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Opinion: Moïse’s assassination is a tragic reminder of Haiti’s unraveling democracy

Opinion: Moïse's assassination is a tragic reminder of Haiti's unraveling democracy
A history of political upheaval, dictatorship and weak institutions, as well as endemic corruption have wracked Haiti for decades and stymied the consolidation of democratic rule and good governance. The country was already on edge following a protracted political crisis centered around the constitutionality of Moïse’s presidential term and a controversial proposal to overhaul the country’s constitution.
While Moïse won the first round of Haiti’s presidential election in November 2015, the runoff was postponed in the wake of fraud allegations. The country eventually scrapped the results and scheduled new elections for November 2016; Moise won outright with a clear majority of 56%.
Meanwhile, an interim president, Jocelerme Privert, served from February 2016 to February 2017.
In Haiti’s polarized political climate, the political opposition has claimed that Moïse’s presidential term started in February 2016, rather than February 2017 — when he actually took the oath of office following do-over elections — and that his five-year mandate thus ended in February of this year. The United States, the United Nations and the Organization of American States supported Moïse’s interpretation, but public anger and social unrest continued to destabilize the country. Moïse did not do much to appease the population, ruling by decree since January 2020 after the mandate of the old parliament expired without an election to replace its members.
Now, the dispute over the constitutionality of Moïse’s term has taken a criminal turn and the question of succession could engender another constitutional crisis. Prime Minister Claude Joseph is currently exercising executive power until new presidential elections can be organized. However, last week Moïse appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has yet to be sworn in. Another potential contender for the job, according to the Haitian constitution, would be the head of the Supreme Court of Justice, but that person, René Sylvestre, died of Covid-19 last month and has yet to be replaced.
The lack of a functional parliament makes it unclear who has the authority to approve replacements and confirm officials in the line of succession. For now, the Haitian Armed Forces and National Police have deployed to the streets to maintain control after declaring a state of siege.
Meanwhile, grinding poverty characterizes quotidian life in Haiti. In essence, the country is still recovering from a spate of natural disasters, including the scars of a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 estimated to have killed between 220,000-300,000 people. With more than 60% of the population living on less than $ 2 per day, Haiti often ranks as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. According to the World Health Organization, Haiti — which has experienced difficulties getting vaccine supplies — is one of a handful of nations that has not begun vaccination yet even as Covid-19 cases increase.
Recent years have also witnessed an epidemic of kidnappings and the explosion of gang violence, with many neighborhoods in the capital, Port-au-Prince, controlled by criminal organizations. Thousands of displaced people have sought refuge from the growing insecurity in a stadium on the southern edge of the capital.
The Haiti assassination is yet another incident in a series of political, social and economic crises that have festered throughout the Western Hemisphere. The situation is emblematic of a larger democratic regression afflicting many countries — including Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela — where, in lieu of negotiations and political compromise, taking political prisoners and even conducting political assassinations have become worryingly commonplace.
Haiti’s constitutional crisis has failed to register with many Washington policymakers as well as those in the international community for far too long — in part, thanks to the plethora of challenges already present in the Western Hemisphere. Notwithstanding the Biden administration’s claims to the contrary, the inattention of US policymakers in recent years has contributed to the country’s rapid unraveling.
While four people suspected of assassinating Moïse were shot dead by police and two others arrested Wednesday night, this may well be only the first phase in another one of Haiti’s seemingly interminable crises. The short-term emphasis for the US and the rest of the world should be on supporting Haiti’s political leadership, untangling the constitutional questions likely to arise and maintaining order while ensuring that the Haitian armed forces remain confined to their proper constitutional role.
The international community, and in particular the US, should push for an investigation into the assassination and make resources available for bringing the perpetrators to justice — lest they benefit from the impunity that is all too common in Haiti. In the long-term, the international community has a key role to play in encouraging political and institutional reforms that will advance a national dialogue, generate economic opportunities for all and bring greater stability to Haiti’s turbulent domestic politics.
Moïse’s assassination is a tragic reminder of the country’s unraveling democracy and the need to forge a solution to the escalating turmoil that puts Haiti’s constitutional order and the well-being of its people at its center.

