Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Chuck Schumer (D)
WASHINGTON — A brawl is about to break out among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and when it’s done, Democrats will say they’re going to be OK. They’re wrong.
They’ll return next year to face one of the biggest Republican majorities in the House of Representatives since the 1920s. They’ll have 48 out of the 100 Senate seats, but they have to defend 25 of those seats in two years. They lost the White House in a year when they were strongly favored to win.
And they still face a daunting challenge crafting, let alone communicating, an economic message. It’s widely agreed that the party was unable to find a vigorous, meaningful way of telling working-class voters it understood their concerns.
Those voters “see the party as wanting to advance everyone but them,” said Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist group with Democratic leanings.
“We celebrate every time a barrier falls, but what Trump voters hear is ‘Nobody cares about me.’ You have to talk to these voters in a more emphatic way.”
Part of that strategy means getting away from a big-spending, liberal image. “A more centrist perspective is going to position them better,” said James Pfiffner, Virginia-based author of a dozen books on American government and politics.
That’s not what you’re going to hear starting Tuesday, as Congress returns to write a federal budget and House Democrats vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader or turn to Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Republicans will have at least 238 seats in the House next year, while Democrats should have 194, a net gain of six seats. Three races are undecided, and all lean Republican.
Ryan’s challenge to Pelosi is the first time since she became the top House Democrat 14 years ago that she’s faced opposition.
Ryan reflects concern that the party’s dismal showing in the congressional and presidential elections is a loud, stark reminder it’s not bold or inclusive enough.
Ryan, said Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., “wants more voices in the conversation so that we can work together to craft our message and forge a winning strategy.”
That makes sense to many liberals, who cheered Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and his Democratic presidential campaign pledges to shake up the political system.
“The Democratic Party needs to project that we’ll really challenge power and the system, and not just have good policies within the system,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal activist group that’s not endorsing anyone.
Democrats have to remember, he said, “the main thing people are looking for is backbone in the Democratic Party.”
Pelosi, a wily political survivor, is seen as winning easily with accolades from unions and liberals.
Once that vote, scheduled for Wednesday, is done, Democrats will be talking big.
“Democrats don’t have a debate about seniors, diversity or women’s issues,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., who represents a swing district. While Democrats are unified over the role of government, “Republicans are about to go to war over deficits versus tax cuts,” she said.
“We’re not on life support. The party could be stronger, but it’s still strong,” said Dan Glickman, a former Wichita, Kan.-area congressman and secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration.
Democrats offer several ways their congressional positions are solid:
—Popular vote. “We won the most votes,” said Bob Mulholland, a veteran California Democratic strategist. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has 47.9 percent of the vote to President-elect Donald Trump’s 46.7 percent. His popular vote is the lowest for a White House winner since Bill Clinton 24 years ago.
—Demographics. Democrats running in House races won 67 percent of the Latino vote, 89 percent of the African-American vote and 56 percent of voters under 30, according to network exit polls. The Latino and young-voter percentages were up slightly from 2014, while the African-American number was about the same.
—History. Republicans won control of the House two years after Clinton won his first term. Democrats won control six years after George W. Bush won his first term, and Republicans regained control two years after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. The GOP had a net gain of 64 House seats in 2010.
—Opposition. The party out of power doesn’t get the blame for governing if things go awry. Republicans have prospered from attacking President Obama’s economic and health care agendas. Now Democrats are in a position to be the critics and rail against the new president. They already are.
“He talked about being a populist. He talked about taking on special interests,” said Sanders. “Yet the initial indications that we are seeing is that not much of what he talked about … has much to do with where he is today.”
But the old problem remains: Democrats aren’t convincing enough working-class people that the party’s on their side.
“We needed to let the American people know what we believe,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ new leader in the Senate.
He cites the example of student debt as a missed opportunity. Sanders got overwhelming support from under-35 Democrats as he argued to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Clinton and most congressional candidates argued for a modified version.
That confused people, perhaps contributing to the poorer Democratic showing among younger voters, he suggested.
The biggest danger for congressional Democrats is that Trump is successful and fashions a new Republican era, much as Ronald Reagan did through most of the 1980s.
“If his policy falters, they may regain seats in the midterms,” Robert Borosage, the president of the liberal Institute for America’s Future, said of the Democrats. “Yet they can win battles and still lose the war.”
Jill Stein’s recount campaign involves only cursory participation from the Hillary Clinton camp or any official arm of the Democratic Party. | Getty
Donald Trump’s margin over Hillary Clinton in the three states that provided the Republican’s decisive Electoral College majority is only a combined 104,000 votes. But don’t expect that to change.
