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The New Politics of Bifurcation

The electorate tunes Biden out—and why it matters for November

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

The 2022 election grows more mysterious by the day. Republicans enter this cycle with the wind at their backs: President Biden is unpopular, voters say we are in a recession, Democratic majorities are razor-thin, and midterms favor the opposition party. The issue set—inflation, border security, crime, and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan—is well-suited for Republican candidates. Many Democrats are retiring. GOP voters are enthusiastic. And did I mention the president is unpopular?

Yet Democrats are increasingly bullish about their electoral prospects. They have closed the gap with Republicans on the congressional generic ballot and lead the GOP for the first time this year. They are even or tied with Republicans in (admittedly spotty) polling averages of seven marquee Senate races. Since June 24, when the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and restored abortion law to the political sphere, Democrats have outperformed their expected margins in special elections. The reversal of Roe has mobilized an important Democratic constituency: voters, especially women, with high levels of educational attainment. On August 2, Kansans dealt pro-life forces a setback by defeating a referendum that would have forbidden state judges from reading abortion rights into the state constitution. On August 23, Democrat Pat Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in a closely watched congressional special election in New York. Ryan staked his campaign on preserving abortion rights. Molinaro focused on inflation. Voters had a clear-cut choice between the two parties’ messages. Abortion won.

Suddenly, the political class is revising its expectations for the fall. “Red Wave Looks More Like a Ripple,” says the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter. “Democrats sense a shift in the winds, but it may not be enough,” says the New York Times. “Democrats’ Outlook for Midterm Elections Brightens After New York Win,” says the Wall Street Journal. The Journal‘s op-ed page says the GOP has an abortion problem. The problem? Republicans have no idea what to say about abortion. Some are reticent, some are all over the place, and others support restrictions that go against public opinion. The Democrats are free to define the landscape and press the attack that Republicans will take away women’s rights. It’s a replay of past Democratic accusations that the GOP will cut entitlements such as Medicare or Social Security—except this entitlement is sexual, personal, and not a question of dollars and cents. This summer, Democrats have spent tens of millions of dollars on pro-choice television ads targeting Republicans. Why? Because it works.

There may be more behind the changing dynamics of this election than falling gas prices and abortion rights. Typically, midterm results depend on a president’s approval rating. If that were the case this year, Democrats would be running behind expectations. As it stands, Democrats are running ahead of Biden’s approval rating in the congressional generic ballot, in Senate polling, and in special elections. Voters are not translating their disapproval of Biden into disgust with Democrats in general. They are not factoring Biden into their down-ballot calculations. They have tuned him out.

Jeff Bell, the late Republican consultant, wrote an essay 22 years ago that resonates today. Called “The Politics of Bifurcation,” Bell’s article tried to explain why primary voters in both the Democratic and Republican parties during the 2000 election cycle were more interested in a candidate’s character than in political ideology. The reason, Bell argued, was that voters held a “bifurcated” view of the Clinton presidency: They disapproved of Clinton’s personal conduct but applauded his job performance. Hence, they elevated candidates who displayed honor and integrity over candidates who proposed major policy changes.

That helped figures like John McCain, George W. Bush, and Bill Bradley, and hurt the politician with the closest ties to Clinton the man: Vice President Al Gore. “Without the bifurcation,” Bell wrote in the March 13, 2000, issue of The Weekly Standard, “the Republicans would have far less chance than they do of retaking the White House, given the positive economic and social trends over which Bill Clinton and Al Gore preside.” The split decision on Clinton put Bush in the Oval Office—with an assist from the Supreme Court.

A generation ago, voters differentiated between their views of the president’s personality and of his job performance. The Democrats picked up five House seats one month before the Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached Clinton. Might it be that voters now distinguish between their views of Biden the president and of down-ballot Democrats? In the new politics of bifurcation, voters separate their attitudes toward Biden, whom they see as a lost cause, from their feelings toward the Democratic Party. They might not be happy with either their president or the economy. But unlike last year, they see today’s Republicans as more frightening than the alternative. The upshot: a Democratic revival.

The new politics of bifurcation explains why 18 percent of voters disapprove of Biden but say they will vote for Democrats in the fall. It explains why a recent Pew survey found that Biden’s job approval is a pathetic 37 percent, but voters who disapprove “not so strongly” of Biden favor Democratic candidates by double digits. The not-so-strong disapprovers are a mix of voters who probably were never enthusiastic about Biden to begin with but accepted him as the best way to remove his predecessor from the White House. The economic mismanagement, border insecurity, breakdown of law and order, persistence of viral threats, and chaotic international scene of the past year and a half remind them of Biden’s many flaws. Still, they are not ready to embrace Republican candidates who hold marginal positions on abortion and long for a Trump restoration.

Bifurcation works in paradoxical ways. The last two Democratic presidents had terrible midterms but rebounded in time for reelection. That might not happen with Biden. The electorate views him so poorly that it may be difficult for him to recover—and his job will be more difficult still if surprising Democratic strength in November deprives him of Republican foils in Congress. CNN’s July poll found that 75 percent of Democrats want someone other than Biden to run for president in 2024. The most important number in the Pew poll was 35 percent. It’s the percentage of voters who say Biden is “mentally sharp.” He’s not getting sharper.

The safe bet is that undecided voters will swing toward the opposition party in the closing days of the campaign. In this likely scenario, Biden’s dismal approval rating will bring down the Democratic congressional majorities. That, after all, is how the world works. And yet the world hasn’t been working as expected for the last six years. The most unpopular candidate in the history of the Gallup poll became the first U.S. president with no experience in government or the military. That president became the first chief executive to lose reelection in 28 years. We have had a once-in-a-century pandemic, the largest single-year jump in violent crime ever recorded, the breakdown of the southern border, the worst inflation in 40 years, the first cross-border invasion in Europe since 1945, and a Supreme Court decision that reversed a half-century-old precedent. Things are weird. And if I am right about the new politics of bifurcation, things are about to get weirder.


The GOP Summer Swoon

Republicans learn that a midterm victory won't come easily

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) / Getty Images

Today caps off the worst week yet for Republicans in the 2022 campaign cycle. Their troubles began with Senate passage of the Chips and Science Act on Wednesday, July 27, and culminated in the Kansas pro-life rout on Tuesday, August 2. Before last week, the party was riding a red wave to victory in November’s elections. Now, one month before the campaign begins in earnest on Labor Day, aimless Republicans must fend off a Democratic Party that is playing offense.

Yes, the fundamentals continue to favor the GOP. Voters do not like this economy. They blame President Biden for inflation and supply shortages. The president’s job approval rating is 39 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans are enthusiastic, Democrats less so. Nancy Pelosi’s days as speaker of the House are numbered: The FiveThirtyEight model gives the GOP an 80 percent chance of winning the lower chamber of Congress.

Yet Republicans want more than control of the House. No one wants to repeat the gridlock, frustration, debt crises, shutdowns, and sequester that roiled the country when Democrats held the White House and Senate between 2011 and 2015. If Republicans gain only in the House, Biden won’t feel as much pressure to triangulate off the GOP Congress. He will be able to count on Senate Democrats to confirm his executive and judicial branch appointees. He will turn Kevin McCarthy and the MAGA Squad into foils and scapegoats. The media will be happy to play along.

The GOP needs a full-spectrum victory if it wants to stop the left and shock Democrats into abandoning Biden. The data and events of the past week suggest that the party has a way to go. For starters: Republicans have enjoyed a modest lead in the congressional generic ballot since January. Now the ballot is tied.

