Donald on policy.  From lowly political observer to master operative, no one escapes Trump’s fury when he’s been attacked.  His deep insecurity leads to an obsessive fixation on any perceived insults and spawns reactions that fit the profile of a high schooler, not a serious presidential candidate.

screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-14-51screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-17-40screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-20-51screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-22-18screenshot-twitter.com 2016-01-21 20-25-16   screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-24-29screenshot-www.nytimes.com 2016-02-26 12-24-12 

But wait, there’s more!  See his full list of insults here!

Oh, and then there’s this:

https://vine.co/v/ivAnOugYYwz

Oh, and likening dating women with STDs to fighting in Vietnam:

“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider,” Trump said.

(This man wants to be Commander-in-Chief?  He clearly demonstrates no understanding of war…but how could he, he skipped the draft).

Is this really a man whose finger should rest on the nuclear launch button?

I think not.  His tendency to viciously attack everyone regardless of their position, role, or circumstance exposes a man dangerously unstable and unable to control rage that stems from deep-rooted insecurity.  He can’t take criticism.

Well, Donald, I hate to tell you this, but foreign diplomacy isn’t easy.  It requires work and knowledge.  It requires patience.  You can’t take to Twitter to attack global leaders.  They don’t take kindly to schoolyard bullying.

Let’s not make matters worse.

Let’s not replace the “Send Tweet” button with the “Launch Nukes” button.

 

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[Read more: Donald Trump’s pathetic response to policy inquiries, his deep insecurity, and how to defeat him through strategic voting.]


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strategic voting winner take all

The Super Tuesday Strategic Voting Guide

Trump has now won three contests in a row and has racked up a sizable delegate lead – 81 to Cruz and Rubio’s 17.  He’s well on his way to the 1237 he needs to win the nomination.  On Super Tuesday, March 1, another 595 delegates are up for grabs.  Afterwards come the winner-take-all (WTA) states.  Should Trump win a majority of Super Tuesday delegates and carry momentum into the (WTA) March 15 states, he could forge an insurmountable delegate lead and become the presumptive nominee before the April contests.  We cannot let that happen.  There’s one way to stop him: strategic voting.

We need Republicans and Democrats to cast their ballot in a manner that stems Trump’s momentum and erodes his delegate advantage.  This might entail voting for a candidate who isn’t your number 1 choice; however, as long as you fear a Trump nomination – both for its ripping the Republican Party and its tyrannical/authoritarian/proto-fascist potential – then you need to act in a strategic manner.  I’ll explain the ramifications after our guide to stopping Trump on March 1.

Here are the Super Tuesday states and here’s how to vote to prevent a Trump nomination:

Alabama: 50 delegates at stake – 26 at-large, 21 by congressional district, 3 unbound, 20% threshold.

Each of the 7 congressional districts has 3 delegates distributed proportionally (to candidates receiving at least 20% of the vote).  If a candidate receives 50% +1 of the vote in the district, he takes all 3 delegates.

The 26 at-large delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to candidates receiving at least 20% of the vote.  Should a candidate receive 50% +1, he wins all 26.

Here, voters must boost the non-Trump candidate polling best and most inclined to win >20% – and ideally 50% – of the vote.

Republicans: Vote Ted Cruz.  Trump leads the field – by a lot – with Cruz in second.  Given the white, evangelical composition of the Arkansas electorate – Cruz’s target demographic – the state favors him.  He has a strong southern ground game and message that reverberates in those states.  Rubio voters should shift to Cruz in this state so he can rack up votes in congressional districts and statewide, thereby depriving Trump of delegates.  It’s crucial here to rally behind Cruz as splitting the vote between him and Rubio would open the door to Trump winning by large margins in congressional districts and across the state, furthering his delegate lead.

Democrats: Vote Ted Cruz.  Hilary Clinton leads this state by more than 25 points.  Barring a major disaster in the next week, she will win (easily).  Therefore, it’s best for Alabama Democrats to vote in the Republican primary (which is open) for Ted Cruz.  The reasons are the same as above – Cruz has the best chance of stumping Trump in Arkansas.

Alaska: Caucus, 28 delegates distributed proportionally, 22 at-large, 3 for its congressional district, 3 automatic, 13% threshold.

All candidates receiving >13% of the vote (a hard 13%, no rounding up) qualify to receive delegates in a proportional manner.

Coalescing to defeat Trump here would yield a net advantage of only a couple delegates, but every little bit helps.

Republicans: Vote Marco Rubio.  No poll has been conducted recently in Alaska, so it’s hard to gauge the state of the race.  However, Alaska is one of the least religious states, a fact which hurts Cruz’s appeal.  Demographics, then, seem to favor Rubio and as such, a strategic ballot should have his name checked.

Democrats: There caucus is closed to Republicans, so unless you switch party affiliation, there’s nothing that can be done.

