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Is the Liberal Hour Ending in the West?

By  Patrick BuchananRealClear Politics

Hillary Clinton called them “the deplorables.” Barack Obama called them losers who “cling” to their Bibles, bigotries and guns.

To President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission, they are “these populist, nationalists, stupid nationalists… in love with their own countries.”

Well, “stupid” they may be, and, yes, they do love their countries, but last week they gave Juncker a thrashing, as they shook up the West and the world.

Elections in the world’s largest electoral blocs — the 28-nation EU, and an India of 1.3 billion people — showed that the tide of nationalism continues to rise and spread across Europe and Asia.

In India, the Hindu Nationalist BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a smashing victory. So strong was Modi’s showing that he rushed to reassure non-Hindus, especially India’s 200 million Muslims, that they remain equal citizens. But in India the Hindu hour is at hand.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, formed just months ago, ran first in Britain with 31%. No other party came close. Labor won 14% and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tories ran 5th with 9%, a historic humiliation.

In the French elections, Emmanuel Macron’s party lost to the National Rally of Marine Le Pen, whom he had defeated 2-1 in the last presidential election.

Matteo Salvini’s populist-nationalist League, with 34%, ran first in Italy in a showing that could lead to national elections that could make him prime minister.

The nationalist Law and Justice Party in Poland and the populist Fidesz Party of Viktor Orban in Hungary were easily victorious.

In Germany, however, the conservative-socialist coalition of Angela Merkel bled support. Both the CDU and SPD lost strength in defeats that could shake the Berlin government.

What do these elections tell us?

If the Conservatives wish to remain in power in Parliament, they will have to leave the European Union and, if necessary, crash out without a divorce settlement with Brussels.

The Tories cannot defy the will of their own majority on the most critical issue in 50 years — a nationalist demand to be free of Brussels — and still survive as Britain’s first party.

Whoever wins the Tory competition to succeed May will almost surely become the prime minister who leads Britain out of the EU.

Nor is that such a tragedy.

The first Brexit, after all, was in 1776, when the 13 colonies of North America severed all ties to the British crown and set out alone on the path to independence. It did not turn out all that badly.

Last week’s election also saw major gains for the Green parties across Europe. Laser-focused on climate change, these parties will be entering coalitions to provide center-left and center-right regimes the necessary votes to create parliamentary majorities.

The environment is now likely to rival Third World immigration as an issue in all elections in Europe.

While nationalist and populists control a fourth of the seats in the EU Parliament, they are isolated. They may have the power to block or veto EU actions by Brussels, but they cannot impose their own agenda.

Yet even larger lessons emerge from these two elections.

Liberalism appears to be losing its appeal. A majority in the world’s largest democracy, India, consciously used their democratic right to vote — to advance sectarian and nationalist ends.

Why is liberalism fading away, and nationalism ascendant?

The former is an idea that appeals to the intellect; the latter, rooted in love of family, faith, tribe and nation, is of the heart. In its potency to motivate men, liberalism is to nationalism what near beer is to Bombay gin.

To be a proud Pole, Hungarian, Italian or Scotsman has a greater grip on men’s love, loyalty and allegiance than to be a citizen of Europe. 

“Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong,” said Bismarck. Europe is but “a geographical expression.”

Identity politics, people identifying themselves by their ethnicity, nationality, race, culture and faith, appears to be the world’s future.

Even leftists are bowing to the new reality.

“Identity politics is exactly who we are and it’s exactly how we won,” says Stacy Abrams, the African American Democrat who almost won the Georgia governor’s race. “By centering communities in Georgia, we… increased voter participation, we brought new folks to the process.”

The Democratic Party is now a coalition easily identifiable by race, ethnicity, ideology and gender — African American, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ, feminist and Green.

Our Founding Fathers believed we Americans were a new people, a separate, unique, identifiable people, a band of brothers, who had risked their lives and shed their blood. Liberals believe we are held together by abstract ideas and ideals, such as democracy, equality and diversity.

But did Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Calhoun, Clay, Jackson, Sam Houston, Tyler and Polk really believe in equality and diversity as they drove Indians, French, British, Spanish and Mexicans out of this land to create a continentwide nation of their own?

Or was Manifest Destiny really all about us, and not them?