Meanwhile, according to FiveThirtyEight, the GOP nominee leads in only one of six key Senate races. The lucky Republican is Ted Budd in North Carolina. He’s ahead of Cheri Beasley by 1 point. The other Republicans are either close behind (Adam Laxalt in Nevada) or far gone (Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania). The GOP needs to net one seat to win Senate control. If the election were held at the time of writing, the party would lose three.

I know, I know: Most of these races are tight. Surveys this far out are unreliable. There is time for Republican challengers to define their opposition. How candidates react under pressure to unknown events in the coming months will be important. Polls of registered voters or all adults do not consider the widespread GOP enthusiasm that will be reflected in polls of likely voters this fall. And state-based polling has been notoriously off since at least the 2014 cycle.

Still, there is no denying that Republicans are acting less confident than just a week ago. The reason? They have been surprised and shell-shocked. Senate leader Mitch McConnell pledged that Republicans would block the $280 billion Chips and Science Act of 2022 for as long as Democrats tried to reach agreement among themselves on a big-spending reconciliation bill. Republicans mistakenly assumed that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was opposed to reconciliation because of inflation. To be fair, he said exactly that on July 14.

On July 27, 17 Republicans voted to pass the Chips Act, subsidizing U.S. semiconductors for reasons of national security. Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he had reached a deal with Manchin on a climate, health care, and tax bill absurdly known as the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Regardless of whether the deal holds, the Senate Republicans had been outmaneuvered. “Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d,” said Sen. John Kennedy. “That’s a Louisiana word for ‘screwed.'”https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Then, on August 2, voters in Kansas rejected an effort to overturn a state court’s ruling that the Sunflower State constitution guarantees a right to abortion. Similar referenda allowing state legislatures to regulate abortion have passed in West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana. But this was the first such initiative put to the ballot since the Supreme Court held Roe v. Wade unconstitutional. Kansas voted for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2020—and voted to maintain a state right to abortion by 18 points in 2022.

Kansas was a defeat for the pro-life movement. It also scared Republican strategists, whose eyes bugged out at the huge Democratic turnout in the middle of the summer. The GOP consultant class was leery of abortion politics to begin with. Now it is all but guaranteed to steer its clients away from a debate over the issue.

This is the wrong response. Too many Republican candidates won’t defend their stance on abortion and provide counter examples of pro-choice extremism. Afraid of what the party’s pro-life ultras might say, Republicans opt for reticence and mixed messaging on abortion rather than offering measures that command public support.https://659b56ca16f539d2f2f5e86f3a679aa6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Imagine thinking that what it will take to win the people’s support after this historic [Supreme Court] victory on the human right to life is to ignore it all together and put all your chips on economic issues,” wrote veteran conservative activist Gary Bauer on August 3. “Go on the campaign trail and talk about carried interest, semiconductor shortages, and misuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Follow the lead of presidential nominees Dole, McCain, and Romney, who rode social issue silence all the way to second-place finishes in national elections.”

Here, then, is the Republican dilemma: The party’s Senate candidates are weak, it has no economic message beyond lamenting inflation, and its fear of the social issues leaves it exposed. “Without an answer to the left’s attack, Republicans in extremely winnable races will lose—and badly,” warned social conservative leader Frank Cannon, who urged Republicans to get behind laws banning abortions after the fetus has a heartbeat and after it is capable of feeling pain. “Now we are in the democratic era of the abortion debate,” Cannon went on. “Republican members of Congress can no longer act like the decision is out of their hands.”

Nor can Republicans act like the outcome of the 2022 election is predetermined. They may have thought that the Democratic majority would collapse under its own weight. They learned this week that it won’t.


Polls Showing Democrats Closing Generic Ballot Gap Should Concern GOP

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

For a few weeks now, public polls have shown the gap narrowing between the GOP and the Democrats on the critical question of which party the American people like to see control Congress after the next election.

Having led consistently for most of the year, sometimes by as much as double digits, GOP consultants pronounce themselves largely unconcerned. The new polls, they say, are a measure of the views of all adults, not likely voters. As such, they believe, the pollsters conducting those surveys probably oversampled Democrats and soft Republicans by so much as to account for the shift.

They might want to consider revising their analysis. Yes, President Joe Biden’s job approval is below 40 percent. Yes, he’s underwater in 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Yes, the Republican Party is showing surprising strength on issues that have been difficult for it in the past. One recent survey showed the GOP leading the Democrats by 4 points among voters asked which party was better equipped on the issue of education.

None of that may matter. The surfeit of economic bad news may not be enough to allow the GOP to seize control of Congress without having to fight for it. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll of 2,500 likely voters conducted from the end of July through the beginning of August showed the GOP lead on the generic ballot test had been cut to three points.

The firm, while reputable, has a reputation – rightly or not – for producing results that skew to the right. Therefore, its pronouncement that “If the elections for Congress were held today, 46% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 43% would vote for the Democrat” with a plus/minus 2 percent margin of error should have the Republican consultant class rewriting its strategy for the summer and fall.

The generic ballot test does not predict outcomes, but it is a good gauge of how the electorate is trending. On Election Day in 1994, the GOP – which was about to make its biggest single election gains in the U.S. House in nearly 70 years – lagged the Democrats by a few points. What should have conservatives worried is not the margin, but the trend – which suggests that intensity among Democrats in the electorate is rising to a point that it is close to matching that of the Republicans.

One would think, and we’re still waiting for the poll to be released, that the successful package of a multi-trillion-dollar spending bill that includes tax hikes, tax breaks for people buying luxury cars and enough money for the IRS that is can more than double the number of auditors in its employ would drive support for the Democrats down.

It still might but something has happened to energize a demoralize left who’s seen its political aspirations dashed on the rocks by the Biden administration’s ineptitude. What it may be is the general inability, perhaps even unwillingness of national Republican leaders to articulate what the party’s next moves will be following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs, which turned the authority for regulating abortion back to the states. According to Rasmussen Reports, “The so-called ‘gender gap’” has widened in the latest findings, with men (50%) now eight points more likely than women voters (42%) to prefer Republican congressional candidates. The gap was six points last week.”

That’s easy to explain given the amount of time the supporters of abortion rights have spent mischaracterizing the Dobbs decision, especially to younger and suburban women likely to vote in the next election. Telling them the court’s ruling will lead to a ban on abortions everywhere, even when an unplanned pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, is a powerful motivator despite it not being true.

“In response to this, Republican leadership has come up with their own brilliant strategy to counter the left’s argument. They plan to say absolutely nothing. Instead, when cornered, federal Republicans will vaguely gesture towards the state legislatures and then reflexively pivot to a diatribe about gas prices and inflation,” Frank Cannon, the founding president of American Principles Project recently wrote in The American Conservative.

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does politics. The failure to craft a response to Dobbs is creating the perfect storm for abortion rights supporters to gain the upper hand and keep it. The Rasmussen Reports analysis says what remains of the GOP’s lead “is mainly due to greater partisan intensity.”

According to the poll, “87 percent of Republican voters say they would vote for their own party’s congressional candidate, while 82% of Democrats would vote for the Democratic candidate. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 39% would vote Republican and 36% would vote Democrat, while 8% would vote for some other candidate and 18% are undecided.”

Playing into the scenario in which the failure to come up with any vision of what life in America will be like after Dobbs, “Voters under 40 favor Democrats by a 13-point margin, 49% to 36%, but 50% of voters 40 and older would vote Republican if the election were held today.” Younger voters are already primed to vote against GOP interests but need a reason. The GOP’s silence in response to a barrage of misinformation may be enough.

The survey of 2,500 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on July 31-August 4, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.


