Thursday, October 29, 2020

Vice President Pence and Wife Committed Voter Fraud in Using Indiana Governor's Mansion as Address to Vote

Last Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, returned to Indianapolis to vote.  In the process of doing so they declared as their residence as 4750 N. Meridian Street, i.e. the Governor's mansion.  Of course, Pence is no longer Governor and a man named Eric Holcomb, who is the Governor, and his family live at the mansion.

I went to law school with Mike Pence.  I was editor of the law school paper and Mike was the cartoonist.  I liked Law School Mike Pence very much.  We shared the same conservative politics and I enjoyed discussing the issues of the day with him.  But what Mike Pence and his wife did last Friday is illegal.  I would be a lot more sympathetic with Pence not knowing the law if this issue had not been litigated just eight years ago.

In 2012, I heard then Senator Richard Lugar was using as his voting residence a place he no longer lived. That was consistent with what a very high-ranking Republican official told me about Lugar having to stay in hotel rooms when he came back to Indiana because he did not have a home in the state..  A trip to the Marion County Voter Registration Office and the Assessor's Office confirmed that Lugar was claiming as his residence a northwest Indianapolis house he had sold some 30 years later.  A private investigator went to that residence to talk to the owner.  She had no idea that Lugar was claiming her residence was his every time he requested an absentee ballot.

In 2012, Lugar's residency for voting purposes was challenged before the Marion County Election Board.  Lugar lost before the Board because under Indiana law he had abandoned the house he was claiming as his residence.  (More on the abandonment issue in a second.)  Rather than appeal the decision, Lugar relented and re-registered using his family's farm in Decatur Township, on the southwest side of Indianapolis.

At this point, let me clarify there are two residency issues that came up during the Lugar kerfuffle.  There is residency to serve as U.S. Senator.  That is set by the Indiana Constitution which only requires that the person be an "inhabitant" of the case.   Because that is a constitutional requirement, a state law cannot change or modify that qualification.  It would have to be a constitutional amendment.

Residency for voting purposes, however, is entirely a creature of state law.  Three statutes come into play:

Indiana Code (IC) 3-5-2-42.5 says:

“Residence” means the place:
(1) where a person has the person's true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment;  and
(2) to which the person has, whenever absent, the intention of returning.

IC 3-5-5-4 deals with a voter "abandoning" his residence:

A person who has a residence in a precinct retains residency in that precinct until the person abandons the residence by: (1) having the intent to abandon the residence; (2) having the intent to establish a new residence; and (3) acting as provided in this intent by establishing a residence in a new precinct..

Finally, you have IC 3-5-5-5:

As provided in Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana (which deals with elections), a person does not lose residence in a precinct in Indiana by reason of the person's absence on the business of: (1) the state of Indiana; or (2) the United States
The question is how to read those three statutes together.  The answer is fairly obvious.   A person serving in office does not lose his or her residency for voting because that person is out of the state on that service.  But he or she can lose residency for another reason - the abandonment of one's residence.  That is exactly what the Marion County Election Board decided happened in the Lugar case.

But what about those official Indiana Attorney General Opinions which the Pence people claim allow him to vote using the Governor's Mansion as his residence?  Well, they are not official opinions of the Attorney General and they do not say that at all.

As this matter was being litigated in 2012, Senator Lugar asked for an opinion on his residency for voting purposes from his fellow Republican, then Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.   Zoeller's office though did not write an "official opinion" on the law.  (Here is an example.) Instead, Zoeller's office issued a document titled "Advisory Letter 12-04" which was signed not by Zoeller, as an official opinion would be, but by his then Chief Counsel, Matthew J. Light.  

At the time, Lugar used this "advisory letter" to claim it said he was allowed to vote using the address of the home he had sold.  The problem for Lugar though is that Light's letter did not say that at all.  Light very cleverly said that Lugar did not lose his residency for voting purpose because of his official service as U.S. Senator, which is what IC 3-5-5-5 explicitly says.   But that was never the issue.  The issue was Lugar's use as his residence for voting purpose a home he had sold decades earlier and to which had no intent to return to, i.e. an abandonment of the residency as set forth in IC 3-5-5-4.  Although the Light letter does briefly mention the residency abandonment statute, it then proceeded to ignore that statute, instead focusing on whether Lugar lost his residency because of his service as U.S. Senator.  Again...not the issue.

The Light letter mentions a 1982 Indiana Attorney General "advisory letter" (also not an official opinion) Lugar had received.  That letter also focused on the issue of whether his service in Washington, DC causes him to lose his Indiana residency to vote.  Again, not the issue.

Neither the 2016 or 1982 advisory letter dealt with the fact Lugar had abandoned his residence by selling his home with not intent to return to it after his service as U.S. Senator had concluded.  Yet he continued to vote for decades using that abandoned residence.

If Vice-President Pence loses re-election, is he on January 21, 2021 going to return to living in Governor's Mansion?  Of course not.  He abandoned that residence to go live elsewhere.  He has no intention of returning to that address.  Under IC 3-5-5-4, Pence cannot continue using that address as his residence for voting purpose..

I should add that, even if Indiana law allowed then Senator Lugar and Vice President Pence to vote using an abandoned residence because they are out-of-state on official business, per IC 3-5-5-5, there is nothing in that statute or the Indiana Attorney General "advisory letters" which provide a legal justification for their spouses, Char Lugar and Karen Pence, continuing to vote using that address. They are not out of the state on on official business.  They are private citizens.

By the way, voting using an address where you do not legally reside, is considered voter fraud, a level 6 felony.  See IC 3-14-2-16.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Biden Opens Up Big Lead in Wisconsin; Biden With Narrow Lead in Georgia As Democrats Eye Two Senate Wins

Today, I woke up to MSNBC's Morning Joe program discussing an ABC/Washington Post poll showing Biden leading by 17 points in Wisconsin, one of a trifecta of states - Michigan and Pennsylvania being the other ones - Trump had narrowly carried in 2016, allowing him to pull out a narrow Electoral College victory..

I knew, my brain still fogged by sleep, I must have misheard that poll result.  I went to the kitchen and grabbed a cup of coffee.  Proceeded to my home office and turned on the computer to check out the most recent polls. 

And there it was.  Biden with 17 point lead among likely voters in Wisconsin.  A month ago, ABC/Washington Post had it at 6 points.

Michigan was also polled with Biden being found to have a 7 point lead in the state. Unlike Wisconsin, Michigan had not been previously polled by ABC/Washington Post, so no comparable poll to ascertain movement.  