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy

Not comforting words, no. But their blunt acknowledgment of vigilance and fear in an unpredictable world resonates as the United States meets the mutability of a post-pandemic landscape — one in which a rising, highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid traverses a politicized map of the vaccine-hesitant.
“Even with this latest incursion” of the variant “the news still shouldn’t be that bad,” wrote Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. The catch, he noted, is that its “contagiousness means that everyone — including teens, and, as soon as it is proven safe, younger children — must get vaccinated. That includes the vaccine-hesitant.” His message (with an apology to the state of New Hampshire): “America! Live free (of vaccine) and (maybe) die.”
Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
This week, an analysis by Georgetown University researchers showed a handful of under-vaccinated states — mainly stretching across the South and Midwest, including Texas — were endangering the nation’s Covid recovery. And on Thursday, Republican US Sen. Rand Paul vowed to fight the public transportation mask mandate, requiring passengers to mask on planes, as soon as the Senate is back in session next week. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov addressed an open letter to Greg Abbott, the governor of her home state of Texas, who in May moved to bar government entities — including school districts — from imposing mask mandates or requiring vaccinations.
Lushkov implored: “Adults and even teenagers can at least choose their fate. But until a pediatric vaccine is approved for emergency use, young children and their caretakers cannot … Governor Abbott, I didn’t vote for you, and I don’t agree with your politics. But as a mother of two, I ask you to help parents as we try to keep our children safe. Surely, we can all come together to agree on that.”
In the absence of political consensus about how to extend America’s tenuous new normal, wrote Julian Zelizer, it’s time to accept truth … and require vaccines. “Both political parties have made the mistake of framing vaccines within the tradition of individualism,” he observed, while US history is full of examples, from polio vaccines to driver’s licenses to the draft, of requiring citizens to place civic well-being first. “Collective obligations have always been part of what actually makes America great and we need to start talking about vaccines through this vital lens.”
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America still has a chance to save itself

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
The deadly, record-breaking heat wave afflicting wide swaths of the American West continued, and in some places, intensified — bringing deaths and the threat of wildfires. That news, along with other recent developments in the US and globally, shows the depth of America’s predicament on climate disaster, contended Jeffrey Sachs. The way forward must include “oil companies paying restitution for damage that they have done to the climate and humanity for decades,” he argued.
Government has a role to play in America saving itself from climate-change destruction, wrote North Dakota farmer Vanessa Kummer. Sustainable farming is good for farmers’ bottom lines and ensuring the land’s viability for future generations. Many farmers have been adopting conservation practices that help mitigate climate change, she wrote, but need help to stay afloat. Kummer urged policymakers to consider that if farmers were given resources to, for instance, expand efficient fertilizer application, pay for feed additives to help livestock reduce methane and buy big steel tanks that capture natural gas from livestock manure, “we could turn the industry into a net-carbon sink.”

Republicans choose chaos

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
This week marked six months since the Capitol insurrection, and in the latest episode of “Unfiltered,” SE Cupp assessed that congressional Republicans turning a blind eye to the reality and meaning of that day, even now, appear to have only one objective — complete chaos. It “isn’t good governance,” Cupp maintained, “It’s annihilation. They are attempting to thwart the investigation of the January 6 insurrection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted as much. They’re pushing for more pointless audits of the 2020 election. They’re still chasing Trump around as he maniacally tries to cling to relevance, most recently launching a frivolous lawsuit against social media companies that banned him.”
Former President Donald Trump doesn’t have a strong case as he seeks legal redress against companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter for deplatforming him, wrote Kara Alaimo: “Trump is clearly trying to recapture some of the attention he’s lost and rally conservatives by mobilizing them against a common foe … But the facts aren’t on his side.
Fred Hiatt concurred in The Washington Post, calling the suits bogus but warning that underneath his “lies and self-pity, (Trump) may have a point.” Most people understand that these platforms “are private companies but also that, in today’s America, if those three are silencing you, you are being excluded in a serious way from the public square. And many understandably wonder: Why should they get to make that call?
Another smart take:

A broken departure from Afghanistan

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
The withdrawal of US troops — including those pulling out from Bagram Air Base near Kabul in the middle of the night without telling Afghan allies — struck a precarious note, one that, Peter Bergen wrote, will likely escalate conflict in the country and effectively hand a victory to the Taliban.
Bergen had harsh words for President Joe Biden’s Thursday speech defending the withdrawal. Biden’s remarks, Bergen said, were “peopled with straw men and littered with false assertions … In response to a question about whether he saw any parallels between this withdrawal and the US exit from Vietnam in 1975, the President asserted ‘none whatsoever’ … yet an urgent evacuation is exactly one of the contingencies US military planners are preparing for, a senior defense official with knowledge of the planning process told CNN. To use another trademark Biden expression, his Afghanistan speech was a bunch of malarkey.
Biden’s departure process is endangering the lives of Afghans who supported the US presence, cautioned Noah Coburn and Sediq Seddiqi, who has worked as a researcher and translator for US entities and international organizations.
Though Seddiqi has been told he does not qualify for the Special Immigrant Visa program, he says he has nonetheless been receiving threats of violence. Even those Afghans who worked for the US and who do qualify face both peril and unanswered questions: “Will those evacuated eventually be allowed into the US or will they have to remain in some third country? … Can they bring family? When will it begin, with troops on pace to be gone by August? … Clarity about what the US will do to assist the people who helped the US presence would be a good start, but even better would be assurances that the US will stand by its allies in Afghanistan diplomatically and politically, even as the troops leave.”

