The Republican Party – Art of the Bad Deal

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Contemporary Republicans often like to grab some semblance of righteousness by claiming (correctly) that it was the Grand Ole Party that became the political vessel to end the immoral practice of slavery in this country, and brought forth the 13th through 15th amendments. However, the Party of Lincoln has been dead for decades now and has more in common with George Wallace. In fact, the obscure political party (American Independent Party) who nominated Wallace in ’68 finally did win the presidency because their nominee in 2016 won. That nominee was Donald J. Trump — 45th President of the United States.

A Dispatch from Trumpistan —

I didn’t know where to start with this one. I’ve been putting this one off for awhile now. The events of the last week regarding President Trump’s (yes folks, he’s our president, just not a particularly good one) saber-rattling with North Korea, a country of 25 billion in GDP, which is less than most U.S. states, his bizarre tweets and statements inflaming the situation, and his continued disrespect for the office of the Presidency, made this one hard to focus on without addressing the elephant in the room.

Last night and today #Charlottesville has been trending and the videos we’ve witnessed have been terrifying, saddening, maddening, and any other adjective you could use to describe what is more or less a moral rock bottom. President Trump described the collection of “Unite the Right” activists from Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi, and other White Supremacists organizations and addressed the violence, and hatred spewing from this Virginia community as such:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.

In this tweet there was not a mention of calling the rally for what it was: white supremacy. As of this writing, there has been one death and 19 injuries. The victims were counter-protesters, ran over by a truck–which quickly sped away (he has since been apprehended by the Charlottesville PD).

If Donald Trump and many on the Alt-Right, Alt-Reich, Corporate Media-Right, and their moderate to conservative enablers within the Republican Party are going to dish out eight years of lambasting President Obama for not using the phrase “radical, Islamic terrorism” then surely Trump and the GOP can be rightfully called out for refusing to call this what it is–white supremacy. A doctrine that has lived on and on in this country despite many grassroots movements throughout our history to alleviate the worst effects of it. One of such effort culminated in the creation of the last third party in this country to replace a major party, the Republican Party. The Republican Party grew out of the abolitionist movement, it grew out of the collective failure of the two parties of the time: the Whigs and the Democrats, to properly address the issue at hand that was fracturing the union and eventually led to a civil war.

Many members of the early Republican Party were profoundly radical, profoundly righteous, profoundly patriotic, and ultimately–they were the progressives of their day. Had I been alive in 1855, I would have fled my former party the Whigs (as future President Lincoln did) and joined this new party in Illinois.

History demanded a new party and drastic solutions to brings us closer to a more perfect union. But that Republican Party is no more and they have not existed for over a 100 years. They are not the party of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, or even George W. Bush either. They are now the American Independent Party, which nominated George Wallace for president in 1968. In 2016 this obscure but still active political party nominated Donald Trump as their candidate in the state of California. Trump was the first GOP nominee that the American Independent Party ever nominated, Wallace included (who was southern Democrat).

And now the GOP and the movement conservative project started in ’55, combined with the Powell memo of ’71 has achieved their dream–completely one party control of the US Government at all levels. Although if Buckley were alive today I think he’d be likely to call it a failure already, and a nightmare. Who still wants to associate with this madness? Was it worth the change to enact the long-term policy dreams of Ayn Rand worshippers of the invisible hands and the God of money like Speaker Paul Ryan (who has condemned the events of today in much stronger tones than the President has).

The GOP tried to stop Trump, it failed. The Democrats tried to stop Trump, they also failed. Perhaps primarily because they had underestimated how many mainstream Republicans would hold their nose and say: “the Supreme Court.” Agreeing Loudly never had such fantasies (see below).

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Agreeing Loudly humorist, historian, and noted public intellectual Allan Branstiter understands the dynamics of U.S. elections more than (permanent) Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (“for every working class vote we lose, we’ll pick up 2 or 3 professional class voters.”)

The Grand Old Party of Lincoln and TR is dead. Long dead. The GOP of today made a deal for power, which corrupts, and corrupts absolutely, especially when absolutely given. That deal is now a nightmare for the majority of the American people, and is being felt every day within the corridors of power by longtime D.C. observers. This is the Art of the Bad Deal.

