U.S. Politics and Culture

Category: 2020 Presidential Election Page 1 of 2

Louis the Liquidator

Just who is this businessman cum Republican Party hack now running (or ruining) the United States Postal Service?  Louis DeJoy is the retired CEO of New Breed Logistics. New Breed was sold to XPO Logistics, which now does business with the Postal Service. A lot of business: $57 million alone in 2017.  DeJoy remains a multi-million dollar stockholder of XPO. The USPS ethics panel didn’t seem to have a problem with his obvious conflict.

New Breed describes itself as follows:

New Breed Logistics transforms the way organizations do business by building intelligent supply chains and providing comprehensive solutions. New Breed manages millions of square feet of ISO-quality warehouse space across more than 70 distribution centers and employs more than 7,000 people worldwide. Services range from distribution center operations and transportation management to highly sophisticated, technology-enabled solutions for product assembly, reverse logistics and repair, lean manufacturing support, materials management, procurement, and aftermarket services.

It is said that DeJoy has no USPS experience, but that’s baloney.  For more than 25 years, New Breed was a contractor to the Postal Service, “supplying the organization with logistics support.” XPO succeeded New Breed in going postal.  In other words, DeJoy knows where the mail carriers are and how to bury them.

Besides, DeJoy being a Fox-in-the-Henhouse Postmaster is only part of the problem. Shortly after his appointment, DeJoy asked for $25 billion to modernize the Postal Service. What New Breed,  XPO, and now, the Postal Service call modernization mean robotics and layoffs.  DeJoy is a 21st-century version of Larry the Liquidator, the fictional corporate takeover king in “Other People’s Money,” who bought traditional companies,  then gutted them of employees and in many cases dismantled them.

Never mind that the USPS is a major employer whose workers are part of the steadily diminished working class. The Postal Service is mandated by the Constitution. This has not stopped fiscal conservatives from gaggling over the cost of operations and making previous attempts to break it. During Bush II’s Compassionate Conservativism, Congress passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act, requiring the Postal Service to fund 75 years of retirement benefits in a ten-year period.  The PAEA is one of the reasons that the Postal Service is always in the red.  The Postal Service is supposedly non-profit – a service – but then it is judged as if it were a business and excoriated for “losing money.”  One has to wonder how many businesses would be pushed into collapse if the same funding rules applied to them.

Enter Louis the Liquidator to downsize the post office, make it look “profitable,” and then push the government to privatize it; sell it to some appropriate company – XPO Logistics – at a bargain price. DeJoy’s removal of mail sorting machines and mailboxes meshes with Trump’s plan to make voting by mail more difficult and unreliable. Due to public outcry, DeJoy was forced to stop the dismantling until Election Day.  Now, that’s a neatly delivered package.

Trump isn’t doing this just to save the government money.  He is trying to kill postal services ahead of the 2020 election  The USPS became one of his bargaining chips in the Covid-19 relief funding battle.  He said that he will extend USPS funding (although it’s not certain that a Senate majority would) if the Democrats take some of their other relief demands off the table. Put another way, the Democrats can have mail-in voting but only on the backs of the unemployed and underemployed being deprived of needed relief during the pandemic. Put yet another way, we can choose to vote or to eat, but maybe we can’t choose to do both.

 

 

Don’t Just Mail It In

We can count on future ex-president Trump to make things up, but we can also count on him to dream things up.  Rule of thumb – what already has happened mostly is untrue, what has not yet happened – you never know. If you don’t want another four years of this administration, make up your mind to vote in-person.

Vote by Mail has been a Republican institution and for this very, unusual year, a Democratic rallying cry.   To all of those advocating a no-excuse vote by mail rule, be careful what you wish for.  Trump is predicting that vote by mail will be a disaster.  I believe he intends to make it one. The more votes that are thrown out, the better his chance to win.  His voters will go to the polls, even if they have to be delivered in hearses.

The pandemic continues to erupt in new places. Coastal states got battered on the front end. Now the Midwest, South, and Southwest can’t breathe.  It might be a health risk to stand in a line – socially distanced, I hope. Eventually, you will get to the front of the line. You will cast your ballot, and you will be heroic for doing so.