Moving much further south, Biden has taken a 47.9 to 46.9 lead in Georgia. Trump won Georgia by 5.1 points in 2016, but Biden has been neck-and-neck with the President since he became the presumptive Democratic nominee this spring.  Turnout has been through the roof in Georgia.  I don't think those are Trump voters standing in line for as long as 8 hours to vote.  I think Biden wins Georgia.

But the real story out of Georgia might be the two U.S. Senate races.  In the regular Senate contest, incumbent David Perdue is clinging to a 1.5 point lead in his contest against Democrat Jon Ossoff.  I think Ossoff wins that race though a Libertarian in the race might prevent him from getting to 50%, forcing a run-off between Perdue and Ossoff.

The other Senate race is a special election.  Republican Kelly Loeffler is the appointed Senator filling the seat pending the outcome of the special election.  She is squaring off against Republican congressman Doug Collins, one of President Trump's most stalwart defenders during impeachment.  Loeffler and Collins are in a battle to appear the most Trumpiest.  Loeffler has even go so far as to publicly embrace and campaign with Marjorie Taylor Green, a GOP congressional candidate who has expressed support for the Qanon conspiracy theory.  

On the other side, Pastor Raphael Warnock has risen to the top of heap as two other Democratic candidates have faded.  But unlike the Perdue-Ossoff race, the first step in this contest is a "jungle primary" in which all candidates are lumped together.  If the top candidate does not receive 50% there is will be a run-off election taking place on January 5, 2021.  While originally it was thought that the top two candidates could be Loeffler and Collins, Warnock has surged ahead.  So it looks like Warnock will be squaring off against Loeffler or Collins in the run-off.

There is actually a possibility that Ossoff and maybe even Warnock can hit 50% and avoid a run-off. The thought with a run-off is that the advantage will swing to the Republican candidate if Biden is elected President.  While I would normally agree with that assessment the problem is that if Biden wins, Trump will almost certainly make some highly controversial moves in November and December (like pardoning himself, all his family members and scores of friends and political allies).  The GOP Senate candidates will be asked if they support Trump's actions and if they say "yes," they alienate anti-Trump vote they need and if they say "no" they alienate pro-Trump vote they need.  It is a no win situation.

In short, I think Democrats might well pick up both Senate seats in Georgia. 

OOP's short takes:

  • The New York Times reported yesterday that President Trump, since 2010, has failed to repay lenders $270 million he had received in conjunction with a Chicago skyscraper development.  The forgiveness of the loans means they are considered income by the IRS and the recipient has to pay takes on the money received  Trump was able to avoid this huge tax hit because his other businesses were so deeply in the red.  Let's not overlook the fact that Trump was losing all this money during a very good economy.  Once again, Trump is unquestionably a terrible businessman.  Maybe the worst this country has ever produced.
  • At one time, the thought was that if Trump's campaign were to run short of money he could just write a check to the campaign.  Trump's campaign is indeed short of money, the most recent evidence of is that ads in highly competitive and critically important Florida have been pulled.  But no checks will be cut because Donald Trump does not have the money.  Never did.
  • Surprised to see Indiana Republican State Senator Jack Sandlin running TV ads denouncing his Democratic opponent.  Sandlin won his race by nearly 20 points last time.  Sandlin's district, Senate District 36 is based on the southside of Indianapolis (the only remaining Republican area of Indianapolis/Marion County left) and picks up several precincts in northern Johnson County.  I wouldn't think that Sandlin's district would be competitive, but apparently the state GOP is seeing some weakness in the numbers that has raised concerns.
  • The Indiana Secretary of State's Office reported today that thus far 1.25 million Hoosier's have voted earlier thus far.  That is about half of the entire turnout during the 2016 election.
  • A few months ago, I thought Trump would remain convinced until the very end that he was going to win reelection. But I really think he knows what is coming...it won't be a surprise to him when Biden rolls up a sizable victory.  That's not to say he won't complain about election fraud and refuse to concede. That is a certainty.)  But the people who are not expecting Trump to lose are his cultish base of supporters.  They are absolutely convinced the polls are wrong and Trump is on his way to a big win, if not a landslide.  How they respond when reality starts sinking in will be interesting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Trying to Put Intellectual Shine on Trump Presidency, Claremont Think Tank Chairman Exposes His Own Intellectual Dishonesty

A friend sent me a link to a video by Claremont Institute Chairman Thomas Klingenstein in which he denigrates the Black Lives Matter movement and praises Donald Trump as a great President, someone perfectly suited to the times.   Needless to say, I found a lot wrong with the address. 

This is how the Claremont Institute describes its mission:

To return to limited government, conservatives must return to the principles of the American Founding. The Claremont Institute provides the missing argument in the battle to win public sentiment by teaching and promoting the philosophical reasoning that is the foundation of limited government and the statesmanship required to bring that reasoning into practice.

I cannot overlook the irony that Claremont's mission is making the argument for limited government while the think tank's chairman, Klingenstein, enthusiastically supports a President who clearly does not believe in limited government.  President Trump has consistently pushed for expanded executive power and has dismissed efforts of Congress to provide oversight to the actions of the Executive Branch.  Likewise, Trump has expressed open disdain for the constitutional limits imposed by federalism, repeatedly encroaching into areas, such as law enforcement, the Founders delegated to state and local government officials.  Other constitutional provisions meant to restrain executive power, such as the emolument clauses, are just ignored by President Trump.

When it comes to foreign policy, Trump has offered praise for dictators wielding unlimited powers, people like Russia's Vladimar Putin, North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Turkey's Recep Erdogan.  Trump even praised the Chinese government for its massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Tienanmen Square in 1989.  Trump has consistently expressed admiration for dictators who can govern without limits.  He wants to have their power.  It is inconceivable that a think tank which claims as its mission the support of limited government, would enthusiastically back a wannabe autocrat like Donald Trump.

In his address, Klingenstein hammers Black Lives Matter, declaring the dangers of multi-multiculturalism.  Here is but a snippet:

For the multiculturalist to change traditional values and principles they must destroy, or radically restructure, the institutions that teach those values and principles. The most important of these institutions is family, but also very important is religion, education (which they have mostly destroyed already) and community life, replacing the latter with government bureaucrats. It is here—in these value-teaching institutions—that we see the underpinnings of the Revolution. This is where the real action is. Republicans seem to be missing in action.

Republicans need to explain that BLM and their Democratic enablers wish to destroy the traditional mother-father family. To substantiate this claim, Republicans have only to point to the BLM mission statement. The mission statement, written by avowed Marxists, also lets us know that BLM holds transgenderism to be the burning issue of our time.

Republicans must also explain that religion, because it teaches American values, is also on the chopping block.