Nothing is sacred with this administration, and the effects of that are clearly influencing the populace, especially the newly embolden and previously hidden dark corners of this country, who were out in full force in Virginia this weekend.

During the 2016 campaign Trump, who is a full-on draft-dodger and once compared not contracting STDs in the 1970’s as his “personal Vietnam”, mocked John McCain (“he got caught, I like my war heroes to not get caught”), criticized the U.S. military and its service-members, lied about his financial charitable support for veterans’ charities, and ridiculed for political purpose, the Gold Star parents of a fallen soldier. But none of that matters because the “tyranny of political correctness” or something….

Well please allow me to switch to my political incorrect mode then.

The modern-day Republican Party has become a moral abomination. Notice I’m talking about the political party itself and the issue-stances it carries publicly, as well as privately. I’m not talking about Republican voters. I know many of them are good and decent people who simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. I understand that most modern-day voter turnout is motivated first and foremost, by hatred of the “other side.” But think about that for a minute… is this sustainable for even another election cycle or two? 

Trump isn’t some isolated incident and bizarre series of unfortunate events. Rather, he is the natural conclusion and culmination of four decades of political, economic, social, and cultural trends in American life.

But while many of the voters that supply the Republican Party with its electoral power may be motivated by fear of immigrants and terrorism (see: 2016 election, Trump won on voters who cited immigration and terrorism as their top issues, Clinton won on the economy and foreign policy). Not only did Trump win in the manner that this website, on its podcast feared back in 2015/early ’16, through running a campaign on overt themes of white nationalism, and fear-based rhetoric around immigration and terrorism (all irrational fears, because nearly everything else is what is actually more likely to harm or kill you), but its perhaps more important to note why this is the strategy of the GOP now, rather than how.

I would argue it is to provide distractions from the policies that otherwise, the vast majority of the American people would never sign onto. It is the same agenda they have been trying for and striving toward for decades.

1. Elimination of social insurance programs (the incredibly popular Medicare, Social Security) and other cuts to social service programs;

2. Privatization of as many public services as possible (up next: education); and,

3. Continuing to rig electoral laws to their forever advantage.

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1860 political cartoon lampooning the then-new and righteous Republican Party, which started as a third party that grew out of the abolitionist movement to become the legal and political vessel for power when the major parties of the day (Whig and Democratic) proved incapable of reform, and incapable of rising to the historical moment. We are at a similar crossroads today….

Republican policy aims (long-term) are what encouraged them to go along with this…  it is what encouraged them to sign this bargain–the Art of the Bad Deal, and while it is (and could in the future now that the path is clear and while the Democrats remain incompetent) electorally successful, it will ultimately be long-remembered and the beginning of the end for the once-proud GOP, a party formed out of the abolitionist movement, formed with righteousness on their side, only to be reduced to an intellectual and moral embarrassment.

Joe Scarborough has left the party. Evan McMullin did in 2016. While others have joined it, like West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

That being said, this version of the Republican Party, at least for me, has actually validated some of the better rhetorical pieces of authentic American conservatism (which I hold does not exist as a relevant political force anymore: hence my often-told joke “conservatives don’t exist, Democrats don’t exist”) that sound nice to some if not many, but that we now know the Republican Party is completely unserious about.

Liberals and progressives and moderates (because centrists don’t exist, except in think-tanks and Democratic candidate creation labs) alike should be thinking locally, should re-engage with federalism and constitutionalism, and whether you value or consider yourself religious or a Christian, it is of vital national security and civilizational importance that we re-engage with our faith lives, because there truly are a lot of good lessons to be learned there, and what is currently characterizing Christianity in this country cannot continue.

There is no monopoly on civic virtue, belief, patriotism, etc. But there is the law and theory of dominance politics. Therefore, we cannot let what happened today and last night in Virginia become a national normal otherwise we are doomed to permanent civic and societal decline.

In addition to those silver linings, the GOP and this current administration have accidentally given us a couple of gifts–if we utilize and recognize them as such, and if we snap out of the “history is already written” syndrome that has washed over so many good-hearted Americans, who feel increasingly hopeless in 2017. In years past we had to do some research and infer certain coded themes. Those days are no more. Things are open and notorious now, clear and obvious.