Justice Reform: A Surprisingly Hot Topic

By MICHAEL TANNERNational Review

While we should expect the upcoming presidential campaign to focus on traditional issues of the economy, taxes, foreign policy, trade, and immigration — as well as the elephant in the room that is Donald Trump — criminal-justice reform has become a surprisingly hot topic on the campaign trail.

At one point, every presidential candidate pretended he was running for sheriff. “Tough on crime” was considered the ultimate badge of honor — in both parties. Bill Clinton even rushed home during his campaign to execute a mentally disabled murderer. Times have clearly changed.

This is in part due to the growing evidence of racial and class inequities within the criminal-justice system. Studies also show that failures within our criminal-justice system contribute to poverty and dependence. A recent YouGov poll conducted on behalf of the Cato Institute found that 22 percent of the unemployed and 23 percent of people on welfare had been unable to find a job because of a criminal record. Scholars at Villanova have concluded that mass incarceration increases the U.S. poverty rate by as much as 20 percent. It has also become clear that overcriminalization and mass incarceration have not necessarily made us safer. Support for criminal-justice reform now cuts across party lines.

But there is also a large degree of politics behind the sudden importance of criminal-justice reform on the campaign trail. Most important, Democratic front runner Joe Biden is perceived as being vulnerable on the issue. Biden’s supported and partially wrote the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which led to an increase in incarceration — especially among African Americans. He also supported and sponsored several pieces of legislation that enhanced sentencing for drug-related crimes, once again contributing to the mass incarceration of minorities.

Even President Trump has taken the opportunity to tweak Biden on the issue, tweeting, “Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African Americans will not be able [sic] to vote for you. I, on the other hand, was responsible for Criminal Justice Reform, which had tremendous support, and helped fix the bad 1994 Bill!” And in a second tweet, Trump noted that “Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing. That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!”

Trump is not exactly the best messenger on this front, given his at least implied support for police abuses. But he is correct that he signed the FIRST STEP Act, the first important federal prison and criminal-justice reform in many years. As a policy, it was modest stuff, but it symbolically highlighted the changing politics of the issue.

Biden is not the only one with vulnerabilities on criminal justice. During her time as a prosecutor, Kamala Harris vigorously enforced California’s three-strikes law, actively pursued drug users and sex workers, and even prosecuted the parents of truant children. She was also an outspoken supporter of asset forfeiture and the use of solitary confinement in prisons. She backed capital punishment and resisted calls to investigate some police shootings.

So far, she has responded by apologizing for her past positions, now saying, “Too many black and brown Americans are locked up. From mass incarceration to cash bail to policing, our criminal-justice system needs drastic repair.” She has also sponsored the Equal Defense Act, which increases funding for public defenders. Still, criminal-justice activists have remained critical, complaining that she has ducked specific reform proposals.

Other Democrats also have hurdles to overcome. Bernie Sanders, for instance, voted for the 1994 crime bill, although he had a much lower profile than Biden. And, like Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar also has a background as a prosecutor. Her low poll standing has kept it from becoming an issue yet, but she may eventually face some tough questions about her actions in that office. Even South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has faced scrutiny over his handling of police-abuse complaints during his tenure as mayor.

On the other hand, candidates such as Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke are better positioned on the issue. Booker, in particular, has championed justice reform. He has introduced the Next Step Act, which would expand upon the FIRST STEP Act. Booker is also calling for cutting minimum drug sentencing in half, legalizing marijuana, removing barriers to entry in the job market for those with felony records, and reinstating the right of felons to vote in federal elections.

Beto pushed for criminal-justice reform during his Texas Senate campaign and has reiterated his support during his presidential campaign. During his Texas campaign, he stated that he would like Texas to lead the way on criminal-justice reform. He supports ending cash bail at the state level, making for-profit prisons illegal, ending mandatory-minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses, and legalizing marijuana.

Warren has been far less specific, mostly limiting herself to rhetoric about the “racist” criminal-justice system. For a candidate whose claim to fame is “I have a plan for that,” she is remarkably vague on this issue. Still, she carries far less past baggage than others, leaving her an opening.

With more than two dozen candidates in the Democratic primary and a general election that is looking extremely close, even secondary issues could play an outsized role in deciding the outcome. Keep your eyes on criminal-justice reform.