On the other hand, if you rely on the mail, it could take up to 2 weeks to get your ballot and two weeks to have it returned by the Post Office, currently under the control of a Trump appointee, whose mission will be to slow down the vote.  No ballots, no votes.  It’s like no tests, no infection, but a delayed test result still counts.

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to dream up the ways for Trump to trash the election, just to wind up in court, now packed with his appointees. His numbers are sinking, and his prospects are dismal.  Why not roll the dice?

Democrats can encourage vote-by-mail for the old and disabled, but the dominant message should be, “Drag Your Sorry Ass to the Polls!”  Think about Wisconsin. The voters showed up, waited, and voted, and their candidate was elected.  Then think about New York, where the voting was delayed to June 23, and voting by mail was fully available.  The results are still being counted. Over a month later.

Imagine the Trump campaign filing a lawsuit in every battleground state. It isn’t hard to do. The litigation will be ongoing until the 2022 midterms. Even if Joe Biden is seated, the losing force will proclaim the election illegitimate. There will be no unity or healing, just a continuation of the rancor and divide of the last twenty-eight years.

I wouldn’t give my life for the “economy,” like the Texas Lt. Gov. pledged to do.  But I would stand in line to save democracy. It will take that and more to derail a corrupted, manipulated election process run by and for someone who feels he has to win whatever the cost.

Voters have to put on their masks and face shields,  and get to the polls, perhaps with a folding chair and a copy of the Mueller Report.  If this is your sole outing between now and November 3rd, it will be worth it.

 

The Brown Shirts are Leaving Portland

Trump’s troops will be removing their tear gas, batons, stun grenades, and themselves from Oregon. Their next stop is anybody’s guess.  It probably not Chicago,  Albuquerque, or any of Trump’s Indigo Blue election targets.

Oregon authorities have pledged to safeguard the federal courthouse, whose security was cited by A.G.  Bill “Dis” Barr as the reason Trump federales were sent to Portland. Contra Trump, who announced that he was sending troops because Black Lives Matter had gone too far and to “quell anarchy.”

In the future, protesters would be wise to pick non-federal venues for demonstrations. After all, racism is not exclusively a federal horror. Thoughtful protesters can find more apt state and municipal targets.  Legend has it that at one time, federal justice was a force against hatred. There is no reason to give an increasingly desperate incumbent the chance to lay waste cities that are proclaiming outrage over governmental malfeasance.

Removing the camouflaged paramilitary from the board deprives Trump of a weapon in his fascist arsenal. State sovereignty survives for now, and for now, it is a good thing. The Oregon governor has pushed back against an authoritarian trying to consolidate power by enfeebling the state government. Voting is a state function. Know what I’m saying?

This pushback may prevent Trump from using a similar pretext to go into swing districts of other cities in November. It may prevent him from seizing control of the election process, which is the ultimate danger. For now, the illegitimacy of the troops — anonymous troops — has been beaten back by an outraged citizenry.

The true identity of the troops in Portland remains a mystery. Administration officials, including Barr,  have said that they are compliance officers with ICE, DHS, and the Bureau of Prisons. Why would they not wear uniforms and badges then? After all,  they are supposedly acting as Special US Marshals.

 

 

 

 

Front and Center

When was the last time Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel agreed on anything? On Sunday,  they each told George Stephanopoulos that the Democratic Party establishment is in panic mode over Bernie Sanders‘ ascendance to front-runner status for the 2020 nomination. For those of us who were around in 2016, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Christie gleefully explained how all of his Republican colleagues, including  Vladimir Putin, are licking their chops at the chance to run Trump against Sanders. Almost all: Trump feels hurt that BFF Putin has taken such a shine to the Vermont independent. Also, we have received scattered reports that, on learning of the Nevada returns, the corners of Mitch McConnell‘s mouth briefly turned upward.

Democrats worry about Sanders’ ability to bring the mainstream of the party along with him.   What does it profit a man to gain the White House but lose Congress? The 2018 House majority was built on mostly middle-of-the-road candidates, like Mikie Sherrill and Abigail Spanberger, who are not particularly comfortable with the Sanders paradigm shift. The Senate, needing to pick up four seats, may have to do it without the benefit of the candidates’ coattails, a tough act. There is a growing contingent in the progressive wing as well.