Arkansas: 40 delegates distributed proportionally, 25 at-large, 12 by congressional district, 3 unbound, and a 15% threshold with a winner-take-all and most (WTA/M) provision.

All candidates receiving at least 15% percent of the statewide vote receive at least 1 delegate.  A candidate who wins a majority gets the remaining delegates (25 less the number of candidates above 15%).

Candidates who win 15% of the vote at the congressional district receive a delegate unless one candidate earns 50% of the vote, in which case he wins all delegates.

Republicans: Vote Ted Cruz.  He leads, narrowly, in the polls and is best suited in terms of ground game and message to win this socially conservative state.  Shifting votes from Rubio to Cruz would likely ensure that Rubio receives some delegates – he’s polling above the 15% threshold – but would expand Cruz’s lead over Trump, therein eroding Trump’s delegate lead.  If enough Rubio supporters switch to Cruz to hand him a congressional district (or multiple), all the better.  This is a state Trump could very well lose and it’s absolutely necessary to increase Cruz’s victory share to enlarge his delegate count.

Democrats: Vote Ted Cruz.  Clinton has a large lead here and should win without trouble.  The primary is open, so it’s possible to fill out the Republican ballot.  An influx of Democrats for Ted Cruz would expand his polling lead and add multiple percentage points to his potential victory  That’s crucial to stopping Trump.

Georgia: 76 proportional delegates, 31 at-large, 42 across congressional districts, 3 unbound, and a 20% threshold with a WTM provision.

All candidates receiving 20%+ of the statewide vote are eligible to proportionally receive some of the 31 at-large delegates.  If a candidate wins 50%+ of the statewide vote, he takes all at-large delegates.

At the district level, the winner receives 2 delegates and the runner up gets 1 unless a candidate wins a majority of the district vote, in which case he gets all 3 delegates.

RepublicansVote Marco Rubio.  Late February polls show Rubio up between 2 and 4 points on Cruz for second place.  Given that Rubio has some momentum and is starting to rallying party leaders, that led might expand in the coming days.  Republicans need to further that stream by strategically voting for Rubio.  Given that third place does not receive delegates at the district level, it is imperative that Cruz supporters back Rubio so he has decisive second place finishes across the state and can win delegates.  Splitting the 2/3 delegates across the many congressional districts with Trump winning would create a situation in which Trump dominates Georgian delegates.  That cannot happen – to defeat Trump, Republicans must prevent him from accruing delegates in states like Georgia.  They can only do that by rallying around second place.  Rubio is that candidate here.

Democrats: Vote Marco Rubio.  Hillary leads by nearly 40 points here.  She will win.  Cast your vote in a strategic manner by voting Rubio and halting Trump’s momentum.

Massachusetts: 42 proportional delegates, 10 at-large, 27 for congressional districts, 5 unbound, with a 5% threshold.

3 delegates per congressional district and 10 across the state.

Republicans: Vote Marco Rubio.  Trump has a massive lead.  No other candidate cracks 20% and are all clustered in the low double digits.  Republicans should unify around Rubio and boost his vote tally in this traditionally moderate and business-friendly state.

Democrats: Vote Sanders or Clinton.  Trump will win MA.  The Democratic primary, though, is contentious and it would be a mistake to skip this competition.

Minnesota: 38 proportional delegates, 11 at-large, 24 by congressional districts, 3 unbound with a 10% threshold and 85% WTA trigger.

Republicans: Vote Marco Rubio.  He leads in the most recent poll and has been targeting this caucus state.  Minnesota provides a true opportunity to soundly defeat Trump (and the larger the margin of victory the better).  Shifting from Cruz to Rubio will solidify the latter’s victory and add to his margin, costing Trump delegates and making him seem fallible.

Democrats: Vote Marco Rubio.  Clinton leads by 30 points in the last poll and though caucuses can seem unpredictable, the data bodes well for her (especially considering she has momentum after winning Nevada and a likely victory in South Carolina).  The Republican caucus is open – it’s best to switch over and vote Rubio to stump Trump.

Oklahoma: 43 delegates, 25 at-large, 15 by congressional district, 3 unbound with a 15% threshold and a 50% WTA trigger statewide and in congressional district.

Candidates receiving 15% of the statewide vote are eligible for part of the 25 at-large delegates.  A candidate receiving a majority of the statewide votes receives all 25 delegates.

The same applies at the congressional level – candidates above 15% are viable for delegates and a candidate with a majority gets all 3 delegates from that district

Republicans: Vote Ted Cruz.  The last poll, which is old, had Cruz in second place, 5 points behind Trump.  Oklahoma is a deep-red, socially conservative state, a boon to Cruz.  His appeal to those voters and Trump’s weakness on social issues makes Cruz the best poised ideologically and electorally to defeat Trump here.  Rubio supporters would be advised to switch to Cruz because there is true potential for Trump to lose.  An alternate candidate needs to start winning and Oklahoma is the perfect state to end Trump’s winning.