HUNGARY’S INSANE PATH TO SELF-OBLITERATION

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

Historically, Hungary as a political formation had always been ruled by a single tyrant who had been assisted by a small and tightly-knit group of criminal elements strenuously opposed to any reforms or the slightest improvements in the fabric of the existing societies.  Consequently, internal stability had been maintained by totalitarian oppression that had generated extreme fear of and blind submission to the tyrant de jour.  This eternal constellation of Hungarian political culture has been lost on the member states of the European Union when they decided unanimously to embrace the country as a new member of their organization.  To add to the insult of being insufficiently informed to the injury of incompetence, the European Union has to deal with a new Hungarian tyrant who has been the sworn enemy of any democratic form of government.

Personality wise, the reigning tyrant of Hungary Viktor Orban is a duplicitous little weasel.  His main motivation has never been of making sense of the world in unbiased terms but the restoration of a cruel and oppressive government at home and illusionary revanchism with respect to Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia and Croatia abroad.  Thus, fighting a two-front war against the constitutional democracies of the European Union as well as Hungary’s not so glorious past over the future, Viktor Orban’s so-called “illiberal democracy” smacks of an idiotic allegiance to a destructively tyranical mixture of ethno-fascism and the sham doctrine of the Bolsheviks’ fallacious ideological superiority.  His enthusiasm for the one-man rule has yielded a rich harvest for him, his family and his loyal accomplices in robbing Hungary blind of its  minuscule wealth.  Moreover, his devotion for tyranny has made him dim-witted to the unlawfulness of his absolute powers.  Furthermore, his lust for illimitable powers has allowed him to put his nefarious personal interests before the ideas that should have governed the future course of the nation.  Finally, too much power has rendered him uncomprehending of the might of mutually beneficial cooperation in international politics.  Clearly, trying to balance his domestic and foreign policy corruptions, he has created – wittingly or unwittingly – a considerable mass of dubiety.

Plainly, Hungary never had more than the thinnest layer of precarious internal peace, which had continually been challenged by pervasive corruption and regularly eliminated by rival indigenous as well as foreign tyrants fighting for absolute domination.  In this sustained surge of tyrannical assertions, the people had been unable to take hold of any democratic principle, which had been the very negation of individual liberty.  Thus, after two lost wars and a brutal Asiatic occupation of Hungary by the Soviet Red Army throughout the 20th century, generation after generation had existed in chains, which again had been a blatant violation of their sovereignty. 

The recurring sham elections since 2010, have perpetuated the tyrannical nature of Hungarian political culture.  Clearly, Hungarian political history is nothing other than the sad documentation of the people’s endless oppression by a small criminal cabal with an arrogant mentality.  Crazed with fear to the point of utter desperation, the current Hungarian tyrant Viktor Orban has resolved to discard any limits to his powers.  A Constitution that is nothing but a Stalinist window dressing of his tyranny, a never ending state of emergency allegedly because of the pandemic and Russia’s illegitimate war on Ukraine, a judiciary that is utterly politicized in his favor, an economy that is irredeemably under his exclusive control, and the military as well as police forces that are ready to brutally quell any internal opposition, have become self defeating, and even suicidal instruments of his absolute powers.  In foreign policy, senseless opposition to any unified action by the European Union and NATO against the two tyrannical Asian powers, which have been camouflaged by counterfeit national interests, but in reality are solely  designed to protect his domestic tyranny and the all pervasive corruption, highlights the illegitimacy and the usurpation of political, economic, financial and social powers in the hands of a single individual. Without a shred of doubt, Viktor Orban is a demolition tyrant and Hungary is speedily becoming a failed state.  Unquestionably, neither the European Union nor NATO can tolerate a politically deceased member state.  His tyranny has already devastated Hungary.  Unless preempted by both organizations, he will surely destroy it because, lacking the instruments of checks and balances, Viktor Orban will maintain his tyranny by oppressive violence.  If both organizations were to avoid their own self-destruction, they must act in unison decisively.  First, they must declare that they will never tolerate a tyrannical regime in their midst.  Second, the vicious circle of official intimidation that has led to paralysis by fear must be broken.  Decisions by the European courts must be swift and unambiguous against the intermittent violations of the rule of law by the Hungarian courts.  OLAF’s investigations into official corruption by Viktor Orban, his extended family and close associates must be conducted with professional alacrity.  Direct fundings to the current Hungarian government must be stopped until a full accounting of the utilization of past funds are cleared from any wrongdoing.  The refunding to Hungary can only then begin again.  Otherwise, the Hungarian catastrophe will continue to threaten the Free World unabated.    


Democracy Depends on Voter ID

By Travis N. TaylorRealClear Policy

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As the federal government under President Biden continues its attempts to undermine the authority of the states to regulate their own elections — unconstitutional and unprecedented federal actions — states are reasserting their power by passing reforms that will protect the integrity of the electoral process. Louisiana is a national leader on this and should continue its work of making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.

Election integrity is vital to a healthy democracy because Americans need to have confidence that their votes are protected. A breakdown in any part of ballot protection can weaken this confidence, lead to questions regarding the legitimacy of election outcomes, and create a deeper distrust of government and the men and women who serve in it.

Protecting the vote includes ensuring that ballots are cast securely, privately, and legally. It means making sure that every legally cast ballot is counted — and counted only once. It also means providing for the transparent and timely reporting of election results as well as a meaningful post-election audit system to ferret out any irregularities.

Election officials across the country work diligently behind the scenes to administer free and fair elections with these goals in mind. However, some election integrity measures are in full view of the public, and those measures are vital to public confidence in elections. One such measure is the use of voter ID, an issue Louisiana has addressed head on, requiring voters to prove their identity when casting a ballot.

I spent much of my adult life in Louisiana. There were many instances, because of work or being out of state on Election Day, that I had to vote by mail because I refused to let my vote go uncounted and my voice unheard.

Each time I requested and filled out a mail-in ballot, I had to enter a code from my Louisiana driver’s license to verify my identity to the Secretary of State and the Clerk of Courts. Having to write down that four-digit audit code wasn’t inconvenient or an undue burden on me. It was easy, and it gave me confidence that my ballot was secure.

Activists — both within the federal government and outside it — will try to convince you otherwise. They’ll tell you all kinds of lies about voter ID laws. But here are the facts: Voter ID does not reduce turnout, nor does it have an impact on election outcomes.

Louisiana voters are happy with this requirement. In a recent survey of likely voters in Louisiana conducted by the Center for Excellence in Polling, we found that 68 percent of Louisianans support requiring voters to prove their identity when voting by mail. Our results are consistent with previous nationwide surveys that found increasing support for photo ID requirements for voters.

Now, here’s the kicker that the Left doesn’t want you to know: Support for voter ID crosses party lines. In our survey, we found that 80 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Independents support requiring voters to prove their identity on a mail-in ballot. But voter ID is not a partisan issue. A majority (52 percent) of Louisiana Democratic voters also support voter ID requirements on mail-in ballots.

As our country attempts to move forward, the Left will continue to use the unique circumstances of the 2020 election as an excuse to push their radical, Washington-focused, top-down election policies on the states. But the states should continue to push back against the federal intrusion into their sovereign responsibility. As Chief Justice Charles Hughes once wrote, this is “necessary in order to enforce the fundamental right” to vote.

Louisiana has long been a leader in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat. It’s a legacy the Pelican State should be proud of, and one the legislature would be wise to continue. Nothing less than our democracy depends on it.


What Kind of President Do Republicans Want?

By Peter RoffNewsweek

The Biden presidency is a disappointment to Americans. That goes for people who voted for him—who thought he’d do a better job—and people who, even as they voted against him, did not believe he could make as much of a hash of things as he has.

