Let the Gubernatorial Race Begin!

Speculate away! - promoted by david

Two items on this front today from PoliticoMA:

Setti Warren, fresh off an announcement that he will not seek re-election as Newton’s Mayor has hired former MDP Chair John Walsh as a consultant.  Other names are mentioned at the end of the article.

Also, there is a link to a Globe article about an effort to draft John Kerry, who did serve as Lt. Governor 30+ years ago.

Candidates may start appearing as early as the 2017 caucuses, though that didn’t seem to help Joe Avellone.

Warren nails her theses to the Dems' church door

A powerful discussion. - promoted by Bob_Neer

We can insist all we want that Donald Trump won due to voter suppression and because he opened the floodgates of racism and misogyny. But the obsessive focus on those arguments puts us in danger of missing the real lesson to Democrats from the election.

Elizabeth Warren nailed it yesterday. The Democrats have offered no substantive alternatives to the Republicans on issue after issue, from globalization to health care. Even Obamacare was not “transformative.” We bailed out the banks, not homeowners in the financial crisis, and no one pushed to prosecute the Wall Street brokers who caused the crisis.

Most importantly, the Dems did nothing to save the vanishing middle class and offered little to induce minority voters to oppose Trump and vote for Clinton.  IMHO, contempt for the average citizen has become a hallmark of governance in both political parties, and it exists just as much in state government here in Massachusetts as it does in Washington.

I hope Warren keeps hammering this message home. It’s time to stop whining about Trump and start rethinking the role and purpose of government in America.

Government is not there to protect those with the most power and wealth, but to help those who are on the outside. It’s not there to enrich the professional classes who live off taxpayer money and then take it upon themselves to decide what is in everybody else’s best interest. (Btw, interesting article in the Harvard Business Revew of all places about the professional class hatred among Trump supporters.)

Whether it is a global trade deal that ships American jobs overseas, or a decision by a state legislator not to stand up for a constituent who has a grievance with the executive branch, government has lost sight of its real purpose.

We will not sit idly by and watch our country be dragged back into the past

Thanks for posting here, as always. - promoted by david

For many of us, last week’s election loss was about more than politics and we’re still coming to terms with the fact that millions of our fellow citizens voted for a candidate who is brazenly racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic.

Since then, every day I talk to people who are heartbroken, confused, and who genuinely fear for their safety in this country under a Trump presidency.

I want all immigrants to our state to know that you have many allies in the Massachusetts Legislature. We know that many of you risked your lives – fleeing political oppression and economic despair, to come here so that you can enjoy equality, liberty, and opportunity – and we will stand firmly against those who want to take that away from you.

Yesterday, Attorney General Maura Healey displayed strong leadership and set up a hotline for people to call and report racial harassment. Today, I wish to call on my fellow legislative leaders and Governor Baker to take a strong stance against the President-elect’s plans to deport millions of our fellow Americans. We have to act swiftly to pass legislation that ensures that we do not contribute as a state to the federal government’s attempts to break up families and communities.

I am proud to announce today that I will re-file the Massachusetts Trust Act in January. The bill will clarify that it is not the responsibility of Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law, and direct Massachusetts law enforcement officers not to arrest or detain individuals for federal immigration purposes.

While Donald Trump may have won the election, he has not changed our Massachusetts values. We will not sit idly by and watch our country be dragged back into the past. We have to protect and celebrate the rich diversity that reflects why the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is called the cradle of liberty. Fighting back against tyranny is an integral part of our history as a state, and we will lead the battle against any attempt to destroy our social fabric or our state constitution.

I will fight against the targeting of people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, women, and for the rights of all our residents every day I hold office and every day after that.

I urge everyone in our state to come together to fight for our values, for our rights, for our vision of America, and for the people who depend on us.

Gus Bickford Elected State Party Chair

Congratulations to Party Chair Bickford! - promoted by david

The election of a new party chair was the main event at tonight’s DSC meeting.  After facing a challenge from Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff Sen. Tom McGee opted not to seek re-election.  Councilor Duff also ultimately withdrew for personal reasons and DNC member David O’Brien was a candidate for a while, but later withdrew as well.  The three remaining candidates were DNC member and former MDP Executive Director Gus Bickford, former LG nominee Steve Kerrigan, and Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins.  On the first ballot Kerrigan led with Bickford second and Tompkins third.  For the second ballot Tompkins endorsed Bickford, which seems to have put the latter over the top by a margin of just a few votes.  Gus was my choice for Chair since he has the right experience and skills IMO to be the Chair.  Since the party Chair is automatically a DNC member, Gus resigned his elected DNC seat tonight thus creating a vacancy for a man who is interested.

The Most Undercovered Story of This Election

Restrictions on voting and meddling in the election by the national police decided the election. - promoted by Bob_Neer

In 2014, Wisconsin passed a strict photo ID law requiring voters to show specific, restrictive forms of identification at the polls. Only a few thousand votes separate President-elect Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton. It has been estimated that 300,000 registered voters in the state lacked the strict forms of voter ID required. Wisconsin’s voter turnout was at its lowest level in two decades. Voter turnout in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African American population lives, decreased by 13 percent; this meant 41,000 fewer votes. Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht reported that the voter ID restrictions depressed turnout, saying “We saw some of the greatest declines in districts we projected would have most trouble with voter ID requirements.”

