Elections

In 2016, Money Will Matter More Than Ever, Yet Not At All

Money in politics is a problem, but it goes way beyond this or that donor or election. 

Flickr/Tracy O
Flickr/Tracy O T here will be more money spent on the 2016 presidential election than any before in human history. OK, we don't know that with absolute certainty, but let's just say it would shocking if it didn't turn out to be true. The Koch brothers alone have promised to raise and spend the awfully specific amount of $889 million on the election, and that's before we even get to the candidates, the parties, and all the other millionaires and billionaires eager to demonstrate their public-spiritedness by pouring buckets of cash on their preferred candidates. Is it horrifying? Absolutely. But this could well be a campaign in which there's so much money sloshing around that money makes almost no difference in the end. Just to be clear, in no way am I defending the American campaign finance system, which ought to be an enduring source of national shame. And I'm not talking about all the down-ballot races, where an injection of outside money can determine the results. I'm sure not...

This Is No Time for Liberals to Give Up on Israel

Because of Netanyahu's bellicosity—and Republican support for it—it's now possible in Washington to argue about Israel. With so much at stake, liberals must.

(Photo: EdoM via Wikimedia Commons)
T onight most American Jews will sit down with family and friends for the Passover Seder. Whether they tell the story of redemption from slavery according to the Hebrew traditional text, a radical rewriting, or not at all, they'll eventually get to a sumptuous holiday meal and to conversation, often including politics. Judging from the reaction of some of my close friends and respected colleagues to the Israeli election, one subject that liberal Jews—that is, most American Jews—won't want on the menu is Israel. The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu has spoiled the taste beyond redemption. The manner of his victory—a lurch rightward, an unholy alliance with the GOP, a last-minute scare video about "droves" of Arab voters "advancing" on the polling places—has made talk of Israel even more bitter to the tongue. The tension in American Jewry between being liberal and being Zionist has been growing for years. But the election on March 17, 2015, may have been a breaking point. Believe me, I...

5 Radical Ideas Hillary Should Support

The economic populism Clinton may need to win. 

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Then-Senator Hillary Clinton addresses the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April 2008. At right is Pennsylvania AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee. I 've argued that Hillary Clinton is at risk of being a weak presidential nominee—on several counts. She seems like yesterday's news rather than tomorrow's. The excitement of a having a breakthrough woman president is blunted by the fact that her husband got there first. She will raise a ton of money from Wall Street, just like the Republican nominee, blurring differences and depressing turnout. Despite the absence of a formidable primary challenger (assuming Elizabeth Warren doesn't run), Clinton is still likely to underperform in the primaries. Still, Clinton is likely to be the Democratic nominee. So what might she do that could improve her own chances—and our chances of getting a president elected in 2016 who is first of all a Democrat, and maybe is some kind of real...

Did JPMorgan Try to Bribe Dem Power-Brokers? (Depends What Your Definition of 'Bribe' Is)

They've got a problem with Elizabeth Warren. And they want party leaders to do something about it.

iStockPhoto/© jgroup
D id one of the largest banks in the United States accidentally acknowledge an attempt to bribe members of Congress? A widely published Reuters story reported that four major U.S. banks have threatened to withhold expected campaign contributions from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee unless “Democrats, including [Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth] Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown ... soften their party's tone toward Wall Street.” But the article specifically notes: “JPMorgan representatives have met Democratic Party officials to emphasize the connection between its annual contribution and the need for a friendlier attitude toward the banks, a source familiar with JPMorgan's donations said. In past years, the bank has given its donation in one lump sum but this year has so far donated only a third of the amount, the source said.” A person familiar with JPMorgan's donations—who may or may not be a JPMorgan representative—told a Reuters reporter that JPM told party...

Those Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' GOP Presidential Candidates

(AP Photo/LM Otero)
(AP Photo/LM Otero) Rick Perry, then governor of Texas, waits to be introduced at a gun shop in Dallas, Thursday, September 16, 2010. Perry, touting his pro-gun credentials in his re-election campaign, was on hand to pick up the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. T here was a time not too long ago when Republicans knew that when an election got tight, they could trot out "God, guns, and gays" to drive a cultural wedge between Democrats and the electorate, since the GOP was the party that, like most Americans, loved the first two and hated the third. It's more complicated now, both within the parties and between them, but there's no doubt that 2016 will feature plenty of culture-war sniping. For better or worse, Democrats and Republicans really do represent two different Americas. I thought of that this weekend reading this article in The Washington Post about the personal relationships the potential Republican candidates have with guns. That they are all opposed to any...

