Election security has a key issue since the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Over the past three years, many states have taken aggressive actions to strengthen their election infrastructure to provide enhanced security and resiliency for the 2020 primary and general elections. The global COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of complexity as local election authorities consider how to protect voter registration systems and rapidly pivot to a massive increase in the mail-in and absentee voting. The prevalence of election officials working from home and accessing election systems only expands opportunities for bad actors to disrupt or cause a loss of public confidence in the election system.
Election security issues range from direct threats, to the vote tally itself, to disinformation and influence operations by foreign actors. As of June 2019, we have not observed threat actors successfully altering vote tallies or results in any US election. That is the good news. The bad news is we know there are threat actors out there actively trying to influence U.S. voters, and by extension, the outcome of elections. The impact from the pandemic only exacerbates this concern.
Election security threats should be looked at as an ecosystem categorized into three principal layers. Each layer is equally important but is targeted in different ways by those trying to collect intelligence, target data, and impact the confidence of American voters. This impact would give threat actors precisely what they are looking for — the power to sway a vote or extend a political agenda. Each layer also has its own unique set of information technology, processes, and related risks that must be accounted for when planning for a robust defense.
The inner, and most critical segment is the voting infrastructure layer. This layer encompasses all of the systems and technology directly supporting the casting, recording, tallying, management, and certification of votes. The targeting of this infrastructure is the most concerning because it could have a direct impact on both the integrity and availability of the voting process. Fortunately, given the federated and generally segmented nature of voting systems in the U.S., there is a its limited attack surface presented to threat actors. Modifying or preventing the casting of enough ballots to change the outcome of national election undetected would be extremely difficult. Although we haven’t directly seen vote tallies altered by malicious actors in U.S. elections, that doesn’t mean they have not been trying. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian targeting of U.S. election infrastructure stated that they observed adversaries conducting vulnerability scans targeted at election systems in every single state in the U.S. during the runup to the 2016 election. The larger systemic risk at this layer is an erosion of public trust in the voting process and the integrity of the results if these critical systems cannot demonstrate consistent and sustained security and resiliency against cyberattacks.
The second layer of the election ecosystem are the organizations and systems involved in supporting elections. These include infrastructure such as voter registration systems, and boards of election and election commission networks. For any adversary who intends to disrupt or influence elections, these government administrative networks represent the next most direct and impactful targets of opportunity. In the past, state and local officials, electoral registers, and commissions have all been targeted by actors in attempts to disrupt elections. While such compromises may not provide access to properly segmented election systems, threat actors compromising institutions affiliated with elections have the potential to disrupt pre-election and election day activities and more deeply damage the public’s faith in the electoral process should news of such intrusions become public. Beyond the threats from nation state actors, U.S. officials are publicly concerned about the effect ransomware attacks might have on the 2020 presidential elections, as the threat from criminals utilizing disruptive malware continues to impact state and local governments.
The third and most exposed layer of the election ecosystem represents all of the individuals and organizations with some stake in the political campaigning process, from social networks and news organizations to donor groups and political parties. Threat activity that has historically been observed in this segment has included cyber espionage — and in some cases the purposeful leaking of the data obtained in that manner — as well as disinformation campaigns. While far removed from altering actual systems that votes are cast or tabulated on, this sort of threat activity presents opportunities for malicious actors to attempt to influence public perception and guide a narrative which they hope will amplify a particular message or divide voters on crucial issues, This layer is often forgotten or much less visible to voters and the media, and yet can have an impact on their decisions inside the polling booth. If threat actors can successfully manipulate information so close to the election that there isn’t enough time to authenticate fabricated content being disseminated, irreversible damage may be done. Even if our adversaries are not directly successful, the fallout from foreign manipulation (actual or perceived), can have major consequences to both policy and public discourse for years after the election.
The seriousness of this threat transcends politics or policy disagreements. All stakeholders in the democratic process, from state and local election officials, to federal support functions, to campaigns and parties, have limited time and resources to adapt given new challenges posed by COVID-19. To best secure the U.S elections this year we must take an approach that understands the same threat actors and sponsors may target multiple parts of the ecosystem. Similarly, election security is not about a single candidate or one party over another. All sides are targets. This is about an attempt to divide and erode democratic institutions and confidence in our voting process. There is an urgent need to defend our democracy against these disruptive and divisive attacks. We are all much more aware and educated about the risks and threats facing our elections than we were four years ago. With a concerned and focused effort, we can ensure a safe, fair, and free election for all Americans.
It’s been decades since the Democrats settled on a presidential nominee as weak as former Vice President Joe Biden. He’s not popular in his own party. In Tuesday’s Kentucky presidential primary, for example, he only won about 60 percent of the vote—and he’s already clinched the nomination.
