Elections

Bernie Learns His Lesson -- But Have the Rest of Us?

(Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP)
(Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP) Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders waits to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill on Wedneday, July 22. “ We want a nation where a young black man or woman can walk down the street without worrying about being falsely arrested, beaten, or killed,” Bernie Sanders told some 8,000 supporters in Dallas on July 19, the day after his contentious encounter with protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation. While Sanders, the socialist U.S. senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to have learned his lesson quickly, the same cannot necessarily be said for some of his most ardent followers, or for the progressive movement more broadly, where power rests primarily in the hands of white men. When Sanders announced his candidacy, I welcomed it—and I still do. Standing far to the left of likely nominee Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s presence in the race, coupled with...

Zephyr Teachout on Getting Big Money Out of Politics

Zephyr Teachout talks Citizens United, public financing, and her new role heading Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC. 

AP Photo/Mike Groll
AP Photo/Mike Groll Activist Zephyr Teachout speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in Albany, New York. I n 2014, the campaign finance reform activist and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig launched Mayday PAC —the super PAC to end super PACs. The group raised about $11 million and targeted support for candidates who were committed to reforming the role of money in politics. While its efforts in the 2014 election were largely unsuccessful, Lessig did succeed in jumpstarting a conversation about how to combat the private campaign financing of our elected officials, and more recently, the scourge of unlimited outside spending a la Citizens United . On Monday, it was announced that law professor and progressive firebrand Zephyr Teachout will be taking over the reins as Mayday plots its strategy for a 2016 election that will likely unleash an unprecedented amount of money. Most recently, Teachout challenged Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo for the New York State...

Why Donald Trump Matters

(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) In Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump said to his supporters, "I'm very good with contracts. Don't you want that?" T he political press is struggling over how exactly to report on Donald Trump. On one hand, we absolutely love covering him—Trump's intoxicating combination of boorishness, ignorance, tactlessness, and overconfidence, all wrapped up in a gold-plated package, is utterly irresistible as copy. On the other hand, we feel a little guilty about it, as though we know it's bad for us and bad for the public. Which is what produces the endless assurances that, despite his rather remarkable strength in the polls, you should rest assured that he is not going to be his party's nominee. You see that judgment made about other candidates all the time, but seldom repeated so often and almost never for someone who is leading in all the primary polls. And while it might be true, we've now moved beyond the point where we don't have to take Trump seriously. It'...

Why Netroots Nation Was Exactly the Right Place for a #BlackLivesMatter Protest

(Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin)
(Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin) Black Lives Matter and Black Immigration Network activists shout down Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders during the presidential candidates' forum at Netroots Nation on Saturday, July 18. W hen protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted the presidential candidates’ forum at an annual gathering of progressives from both grassroots movements and the professional left, a predictable response was heard from many white liberals and progressives: Why are you picking on us? We’re your allies! If movement needed any more fuel, it was granted as much by the mysterious death, just days before, of Sandra Bland, which occurred while she was in custody of the sheriff of Waller County, Texas. Her arrest seems to have been prompted by her defiance of a state trooper’s order to put out her cigarette after he pulled her car over for Bland’s alleged failure to use her directional signal while changing lanes. The trooper’s dash-cam video shows the officer...

The GOP Finally Finds the Courage to Attack Donald Trump

AP Photo/Danny Johnston
AP Photo/Danny Johnston Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Arkarsas, Friday, July 17, 2015. T he GOP may finally have found the means to rid itself of that meddlesome real estate tycoon. And it's fitting—and really, should have been predictable—that what is uniting Republicans against Donald Trump is his own big mouth. It's one thing to call Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers—that caused some agita, but not enough to rid Trump's GOP opponents of their visceral fear of alienating his supporters. But insulting John McCain's war record? That's something everyone can agree on, and thus gives the other candidates just the excuse they've been waiting for to bring out the knives for Trump. On the off chance you haven't heard, on Saturday, Trump said some interesting things about McCain, with whom he has had a little East Coast/Southwest beef of late. The setting was the Family Leadership...

Delusion in the Desert

Dispatch from the libertarian FreedomFest convention in Las Vegas. 

