Dividing Lines

The political order is breaking down right in front of us. While DC is immersed in ideological battles, we’re seeing traditional liberalism and conservatism morph right in our eyes, you have cultural liberals arguing for free trade, cultural conservatives railing against billionaires, and moderates on both sides picking and choosing amidst the carnage.

This is not to say there aren’t still more traditional left and right, or even extreme left and right. That still exists. The main point is that there are new politics emerging, like a spring blooming from the Earth. In the aftermath of 2016, there are new coalitions forming, some good, some bad.

Americans aren’t satisfied with their political choices. This is why 42% self-identify as independent. It’s why more radical voices are rising on the left and right. It’s why people who lack credibility (Trump, Bernie, AOC) are gaining followings. People want to hear what they want to hear, not what is “possible” or “electable.” It’s why talking about the cost of something, or Congressional viability, or details of a plan haven’t derailed some of the frauds and grifters who have risen in our politics. Nobody cares about what’s wrong with their lies.

The only way out of this hellscape is vision. Someone will have to put something real, appealing, and truly good for people’s lives on the table. Tax subsidies for Amazon to bring minimum wage jobs to Queens aren’t exciting, even if they’re an upgrade for people who need more income there. Activists will sabotage that every time, because there’s no real joy in it. People want their standard of living improved. They want opportunity. The only way to stop them from dumb ideas is to offer good ones.

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A Bold, New World View, Part 11- Regionalism Still Matters

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Read Part 6 here.

Read Part 7 here.

Read Part 8 here.

Read Part 9 here.

Read Part 10 here.

Who is the Democratic base? This has been the central debate between Hillary and Bernie supporters since 2016. Hillary supporters largely argued that women and African-Americans, and most specifically African-American women, as well as Latinos, made up the “base” of the Democratic Party. Bernie supporters argued that the base were the most feverish ideological leftists in the party. I think Hillary supporters were wrong only in being overly general. I think Bernie supporters are just wrong. The Hillary “base” is slightly too small, unequally distributed, and ignores regionalism. The Bernie coalition is just not a majority, and probably never will be.

I don’t believe either political party has what amounts to a national base. Different political issues animate different regions of the country, and the demographics change dramatically. Even within regions there can be dramatic shifts from places like North Philadelphia to suburban Willow Grove, just minutes into the suburbs. Democrats can’t “nationalize” the question of their base. To be fair, Republicans can’t either, even though their demographic of voter is mostly the same everywhere.

Hillary’s defined base worked well enough to win the nomination, largely because it worked in the South. Hillary had a lot of success in 2008 in the west by winning the Latino base there. Hillary walloped President Obama in the Rust Belt states because she won the “labor/working class” demographic, the same people she lost badly to both Bernie and Trump in 2016. Every region of the country has it’s own “base Democratic” voting block. There are overlapping issues of economic fairness and access to opportunity, but the animating issues change. Labor issues are huge in Wisconsin, but voting rights are huge in Georgia. I can’t imagine a Democratic nominee opposed to either one, but the fight at this point seems to be over which set of issues get to be center stage.

What about the Republican Party though? Right-wing populism dominates in Appalachia and the South, energy issues in Texas and much of the Plains and Southwest, while tax cuts in the North. Rather than fighting over whether the tax cuts for their Northeast donors should take precedence over union busting in Wisconsin, or a border wall for Arizona and Kentucky, they just say all of the above. If their Wyoming Congresswoman wants to talk guns and energy exploration while their Massachusetts Governor talks tax cuts, they’re fine. A national nominee from the GOP will be expected to cut taxes, appoint conservatives to the judiciary, spend on the military, protect gun rights, and be tough on immigration- even though these positions make no sense together at times.

Regionalism also does a lot to explain elected official behavior too. Bernie Sanders famously was less tough on gun manufacturers than Hillary fans wanted. Cory Booker is more pharma friendly than many Midwestern members of Congress, but many of them are friendly towards agribusiness in a way he doesn’t have to be. Members of Congress represent the people who elect them, in fact all elected officials do. For that reason, almost no one has a 100% partisanship score in Congress. It would be nice to be ideologically pure, but most American voters aren’t ideological.

It is a fun, but almost always overlooked fact that the United States has no national election. Even Presidential elections are really 50 individual state elections (plus DC), where you have to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. Inevitably, the concerns of your district or state will occasionally trump the ideological concerns of your party. If you want to stay in office very long, you’d be best to hear that warning.