Democrats: Vote Sanders or Clinton.  The polls show this is a close contest and Sanders is targeting the state.  This should come down to the wire and voters would be remiss to skip this primary.

Tennessee: 58 proportional delegates, 28 at-large, 27 for congressional districts, 3 automatic with a 20% threshold and a 67% WTA trigger.

Candidates receiving over 20% of the vote statewide and in each congressional district are eligible for delegates.  Any candidate receiving more than 67% of the vote statewide or in a district wins all of those delegates up for grabs.

Republicans: Vote Ted Cruz.  Trump purportedly has a big lead here with Cruz running second.  As another deeply religious state, it would seem privy to Cruz’s message and appeal.  With many delegates available here, it becomes necessary to rally around Cruz, even if it’s for second place, to prevent a large Trump victory that expands his delegate lead at the expense of the alternates.

Democrats: Vote Ted Cruz.  Clinton leads by around 20 points which points to an easy victory.  Tennessee is an open primary and every ballot cast for Cruz decreases Trump’s chance of winning the state and the nomination.  It’s best to strategically vote Republican here.

Texas: 155 proportional delegates, 44 at-large, 108 in congressional districts, and 3 automatic with a 20% threshold and a 50% WTA trigger.

Candidates above 20% proportionally receive some of the 44 at-large delegates.  If a candidate wins a majority of the vote, he receives all 44 delegates.

Similarly, candidates above 20% in congressional districts are eligible for delegates and a candidate earning 50% +1 wins all delegates for that district.

RepublicansVote Ted Cruz.  This is Cruz’s home state and he’s leading in the polls.  He’s not far from an outright majority – adding half of Rubio’s support to Cruz pushes him over that threshold.  There are so many delegates at stake here and a strong Cruz showing could halt Trump’s momentum and bridge the delegate gap.  The path to stopping Trump goes through Texas.  It’s absolutely imperative that Republicans rally around Cruz in the Lone Star State.  He can win districts and statewide.

Democrats: Vote Ted Cruz.  Clinton has a lead, though it’s not huge.  However, given the importance of the state to Cruz and the prospects of stopping Trump, everyone must strategically rally to the Cruz camp.  A large Cruz victory in popular vote and in delegates may block Trump from the nomination.  That has to be the number one goal.

Vermont: 16 delegates, 10 at-large, 3 in congressional districts, and 3 automatic with a 20% threshold and 50% WTA trigger.

Much the same as other states – earning 20% of the vote makes one viable for delegates across the state and its one congressional district.  A candidate with a majority of the vote wins all the delegates.

Republicans: Vote Marco Rubio.  Trump has a large lead in the Green Mountain State with Rubio running a distant second.  However, he seems best positioned to gain ground and to prevent Trump from wining an outright majority.  Secondly, he’s closest to 20%, the threshold to even receive delegates.  Republicans must rally around him so he’s viable and Trump doesn’t take the backdoor route to taking all of Vermont’s delegates.

Democrats: Vote Marco Rubio.  Sanders leads Clinton by more than 70 points and will indubitably win by a lot.  It’s best to switch to the more competitive primary and help Rubio earn a few delegates to prevent Trump from expanding his lead.

Virginia: 49 proportional delegates, 13 at-large, 33 at the congressional districts, and 3 automatic with no threshold and no WTA trigger.

A purely proportional contest, delegates are distributed based on vote percent.

Republicans: Vote Marco Rubio.  The most recent poll has Rubio down 6 to Trump, so within striking distance.  Since vote margin matters more than winning, it’s important that Kasich and Carson voters shift to Rubio (but less important that Cruz voters shift their preference).  Given it’s proportional nature, no sizable delegate advantage will be gained, but a candidate can boast about winning.  Since winning brings momentum, Trump must not win and so Republicans should rally to Rubio.

Democrats: Vote Sanders or Clinton.  Clinton is up in Virginia, but by a surmountable margin.  Moreover, since the Republican primary won’t have a huge impact on delegate totals, it doesn’t make too much sense to switch over.

 

Strategic voting and strategic voting only can stop Trump on March 1.  Momentum plays a huge factor in the race and the best way to stop Trump’s momentum is to make sure he loses.  Furthermore, delegate count matters – it’s “yuge.”  Coalescing around one candidate in these states stops Trump from accumulating delegates and forging ahead on his quixotic and dangerous attempt to win the nomination.

 

Information about the Super Tuesday states stemmed in large part from Bloomberg and Frontloading HQ.  Polls came from RCP.

 

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[Read more: Donald Trump’s pathetic response to policy inquiries, his deep insecurity, and his dangerous temperament.]