Klingenstein is conflating the Black Lives Matter movement with the Black Lives Matter organization.  Indeed the BLM organization has taken extreme positions as Klingenstein suggests.   But to dismiss the goals of the BLM movement by using the excesses of the BLM organization is more than a little dishonest on Klingenstein's part.  Surely he knows they are two separate entities.

(Note:  For a good explanation of the difference between the BLM organization and BLM movement, see this explanation from Republican Newtown council member Ryan Knapp.)

 

The reason for the BLM movement is that African-Americans are not treated equally, particularly when it comes to our criminal justice system.  Blacks are more likely to be pulled over and arrested than whites, they are more likely to be the victims of police brutality than whites and they are more likely to receive harsher sentences than whites when accused of the same crime.  Those are just facts, backed by considerable statistical evidence which Klingenstein chooses to ignore.

If the BLM portion of Klingenstein's address was not disingenuous enough, he goes completely off the rails when he starts talking about his support of Donald Trump:

He has the indispensable attribute of a leader: courage. As a leader must, he goes where others are afraid to go. And he has common sense, which means he generally wants to go to the right place.

Above all else, and above anyone else, Trump is committed to America. He is unreservedly, unquestionably pro-America. He feels no guilt for America’s past. He makes no apologies. He concedes nothing. These may not always be the attributes one wants in a President, but in this day of woke guilt they are the most essential things. And Trump has unlimited confidence in America. In this time of national doubt, this too is just what the doctor ordered. He thinks our culture is “incredible” and that’s the way he wants to keep it.

Trump not only thinks America is incredible, he knows we are in a fight for our lives.

And despite what one hears ad nauseum from the Democrats, Trump is perhaps among the least racist presidents we have ever had. Trump is not defending the white way of life; he is defending the American way of life, a colorblind way of life which is open to anyone who is willing to embrace it.

Klingenstein thinks Donald Trump has "courage."  Trump dodged the Vietnam draft by having a doctor fake diagnose him with bone spurs.  He recently walked out of an interview with 60 Minutes because he was scared of answering tough questions.  He belittles people who criticize him, are smarter him (which is virtually everybody), or are more successful than he is. Trump is one of the least courageous people I know. 

Klingenstein thinks Donald Trump has "common sense."  There is nothing from Trump's 70 plus years of life that suggests he is blessed with even an ounce of common sense.  To be fair though, even Trump's most fervent supporters do not try to claim he has common sense.

Klingenstein offers that Trump is "pro-American."  When confronted with intelligence that Russia's Putin had put bounties on the heads of American soldiers, Trump did NOTHING.  He has on several occasions mocked Gold Star families (most recently accusing them of giving him Covid-19), belittled war hero John McCain for having been captured, and called Americans who gave their lives in World War I, "suckers" and "losers."  Trump has no respect for American democratic values such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and the rule of law.  He worships dictators while undermining our democratic allies at every turn.  I cannot think of a President who is less "pro-American" than Donald Trump.

As far as Trump being "among the least racist presidents we have ever had," that defies common sense. At the start of his career in the real estate industry, Trump entered into a consent decree to stop discriminating against blacks in renting apartments.  He not only didn't want African-Americans in his rentals, he said he did not want them working on his casino floors, handling the money.  Said it would make the patrons uncomfortable.  Trump started his political career by denigrating Mexicans as violent criminals, he then tried to enact a ban on Muslims coming into the country, and later called African countries "shit hole countries."   When asked whether he would denounce the former KKK leader David Duke, Trump lied and said he didn't know who he is.  Whenever asked to denounce white supremacists and white nationalists, Trump always initially demurs and only agrees to do so days later when the backlash becomes too great.

In short, Klingenstein wants the viewers to simply accept that Trump deserves the accolades he offers.  But he offers the viewers no proof that Trump is actually worthy of that praise, and ignores the plethora of evidence that Trump is not.

Through his address, Klingenstein seeks to bestow on the failed Trump presidency an intellectual veneer of success and a reason to re-elect him.  But instead what Klingenstein does is expose his own  intellectual dishonesty.

OOP's short takes:

  • Finally an Indiana poll I believe.  From the Rainey Center:   Trump 48, Biden 40;  Holcomb 52, Myers 26, Rainwater 14.
  • Wow...the Trump campaign just pulled its TV ads from Florida.  Out of money.  Thanks to Indy Republican for the tip.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Jarvanka's Attorney Threatens Lawsuit Over Lincoln Project Billboard

Politico reports:

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are threatening to sue the Lincoln Project over billboards the anti-Trump group put up in Times Square assailing them over the White House's coronavirus response.

In a letter to the group posted on Twitter on Friday night, an attorney for the president's


daughter and son-in-law demanded the “false, malicious and defamatory” billboards be taken down. 

Marc Kasowitz warned that if the ads stay up, “we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”

The Lincoln Project was defiant, saying in a scathing public statement that the billboards would stay up.

...

The billboards feature an edited photo of Ivanka Trump smiling and gesturing at coronavirus death tolls in New York and the U.S. — the original photo depicted her holding up a can of Goya beans — and a quote attributed anonymously to Kushner in a September Vanity Fair article.

...

“The Lincoln Project’s representations” of Trump and Kushner “are outrageous and shameful libel,” Kasowitz wrote to the group.

The group responded: “The level of indignant outrage Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shown towards The Lincoln Project for exposing their indifference for the more than 223,000 people who have lost their lives due to their reckless mismanagement of COVID-19 is comical. While we truly enjoy living rent free in their heads, their empty threats will not be taken any more seriously than we take Ivanka and Jared.”

Maybe the best part of Trump losing election would be that his idiot family members would be gone from the White House.  

OOP's short takes:

  • The Washington Post is reporting that President Trump has told Republican donors that it will be tough for the GOP to keep the Senate.  Hmm, I wonder who might be responsible for that?  Could it be Donald J. Trump?
  • In fairness to Trump, the blame really belongs to those GOP Senators who thought it was a good idea to sell out their conservative values and principles to go all in on Trump.  They decided to enable the worst instincts of Trump rather than do their job and hold him accountable.  Now the American public is going to boot them because of that.  
  • Friday set a record for new Covid-19 cases.  By the time the election takes place, we could be reporting 90,000 daily new cases.
  • Today, I watched the new Borat movie.  As far as the Giuliani scene goes, let me just explain what the 76 year old former New York City mayor was doing by using a baseball analogy.  Let's say you're a relief pitcher.  You just cannot walk out on the mound and throw a 95 mph pitch.  If you think you might get called into a game, you first have to warm up.
  • Speaking of baseball, terrific ballgame last night as the Tampa Bay Rays came from behind to win game 4 of the World Series.  I only saw the end of the game because I had fallen asleep on the couch in front of the TV and woke up in time for the rally which happened around midnight. When is Major League baseball going to realize that they can't have their playoff games go that long into the evening if they want fans to see their product?   I know they are trying to hit prime time on both coasts by the late start times.  But the vast majority of the country is in the eastern time zone and it is more important that the game end in (or near) prime time than start in that slot.