Haiti’s unraveling democracy

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
The shocking assassination on Wednesday of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse rocked a nation already teetering on the brink of a complex political emergency. “Haiti’s constitutional crisis failed to register with many Washington policymakers as well as those in the international community for far too long — in part, thanks to the plethora of challenges already present in the Western Hemisphere,” said Ryan C. Berg. “Notwithstanding the Biden administration’s claims to the contrary, the inattention of US policymakers in recent years has contributed to the country’s rapid unraveling.
Amid the chaos following the assassination and talk of US intervention, Rosy Auguste Ducena wrote for The Washington Post that what “Haiti desperately needs is a transitional government that can ensure legitimate, free and fair elections in due course … Haitians have had enough of living in a climate of violence, which has touched us all” — including Ducena, who is mourning a close friend and her colleague, both of them activists and journalists, who were recently shot to death in Port-au-Prince. She urged the US to reconsider its stance on Haitian elections and its support for Moïse’s government and asked: “How many more lives must be unnecessarily lost before the United States gets on the right side of history?”
“There are no simple options,” reflected Amy Wilentz in The New York Times. Historically, “(w)hen the United States has stepped in, Haitians have ended up worse off … The best option right now for the United States is to wait and watch and listen not just to the usual suspects but to a broad new generation of Haitian democrats who can responsibly being to move toward a more workable Haitian polity.”

The enduring power of Black institutions

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy
After a protracted controversy over whether the Board of Governors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill would grant her tenure (it ultimately did), acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones announced that she, along with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, would instead be joining the faculty, with tenure, at Howard University. The move, and Hannah-Jones’s powerful statement explaining it, prompted probing conversations about historically Black institutions (including colleges and universities) and the experiences of Black Americans who learn and work at primarily White institutions.
M Shelly Conner, who attended another HBCU as an undergraduate but now teaches undergrads herself at a majority White school, described for NBC THINK why she related to Hannah-Jones’s decision: “W.E.B. DuBois predicted in 1903 that the color line would be ‘the problem of the 20th century,’ but it certainly has endured well into the 21st. How can I create safe spaces for my students while facilitating conversations that walk boldly within our differentiated experiences? How can I bring the HBCU love to my Black students; a rainbow to my LGBTQ+ students; a lighthouse to my White students; and a model for those with intersections that defy categorization?”
Historian Peniel E. Joseph found deep meaning in Hannah-Jones’s choice about the “enduring power of Black institutions, (which) resides in their ability to recognize and amplify Black excellence, offering shelter in a time of political backlash and structural violence that has historically enveloped Black communities.” Both Hannah-Jones and Coates are, he wrote, “particularly well suited to continue a long-standing tradition of challenging a limited conception of American citizenship, identity and democracy that at once profits from Black genius and denies its existence.”
Hannah-Jones’s move came just days after a report in The New York Times about a leaked recording of a private conversation in which White ESPN anchor Rachel Nichols made disparaging remarks about a Black fellow anchor, Maria Taylor, after Taylor got tapped to host the network’s NBA Finals coverage. Nichols’ comments confirmed the “terrible, nagging fear” faced by so many women of color “at school or at work or in their everyday lives: that the White women who publicly profess their commitment to racial inclusion are only engaging in a pantomime,” argued Rafia Zakaria. She wrote that the controversy, which gained steam after Nichols was dropped last week as a sideline reporter during the NBA finals, “is growing in intensity in part because … at a deeper level, this recording captures candid sentiments too many White people express behind closed doors especially when Black, brown and Indigenous women achieve success in the workplace.”
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Justin Trudeau, Darren Walker and Theo Sowa: We can smash one of the defining inequalities of our time

Don’t miss

Opinion: GOP adopting annihilation strategy

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Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, Louisiana celebrates after winning the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling basketballs — and on Thursday with the word “murraya,” she became the first African American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Avant-garde told CNN she hopes one day to play basketball at Harvard before a career in NASA, neuroscience or as an NBA coach.
Avant-garde’s win makes her only the second Black winner over 90 years of the Bee (the first, Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998, is Jamaican). Celebrating having the Bee back after the pandemic canceled it last year for the first time since World War II, Shalini Shankar wrote about what a more equal Bee might mean for all kids, noting that the exclusionary history of this competition — and the roots of all US spelling bees, aimed at standardizing American English as part of the settler-colonial project — should be a catalyst for considering more enduring innovations that could promote equity.
“Nearly everyone’s reality has changed” since 2020, emphasized Shankar, “and we find ourselves in a moment of potential, and potentially intentional, transformation. A racially diverse Bee in which children are offered increased access to technology, coaching and support would not only create a more inclusive dynamic but also help transform its purpose as one over which new generations of Americans can feel a sense of ownership.”

Opinion | The Democrats Need a Reality Check

Opinion | The Democrats Need a Reality Check

If you’re looking for a microcosm of the burdens weighing on Democrats, look at what happened last week when the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s new voting laws. A state legislature and a Republican governor passed those rules into law. When they were challenged, a conservative Supreme Court upheld them by a forbidding 6-3 majority. And in its decision, the Court strongly hinted it would look favorably on the voting restrictions imposed, or underway, in a dozen other states.