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donald trump eminent domain

Tough

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no “private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” (emphasis added).  This simple phrase protects property owners from government overreach.  It ensures that should the fundamental right to property ever be infringed, it would be for the public good, as in to build roads and highways.  Yet not everyone uses eminent domain in such an appreciable and benign manner.  Not everyone has the same definition of public use.

To Donald Trump, “public use” means a place to park his limousines.

In the 1990s, Donald Trump tried to use eminent domain to eject and elderly widow from her long-time Atlantic City home because Trump wanted a new parking lot for his casino.  The woman, Vera Coking, moved into the Atlantic City home in 1961 with her husband.  It housed dreams and it housed family.  But that didn’t stop Trump.  His limousines needed a place to park and he wouldn’t let a widow stand in between him and his grandiose, elite parking lot goals.

So he tried to schmooze and bribe her.  He offered her Neil Diamond tickets to soften her resolve and get her to leave her humble, 30-year abode.

That didn’t work, so he turned to his favorite tactic: bullying.

Trump Plaza soared 22-stories into the air and from its height, it rained mischief down onto Ms. Coking.  Trump’s demolition crews burned her house’s roof, smashed its windows, and destroyed much of its top floors all because Ms. Coking refused to abandon her dream house and succumb to Trump’s egomania.

The widow proved too stubborn, so Trump – in his glory, vanity, and selfishness – turned to eminent domain.  He sued Ms. Coking, trying to abuse eminent domain powers to advance the public good by building demolishing a home so limousines could sit next to the casino.  His compensatory offer stood at just 25 percent that of another offer submitted years before – not just compensation but a brutal ruthlessness and rage whose ire found its way to a woman trying to protect the home in which she raised a family.

So Trump took the widow to court.  He launched his army of lawyers on her, doing all he could to rob her of her home.

Unfortunately for Trump, justice won in the end: the court sided with Ms. Coking and allowed her to keep her home and 30 years of memories.  Trump’s casino went on to flounder, his bullying to no avail.

It takes true toughness and true courage – true character – to try to steal a widow’s home.

 ——————————————–

For all his boisterousness and posturing and insults and fake braggadocio throughout the campaign, one personality trait cuts through the rest and shines immediately clear, both now and throughout time.

Trump is a bully.

And bullies are never, ever the tough individual they pretend to be.


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Hillary Clinton and Wall Street Speeches

Hillary and Bill gave many speeches to Wall Street firms, earning them millions of dollars.  Good for them!  That’s not a problem – that’s one using skills and talents to make money in the free market.  We shouldn’t hold that against her or foolishly think it impacts her dedication to passing Wall Street reform bills.  In fact, her Wall Street plan shows her at “her wonkish best,” seeking to address problems that actually contributed to the 2008 crisis and could prevent another (unlike Bernie’s, whose plan is designed to fundraise well).  The plan itself also should dispel all fears that Hillary is too pro-Wall Street to seek change.

She is in no way dependent on Wall Street.  Assume she becomes president and then wants to make money afterwards.  Do you think there will be any shortage of individuals, firms, or universities willing to pay her for a speech?  Any shortage of people wanting to buy her memoirs?  Of course not.  She would, in no way, rely on Wall Street to earn a post-presidency income.  In other words, she can – and will – push Wall Street reform because she depends not on them.

But if that’s not enough for you and you somehow think that giving speech greatly impact her ability to reign in Wall Street excesses…

  • Hillary said in a speech that Dodd-Frank, though unpopular on Wall Street needed to be enacted
  • She argued for working with Wall Street to strengthen the economy, because maybe – just maybe – a president shouldn’t seek to pin all economic blame on a single sector
  • President Obama, who signed and pushed for the Dodd-Frank bill, received millions in campaign contributions from Wall Street (by the way, if you believe in research and political science, you would know that no corporation expects to buy a politician)
  • At a speech in front of a Wall Street audience, Hillary outlined the need to end financial fraud and expand Dodd-Frank
  • It’s natural that Hillary would have connections to Wall Street – she represented New York in the Senate and Wall Street is a major employer and economic driver in the state
  • That she’s already given speeches to many other organizations (also for money, the free market is great!) dispels the notion that Wall Street owns her
  • “Americans who are doing business in every aspect of the economy want to know more about the world. I actually think it’s a good conversation to be having” – Hillary on her speeches.  This seems more than reasonable; it’s responsible as she wants to engage all economic forces, unlike Bernie who seeks to alienate and vilify Wall Street and all those who succeed in the economic system
  • Wall Street considers Hillary a pragmatic problem solver.  Is that really so bad?  That’s exactly what I want in a president – a bright, wonkish politicians able to navigate many interests and get things done in a responsible manner.  She knows how things work.  I’ll take that 100 times out of 100.  Do we want a president that alienates all industries and will espousing extreme rhetoric that’s not based in reality?  No, we don’t.