Party leaders should be worried about this. It’s not as though the only Democrats to show up in the Bluegrass State on Tuesday were the fringes and the freaks. The suddenly competitive race between former congressional candidate Amy McGrath and State Senator Charles Booker for the nomination to go against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the fall brought out Democrats of all stripes all over the state. Much of the party faithful, it’s clear, just doesn’t like the idea of a Biden presidency.
If things were any worse, the talk of replacing him at the top of the ticket might be at a fever pitch by now. Instead, while he hides in his basement—and perhaps because he does—Biden is ahead in every national poll, just about every poll in just about every swing state and is preferred by most voters to Donald Trump on every issue except the handling of the economy. And even if the polls are suspect, as Trump’s team and many Republicans say they are, the Democrats must be pleased with the sentiments those polls reveal.
For all intents and purposes, it is a strange election indeed. Which makes the decision to play the “Obama card” so early in the process curious.Ads by scrollerads.com
Obama is the big gun. He’s Mr. Charisma. He’s the face of the Democratic Party everybody loves. Usually, you’d hold someone like him back for the fall election and then work him nearly to death, sending him to every targeted state, time and again, on the party’s behalf. If Hillary Clinton had been able to do that with husband Bill in 2016, she might have won, but—for reasons already discussed ad nauseam—Republicans like Roger Stone kept him pretty much on the sidelines. Yet rather than hold Obama in reserve to move the voters they need to win late in the election, the Biden people rolled him out earlier in order to raise money.
It makes some sense. Biden may be leading the polls, but he’s trailed way behind Trump in fundraising. That, oddly enough, may end up being what makes the difference in November. The free campaign being waged by the pundits, political reporters and news channels on Biden’s behalf have made the election a referendum on Trump.
That’s a hard race for anyone to win, let alone the current president—especially given the cynical nature of most American voters. No contemporary politician except possibly Ronald Reagan—who won 49 of 50 states in 1984—could run against his own record and win. No one is that good. No one is that beloved. Even Barack Obama, unlike Bill Clinton, got fewer votes running for re-election than he did in 2008.
If it were up to the people who establish the national campaign narratives on the newspapers and TV screens, the campaign would remain a referendum on Trump. But they can’t control that. The president needs to change the conversation and make the election a choice between competing visions of what America should be—and force voters to make that choice.
Team Trump can do it. It has more money in the bank than any of his predecessors, money that’s being used to establish communication channels all over social media. The campaign is even doing original programming to counter what’s airing on the networks. It’s a great leap forward, and Biden alone can’t raise the money to match. So in that sense, playing the Obama card now makes sense. The former vice president’s campaign needs the kind of money only someone of the former president’s stature can raise right now.
It may also be that Obama, while of great value to candidates down-ballot in the general election, won’t be able to help Biden on the stump much at all. The former president will always overshadow the would-be future president at every joint appearance. Appearing on his own, he’s a constant reminder to every Democrat and independent of how charisma- and vision-challenged Biden actually is.
Keeping Biden in the basement may not have been intended as a strategy, at first. It may have just been a response to the COVID-19 lockdowns. But now it looks like a blessing in disguise. The voters, at least right now, are showing a decisive preference for the candidate they can’t see over the one they can. It’s not clear if that is sustainable, but the Democrats will try to keep it going for as long as they can. Unfortunately for the down-ballot races, that may mean keeping Obama under wraps, too. They can’t risk giving Trump anything to play off other than himself.
As Bernie Sanders exits stage left, the general election begins. Where do things stand?
Our unprecedented president—the first to win office without prior government or military experience—confronts an unprecedented situation: A pandemic that has forced the government to put the economy to sleep months before a presidential election.
The last time America faced something similar was 1918. The Spanish Flu decimated a population mobilized for its first European war. State and local governments implemented lockdowns, quarantines, and other social-distancing measures to slow the spread of infection.
The midterm campaign was conducted against a background of fear. In San Francisco, authorities required poll workers and voters to wear masks. It was, said the San Francisco Chronicle, “the first masked ballot ever known in the history of America.”
If this masked ballot is anything like its predecessor, the incumbent is in trouble. The voters who showed up on Election Day 1918 rebuked Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic Party. It lost control of both the House and the Senate. Two years later, Democrats lost the White House as well.
As Jason Marisam observes in an excellent paper on the 1918 election, the epidemic changed campaign practices. Mass gatherings were canceled. Candidates relied on newsprint and direct mail. It was a preview of the campaign that may be in our future, where coronavirus task force briefings replace MAGA rallies and Joe Biden addresses a virtual Democratic National Convention from his rec room.
The other noticeable effect of the flu was low turnout. Indeed, when you look at voting patterns during times of emergency—times of war, hurricanes, earthquake, tornado, and plague—you see low turnout across the board. It’s the one constant.
A low-turnout election would interrupt the recent trend upward. Who would benefit? It is too early to say. Republicans have the mistaken impression that high turnout favors Democrats. That is not necessarily the case. After all, Republicans have a larger pool of irregular voters—whites without college degrees—to draw from. And in a polarized environment, in a base mobilization election, every marginal voter counts.