Math Still Needs to Matter in Government

The moment that Bernie Sanders went from “harmless old man” to a problem for me happened in New York. It wasn’t primary day though. It was when he bombed the New York Daily News Editorial staff interview. It’s not a matter of his ideas, but rather that he really had no idea how he would do any of it. There was no substance in his plans. Just catchphrases. Bernie was pretty much exposing himself as unprepared to be President.

I’m not sure Democrats are in a better place with the left as we approach the three year mark. Last week I engaged with a Twitter follower who supported Bernie and loves AOC and noted the lack of a funding plan for many of their big ideas. Their response was chilling to me- that we need to stop holding political leaders to the standard of paying for their ideas, because “that leads to conservative outcomes.” In other words, will away the inconveniences of governing.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tulsi Gabbard, and Ro Khanna voted against the House Rules package crafted by Nancy Pelosi on January 3rd, and their stated reason was opposition to a rule called “Pay Go,” a provision that requires you to find the revenue, through taxes, spending cuts, or spending shifts, to finance any new plans. The rule came about in her first tenure as Speaker, after George W. Bush has cut taxes, fought two wars, passed Medicare Part D, and done No Child Left Behind with no funding mechanism- all as debt. The United States was running trillion dollar debts in those days, as we are now, after the Trump-Ryan 2017 tax cut debacle.

It’s important to remember two key things about Pelosi’s “Pay Go” rule.

  1. She can lift it for major legislative priorities, and she pledged to do so. While “Pay Go” applies day-to-day, it is not a hard and fast rule. It is there to institute discipline on the average, but the Speaker can instruct the House Rules Committee to lift it on priority legislation, such as Medicare for All, if she chooses. She has pledged, as I said above, to do so when major priorities come up.
  2. We are projected to pay $364 billion in FY 2019 on debt services (interest). That’s what we’re paying just to finance our debt- not fix a single program. You could dramatically expand Medicaid or improve ACA subsidies with that, if you weren’t paying it to rich people for buying our debt. You could finance a major green jobs bill, an infrastructure bill, or any number of other major bills. We quite literally spending half the Pentagon budget to sell bonds to finance our debt. This is clearly a waste, to any sane person.

The fiscal behavior of Republicans, post Bush 41 raising taxes to deal with deficits, has been atrocious. They only worry about costs when money is being spent to help poor and middle class people, and otherwise are willing to bankrupt the country. The idea behind Pelosi’s rules package was simply to not be Paul Ryan– not block a national health care bill.

But back to the argument made at me on Twitter- screw paying for the things we want, just pass them. I get the moral equivalency argument, why should Democrats limit themselves when trying to do good things, Republicans just do the bad stuff they want. The difference though is that Democrats are the party that believes in using the government to solve problems, so they have a responsibility to make it work right. Running up more debt because math is hard is setting up the government for financial issues later. The price of debt (interest on bonds) is pretty much directly tied to the price buyers are willing to pay at auction, which is based on their confidence in the investment. It’s worth being responsible, if only to check that.

The real problem I have with the lefties that argue debt doesn’t matter, and we shouldn’t have to fully fund “good” programs is that they’re just lazy- there are actual questions to some of these questions, which people sometimes even get close to proposing. In AOC’s defense (I don’t do that often), proposing a 70% tax on income over $10 million, which she loosely suggested to fund her “Green New Deal” is popular, not overly radical, and has historical precedence. Elizabeth Warren’s suggestion for a windfall tax on wealth may be plausible. You could expand Medicare and Social Security massively if you raised the ceiling on payroll taxes to apply to 90% of earnings, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1990’s- and the majority of earners wouldn’t even pay a dime more. While you can’t realistically cut the Pentagon the way some on the left propose, a 10% cut of waste spending on weapons we don’t even use could finance a nationwide free community college and trade school program that would greatly alter the landscape on college tuition costs. There are actual ways to do their plans, and you don’t even have to be brilliant to figure them out. They’re just lazy, or willfully ignorant.

My guess is that some of these lefties know this, but still want to live in fiscal fantasy land for one reason- politics. Selling tax increases is hard. A national health care plan and climate change plan was incredibly popular in 2007 and 2008, but by 2010 it was contributing to Democrats losing the House. The devil is always in the details. Unless you don’t do the details, and just say we don’t have to pay for it. Then you can live in ignorant bliss forever, and propose any crazy idea you want, without consequence.