Trey Gowdy's Bad Benghazi Hand

He can’t bring himself to fold and toss his cards into the muck.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Why won't the chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee show his cards? E very poker player has experienced this moment. The hand is over. You show a winning hand and your opponent sits still. They grimace, while looking down at their cards hoping somehow they will change. Maybe they let out an annoyed sigh. All this whiny display accomplishes is wasting the time of every other player at the table. The dealer is frozen, unable deliver the pot to the winner until your opponent shows his cards or folds. As chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee, Trey Gowdy has become that poker player. Earlier this week the Democratic staff of the committee put out a press release comparing the time spent by the Gowdy committee— 10 months and 15 days— to that taken by other historic high-profile Congressional committees and commissions to complete their investigations: Hurricane Katrina Entity: Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response...

3 Trends Driving Liberal American Jews Away From Israel

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Stage hands prepare the stage for the 2015 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., Monday, March 2, 2015. I n the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory last week—and the sordid campaigning that made it possible—liberal American Jews may be feeling, more than they ever have before, pained by, conflicted about, and even estranged from Israel. There are certainly consequences for policy, as U.S. policy toward Israel could become a much more partisan issue than it is now. But more than that, there's a crisis of the spirit emerging. It's fed by three trends, all of which serve to alienate liberal American Jews from Israel, all of which were highlighted by this election, and all of which look inexorable. The first, of course, is the hopelessness of the Palestinian situation. When, just before the election, Netanyahu abandoned his stated support for an ultimate two-state solution, it didn't surprise...

Fear Wins: Israeli Elections, the Morning After

Netanyahu sacrificed Israel’s democratic principles and its relations with the U.S. to win another term as prime minister.

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) An Orthodox Jewish man walks past a billboard of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, March 16, 2015, a day ahead of legislative elections. Netanyahu won his fourth term as prime minister on March 17. I f there is any credibility left in Israeli polls—a highly questionable proposition—Benjamin Netanyahu won a come-from-behind victory in yesterday’s election. The final opinion surveys of the campaign, published Friday, showed the prime minister’s Likud Party trailing challenger Isaac Herzog’s left-of-center Zionist Union by as many as four seats in parliament, which has 120 members. Exit polls shocked the country by showing a virtual tie. This morning, those of us in Israel who dared to hope for a change in direction awoke with a pounding political hangover. The nearly complete vote count showed the Likud winning 30 seats in Israel’s parliament to the Zionist Union’s 24. The right-wing bloc of parties as a whole...

Hope and Fear in Israel in the Moments Before Polls Close

Gershom Gorenberg
Gershom Gorenberg Banners outside a polling place in Israel: The top banners, for Isaac Herzog of the center-left Zionist Camp, read “Herzog: a level-headed, responsible prime minister.” The bottom swath of banners, for Benjamin Netanyahu, read “It’s us or them.” As Israelis went to vote today, they ultimately got a choice between two moods: fear and hope. The fear, as always, was provided by Benjamin Netanyahu—who no longer asked citizens to be scared of Iran, but rather of each other. “The rule of the right is in danger. Arab voters are advancing in large numbers toward voting places. Leftist organizations are bringing them in buses,” said a midday status on the prime minister's Facebook page. “Go out to vote, bring your friends, vote Likud and close the gap between us and the Labor Party.” Besides the blatant incitement against a sixth of the country’s citizenry, Netanyahu’s statement was amazing in its audacious untruth. At the time he issued it—and of this writing, a few hours...

At National Gathering, Firefighters Not Impressed By Potential GOP Candidates

Ted Cruz elicited more grumbles than laughs with jokes about Hillary Clinton and the IRS. The rest of the Republican presidential field didn't fare much better.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. I t only took one observation for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, appearing before 700 members of the International Association of Fire Fighters union on Tuesday to eclipse the five Republicans who spoke before him. “There are two very important things that you did not hear from any of today’s Republican speakers,” O’Malley said to the firefighters who were in attendance for the IAFF’s Presidential Forum. “One is a commitment to collective bargaining, and the second is a commitment to increasing funding for public safety.” His comments prompted whistles and a standing ovation, an enthusiastic response from an audience that had remained largely unmoved by the conservative speakers. The GOP’s half-hearted attempt to embrace labor but avoid divisive economic issues at the...