Tucker Carlson replacing Bill O’Reilly symbolizes the distinction between the old “hidden or more disguised” GOP demagoguery, and the new obvious kind by going after not just illegal immigration, but the immigration population generally.

This obviousness is similarly true within government itself. The GOP has long been a partner with the Corporate State. They were the first ones to sign onto the Corporate States of America (founded in 1971, their constitution: the Powell Memo) and their corruption and cronyism, and evidence of big business buying out and colluding with big government to enact the agenda of corporate American, rather than the preferences and beliefs of the vast majority of the American people, manifests itself quite clearly in someone like Secretary of State Tillerson, who is literally the CEO of Exxon Mobil.

This isn’t hard to do anymore. In Trumpistan–no one is even bothering with the dog and pony show, no one is even trying cover up the grift, graft, and rift-raft. And the American people, especially the young generation, the largest one in our history, will long-remember this. Generational solidarity and class solidarity is more likely to happen in our time than ever before.

The major political parties, while legally entrenched with power for now, and economically and financially secure, with propaganda networks at their disposal, despite all these advantages–they are eroding before our eyes. Armed with the traditional sources of power, their societal credibility and integrity has hit rock bottom. A bottom from which it may never emerge from.

So what now? What am I proposing? How do we unravel the Art of the Bad Deal and save the New Deal? How do we save democracy in this country, constitutional governance, and keep this country from unraveling in our time?

It’s quite simple to me now. We have to be for and positively contribute to whatever political movement and counter-force (and the energy and evidence exist everywhere you look right now for the possibilities) that drives the Art of the Bad Deal and this Republican Party into electoral irrelevancy and into the dustbin of history.

 

Public Integrity Alliance v. Tucson, and the 21st Century Battle for American Voting Rights

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Public Integrity Alliance, Inc. v. City of Tucson, a pending petition before the U.S. Supreme Court, challenges the Constitutionality of ward district lines in municipalities.

The 14th Amendment was passed nearly 150 years ago. The Equal Protection Clause later went on to expand the scope of the Bill of Rights and apply it directly to the states. “Equal protection of the laws” has been cited in landmark cases like Brown v. Board of Education (1954). It is one of the most important parts of our Constitution as it currently stands. Today, it could save our democracy and continue to inch us closer to a “more perfect union.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Public Integrity Alliance, Inc. v. City of Tucson (Public Integrity), responding to their writ of certiorari. This case will provide a fresh and interesting precedent for advancing electoral and voter advocacy projects under the Age of Trump. Public Integrity advances the following issue:

Whether the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment permits the City of Tucson to exclude certain registered voters from the primary election for a citywide representative based solely on the geographic location of such voters’ residence within the city.

The City of Tucson employs a “hybrid” municipal electoral system. Primary elections are conducted under ward district lines, while  general elections are conducted citywide and on an at-large basis. Early indications from the Court are that this system violates the “one person, one vote” maxim of the equal protection clause, disagreeing with the 9th Circuit below. The Court’s decision to hear Public Integrity is based on previous rulings holding that geographic location is not a “permissible basis for distinguishing between qualified voters”, Gray v. Sanders (1963), and Smith v. Allright (1944), in which future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argued that Texas’s Democratic primary system allowed whites to structurally dominate the politics of the one-party South at the time. The Smith ruling unmistakably connected the primary process to the general election as one continuous electoral event for purposes of the 14th Amendment.

If you want to have better outcomes outcomes, you have to control the rules. In recent years, the Republican Party has mastered using voting and election laws to control political outcomes. While the Democratic Party was writing articles and speaking of “demographic inevitability” the GOP was actually rigging the system in its favor, through use of Voter I.D. laws, gerrymandering, and recently, chipping away at key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Democrats should have been fiercely defending this unconstitutional and overtly political usurping of our democracy and defending all constituencies, but they were complacent, far too assured of their historical inevitability.