The odds that Clinton will somehow end up reciting the oath of office on January 20 are extremely low.
Despite pending recounts or audits planned in those three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – the reality is that the results would have to change to such a degree that Clinton would carry all of them. Even Democratic officials in those states insist that the count wouldn’t change that drastically.
Still, Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee who finished fourth in each of the three states, is moving to challenge the election results, citing irregularities in the vote count.
While Stein’s recount campaign involves only cursory participation from the Clinton camp or any official arm of the Democratic Party, it has mobilized progressives seeking to deny Trump the presidency. Stein has raised millions to pay the three states to audit the results or count the ballots again.
But even if recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin, the two closest states, flipped those states to Clinton, the Democrat would still need the 20 electoral votes from Pennsylvania to overtake Trump. And Clinton trails Trump by nearly 71,000 votes in Pennsylvania.
The size of those battleground-state tallies will almost certainly withstand any recount or audit — despite Clinton’s overall lead in the national popular vote, which is approaching 2 percentage points.
Here are 7 questions about the recounts — and why they are unlikely to alter the outcome of the election:
1. What is happening in the 3 states?
Both Michigan and Wisconsin have finalized their vote counts. Stein has filed a challenge to the Wisconsin results, and has until Wednesday to move for a Michigan recount.
The system is different in Pennsylvania. There, the Stein camp has already moved to recount results in more than 100 precincts. It is also pursuing a separate legal effort to initiate a statewide recount by judicial order.
2. What are the questions raised in the states?
In its Wisconsin filing, Stein suggests that the hacking of elections systems and political actors by foreign entities or agents could have been extended to the state’s electronic voting machines. Moreover, Stein said in the filing, “there is evidence of voting irregularities” in Wisconsin, including “a significant increase in the number of absentee voters.”
Stein’s case in Pennsylvania is similar and includes identical supporting materials, including an affidavit from University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman, in which Halderman outlines the cyber vulnerabilities he’s discovered in elections systems.
“One explanation for the results of the 2016 presidential election is that cyberattacks influenced the result,” Halderman says in the affidavit.
“The only way to determine whether a cyberattack affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is to examine the available physical evidence — that is, to count the paper ballots and paper audit trail records, and review voting equipment, to ensure that the votes cast by actual voters match the results determined by the computers,” Halderman’s affidavit continues.
3. Is the Clinton campaign involved in these efforts?
Not really. Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias said last weekend the campaign “intend[s] to participate” in the recount efforts if Stein successfully initiates them.
In a statement posted on the website Medium last Saturday, Elias acknowledged that the campaign has “quietly taken a number of steps in the last two weeks to rule in or out any possibility of outside interference in the vote tally in these critical battleground states.” But, Elias wrote, “that effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results.”
Still, Elias said that the Clinton campaign has “an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.”
4. What is the timeframe for these recounts?
The clock on any effort that delays finalizing the result is ticking. States have only two weeks remaining, until December 13, in which to resolve any challenges to electors.
It’s an open question whether all three states would be able to complete their recounts by that date, however, without incurring increasing staffing costs.
5. How likely is it that any of the results could be overturned?
Elias, the Clinton campaign lawyer, acknowledged as much in his Medium post, writing that “the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.”
Democrats in Michigan — even those who support a recount of the vote tally, which shows Trump ahead by 10,704 votes, or a little more than two-tenths of a percentage point — don’t expect the result to change. Julie Matuzak, a Democratic member of the state’s Board of Canvassers, told the Detroit News on Monday, “I don’t think we’re going to find anything wrong.”
Trump’s lead is larger in Wisconsin: 22,177 votes, or roughly three-quarters of a percentage point. Similarly, Democrats don’t see Clinton overtaking Trump in a recount.
“It may not be 22,177,” state Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said, referring to Trump’s post-recount margin. “But I don’t doubt that the president-elect is going to win that.”
And in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead is even larger, the commonwealth’s Democratic secretary of state, Pedro Cortes, told reporters there is “no evidence whatsoever that points to any type of irregularity in any way, shape or form.”
6. Are there enough electoral votes to deny Trump victory?
Only if all three states flipped to Clinton. Current projections give Trump 306 electoral votes, compared to Clinton’s 232 electoral votes.
Even if recounts in the two states where Trump’s lead is within a single percentage point — Michigan and Wisconsin — were successful in catapulting Clinton to the lead, the president-elect would still maintain an Electoral College majority, 280-258.
Clinton could only overtake Trump by winning all three states. Under that circumstance, she would win, 278-260.