A Bold, New World View, Part 10- How Our Politics Have Shaped the Future

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Read Part 6 here.

Read Part 7 here.

Read Part 8 here.

Read Part 9 here.

I think back to my earliest days as a voter, and the events that were shaping my politics at the time. I was 17 when the Supreme Court awarded George W. Bush the White House. I was 18 when 9/11 happened. Locally, I was 19 when Bethlehem Steel finally went under. I was about the same age when the Iraq War Resolution passed Congress. Enron was going under for corporate fraud. Then there was the ugly, bigoted 2003 and 2004 fight over marriage equality. It didn’t get better as I aged into my early-20’s. Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib, the meltdown of the Iraq War, and finally, the economic collapse of 2008 all happened before I was 26. In the course of a decade, maybe my most formative decade, the American judiciary and our electoral system, foreign policy and the Pentagon, our whole government, institutional Christianity, and corporate America all were made to look foolish, incompetent, and evil. This was difficult to process, as it ran against so much that I grew up thinking, but process it I did, with millions of others my age. It should be no wonder millennials, and the “Gen-Z’ers” who followed, are more liberal than past generations.

It’s not just headlines though that have pushed “the kids” to the left. Looking at the results of those events, there has been a real world impact on us. Home ownership, marriage, even having kids has been a slower, more difficult process. Good luck finding a job with health care and a pension. Many 30-somethings that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan lost limbs or came home with PTSD. New Orleans may have permanently lost a huge chunk of it’s population. The opportunities that were a given for our less educated parents and grandparents aren’t there for us. Instead we have the gig economy, student loan debt, and a constant struggle to survive.

It almost should be no shock that there are young people who love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other politicians like her on the left- they are promising something diametrically different. While her ideas aren’t totally fleshed our, who the hell cares? If the status quo appears to be an abject failure, and feels like an abject failure, then it is an abject failure. Given the political options young people see as available, they’re making the choice that seems to make sense to them.

What exactly are our political options in 2019 anyway? The Republican Party’s last act in control of both houses of Congress and the White House was to shut down the government to build a border wall to keep Latinos out. In other words, the Republican Party has given up on governing, and only really wishes to enhance corporate profit and appease elder bigotry. The Democratic Party has essentially split into two- on the one side are “establishment” Democrats that want to govern responsibly, on the other side are more leftist Democrats that want to oppose the status quo and Republicans at nearly all costs. It would stand to reason that if your current situation is awful, “responsibility” isn’t your main concern, right or not.

Of course, some of the upheaval of this moment has produced great things too. Our first African-American President, our first woman nominee for President, our first Muslim women in Congress, and our first Native Americans in Congress are all examples of barriers falling. The traditional paradigm of white men in public office is folding on the behalf of non-traditional candidates. Who can blame the young folks for voting for something new? Growing up in a world of corporate greed, religious bigotry, inept government, terrorism, and fraud will make you question the leaders you’ve had.

I do not join in the optimistic view many on the left have of the world that millennials and Gen-Z will create. I’m not a big believer in the diametric change that many of my fellow millennials do. I get why it’s happening though- our fathers and grandfathers showed us an inability to lead our society in a responsible, moral way. Telling those that bare the price to be responsible is a bitter pill to swallow. Our elders decision to elect Donald Trump May have made it completely unacceptable.

A Bold New World View, Part 7- How Business Works

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Read Part 6 here.

Benevolence isn’t in the vocabulary of a success corporation. Corporations only exist to make money- nothing more and nothing less. If you start a company, and want your values to underlie the operation, keep it profit- that’s totally your right. Even in a private company, you’re going to run the operation efficiently enough to make money, but you can make decisions to match your values at least.

Corporations have a job to do- increase the value of their shares on the stock market, turning a profit for shareholders. Whatever the market conditions allow them to do legally to do so, they should do. Many of their shareholders are almost invisible in the process, being held in pension and retirement funds, by silent partners, and by other non-individuals. With such detachment from the process, these entities only care about the stock prices and dividends getting bigger.