Friday, October 23, 2020

President Trump's Improved Debate Performance Not Good Enough

Last night was the last debate of the 2020 presidential election season.  Here are my thoughts:

It was Trump's best debate performance.  But being better does not mean "good."  Trump, obviously, was not prepared substance-wise and he still comes across as the jerk he truly is.  Biden, while far from perfect, was much better prepared and more presidential.  Biden also comes across as much more likeable and empathetic. Instant polls following the debate confirm that Biden was the debate winner.

Trump lost every debate to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and didn't win a single GOP primary debates that preceded those debates.  He now has lost both debates to Joe Biden in 2020.  Maybe it is time to accept the fact that Trump is just not good at debates.

That is not to say Biden was that good in last night's debate.  He made some policy mistakes which may come back and hurt him.   For example, Biden has been trying to defend fossil fuel jobs while promoting green energy which would ultimately replace those jobs.  That effort involves straddling the proverbial fence, but last night Biden fell off that fence, leaving the impression he would not defend coal and oil jobs as the American economy moves towards green energy.  That is a position that will be used against Biden in states such as Pennsylvania and Texas.

Biden also fell down on the raising the minimum wage question.  Biden said he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and that it will not cost any jobs.  That is malarkey.  Trump quite correctly pointed out that such an increase would hurt small business, especially as those businesses tries to recover from the pandemic.

Currently the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  No employer pays the minimum wage anymore.  Almost all lower end jobs are at least $10 an hour, most higher.  There are a lot of jobs in the $11 to $16 range, and many actually pay benefits.  If the owner of a small business is required to increase his employee's pay from $12 to $15 an hour, he may well not hire more employees or cut back on the hours of current employees or cutting back on benefits.  The notion that business owners can always pay more to employees without any impact on their business is a fantasy.  If raising the minimum wage does not impact employment, then why stop at $15 an hour?  Raise it to $20, $25 or $30 an hour.  The exercise proves how silly the claim is that raising the minimum wage never costs jobs.

Trump suggested getting get rid of the federal minimum wage and leave the issue to states.  I agree with that, though I would point out, like as to most issues, Trump has been on every side of the minimum wage, including supporting increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.  

Regarding the Hunter Biden "scandal," that, Republicans, is not going anywhere.  And even if it was a viable issue, do you really think Donald Trump is the right person to make the case against Joe Biden for nepotism, conflicts of interest, receiving money from foreign governments, corruption, etc.?  That's like John Dillinger complaining about a shoplifter.

The moderator, Kristen Welker, is getting praised for her efforts moderating the debate. Welker was good but she was certainly aided in her efforts by the addition of the mute button and the fact Trump's constant interruption of Biden during the first debate so turned off voters.  Welker can thank Chris Wallace for going through debate moderator hell to make Welker's experience so much better.  

OOP's short takes:

  • Too funny:  Trump taps Ivanka for a rescue mission: Win back suburban women  Yeah, good luck with that one.  Why not just put a dress on Jared and let him do it?  Tone Deaf 101.
  • Another Politico headline:  'Warning flare': New swing-state data shows massive Democratic early-vote lead.   I am generally not a fan of making a big deal about early voting, which is usually just cannibalizing in person Election Day votes, but the fact that voters are waiting in line for hours to vote says something about the enthusiasm level of Democratic voters.  No one is better at turning out Democratic voters than Donald J. Trump.
  • I'm amazed at the people defending CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin for allegedly pleasuring himself during a Zoom conference call.  They argue that everyone does this sort of thing during Zoom business meetings and Toobin's only offense is he screwed up with the technology and got caught.  What???  Did I miss a memo?
  • The last two weeks, Indiana has been setting Covid-19 records.  Yesterday, Indiana reported 2,850 new cases, another new record. The surge is officially here.
  • I really hate those ads for Senator John Ruckelshaus which slam his Democratic opponent, Fady Qaddoura, for using his then Indianapolis City Controller position to cut early childhood education programs.  Leaving aside the faulty assumption that such programs work (academic studies have clearly demonstrated that the boost to children in the programs is only temporary), I don't believe that City Controller is a policy-making position.   I've known John for a number of years.  Great guy, but he is not going to win that race.  I so wish he would not have ran for re-election.
  • Likewise Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, from the east side of Indianapolis, is not going to win re-election.  She barely won last time and since then the partisan winds have shifted even more in the Democrats' direction. Why she did not walk away a winner is a mystery.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Ten Reasons Why Biden's 2020 Polling Lead is Different From Hillary's 2016 Lead

Trump supporters want more than anything to believe that 2020 is 2016, that polls which show Biden winning are wrong and that Trump will once again draw to an inside straight, prevailing in enough swing states to win the Electoral College.

But 2020 differs from 2016 in many respects.  Here are a few:

1) INCUMBENCY:  In 2016, Trump ran as an outsider.  In 2020, Trump is the incumbent and the election is a referendum on him.

2) BIDEN'S POPULARITY:  In 2016, Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, was very unpopular.  Despite Trump's flailing efforts, Biden is more popular now than he was months

ago.  Biden is much more popular than Hillary Clinton was at this point.

3) TRUMP'S FLAILING CAMPAIGN:  Trump in 2016 was able to stay on message the last few weeks of the campaign.  Trump in 2020 is unfocused and often ends turns media's attention to issues, like the pandemic, which are harmful to him.

4) GRIEVANCES:  Trump in 2016, campaigned on the grievances voters had.  In 2020, Trump is campaigning on his own personal grievances.  (I stole this observation from someone else.)

5) BIDEN'S POLL LEAD:  In 2020, Biden has a bigger lead in national polls than Hillary did in 2016, and he is competitive in a lot more states.  Further, unlike 2016, Biden's lead over Trump has been remarkably stable and consistent.  

7)  UNDECIDED VOTERS:  There are a lot fewer undecided voters in 2020 than there were in 2016.  In 2016, Trump won the votes of a majority of undecided voters.

8)  DOUBLE HATER VOTERS:  In 2016, the voters who disliked both Trump and Clinton, sharply favored Trump when casting a ballot.  In 2020, these double hater voters have a strong preference for Biden.