This was the real rigging of this election. It had nothing to with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or emails, but it did have something to do with the media and its editorial choices about what was worth covering.

Planes, trains, and automobiles

An idea for harnessing the coming whirlwind for peaceful purposes - promoted by hesterprynne

We can get all bent out of shape, jump up and down, and run around in circles. Or we can be strategic.

I choose strategic.

At this point, it’s time to look at exactly who is this Donald Trump guy. What makes his heart sing? It’s clear he loves getting in the middle of a rally, getting energy from a big crowd. But the thing that Trump loves more than anything else? Building things.

He hates wonkieness, but Donald Trump loves a good building project. He loves to break ground, he loves to stand in the middle of a construction site, he loves to cut ribbons. And that’s a good thing. As Barack Obama looked to bring us out of the Bush financial crash, the Republicans fought against a strategy of funding significant infrastructure improvements. WIth intense needs, and interest rates at or about zero, it was a great time to invest in America, but the Republicans preferred obstruction over infrastructure.

Donald Trump’s passion for infrastructure, and his vision for making America great, was articulated often. The most prominent remark came during the first debate, when Donald Trump said:

Our airports are like from a Third World country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible ― you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land ― we’ve become a Third World country.

If you think the airports are bad, how about the trains? If Kennedy and LAX are third world, the train system resembles one of those tourist trains that break out the vintage equipment. The trains are so bad, folks go to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport and wonder, why can’t we have transit like this?

Crumbling roads, deficient and obsolete bridges, nineteenth century trains. Democrats need to go to Donald and say, “Let’s fix this. Let’s make America great again!”

If we can keep Donald Trump’s attention focused on infrastructure and jobs, we could focus this administration’s energy on the public works projects that congressional Republicans have refused to fund. We get trains. Donald Trump gets to cut ribbons. Republicans get to fund capital projects. It’s a best case scenario, but we should do everything we can to make it happen.

The rejections

Great post. Of course, the effort to build a new progressive party in Massachusetts within the existing Democratic Party, and to replace it in all but name, has not made much progress in, for example, the 12 years of BMG's existence. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Like all of us, I’m just trying to figure out how, and why Trump won, and what to do next.  But, unlike most analyses, I want to take an international angle, though.

Sure, there’s “Brexit” — the surprising vote to leave the EU in England in June.  But did you know the massive patterns it’s from?

  • The Scottish Nationalist Party ejected Labor from its traditional stronghold of Scotland, taking 56 of 59 seats on May 8, 2015
  • The anti-austerity, practically brand-new Syriza won its third election in a row in September 20 in Greece.
  • October 4 saw a left-wing government in Portugal take over with the backing of the Communists.
  • The French National Front broke its records, winning over 40% of the vote in the first round of December regional elections, before losing to a unified opposition in the run-offs.  The FN is expected to get into the presidential runoff next year.
  • In Spain, two brand-new parties, Ciudanos and Podemos, combined for a third of the national vote on December 20th.  Catalonia was won by sovereigntists.  This was repeated again this spring.
  • On February 26, 2016 the two parties that have dominated Irish politics received a combined 94 out of 158 seats, the lowest combined share ever.
  • In March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was pushed into third place by a new anti-immigrant party, the AfD in her home region.
  • One June 22, Romans elected a mayor running on the Five Star Movement ticket, founded by a comedian that promises to take policy positions through online referendums.
  • On July 2, the two parties/coalitions that have dominated postwar Australia politics received their lowest combined vote share ever.
  • A week before the American election, the Pirate Party tied for the second most seats in Iceland.

Throughout the Western world, the groups that have led political life for decades have lost not just votes’ affection or trust, but basic credibility..  In most of the West, that dislike takes the forms of new parties.  With a system built to make party-building almost impossible in the United States, they are somewhat subsumed into our two-party system.  Anywhere else, Sanders and Trump would not have run on their respective tickets, but built new (and quite probably rather successful) parties.

For Democrats to succeed, they need to take the opportunity presented by our structures that artificially sustain the two parties.  Sure, we can be narrowly correct in blaming this loss on the electoral college, he media, or Comey.  But the true opportunity in 2018 is not “we’re not them!” and embracing Chuck Schumer as leader won’t do it — we need a credible answer to the forces that are driving the global reaction shown above.

Part of that is looking at these groups — what can be learned from them?  Some are brand new, some aren’t — the party making the most gains in Ireland is Sinn Fein.  The people taking votes away in Australia are longtime Senators bickering with the main parties.  Some are left-wing and some are right-wing.  What do they do that Democrats can learn from?

Harry Reid nails it

Economic inequality and 30 years of wage stagnation have empowered the forces of racism, sexism and religious intolerance. These synonyms for contemporary Republicanism, once understood but not stated, and still a minority view, are now in the open and in power. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Retiring Nevada Senator Harry Reid released a statement this morning that says, finally, exactly what needs to be said (emphasis mine):

“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.

“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”

Bingo.