No One Likes You, Bill De Blasio

By Madeline Osburn • The Federalist

Before New York Mayor Bill de Blasio even officially announced his presidential bid on Thursday, New Yorkers were already pleading for him give up his White House ambitions.

De Blasio, who has been mayor of America’s largest city since 2014, is now one of the 25 Democratic candidates seeking a presidential nomination, despite the lack of support from his own constituents. His approval rating sits at 42 percent, and an April poll found that 76 percent of New York City voters did not want de Blasio to run for president. In March, a Monmouth poll found that de Blasio was the only Democrat asked about with a negative favorability.

While one would think his socialist policies, such as universal pre-k and the New York City Green Deal, would make him popular among his progressive-leaning constituency, he is consistently mocked for blunders and disingenuous attempts to relate to the working class.

For starters, it is well known that de Blasio’s hands are stained with the blood of Staten Island Chuck, the Staten Island Zoo’s groundhog whose real name is Charlotte, after he dropped her during a 2014 Groundhog Day ceremony. She died a few days after the incident from internal injuries.

Each morning, the mayor insists on traveling from his mansion on the Upper East side with a police escort to work out at the YMCA gym in Park Slope. In April, a concerned citizen hung a flyer at the Y with the disclaimer, “By entering these premises you agree not to run for President of the United States in 2020 or in any future presidential race. You agree to focus solely on your current job here in New York City, which you are not excelling at.”

And while these complaints may seem trite, there are plenty of other more weighty accusations against de Blasio for corruption, bribery, waste, rising homelessness, and public housing scandals under his watch.

A recent New York City Department of Investigation report revealed how de Blasio violated ethics laws in raising millions of dollars to help promote his own policies, and just a few weeks ago, two of his own donors pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations. Another de Blasio donor was convicted in January for bribing NYPD officers.

Since the rollout of his decision to run began this week, the backlash has only intensified. On Monday, in an attempt to generate media attention, de Blasio held a rally inside Trump Tower to tout his record on climate change, and to criticize the president’s own emissions. The rally quickly backfired as the mayor was drowned out by the noise of protestors who were riding the Trump Tower escalators with “Worst Mayor Ever” signs.

On Thursday morning, when MSNBC asked New Yorkers on their morning commute what they thought of the mayor’s announcement, responses were overwhelmingly dissatisfied. “Is that a joke?” one citizen asked.

Perhaps de Blasio truly believes his New York toughness gives him an edge over the other 24 candidates to defeat Trump, the incumbent New Yorker. Or maybe he’s jealous of the wave of media attention the mayor of small-town South Bend, Indiana, a city that is 1 percent the size of NYC, has received since entering the race.

“I’m running for president because it’s time we put working people first,” de Blasio said in his official 2020 announcement video. If de Blasio’s message and aptitude are failing to resonate in his own city, which is heavily made up of “working people,” then it’s hard to see the potential of it catching on anywhere else across the nation.


What the Electoral College Saves Us From

By Dan McLaughlin • National Review

The latest enthusiasm from progressive pundits and activists for replacing the American system of self-government is to abolish the Electoral College and choose presidents by national popular vote. As with all such enthusiasms — expanding the Supreme Court, abolishing the filibuster and the Senate itself, lowering the voting age to 16, letting convicted felons and illegal aliens vote, adding D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, automatic voter registration, abolishing voter ID, etc. — the scarcely concealed argument is that changing the rules will help Democrats and progressives win more.

Also as with all such enthusiasms, Democratic presidential contenders have been unable to resist its siren song. Multiple prominent Democratic senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, are introducing a proposal this week in the Senate to make it happen, the second such proposal by Senate Democrats this month. As radical an idea as this is, its support in high places demands to be taken seriously.

The Electoral College has been with us since the Founding, and in its present form since the election of 1804. Some of the reasons for its creation may be obsolete now, and the original concept of the electors themselves as important actors in the presidential selection process has long since left us. But the fundamental system of electing presidents by 50 simultaneous statewide elections (plus D.C.) rather than a raw national popular vote has long served America well. It isn’t going anywhere, and it shouldn’t.