The decision was a gift-wrapped present to future Republican candidates, and a direct slap at one of the top priorities of not just Democrats, but good-government advocates across the country. The Democratic response? President Joe Biden urged the Senate to pass the For the People act, a voting rights bill that doesn’t even have full support from his own party. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, echoing the thoughts of many, promptly tweeted out some items from the progressive wish list: “We must abolish the filibuster and pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” he said, “and we must expand the Supreme Court.”

In Washington, in the year 2021, neither of these things is going to happen. The “For the People Act” can only be passed by killing off the filibuster, a notion that is itself at least two votes short of reality. Even full passage of the law wouldn’t solve many of the key challenges those GOP laws present for democracy. And expanding the Court by four members—to let President Biden create a 7-6 liberal majority—has nowhere near majority support in the Senate and is in any case a genuinely bad idea.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, with the Democrats relying on wishful thinking and vague threats to fulfill their biggest campaign promises. Didn’t Joe Biden win the Presidency with a 7 million vote popular majority? Didn’t Democrats win both houses of Congress? If there’s anything more unnerving and disheartening than the Republican Party’s shredding of core democratic and republican principles over the past several years, it’s how so many of the Democrats’ attempts to fight back are grounded in delusion or futility.

There are reasons. The wishful thinking that seems to have captured the party begins with a profound mismeasurement of what happened last November, which in turn feeds a profound misunderstanding of how major political change happens—and in turn triggers the embrace of “solutions” that are similarly grounded in delusion. What remains to be seen is whether there is a politically potent answer to this dilemma. (Spoiler alert: the answer is “yes…maybe”).

Reality Check 1: Biden Can’t Be FDR (or even LBJ)

There’s no question that Biden is swinging for the fences. Beyond the emerging bipartisan infrastructure bill, he has proposed a far-reaching series of programs that would collectively move the United States several steps closer to the kind of “social democracy” prevalent in most industrialized nations: free community college, big support for childcare and homebound seniors, a sharp increase in Medicaid, more people eligible for Medicare, a reinvigorated labor movement. It is why 100 days into the administration, NPR was asking a commonly heard question: “Can Biden Join FDR and LBJ In The Democratic Party’s Pantheon?”

But the FDR and LBJ examples show conclusively why visions of a transformational Biden agenda are so hard to turn into reality. In 1933, FDR had won a huge popular and electoral landslide, after which he had a three-to-one Democratic majority in the House and a 59-vote majority in the Senate. Similarly, LBJ in 1964 had won a massive popular and electoral vote landslide, along with a Senate with 69 Democrats and a House with 295. Last November, on the other hand, only 42,000 votes in three key states kept Trump from winning re-election. Democrats’ losses in the House whittled their margin down to mid-single digits. The Senate is 50-50.

Further, both Roosevelt and Johnson had crucial Republican allies. In the 1930’s, GOP Senators Robert LaFollette and Frank Norris were ardent advocates for organized labor. In the ‘60s, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen gave LBJ crucial help in getting his civil rights agenda passed. When Medicare became law in 1965, it passed with 70 Republican votes in the House and 13 GOP votes in the Senate. In today’s Washington, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell have been successfully working to keep Republican support for Biden’ policies at precisely zero.

So the grander ambitions of Democrats run smack against history. If Biden had come into office with a Congress skewed the way FDR and LBJ’s were skewed, nobody would be talking about ending the filibuster, or sliding big policies through via reconciliation. Biden could enact his most ambitious plans with ease. By contrast, if those presidents had been elected with the narrowest of margins in key states, and had a razor-thin House majority, a deadlocked Senate, and adamant Republican resistance, the New Deal and the Great Society might well have been nothing more than historical footnotes.

Indeed, given the 2021 reality, Democrats should be celebrating a possible bipartisan trillion-dollar plus infrastructure bill and the $ 1.9 trillion American Rescue plan as significant first steps. Instead, progressives are turning their fire on the President for failing to govern as if he had LBJ- or FDR-like clout.

Reality Check 2: The fight is asymmetrical—and favors the GOP

While Democrats gesture on Twitter at building new systems, Republicans are working the current one with ruthless effectiveness.

The threats to a free and fair election that have emerged since last November are real—and require nothing more than the willingness of state legislators to use and abuse the existing tools of government. Arizona, whose two new voting rules were just validated by the Supreme Court, also took the power to litigate election laws away from the (Democratic) Secretary of State and gave the power to the (Republican) Attorney General. In at least 8 states, Republicans are advancing legislation that would take power away from local or county boards. Many more states are moving to make voting harder. It might be anti-democratic, but it falls well within the rules.