We want a president who gets things done and knows how to get things done.  That’s Hillary, not Bernie.  Bernie wants to play victim and pin all responsibility for all economic woes on two singular forces: Wall Street and “the billionaire class.”  It’s absurd rhetoric that plays well to populists but doesn’t address root causes.  He’s tied to extremism, not to solutions.  Hillary, the Democrats’ number 1 wonk, knows how to work with all parties to enact meaningful reform.  Her Wall Street plan promises vast changes to make the economy fairer.  But she also knows how to work with all interested parties to reach feasible reforms that check Wall Street without damaging the industry’s ability to create wealth and contribute to economic growth.  Hillary knows how to work with others to advance a goal.  Hillary knows how to pass reform and will do just that.


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donald trump wealth

Pathetic

The other day, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) decided to ask Donald Trump a few questions about his policy beliefs, as any good Senator and caring citizen would do.

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Perfectly polite and complimentary.  He soon turned to policy.  It’s worth noting that Senator Sasse is a deep conservative who ardently believes in small-government principles.

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A fair question considering it’s an election in which ideas and adherence to them should be discussed.

donald trump iowa caucus

This is a Republican primary, after all, and Trump had previously stated opposition to the concept of the Second Amendment and guns.

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This question pertains to a huge (yuuge) one time tax Donald Trump proposed.  In an election of issues and policy discourse, this is a question that must be addressed.

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If Trump is going to attack Bill Clinton for his affair, it means that his many publicized ones (he brags about them in “The Art of the Deal”) are also fair game.

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A salient, basic policy question in a Republican primary.

Apparently, Donald Trump didn’t take too kindly to a Senator and citizen asking him about policy and hypocritical statements.

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No, Senator Sasse wants to understand your policy viewpoints, Mr. Trump, seeing as they change every couple of years.

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A classic move.  When one cannot respond to a question or argument, he or she will stoop to invective and ad hominem attacks.

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“Who is easy.”  This is a constant Donald Trump theme: Attack anyone who questions him.  That’s not a how a president should behave and that’s certainly not how someone should treat a concerned citizen.  You can’t insult your way to the presidency, Mr. Trump.  If you’re going to run in a democracy, you have to answer questions about your beliefs and you have to address past statements made pertaining to public policy.  Running away from those responsibilities and simple duties immediately disqualifies him from being president.

 

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[Read more: How to defeat Trump through strategic voting, his deep insecurity, and his dangerous temperament.]


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make america white again

Make America White Again

Donald Trump has a grand vision: Make America White Again.

He and his supporters romanticize 1950s America, when Mexicans could still be called “wetbacks,” black lives didn’t matter – they were simply “house negroes” – and donning a white hood to enact vigilante justice normal, even encouraged when it meant keeping African Americans from voting.

Women didn’t work and manufacturing jobs were abundant.  Highways were smooth; gays and lesbians ferreted out from their social ranks and cast aside, denounced freely and widely as “faggots” and “pinks.”  Children went to all-white schools on buses devoid of diversity.  Home ownership boomed, as long as you were white, and elections pitted white coalition against white coalition – there was no need to cater to minority viewpoints.

This is Trump’s idealized America, the one to which he and his supporters cling.  America, to them, doesn’t belong to millions of immigrant dreamers, searching, hoping, praying for better lives for their posterity.  Nor does it belong to those of foreign religion, a peace-seeking group tainted by the perverted actions of a select few but who are somehow held accountable.  It’s an America without political correctness, but also without acceptance and basic human rights for many.

Trump and his supporters desperately fear an America wherein minority voters outnumber white voters; where different religion – new, scary, foreign religions – seek free exercise without surveillance or a registry.  They fear losing white power.  They crave an economic order long gone.  They, above all, fear change.

America’s existence can broadly be defined by fearing change and those who bring it.  Anti-immigrant sentiment flairs every generation when new individuals from different countries trek to America, wide-eyed with dreams of success and prosperity.  German, Catholic, Irish, Easter-European, Chinese, Japanese, and now Mexican – each new immigrant group experienced hatred upon their arrival.  It’s a continued American blight that comes from inherent fear of foreigners.

Trump’s policies only further that end.  Seeking to deport 11 million dreamers and American aspirants and wanting to forbid all entrants to the country based solely on religion defiles the American ideal and causes the Statue of Liberty to hang her head in disgust.  Fear mongering that America’s whiteness will be lost.  It’s disgusting, bigoted, hate-filled, and nativist.  It’s defining Republican politics.

A reversion – a regression – to America’s past is what Trump wants.  He wants progress to cease and the tide of history to be reversed.  His supporters want the country to look like them: white.  Enough with the hopes of millions.  Enough with America being the sweet land of liberty to which all strive.  Enough with the melting pot that’s yielded and contributed to America’s multigenerational greatness.

It’s time to make America white again.

It’s time to let hate, fear, and demagoguery rule the day.