President Trump needs massive turnout from his rural and exurban supporters. He starts this race behind. For the past month, Biden has led in every poll but one in the RealClearPolitics average. (Fox has a tie.) That lead may narrow when pollsters screen only likely voters. That lead might not be as great as Hillary Clinton’s was at this point in 2016. But this race is different.
Trump isn’t an outsider staring down the epitome of the Beltway elite. He’s the incumbent. His personality and record have been on display for four years. And Biden isn’t Clinton. He is winning big margins among voters who hold unfavorable views of both candidates—a group that went for Trump by double digits in 2016.
Trump trades within a narrow band. He won the Electoral College with 46 percent of the popular vote, a level of popularity he has exceeded only once in the RealClear average since February 2017. On the other hand, he hasn’t fallen below 40 percent job approval since March 2018. Election analyst Henry Olsen estimatesTrump’s pre-election approval rating needs to stand at 46 or 47 percent for him to win a second term. As I write, he is at 45 percent.
What must worry Republicans is the effect that rising jobless numbers will have on President Trump’s fortunes. As the saying goes, when the economy is the issue, it’s the only issue. And the direction of the economy matters more than static figures. The pre-coronavirus economy over which Trump presided was a political asset. Things were on the upswing. Americans were confident about their future. A deep and prolonged recession will be a liability.
Which is one reason many Republicans are eager for the economy to reopen. Trump as well as the jobless would benefit from a “V-shaped” recovery in the weeks before Election Day. The question is whether that is a likely possibility. Some skepticism is warranted. Nor is it the case that the president simply can announce the economy is reopened. Most authority lies in states and localities. And the ultimate verdict is the people’s. Everyone from Trump to Pelosi to DeWine to Cuomo could say it’s time to work and shop and dine out. If Americans are still worried about contracting the virus, they will stay home.
The president’s job is to demonstrate competence and compassion while leading the federal response to coronavirus. I’ll leave you to judge his performance. The public seemed to approve of his initial handling of the outbreak, but now things are reverting to the mean. It’s a position that leaves Donald Trump little room for error as America prepares its second masked ballot.
According to many viewers, the presence of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the Democratic stage Wednesday night turned a debate between presidential wannabes into a dumpster fire.
That’s a colorful way to look at what transpired in Nevada, but it’s also wrong. The dumpster fire started weeks ago, when it became clear Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was going to be the man to beat on the way to the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg’s appearance just added a lot more fuel.
While Bloomberg, a multibillionaire financial news executive and philanthropist funding liberal causes, may be the most electable candidate in the race, he’s also the one least likely to be nominated. He’s not surging so much as shimmering, a flash in the pan that for all practical purposes is likely soon to burn out.
His billions, even if he’s spending them on defeating Trump and other causes deemed worthy by the folks who write the editorials for The New York Times and like-minded publications, render him anathema to the party activists and allies who believe the wealth gap is an urgent crisis the nation must confront. He’s not a socialist. He believes in markets and defends the capitalist system, which, in the years since Barack Obama became president, has fallen into disfavor among many in the Democratic base.
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His policies regarding the need for people to take responsibility for their life choices runs into the victimization organization of the Democratic Party like a log into a buzz saw. He says things about the poor and minorities that make people uncomfortable or even angry. And he can’t win their votes while alienating them.
The people who believe that money is everything in American politics think that’s what makes Bloomberg a factor. They’re probably right. He couldn’t get as far as he has without spending something just south of $500 million in this election alone. But, as the song says, “money isn’t everything.” You have to have a compelling message to go with it, and Bloomberg showed on the stage Wednesday night that he does not. Sure, “Mike Gets It Done” is a great slogan, but there are a lot of folks asking themselves what the “it” he’ll get done as president is.
There are other problems with his candidacy that have been better described by writers more capable than I, so there’s no need to take him apart piece by piece. Suffice it to say, every problem he has on issues is encapsulated in one form or another in the difficulties he’s having on both sides of the issue of “stop-and-frisk.”
For many independents and people concerned with basic “kitchen table” issues like law and order, it was a crime prevention policy that made sense. And contrary to the misinformed opinion of critics, the practice itself is constitutional. The United States Supreme Court said so in 1968, which is the last time it had something to say on the matter.
The crime rate came way down once the political leadership in Manhattan decided that people who jump subway turnstiles just might be committing other crimes like rape, robbery and murder. New York became known as the safest big city in North America. By turning his back on “stop-and-frisk,” Bloomberg is in effect apologizing for effective law enforcement and keeping people safe.
That’s going to alienate many independents, whom he’d need to win the election, while liberal activists who think America’s police are out of control and, in a manner of speaking, at war with African-Americans and Latinos remain furious the policy ever existed. And that’s an issue for Bloomberg that won’t be going away anytime soon.