Newt Gingrich endorsed the National Popular Vote proposal two years ago

As you might know, there is a proposal floating around to guarantee that the winner of the popular vote becomes president.  It involves states with enough electoral votes to control the presidency (270) agreeing (via an interstate compact) that they will cast their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.  Eleven states (including Massachusetts) have signed on, representing 165 electoral votes.

Interestingly for present purposes, Newt Gingrich is an enthusiastic endorser of this idea.  In 2014, he wrote to the head of the National Popular Vote initiative, explaining:

America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally.  The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles.

Of course, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote – and it appears that she did so by more than Al Gore did in 2000, and possibly, in percentage terms, more than Presidents Nixon in 1968 and Kennedy in 1960.  Yet, of course, Donald Trump won the electoral college, and so (barring something highly unexpected) he will be named president on December 19 when the electors vote.

One wonders whether Gingrich thinks this to be a just and democratic set of circumstances.

The Race for National Committee Chair is on.

I'm nervous about a sitting elected official in this job; I'm worried that Dean is past his sell-by date. Your thoughts? - promoted by david

Howard Dean and Keith Ellison have both indicated their intention to seek the Chair of the DNC.  I think both would bring great qualifications, though I do have a bit of a concern about a current member of Congress.  I also wouldn’t mind keeping Donna Brazile.

Can Baker survive Trump Republicanism?

Charlie Baker is up for re-election in 2018, the second year of President Trump, who has made “Republican” a synonym for “racist misogynist” and ridden that label to the White House, despite losing the election, because of our anti-democratic electoral college system.

At the moment, Baker is doing great, but two years is a long time. If Trump actually puts his platform into practice, there may be severe consequences: recession, as trade declines, the dollar falls, foreign capital stops funding our deficits, and inflation, interest rates, and unemployment rise; civil unrest, as police launch “stop and frisk” programs nationwide in predominantly minority communities and hunt, arrest, and deport millions of undocumented migrants; discontent as millions lose Obamacare; and anger after Roe v. Wade is overturned and states become free to limit women’s control over reproduction, among other possibilities.

That’s a heavy load for “This is going to be the last one, sweetheart” Baker to carry on his ever-more extremist Republican shoulders, in ever-bluer New England.

Or maybe everything will be fine, Trump was only kidding about “grab them by the pussy,” his multiple bankruptcies really are an excellent preparation for national economic management, his discriminatory business practices and embrace of birtherism were only means to an end rather than actual racism, and his promises to put his political opponents in jail for undefined crimes was never meant seriously.

Some non-optimistic thoughts on what's coming

We don’t know for sure what’s coming.  But I’m afraid we can be fairly confident that a lot of it won’t be good.  Here are a few thoughts on what seems likely.

Life is going to get noticeably worse for a lot of good people.  This hurts to say, but I don’t see any way around it.  Most obviously, President Obama’s executive orders on immigration making it easier for “Dreamers” and some others to stay in the country (on hold anyway due to a Texas court decision) will probably be gone on day 1.  And we can surely expect other immigration-related matters, such as the admission of refugees from places like Syria, to get worse quickly as well.

Important parts of the Obama legacy will be undone.  I don’t see a way around this one either.  Most obviously, much of Obamacare will be repealed.  The filibuster (if it even survives, which it may not) won’t save it, because the Senate can and surely will use budget reconciliation to avoid the need for 60 votes even under current rules.  Repealing Obamacare has been a central part of both Republican orthodoxy and the Trump campaign.  I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t happen.

Beyond Obamacare, we can and should expect that Obama’s actions designed to counter climate change will end.  The Clean Power Plan, on hold anyway by Justice Scalia’s last action on the Supreme Court, is done.  American participation in international climate-related agreements is probably done as well, or will be drastically altered.  American energy policy will shift dramatically to favor oil, natural gas, and coal.  And, more broadly, the future of Social Security and Medicare are in question, though Trump has actually said that he doesn’t want to undo those programs, so that’s conceivably an area where he’s not in accord with Republican orthodoxy.

The dream of a liberal Supreme Court is dead for decades.  Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist strategy on Merrick Garland’s nomination has paid off beyond his wildest dreams.  Replacing Scalia with a Trump nominee won’t actually change the Court’s center of gravity much, but Scalia’s seat of course isn’t the end of it.  We can expect that Justices Ginsburg and Breyer will hold on as long as their health allows, but there’s no knowing how long that will be.  And Justice Kennedy, who is over 80, is probably no Trump fan, but he is a Republican and a Reagan appointee, and his sense of institutional propriety might persuade him to retire during a Republican administration, however much he may dislike the president. Kennedy’s replacement by a Trump nominee would shift the Court dramatically to the right – it was Kennedy’s vote, after all, that gave us the recent decisions upholding same-sex marriage and affirmative action in higher education (among others).  No Trump nominee will see those issues the same as he does.  And don’t expect the filibuster to save us.  If I were Mitch McConnell, I would eliminate it for Supreme Court nominations (and perhaps completely) on day 1 of the new session.  He knows that, given his Garland gambit, he will never get 60 votes for a Trump nominee, so he will eliminate the need for it.