The list of problems is long and growing longer. More COVID-19 cases than there were under Donald Trump. Inflation like we haven’t seen since the Carter years. Rapidly rising interest rates. Shortages. The debacle in Afghanistan. War in Ukraine. It’s no wonder a growing majority of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

According to a new Associated Press-NORC survey, 85 percent of American adults—including more than 7 in 10 Democrats—say the country is not on the right track. Almost two-thirds—60 percent—blame the president for that, with just 39 percent of those participating in the survey saying they approve of his overall presidential leadership. As if that were not bad enough, 69 percent of those surveyed, including 43 percent of the Democrats who responded, rated his handling of the economy “poor.”

Democrats need to face facts. If the president’s age is not an argument against his seeking a second term, his poll numbers are. Support for him has dropped to his predecessor’s level. Trump, at least, benefited from a highly motivated, energized bloc of diehard supporters upon whom he could always count. Biden was always a compromise choice about whom no one was truly enthusiastic.

As of now, the president’s numbers are more likely to get worse than they are to get better. It is much easier, as a friend of mine likes to observe, for his approval rating to fall deeper into the 30s than to get back above 50 percent. This is good news for the Republicans, because it makes it increasingly likely the GOP will win back control of one or both congressional chambers in November, all but guaranteeing the Biden agenda, such as it is, will grind to a full stop.

That may not put the Republicans in charge of the government, but it would effectively make Biden a “lame duck.” He won’t be able to get anything major through and won’t have anything on which to campaign for a second term. Recognizing that, GOP leaders need to be extremely strategic in deciding who they want to run in 2024.

Joe Biden
MADRID, SPAIN – JUNE 30: US President Joe Biden holds his press conference at the NATO Summit on June 30, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. During the summit in Madrid, on June 30 NATO leaders will make the historic decision whether to increase the number of high-readiness troops above 300,000 to face the Russian threat.DENIS DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES

The likely choice, most polls say, is Donald Trump. He’d be the easy winner—in a race against Biden. But what if the Democrats nominate someone else? What if Trump decides not to run? What then? It’s a puzzle, and one that’s not easily solved.

Biden has set the bar so low that it would not be too hard to find a better president among the list of potential GOP nominees—which extends well beyond the list currently being bandied about. The challenge is to find the best president, the one who will right the ship of state the current administration sent headlong into a typhoon.

The GOP needs a nominee who doesn’t just say he or she will put America’s interests first and is on the right side on critical issues like economic growth, taxes and spending, guns, abortion, and school choice, but who has demonstrated leadership on those issues. Someone who has a dynamic vision of the future most all Americans can embrace with enthusiasm.READ MORE

These people do exist. The best candidates to be “the best president” are out there now, in the U.S. Senate and running the red states. In the next campaign, their records will be what matters most. What a candidate says he wants to do needs to be measured against what he’s accomplished—or at least tried to accomplish. That goes for candidates’ record building the party as well. Did they help expand the party and its representation in Congress and the state legislatures? How many Senate, House, and gubernatorial candidates did they help? How much money did they help raise for others compared to how much they raised to fuel their own ambitions? Do they adhere to Reagan’s 11th Commandment (“thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican”), or do they resort to sharp elbows and cutting remarks against foes who should be considered friends? In short, what kind of leader do Republicans want for the next four, and perhaps eight, years?

The answer is not obvious, even for those who’ve already decided to back Trump again. He accomplished much. It’s fair to say he delivered on his promise to “Make America Great Again”—at least before the lockdowns started. His commitment to keeping his word on judges is directly responsible for the overturning of the constitutionally suspect 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which was bad law no matter which side of the issue you were on.

Trump was right for his time—but is he right for the future? He’ll get a chance to make his case after November if he chooses to run. Whether he does or doesn’t, the others who want the job will get the same chance. The Republicans who are tasked with choosing the candidate in 2024 need to keep their options open and think seriously about who can best get the country where it needs to go. If they want to win, they need to make the candidates come to them.


Do Switching Voters Portend Good for the GOP?

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

Do Switching Voters Portend Good for the GOP?

A new media analysis of U.S. voter registration data shows that more than one million voters have reregistered as Republicans over the last year. That number, while dramatic on its own, might just be a glimpse into the changes that are ongoing in the national electorate.

No one will know until the next election whether this high number of voters re-registering as Republicans – and it’s important to note that not every state requires or even allows a voter to select a party affiliation when registering – reflects a changing attitude among the American electorate or an underhanded effort by progressives to interfere in the GOP’s nominating process.

While that sounds conspiratorial, it’s important to note that no less an authority than The New York Times reported Monday that the more Trumpian candidate in the race for the GOP nomination for governor of Illinois – State Sen. Darren Bailey – had seen his campaign’s aspirations boosted “by an unprecedented intervention from (Illinois incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B.) Pritzker and the Pritzker-funded Democratic Governors Association, which has spent nearly $35 million combined” attacking Bailey’s opponent in Tuesday’s GOP primary as being insufficiently conservative.

The voter registration study conducted by two reporters working for the Associated Press using data provided by L2, a political data firm, concluded the 1.7 million voters who changed their party affiliations over the last year constitute a “definite reversal from the period while Trump was in office when Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide.”

“Statistical modeling of the data revealed that of the 1.7 million voters over 1 million registered as Republican, while only 630,000 registered as Democrats – a massive shift in new partisan allegiance from the Trump years,” the website Mediate reported in its coverage of the story.

Whether this is a plus for conservatives specifically or the GOP generally has yet to be determined. Looking at the numbers and where they come from, most of the change appears to be happening in the suburbs in battleground states like Wisconsin and Georgia that, while typically more conservative than the cities they abut gave a majority of their votes to Joe Biden rather than Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

The AP analysis attributed the switch to voters becoming “increasingly concerned about the Democrats’ support in some localities for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, the party’s inability to quell violent crime, and its frequent focus on racial justice.” Perhaps, although that sounds like the kind of political shorthand a liberal might use to explain what was going on without having to delve into the issue too deeply. There’s indeed been an anti-lockdown component to some primaries already ended – and the prolonged closure of public schools in New Jersey and Virginia may have had a profound impact on the 2021 gubernatorial and state legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia but that’s only part of the story.

What’s notable on the list of factors is what is missing. There’s not a single economic issue on it. Taxes, spending, jobs – issues that voters consistently say are at the top of the list of things they care about – are, in the AP analysis, not driving the shift among voters leaving the Democrats for the GOP.

That’s hard to believe, especially for anyone old enough to remember Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign for president where his consultants posted a sign on the headquarters wall to remind him and themselves that “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The areas where voters are switching also include counties “around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa,” as well as “areas like Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland”. These are all places where Biden’s mismanagement of the economy is hitting home hard. The president may like to brag about the number of jobs he says have been “created” since he took office but, as any reasonable person understands intuitively, most of those are jobs that existed before the lockdowns were imposed and which came back first in states led by GOP governors.

Voters like these are the ones most likely to feel the pinch of higher gas prices, the pain of doing more with less at the supermarket and the challenge of rising interest rates present to existing homeowners and those looking for a new place to live.

In a statement to the AP, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel voiced excitement over the prospect Biden’s blunders will result in her party making significant gains in the next election. The president and the Democrats, she said, “are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that’s why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves,” adding she believes “American suburbs will trend red for cycles to come.”