To put it another way, Bloomberg’s biggest problem is the things that make him electable also make him unelectable. He may continue to surge a bit in the national polls, but he’ll start in the back of the pack in the hunt for delegates and likely stay there. That is probably appropriate, since he isn’t really a Democrat. Then again, neither is the man most likely to win the party’s nomination, unless the superdelegates, the super PACs and the people who hold the real power in the Democratic Party can figure out a way to steal the nomination from him again.
As part of their populist platforms, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have vowed to get rid of the Electoral College, so that the U.S. President is chosen by a direct popular vote. Likewise, Pete Buttigieghas also pledged support for the initiative, with Amy Klobuchar indicating her openness to the proposal. That structural change, if made, would profoundly impact all future political campaigns, as candidates would ignore former swing states in order to run up tallies in populous places like California, Florida, New York, and Texas. The consequences that would follow from such a dramatic realignment of voting power would greatly increase the risk of election fraud, such that the ensuing nationwide recounts would make Bush v. Gore look like a modest political skirmish.
Progressives are highly unlikely to gain sufficient support to implement this major reform through constitutional amendment. But right now, two major Supreme Court cases—Colorado Department of State v. Baca and Chiafalo v. Washington—pose the serious risk of undermining the integrity of the Electoral College by changing the long-established practice that all electors must vote as a bloc to support the presidential nominee of their party. In 48 states, the entire state follows that winner-take-all mandate. In Maine and Nebraska, the winner-take-all system is done by congressional district.
But in the aftermath of the November 2016 election, which Trump won by 306 to 232 electoral votes, both of the named electors in each aforementioned case were committed to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton but did not vote for her. In Colorado, Michael Baca, a Clinton elector, cast his ballot for then Ohio governor John Kasich; in Washington, Peter Bret Chiafalo voted for Republican Colin Powell. These two votes were not isolated events, as ten electors followed the same path in an attempt to block Donald Trump from becoming president by persuading enough Republican electors to defect so that Trump’s total would fall below 270 votes. Their acts of defiant independence brought forth prompt responses. Colorado replaced Baca with a new elector who voted for Clinton; Washington fined Chiafalo $1,000 for his action.
The intellectual leader of this movement to undo the Electoral College is Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, whose Equal Citizen’s initiative has spurred the campaign to transform the American electoral system. Taking a page from Lessig Equal Citizen’s playbook, Baca and Chiafalo describe themselves as Hamilton Electors, because they insist that their actions are meant to return the Electoral College to the initial prominence ascribed to it by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 68. Hamilton regarded popular democracy as a debased form of government, in contrast to the elitist republican form of government. The former relied heavily on direct elections; the latter used more complex indirect elections. He wrote: “And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place. . . . Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.”
In essence, the original Electoral College required that each state would have its own mini-deliberative sessions until the electors made up their mind. This setup is patterned on the Catholic College of Cardinals, which uses a similar voting method to pick the next pope. But there is a vast difference between the two devices. The Cardinals who vote are not the agents of anyone, so it is proper for them to be able to vote their own consciences. But the electors in a presidential election are the agents of the voters who selected them. Faithless electors could therefore betray the wish of the voters who selected them.
Hence the practice quickly arose for electors to “pledge” themselves to the candidate whose slate of electors they joined. As noted in McPherson v. Blacker (1892), “experience soon demonstrated” that these electors “were so chosen simply to register the will of the appointing power in respect of a particular candidate.” Sixty years later, Ray v Blair (1952) held that the Executive Committee of Alabama was within its rights when it refused to certify Blair as a primary elector because he refused to “pledge to aid and support ‘the nominees of the National Convention of the Democratic Party for President and Vice-President of the United States.’” In so doing, the Court rejected the view that the complex Twelfth Amendment, passed in 1804 and which called for electors to “meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President,” necessarily gave them the same discretion that Hamilton had contemplated in Federalist 68.
Ray might be distinguished from Baca and Chiafalo for two reasons: first, Ray involved a primary election contest, and second, it did not specify any sanctions that could be lodged against a certified elector who voted his own conscience. But neither of these points should make the slightest difference. The principles of electoral integrity that apply to primaries carry over to general elections, where the stakes are even higher.
In addition, Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” The words “shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct” cannot be sensibly read to say that the only power of the state is to make the appointment, when it is certainly necessary and proper that it imposes restrictions that ensure that the appointed elector will follow the instructions of the state legislature.
Nonetheless, this Clause is given just that truncated meaning by Equal Citizens, which writes: “of ‘electors’—that is, choosers—to make their own free choice, as politicians of both parties have recognized.”
That argument should be emphatically rejected. It should never be the case that the potential elector who makes known his independence before selection can be rightly denied his place, but the savvy elector who conceals his intention before being chosen is entitled thereafter to vote his conscience and disregard his oath.