7. Is there a chance that the Electoral College could reject Trump?
This is also very doubtful. After the slates of electors are finalized by December 13, the Electoral College will meet on December 19.
Some Clinton electors are brainstorming ways to deny Trump a majority of electoral votes. The Colorado Independent reported Monday that four of that state’s nine electors plan to appeal to Trump electors in other states to reject their candidate and support someone else. And to back that up, the Colorado Clinton electors will reject their state winner and cast their votes for this other candidate, likely a Republican.
There are myriad obstacles to such an effort, however. The Trump electors are Republicans, many of whom like Trump and want him to be president.
Additionally, twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws on the books designed to punish these “faithless electors” — though the penalties for supporting another individual are often minor.
And even if 37 of the 306 Trump electors defected and denied Trump a majority of electoral votes, it would likely mean that no candidate would win a majority. That would kick the election to the new House of Representatives, with each state’s delegation receiving one vote. Republicans will hold the majority in 32 state delegations in the new House, compared to only 17 Democratic-controlled delegation and one split delegation.
What has the ‘Trump effect’ been on children? (Juan, CC BY-NC)
Teachers have reported nearly 2,500 “negative incidents” of bigotry and harassment at U.S. schools in the first 10 days since Donald Trump’s election as president.
More than 10,000 teachers and other educators responded to an online survey administered by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, and 90 percent of respondents said the election had negatively impacted students’ behavior and mood.
Eight in 10 respondents said they were anxious and concerned for their students, especially black, Muslim and LGBT children and teens, and they were worried how Trump’s election would affect themselves and their families.
The teachers reported a noticeable increase in verbal harassment, the use of slurs and other derogatory language, and incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate imagery.
Many of the incidents involved students taunting classmates with variations on Trump’s campaign rhetoric, such as threats to build a wall around or deport Latino students.
Even the minority of teachers who hadn’t noticed any change in student relationships since the election admitted they worked in schools with few minority students or immigrants.
“The takeaway message is first of all that school administrators and school board members and anyone who has to do with education has a crisis on their hands,” said Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance.
“If you’re talking about at least a quarter of students — and it’s estimated that a quarter of students in American schools are immigrants, or the children of immigrants — suffering trauma, that is going to have quite the impact over the course of the year,” Costello added.
The SPLC had previously tracked more than 800 incidents of “hateful harassment” across the U.S. since the Nov. 8 election.
Some of the teachers reported that recent incidents of harassment went unpunished by their schools, and about 40 percent said their schools had no apparent plan of action for dealing with them.
“I don’t think that they anticipated in any way what kids were going to say because for the most part, our schools are very diverse,” said one teacher from Kansas. “It’s not something we deal with anymore. It’s not like the ’50s, so this reactionary stuff going on just caught a lot of people by surprise.”
But Costello said the sharp uptick in less than two weeks since Trump’s election shows the problem must be seriously and swiftly addressed.
“There’s certainly been a breakdown in school culture and I think many schools are now ripe for incidents.”
Image Credit: Getty Images
President Barack Obama, set to leave the Oval Office in about two months, is known as the United States’ first black president. To some, however, it is Obama’s mixed-race identity that resonates most.
This is the case for Devon Terrell, a 24-year-old Australian actor, who is portraying Obama in the Netflix biopic Barry. The film follows the journey of a young Obama — the son of a white mother and a Kenyan father — who is searching for his place in America as a Columbia University student in New York City at a time when racial tensions were intensifying in the early ’80s.
In an interview with Mashable, Terrell said that while preparing for his role, playing young Obama has helped him accept his mixed-race identity as someone of Anglo-Indian and African-American descent in a country where he still feels like an outsider. Like Obama, who moved to Indonesia with his mother at a young age, Terrell moved to Australia when he was 5.
“I was the only one of my kind, so I knew what it felt like to be an outsider and to try to fit into different circles,” Terrell told Mashable. “I’m still a very young man as well, so I’m asking the same questions as Barack.”
my man devon terrell pic.twitter.com/wxMCHbxty3
— monster (@STARKSEMILIA) November 22, 2016
Young Barack Obama, 1980’s. pic.twitter.com/kiZF58THO1
— Ⓥ (@daintysound) November 13, 2016
Terrell, who learned how to mimic Obama’s distinctive voice and write left-handed for the film, said he hopes the film honors the president’s legacy in a time when many feel a sense of uncertainty under Donald Trump’s America.
“The election has totally taken over conversations around the world right now, so I hopefully this can start other conversations that bring hope to the world,” Terrell said. “He’s broken down all these barriers that people had on themselves.”
According to Terrell, however, the most important lesson he’s learned from playing young Obama for the film is to realize, no matter who you are or where you come from, you still belong.