While the establishment knives are out to stop Sanders, no other aspirant has shown the ability to galvanize a broad swath of voters or, more critically, to get out the vote,  and none of them is ready to step aside for a single moderate to square off against him.   The Sanders victory in Nevada, followed by a rousing reception in Texas, is striking for the breadth of support. In Nevada, the Latinx community backed him. He also polled better with African-Americans than expected. He hasn’t found resonance with the OK Boomer crowd yet, but younger Americans must like his plans for their future.

Since the emergence of the Tea Party in 2010, the realignment of the major political parties has seemed inevitable. It looked like the Republicans were being ripped apart with its Freedom Caucus.  That all changed with Trump taking over the national party. The brutal divide between Sanders and Clinton in 2016 foreshadowed a divided Democratic Party, and to some extent, that is what we see.

What makes the non-Democrat Sanders campaign so interesting is that he doesn’t dwell on party labels. After his triumph in Nevada was announced, Sanders made a point of saying that he would not be derailed by the establishment of either party. Similar to the way he came to power in Burlington,  Vermont, Sanders has been going over, under and around party organizations to reach voters on a gut level.

More than anything, the withering of the Party has been Sanders’ central organizing principle of political success since his beginnings as the mayor of Burlington. For decades, we’ve asked why voters, especially working-class voters, align themselves with the Republican Party, which did almost nothing to promote their economic interests. Sanders confronts the question without attaching a party label to it. Assuming that Sanders continues to lead, the party elders will face the same choice imposed on Republicans in 2016: Follow or get out of the way.

Sanders is pulling from the disaffected left and Trump from the disaffected right. A head-to-head contest between two extremes. That is unless some spoiler decides to jump in and make it a three-way race.

 

Red Moon over Las Vegas

In the 1950s, Jewish-American Communists who grew up in 1930s New York sent their kids away for the summer. The kids were called Red Diaper Babies, and their vacays were called Socialist Summer Camps.

Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950s but his family was not part of the activist community. He was not a Red Diaper Baby, and he did not spend his summers singing the Internationale. For Bernie, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, who in 1957 decamped with the team to Los Angeles, was the Enemy of the People. Sanders found his activist voice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s while moonlighting as a student at the University of Chicago.

This past Wednesday night, Sanders had a “gambling in Casablanca” moment when he savaged electoral upstart and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg for introducing money into politics. The former mayor of New York reportedly has spent close to half a billion dollars of his own money thrusting himself into the race with the single-minded goal of removing Trump from office. His exchanges with current front-runner Sanders were illuminating and relevant.

Sanders said that a billionaire has no place in government. He considers the very idea of a billionaire immoral and should not exist. When Bloomberg was asked if he did have the right to exist, he returned fire, asking why Bernie as “America’s leading socialist” owns three homes. Somewhat abashed, Sanders explained that he had one in Washington, “where he works,” another in Burlington, Vermont, his home state, and a vacation home, which in Vermont is called a summer camp. Socialist Bernie Sanders got his  Summer Camp after all.

Sanders was not chastened by the exchange, but it did slow him down momentarily. He could not dismiss that he had amassed considerable wealth; sufficient to own, rather than rent, three substantial residences. It’s unseemly when the working class, the object of the Sanders movement, includes, “more than a half a million people sleeping out on the streets,” to quote the senator. The Summer Camp — on the banks of Lake Champlain — demonstrates that wealth is incidental to American political power even for Bernie, a millionaire who scorns it. Although a million bucks are not what they used to be, it’s a lot more than most Americans will ever have.

Undaunted, Sanders continued to pound away at the evil of corporate wealth. He scolded Bloomberg for failing to recognize the employees who helped him build his business empire. He even championed the idea of workers serving on corporate boards such as Bloomberg’s.

The plutocrat’s reaction was priceless. His facial expression registered that Sanders’ position was more lamentable than loathsome; that Sanders was so out of touch with the American mainstream, that he did not realize the implication of his proposal. With a look of frustration and sadness, Bloomberg responded. “I can’t think of a ways (sic) that we make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than to listen to this conversation. This is ridiculous,”

In fact, Sanders had reached beyond FDR’s social safety net.  Sanders was breaking new ground in expressing his bolder vision for the future, one that moves into the more disputed arena of shared power between equity holders and workers.