In this connection, Colorado therefore was fully within its rights to pull the errant Baca from his place and appoint a substitute. Full relief against this constitutional abuse cannot be obtained by any lesser means, so that removal and replacement is needed to stop the ex post defection. Washington state, in contrast, did not exercise its full constitutional power when it imposed a small fine to achieve that same end. But that small fine is little deterrent to future defections, so Washington should adopt the Colorado solution. Otherwise, the risk that mass defections could turn any election into a free-for-all becomes too great.
Ironically, these faithless electors purport to return to some originalist conception of the Constitution. But their unilateral actions do not get us to that place, given that they reserve the right to defect without participating in any collective deliberation, past or future. Moreover, if that constitutional transformation were accepted, then the entire system of selecting electors would become hopelessly politicized, with little chance that Hamilton’s elites would control.
Right now, the selection of electors is no big deal. But if their individual views were to count, then voters would want to know their electors’ (nonbinding) intentions to determine whether they would defect from the party’s nominee once chosen. At this point, the entire selection process would become far more complex and indeterminate. Just who would choose them? And once chosen, could these electors resist powerful interest group pressures to change their views? A new round of campaigns would begin before the vote took place, and continue nonstop in close elections until the votes were cast in December.
People might even insist that their electors actually deliberate, instead of just mouth-off, which could further postpone the final tally until those sessions were concluded. That delay could in turn postpone the transition between presidents, inviting yet further discord. Increased popular disaffection would undermine presidential legitimacy. And for what?
To be sure, today’s practices unmistakably deviate from the design of the Founders. But such transformations are common to our constitutional history. Judicial review, which gives the Supreme Court final say over the validity of all federal and state laws, forms no part of the original constitutional plan, but was instituted by judicial decision from an early date—most notably in Marbury v. Madison(1803), and Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816). As I argued in The Classical Liberal Constitution, these decisions have become embedded in our prescriptive constitution through long-use. That deliberative process protects the nation from imprudent convulsions, which would follow if Hamilton’s misguided elitism somehow became law.
The Supreme Court should reject emphatically this unwise invitation to rewrite our nation’s history. And when it does, calmer heads in the political arena will reconfirm the wisdom of its ways.
By Red State•
I have to admit that my biggest surprises of this election cycle have been the speed with which former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s favorite underling, Kamala Harris, crashed and burned and the difficulty that Elizabeth Warren has zipping to the head of the field. If you check my writing earlier in this year, I fully expected the 2020 contest to be a Trump-Warren cage match.
That has not materialized. Harris is out. Warren is engaged in a race for second place with superannuated commie Bernie Sanders. And, as in most competitive endeavors, the technical term for someone finishing in second place is “loser.”
Why might that be? The New York Times has an answer, the major media are just too biased towards centrist candidates.
Last month, [Politico founding editor and current columnist John F.] Harris wrote a column that I can’t get out of my head. In it, he argued that political journalism suffers from “centrist bias.” As he explained, “This bias is marked by an instinctual suspicion of anything suggesting ideological zealotry, an admiration for difference-splitting, a conviction that politics should be a tidier and more rational process than it usually is.”
The bias caused much of the media to underestimate Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Donald Trump in 2016. It also helps explain the negative tone running through a lot of the coverage of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders this year.
Centrist bias, as I see it, confuses the idea of centrism (which is very much an ideology) with objectivity and fairness. It’s an understandable confusion, because American politics is dominated by the two major parties, one on the left and one on the right. And the overwhelming majority of journalists at so-called mainstream outlets — national magazines, newspapers, public radio, the non-Fox television networks — really are doing their best to treat both parties fairly.
Once you start thinking about centrist bias, you recognize a lot of it. It helps explain why the 2016 presidential debates focused more on the budget deficit, a topic of centrist zealotry, than climate change, almost certainly a bigger threat. (Well-funded deficit advocacy plays a role too.) Centrist bias also helps explain the credulousness of early coverage during the Iraq and Vietnam wars. Both Democrats and Republicans, after all, largely supported each war.
The theory goes this way. Because the media are unwilling to give a fair hearing to outside-the-box ideas, those ideas never take off. And the columnist points to many things that were not considered moderate and now are.
The abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, labor rights, the New Deal, civil rights for black Americans, Reagan’s laissez-faire revolution and same-sex marriage all started outside the boundaries of what either party favored.
I think that is a fairly shallow understanding of any of those issues. For instance, when you read the Republican platform for the 1860 election, it is pretty obvious that at least one party was running for office on the idea of abolition of slavery. If this columnist is in doubt, the slave state governors were not.
All in all, I think this theory is one of those self-pleasuring exercises to which our media is prone. If you look at the coverage given any campaign by the media, you will actually find next to no coverage of any significant issue. If you’re getting your economic commentary from any outlet that employs Paul Krugman, you’re really doing it all wrong. Quite honestly, the media are not at all reticent about pushing outlandish ideas when their reporters are sympathetic to the cause. If you’re trying to tell me the media did not push homosexual marriage and are not agitating for a pride of place for transgenderism now, you’re nuts.