It might be far from the most important story of the last few weeks, but somehow, the Mike Pence/Donald Trump/Hamilton feud is still a real thing that happened in the real world that has generated real headlines. Incredibly, it also had some very real consequences. Namely, in the last week, the Broadway smash hit broke a record for ticket sales, according to the New York Times.
In spite of — or perhaps because of? — the #BoycottHamilton trend on Twitter, the musical set a record for the most money ever made in a single week by a Broadway show by bringing in $3.3 million. The previous record was held by Wicked, which sold $3.2 million worth of tickets during one nine-show week in 2013. Hamilton only had eight shows during their record-shattering week.
NYT shared this, too:
[Hamilton] set a record for the highest premium ticket price charged by a Broadway box office — $998 — although some people have paid more buying tickets from resellers.
It is unclear how many people actually paid $998 for one ticket from the box office and it’s also unclear how many of them were motivated to go because of the real-life drama.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Its a scene that is likely to prove quite familiar during a Trump presidency, Americans woke up Tuesday to discover that the incoming president took to Twitter to expose his ignorance of or disregard for the Constitution.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
Criminalizing flag burning is unconstitutional, at least when the flag is burned as a political statement. As the Supreme Court explained in Texas v. Johnson, “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Moreover, there is no indication “either in the text of the Constitution or in our cases interpreting it . . . that a separate juridical category exists for the American flag alone.” If someone chooses to express a political message through flag burning, even if that message is contempt towards the United States, the Constitution protects that speech.
Justice Antonin Scalia, who Trump has held up as a model for his Supreme Court nominee, was in the majority in Johnson.
But even setting aside Trump’s unconstitutional call to criminalize flag burning, which became a staple of American conservative politics long before Trump emerged as a presidential candidate, Trump is calling for something even more extraordinary. He wants to strip citizenship — and with it, voting rights — from political dissidents. Federal law does permit Americans to lose their citizenship after “committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States,” but flag burning is a far cry from treason or armed rebellion. It is a political statement, and democracy depends on the free expression of political ideas.
The president-elect of the United States has proposed stripping a political protester’s very status as an American. In the process, he would take away that person’s ability to vote — and thus to vote for someone other than Donald Trump. Today, Trump proposes this consequence for a very specific category of speech that most Americans view as odious. But once a person’s voting rights can be made contingent upon their beliefs, or their silence, then elections become increasingly meaningless.
No justice. No Peace | attribution: AFP/GETTY Images
As more and more signs point towards the government trying to strong-arm Dakota Access Pipeline protectors and activists in the coming days, a movement called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock plan on lending their help and their bodies.
As many as 2,000 veterans planned to gather next week at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to serve as “human shields” for protesters who have for months clashed with the police over the construction of an oil pipeline, organizers said.
The veterans’ plan coincides with an announcement on Tuesday by law enforcement officials that they would begin blocking supplies, including food, from entering the main protest camp after an evacuation order from the governor, according to Reuters. But protesters have vowed to stay put.
The veterans’ efforts also coincide with the Army Corps of Engineers plans to close off access to the movement’s campsite by creating the Orwellian-named “free speech zone.”
“Yeah, good luck with that,” Michael A. Wood Jr., an founder of the veterans’ event, said in an interview.
Wood Jr. helped to organize the event and was bowled over when, in asking for 500 veterans sign up, he found himself having to cap the event at 2,000. The veterans participating want the U.S. government to reveal what it is really about. Are they going to continue totalitarian and violently oppressive tactics or are they going to recognize that the citizens did not and still do not agree with this pipeline plan?
I guess you’re my “friend.” – Getty Images
Let me be perfectly clear here, IMO this TWISTED, DEMENTED, SOCIOPATH has no business holding the highest office in the land. (ks)
Donald Trump has not even been given the electoral votes that would officially make him our next President yet but he is already going about using his new position to pressure foreign leaders to enrich his personal business interests. Considering that this is a man who has a voting base impervious to “facts” or “evidence” or “reality,” it is hard to imagine that they care much about anything but lighting the world on fire. Back in 2014, when Donald Trump was still more joke than nightmare human being, he responded as he loves to do to someone asking him not to run for President.
“@damiranz: DonaldTrump: Pls don’t run for president. If you do and win, the rest of the world would be screwed” So true, (except friends)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2014
It was probably the positive responses from his followers that gave him the idea that he didn’t need to compromise he could just be the enormous narcissistic dick all the way through until election day. One thing to note here: Donald Trump doesn’t actually have “friends.” This means everybody is screwed.