Corporations, and really any business, are going to run with this in mind. If a grocery store needs five check-out lanes open at 9pm on a Friday night, guess how many lanes will be open? Yes, policy can have an influence, but not to the extent we pretend. A tax cut might allow a cash-strapped company (to be read as failing) to hire people that they wanted to, but couldn’t afford. It also might give a company the money to invest in research and development, when they didn’t before. To be clear though, banks are primarily responsible for loans that help companies do these things. We should not, on the whole, cut taxes in an effort to get rich people and companies to hire- that will only work when their primary issue is having enough money to hire. More often, the chief concern of a company is increasing the size of the dividend for shareholders, or increasing stock prices- to all be read profits. If the chief priority is usually profits, a tax cut will usually go into increasing profits.

Democrats will usually get angry that companies behave this way, and call them greedy. Republicans will defend them, and tell us to trust corporations and the rich, because they’ll do the right thing in the end. Both are missing the point. This emotions are not things corporations have. It’s not part of how they run.

The obvious answer to corporate misdeeds and worse is simple- government. You write a tax code that encourages good behavior- environmentally friendly actions, accepting unions, manufacturing here, honest behavior, living wages, pensions, and health care- as opposed to now, where often times the tax code encourages the bad behavior we oppose. You regulate corporations to make sure they don’t do truly harmful things to our public. Finally, you prosecute fraud and actual crimes. This is the government jobs. Most companies will do as much as we allow them, as much as makes them money without any risk. We should actually hope they do too. Any of us who have a retirement fund of any kind are relying on corporations to make us as much money as possible to live off of in our old age. We should just also hope that our government does it’s job too, and makes sure they play by the rules.

A Bold New World View, Part 6- The Detached Elites

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Read Part 5 here.

Something struck me from Julian Castro’s Presidential announcement speech-

Today we live in a world in which brainpower is the new currency of success.

There’s nothing at all wrong with what he said there. In fact, it’s been a boilerplate assumption of both sides in Washington for basically my entire life. It’s the backbone of globalization, and really of the post-industrial America. The idea that nurtured intellect is the key to modern success isn’t a revolutionary idea, or for that matter wrong. So don’t take any of this as a criticism of him.

Let’s have a real conversation though, about how a great country goes from great to Trump. The question I would pose to Castro and every other candidate for President in 2020 is simple- if intellectual capital is the key to success, what are we going to do with the 250 million people or so living in this country that are either unprepared or incapable of competing in that world? The “opiate of the masses” for these people in recent decades has been “more education funding” and “job training,” and that’s great and all, but it’s not radically altering outcomes. These people may be inconvenient for policy makers, but they’re not going away anytime- not just not soon. The country will always have low-skilled workers, mediocre people, and frankly, some people who are not very smart. They count as people, the same as the rest of us, they get the same vote, and you can’t just ignore them away. What they’re being offered hasn’t cut it so far.

Let’s be honest, neither political party has shown that it cares much about the folks we’re talking about. Democrats snicker about them, Republicans exploit them, and the political Press only really covers them as an insult. From within that void, a complete conman like Donald Trump can emerge. Sure, he promised them the ridiculous- a return to coal mines, protection for their world views, and even a return to prominence- but consider the alternative. I worked for Hillary Clinton, I love Hillary Clinton, but her campaign conceded a lot more of America to Trump than it should have, or needed to, just as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and all the Republican primary candidates did before them. She did not lose because she didn’t go to Wisconsin, but it is anecdotal of why she did lose- her campaign believed it could win without competing in places it didn’t want to compete.

The point of this piece isn’t to re-hash 2016 though, that’s been done a lot. The point of this piece is to highlight the degree to which American politics are detached from Americans, and how it impacts our system. Over 90% of America didn’t go to an Ivy League school. I’m guessing a large majority didn’t go to even a private college. Find the last American President without an Ivy League degree? You’re going back a ways. Remove the military academies and you can count the “commoner” Presidents of the last century on one hand. Find a Supreme Court nominee not from Harvard Law- let alone the Ivy League. You almost can’t be a U.S. Senator without being a millionaire first. Members of the U.S. House, “The People’s House,” are all living in a class well above the income of the average member of the public. Last year in Illinois, we actually saw a billionaire vs. billionaire Gubernatorial race. Here in Pennsylvania, both men were multi-millionaires many time over. New Jersey’s last two Democratic Governors we’re multi-millionaires, with a background at Goldman Sachs.