“We’re not going to throw out capitalism,” Bloomberg continued. “We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.”

This was a moment worth preserving in amber. The debate audience gasped, and Sanders accused Bloomberg of a low blow.  In fact, it was a fair shot. Bernie’s proposal pushes out past the Socialist Lite that Americans unwittingly have come to cherish. Bloomberg correctly observed that Sanders had hit the Third Rail of American politics, and if he pursues that agenda his candidacy is doomed.

Taking Aims

Find a farm-friendly, plain-talking, whip-smart, tough-minded, scrappy Midwesterner, who spit in Brett Kavanaugh’s eye and who hasn’t self-destructed in the Primary year of living precariously. It sounds like a candidate fit to take down the Beast of the East Room.

Amy Klobuchar checks all those boxes. The New York Times, in the act of audacious equivocation, named the Minnesota senator one of its two endorsees for the nomination. Klobuchar covers the center lane of Democratic traffic. The endorsement places her ahead of Pete Buttigieg, the gifted favorite son of South Bend.

More impressive still, Klobuchar won out ahead of deemed-most-electable Joe Biden. Biden’s dream of a Senate locking arms across the aisle fails to recognize changes in the chamber and the zeitgeist since his salad days in the 80s and 90s. Klobuchar is more realistic than Biden. She understands that she, like Clinton, Obama, and Trump, will have to lean on executive orders for as long as divided government means no government at all.

In this Give No Quarter era of legislative gridlock, Klobuchar makes hay — and pork — by throwing her effort into non-incendiary issues. Klobuchar ranks first among senators in the current Congress by sponsoring bills that have become laws. Let’s assume she knows when she can achieve consensus and when she cannot. Here is a partial list of bills becoming laws:

  • S. 524, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
  • S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
  • S. 894, Innovate America Act
  • S. 218, Veterans to Paramedics Act

These laws addressed the opioid crisis, sex trafficking, education, and jobs for the present and future, and the work challenges faced by our service vets. Not flashy by any stretch, it’s a substantial body of work, the portfolio of a policy wonk.

The senator’s stances on the noisy issues are similarly pragmatic. She backs reinstatement of clean energy rules but falls short of taking a Jacobin blade to the fossil fuel industry.

Klobuchar supports universal health care. She hasn’t foresworn private insurance or endorsed Medicare for All. Like Biden, the Minnesotan is an incrementalist. She does not venture anywhere near the socialist tag, still considered the third rail of national candidacy.

For all her credentials, the Minnesota legislator remains in the shadow cast by the flashier candidates, including co-endorsee Elizabeth Warren, precisely because she falls on the workhorse side of Hillary Clinton’s show horse vs. workhorse divide. Even one of her showier moments, describing Trump’s unkept promise to lower drug prices as “all foam and no beer,” garnered mild reaction in the punditry. She would have done better by following it up by repeating her pledge to take down Big Pharma, or perhaps she was concerned about one of her opponents pointing out that during her career, she has accepted $400,000.00 from that lobby. In the event, the takeaway is that she made a glib remark destined to spend one day in the news cycle.

In making its curious dual selection, the Times avoided discussion of electability, to many the only significant issue in 2020.

“Many Democratic voters are concerned first and foremost about who can beat Mr. Trump. But with a crowded field and with traditional polling in tatters, that calculation calls for a hefty dose of humility about anyone’s ability to foretell what voters want.

Choosing who should face off against Mr. Trump also means acknowledging that Americans are being confronted with three models for how to govern this country, not two. Democrats must decide which of their two models would be most compelling for the American people and best suited for repairing the Republic.”

The Times chose Klobuchar and Warren as the “most effective advocates for the positions they espouse, both more progressive than anything we’ve seen in decades.”

Recently, Warren squared off with Sanders over her team’s claim that he dismissed the possibility of a female winning the presidency. Sanders denies the remark, but sadly, it could be correct. Currently, Sanders and Biden atop the leaderboards in Iowa and New Hampshire. They are trailed by Warren, whose campaign seems to have lost its summer momentum.