There is, however, another issue that is nearly as old as the Republic itself percolating behind all of this. The two party duopoly. Nowhere is this more evident than in closed electoral systems, as opposed to open electoral systems. Whereas taxpayers fund primary states, the party pays for caucuses and conventions. Herein lies the difference. It is quite clear, that closed primary elections are unconstitutional. While the Constitution affords great latitude to states and localities in elections, there is no mention of political parties at all. Our nation’s first President, George Washington, warned against factionalism and the growing influence of political parties. For many historical reasons, political parties were not only inevitable in our system, they have often served as the primary organizing tool for American citizens to reach shared goals. Parties have had a special role to play in American history, achieving high heights, but also being attached and at times, the chief driver of tragic consequences. As we wind down the 6th party system and into an unknown and yet to be completely characterized 7th party system, it is important to go back to our roots. On behalf of the “We the People”, the public, and the U.S. Constitution – it’s time to fight back.

Public Integrity will be an interesting test case because it will test the current makeup of the Court’s willingness to hear electoral and voting rights challenges on the basis of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. If and when the Court decides to rule (most likely sometime this summer) that equal protection of the laws is violated, and even if they do not, I would argue closed primaries are much clearer violation of the equal protection clause than ward district lines. Allowing political parties, specifically the Democratic and Republican parties to have such strict control over the electoral system is arguably what has produced an authoritarian, ideological demagogue as President with one of the parties backing him up thus far.

The New York state primary is a textbook example. Not only is the primary closed, but you also have to be registered with the party seven months before the primary election. This disenfranchises new New Yorkers and permanently disenfranchises political independents or unaffiliated voters, the largest self-identified voting group in the country, and the third largest in the state of New York (barely behind the Republican Party, further behind the Democratic Party). Fusion balloting or cross-endorsing despite some encouraging results, has not proven to be an effective check on forcing this false dilemma onto the electorate.

It is unfortunate that a state with the proud legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Smith, Fiorello La Guardia, and a state that served as a test bed for many New Deal policies, has been reduced to finishing in the bottom ten in the United States in voter turnout, bottoming out at 48th during the 2014 midterm elections. This trend toward lower turnout is not unique to New York; rather it is unique to closed primaries themselves. Closed primaries have reduced political competition and serve as outdated models used by once-vaunted political machines that can more appropriately be called, anti-machines now, given that political machines are supposed to turn out the vote. Gone are the days of Tammany Hall and Mayor Daley. We have arrived at a time where our country has voter turnout that lags behind all other developed, industrialized democracies. Closed primaries are part of the problem, and they are unconstitutional. This question should be advanced:

 

Whether the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment permits a closed primary electoral system, funded by taxpayers, that discriminates on the basis of party registration and timing of party registration.

Another reason why New York State is the ideal test case for 21st century voting rights precedent is the state appoints its Secretary of State rather than elects it as a Constitutional office. Thirty-five states elect their Secretaries of State. As we saw in the 2000 Presidential election, which turned on a couple hundred votes in the state of Florida, Secretaries of State in all fifty states are very important offices, too important to be left to the partisan will of Governors and legislatures.

The appropriate check on the proper administration of free and fair Constitutional elections is the voters. The devil’s advocate might say that new electoral laws passed through the legislature are the proper avenues for this. Indeed, New York Attorney General Eric Scneiderman’s proposals are a step in the right direction. A step that should have been taken years before the 2016 Presidential Election. It’s no secret that entire precincts in Upper Manhattan and elsewhere officially recorded that then-candidate Barack Obama received 0 votes during the 2008 Presidential Primary in New York. The best way to check this is to open up, modernize, and allow the voters to hold those administering and implementing elections accountable. Therefore, this Constitutional issue should also be advanced:

Whether the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment permits a state to appoint its Secretary of State, who is tasked with administrating free and fair elections, rather than elect this position and allow citizens to check and balance.

Getting rid of closed primaries and unelected Secretaries of State would likely destroy the last few political machines that still exist, and rightfully so. These machines are antiquated, out-of-touch with the concerns of the people. This combined with gerrymandering, voter I.D., and other draconian measures, have contributed to an erosion of voting and citizen engagement that is so severe that for it to endure any longer, is seriously unhealthy for any democracy, let alone the oldest democracy on Earth. But this democracy is now in more danger than at any time since the Civil War.

In an ideal world, Election Day would be a national holiday for federal elections and state elections if they see fit to follow. If we are going to keep celebrating Columbus Day, I’m sure we can decide to set aside one Tuesday every two years to celebrate and renew our democracy by voting in a more free and open manner administrated by people that are elected by we the people. 