Don’t mistake me pointing this out as a call for us to go down to the local McDonald’s to pick our Congressman. What I’m stating is just a fact, and while it doesn’t make our government all bad, it clearly has impacted our decision making and values. Our response to the 2008 economic meltdown was to bail out the banks- arguably the right choice- but to limit the size of the Stimulus that was supposed to reach the general public. While military spending has grown exponentially since World War II, spending on infrastructure hasn’t grown at the same rate. States never lack money for economic development that benefits rich developers, but seem to struggle at funding public education without tax increases on the middle class. It’s not that they’re always, actually wrong, it’s that they seem to always err on the same side of judgment.

I’m not into Democratic socialism, or straight up class warfare, but it’s not a radical leap to say that rich people tend to value the things rich people know. Their perspective places the value on the work they do. It also tends to downplay the problems of the “other people,” people that most of them just don’t even know. There is a good reason they view ideas like guaranteed universal income, Medicare for All, guaranteed housing, increases in Social Security, and other safety measures as “radical,” and it’s not the merit of their ideas. They’re just not that important. There’s also a reason the payroll tax hasn’t kept up with inflation (which, by the way, is how we fund entitlements), and most of the big tax write-offs are for the wealthy, rather than everyone getting their first $30,000 tax free. There is a good reason we discuss drug-testing and work requirements for welfare and Medicaid, but not for farm subsidies and tax breaks, and it is neither the cost of the ideas, nor the merit. It is perspective, values, and priorities- and the value we place on what each group of people does.

Our government is largely out of touch with the public, and we are living through the backlash now. While Trump ran as change, it’s important to note that he is handing subsidy money out to agribusiness conglomerates right now, rather than consumers buying milk- I’m saying he’s a fraud of course. Regardless of him though, it’s worth understanding that the sickness in the government isn’t confined to him. As long as campaigns cost as much as they do, the government will be full of rich people- and I don’t have the solution to that today. You will have populist grifters and thieves come along from time to time and promise the world, with no record or plan to get them done (I’m thinking of two 2016 candidates, and even a new, young Congresswoman here), but they are not the solution to the detachment of our elites from the public. Our government desperately needs a change in perspective, in values, and in priorities, one that the average Harvard MBA just doesn’t have.

A Bold New World View, Part 5- The Parties

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4 here.

Steak or fish. A or B. Black or White. American politics is somewhat limiting and constrained. Our political system has been built for stability, not for passions of the moment. From our constitution to our election laws, the idea is to eventually get to something almost like a consensus. Having two parties to choose from increases the likelihood of that.

But really though, what are our political parties? Political parties, in the official sense, are the committee people who make them up. In most cases, you elect your county party committee at the precinct level, and your state committee people at a county level, or some other higher political division level. The DNC and RNC members are chosen by state party and elected leaders. In an official sense, both parties are people chosen directly and indirectly by the voters. In reality, parties are a lot more.

In the case of both parties, there are two other groups with very direct power and oversight in the parties- elected officials and major donors. Elected officials are elected directly by the public, get to set policies that usually end up as party policy, and most importantly get to hand out appointments and jobs- all the stuff the party faithful care about. Major donors have a ton of influence, because elections cost money. As long as TV, mail, internet ads, canvass programs, offices, and staff cost money, donors will exist. Candidates who can’t raise any money, and parties for that matter, can’t tell anyone why they’re great and deserve your votes. Both of these groups have a ton of sway over political parties, and how they’re going to operate.

The thing about all three of these groups though is that they combine to make up less than 1% of both our 320 million plus population, and our 135 million actually active voters. In other words, they can’t make our political system run on their own. In fact, they can’t even run the political parties on their own. They’re all indispensable, and yet entirely inadequate to drive our politics in 2019.

The great divergence of the two political parties occurs at this point- who the base, or activists are. For the Republicans, they are an alliance of groups- big businesses, military hawks, Christian conservatives, and other traditionalist groups (generally white and male)- who generally share an ideological view. For the Democrats, they are a coalition of groups who often don’t completely share ideological positions- African-Americans, leftists, feminists, labor, Latinos, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, the LGBT community, and many other change related groups. All members of the Republican alliance are conservatives, or part of the right, usually. Not every group in the Democratic coalition is part of “the left” though, at least in the eyes of the others. Member groups of the Republican alliance can move further right without fear of alienating the other partners, in part because they all agree generally in their world view, and in part because they all oppose the direction of Democrats, pretty much at their core. When some groups within the Democratic coalition move right or left, they draw the ire of other partners.