9) NO STRONG THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES:  In 2016, the Libertarian and Green parties fielded candidates who drained off a significant percent of the vote in key states.  The third party candidates this time around are not nearly as strong.

10) CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS:  Since 2016, the electorate has become more racially diverse. Further, a significant percentage of Trump's older supporters have died off and been replaced by younger voters not favorable to Trump or Republicans.  The website FiveThirtyEight did an analysis which showed that if the 2020 vote was the same as 2016, changing demographic and deaths alone would tip Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida to Biden.

OOP's short takes:

  • There are few things I find more entertaining than to go to Twitter and watch Trump supporters work to convince themselves that Trump is actually ahead of the polls and is coasting to re-electin, maybe even by a landslide!  @PollWatch2020 tries to find these Trump-friendly poll results and publicize them.  Enjoy.
  • My favorite so far is www.statespoll.com   The author takes reputable state polls and then "adjusts" them, sometimes by as many as 10 points, so Trump comes out ahead...always!  So incredibly stupid...but entertaining nonetheless.
  • Another favorite  of mine is the Democracy Institute, the only pollster in America which shows Trump ahead in the national polls.  DI's polls are so questionable that the conservative RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight won't even acknowledge they exist.  FYI, it appears from an explanation of DI's methodology that the "pollster" might be doing a significant adjustment for "shy Trump" voters, a dubious concept that has been rejected by most analysts.  FYI, DI brags on the homepage of its website about the coverage its polls are getting on Trump-friendly media outlets.  Hmm, could DI be cooking the numbers to get coverage that might prove profitable?  Is the Pope Catholic?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Electoral College 101 - A Primer on How the System Works...and Doesn't Work

Over the last several weeks, I have been asked several questions about how the Electoral College operates.  I decided to spend some time today explaining, as best I can, how it operates.

WHO ELECTS THE PRESIDENT:  The Constitution provides that electors, equal to the number of federal representatives and senators each state has, will choose the President.  A later constitutional amendment gave the District of Columbia three electoral votes.  If you do the math, the total number of electors equals 538.  To be elected President, a candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes.  More on that later.

WHY ELECTORS, AND NOT THE PEOPLE, CHOOSE THE PRESIDENT:  In Federalist Paper #68, Alexander Hamilton explained why the Founders chose to have electors choose the President:

It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.  

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Federalist Paper #68 wraps up with this assurance to "The People of New York":
        The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. 
The Founders believed ordinary citizens did not have the information to assess presidential qualities and might be too inflamed by the passions of the moment to exercise good judgment. So, the Founders created a deliberative body of wise men who would make an informed, reasoned decision on who would be the best President.  While conservatives and liberals offer other reasons for why the Founders chose the Electoral College, those reasons amount to nothing more than revisionist history.  In short, the Founders adopted the Electoral College because, while they appreciated democracy, they also feared its excesses.

WHO SELECTS THE ELECTORS?:  The Constitution leaves it to state legislatures to appoint their state's electors.  Early in our nation's history, that's exactly what happened. But after a few elections,  states began delegating to the voters the selection of electors.  Today, 48 of 50 states have adopted a
winner-take-all popular vote system for choosing electors, i.e. if  Republican nominee Donald Trump wins Indiana by one vote, all eleven Indiana electors later casting ballots for the Hoosier state will be Republican electors.   For the record, two states - Nebraska and Maine - award electors according to who wins the states' congressional districts, plus two electors for whichever candidate wins statewide.  

WHO ARE THE ELECTORS?:  Prior to the election, the major political parties (and independent presidential candidates) file a list of citizens (equal to the total electoral vote of that state) who would be electors with each state's Secretary of State.  These are generally party loyalists, although the Constitution prohibits them from holding federal office.  

ELECTORS MEET TO CAST VOTES:  The electors of each state who are elected meet in their state's capitol in mid-December to cast their votes for President.  This year, this day (the Monday after the second Wednesday in December) falls on December 14th.

FAITHLESS ELECTOR:  A "faithless elector" is an elector who, once selected to vote for President, fails to vote for his or her party's candidate.  While that hasn't happened much over the years, it did happen seven times in 2016.

BINDING FAITHLESS ELECTORS TO POPULAR VOTE:  In a decision handed down this Spring, the United States Supreme Court has said that states may require electors to follow the popular vote.  But states employ different ways of requiring electors to follow the popular vote.  Fourteen states, including Indiana, remove the faithless elector and replace him/her with an elector who will ratify the popular vote.  Nineteen states do not impose any penalty or replace a faithless elector.   A few states fine the faithless elector, say a $500 or $100, and/or make it a criminal offense to not vote according to the popular vote.

CAN STATE LEGISLATURES REPEAL POPULAR VOTE SELECTION OF ELECTORS AND SELECT ELECTORS THEMSELVES?:  In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court answered this question in the affirmative.
The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. See id., at 35 (“[T]here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated”) (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.).
Although the issue would not doubt end up in litigation, it seems quite possible that a Republican- dominated state legislature could, looking at disputed popular vote results in its state, decide to pick the electors instead.  It is not even clear from the wording of the Constitution, that a state's Democratic Governor could veto such a move.  Nonetheless, one could expect litigation to ensure over such a maneuver.

DEADLINE FOR STATES TO RESOLVE ELECTION DISPUTES:   Congress passed the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which set a "safe harbor" deadline for states to resolve election disputes ahead of electors meeting in their state capitols to cast their ballots. This election, the safe harbor deadline is December 8th.  (The electors meet on December 14th.)  

WHAT HAPPENS IF ELECTION DISPUTES ARE NOT RESOLVED BY SAFE HARBOR DEADLINE?:  If state election results are in dispute, you could end up with: 1) no electors selected for the state; 2) dueling slates of electors selected if the Governor and/or state Secretary of State certifies one slate, and the legislature certifies another slate.  If these dueling slates happen, both houses of Congress would have to agree on which slate to accept, which is unlikely since Democrats control the U.S. House and the Republicans control the Senate.  According to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, if the two houses of Congress cannot decide on the dueling slate of electors, the state's governor gets to break the tie.  But that seems to contradict the U.S. Constitution which says state legislatures choose the electors.  Obviously such a dispute would end up in the courts.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A "MAJORITY" OF ELECTORAL VOTES?:  A presidential candidate has to receive a majority of the 538 possible electoral votes, i.e. 270, to be elected, otherwise the U.S. House decides the election, voting by delegation. But what if because of election disputes, some states do not cast electoral votes?  The language of the 12th Amendment, which modified the electoral college provision in the body of the Constitution, says that a presidential candidate has to win a majority of the electors who are "appointed."  So if a state does not select electors, for whatever reason, it would seem the vote needed for a majority would be correspondingly less.