Neither Warren nor Sanders failing to excite the masses is a mystery. Everyone knows Warren is a fraud and a liar. Even if you think President Trump is also a fraud and a liar you are forced to admit that Trump is, at least, an entertaining one who doesn’t care how you spend your money or how many sheets of toilet paper you use per bowel movement. Sanders is a communist. He’s a guy who honeymooned in the USSR while it was aiming nuclear missiles at the United States. No number of position papers and supporting experts is going to get that past a majority of Americans.
As to some of the other specifics. Americans aren’t, at least for another few decades, going to support a “wealth tax” because most Americans hate the IRS much more than they hate rich people. And a lot of us have a sneaking desire to be wealthy one day. Americans aren’t going to support Medicare for All because we saw how the government’s ability to make a soup sandwich out of a functioning program by the Obamacare debacle. Seniors don’t want the system changed. People who have other means don’t want to be a part of it.
The reason why nutty ideas don’t make it to the top tier is because Americans are a fairly conservative people unless faced by extraordinary circumstances. The media don’t push the nutbaggery their staff would support because in order to be credible you have to at least pretend to have a grip on reality. Media coverage of issues actually follows policy debate, it doesn’t lead them.
The claim that the media try to treat both parties fairly is so bizarre as to rate a 911 call and have the nice guys with the butterfly nets and Thorazine cappuccino show up to save the writer from himself.
Nope. It isn’t centrist bias holding back Warren and Sanders. It is their own flaws and the silliness of the policies they are pushing, both of which are readily discernible to even a casual observer, that is causing them to flounder. If there were a centrist bias, then Joe Biden, at least in this Democrat field, would be well over 50%. But he isn’t because there isn’t such a bias and even if there were, the media doesn’t have that kind of impact on the electorate. Or maybe Joe Biden isn’t a centrist. He’s the guy campaigning on free sex-change operations in prison.
This is just another example of a moribund industry trying to puff up its own importance. It is superficial and silly and a perfect metaphor for our political punditry.
The highest law of the land is the Constitution, not the House of Representatives.
The prevailing rationale for the entire impeachment procedure has been that the House of Representatives is the ultimate authority governing the impeachment process. Forgotten in all the blather about the actions of the House is the fact that the highest law of the land is not the will of the House but the Constitution of the United States of America. The Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution explicitly grant to every citizen of this Republic the inalienable right to due process, including the right to face his or her accuser and the right to defense in a court of law.
The “due process amendments” apply to the President of the United States as well as all others. The House denied those rights in this case. The President should file forthwith a lawsuit against the House asking the court to set aside the entire procedure. Likewise, the Senate should refuse to consider the House action until the Supreme Court renders its verdict.
Why is this important? Because the precedent set by this House action portends the doom of our democracy. The House has proven that no elected official is safe from unlawful dismissal from office by the majority vote of the opposition party. In this case, the Democrat majority has unlawfully indicted an American President duly elected by the people without any semblance of due process as established by law and custom.
In addition, the action resulted in re-defining “high crimes and misdemeanors” to include actions which are not crimes by any accepted practice. In this case, “abuse of power” is not a criminal offense because it is simply too vague to be provable. Likewise, the exercise of Executive Privilege is customary and has been accepted practice for the entire history of the Republic.
Consider the consequences of this current action. All that stands between this President and his removal from office is the incidental fact that his party controls the Senate. Suppose he wins reelection but that the opposition party wins control of both Houses of Congress. The current House of Representatives has proven that partisan politics is the primary factor in the decision as to whether or not to vote for his removal from office. Otherwise, there would have been bipartisan support for the House action. This partisan loyalty was also proven in the Clinton case, when both Houses of Congress voted along party lines. It is therefore reasonable to assume that all actions of impeachment and removal will continue to be governed by partisan loyalties.
Back to our example then. Having failed to remove the President from office the first time, it is entirely predictable that the Democrats would try a second time. This time the Senate would convict. Then suppose the President refused to leave office voluntarily and instead, as Commander-in-Chief, he called up the Army to declare martial law and arrest the Democrat members of Congress. Presto: we are now a “Banana Republic” where the military controls the government and dictatorship is a whisker away. Democracy rapidly becomes a thing of the past. No office is safe from partisan impeachment including Supreme Court Justices.
We cannot let this happen. But, if the current House impeachment is allowed to stand, our democratic elections are doomed to fall.
If the National Popular Vote drive kills the Electoral College, rural and small town Americans who supply our food and energy will lose their voice.
By USA Today•
Should rural and small-town Americans be reduced to serfdom? The American Founders didn’t think so. This is one reason why they created checks and balances, including the Electoral College. Today that system is threatened by a proposal called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, or NPV.