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at FreedomFest Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . L AS VEGAS—I'm here at Planet Hollywood as the token liberal to participate in two debates—one on what is killing the American Dream; the other a mock trial of the Federal Reserve. Paul Krugman is also here, debating the cause and cure of inequality. We're outnumbered about a thousand to one. The annual FreedomFest convention of some 2,000 libertarian conservatives is doubly surreal. What better setting for libertarian dreams than fantastical Las Vegas—the free market as casino, made flesh. Like casino operators, these libertarians live on fantasies. They inhabit an imagined universe where markets never do anything wrong and government never does anything right. This is comforting because it is true by definition and thus resists any evidence to the contrary. Mostly they are very...

A Note to Hillary on Boycotts and Settlements

It's time for Clinton to clarify her positions on Israel and Palestine. 

AP Photo/Jin Lee
AP Photo/Jin Lee Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after receiving the American Jewish Congress' lifetime achievement award on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in New York. D ear Hillary, It's hard to believe a whole eight years have gone by. Again, you're running for president. Again, you've made an early policy statement intended to prove your support for Israel, written to fit the catechism of the self-proclaimed guardians of the pro-Israel faith. And again, as I watch the bizarre rites of American politics from the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, I feel uneasy. Do you believe what you are saying and implying to donors and voters? Do you intend to act accordingly as president? Today, with the State Department as well as the Senate on your résumé, surely you know that American policy commitments—and your actual support for livable future for Israel—will take you in a different direction. You've been through this. Eight years ago, early in your last campaign, you...

How Donald Trump Changed the GOP Debate on Immigration

AP Photo/Jim Cole
AP Photo/Jim Cole Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he arrives at a house party Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Bedford, New Hampshire. H ere's how the immigration issue was supposed to play out for Republicans in the 2016 presidential campaign. During the pre-primary period and into the initial wave of voting, the candidates would tell voters how tough they'll be on undocumented immigrants, talking about building fences and enhancing border security. Then, as a likely nominee emerged, he'd begin to use a more welcoming rhetoric in the hopes of winning back the Hispanic general election voters who were alienated by what had happened before. He might not shift his actual policy position—which for nearly all the candidates comes down to "Secure the border first, then maybe we can talk about comprehensive reform"—but he would definitely shift his tone. Then along came Donald Trump. In his very first appearance as a candidate, Trump went on an extended riff about the...

Is Bernie Sanders Too Radical for America?

Although pegged as a fringe candidate, Sanders' views are surprisingly mainstream. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin In this photo taken May 20, 2015, Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders poses for a portrait before an interview with The Associated Press in Washington. N ow that Bernie Sanders is rapidly climbing in the polls and attracting huge audiences to his campaign events, his opponents are starting to attack him for being too radical. After all, Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. Of course, few Americans know what “socialist” means. Some mistakenly associate it with Communism. In fact, Sanders has often said that he favors the kinds of policies favored by the Scandinavian democracies. Asked about this last month by George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC News’ This Week , Sanders said : In countries in Scandinavia like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, they are very democratic countries. Voter turnout is a lot higher than it is in the United States. In those countries, health care is the right of all people; college education and graduate...

Anthony Kennedy's California Roots Shine Through

In recent cases on redistricting and gay marriage, he reveals himself as a vanishing breed of West Coast moderate Republican. 

AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File
AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File In this October 3, 2013, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks to faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania law school in Philadelphia. I n his characteristically bumptious manner, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lamented the lack of geographic diversity among his colleagues last week in his opinion dissenting from the Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. There are no justices from the South or West, he harrumphed—a judgment he then qualified, in deference to the fact that the author of the majority opinion, Anthony Kennedy, is Californian, with a verbal wave of the hand. “California does not count,” he wrote, as a real Western state. Actually, as the region that’s home not just to California but also to Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, the American West is probably more in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage than any region but the Northeast. Still, a case can be made that Kennedy’s jurisprudence has often been shaped by his...

How the Presidential Primary Is a Proxy War Between the Kochs and the Republican Establishment

Is Reince Priebus democracy’s last best hope?