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hillary clinton bernie sanders

Before You Vote, Consider This

Primary voting starts in just 6 days with the Iowa Caucuses.  A little more than a week later brings the New Hampshire primaries; after that, it’s off to the races with Nevada, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday.  We know you’re seeing many campaign ads, are inundated with opinion posts on Facebook and Twitter, and likely are already predisposed to a certain candidate.  Please, though, consider this before you caucus or cast your primary vote.

Democrats face an election of head versus heart

Bernie Sanders’ upstart, insurgent campaign identifies a singular problem – income inequality – and seeks to address it.  Nothing more.  His candidacy is premised on the one issue; the plans he offers cannot – and will not – pass Congress.  Lofty rhetoric of fundamental change plays well and offers ideas whose merit needs to be debated, considered, and discussed, but words with no hope of action do not a president make.

Hillary Clinton represents the head of the Democratic Party.  Of course, the House of Clinton has been a mainline force for decades.  More importantly, though, Hillary has long been considered a policy wonk, willing to work across the aisle to see legislation pass and to make change happen.  Bernie’s strong liberal positions earn him a weak congressional record with very few significant legislative achievements and no known ability to compromise on his values.  Love it or hate it, compromise and deal making gets things done in Washington.  Vote for the head of the Democratic Party and let the heart continue to fight in the Senate and to shape discourse without further polarizing and gridlocking our legislative system.

Political Revolution

I take many problems with this phrase.  It’s blatant reference and conjuring of Karl Marx’s writings make it immediately distasteful, reminiscent of failed ideas, and undemocratic.  Even ignoring that, the phrase is still wrong.

We don’t need, nor does anyone want, a full-on political revolution.  The country needs people to vote.  Turnout rates are incredibly low when compared to other Western democracies.  Voters skew older and wealthier than the average American.  Increasing the turnout rate will lead to more young and poor citizens voting, therein boosting Democratic vote share and the appetite for redistributive policies.  Progressive platforms win when turnout is high.  No political revolution is needed.

People voting is not a revolution, it’s simply a democracy at work.

Minimum Wage

Though it’s clear the minimum wage needs to rise, an increase to $15/hr is simply irresponsible.  That would double the current minimum wage.  Such actions would greatly increase unemployment through much of America.

What works in New York does not work in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Expensive cities need higher minimum wages than do cheap places.  The cost of living simply differs over much of the country.  San Francisco, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles are all much, much, much more expensive than Cheyenne, Wyoming, Sioux City, Iowa, and Gary, Indiana.  The national minimum wage cannot be premised on the cost of living in the most expensive cities; it must establish a baseline above which states and localities should increase their minimum wages.  $15/hour would increase unemployment and inflation (if the base wage starts at $15, all other rates must then be raised to maintain hierarchy) in states like Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, etc.  Costs, too, would rise.  The benefits are slim with a national wage hike to such an absurd level.

Hillary wants to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.  This still represents a large and substantial increase, but precludes many of the unemployment worries caused by Bernie’s plan.  The difference between the two plans – Bernie’s desired wage is 33 percent higher than Hillary’s – has a real impact: It raises business costs by at least that amount.  To offset the costs, firm will either layoff workers and/or raise prices.  A $12 minimum wage lifts millions out of poverty without creating the unemployment and inflation caused by a $15 wage.  It respects the cost of living differences between states and encourages municipalities, like New York and San Francisco, to update policy on their own terms.  The national minimum wage, as Hillary understands, should be set at the lowest common denominator; wages should be raised to higher levels by the government closest to the people whom the wage will impact.  They are in a better place to make that decision.  Hillary, and not Bernie, understands that.

A lot of policies can be made on the national level; this is not one of them.

Free College

College is an investment.  Students decide whether to go to college to boost potential earnings.  Like any investment, they must have skin in the game.

College should not be free for everyone.  It should be affordable and students should have the opportunity to attend debt-free, but the government should not subsidize a public college education for all its inhabitants (also irresponsible to raise taxes only to redistribute them to the children of wealthy parents).  His plan relies on Wall Street taxes, but that would not raise enough money to pay for the plan.  How would he fill the gap?  Similarly, ideas capping interest rates on student loans are nonsense.  Many are upset that one can get a mortgage with a cheaper interest rate than a student loan.  This makes economic sense.  Loans are based on risk.  Students are risky.  Even after earning a degree, earning potential might be low.  Unlike a mortgage, which is backed by a house (a real, physical asset), student loans have no backing.  A bank cannot seize a degree in the case the student does not repay debts.  The risk associated with student loans leads to higher interests rates.  That’s not a corrupt economy; that’s basic market principles.