Rural America produces almost all our country’s food, as well as raw materials like metals, cotton and timber. Energy, fossil fuels but also alternatives like wind and solar come mostly from rural areas. In other words, the material inputs of modern life flow out of rural communities and into cities.
This is fine, so long as the exchange is voluntary — rural people choose to sell their goods and services, receive a fair price, and have their freedom protected under law. But history shows that city dwellers have a nasty habit of taking advantage of their country cousins. Greeks enslaved whole masses of rural people, known as helots. Medieval Europe had feudalism. The Russians had their serfs.
Credit the American Founders with setting up a system of limited government with lots of checks and balances. The U.S. Senate makes sure all states are represented equally, even low-population rural states like Wyoming and Vermont. Limits on federal power, along with the Bill of Rights, are supposed to protect Americans from overreaching federal regulations. And the Electoral College makes it impossible for one population-dense region of the country to control the presidency.
This is why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. Instead of winning over small-town Americans, she amassed a popular vote lead based on California and a few big cities. She won those places with huge margins but lost just about everywhere else. And the system worked. The Electoral College requires more than just the most raw votes to win — it requires geographic balance. This helps to protect rural and small-town Americans.
Now a California millionaire named John Koza is trying to undo this system. He is leading and funding the National Popular Vote campaign. Their plan is to get state governments to ignore how their own citizens vote in presidential elections and instead get them to cast their electoral votes based on the national popular vote. If it works, this will be like getting rid of the Electoral College but without actually amending the Constitution.
California has already passed NPV, along with 13 other states plus Washington, D.C. Nevada, with six electoral votes, could be next. NPV only takes effect if it is joined by enough states that they control 270 electoral votes, which would then control the outcome of all future presidential elections. If that happens (NPV needs 81 more electoral votes), and if the courts do not strike it down, big cities will gain more political power at the expense of everyone else.
The idea that every vote should count equally is attractive. But a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin famously reminds us that democracy can be “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.” (City dwellers who think that meat comes from the grocery store might not understand why this is such a big problem for the lamb.) And when you think about it, every check on government power, from the Electoral College to the Bill of Rights, is a restraint on the majority.
The Electoral College makes it even harder to win the presidency. It requires geographic balance and helps protect Americans who might otherwise have their voices ignored. All Americans should value constitutional protections, like the Electoral College, that remind us that the real purpose of government is to protect our individual rights.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”
Warren’s lofty rhetoric notwithstanding, a large portion of the Democratic party’s present animosity toward the Electoral College is rooted in rank partisanship. Since they watched their supposed “blue wall” evaporate in the small hours of the 2016 presidential election, many Democrats have felt sufficient anger with the system to seek to remake it. This habit has by no means been limited to the Electoral College. Indeed, no sooner has the Democratic party lost control of an institution that it had assumed it would retain in perpetuity than that institution has been denounced as retrograde and unfair. In the past year alone, this impulse has led to calls for the abolition or reinvention of the Senate, the Supreme Court, and more.
Insofar as there does exist a serious argument against the Electoral College, it is increasingly indistinguishable from the broader argument against the role that the states play within the American constitutional order, and thus from the argument against federalism itself. President Reagan liked to remind Americans that, far from serving as regional administrative areas of the nation-state, the states are the essential building blocks of America’s political, legal, and civic life.
In our era of viciously divisive politics, the states are arguably more necessary than they have ever been. Critics of the Electoral College bristle at the insistence that it prevents New York and California from imposing their will on the rest of the country. But the Electoral College guarantees that candidates who seek the only nationally elected office in America must attempt to appeal to as broad a geographic constituency as possible — large states and small, populous and rural — rather than retreating to their preferred pockets and running up the score. The alternative to this arrangement is not less political contention or a reduction in anger; it is more of both.
In addition to protecting the political diversity for which the United States is famous, the Electoral College brings with it a number of practical advantages that are crucial to good government. Under the current system, the result of presidential elections tends to be clear almost immediately — there is no need, for example, to wait three weeks for California to process its ballots; it is nigh-on impossible for voters to return a tie or disputed outcome; and, because presidential elections are, in effect, fifty-one separate elections, accusations of voting fraud and abuse hold less purchase than they would if all franchisees were melted into a single, homogenous blob. The freak occurrence that was Bush v. Gore is often raised as an objection against the status quo. Less attention is paid to the obvious question: What if that recount had been national?
Impressively, Elizabeth Warren’s plan for straight abolition is not the worst reform being touted at the moment. Impatient at the lack of progress that the #Resistance has made in pulling the wiring out of America’s constitutional engine, a handful of states have adopted the “National Popular Vote” plan, which binds their electors to cast their ballots for the candidate who wins a majority of votes nationwide. Until enough states have signed on to tip the balance past 270 — and, indeed, until the inevitable litigation has been concluded — adoption of the NPV will remain purely symbolic. Should it be put into action, however, it would achieve the remarkable feat of removing all of the benefits that the Electoral College provides while preventing the electors of each state from voting for the presidential candidate whom a majority in that state had picked. Who knew that the outsourcing craze would extend to democracy?