According to the AP, of the roughly 1.7 million Americans who changed their party affiliation over the past 12 months, two-thirds became members of the GOP while the others went the other way. While probably not enough to shift the outcome of a national race these changes, if they are a legitimate reflection of changing voter sentiments and not an effort to ensure conservative nominees are chosen to run in places where a more moderate member of the GOP could easily win, the movement of one million voters who were formerly Democrats, independents or members of third parties into the GOP is significant enough to determine the outcome in contests that may be especially close.

If that’s true, it’s still not likely to make the difference in which party controls either chamber of Congress next January but it could have an impact on the size of the GOP’s margins of majority in the House and Senate, if, as expected, the Republicans take back Congress. This will have an impact on the confirmation of judges and what legislation actually makes it to the president’s desk, it sets up a meaningful contrast between the two parties that will likely influence the outcome of the 2024 presidential election no matter who the major party nominees are.


Judge Slams Brakes on Noncitizen Voting

By John FundNational Review

A New York State Supreme Court justice has ruled that a new law allowing 800,000 noncitizens to vote in local elections in New York City was unconstitutional. The case will be appealed to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest judicial body, but it’s a promising start.

Justice Ralph Porzio noted that the state’s constitution explicitly says only eligible citizens can vote. That can be changed, but only by a vote of the people in a referendum, a move the hyper “woke” city council didn’t dare to embrace when it passed the law allowing green-card holders and work-visa holders the vote last year. They knew noncitizen voting is unpopular — even radical San Francisco voters gave the idea only 54 percent approval in 2016.

There are few limits on how far the woke Left will go to change the rules of voting. In 2019, a majority of House Democrats voted to lower the federal voting age to 16 years, from 18.

The very notion of noncitizen voting is fraught with peril, especially in a big city such as New York. Few experts believe that, in a place where noncitizen voting is allowed, there would be effective enforcement of laws still barring illegal aliens from voting.

In 2016, New York Board of Elections commissioner Alan Schulkin, a Democrat, was videotaped at a party by Project Veritas confirming the existence of voter fraud and decrying the city’s failure to require voter ID. “Certain neighborhoods in particular, they bus people around to vote,” Schulkin said on the tape. “They put them in a bus and go poll site to poll site.” Schulkin was promptly forced to resign for speaking his mind by then-mayor Bill de Blasio.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, himself the son of Cuban immigrants, has introduced a bill to prohibit federal funding to states and localities that allow foreigners to vote. “It’s ridiculous that states are allowing foreign citizens to vote,” Rubio says. “However, if states and localities do let those who are not U.S. citizens to vote in elections, they shouldn’t get U.S. citizen taxpayer money.”

I am in favor of having people legally living in this country establish ties to the community and have a say in their governance. As Howard Husock, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says, “the right way to bring noncitizens into the electoral process at the federal, state, and local levels is old-fashioned: encourage them to become citizens.” It’s not hard for legal residents to go that route — they must have been in the U.S. for five years, pay some fees, and pass a test, given in English, on U.S. institutions.

What is so unfair about the system we have now? The answer is that it doesn’t suit the blatantly political imperatives of the woke Left, and that is a key reason noncitizen voting must be rejected.


The Mainstream Media Is Missing the Real 2022 Midterm Election Plot

By Peter RoffNewsweek

There are a lot of folks who like to watch the NFL on TV. Maybe not as many as there were before the whole kneeling thing started, but it’s still a big number. And many of those probably find it irritating to no end when one of the commentators says something like—and it’s almost inevitable that they will—”It’s all going to come down to which team can put the most points on the board.”

For the people who, like me, make a living writing about politics and elections, the onset of primary season produces for us the same kind of annoyance. It’s maddening when someone who is presented as an expert on the ins and outs of the electoral process says, as you can safely bet someone eventually will, that “it’s all going to come down to turnout.”

There are times when there is a real urge to smack some of these analysts in the face. This is what comes from eliminating high school civics programs and news organizations deciding that those who at one time or another covered local government are now well-suited to explain how and why politicians get elected.

The 2016 presidential election is a perfect example of this phenomenon in practice. Many of the nation’s top political reporters, as well as those in the middle and many of the bottom-feeders, missed what was going on. They bought into the spin that Hillary Clinton‘s election was inevitable. As such, they regarded the October 2016 leak of an audiotape in which Donald Trump could, to put it gently, be heard speaking unflatteringly about women, as a death blow.

Admittedly, in many races and almost any other year, it probably would have been. But the choice between Clinton and Trump was unlike any presented to the voters in some time.

It takes experience in the electoral process to generate the level of sophistication regarding the many nuances in American politics. It takes more than subject-matter expertise to get it right. So many of my colleagues missed it so totally that I—who saw Trump’s chances of getting to the White House growing while Clinton’s were contracting, even after the release of the infamous audiotape—was either onto something or had simply become a cheerleader for whichever candidate the GOP chose to nominate.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the commencement
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address during the graduation and commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Memorial Stadium on May 27, 2022 in Annapolis, Maryland.CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

The reason I bring this all up is that I now see it happening again. The dominant political media’s obsession with Trump, the candidates he’s endorsed and whether or not they’re winning contested GOP primaries is only a small part of the 2022 midterm election story.

It’s a popular subject because it’s easy to cover and people seem interested in it. It doesn’t, however, tell us much about where the GOP is headed or what’s now happening among the Democrats. The next election, as much as the mainstream media won’t like it, isn’t going to be a referendum on Trump. It’s going to be about President Joe Biden and how the Democrats have run the country for the last two years, even though—and this is something else that’s been overlooked—the GOP is in charge of more states now than at almost any time in history.

The Biden presidency is failing. At least that’s the perception people have. His approval rating, which started in the low- to mid-60s when he took office, has now sunk below 40. That’s not good for him, and it’s not good for his party. Democrats are getting the blame for things that are happening as a result of policies Biden has put in place, as well as for things harmful to the interests of the United States over which he has no direct control. That’s created a positive political environment for the GOP, which has amassed a nearly double-digit lead on the crucial polling question of which party voters want to control Congress after the next election.

How people feel, and why, is what ties all this together. The environment drives turnout and, right now, GOP voters are energized and engaged. A Rasmussen Reports national survey released May 26 found that of the 79% of likely voters who are excited to vote in the midterm election, Republicans led Democrats by an eight-point margin. Among those who said they were “very excited” (49 percent) to vote this fall, the GOP lead grows to 16 points. “These findings are consistent with the generic congressional ballot,” the polling firm said, “where Republicans held a nine-point lead last week.”

The challenge for those writing about elections is to figure out why that is. To be blunt, they need to set aside their personal biases—left and right—long enough to get in touch with what the American voter is thinking, while also abandoning their propensity to judge whether those thoughts are “right” or “wrong.” Only then will they be able to report competently on the contest for control of Congress this fall.


Dick Armey’s Behind-the-Scenes Take on Congress

The former GOP majority leader shows how the sausage is made.

By Peter RoffAmerican Spectator

It’s always a temptation when reviewing political books to cite the observation attributed to Bismarck that “Laws are like sausages. It’s best not to see them being made.” It’s so tempting it’s become a cliché. Yet just because it’s trite doesn’t make it true.

In election after election, we’ve seen candidates for high office make promises we presume they intend to keep. Then they go off to Washington, ready to do the right thing, only to find themselves eventually distracted by the perks that come with the job, as we’ve seen time and again on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and on the nightly news.

One who did manage to stay within the boundaries he set for himself was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas). First elected in 1984, he quickly became the kind of conservative leader many Republicans had long prayed would come upon the scene.

For many, their first encounter with him came while he was pushing a then-revolutionary idea that would allow the federal government to close unneeded military bases over the opposition of those who represented the districts in which they were located. The Armey Base Closing Bill, which he managed to get passed despite not being a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been held up ever since as an example that legislators looking to make their mark as serious people would do well to emulate.