Uniting the States of America
What would American politics look like without the Electoral College? Changing our current system would unsettle so many of the assumptions and incentives that drive presidential politics that the outcomes could easily be unpredictable. But first, consider the immediate changes. Continue reading


Without The Electoral College, The United States Is No Longer A Republic

By Sumantra Maitra • The Federalist

During the dying days of the Roman Republic, with effete senators stabbing each other in the back when they were not busy in orgies, Julius Caesar followed the exact trajectory of a Leviathan—what Thomas Hobbes described beautifully hundreds of years later. Caesar, by this time opposed to the Senate, which obstructed his imperial aims, decided to cross the river Rubicon, thereby declaring war on the last vestiges of the craven republic.

After crossing the river, Caesar famously said Alea Eacta Est, or the die is cast. Thus crossing the Rubicon is now considered a revolutionary act that aims to destroy the status quo, structure, and balance, from which there’s no return. The only way forward is through chaos.

The current Democratic presidential frontrunners, with their war cries of Electoral College abolition and reduction of the voting age, signify another crossing the Rubicon moment. That’s because without the Senate, and without the Electoral College, there would be no states in the United States of America. Essentially, there would be no republic anymore. And if history is a good teacher, every time there was direct democracy, it has led to a Caesar—or worse. Continue reading


Three Questions We Need to Ask on Trump and Russia

By Peter RoffNewsweek

It is virtually impossible to have a sane, temperate conversation about President Donald J. Trump and what the Russians might or might not have done to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. From the corner bar to the White House briefing room, folks have their heels dug in and aren’t budging, with each side passionately determined to prove the other wrong.

Most Republicans—except the ones who somehow manage to show up on the news chat shows with astonishing regularity—seem to regard the whole business as a tempest in a teapot at best, and at worst, a Machiavellian effort undertaken by entrenched liberals inside the U.S. government to remove Trump from office.

Democrats, meanwhile, mainly think that Trump and the Russians conspired to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton. How could she have possibly lost the election otherwise? Continue reading


A Renewed Case for Term Limits

By Heather Wilhelm • National Review

After a week of political chaos, endless dispatches of depressing news from the border, and widespread evidence of years of government incompetence, I have a proposal certain to unite citizens of all political stripes. Here it is: Let’s fire every single politician in Washington, D.C.

Admit it, friends: Deep down, you love this plan. In an ideal world, you might want to fire every single politician in Washington, D.C., right away — I personally have a few honorable and notable exceptions in mind, but it’s probably best to keep everyone on their toes — but we all know that’s not realistic. Fortunately, there’s an alternative idea that is at least somewhat realistic, despite naysayers from both parties: term limits.

We already have term limits for the president, of course, which I hope you find marvelous no matter who is in office. But what about Congress, that multi-headed beast with a 17 percent approval rating and an impressive penchant for getting almost nothing meaningful or important done? Continue reading


The ‘Conservatives Are Doomed’ Gambit

Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama emerged from his short-lived political retirement on Sunday to call on Members of Congress to show the “political courage” to preserve ObamaCare. But wait. That plea doesn’t square with the deluge of recent stories predicting that Republicans have doomed their majority in 2018 by voting last week to repeal ObamaCare. How does it take “political courage” to oppose something that everyone claims is politically suicidal?

Perhaps because the predictors of Republican doom could be wrong. The midterm election is still 18 months away, and many events will intervene that could influence the result. But even if the campaign does turn on repealing ObamaCare, we’d argue that the politics are better for Republicans if they pass their reform and fulfill a campaign promise than if they fail and then duck and cover.

Start with the safe assumption that the Democratic base will be highly motivated to vote next November no matter what Republicans in Congress do. The left will be eager to repudiate President Trump, and that means trying to retake the House and Senate. House Republicans can’t do much to deflate that liberal enthusiasm, any more than Democrats could deter the tea party in 2010. Continue reading


Liberals Only Accept Election Results – If They Win

by Andrew Kugle • Washington Free Beacon

For weeks, liberals railed against then candidate Donald Trump for refusing to say he would accept the results of the presidential election.

Trump asserted multiple times throughout the campaign that the election could be rigged against him and he could lose because of voter fraud. At a campaign rally in October, Trump said he would accept the election results but reserved his right to challenge the outcome if there was reason to do so.

“I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result,” Trump said.