 

 

Judiciary is Conspicuously Missing from WhiteHouse.gov as Being Part of the Federal Government

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As of 10:20 PM EST on January 29th, on the tenth day of the Trump administration — the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government is conspicuously absent from WhiteHouse.gov

According to the Way Back Machine on the InterWebs, the Obama Administration had The Judicial Branch of  the Federal Government on its website. While this could have been an oversight, rather than a deliberate political move, like the status of LGBT Americas, Climate Change, Health Care, and Civil Rights, I believe this is a deliberate attempt to delegitimize the Courts, which are the last vestiges in the way of one party fascist rule (in addition to the rights guaranteed us by the Constitution, which must be enforced each and every day by WE THE PEOPLE), and the basic decency and goodness of the American People and our communities.

It takes a long time for the Courts to change over. As you may know, the Supreme Court has had a right wing tilt for a generation or two, but the lower courts have turnover at a much faster pace. While an obstructionist GOP often blocked President Obama’s nominees to the Federal courts – he was able to appoint a total of 329 federal judges, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer and Justice Kagan.

This legacy of judicial appointments also includes 55 Courts of Appeals judges, 268 judges to the District courts, and a couple dozen more to specialty courts under Article III  (International Trade), Article I (Federal Claims, Tax Courts, Veterans Claims, Military Commission Review, Armed Forces), and Article IV Territorial courts.

This eight year legacy of judicial appointments, the day-to-day bureaucracy, and the majority of the American people stand in the way of significant parts of the Trump Agenda. We’ve already seen constant attempts to delegitimize the media (although they do a pretty good job doing that on their own), and I believe we’ll see more and more of this as long as District court judges stay executive orders, rule legislation unconstitutional, etc. This “battle of the Federal Government branches” mathematically can only last eight years, or even fewer than that.

Why? Because if we allow one party rule under this President and his administration for that length of time, the judges appointed will be far more favorable to executive orders like the one that swept across the nation this weekend.

This has been a dispatch from Publius – a Public Citizen of the “Sons and Daughters of Liberty” – writing from the island where Lady Liberty welcomes new Americans to the land of opportunity, holding a torch, which will burn a little less brightly if WE THE PEOPLE – do not do our duty in the years to come.

You have Twelve Days until Your Parents Become Trump Supporters

by Allan Branstiter

Yep, your yoga-loving parents are about to become vocal Trump apologists.

 

If you’re like me, your parents are conservative-to-moderate Republicans. Over the past 10 years or so, they may have mellowed out a bit from their heady days of door-knocking for Barry Goldwater, voting for the nominally anti-war Richard Nixon, and restoring American greatness during the Reagan Revolution. Sure, they voted for George W. Bush over John McCain in 2000, but they did so because the former was prayerful and compassionate, while the latter was a RINO. They may have even voted for Obama in 2008 because of lingering distrust of McCain and a newfound discomfort with Sarah Palin. These days they’re sending a few news articles about how ridiculous Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are in a strained attempt to create rare moments of inter-generational political concord within your family.

Friends, I hate to tell you this, but that moment is gone. Your parents—those sweet compassionate, thoughtful, moderate, and reasonable people who’ve only recently expanded their horizons by experimenting with yoga, tai chi, single-source coffee, and hybrid cars—are twelve days from becoming full-blown Trump supporters. The day after the March 15th primaries, Donald Trump will secure enough delegates to become the Republican nominee. And rather than fight him, your parents will do everything they can to see him elected to the presidency.

Continue reading

The Case for Winning in 2016 #NeverTrump

by Troy M. Olson

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Courtesy of CNN | ORC Polls, retrieved from 270towin.com

Because I’m a big believer in the fairness doctrine (R.I.P.), because the remaining viable Republican candidates are this guy, this guy, and apparently, this guy thinks he still is. And most of all, because I believe in competing in every election, every time, in every district  — here is the case for winning in 2016.

I won’t lie. This still isn’t the most important election of our lifetimes, but since writing the “Case for Losing in 2016” last month, we have had some curveballs. The main one being the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, opening up a seat on the Supreme Court and setting off political jousting and theater matched only by the Republican Primary sideshow between a ventriloquist doll, a gameshow host, and the eventual Republican nominee unless it is stolen from him at this point, Donald Trump.