WHO DECIDES THE ELECTION IF NO CANDIDATE RECEIVES AN ELECTORAL COLLEGE MAJORITY?:  According to the Constitution, if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral college vote, the U.S. House will pick the President (among the top three vote-getters in the Electoral College), while the Senate will select the Vice-President (assuming the VP candidates also did not get a majority).  This is called a "contingent election."  But in deciding the contest for president, the U.S. House votes by delegation.  Currently, Republicans have majorities in 26 House delegations, with Democrats controlling 22 with two tied.  There is an outside chance that Democrats could win a majority of delegations in the 2020 elections.  It is probably new Congress, which would elect the President and Vice-President, in a case where there is no electoral vote majority.  But even that is not clear.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO MAJORITY IN ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND U.S. HOUSE?:  Definitely unchartered territory.   The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 provides that if no one is qualified to be President or Vice-President, the Speaker of the House (currently Nancy Pelosi) becomes "acting" President until someone qualifies.  If the Speaker cannot serve, then the "acting Presidency" passes to the Senate President Pro Tempore (currently Charles Grassley), and then to President's cabinet, starting with Secretary of State.  The Constitution though suggests that only executive officials can succeed the President. At the very least, a Speaker Pelosi or Senate Pro Tem Grassley would have to resign their legislative positions to serve as acting President.

The Electoral College is a convoluted mess in need of reform.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Senator Ben Sasse Tells the Truth About Donald Trump

I looked for and finally found the transcript of the conference phone call Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse had with constituents in which he went on for more than 9 minutes criticizing President Trump.   There should not be any doubt that Senator Sasse expected, and wanted, his comments to be "leaked" to the media.  I also think there is little doubt Sasse had this answer scripted out in advance.   Sasse is betting Trump loses in a landslide and the future of the GOP will rest with those who spoke out against Trump and Trumpism before the election.

FYI, I have emboldened some of the more pertinent sections.

Speaker 1: (00:02)

Thanks Senator. I think, like a lot of Nebraskans, I’m trying to understand your relationship with the president. Why do you have to criticize him so much?

Senator Ben Sasse: (00:13)

Sure. So that is a very fair question. And I guess, I kind of think about it like this. I think we should distinguish between policy agreement and policy disagreement, and then also, long term political implications as well. So I’ve worked hard to develop a good working relationship with the president over the last three and a half years. I obviously campaigned for a lot of other people in the 2016 cycle. But Donald Trump is our president now, so I’ve worked hard to develop a good relationship with him, he’s got a hard job, and we’re called to pray for our leaders, so that’s what we do regularly at the breakfast table at our house, is we pray for the president, and the First Lady, and for Vice President Pence in their callings.

Senator Ben Sasse: (00:55)
And there are obviously a number of issue areas where president trump and I have policy alignment now. Or maybe a better way to put it is, where the president has now adopted traditionally Republican positions that he used to reject for the majority of his life when he was funding Democratic candidates. So, for example, one of the places where he’s changed, as we were just mentioned to the last questioner, is I think he’s nominated truly great judges, and I worked with him on that. In fact, I went on the judiciary committee after he was elected, explicitly to advocate for the kind of originalist and constitutionalist that he had put on his list, and that he had agreed to nominate. I’m the first Nebraskan on the judiciary committee in I think 46 years. I’m 48 years old and I’m the first Nebraskan on the committee since the mid 70s.

Senator Ben Sasse: (01:39)
So there are definitely places where we agree. But, as your question says, there are obviously a lot of places where he and I differ as well. And these aren’t just mere policy issues. And I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican, but for an American. So the way he kisses dictators butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.

Senator Ben Sasse: (02:14)
I mean, he and I have a very different foreign policy. It isn’t just that he fails to lead our allies, is that the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women, and spends like a drunken sailor, the ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending, I criticize President Trump for it as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists. I mean, the places where we differed on COVID. He, at the beginning of the COVID crisis, he refused to treat it seriously for months, he treated it like a news cycle by news cycle PR crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is.

Senator Ben Sasse: (02:56)
And that, I mean, in his partial defense here, I think that lots of the news media has pretended that COVID is literally the first public health crisis ever, and somehow it’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s not true. They just wanted to use it against him. But the reality is, that he careened from curb to curb. First he ignored COVID, and then he went into full economic shutdown mode. He was the one who said, 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this. And that was always wrong. I mean, and so I don’t think the way he’s lead through COVID has been reasonable, or responsible, or right.

Senator Ben Sasse: (03:30)
So these are some of the important policy or sort of leadership places where we differed, stuff we don’t see eye to eye on. And I think that it’s my duty to level with Nebraskans. Even though I recognize that a lot of our voters in Nebraska are Trumpier than I am, and they sometimes get frustrated with me. But I also think voters have told me, the most common thing I hear from Nebraskans, is they have a very mixed perspective on the president. They think he does some stuff well and they think he does some stuff poorly. And the truth of the matter is, I think he’s done some stuff well and some poorly. And so I’ve been honest about that.

Senator Ben Sasse: (04:05)
But those are kind of policy and leadership issues. I think it’s also worth, for those of us who care about the party of Lincoln and Reagan, we should distinguish between policy and politics. Because my dissents from President Trump are not only about policy, but it’s also a prudential question, or a political question, about whether or not he’s ultimately driving the country further to the left. Because that’s what I think is ultimately going to happen because of Donald Trump. This has been my fear for five years. It’s why I campaigned for everybody not named Trump in 2016. And that is because I think folks have regularly misunderstood the meaning of 2016.

Senator Ben Sasse: (04:43)
Donald Trump didn’t win the presidency because America actually wants more reality TV round the clock stupid political obsessions. I just don’t think that that’s what my neighbors want, it’s not what I hear when I travel the state. I’ve spent lots of the last year on a campaign bus. And when you listen to Nebraskans, they don’t really want more rage tweeting as a new form of entertainment. I think the overwhelming reason that President Trump won in 2016 was simply because Hillary Clinton was literally the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling.

Senator Ben Sasse: (05:17)
We’ve had polls going back about 85 years. And Hillary Clinton is by far the worst presidential candidate America has ever had. General election presidential candidate. And I think that’s why President Trump won. Not because he laid out a constructive vision of the country that Americans united around. And so I think it’s always been imprudent for my party, again, as I mentioned. Calling it the party of Lincoln and Reagan. Those are the heights of American history. It has always been imprudent for our party to try to tie itself to a Trumpian brand. And that’s what I’ve been worried about for five years.