Meanwhile, Klobuchar is still trying to crack double-digits. Her best hope for the moment is Biden faltering, with enough of his support switching to her to keep Mike Bloomberg on the periphery. That’s a tall order because she also will have to overtake Pete Buttigieg, a center-laner with an impressive war chest and higher polling figures.

One of the most critical pieces to fall into place for Amy Klobuchar is the belief that a woman can win in 2020. Even though Hillary Clinton cracked the glass ceiling, Klobuchar must implode it, scattering glass shards across the land once and for all. Unfortunately, for Amy Klobuchar to win, she will have to do it backward and in heels.

 

 

Michael Bloomberg Wants to be Your Pre$ident. Maybe.

Michael Bloomberg, former three-time mayor of the City of New York, has launched his campaign with a TV blitz costing $150 million. That’s a lot of Simoleans, double the amount spent by Tom Steyer, the only other bona fide billionaire in the race. Steyer’s spending laps the amounts spent by the conventional candidates. Unlike Bloomberg, Steyer has been running in traffic, qualifying for the debates. Now that his singular goal of impeachment had been achieved, he’s moved on to his economic message. He claims to be the real deal – a billionaire with a human touch. Steyer has been surging, owing to his identity-building TV spots. Steyer has not been pigeonholed or tested in the Frontrunner’s Crucible yet.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is skipping the opening farewells in Iowa and New Hampshire, the graveyard of many candidacies. He will debut on the Super Tuesday ballots. By that time, one of his rivals may catch fire. In that case, his run may be over effectively, and his prodigious spending will have been for naught. Or will it?

Mayor Mike’s party-crashing is having a clarifying impact on the race. He is a centrist economically and left of center socially. He believes in the necessity of regulation but will never be considered an anti-capitalist. If he could add a little religion, a little warmth and an ear for Middle-America, he would be a formidable candidate.

But that is not who he is. In truth, Bloomberg lacks the connection to people of diverse backgrounds necessary to create a groundswell. After all, he is a Jewish billionaire, missing only the Eastern European inflection of George Soros to strike fear in American Gothic hearts.

Service as Mayor of New York City is not a useful resume builder for the national stage: John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani, Bill DeBlasio. If nominated, Michael Bloomberg will run, and if elected, he will serve. Even so, Bloomberg will be satisfied if the current White House occupant is evicted, driven off to Palm Beach to spend eternity in a Maximum-Security sand trap.

Whatever the outcome of his candidacy, Bloomberg will use his wealth and influence to defeat the party that has supported the megalomaniac and his agenda. Bloomberg will step aside happily if one of the middle-of-the-road hopefuls breaks ahead of the pack. He is more likely to hang around if Bernie Sanders takes a commanding lead. He will want to keep Sanders from getting too far from Bloomberg’s concept of the Mainstream.

Mayor Mike will keep pouring money into the race one way or the other to defeat the institutional catastrophe we’re enduring. The administration is an imminent danger to our democracy, the kind that warrants extreme political action. Would a person with $56 billion invest one of those billions to save this nation? Bloomberg certainly would. He wouldn’t suffer if a billion went missing.

Even if in the future Congress restores limits on campaign financing, national elections will always be a big-money game. Sanders and Warren notwithstanding, paraphrasing the words on a bumper sticker supporting Jesse Ventura, political savant and former governor of the great state of Minnesota, you better hope that your billionaire can outspend their billionaire.

Is Iowa Berning?

 While the Democratic establishment has tried to marginalize the progressive left — Sanders and Warren — Sanders continues to poll steadily and collect a lot of money. Enough money to get him through the first few primary tests.

 Possibly.  Bernie is lighting a fire just the way he did in Burlington when he ran for mayor 40 years ago and for president in 2016.  He did it by opposing the establishment, staking out  progressive policy goals and creating a powerful grassroots organization to overcome the entrenched forces blocking him.   He faces more competition this year than he did in his face-off with only Hillary Clinton

Sanders very well may be the best retail politician in the field. He fires up his base consistently in a way that none of his competitors has done.