Obviously this doesn’t cover every voter in both parties, which speaks to the general dislike of politics that many people feel. Many voters end up picking the lesser of the two evils because they’re not very ideological themselves, or they don’t fit perfectly in any of these boxes, or they dislike one or two groups on their side. In normal elections, these voters end up as swing voters, up for grabs to the candidate willing to come get them. In recent elections, particularly 2016, these voters end up pressed into “their” corner- happy about it or not.

Our two party system leaves a lot to be desired in recent times, but it’s also the greatest tool for stability this country has seen. Ironically, displeasure for the increasingly polarized positions of the two parties may end up changing that in the near time. Even if the parties end up going the way of the Whigs though, we have a system that is built to accommodate two.

A Bold New World View, Part 4- Who Decides

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Yesterday the Democrats officially took the House. Before yesterday, there were 195 Democrats in the House, now there are 40 more. Where did these 40 new seats come from?

They were not seats won in the Democratic base- urban America- for the most part. They also were mostly not in rural America, where Republicans clean up on whiter votes. Most of these new members (not all) are coming from suburban and even a few exurban districts. They’re not coming from previously safe “blue” districts, but districts that have shown a tendency towards moderacy and swing-voting.

American elections are generally decided in semi-affluent, higher educated areas. Suburban counties around Philadelphia, Cleveland, Miami, Raleigh, Washington, Des Moines, and Detroit tend to decide Presidential elections. Many of the districts that flipped in Congress and state legislatures in 2018 were in those same areas. These voters decide most of our elections.

This is not to say that a Presidential candidate should not seek to stoke their base voters to increase turnout, and/or seek to cut margins in the opposition’s strong turf. It’s to say that Presidents who win that way are not building a governing coalition. Winning with your base isn’t strengthening your party’s fortunes in the swing districts that decide partisan control in the legislatures. Without strong legislative majorities, you cannot pass laws and make changes.

Who are these voters? They’re college educated. They don’t live higher taxes, but do like good public services. They’re not very fond of the blatant racism, sexism, and bigotry of Trump. They tend to believe in science. They tend to not support “big government” or socialism. While not as diverse as the big cities, they’re not as lily white as “the sticks.”

These are the places that handed Donald Trump a beating in 2018, but Hillary didn’t spend enough time on in 2016. They’re the small cities of Pennsylvania, like Allentown, Reading, Bethlehem, or Scranton. They’re the suburban areas in Milwaukee County. They’re the suburban areas around Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, and the suburban counties around Raleigh, and even in Wake County. They’re obviously the areas outside of Detroit, within that metro market.

I’m not suggesting it’s an “or” choice. Should a Democratic nominee in 2020 campaign in Charlotte or Matthews? Philadelphia or Allentown? Milwaukee or Janesville? My answer is both. My answer is talk about the things that are applicable, and go to both. Campaign to your base, but also talk to and about things that matter to the voters who are up for grabs.

There are those that disagree, either because of perceived practical problems with it, or an ideological bias towards a particular base of voters. My suggestion is that they are incorrect in their view of the electorate, and in the pathway forward. Many of the areas that flipped or went more Democratic from 2016 to 2018 got an increase of campaign action and attention this time. Issues of importance to them- like health care- were now front and center. It’s not that they like or dislike either party’s base, but mostly that they have different issues.

Finally, there is a belief by some that demographics will simply change American politics in due time. It’s true- by 2045, the nation will be majority-minority, though it will remain plurality white for some time after that. Even as that happens, at least 37 states will remain majority white, and even more will be plurality white. Half the country will live in eight states. The voting population is likely to be even whiter than this. By the time the voters of America are a more diverse majority, many of us are likely to be very old, or even dead. Diversity will move the nation, but not as fast and dramatically as some believe.

Elections are not decided where either major party would generally like. They’re not decided among the activists. They’re decided among voters who are less ideological. Winning them over takes a more complex, higher political messaging. This makes a lot of political people uncomfortable.

One Month of Christmas, Day 6

Good evening, today is Friday, November 30th. There are 25 days until Christmas. Here’s today’s thoughts…

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Rudolph is Fine, Get a Life

So apparently, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer isn’t good to show to kids. Why? Apparently showing the other reindeer bullying Rudolph is bad for kids. I kid you not.

This is part of why America hates liberals. Bullying is something that goes on in life. Will against it if you like, it will still be there generations after I’m dead. In this particular case, the victim at least ends up being beloved and popular, a powerful lesson to kids that bullying is stupid. That kid you’re bullying will grow up to make you feel foolish for being a jerk.