Also within the rules: How McConnell helped build a federal bench almost certain to ratify the power of those legislatures to pass laws far more restrictive than the Arizona rules upheld last week. He creatively eviscerated Senate norms to keep Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court and hand Donald Trump an astonishing three nominations in a single term. And he’s recently suggested that, should a Supreme Court vacancy open, he’d block even consideration of a Biden nominee if the Republicans take the Senate back in 2022. This is abnormal, anti-democratic and a cynical abuse of power—but it’s legal within the existing rules.

And it’s savvy politics: His own base loves it, and voters in the center see a party playing tough, but still within the rulebook.

In the face of such provocations, some Democrats want to throw out the rulebook and fundamentally alter the Court. Senator Markey and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler introduced legislation to expand the Court with four new members, which—assuming all goes according to their plans—would make for a seven-to-six liberal majority.

There are only two problems with this: It is all but politically impossible and it is a really, really terrible idea. Even Mitch McConnell, at the peak of his Congressional majority under Trump, never tried to shove new seats onto the court. At least three Democratic senators—Michael Bennet, Mark Kelly, and Catherine Cortez Masto—are publicly opposed to the idea, and several others, like Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, are openly dismissive of the possibility.

Beyond the numbers, however, is the blatantly transactional nature of the idea. Its sole purpose is to overcome an entrenched conservative majority. It’s no more defensible than was Ted Cruz’s declared intention to keep Scalia’s seat open for four years in the event Hillary Clinton had been elected in 2016. And—to state the obvious—it would prove no obstacle to a future Republican President and Congress adding more justices of their own to the Court, until you’d need a chamber the size of the Senate to accommodate all the bickering new justices. As an institution, the Supreme Court would be effectively dead.

It might be fun for the Democrats to imagine changing the game right under McConnell’s nose—but they should remember what happened the last time they tried it. In 2013, leader Harry Reid decided to end the filibuster for all judicial nominations except the Supreme Court, hoping to push more of Obama’s nominees through. But when Democrats lost the Senate in 2014, that reform proved meaningless; more than 70 percent of Obama’s post-2014 nominations failed. The person who capitalized on Reed’s move was Mitch McConnell: In the four years the GOP held the White House and the Senate, more than 200 Trump-nominated judges were confirmed. McConnell then scrapped the filibuster for the high court as well, giving him the tools to put three Supreme Court justices on the bench. As a result, conservatives will dominate that branch for years to come.

Reality Check 3: The Democrats’ Legislative Fix Will Never Happen—And Doesn’t Even Touch the Real Threats.

It’s understandable why Democrats have ascribed a life-or-death quality to S. 1, the “For the People” bill that would impose a wide range of requirements on state voting procedures. (With Joe Manchin’s declared opposition, the bill is somewhere between moribund and dead, however potent it may be as a fundraising pitch for midterm money.) The dozens—or hundreds—of provisions enacted by Republican state legislatures and governors represent a determination to ensure that the GOP thumb will be on the scale at every step of the voting process. The proposed law would roll that back on a national level by imposing a raft of requirements on states—no excuse absentee voting, more days and hours to vote—but would also include public financing of campaigns, independent redistricting commissions and compulsory release of presidential candidates’ tax returns.

There are all sorts of Constitutional questions posed by these ideas. But there’s a more fundamental issue here: The Constitutional clause on which the Democrats are relying—Article I, Section 4, Clause 1—gives Congress significant power over Congressional elections, but none over elections for state offices or the choosing of Presidential electors.

What this implies is that states could require different rules for voting depending on the office. It could, as a bill being considered by the New Hampshire legislature currently proposes, set different dates for electing federal and state officials, with the state imposing sharp limits on voting for governor, state legislative seats and Presidential electors—and a different, congressionally-imposed rule for the House. If you think Republican state legislators wouldn’t eagerly embrace such an administrative burden, you haven’t been paying attention.

Finally, there is nothing in S. 1—nor in the narrower John Lewis bill—about the more serious threats to a fair election: the rules that apply after the votes are counted. In state after state. GOP legislatures are pushing to empower partisan poll workers to challenge vote counting, replace local and county officials with more partisan figures; some have even flirted with arrogating to themselves the ultimate power to certify or reject future election results. Once again, these moves are well within the power of state legislatures. They require only the willingness, or cynical eagerness, to discard the norms that have governed our elections. And there is nothing in the bills Democrats have invested such hope in to cure those post-election threats.

Reality Check #4: The Electoral College and the Senate are profoundly Undemocratic—and We’re Stuck with Them.

Because the Constitution set up a state-by-state system for picking presidents, the massive Democratic majorities we now see in California and New York often mislead us about the party’s national electoral prospects. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s 3-million-vote plurality came entirely from California. In 2020, Biden’s 7-million-vote edge came entirely from California and New York. These are largely what election experts call “wasted” votes—Democratic votes that don’t, ultimately, help the Democrat to win. That imbalance explains why Trump won the Electoral College in 2016 and came within a handful of votes in three states from doing the same last November, despite his decisive popular-vote losses.

