By Robert A. Vella
Donald Trump must be defeated this November. He is unmistakably megalomaniacal and a proto-fascist dictator. He is actively and blatantly destroying America’s representative democracy and constitutional system based on the rule of law. If he wins a second term as president, there will be little left to stop his autocratic stranglehold on power. Every American will suffer as a result and probably countless other people around the world as well.
This isn’t just my opinion. It is shared by Americans of all political persuasions including many current and former Republicans. It is also shared by untold numbers of people in every country across the globe.
But, there’s a big problem. Defeating Trump in the 2020 election will require unity within the opposition Democratic Party, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin is determined to prevent it by whatever means necessary. Putin also has a vulnerable target to attack – the Democrats’ ideological divide between centrists and progressives.
That divide was clearly exposed yesterday with Bernie Sanders’ blowout victory in the Nevada caucuses. Although I typically don’t place too much significance on caucuses (in contrast to primary elections), the Nevada outcome certainly is significant. The race wasn’t even close. With 60% of the precincts reporting, Sanders garnered 46% of the vote, Joe Biden 20%, Pete Buttigieg 15%, and the other candidates were even further back in the field. With the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries coming up soon, the momentum Sanders has achieved so far could easily turn into a wave of victories which would secure sufficient delegates to win him the Democratic Party nomination for president much to the dismay of centrists and moderates.
The reasons for Sanders’ success and the consternation over it involve the same phenomenon – populist angst, which by the way was what propelled Trump to victory in 2016. Populism is a double-edged sword, however. It provides the raw energy needed to build grassroots support and voter participation, but it also upsets the established status quo. Four years ago, the Republican Party reluctantly joined the movement while the Democratic Party resisted it… and lost.
Joy Reid, an MSNBC news show host and correspondent, explained the Sanders movement extremely well. Young people, ethnic minorities (especially Latinos), and working class folks, feel strongly that the system isn’t working for them. They are stuck in unsatisfying low-wage jobs, burdened by out-of-control healthcare and college tuition costs, treated like second-class citizens and worse by government and powerful corporations, while they watch on a daily basis the gross corruption infecting the very social institutions which are oppressing them. They are obviously angry and have every right to be. Now, they are expressing their anger by voting.
Populist movements are not all the same, however. The one incited and exploited by Trump four years ago was patently xenophobic among other things. But, regardless of their specific grievances, all movements have the potential to trigger both positive and negative change. That is why Reid conveyed a conversation she had recently with a GOP strategist who admitted the Trump reelection campaign’s preference to not run against a movement candidate like Sanders.
So, as I said yesterday, we are at a “dangerous crossroad.” Those who oppose President Trump must make some difficult choices ahead. I pledge to vote for the Democratic Party presidential nominee no matter who that is including even the plutocrat Michael Bloomberg (gasp). Why? Because kicking Trump out of the White House is that important.
Here’s today’s news:
LAS VEGAS —Sen. Bernie Sanders won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, providing another boost to an insurgent campaign that is challenging the Democratic establishment and stifling the plans of rivals who still hold out hope of stopping him.
Sanders’s advantage in Nevada was overwhelming, with substantial leads in nearly every demographic group, allowing him to set down a marker in the first state with a significant share of nonwhite voters. Sanders expanded the electorate by attracting relatively large numbers of first-time caucus-goers, providing momentum as the race shifts into a critical stretch over the next 10 days.
He prevailed among those with college degrees and those without; those living in union and nonunion households; and in every age group except those over 65. He won more than half of Hispanic caucus-goers — almost four times as much support as his nearest rival, former vice president Joe Biden — and even narrowly prevailed among those who identified as moderate or conservative. Despite attacks on his health proposal by the powerful Culinary Union, he won in caucus sites filled with union members.
The win showed that Sanders has a broad range of support not just among white voters, but also with Latino and black voters. According to entrance polls, 53% of Latinos said they supported Sanders. Although Biden held the lead with black voters at 36%, Sanders was in a close second at 27%, according to entrance polls.
Health care was the top issue for Nevada voters, according to entrance polls.
According to entrance polls, 43% of voters said health care was the most important issue to them. In addition, 62% of voters said they support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan.
By harnessing such a broad cross-section of voters, Mr. Sanders offered a preview of the path that he hopes to take to the Democratic presidential nomination: uniting an array of voting blocs in racially diverse states in the West and the South and in economically strapped parts of the Midwest and the Southwest, all behind the message of social and economic justice that he has preached for years.
His advisers argue that he has a singular ability to energize voters who have felt secondary in the Democratic Party, like Latinos and younger people, and that Nevada proved as much — and could set the stage for strong performances in the Super Tuesday contests on March 3. The Sanders campaign is looking in particular to the delegate-rich states of California and Texas, whose diverse Democratic electorates include a high percentage of voters from immigrant backgrounds.
For the first time, Nevada let people “vote early” in the caucuses. What that actually meant (because of the way caucuses are run in real life; read more from Andrew Prokop) is those early voters used a ranked-choice ballot. It looked a lot like ranked-choice voting in Maine (the first state to authorize it in all elections), and several other states will use ranked-choice ballots in their upcoming primaries.
This year, Nevadans could go to an early-voting site and fill out a ballot with their preferences for the Democratic nominee, ranked first through fifth. It mirrors the caucus experience, where voters first congregate with their favorite candidate. But then for candidates who fail to clear 15 percent on that first vote, their supporters must move to a more viable camp.
For Nevada, ranked-choice voting was a way to replicate the caucus experience in absentia. In general, the argument for ranked choice is, in short, that it’s more democratic than relying on a plurality of support or a top-two runoff to declare a winner. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen previously explained:
Ranked-choice advocates say this is simply a more democratic system and less expensive than runoff elections, which have to be held separately and typically have very low turnout (case in point: the Texas runoff).
And we haven’t seen the last of ranked-choice voting in the Democratic contest: Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming will use it for their 2020 primary elections.
The ad that interrupted some Hulu subscribers as they watched the NBC comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” this month opened with a clip of President Trump speaking.
“The ‘deep state’ is trying to inject our health system with socialist price controls,” a narrator then interjected, before a banner flashed at the bottom of the screen: “TEXT ‘SOCIALISM SUCKS’ TO 41490.”
But neither FreedomWorks, the conservative group behind the ad, nor Hulu, a television-and-movie streaming giant, is required to reveal much more to the public about the 30-second spot or whom it targeted, leaving watchdogs and regulators fearful that federal election laws aren’t fit for the digital age — and that voters remain vulnerable to manipulation.
Four years after Russian agents exploited popular online platforms to push propaganda, sow unrest and promote the Trump candidacy, the U.S. government has made virtually no progress on bringing more transparency to paid political speech. The risks remain high that voters could be duped and deceived by foreign governments, U.S. candidates and advocacy groups — particularly online, where major regulatory gaps exist.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The world’s top economic leaders warned on Saturday that an international tax fight between the United States and Europe poses a new threat to the global economy if a resolution is not reached this year.
After two years of economic fallout from a trade war between the United States and China, finance ministers and other senior officials at the Group of 20 meeting in Riyadh expressed alarm about an impasse over plans by foreign governments to impose new taxes on American technology companies. If a deal proves elusive in the coming months, European countries will begin collecting levies, which would probably set off retaliatory tariffs from the United States.