In the end, the 2016 election isn’t important because of anything Sanders, Clinton, or anyone else is saying. It is highly unlikely Hillary’s November victory will carry the coattails needed to pass for instance, equal pay legislation, tax reform, or even criminal justice reform. If Bernie is able to pull off a historic comeback in the primary, it is highly unlikely someone who only recently became a Democrat will be able to work with a Democratic Party, whether it is in the majority or minority, that all too often, did not want to work with and help out President Obama.

The case for winning in 2016 is not about playing offense, but about playing defense. 2016 is not about a political revolution, or the American Dream, or making the country “Great Again”, rather it is about whether our political system can endure all of these forces that have been spiraling out of control the past four-plus decades in the areas of economic inequality, politics and the corporate media, corporate control and centralization of money in the hands of the few, and the political power and influence that money buys.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect. Bernie Sanders is not perfect. But what does it say about the strength and health of our republican democracy if we turn to Donald Trump, a man who has never held public office before, inherited more money than many make in a lifetime to “invest”,  and worst of all, treats other people, especially the most vulnerable people, with contempt and disrespect?

Electing Bernie Sanders won’t make America a socialist country, or even a European-style social democracy. However, Bernie has shown himself to be a man of incredible integrity, character, and consistency throughout his life. Like previous Democratic Presidents, he started with very little and now is a remarkable comeback away from the highest political office in the land. Even if he does not win another state his influence, especially with the Millennial generation, will be felt for decades.

Electing Hillary Clinton won’t make America an alternating monarchy between a few political oligarchs. I happen to think that if Hillary was a politician that was never married to former President Bill Clinton, she may have already been President. She has had a remarkable life and career, and there is no denying that she is well-qualified to be President, if there ever is such a thing as being qualified to be President.

Finally, Electing Donald Trump will almost certainly not “Make America Great Again.” For months, pundits and voters have been trying to pin down what Trump’s ideology is. The best argument I’ve heard, courtesy of Vox, is that of Trump authoritarianism.

This country has some serious problems, but we’ve also come a long way these last eight years in many areas. Trump’s message for what is wrong with America and what will make it great again remind me of the personalist, one-party authoritarian regimes we’ve read about in history. I don’t truly believe Trump will do the things he has said he’ll do, but I also do not want to take any chances.

The 2016 Presidential election is an important one and the Democratic Party must win it. Even if the victory is lonely, even if the next administration is playing defense more than offense, relegated to commander-in-chief, appointment, and chief executive powers. Trump’s likelihood as the GOP nominee, and the likely alternative to his bully and book-burner combination, Ted Cruz, is an equally dislikable figure.

We must win, even if history strongly points to a 2020 loss and a failed opportunity in a redistricting election. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

Vorwärts: Post-Super Tuesday Hope for Sanders Supporters

by Allan Branstiter

Sanders addresses his supporters prior to Super Tuesday. | AP Photo

If you spend any time working in, volunteering for, or being around campaigns it’s way too easy to get inured to the cloud of cynicism that permeates every aspect of 21st-century American political life. I know that I’m all too guilty of giving up on candidates and writing off the American electorate’s dedication towards meaningful leftist reforms. During last night’s “Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast” Super Tuesday extravaganza (you can watch it below or follow this link) I and some of my colleagues essentially declared Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign over. While I still believe Sanders’s path to victory is insurmountably narrow, there is hope . . . there is always hope.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m an enthusiastic reader of Jacobin magazine. Today, political scientist and author Corey Robin offered five theses arguing that Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign is not dead. Definitely read them yourself, but in sum they are:

  1. Close contests in Nevada, Iowa, and Massachusetts could have easily given seven states to Sanders and eight states to Clinton by now. These close contest demonstrate that Sanders’s best asset is his supporter’s energy and passion, while Clinton’s most potent weapon is her “aura of inevitability.” Don’t give into to the inevitability.
  2. Exit polling in Massachusetts show Sanders gaining support among racial minorities, the working and middle classes, first-time voters, independents, very liberal and moderate voters, and unmarried women (he nearly tied Clinton among women in Oklahoma). Clinton’s support comes from those making more than $100,000 per year, liberal voters, self-identified Democrats, and married women – all demographics who reliably turn-out to vote. Vote early; vote often.
  3. Sanders’s support comes from more people than white men. He won more female support in Vermont and New Hampshire, 41% of non-white voters in Massachusetts, and (maybe?) half of the Latino votes in Nevada. When Sanders wins a state, he tends to win in all demographic categories.
  4. The racial divide in this primary campaign is a real problem; however, non-white voters tend to be divided according to generation, with older voters supporting Clinton and younger voters supporting Sanders. According to a Reuters poll below, Sanders now enjoys more support among young African American voters than Clinton. Sanders also does well in racially diverse states outside the South, which shouldn’t be discounted, but will be won by the GOP in the 2016 general election (thanks, Shelby County v Holder). Future states look better than the South for Sanders.
  5. Outside the South, Sanders has won or came close to winning every single state. Moving forward, the electorate looks much friendlier for him. Don’t believe Nate Silver and Vox. This can still be won.
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Support for candidates among African-American voters ages 18 to 34. | via Reuters

That said, I hope Sanders does well. While he is, in the words of my comrades Carson Starkey and Troy Olson, an “imperfect vessel,” I hope he’s the Democratic party’s nominee in 2016. Much of this is based on the rationality of my pinko heart and pinko soul, but it is also based upon the pragmatic rationality of my mind and the fear of my brown body.

To me there is no case for losing in 2016, even as a thought exercise. There is no better time than now than to begin reforming the ills of the political system’s inequalities and the excesses of American capitalism. If Sanders or Clinton loses it will be the most vulnerable who will suffer the most from it. A Sanders victory, imperfect as the man is, will energize and legitimize Progressivism in the United States. And while I am less certain that a Clinton victory will do the same, I know Americans will bode well in a nation she governs. The same cannot be said for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or the increasingly irrelevant Marco Rubio.

So hope for Sanders victories from here on out because you have to. Better yet, hope, vote, unionize, and bring a friend. Unless they’re a Republican. In that case don’t swap shifts with them so they can vote on election day.

Antonin Scalia: Dead at 79

by Troy M. Olson

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Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, photo courtesy of Wikipedia and in the Public Domain.

Within the last hour, the news has broken a story that a titan of U.S. Constitutional Law and theory, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79. Justice Scalia, known for being the most conservative (or second most) member of the Court, was also the intellectual anchor for the Constitutional theories of originalism and textualism.

At some point in the future I’ll be following up on what this shocking turn of events means for the makeup of the Court, how it will effect the 2016 Presidential Election, and some of the logistics and politics of it all. For now though, I’d just like to share a few stories about a person who I have had to read more words from than just about anybody I can think of.

Depending on your political persuasion, you either find Justice Scalia to be a fierce advocate for the Constitution as the framers intended it, or you are somewhere to the left of that (much of the country) and find him completely out of step with where the country is historically, economically, socially, and culturally. I, however, fall into the obscure third category. Like many on the left of center part of the political spectrum, I cannot stand Justice Scalia. He is like that crazy old Uncle at Thanksgiving meme that you love to hate.

As many progressives, liberals, and even moderates and centrists can attest to, he was a hell of a good (if frustrating) read for anyone who has attended law school. I have read Scalia a lot, have disagreed with nearly all of it, but I cannot help but admire the zealous advocacy in pursuit of his arguments. He was a worthy intellectual opponent and as more and more of the political right in this country becomes consumed by the rising tide of book burners, I cannot help but miss people like William F. Buckley, and now, Justice Scalia, who at least advanced arguments that were thoughtful, well defended and argued, even if you hold those views and arguments in utter contempt. I often heard this statement or some version of among my liberal law school classmates: “I cannot stand Scalia, but he is fun to read, and I have a hard time matching his arguments. Which frustrates me even more!”

Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices have spoken at UST Law School where I  graduated from in 2014. Justice Scalia was one of them. Depending on the day, I either immensely enjoyed my time at law school or was incredibly frustrated by the experience. On those days when it was frustrating and you did not want to read another word: he made the long and brutal slog, just a little bit more entertaining.