The response from aggrieved Democrats? “Abolish the Electoral College!” In practice, they’d need to get two-thirds of the House and Senate, and three-fourths of the state legislatures, to ditch the process that gives Republicans their only plausible chance these days to win the White House. Shortly after the 2016 election, Gallup found that Republican support for abolishing the electoral college had dropped to 19 percent. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a state-by-state scheme to effectively abolish the Electoral College without changing the Constitution, hasn’t seen support from a single red or purple state.

The point isn’t that the Electoral College should be retained. It’s that the tool for ending it is a process that requires a broad national consensus, geographic as well as numerical. And, unlike the 18-year-old vote, or women’s suffrage, the “nuclear option” of a Constitutional amendment to change how we elect presidents is nowhere near that stage. Clearly Republicans have learned just how much the Electoral College favors their candidates and seem unconcerned that they are evidently no longer capable of winning more votes than their opponents.

The same broad shifts help explain why the Senate has become an increasingly uphill fight for Democrats. Critics of its highly undemocratic structure note that with population shifts, the imbalance between the most and least populous states has grown exponentially. (The difference between California and Wyoming in how many citizens are represented by each Senator is an astonishing 78 to 1.)

In fact, the smallest states have just as many Democrats as Republicans—and even apart from that, the complaints have as much relevance as bemoaning the law of gravity or human mortality. Equal representation in the Senate is the only part of the Constitution that cannot be amended. To understand how far afield the Democrats are now thinking, the journal Democracy recently undertook to write a wholly new Constitution, which abolishes both the Electoral College and equal representation in the Senate. Prospects for adoption are… low.

The plausible (but difficult) solution: Just win more.

Whether the public sees Democratic demands for these structural changes as overdue or overreaching, the key point is that they are currently exercises in futility. The only plausible road to winning their major policy goals is… to win by winning. This means politics, not re-engineering. They need to find ways to take down their opponents, and then be smarter about using that power while they have it.

They certainly have issues to campaign on. In the few weeks, we have learned that some of America’s wealthiest people have paid only minimal or no federal income tax at all. (Jeff Bezos even got a $ 4,000 child tax credit.) Even as the Wall Street Journal editorial writers were responding to a Code Red emergency (“class warfare!”), the jaw-dropping nature of the report—followed by a New York Times piece about the impotence of the IRS to deal with the tax evasions of private equity royalty—confirmed the folk wisdom of countless bars, diners, and union halls: the wealthy get away with murder.

For a Democratic Party whose core theme is to bring more fairness into American economic life, these reports represent a huge cache of political ammunition. They underscore why Biden wants tougher tax enforcement, a global minimum corporate tax, and an end to some of the most egregious (and perfectly legal) tax outrages. It is—or should be—an unrelenting theme part of the Democrats’ arguments. So should a near-daily reminder, in cities and towns across the county, about the businesses and homes the massive Covid relief package has saved, and about the totally unified Republican opposition to that plan. That message—along with specific accounts of what a major infrastructure program would do—needs to be delivered at a granular level from now until November 2022.

By contrast, if Democrats believe that a parade of ambitious, intellectually intriguing bills doomed by a GOP Senate minority will resonate back home, they are under a serious misconception about how intently regular voters follow the legislative process. The disconnect between most voters and the daily play of politics is more like a canyon. It will take a focused, repeated message to bridge that gap.

Of course this is a whole lot easier said than done. A political climate where inflation, crime and immigration are dominant issues has the potential to override good economic news. And 2020 already showed what can happen when a relative handful of voices calling for “defunding the police” can drown out the broader usage of economic fairness. (It’s one key reason why Trump gained among Black and brown voters, and why Democrats lost 13 House seats.)

The lesson of history is clear: America’s historic steps toward social justice and deepening our democracy have always—and only—happened after major Democratic political victories. In the absence of significant Republican support for those steps, the need for that kind of victory is even more crucial. Otherwise, we can expect more arguments that ring from the fanciful to the desperate to the delusional.

Our opinion: Use Fourth of July to remember

Our opinion: Use Fourth of July to remember

Sunday is the Fourth of July and we have a lot to celebrate.

This year we will get to have an actual Fourth celebration, complete with reverence and fireworks, family and friends. It’s a positive step forward from last year when COVID-19 forced us to sideline many of those things we have come to look forward to at this time.

We should be grateful for this opportunity and at the same time recognize how far we have come in just a year’s time.

But during this year’s Fourth we should also recognize the moment and be inspired by the history of it as a chance to get back to what being an American means. It can be a moment, whether introspectively or with others, to remember that we are one country.

Broadly speaking, these last 10 years or so have been a reflection of an ugly side of America, driven by divisive politics and radical ideologies. We have in many ways become two different Americas, more willing than ever to cast blame on the other side for those ideologies that don’t conform to our own ideas of America.