The U.S. Constitution is a complex document that, as Whitman might have put it, contains multitudes. At once, it boasts guarantees of democracy and protections against it; hosts an outline for national action, and a blueprint for localism; and serves as a vehicle for the majority, while including guarantees that the most significant decisions must be broadly agreed upon. The Electoral College is one of the many finely tuned institutions within the charter that have ensured stability and continuity in America for more than two centuries. To destroy it in a hail of platitudes, civic ignorance, and old-fashioned political pique would be a disastrous mistake.
There’s no question that Democrats had a good night on Tuesday. But it was nowhere near what the resistance crowd had hoped. The question now is: Can the party resist its angry base demanding retribution, or try to act like adults and get things done?
When it comes to wave elections, this one wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
In 1994 — two years into Bill Clinton’s first term — Republicans gained a stunning 54 seats to take control of the House, and 9 to take control of the Senate.
Then, in 2010 — two years into Barack Obama’s first term — Republicans gained an even more stunning 63 seats in the House, and six in the Senate, in another stunning rebuke of a Democratic president. Continue reading
by Jim Geraghty • National Review
Republicans lost a bunch of races on Tuesday that they wanted to win. Since Tuesday night, I haven’t seen any riots. I haven’t seen any violent protests, like the ones that have plagued Portland this year. I haven’t seen any Democratic candidates hung in effigy, the way Marsha Blackburn was in Tennessee earlier this month. I’m sure the “Proud Boys” will pop up again in some form, but they’ve been quiet since the NYPD announced arrest warrants for nine of them after that mid-October brawl.
Democrats, progressives, and liberals won a lot of the races that they wanted to win. And what happened? Did they celebrate with glee and good cheer? Did they relax? Did their anger and rage over the 2016 election dissipate and give way to relief and a more optimistic outlook for the future?
No, apparently some of them just got angrier and more explicit in their threats: Continue reading
By now a lot of professional Democrats—campaign consultants, party leaders and the like—are probably wishing they’d never heard the term “big, blue wave.” It set expectations so high for the next election that almost any outcome short of a total rout of the GOP will go into the record books as a disappointment.
If the parties fight to a draw—GOP ends up in control on both sides of the Capitol with a diminished majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and better numbers than it currently enjoys in the U.S. Senate, and the number of Republican governors and GOP-led state legislative chambers does not change appreciably (which is how things would probably turn out were the election held today)—then the Democrats will have been seen to have suffered a major defeat.
Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats had hoped to nationalize the election by making it a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office. They may still get the opportunity to do that—Trump, as the events on the U.S. border with Mexico reminds us, is often his own worst enemy. Nevertheless, most of the news is good as the economy has roared back to life and Continue reading
By Holly Scheer • The Federalist
Hillary Clinton isn’t ready to let go of her election loss to President Trump. Clinton is in Mumbai, India, at the India Today Conclave, a “a meeting point for the best minds from India and around the world to map the geopolitical and economic future of the country.” But instead of keeping her focus on the complex and numerous problems facing India, Clinton took aim Monday at Americans who voted for Trump. Her patronizing and condescending words targeted voters in states that twice voted for Obama, and show she still doesn’t understand why Americans didn’t vote for her.
Clinton compared herself to the mother of the country, trying to enforce something wholesome that the children aren’t fond of. She said, “She ran the presidential campaign like a mother who was telling the kids to eat spinach because it was good for health while the other guy was asking them to go eat fast food and have ice-cream,” India Today reported. Clinton may not have realized it, but this also sheds a lot of light on how she sees the average American. She views them as short sighted, more interested in junk than substance, and in her words, they’re “backwards.” Continue reading
by Fred Barnes • Weekly Standard
Republicans won 7 Democratic seats (so far!), lost none, and took control of the Senate. Harry Reid is history. Democrats thought for sure they’d add some governorships. Nope. They won one but lost 4, including the governor’s race in the bluest of blue states, Maryland. In the House, they lost at least 8 seats, probably more when the final results are in. Now there are more House Republicans on Capitol Hill than we’ve seen in many decades.
For Democrats in the midterm election, it came down to this: they defeated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. That was it. Nothing more. The next most embattled GOP governor, Sam Brownback in Kansas, was reelected. Continue reading
by Carol E Lee • The Wall Street Journal
Voters went to the polls Tuesday deeply frustrated with the political system and handed Republicans a decisive victory. Mr. Obama was a central figure in key races where Republicans criticized his leadership.
Most Democratic Senate candidates refused to appear with Mr. Obama on the campaign trail, trying to distance themselves from an unpopular president. Democrats tried to keep the focus on policies of particular importance in their states. Continue reading