It did not take long for Armey to be seen as the conservative standard-bearer on a host of issues related to economics and education. He’s still revered to this day by the nation’s millions of home-schooling families because he stopped an effort by congressional Democrats to regulate their activities. But he is best known for his leadership on economic issues — particularly against the tax increases that George H. W. Bush sought in violation of the “no new taxes” promise he made during the 1988 presidential election.

That, as most people know, proved ruinous to Bush’s hopes for a second term because it turned the Reagan wing of the party against him. White House insiders tried to mitigate the political damage by claiming it was a gambit by then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu to produce an uptick in federal revenues by forcing the Democrats to sign on to a cut in the tax rate on capital gains. Other said later that it was tied to getting congressional support for the military operation that pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

What wasn’t, and what no one has ever said until now when Armey does it, is that the tax hike was something long in the works, planned by key Bush aides whose green eyeshades were pulled down too far over their faces to see reality staring back at them.

According to Armey, he was told in 1989 during the period in which 101st Congress was organizing that House Budget Chairman Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) looked him in the eye and told him Bush’s OMB Director-designate “Dick Darman believes that if he can get President Bush a year beyond his ‘read my lips’ declaration, he can get him to agree to raise taxes in a budget deal.”

Leader is not gossipy or salacious, and he doesn’t use his prose to settle scores. That’s what makes Armey’s book so different from the traditional Washington memoir. He has kinder words for some Democrats than those who know him as a fierce partisan might expect. He’s also got some choice words for some of his fellow Republicans, who do not come off at all well. This includes the man who succeeded him as majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, who is widely viewed as the principal inside man in the aborted coup against House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Armey, who says to this day says he had no part in the coup, recounts how he was angrily confronted by his fellow Texan after being forced to apologize to the entire Republican Conference. DeLay, he writes, “rushed me, grabbed my coat, and screamed into my face. ‘You rotten SOB! I hate you! And I am going to ruin you, you miserable bastard!’”

There’s a lot for anyone to learn in Leader, whether you want to know how good policy becomes law, how bad economics make bad policy, or how the legislative process really works, told from the perspective of a man who not only participated in it but also led it for almost a decade. As the Republican House floor leader, he had the insider’s view. In his book he shares it, warts and all, candidly and seemingly without reservation, something that in the age of spin and social media happens all too infrequently. Unlike many of his former political colleagues, Armey didn’t write this book to make money. He wrote it to make a point worth making, which, frankly, is why Dick Armey ever does anything.


Pop Goes the Presidency

Biden gets desperate

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Getty Images

A wise man once said: “When the economy is bad, people blame the party in power. When the economy is good, people look at other issues.”

Well, the economy is bad. Nice-sounding growth, job, and wage numbers do not count for much when the American standard of living is in decline. Inflation has outpaced income gains since last year. It remains at a 40-year high. Gas costs more than four dollars per gallon—sometimes much more—in every state. Americans under 40 years old are experiencing consumer delays, shortages, and scarce necessities, including baby formula, for the first time in their lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans say that inflation is “a very big problem.”

It’s also a very big problem for the party in power. President Biden’s economic approval rating is 34 percent in the most recent CNN poll. His overall job approval rating is 41 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls. Republicans have held a slight but durable lead in the congressional generic ballot since last October. The midterm election is less than six months away. To preserve their narrow majorities in Congress, Democrats need to change the trajectory of this campaign. Right now.

Their solution? Pretend that the election isn’t a referendum on Biden’s job performance but a choice between Biden and Donald Trump. Scare voters with references to the extremism of the right. Invoking Trump alone is not enough, however. Terry McAuliffe tried that approach during last year’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign and it flopped. McAuliffe lost. Running against Trump and the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement doesn’t work when Trump is neither president nor on the ballot. Democrats have convinced themselves that victory in the fall requires something scarier than MAGA. It requires Ultra-MAGA.

On May 10 Biden contrasted his policies with the “Ultra-MAGA Agenda.” Haven’t heard of it? According to Biden, it’s the brainchild of Senator Rick Scott of Florida, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (In his remarks, Biden erroneously said Scott hails from Wisconsin.) Back in February, Scott released a policy document that remains controversial within the Republican Party and that few Republican candidates have endorsed in full.

Biden isn’t subtle. He wants to use Scott’s proposals as an electoral cudgel, just as Barack Obama campaigned against Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” in 2012. Hence Biden’s description of “the ultra-MAGA plan put forward by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families; lower the incomes of American workers; threaten the sacred programs American count on like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; and give break after break to big corporations and billionaires.” Biden says that his foes are not ordinary Republicans. They are not run-of-the-mill Trump voters. They are “Ultra-MAGA Republicans.”

Someone has been spending too much time in focus groups. The Biden administration and congressional Democrats must think that the prefix “ultra” makes a noun sound spooky. But the president and his underlings will have to specify who really counts as an Ultra-MAGA Republican, what the Ultra-MAGA agenda entails, and when “ultra” should be capitalized before voters stop worrying about rising prices, violent crime, insecure borders, and craziness in schools. In its current usage, “ultra-MAGA” comes across as comical. It’s a hackneyed slogan. Some people may even find it appealing.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the other day that “ultra-MAGA” is the president’s coinage for Republicans who support Rick Scott’s plan, Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion returning abortion law to the states, and Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R., Fla.) fight with Disney. “And so,” said Psaki, “to him, adding a little ‘ultra’ to it, gives it a little extra pop.”

A little extra pop? What is Psaki talking about—a new flavor of Pringles?

The Democrats are unable or incapable of running on their accomplishments. Their economic agenda is discredited among voters grappling with inflation. Their traditional advantage on education has narrowed because of parental fury at school closures, mask rules, confusing COVID guidance, and politically correct school boards. They have fallen back on scaremongering and name-calling.

Not for the first time. Nor for the last. Expect the alarm bells to ring louder as autumn approaches. By Election Day, Biden will have moved from “Ultra-MAGA” to “Mega-MAGA,” “Super-Duper MAGA,” “MAGA Deluxe XXL,” and, in homage to his love of ice cream, “All-Out Triple Scoop Chunky Monkey MAGA with Extra Deplorables.” Voters will respond as they usually do when Biden speaks. They will ignore him.


Voters Call Biden a Weak Commander-in-Chief

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

Voters Call Biden a Weak Commander-in-Chief

 Despite pushing Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in lethal aid to Ukraine amidst its ongoing effort to repel Russian invaders and drive them from their homeland, U.S. voters still regard President Joe Biden as a weaker leader than any of his predecessors.

The polling firm Rasmussen Reports queried 1,000 U.S. voters likely to cast ballots in the next election about their feelings regarding Biden’s leadership. Only 24 percent of those who responded said they found him to be a “stronger commander-in-chief” than those who preceded him in office.

The public’s view of Biden’s ability to handle pressing issues of national security was undoubtfully shaped unfavorably by the sudden, chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that took enemies and allies alike by surprise.

In the ensuing chaos, people who had worked with the United States forces and those who had partnered with the Americans on national building projects under George W. Bush and Barack Obama found themselves left behind, unable to get out of the country now that the various provinces and capital city of Kabul had come under the control of the Taliban.

The findings in the latest poll, Rasmussen Reports said, were largely unchanged from November 2021, before the Russians launched their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. In that survey, 57 percent of respondents said Biden was weaker than his predecessors.