Not only do we need to remember we are one country, but we also need to remember we are part of a global community. It’s just as important to keep in mind that without the aid of other countries, we may not be here as a country today, or at the very least we might be a very different country.

And yet, in many ways, we are indeed a very different country. Partisan battles play out in government and on the street.

In years past, America has always been about being one country on the Fourth of July. A chance to celebrate a country that routinely led the world on a global stage. It was a reason to proudly recognize the spirit of a nation.

We hope we can be there again and we hope this year can be the start of that. A chance to roll back to an America that stands as one, rather than an America that stands apart.

Author: Daily Herald
Read more here >>> Austin Daily Herald

Brexit vindicated: Lord Heseltine’s EU claims crushed after surge

Brexit: Lord Heseltine says he is ‘angry’ at ‘trauma’ of situation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today welcome the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, to No 10. Mr Orbán is only the second EU leader Mr Johnson has greeted since Brexit. The meeting has garnered huge pushback given Mr Orbáns human rights record, stance on “Muslim invaders” and description of asylum seekers as “poison”.

Reports suggest the EU view Mr Orbán’s visit as an attempt by Mr Johnson to disrupt, rather than coexist with, the Brussels bloc.

Despite this, many remain steadfast in the opinion that the UK will eventually rejoin the EU.

Lord Michael Heseltine has been one of the biggest proponents of the Rejoiner movement.

On several occasions he has spoken out against the Government and the Brexit process, despite the country having voted to leave in 2016.

Brexit vindicated

Lord Heseltine: The Tory peer’s hopes of rejoining the EU were crushed by a new poll (Image: GETTY)

Viktor Orbán: The Hungarian Prime Minister will visit the UK on Friday

Viktor Orbán: The Hungarian Prime Minister will visit the UK on Friday (Image: GETTY)

On the first day of Brexit earlier this year, the former deputy Prime Minister insisted the UK would be better off inside the EU as he pledged to renew his battle against Brexit.

He said: “The battle starts again. With a chapter closed last night, a new chapter opens.

“First of all, it is up to us who believe in a closely-knit relationship with Europe to use the same determination Brexiteers did to disrupt the European partnership.

“We want it back, and the only logical answer is to argue for that decision.”

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Rejoiner: Heseltine, Lord Adonis and Stephen Dorrell have championed the EU's case since Brexit

Rejoiner: Heseltine, Lord Adonis and Stephen Dorrell have championed the EU’s case since Brexit (Image: GETTY)

Yet the “we” he talks of appears to have crumbled, according to a recent Statista poll.

The pollster carried out a survey between January 2020 and April 2021, asking the question: “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?”

While the “wrong to leave” answer dominated 2020 for the most part, in recent months, the tables have turned.

In April, the number of people who believed the UK was “right to leave” the EU overtook those who believed the contrary.

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Poll: It asked, 'do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?'

Poll: It asked, ‘do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?’ (Image: Statista)

Brexit news: Some Remainers continue to argue that Brexit should be reversed

Brexit news: Some Remainers continue to argue that Brexit should be reversed (Image: GETTY)

It will come as a bitter blow to Lord Heseltine as his support base continues to decline.

He and his Remainer allies Lord Andrew Adonis and Stephen Dorrell‘s case for the EU could be in vain.

In January, Lord Adonis took yet another aim at Brexiteers when he tweeted: “The whole point of the EU is that it adds value to the member states.

“It generally does so, which is why we will have to reverse Brexit in due course.

Brexit timeline: The series of events that lead to the UK's eventual exit from the EU

Brexit timeline: The series of events that lead to the UK’s eventual exit from the EU (Image: Express Newspapers)

“But unless you are a fool, you believe that all human institutions are fundamentally flawed and in need of constant improvement.”

The former Cabinet minister sparked more controversy last week when he called for Tony Blair to be re-elected as Labour leader in order for the party to win power.

The Labour peer retweeted an article written for The Independent entitled “Could Tony Blair actually get re-elected again?”

This was followed by the intro: “Are we nostalgic for New Labour? Never were public services so good as under Blair – his return is improbable, but not now unthinkable, writes Jon Davis.”

Lord Adonis: The Labour peer suggested Tony Blair should be re-elected as Labour leader

Lord Adonis: The Labour peer suggested Tony Blair should be re-elected as Labour leader (Image: GETTY)

Lord Adonis simply wrote alongside his retweeted post: “Yes.”

His suggestion was met with opposition, with one Twitter user replying: “Please give this idea up Andrew Adonis.

“It cannot and will not happen and your relentless tweeting on it is helping no one while highlighting a major blind spot in your thinking and undermining all the great work you do elsewhere.”

Another Twitter user said: “Lord Adonis – don’t you ever shut up about Blair? Is he paying you?”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Does not wearing a bra cause sagging? A doctor gives her opinion

Author
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed

Does not wearing a bra cause sagging? A doctor gives her opinion

Some people prefer to go braless at night because it is more comfortable to do so, and very little research has been done on whether women should wear a bra at night.