 

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian holds images of Republican candidates as he interviews Howard "Cowboy" Woodward during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 26, 2015. T here’s a battle brewing in the Republican Party, one that could be acted out in a most unseemly way in the nomination contest for the GOP standard-bearer. The wrangling between the Republican establishment and the Koch wing of the party promises some great entertainment for liberals who follow the presidential primaries; unfortunately, it also promises to be bad for our democracy. At this early stage in the presidential campaign, Scott Walker, the Koch-made Wisconsin governor , leads the pack in Iowa, polling at 18 percent, according to a June survey by Morning Consult . The likely establishment choice, a candidate formerly known as Jeb Bush (now just “ Jeb! ”), is tied for second with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, the...

What Would a Sanders Administration Do on K-12 Education?

The most progressive candidate in 2016 has more work to do in terms of articulating his k-12 ideas on the campaign trail.

Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP Images Senator Bernie Sanders attends a news conference on May 19, 2015, with members of the National Nurses Association at the Senate swamp on legislation "to eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities and to expand work-study programs. P residential candidate Bernie Sanders has excited his base with some bold ideas surrounding higher education. He’s said college should be a right , that public universities should have free tuition , and that public universities should employ tenured or tenure-track faculty for at least 75 percent of instruction , as a way to reduce the growing dependence on cheap adjunct labor. But Sanders’ stances on K-12 issues—arguably more contentious topics for politicians to engage with compared to higher ed and universal pre-K —have garnered far less attention. Here’s what we know so far: 1. He wants to roll back standardized testing, but still supports Common Core. Sanders opposes the expansion...

2016 Marks a New Era for Dark Money

Candidates like Hillary Clinton say they want to undo Citizens United. But their campaign spending says differently. 

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to supporters Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York, in a speech promoted as her formal presidential campaign debut. This article originally appeared at Common Dreams . W hile Democratic candidates are lining up to denounce the huge influence that dark money is having on politics in the U.S., a new report says that 2016 presidential candidates are relying on such secret contributions "like never before." In a speech before thousands, likely watched by millions more, Hillary Clinton formally launched her presidential bid on Saturday. During the address given on New York's Roosevelt Island, the Democratic frontrunner railed against the "endless flow of secret, endless money" in politics, saying that she would support a Constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United "if necessary." These strong words, directed at the...

Why Republican Candidates are Wrong About the Media

Mainstream outlets are frequently biased, but mostly toward sensationalism. 

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. pauses while speaking during a technology roundtable at the Switch Innovation Center, Friday, May 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. L ike only the most courageous columnists have the mettle to do, I will offer a bold prediction for the presidential campaign: Republican presidential candidates will complain about the coverage they get from the mainstream media. Come to think of it, Democratic candidates may also complain, but the real cries of outrage will come from the GOP side. OK, maybe that's not so bold and courageous, because it happens in most elections. You usually see it when the candidate is behind, since claiming that the media are against you is a way of blaming someone else for your poor performance. Not that every candidate gets treated fairly, mind you. But the claim is almost inevitably trotted out when a Republican is headed for defeat; those of you who have been around a while might remember George...

Scott Walker's Shady Deals Win Him Campaign Cash From Billionaires

The dark money web behind Walker's ascendance. 

AP Photo/Morry Gash, File
AP Photo/Morry Gash, File Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker giving a thumbs up as he speaks at his campaign party, in West Allis, near Milwaukee, on November 4, 2014. I f the Koch brothers have their way, the next president will be a guy they all but created—and one whose propensity for alliances and questionable deals with robber barons and at least one dirty political player mark a quality only an oligarch could love. When Walker, after winning Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial election, burst on the national scene in 2011 with his jihad against the state’s public-sector unions, he seemed to come out of nowhere. But he had been groomed for years by powerful anti-labor forces, rising from the state assembly under the tutelage of Michael Grebe, president of the Bradley Foundation, a major backer of right-wing, anti-labor politicians and policies. Grebe also served as Walker’s campaign chairman. In Sunday’s New York Times , reporters Patrick Healy and Monica Davey detail the role of the...

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