Hillary’s proposes debt free public education.  This makes sense.  It stops cost from being an educational barrier while ensuring that students still have skin in the game (as it is an investment, after all).  She also goes about this in the right way: public universities are operated by the states; Hillary’s plan incentivizes states with block grants to urge them to provide no-loan tuition.  Moreover, in the case of loans, Hillary will cap repayments at 10 percent of income.  This ensures that students will not sacrifice subsistence to pay down debt.  It also does not interfere with the forces of the free market – it doesn’t distort supply, demand, and risk elements.  Unlike Bernie’s plan where the proposed funding does not add to the price tag, Hillary’s plan to cap deductions for top tax-earners would cover her proposals.  Hillary solves college debt and makes college affordable without introducing moral hazard or burdening the free market.

Free college is not a good idea.  Debt-free college is.

Infrastructure Spending

Bernie has the right idea here.  $1 trillion of infrastructure spending is necessary for the health of our economy.  However, the timing is wrong.  Such an endeavor should be undertaken during a recession so it can serve as an economic stimulant.  When the unemployment rate is 5 percent, as it is now, the government needs to tighten its belt and close deficits, paying down the national debt.  That theory stems from basic Keynesian principles.  When the economy inevitably sags again, stimulus spending will be needed to create jobs and spur economic growth; that’s when Bernie’s plan should be introduced.  To do so now is fiscally irresponsible.

Hillary, on the other hand, proposed a reasonable $250 billion infrastructure plan that would create jobs and provide needed service to the country’s crumbling roads and bridges without severely straining the federal budget.  In addition, Hillary calls for a $25 billion seed fund for an infrastructure bank, a crucial step to ensuring the long-run vitality of America’s modes of commerce.  The bank would help finance another $250 billion in infrastructure improvements.  Her plans will create jobs without straining the federal budget, critical during a boom period in which we should be seeking to close the deficit and pay down debt, not add another $1 trillion to it.

Rigged Economy

Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke wrote in his memoir that Bernie has a “conspiracy view of the world.”  This is absolutely correct.  Bernie envisions a world in which “the billionaire class” – in perfect sympathy with ideas of class warfare – tries to keep everyone else suppressed below them.  It’s an outlandish sentiment that bears little reality to data.

Economic mobility has not changed in 50 years, since the Johnson administration.  Only if you think that the economy was rigged during the liberal heyday of social programs, tax and spend policies, and Democratic legislative domination can you now believe that the economy is rigged.

Yes, inequality has grown, but that’s not a bad thing.  Income inequality is the natural result of a market economy.  Not everyone can earn the same income.  Higher incomes generate incentives and are rewards for society’s most talented and hard-working.  That inequality exists proves our economy is working.

The problem is stagnant middle class wages.  For the middle class, incomes have not grown in 25 years.  Yes, the top 1 percent’s income has grown manifold, especially following the Great Recession, but much of that can be attributed to stock market increases and changing payment schemes for CEOs.  That’s simply not the problem.  Taxing the rich to give to the poor would not solve inequality.

This is another instance in which Bernie’s policies break down.  He relies on soaking the rich to combat inequality.  Such ideas don’t raise middle class incomes.  A $15/hr minimum wage raises incomes only so far as it doesn’t create unemployment – and it will.  Bernie doesn’t focus on job creation and wage growth; he focuses on taking and giving – a concept that simply will not work to fix the only issue to which he is committed and pretends to be versed.

His policies and rhetoric of a rigged economy pitting the little guy against corporate fat cats is only correct if you ignore economics.

Wall Street

Once more, there’s a disconnect between Bernie’s fiery, populist rhetoric and reality.  His platform centers around breaking up the big banks.  But guess what?  Doing so would not have prevented the 2008 financial crisis, which started with pure investment firms (Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers).  Breaking up big banks does not solve problems potentially endemic to the financial sector.  In fact, “a breakup of the largest financial institutions would reduce the value that they provide for the economy, businesses, and consumers. Recent research points to significant economies of scale and scope at large financial institutions, leading to efficiencies for businesses and consumers.”

Bernie’s spectacular fundraising pitch – reinstalling Glass-Steagall – fails to live up to his goals.  Like politicians on the far right, Bernie has an incredible immunity to social science.

The best means of preventing another financial calamity seems to be taxing the behavior that made the 2008 crisis awful: reliance on short-term, often overnight, funding.  Prior to 2008, many banks needed overnight lending from other institutions in order to pay daily operating expenses and meet capital requirements.  As assets lost value, banks began to worry about solvency and ceased the web of lending.  This prevented banks from meeting daily operations and made them illiquid, prompting a fire-sell of assets that were quickly losing value.  In came a crisis of solvency and banks suddenly faced bankruptcy.  To prevent another catastrophe of the sort, banks need to be discouraged from short-term funding.  Hillary’s plan does this by levying fees on the institutions that rely heavily on volatile, short-term loans.

Her proposals are many times better than Bernie’s because she addresses the root problem instead of issuing rally cries.  There’s a reason Hillary is respected on both sides of the aisle when it comes to policy credentials and know-how.