Dr Lee commented: “Those who would be likely to derive the most benefit from wearing a bra at night are women with larger breasts, or breast pain, who generally benefit from firm breast support.

“If wearing a bra at night helps relieve breast discomfort, then it would seem sensible to continue.”

However, there may be a small increased risk of skin irritation, and/or hyperpigmentation, as the constant friction from wearing the bra can stimulate the production of the skin pigment melanin, and lead to skin spots or uneven skin tone.

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Piers Morgan speaks out on 'not being allowed' to have an opinion on Meghan Markle

Piers Morgan speaks out on 'not being allowed' to have an opinion on Meghan Markle

“I wasn’t allowed to have an opinion that I didn’t believe what she was saying, even though it was clear to me in real-time, as I was watching the interview that there were a number of things which just couldn’t be true.”

Following his abrupt exit, he told press outside of his London home: “I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth and I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital is enormous and, frankly, contemptible.

“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly-held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out within that interview, so be it.”

Meghan, who was also joined by Prince Harry during the tell-all interview, broke her silence on how she had been treated throughout her time as part of the family, and how she felt after she was ambushed by the UK tabloids.

Novak Djokovic divides opinion again after backing co-president of controversial new tennis players’ group over on-court meltdown

Novak Djokovic divides opinion again after backing co-president of controversial new tennis players’ group over on-court meltdown

Tensions over Novak Djokovic’s new tennis players’ group have reopened after the world No1 publicly offered his backing to Vasek Pospisil, who appeared to call the head of the ATP a “f***ing a*****e” in an umpire row this week.

Canadian Pospisil, with whom Djokovic announced the creation of the controversial Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) in August, was at the center of a shocking on-court meltdown at the Miami Open this week, apparently fueled by an earlier meeting with Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

Chair umpire Arnaud Gabas challenged the world number 65 over his enraged outburst after watching him throw a huge wobbly that included smashing his racket and angrily recounting his exchange with Gaudenzi the previous day.

“An hour and a half yesterday, the chair of the ATP, f***ing screaming at me in a player meeting for trying to unite the players,” Pospisil ranted, evidently indicating that the row over the new association is not likely to dissipate anytime soon.

“For an hour and a half. The leader of the ATP, get him out here.”

When Gabas asked why the ATP chief should be summoned, Pospisil offered the reply “f***ing a*****e” – widely interpreted as a further reference to Gaudenzi.

Unsurprisingly, Djokovic supported his co-president. “Concerning matters at hand, I am not in Miami,” the Australian Open champion told his following of almost nine million on Twitter.

“However, Vasek Pospisil is my good friend and I empathize with him wholeheartedly.

“Players on tour would agree that he is an individual of the highest integrity who cares about the wellbeing of his fellow competitors. I am hopeful that players recognize the importance of standing together.”

Fellow modern greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had hinted that they felt the inception of the new association was divisive, with the Spaniard speaking out against “separation” and the Swiss urging players to remain “united” in response to Djokovic and Pospisil’s proposals at the time.

While the Serbian superstar received a familiar deluge of love from his legion of admirers after his latest message, others were unconvinced that Pospisil should be supported.

“Didn’t care about his fellow competitor while he was throwing his hissy fit and ruining his opponent’s rhythm,” replied one.

Another argued: “There is a time and a place, Novak – and on the court and to an umpire is not that place.”

Talk of the PTPA has quietened since the two players directly behind Djokovic in the rankings appeared to at least temporarily shun the idea.

“Spoken like a true leader,” said one Djokovic admirer. “The biggest tragedy is that it never should have reached that level in the first place.

“The players are not employees of the ATP. They are in a mutually beneficial relationship so when the ATP chairman becomes toxic, it is time for them to step down.”

Another respondent also criticized Gaudenzi. “He has poisoned the well, no matter how the players interact with the ATP now or in the future,” they warned.
Also on rt.com ‘I disrespected the game’: Tennis ace Vasek Pospisil apologizes for on-court tantrum after calling umpire a ‘f***ing a**hole’
“When you burn that credibility and show your colors, you cannot recover. He has to go, no matter what history will show. The players need to demand action.”

Djokovic initially welcomed the appointment of Gaudenzi in 2019, although his patience with the supremo may have been tested by the one-time world number 18 comparing him to a child riding a bike while suggesting that his ill-fated Adria Tour last summer had “endangered many” within the context of the pandemic.

Gaudenzi and Djokovic met fora  two-and-a-half hour meeting the month after the PTPA plan was announced, with Djokovic praising their “open and transparent” relationship while claiming that the associations would work together.

Speaking earlier this month, Gaudenzi credited Djokovic with “redefining excellence” in tennis.
Also on rt.com ‘Where are the women?’ Tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic SLAMMED for ‘TONE DEAF’ men-only union as Nadal and Federer SHUN idea

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