In the third presidential debate, Trump said he would keep people in suspense when asked if he would accept the results of the election. This answer drew an immediate rebuke from his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Continue reading


Schumer: Don’t use my 2007 speech to justify blocking Obama nominee

By Susan Ferrechio     •     Washington Examiner

The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat said Tuesday that his 2007 promise to block a conservative Supreme Court nominee should not be used by the GOP to justify its own plan to ignore President Obama’s choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said his pledge to stop a nomination by then-President George W. Bush is an “apples to oranges comparison” to the current vacancy because he would have at least entertained the nomination and voted on it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has signaled he won’t even take up an Obama nominee and has declared Scalia’s replacement should be chosen by the next president. Continue reading


Conservatives have every reason to be optimistic

Freedom and opportunity are on the horizon with a new crop of principled, capable and positive conservatives. 

by George Landrith   bright-future-optimism-optimistic

In the past few weeks and the next couple weeks, we will see most of the expected entrants into the GOP presidential sweepstakes make their plans official. The GOP bench is deep with a number of highly credible and well qualified potential nominees. Part of this deep bench is the result of the conservatives doing well in a majority of the non-presidential and state elections during President Barack Obama’s time in office. The GOP has gained 70 seats in Congress and 910 state legislators around the nation since Barack Obama took office.

If you’re a conservative, there is a lot more good news on the horizon. That deep bench of well-qualified and highly credible candidates is revealing itself in congressional elections around the nation. Speaking with campaign experts around the nation, one thing is clear — the GOP has a bumper crop of great conservative candidates.

I can’t write about each of them, but perhaps I can pick one that caught my eye and shows real promise. In Florida’s 18th Congressional District, an established name is retiring from the House of Representatives to pursue the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. Rick Kozell has announced his candidacy for the open congressional seat in the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach area.

Here’s what I like about Rick Kozell — he’s an optimistic, principled conservative with a winning vision for the future. He reminds me of a young Ronald Reagan. The press will have a hard time casting him as the stereotypical angry conservative. Kozell is affable, young, smart, and articulate. His smile is natural and his energy and enthusiasm are obvious. Continue reading


Obama’s Year In Review

ISIS, Ferguson, the Senate, Ukraine, Ebola, border kids. Really, this was a pretty awful sixth year for the president. Not that he’s acting like it.

by James Oliphant     •     National Journal

Smug-ObamaYou can make a compelling case that 2014 was the worst year for President Obama since, well, the year before. And, in fact, the president spent much of this year trying to recover from some body blows he took in the final months of 2013, when, in short order, Congress rebuffed him on Syria and the federal health care exchange imploded.

Those setbacks ate away at Obama’s public support. According to Gallup, the president began 2014 with a 41 percent approval rating, and he’s ending it a tick or two higher. He’s also ending the year as a certified lame duck, facing two final years with a hostile Congress and the political conversation centering around the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul. Continue reading


President Impervious

by Stephen F Hayes     •     The Weekly Standard

Obama SmirkAt the end of his opening statement at the traditional postelection presidential press conference, Barack Obama offered this assurance: “I continue to believe we are simply more than just a collection of red and blue states,” he said. “We are the United States.”

Those words were a deliberate echo of the memorable keynote address he delivered a decade ago at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. They were powerful then because his passionate delivery suggested he deeply believed them, and because many Americans wanted to believe them, too. Continue reading


Conservatives Surprising Edge on Diversity

By John Avlon     •     CNN

us-midterm-election-results-2014Editor’s note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book “Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns.” He is a regular contributor to “Erin Burnett OutFront” and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to “Erin Burnett OutFront” at 7 ET weeknights.

Everybody knows the Republican Party is basically an all-white bastion, right? After all, even Colin Powell condemned the “dark vein of intolerance” that has flowed through his party since the post-civil rights era political realignment.

Now with President Barack Obama leading the Democrats into a second term — buoyed by overwhelming victory margins among African-Americans and Hispanics — it’s clear the GOP has some serious catching up to do. Continue reading


Voter Fraud and Voter I.D.

by Thomas Sowell     •     Townhall.com

VOTE-FRAUD-Head in SandOne of the biggest voter frauds may be the idea promoted by Attorney General Eric Holder and others that there is no voter fraud, that laws requiring voters to have a photo identification are just attempts to suppress black voting.

Reporter John Fund has written three books on voter fraud and a recent survey by Old Dominion University indicates that there are more than a million registered voters who are not citizens, and who therefore are not legally entitled to vote. Continue reading


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