The primaries are around the corner, and we will know a lot more by the end of January.   It could be that Sanders will poll well  enough in Iowa and New Hampshire (second to Buttigieg in both) and sufficiently in South Carolina (behind Biden’s decisive lead), which is a stretch, to make a case for national consideration. By February though, he will have to break through in some of the big states.  

Conventional wisdom calls for a run by a centrist like Biden.  But polls and money are moving toward Sanders’ fire and Buttigieg’s cool, neither one a conventional standard bearer. 

Tacking Early to the Middle

Another wild week in American politics, and that’s not counting the impeachment inquiry. It’s doubtful that any Democratic strategist follows Revolted Colonies. Yet, a few must’ve have figured out themselves that Warren and Sanders are too scary for American prime-time. Biden is not a strong enough candidate, no matter what the polls say (rather, said; we’ll get back to that). Klobuchar is still not lighting any fires.  And they are the best of the lot.

Despite the president’s unfavorable ratings and impeachable performance, he remains re-electable. Enough people around the country think he’s been the victim of unrelenting attacks; just enough at any rate to keep him from taking early retirement. Say what you will about Trump, he is a force, just not the right side of it.

The Democratic establishment saw Warren surging and decided to step in before it was too late.  Michael Bloomberg, a genuine billionaire, filed a petition in Alabama to put his name on the primary ballot to meet the earliest filing deadline. The 77-year-old former mayor hasn’t declared,  but he’s always been talking about it.

Deval Patrick, an Obama adherent, announced that he is running. Patrick is a former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital partner. His party affiliation, brown skin and bald head ensure that he won’t be confused with Mitt Romney though, his predecessor in both jobs. He’s smart and savvy, a gifted speaker and a centrist. Make no mistake – he is not an Obama clone, for whatever that’s worth.

If all of this wasn’t depressing enough for the progressive wing,  the former president  made it known that most Americans want healthcare and income equity, but they aren’t about to break up the furniture.  Run a centrist, he warned, but he didn’t say anything about Biden, his former vice president.  If Obama doesn’t think Joe can go all the way, trust his intuition: he can’t.

Bloomberg and Patrick’s coming-out parties were crashed by South Bend Mayor Pete  Buttigieg, who vaulted over three  rivals to top the latest Iowa poll.  He’s outspent his rivals carpet-bombing the Hawkeye State, which happened because also he out fund-raised them.  The proximity of Indiana to Des Moines and Davenport enables him to make quick visits during mayoral lunch breaks.  Done right, presidential campaigns require lots of money.  It’s time to start looking at who is backing  Mayor Pete.

Let’s not forget that Obama went from zero to hero by winning Iowa, and he did it by eating in every diner and pumping every hand.  If Buttigieg doesn’t falter, he can win.  As Iowa did for Obama, the momentum of victory or a strong showing will give him a chance to outrun the issue of his electability as a gay, married man.

This year, the Democrats are not going to wait till July 2020 to pivot to the center.  Recent wins in Kentucky, Virginia and Louisiana, all  considered personal losses for Trump, fuel the belief that a Democrat can take back the White House, as long as  that Democrat is the right, that is, centrist one.

And Then There Were…

The double-dozen roster of Democratic hopefuls shrank a little more this week, when Beto O’Rourke ended his run. Whatever got Texans so juiced about his 2018 race against Ted Cruz didn’t transfer to a presidential run.

Even so, the field remains clogged with 17 candidates, most with little chance of success. Tom Steyer, the impeachment guy, has gotten his wish, making him insignificant now that the House officially opened the impeachment inquiry. If the field had not been so crowded, likable, intelligent Cory Booker might have built a following. In this Democratic dogpile, though, he did not make it into the front rank. He will be remembered best for his awesome side-eye directed at O’Rourke’s Latinx introductory message at the first debate.

Kamala Harris closed her offices in New Hampshire this week, a signal that she can wage only one fight at a time. She had surged into the upper tier briefly on Joe Biden-shaming for his decisions in the 1990s that haven’t weathered well. For Harris, she’s depending on Iowa, and it looks like a bust.