Senator Ben Sasse: (05:52)
And so for months, as I’ve been campaigning over the end of 2019 and all of 2020 again, I’ve been straight with Nebraskans. That I’m worried that if President Trump loses, as looks likely, that he’s going to take the Senate down with him. And if conservatives lose the Senate, here’s what progressives are going to try to do. They’re going to fracture the deliberative structure of the Senate, that’s what blowing up the filibuster means. And that’s the whole ballgame. They’re going to add states, they’re going to pack the Supreme Court, and that puts religious liberty and the broader first amendment at risk. And that’s the heart of who we are as Americans, is people who understand that government doesn’t give us our rights, God gives us our rights via nature, and government is just our shared project to secure those things.

Senator Ben Sasse: (06:38)
And Donald Trump doesn’t steward that. He doesn’t do storytelling to the next generation. And now, Senate Democrats, if they get to a super majority that they can end the filibuster, I’m worried that some of the most terrible nuttiness that we see happening on campus will get imported into our jurist prudence. And that would be a terrible remaking of America. And so, from where I sit, as one of the most conservative guys in the US Senate, I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate. And that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump Train. It’s why I didn’t agree to serve on his reelection committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him, because I spend all my time thinking about the one political question that’s most central next month, which is holding the US Senate.

Senator Ben Sasse: (07:23)
If we don’t… I’ll pull up and get back to questions here Tyler. But I just think if we don’t retain the Senate, there’s a very good chance that 10 years from now we’re going to have a Venezuela-like, dozens of members of the Supreme Court. You can imagine, 30, 40 people on the Supreme Court at some point. And when all of our allies from the Pacific have sided with China because Trump’s isolationism was so weak, that our allies begin to doubt, for the first time since WWII, whether they can trust in US strength, and US will, and US courage, and US virtue and values. If young people become permanent Democrats because they’ve just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican party on 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future, the debate is not going to be, “Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?” It’s going to be, “What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed, narcicisstic individual to the American people was a good idea?”

Senator Ben Sasse: (08:29)
It is not a good idea. I think we are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami, and we’ve got to hold the Senate, and so that’s what I’m focused on. I’m not focused on Donald Trump, I think the media has done a terrible job of making us all believe that the presidency is always the most important thing for people to talk about. First of all, politics shouldn’t be the center of our conversation, or our life, or our culture, or our economics. But even inside politics, the presidency shouldn’t be the center of that.

Senator Ben Sasse: (08:57)
And I think that Donald Trump and the media are united in wanting to make him the center of every conversation. And I think overwhelmingly, the most important political issue we face right now is whether or not Republicans can retain it, and so that’s why I’m spending my time and energy on… Thanks for your question. Tyler, who’s next?

OOP's short takes:

  • A few days ago, Politico published a story "How Anti-Mask Policies Are Scrambling the Governor's Race."  The article suggested that many Republicans voting for President Trump's re-election will be supporting the Libertarian Donald Rainwater because they are upset over Governor Eric Holcomb's mask and business closure mandates.  Ridiculous.  I'm no fan of Governor Holcomb but his actions during the pandemic have made him much more popular than he otherwise would have been.  Governor Holcomb will run far ahead of President Trump in Indiana.  Holcomb's win here will be 20 points plus.  Trump's might not hit double digits.
  • Last weekend, I was in Kansas and was able to see a portion of the air war between Democrat Dr. Barbara Bollier and Republican Congressman Robert Marshall, both competing for an open Senate seat.  Bollier dominated the air waves. Great message about bi-partisanship, but she was a bit shaky when addressing the camera.  Right now, Marshall has a lead, but it's just low single digits.  According to FiveThirtyEight, Bollier has a 28% chance of winning the election.  Meanwhile, Biden has a 7% chance of winning Kansas.  
  • For the record, FiveThirtyEight projects that Biden has a 6% chance of winning Indiana.
  • On our return to Indiana, I had to drive to U.S. 40 because of a huge backup on I-70.  I reviewed the yard sign situation as we drove from outside of Terre Haute to Indianapolis.  I saw a lot of Trump signs in the rural areas but those signs disappeared when we got to the more populated portion of Hendricks County.  
  • On Sunday, I got my first traffic ticket in about 20 years driving through Illinois.  I was just keeping up with traffic at 75 miles per hour on the interstate which had a posted 70 mph limit. Turns even though no one is working on the highway and no lanes are blocked off, Illinois can create "construction zones" by putting a few orange barrels along side the road, which then lowers the speed limit to 55.  While every driver could have been pulled over for speeding through that stretch, I was the one who received the honor.  I've learned from experience though that the argument, "yes, judge I broke the law but so did everyone else" does not work.
  • For the record, unlike Illinois, Indiana uses flashing lights, powered by solar energy, to mark construction zones.  When no work is going on, they turn off the lights.  Hoosier wisdom.  
  • As I write this, President Trump is attacking Dr. Fauci, calling him stupid and  saying that Joe Biden will listen to Fauci.  Can we please dispense with the nonsense that Trump is smart?

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Trumpism Will Leave an Indelible Stain on the GOP and Lead to Democratic Party Domination

This is my "I told you so" column.

A few years ago, I was giving a ride to a conservative law school professor.  Our discussion quickly turned to politics.  He asked me why I was so unhappy about the newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump.  The words reflexively came out of my mouth before I could even ponder the question.

"Because I know what is coming."

Unlike many people, I  knew on election night 2016 Trump had a decent chance to win the election  The website FiveThirtyEight was giving Trump a 29% chance of winning, which (.290) would be a good batting average for a major league hitter.  While the odds were that Hillary Clinton would end Trump's political career that night, I was aware there was an outside chance Trump might win.  The FiveThirtyEight 29% estimate was a good calculation on Trump's odds.

Having long followed Trump's career, I knew well before 2016 that he was, contrary to the role he played in The Apprentice, a terrible businessman.  He regularly led his companies into bankruptcy and used other tactics to not pay vendors and lenders.  He became so persistent in not paying loans that American banks stopped lending to "The King of Debt," a moniker Trump actually quite liked.  Trump also had a history of dishonesty, regularly using scams, such as Trump University and the Trump Foundation, to rip people off and personally profit.  Trump's racism, his sexism, his xenophobia were also not unknown traits.  I likewise knew about Trump's ignorance, his incompetence, his lack of fitness for office, the hypocrisy of what he was saying on the campaign trail v. the things he did and said outside the campaign

Even if one were unaware of his private life and business career, Trump's most objectionable traits, recounted above, were on display during the 2016 campaign. By nominating Trump, and associating itself with those traits, the GOP damaged its brand.  But the harm to the Republican Party could have been limited.  The GOP reattaching itself to the conservative principles championed by Ronald Reagan, which undergirded the success of the Republican Party for 36 years, principles for which Trump often displayed hostility, could have started the day after election.  