Money and Special Interests

Here, too, lies another instance in which Bernie’s call to action stands against political science research and would actually increase political polarization.

No corporation expects to buy a politician.  All the money in the world cannot elect a candidate if the candidate’s positions are anathema to the majority of voters.  Decision making is still – and is always – left in the hands of the voters and it becomes their responsibility to turnout and have their voices heard.  It seems misplaced and normatively wrong to forbid companies from exercising speech and preferences while not placing any blame on apathetic voters.

Moreover, when corporations donate to political campaigns, they tend to do so in a bipartisan manner because they want things to get done.  It’s bad for business when Congress fails to pass laws.  Take, for instance, the 2011 debt ceiling debacle.  Corporations and their lobbyists urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling as failing to do so would have resulted in an economic catastrophe.  However, many House members and some Senators wanted to default on obligations because the grassroots voters thought that was the best position.  Businesses actually tried to bring the sides together.  That’s not corporate-induced polarization – that’s corporate induced bipartisanship.

Preventing the moderating force of many of these corporations from influencing elected officials actually worsens polarization by increasing the impact of grassroots donors.  Proposals in which small donor sums are matched by the government can empower radical candidates who attract a broad grassroots movement.  In the presidential election, that would pit Bernie, the most liberal senator, against Ted Cruz, one of the most conservative.  It’s easy to see how that might lead to more extremists in both congressional chambers, worsening polarization and ensuring that no legislation whatsoever is enacted.

That said, it’s important to point out the most corporate political money goes to lobbyists.  Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it can bring sides together to pass budgets and raise the debt ceiling.  The main impact of Citizens United and Speechnow is the ability for individuals – whose motivations are quite different than those corporations – to donate vast sums to super PACs.  But there’s still no definitive literature on how super PACs and individuals impact elections.  In fact, if 2012 is any precedent, super PACs and outside money have a muted impact on elections.

Super PACs and unlimited contributions are inherent parts of free speech.  Since Buckley v. Valeo, money has been equated with political speech, and for good reason.  By and large, there are three ways to engage in the political process: 1) donate, 2) volunteer, and 3) vote.  Each contains elements of speech and each should be unlimited.  Let’s use a though experiment.  If you supported a candidate, how would you act to ensure the candidate’s election?  You would donate, volunteer, and vote and you would want to complete freedom to do all three.  Perhaps the easiest way of engaging with politics is to donate money to campaign committees and PACs.  They have a competitive advantage in producing political communications as they specialize in it (I could make lawn signs on my own, but a campaign will do it much more efficiently).  In this sense, I’m using money to further my speech by giving it to an organization that can best amplify it.  My donation adds to the marketplace of ideas and allows many points of view to be presented to the electorate.

Liberals tend to dislike Citizens United because conservatives make the most of the decision.  That’s no reason to curtail rights.  We cannot limit speech because we don’t like what’s being said.  We must instead counter donations or utilize the other elements of political engagement to ensure victory for our candidates and ideals.  We can’t limit freedom because we don’t like what’s being done with it.  A liberal society is bettered and strengthened when speech is wholly encouraged.

Lastly, accepting this chart from political science research, we see that more money in elections betters the chances of challengers to unseat incumbents.  Challengers need fewer dollars to sway voters and given the natural incumbency advantage – around 5 to 9 percentage points, for a variety of reasons – more money can lead to more competitive races.  And, if the challenger raises a lot of money but his or her views are deplorable, it’s easy to still vote for the incumbent.

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What’s more, there is nothing Bernie, as president, can do.  To overturn Citizens United, either a new Supreme Court case is needed or a constitutional amendment (which no president can pass or propose).  Any case needs to have standing and injury, hard to prove considering the equal availability of all to make use of the campaign finance system.  It would set a dangerous precedent to sue based on speech unfavorable to one’s interests.  Bernie doesn’t seem to understand this – he tweeted that he would appoint Supreme Court justices whose first case would be to overturn Citizens United.  That’s not how the judicial system works.  Furthermore, establishing any sort of litmus test for a judicial nominee makes a mockery out of judicial independence – a value enshrined in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.  It amounts to subversion of the Constitution.

In the end we have a choice: elect rhetoric or elect results.  Bernie’s policies fix no problems, especially not those about which he cares.  What’s more, his proposals are too far left to have any chance of passing a Republican or split Congress.  With no ability to set an agenda and no laws to his name, a Bernie presidency would amount to nothing but a cheerleader-in-chief, fervently calling for an end to the problem he doesn’t know how to solve.

Hillary has a record of working across the aisle.  Her policy ideas draw from social science and actually address root issues.  She’s a leader and has breadth of knowledge about which the single-issue Bernie can only dream.  It’s fine to have a single-issue politician in the House or the Senate, but in a president, we need someone ready to fight on all fronts, someone able to make deals, and someone truly able to lead the country forward.

We need Hillary.


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