Politics is regularly described in terms of "left" vs. "right." But other binaries can be more relevant. "Forward" vs. "backward" often define a choice facing an electorate better than the standard ideological categories. And the most powerful faceoff of all may be "reform" vs. "corruption." Much commentary on the 2018 midterm campaign has focused on a drift or a lurch left in the Democratic Party, the measurement of the portside tilt varying from analyst to analyst. In fact, more moderate progressives have done very well in the primaries so far, but Democrats are certainly less enamored of centrism than they were in the 1990s. What's missed in this sort of analysis is that many, maybe most, of us don't think in simple left-right terms, and countless issues are not cleanly identified this way. The same is true of elections. When the returns are tallied in November, the results may be better explained by the reform/corruption dynamic than any other.New York magazine's Jonathan Chait … [Read more...] about Will reform be the silver lining in a cloud of scandal?
In their book, "How Democracies Die," political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write: "How do elected authoritarians shatter the democratic institutions that are supposed to constrain them? Some do it in one fell swoop. But more often, the assault on democracy begins slowly. ... The erosion of democracy takes place piecemeal, often in baby steps." Our nation is divided in many ways, and one of the most important chasms involves the question of whether President Donald Trump poses a threat to our constitutional foundations. Is he merely a loud-mouthed demagogue, or is he an autocrat-in-the making willing to strike at the underpinnings of republican government? Those of us fearful that Trump is subverting basic freedoms and the arrangements that sustain them are frequently dismissed as alarmists who fail to recognize the endurance of checks, balances and other circuit-breakers. In this view, asserting that Trump imperils our liberties demonstrates a lack of … [Read more...] about Slouching toward autocracy
By E.J. Dionne Jr. Joe Biden's decision to seek the presidency is a clarifying event. It will require those who see Donald Trump's tenure as disastrous to decide whether returning to normal or transforming the country should be the primary task after he leaves office. And Biden's entry gives greater definition to the sprawling contest for the Democratic nomination. The race starts as Biden vs. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, with the remaining candidates jostling for position. To emerge as one of the final three or four left standing, members of the rest of the pack will have to sharpen their focus on competitors who might block the way. Last week made strategic sophistication more important.In his announcement video last Thursday, Biden did not discuss his service as Barack Obama's vice president or his connection with blue-collar voters. Using Trump's shameful response to the 2017 white supremacist, neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, he sought to make the … [Read more...] about Biden’s trump cards: Restoration, reassurance and tranquility
Why aren't Democratic presidential candidates talking more about foreign policy? Are they being shrewd in playing down a divisive concern that is not at the front of voters' minds, or are they missing an opportunity? The right answer is: Both. A new study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds that when Americans look at the world, they think primarily about how their government can keep them safe and bolster their economic opportunities. "At the most basic level, voters want U.S. foreign policy and national security policies to focus on two concrete goals: protecting the U.S. homeland and its people from external threats -- particularly terrorist attacks -- and protecting jobs for American workers," the report finds.And if the Democrats running for president are concentrating their energies on domestic goals, well, that is what the voters want, too.The progressive group's survey "provides overwhelming evidence that American voters want the United States to be 'strong at … [Read more...] about Bringing foreign policy home is a mixed bag for Democrats
For House Democrats, this will be health care week. How many voters will notice? The answer will be instructive about how the constitutional crisis that is upon us will affect action on every other problem voters expect their government to confront. President Donald Trump is engaged, as is his way, in a two-faced game. He says that by demanding the Mueller report's evidence of obstruction of justice, Democrats are mounting a vendetta that will prevent Washington from governing. Yet it is Trump who keeps the investigation at the heart of the news. He talks and tweets about it nonstop. He is impeding the House's accountability efforts across-the-board in the wake of the Mueller report, blocking access to administration officials and documents -- including his tax returns. The House cannot leave his insult to its constitutional powers unanswered. It's widely conjectured that Trump is courting impeachment because it would promote the "us vs. them" approach to politics with which he's most … [Read more...] about Protecting health care — and our Constitution