In short, the damage to the GOP could have been temporary, with recovery only an election away.  

Then November 8, 2016 happened.  Pulling off narrow upsets in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, three states Hillary Clinton just assumed, based on history, would fall into her column, Trump was able to eke out a narrow electoral college win. That meant Donald Trump would not only become President, the damage he could do to the Republican Party would be exponentially worse.  

I must say, however, I underestimated how bad a President Trump would be for the GOP.  Certainly I knew of his unfitness for office...that Trump's ignorance and lack of temperament would hurt my Republican Party.  But I thought the, then, Republican-controlled House and, still, Republican-controlled Senate, nevertheless, would stand up for conservative principles and use their authority to keep Trump in line. I thought that the "best people" Trump surrounded himself with in choosing a cabinet, would offer good advice that the inexperienced Trump would listen to and follow.   I thought that the several special elections and the 2018 mid-terms would prove to Republicans that Trump's politics of hate and division could not win general elections.

I thought wrong. 

Republicans in the House and Senate abandoned their principles to enable anything Trump wanted to do.  Meanwhile, Trump ushered the few "best people" who were in his administration, out the door, replacing them with sycophants.  And, even though the GOP was pummeled in the numerous post-2016 special elections and the 2018 mid-terms, most Republicans remained firmly convinced that 2020 would somehow prove to be different, that Trump's toxic brand of politics would suddenly and magically prove to be popular with the voters.  Never mind those pesky polls that consistently said otherwise.  Those polls are fake!  Pollsters are working together to suppress Trump's vote!  Trump will win in a landslide!  MAGA!

Now as the 2020 election looms on the horizon, many Republicans officeholders, particularly those who work in the U.S. Senate, are finally waking up to a reality that in less than three weeks voters are ready to deal the GOP a devastating blow. Whether they are senior citizens, younger people, women, suburbanites or those with college degrees, all are fleeing from the Republican Party, fed up with the antics of President Trump and his sycophantic enablers who failed to ever once hold the President accountable for anything he said or did. 

Moving forward, Trumpism will leave a stain on the GOP and the legacy of Ronald Reagan.  Not the type of stain created when a party guest spills a coke on an artisan throw rug, but rather the type of stain left when that same clumsy guest spills red wine on white shag carpeting.  The former you get out with a little hard scrubbing. The latter...well that stain will fade over time, but it will never completely go away...until the carpet is completely replaced.

I know what is coming.

Lashing itself firmly to Trump's message of hate and division, the GOP has become the party of exclusion instead of inclusion.   Worse yet, the false claims Democrats have lodged against my GOP over the years - that we Republicans are racists, sexists, care only about the rich, and push ballot security measures just to suppress the vote - have been made true by Trump and his allies. 

For that, there will be consequences.  The GOP is almost certain to lose the White House and Senate.  Indeed, two Republican Senators - Ben Sasse and Ted Cruz - say a "bloodbath" may well be coming.  No kidding.  The Republicans are also going to lose, as they did in 2018, scores of state legislative seats and chambers as the the nation moves towards redistricting state legislative seats.  Worse yet, is the indelible stain Trumpism will leave on the GOP for a generation to come.   We are entering a period of Democratic ascendency that will last for a couple decades, at least.  It is not a given that the Republican Party survives.

That is what is coming.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Republican Senators Face Defeat for Giving Up Independence to Follow Donald Trump

The Associated Press reports:

WASHINGTON  — Vulnerable Republicans are increasingly taking careful, but clear, steps to distance themselves from President Donald Trump, one sign of a new wave of GOP anxiety that the president’s crisis-to-crisis reelection bid could bring down Senate candidates across the country.

In key races from Arizona to Texas, Kansas and Maine, Republican senators long afraid of the president’s power to strike back at his critics are starting to break with the president — particularly over his handling of the pandemic — in the final stretch of the election. GOP strategists say the distancing reflects a startling erosion of support over a brutal 10-day stretch for Trump, starting with his debate performance through his hospitalization with COVID-19 and attempts to downplay the virus’ danger.

Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ)

Even the somewhat subtle moves away from Mr. Trump are notable. For years, Republican lawmakers have been loath to criticize the president — and have gone to great lengths to dodge questions — fearful of angering Trump supporters they need to win. But with control of the Senate in the balance, GOP lawmakers appear to be shifting quickly to do what’s necessary to save their seats.

..

Republican prospects for holding its 53-47 majority have been darkening for months. But recent upheaval at the White House has accelerated the trend, according to conversations with a half-dozen GOP strategists and campaign advisers, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose internal deliberations.

The strategists noted the decision to rush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett has not swung voters toward the GOP as hoped. Several noted internal polls suggested Republican-leaning, undecided voters were particularly turned off by the president’s debate performance and his conduct since being diagnosed with the coronavirus. It wasn’t clear that these voters would cast a ballot for Democrat Joe Biden, but they might stay home out of what one strategist described as a feeling of Trump fatigue.

Voters like to think their Senators are putting their constituents first.  But instead those Republican Senators put Donald Trump first, even when doing so meant condoning Trump's blatant abuses of power, his insistence that he's above the law, the racism, the sexism, his efforts to get foreign governments to help him win the 2016 and 2020 elections, and his use of his office to enrich himself.  Always. Those Senators looked at Trump's contemptible conduct and words, and gave him a pass. Always.  Even when Trump took policy positions that were anything but conservative - huge budget deficits, trade tariffs, a concentration of power in the executive, a rejection of federalism, a contempt for constitutional checks and balances, and a refusal to support allies while praising dictators who oppress human rights - the answer from Republican Senators was to give Trump a pass.  Always.

It would not only would have been nice for those Republican Senators to do their job of providing oversight and checking President Trump's power,  it quite literally is their constitutional responsibility to do so.  They could have held President Trump accountable and made him a much better President. But when push came to shove, the choice of those Republican Senators was to acquiesce, to go along, to do nothing. Always.

Now, that several Republican Senators are facing the prospect of being punished by voters  for not doing their jobs these past four years( e.g. Collins, McSally, Gardner, Tillis, Graham, Ernst, Daines), they have decided it is time to do the right thing and, finally, show some independence from President Trump.  Too late.  Every one of those Republican Senators who sold out voters and conservative principles to enable Donald Trump deserve to lose their re-election bids.