Republicans Hankering for Ground War Against ISIS. What Could Go Wrong?

We're going to hear more and more Republican politicians coming out for a re-invasion of Iraq. And how 'bout a strike on Iran while we're at it?

(Sipa via AP Images)
View image | gettyimages.com I t's been an entire 12 years since we started a war, and apparently the American people are getting a little antsy. A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 62 percent of Americans, including 72 percent of Republicans, favors the use of ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We should be careful about over-interpreting that, because the question was preceded by another question talking about limited, but not long-term operations for ground troops. But there's no doubt that the public's interest in getting some boots back on the ground is gaining momentum; in Pew polls , support for ground troops went up from 39 percent in October to 47 percent in February; in the same poll, 67 percent of Republicans said they supported ground troops. The reason I focus on the number of Republicans is that I suspect with this increase in support from their constituents, we're going to hear more and more Republican politicians coming out for what we might call a re-invasion...

Can Liberal Democracy Survive?

Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol This article appears in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . I n 1932, on the eve of FDR’s presidency, Benito Mussolini proclaimed, “The liberal state is destined to perish.” He added, all too accurately, “All the political experiments of our day are anti-liberal.” The democracies were doomed, Il Duce declared, because they could not solve crucial problems. Unlike the dictatorships, which were willing to forcefully use a strong state, the democracies could not fix their broken economies. Parliamentary systems were hamstrung politically. The democracies were also war-weary, conflict-averse, and ill-prepared to fight. The fascists, unlike the democracies, had solved the problem of who was part of the community. Mussolini’s ally, Adolf Hitler, was further contemptuous of “mongrelization” in American democracy. Who was an American? How did immigrants fit in? What about Negroes? The fascist states, by contrast, rallied their...

Netanyahu's Campaign Road Show Comes to Washington

The Israeli prime minister didn't offer an Iran policy to Congress. He offered dread and overconfidence to Israel voters.

 

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves as he step to the podium prior to speaking before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. I n the end, Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress was precisely what was expected from the beginning, from the day that House Speaker John Boehner publicly invited the Israeli prime minister: an Israeli campaign event before a more impressive and much more sycophantic audience than the Israeli prime minister could have found at home; a Republican show designed to use Israel against President Barack Obama; and a blow to the connection between Israel and the United States that Netanyahu and Boehner supposedly hold so dear. The campaign theatrics were there in Netanyahu's opening lines, when he addressed the leaders of the House and Senate and called special attention to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid—a move meant to distract the Israeli audience from the absence of Vice...

Is Hillary a Sure Thing in 2016?

Clinton might have a populist card to play, but her reliance on Wall Street money surely dilutes the power of that potential narrative.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods)
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods) Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, January 21, 2015. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . Y ou hear two competing stories about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in 2016. According to the first, she has a lock on the nomination and the election. Hillary is sure to win the nomination, in this narrative, because there are no other plausible candidates, especially if Elizabeth Warren doesn't get in. And Clinton begins with a overwhelming money advantage. She wins the election, the story goes, because the Electoral College gives Blue states something close to a majority even before the campaign starts. The Republicans would have to run the table of every possible state. But the Republicans are deeply divided, with the candidates who appeal to the base far to the right of the general electorate. And the GOP Congress is rapidly...

CPAC, Congress and 2016: How Immigration Continues to Pull the Republican Party Down

(Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP via AP Images)
(Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP via AP Images) Former Governor Rick Perry (Republican of Texas) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Maryland on Friday, February 27, 2015. I f you want to understand the challenge Republicans face in their two goals for the next two years—to keep their control of Congress from turning into a disaster, and to win back the White House—all you have to do is look at the way they've handled the issue of immigration. They've spent the last few years trying to find their way to a coherent policy consensus that helps, not hurts, their electoral fate in the near and far future. It isn't as though no Republicans have any ideas. But every time it comes up, they just seem to be digging themselves into a deeper hole. The explanation has to do with where the party's center of gravity lies. As Tom Schaller details in his new book The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress But Surrendered the White...

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