Honestly, people need to get a life.

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Holy Commercialism, Aerosmith

I just watched Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in a Tiffany and Co. commercial. Aside from my burning disdain for jewelry companies, good for them. Except that I recently saw another of their songs, “Livin’ on the Edge,” in a smart phone commercial. Oh, and Aerosmith will be “in residency” in Las Vegas next year.

As they approach their 50th anniversary together, Aerosmith is clearly cashing in. And you know what, good. Bands shouldn’t feel bad about making money off their music. It just feels like Aerosmith is going to hit gold here in the next few months.

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Yes to Woodstock 2019

Yeah, sure, Woodstock 1999 was kind of a shitshow. Sure, they burned some stuff. Sure, there were kind of, sort of rioting. But we have had a 20 year timeout. And dammit, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock.

I not only want a 2019 Woodstock, but I want the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day back there. I want to see the bad behavior surrounding both’s Woodstock performances repeated. I’m totally in for it.

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#NC09 is a Real Mess

The only race we were involved in on Election Day in Mecklenburg County, NC that didn’t end in victory was the 9th Congressional District race. We won Mecklenburg County for Democrat Dan McCready by a comfortable margin, but the final count has put him down by 905 votes. He conceded the day after, and the race seemed over.

I have to say it *seemed* over. We now know that foul play seems to have been going on, in a county well East of where I was. In Bladen County, an individual named Leslie McRae Dowless, the Soil & Water Commissioner, worked for Mark Harris’ Congressional campaign. In that county, Harris got 61% of the mail-in ballots, but only 19% of the voters who mailed in ballots were Republicans. The North Carolina State Board of Elections now has affidavits, signed by voters that Dowless’ had people going door to door to pick up ballots and “mail them in” for them. In some cases his people filled in ballots for people, in other instances they discarded ballots for Dan McCready. Dowless standed to make a $40,000 bonus if Harris won. It appears he may have broken some rules to get it.

If that’s so, these election results cannot be certified.

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We’ll be back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 5

Good day, today is Thursday, November 29th, 2018. It’s really windy out. Despite my rant yesterday about the Stones’ prices, my dad bought up a few seats for us today. My hypocrisy with things I want knows no end, I guess. On to today’s thoughts…

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Where the Action Will be, 2019 Governing

What will happen the next two years in government? The most common answer is nothing. Congress is divided, the nation is divided, the states are divided. Yet, in the past two days, I’ve sung a different tune to two PA State Reps I’ve advised in the past.

One is a newer representative (not a freshman), who asked me what committees she should ask for. I told her almost instantly “transportation.” I told her the only thing coming out of Washington the next two years is an infrastructure bill. When that money hits state capitols, you’ll want to be helping craft the state’s bill.

The other is a more senior state rep, who will be Democratic Chairman at Agriculture. My advice? Stay there. Trump will desperately want to help farmers across the Rust Belt heading into his re-election. The U.S. House Agriculture chairman represents probably the reddest Democratic seat in the country, and makes his political bones by being very engaged with the agriculture community. I think they may be sending some money to the states.

Just a hunch, though.

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The 30 for 30 Bobby Knight Special was Wow

I just watched the “30 for 30” on Bobby Knight and was absolutely stuck on it. It was incredibly well done, and paints a picture of an unlikable Bobby Knight. What an awful guy.

It was also a super sad story. Neil Reed was tortured by his experience at Indiana. He finally had escaped the shadow of his time with the Hoosiers, had happiness, and then he died. There was no happy ending.

The business of college sports was once again on trial. Like Ohio State and Michigan State’s recent problems, or Penn State and Baylor’s past problems, it’s clear that money causes questionable decision making. The NCAA never looks good when we view these sagas.

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Cohen Blows the Lid on Trump-Russia Connection

There is no question if Russia tried to help Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, only whether or not he and his associates knew. I’ve long since believed they did, but I had mostly assumed Donald Trump himself was largely shielded from that. I never thought he himself would get hit.

Today I’m not sure. Now we’re getting into connecting not only Trump’s campaign to Russia, we’re also connecting Trump’s company and finances to Russia. This is new territory for this case. Perhaps this was more than just an operation by Russia to influence an election, but also to control a foreign asset. If that is so, this is a new chapter, and not a good one.

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Back at it tomorrow…