Those remaining fall into either the progressive or the moderate camp. Elizabeth Warren holds a significant lead over Bernie Sanders in the Medicare-for-all faction, a symbol of advocacy for meaningful economic reassessment. Warren and Sanders both advocate Medicare for all but are not interchangeable. Andrew Yang, a second-tier candidate, has attracted interest for his unconventional view that each American should receive $1,000.00 per month. It’s not a crazy notion once he explains it. He is an exciting figure, who deserves serious attention, if only for his ideas. Unfortunately, Yang and the rest of the progressives will be tagged as socialists, still considered anathema in a country that has passed and embraced several popular social welfare programs since the end of World War II.

The moderates in the field have a different sort of challenge. Joe Biden remains the front-runner. He’s plowed through a handful of gaffs. He showed indecision in feebly responding to Trump’s attack. Some of the polls reflect weakening, but he is hanging around the front of the pack. Ask yourself where are the megabucks donations fled for a well-liked middle of the road candidate with a modicum of gravitas. Fund-raising has plunged, and his candidacy is idling. Aside from his repeated boast to beat Trump like a drum, Biden hasn’t had much to say.

The other moderates are languishing. Pete Buttigieg has had a great run this summer, out-earning the competition, and has performed well in the debates. Amy Klobuchar is still having trouble getting momentum, which is unfortunate for her. She had an impressive performance in the latest contest. She hasn’t been hit with many negatives, only being a demanding boss.

To the list of lies, damnable lies, and statistics, we must consider polls, a particularly undependable form of statistics. The national general election polls of 25 October show Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Pete Buttigieg all beating Trump by significant margins. But general election isn’t won on general trends. Let’s take a look at how the candidates are doing in some of the battleground states.

. Among the most recent state polls, Emerson in Arizona found Trump in a statistical tie with Biden and Warren and with a slight edge over Sanders. There is a significant shadow over Arizona, which may resonate nationally. On healthcare, Republicans and Independents poll highest to keep things the same, then for a public option. Medicare for all ranks slightly ahead of shamanism. It’s even more unpopular among Independents than Republicans.

Among Democratic primary voters, Biden – keep healthcare the same – polls highest – but then Sanders and Warren – Medicare for all – follow closely. Buttigieg and Klobuchar – public option — are far down the scale. In the general election, though, they may be more competitive in capturing red-to-purple Arizona.

Purple Minnesota goes robustly for favorite daughter Klobuchar against Trump, and also for the general poll leaders. Minnesota went blue in 2016 by a slim margin.

Trump’s triumph in Wisconsin in 2016 was critical to his election. Marquette’s results of 23 October present a different outlook. Biden, Warren, and Sanders lead the incumbent, and Buttigieg trails but not by much. Klobuchar prospects are looking up.  She claims to know her beer from her foam, and that will serve her well in a Midwestern pub crawl.

North Carolina, another critical state captured by Trump in 2016, is polling blue. On 14 October, the top Democrats led Trump by slim margins, and Buttigieg and Harris trailed much the same.

Florida, too, is in play, but probably turned slightly bluer on the news that Trump is now one of their own. The state will likely remain red with a progressive running but could turn blue with the right moderate.

The leftward pull is dominant in the Democratic primary but is a handicap in swing states in the general election. There are troubling signs now that neither Sanders nor Warren may be unable pull in the critical, independent voters. Arizona’s split on health care is an indication.

These figures, unreliable though they are, support the American centrist convention. Democrats who play to the center draw less suspicion than those advocating the need for political upheaval. Except for 2016, we are a gradualist nation by and large.

If Biden can survive the primary, he can win the election, so say the polls. If not, Sanders and Warren will bear the socialist stigma, sending undecided voters back to Trump or keeping them quietly at home.

The outside play is for Amy Klobuchar. Her campaign has been relatively unexciting. But her performance in the debates has improved. Her positions on core issues are comfortably mainstream. Most importantly, she knows the difference between the fluff of foam and the bedrock of beer. My guess is that she will poll well in battleground states. If Biden falters, his support will swing to her, especially in the midwest.

Pete Buttigieg consistently has been the most impressive candidate on the husting, by far. His youth may be a plus rather than a minus. His sexual orientation is not the verboten issue it once was. Still, First Husband Chasten Glazmen’s TV tour of the White House will please and infuriate in equal measure. Still it’s possible that America will have a gay president before a female one.

 

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