Supporter for Biden has been steadily declining since he came into office. His job approval rating in various polls, which started above 60 percent, has dropped into the low 40s and threatens to go even lower as the election nears, due in the main to the perception the current administration has done a poor job controlling inflation and has shown little concern for its impact on the working men and women who used to make up the bulwark of the Democratic Party’s winning electoral coalition.

Shockingly, two-thirds of those responding to the survey who are current or former members of the U.S. military – 64 percent – agreed Biden was a weaker leader than those who came before him. Though only a small part of the survey – 15 percent – their educated opinion on such matters is not something the current administration should ignore going forward.

According to the Rasmussen analysis, not even half of the Democrats who answered the survey conducted online and by telephone would say Biden was “stronger.” Just 41 percent of those in the president’s party agreed with that position, as did 8 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of independents polled. A whopping 84 percent of likely GOP voters said Biden “is a weaker commander in chief compared to most recent presidents,” as did 26 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of unaffiliated voters.

When it comes to dealing with other world leaders, 60 percent of all likely voters found Biden to be “less aggressive than most recent presidents in pushing what’s best for America.” Only 23 percent said he was more aggressive, while just 12 percent said he was “about the same” in pushing for America’s interests.

Those finding Biden “less aggressive” included 80 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of unaffiliated voters.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted on April 24-25, 2022, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.


Biden is Losing. Period

By Peter RoffAmerican Liberty

Biden is Losing. Period

The Biden administration is over. Sure, he has another two years plus in the White House and might even win a second term (if he runs and if the GOP nominates an unelectable candidate), but he’s lost the ability to set the agenda for the country, and he’s not getting it back.

Some people argue he’s been derailed by events which, as former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously said presented the biggest challenge to any administration, but that’s not true. Biden and his people have exhibited a degree of organizational incompetence and a tin ear for the public sentiment on key issues.

Emblematic of all this is special climate envoy John F. Kerry, a former Secretary of State and the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. He cheerfully travels the world in private jets to receive awards for his work combatting global warming, is caught flying maskless on commercial flights despite his own administration’s transportation masking mandate and reacts to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by voicing concerns it will distract from the effort to move the economy of the West away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

Kerry’s also dismissive of the job losses and economic dislocations that would occur if, as the Biden administration is pushing for, the U.S. economy were to transition from one dependent on fossil fuels to one where renewables were the dominant energy source. He called that an “opportunity” rather than a major crisis for millions of working-class families and employees in the energy sector. Maybe they can just learn to code or grow Belgian endive.

It’s hard to imagine anyone more out of touch with the hoi polloi than that. Unfortunately for us all, Kerry is just the tip of a very large iceberg of party leaders and policymakers indifferent to the needs of hard-working Americans trying to find their way back to prosperity and economic security in the face of rising interest rates and record inflation.

Biden doesn’t have a plan to deal with any of it. He says he does, but that’s posturing. The White House announced with great fanfare nearly a month ago that the president has authorized the release of fuel stocks held in the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves to blunt the spike in the price of gasoline he blamed on Putin.

To set the record straight, gas prices were rising before Putin launched his attack. Energy prices are going up because of Biden’s policies, not global events. Yet the contracts to get the oil in the SPR to market were only completed Thursday. Good thing there wasn’t a real emergency like a nation hostile to the United States or a terrorist group seizing or disabling the Suez Canal.

As for inflation across the economy, the New York Federal Reserve Bank has shown that inflation took off appreciably in 2021, the first year Biden was in office. Even former Obama-Biden Economic Advisor Jason Furman said the inflation now reducing the purchasing power of working Americans is not transitory as the White House originally tried to claim but will instead continue due to increased demand created, as the RNC recently pointed out, by excess savings built by the Democrats’ endless government checks from their $2 trillion so-called COVID stimulus.

All this is costing Biden, as is his failure to push the Build Back Better legislation through Congress or to achieve any progress on the other critical campaign promises he made to the voters who chose to back him in the primary over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or in the general election against former President Donald Trump.

Much of this is borne out in the latest Gallup Poll, which shows the president to be “stuck” – to use the word employed by the venerable polling firm – in an unpopular place. “During Joe Biden’s fifth quarter in office, which began on January 20 and ended on April 19, an average of 41.3 percent of U.S. adults approved of the job he was doing as president. The latest average is essentially unchanged from the 41.7 percent in his fourth quarter but significantly lower than his first three quarterly averages.”

To put this in perspective, Biden’s latest rating “is lower than that of any prior elected president,” Gallup said, save for Trump, who nonetheless is consistently polling ahead of the current president in polls testing how each would fare in a potential 2024 rematch.

Between then and now, of course, is the 2022 midterm election. Forecasters are predicting the GOP will win control outright, not just of the U.S. House of Representatives but Congress as a whole, further burying Biden’s ability to set the agenda.

Gallup’s analysis of the latest numbers confirms this, saying the president’s low job approval numbers – which are unlikely to improve before the election and it would be ahistorical if they did – stand as “a significant threat to the Democratic Party’s chances of maintaining its slim majorities” in Congress after November. “Typically, unpopular presidents’ parties have lost seats in midterm elections, with the number of seats lost usually much higher for presidents with job approval ratings below 50 percent.”

If the GOP wins control of Congress, it may prove to be the president’s political salvation. Just as Bill Clinton was helped immeasurably by his party’s losing control of the legislative branch in 1994 to Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Congress, Biden may find it easier to moderate his positions and engage in successful negotiations to get legislation to his desk if he no longer must concern himself with the ability of “The Squad” and other extreme progressives like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to tank any bill them deem to be insufficiently socialist-leaning all by themselves.

Like Clinton, Biden would look like the moderate he claimed to be in the campaign by agreeing to Republican efforts to bring in budgets that look balanced, rein in the rate of increase in federal spending, get inflation under control, require work once again in exchange for welfare payments, continue real criminal justice reform, make it easier to start and fund charter schools and do other things that have appeal to suburban voters and working Americans.

If Biden and his staff are smart enough to realize this is how to play the hand the voters are about to deal them, then he becomes a much stronger candidate for a second term – just not on the terms he and others close to him might like. If they go into 2024 forcing the American electorate to choose between heading left or heading right, Biden – or whoever the Democratic nominee is – will almost certainly lose.


The Death Of Hungary’s Contrived Democracy Experiment

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

Hungary’s ninth most bizarre and absolutely unfair national elections took place on April 3, 2022.  The first in 1990, was won by a group of the previous regime’s fellow travelers, who knew close to nothing about governing a country.  The resulting collective disappointment brought back in 1994 the reform Communists of the 1980s.  In 1998, the Viktor Orban-led Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ), formed a coalition government with the antediluvian Smallholders’ Party.  In 2002, his government, riddled with incompetence and corruption, was unceremoniously booted out of power by a coalition of the politically still presentable reform Communists and an unruly collection of self-aggrandizing neoliberal titans.  This unlikely coalition survived for another eight unsuccessful years, which included the worldwide economic crisis in 2008-2009.  In 2010, the Young Democrats returned to power with 54% of the votes.  Since then, headed by the indestructible Viktor Orban, the not so Young and definitely not Democrats have repeated the same act three more times, in 2014, in 2018, and very recently in 2022. 

Regardless of Viktor Orban’s and his party’s wins, the overall situation in Hungary has remained unequivocally frightening.  In spite of significant financial support by the European Union, the promised progress to democracy and a more equitable distribution of the national wealth has never  materialized.  Under Viktor Orban’s premiership, Hungary has been metamorphosed from a resentfully  developing constitutional system into a ruthless criminal syndicate.  Economically, almost 50% of Hungarians still cannot afford basic resources.  Conversely, the constitutionally unrestrained and politically unaccountable Orban governments have stolen and embezzled most of the economic wealth of the country.  In this manner, Hungary has again lost another decade in moving closer politically and economically to the developed member states of the European Union. 

More importantly, Hungary has even regressed backward by Viktor Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy.”  While he has never defined it unambiguously, life in Hungary has shown that this kind of a rogue regime means nothing but absolute power for him – made even more despicable by unbridled corruption as well as unconditional impunity for his extended family and his closest collaborators.  In other words, behind the facade of “Illiberal Democracy” lurks the real Hungary, in which the mentality of centuries-old feudalistic order is mixed in a chaotic jumble with the loathsome reality of a well organized criminal syndicate.  Mainly, Orban’s “Illiberal Democracy” must be rebranded as a viscerally evil “Kleptocracy.”  Undoubtedly, it is highly destructive for a truly free society.  Indeed, his kleptocratic “Illiberal Democracy” is the sworn enemy of real democracy and economic prosperity, because it is the mythical “Horn of Amalthea” and a genuine cornucopia of inexhaustible wealth for this Hungarian tyrant. 

Foreign and domestic analyses before the elections were full of erroneous opinions regarding the present situation in Hungary.  In the United States of America, leading media personalities have praised Viktor Orban and the overall conditions in Hungary.  In particular, Tucker Carlson of Fox News Channel and Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, excelled in relentlessly spreading pro-Orban propaganda with outrageously fabricated reporting on the blessings of the latter’s “Illiberal Democracy,” equating it falsely with genuine democratic conservatism. Unsurprisingly, they have been unable to explain the uniquely Hungarian phenomenon of the majority’s strange behavior of repeatedly submitting themselves to a political power that keeps them in abject poverty as well as political slavery.  However, anyone who desires to really comprehend the actual state of affairs, the mentality and the lives of the Hungarians should study Patty Hearst’s curious affair with the Symbionese Liberation Army of 1974. 

As has been exhaustively chronicled by the media and Hollywood, the granddaughter of American media magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped on February 4, 1974.  Brainwashed and abused, the 19-year old Patty Hearst joined the group to commit several armed robberies.  Whether she was a victim of coercion or a converted criminal remained unresolved by her criminal trial.  What is more important, however, is the undeniable fact of her impossible state of mind, namely, being simultaneously an initial victim and a duped collaborator of her submission.  Her personal tragedy was straight up good versus evil. 

Similarly, the majority of Hungarian and their ethnic kinfolks in the neighboring countries, consider themselves the innocent victims of the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty that decimated historic Hungary’s territory as well as its population.  Predictably, they have attached great importance to the logic of good versus evil among themselves and in relation with their neighbors in the region.  Thus, a nation inside and outside Hungary’s present national boundaries, has become divided against itself.  Hatred, jealousy and desperation have taken hold of the Hungarian national consciousness.  Collaboration with the evil “Illiberal Democracy” has been a life or death predicament for every Hungarian.

Yet, no country, no institution and no ideology can normally develop by constantly highlighting its miseries.  Nor can the belief in unrealistic and fallacious historical narratives provide the people with real knowledge of themselves as well as the outside environment.  This instability of the political realm has prevented the emergence of a new politics and perhaps a new conception as well as spirituality of being a Hungarian.  For these reasons, Viktor Orban’s hate-filled fearmongering and divisive rhetoric might have been seen as a personal victory for him, but a tragic defeat for Hungary.  Constitutionally, the new/old Orban government  will be incapable of changing its corrupt  ways.  Understandably, such a state of affairs cannot continue much longer.  Clinging to its self-defeating domestic and foreign policies, Hungary will not abandon its ambivalence and, therefore, it will remain an absurdly underdeveloped member of the European Union, in which the law of the jungle will always be superimposed on the rule of law.  In the precious words of a late friend of mine, Istvan Gereben:  “Hungary is and will remain for the foreseeable future a hopelessly lost cause for its long suffering citizens, the European Union and the rest of the world.” 


Cleaning Up the Electoral Process

By Peter RoffNewsweek

The American political system is far from perfect but is generally considered to be better than most all others. Its openness, transparency and level of citizen involvement may be unequaled anywhere else in the world.

Still, some look upon the way America elects its officials as a fundamentally flawed, anti-democratic process prone to cheating. The proponents of major change, once considered to be on the fringes of politics, have moved a lot closer to the center of power in both major parties in the last few years.

There are lots of ideas for reform on the table. One that continues to gather steam originated in the aftermath of the election of 2000, when the country had to wait weeks before it knew which candidate—former vice president Al Gore or then-Texas governor George W. Bush—carried Florida and, with it, a majority in the electoral college.

Everyone knows how it finally turned out. A group of disappointed Democrats, however, believing Gore had been denied victory not by the voters but by Supreme Court Justices loyal to the GOP, began considering ways to ensure it never happened again. They proposed a method for choosing presidential electors based on the results of the national popular vote for president.

The idea is now drawing support from some Republicans as well because, they say, presidential campaigns currently rely so much on the critical “swing states” that each state where the outcome is more or less is predictable is neglected. As a result, millions of potential GOP voters stay home because, as far as choosing a president is concerned, their votes don’t matter much at all.

Every American should believe their vote counts. Under the terms of the proposed National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), the candidate who receives the most votes nationwide would win all the electors from states that are members of the compact. This mechanism, its proponents say, would incentivize both major parties to compete for every vote in every state.

Critics of the idea have called it unconstitutional, arguing it changes the process for choosing a president without a constitutional amendment or congressional approval. Supporters say that’s not so—the compact leaves the Electoral College intact but changes the way states party to it choose their electors. That’s a privilege the Constitution reserves for the state legislatures. Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia, covering nearly 200 electors combined, have enacted legislation bringing them into the NPVIC, which only goes into effect when enough states with enough electors to determine the outcome of an election—270—sign on.

Voting New York City
A voter stands in a booth at a voting station at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) during the mayoral election process in New York on June 12, 2021.ED JONES / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Regardless of what people say about it, it’s an idea that may someday come to pass. Many Republicans resist the idea because they believe it will give Democrats the opportunity to steal an election through fraud in cities in big states like Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Those concerns are blocking the compact from advancing further because the majority of state legislative chambers are currently controlled by the GOP.

That’s not going to last forever. Such things can turn on a dime, like in 1974 when the GOP lost hundreds of seats nationwide thanks to Richard Nixon’s misdeeds. It looks increasingly likely Joe Biden‘s mismanagement of the presidency will produce similarly tremendous losses up and down the ballot for the Democrats this November.

The smart move for anyone who cares about election integrity would be to take up the issue of fraud and potential fraud now. As much as some people seem to believe voter identification laws will do the trick, it’s the issue of the voter rolls and their accuracy that should occupy their time.

The best protection against future fraud, say some election law experts, would be changing the way voter rolls are maintained to keep them clean. States should henceforth require that deceased voters be removed from the rolls no more than 30 days after a certificate of death is registered.

The relevant officials in each state should also have to review county tax rolls to see if the addresses listed on the voter rolls given by people when they register are indeed residential or other permissible addresses as required by state law. Similarly, court clerks should be required to send weekly or monthly reports to election officials identifying people to whom jury summons are undeliverable so they may be struck from the lists.

Finally, we might all be better served if we treated voter registration like we do drivers’ licenses by putting an expiration date on it. Voters, especially those who are put on the rolls automatically because of the federal Motor Voter law, should be required to renew their registration every few years to help maintain the accuracy of the lists.

These reforms are common sense and, if enacted, would do much to reassure a nation rocked now and again by charges of fraud. Elections are too important for their vital elements not to be maintained with the highest degree of scrutiny.


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