There aren’t a lot of them, but voters who are determined to produce gridlock are definitely out there.
Photo: John Lund/Getty Images
As you probably know, a lot of self-identified political independents are quite proud of themselves for, well, their “independence.” A majority of them, as many political scientists have explained, are functionally partisan in their voting habits, but since they are theoretically open to going the other way, they aren’t like those knee-jerk D’s and R’s, or so they imagine. It is true that some indies have a mix of positions on issues that don’t nicely comport with either major party’s — or any minor party’s — views (notably economic liberals who are also social conservatives; those with the opposite configuration can always vote Libertarian). It’s a free country, and it’s fine with me if they want to let their freak flag fly.
There is one species of nonpartisan, however, who might be considered different from others and even pernicious: those who oscillate from party to party not based on issue adherence, or even the attractiveness or repulsiveness of individual candidates, but because they want to keep all parties and all factions in some sort of equipoise where they don’t get to have their way. These “checks and balances” voters are often very proud of themselves for the civic virtue they display in limiting the power of the overwhelming majority of citizens who are partisan. And when the two major parties are equally strong, they can even determine outcomes, as Nate Cohn and Claire Cain Miller explain in examining some Siena College polling data from battleground states concerning voters who supported Trump in 2016 and 2018 but voted Democratic in the 2018 midterms:
Many of the voters who said they voted Democratic but now intended to vote for Mr. Trump offered explanations that reflect longstanding theories about why the party out of power tends to excel in midterms.
Michelle Bassaro, 61, is a Trump supporter, but in the midterm election, she voted for the Democrat in her district to balance the administration’s power. She said she had voted for Republicans when Democrats were in the White House for the same reason, consistent with research that shows that some people intentionally vote for divided government.
The research these writers referred to is a bit dated but still relevant; one study showed that an estimated 16 percent of voters, as of 2008, preferred divided government. A lot of them don’t act on this sentiment — or don’t really have the practical option to do so in a particular election — but there are enough to be dangerous in a close contest. And dangerous they are, I believe.
Perpetually divided government (which we have had more often than not at the federal level in the post–World War II era) is an invitation to gridlock, dysfunction, and citizen dissatisfaction. It’s even more damaging now that the ideological polarization of the two major parties has made bipartisan coalitions vastly less likely than in the days when liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats walked the Earth. Yet some of the same voters who consider themselves shrewd and civic-minded for keeping the two parties in balance tend to complain about stuff not getting done:
Danny Destival, 56, who runs a greenhouse supply business in Panama City, Fla., said he’s “been a Southern Democrat all my life.” But in 2016, he cast his first Republican vote because he liked that Mr. Trump was a businessman, not a politician — and he disliked Hillary Clinton.
His main priority is voting for “the person who’s going to get more done” — that’s why he stuck with the Democrats in the midterms — but at the national level, he said, the Democrats have disappointed him on that front.
“If you’re going to Washington, you need to do something,” he said. “If the only thing you’re going to do the whole time you’re there is try to get rid of the president, that’s a problem. I mean, Trump is not a great person, but you’ve got to get some work done.”
This “swing voter” does not seem to be aware that he is part of the problem he is complaining about. And his preferred candidate for president is a symptom of how haywire things can go if the normal processes of policymaking and legislation are frustrated by divided government and the consequent gridlock. You get voters throwing up their hands and then supporting a demagogue who claims he will “drain the swamp,” only to run one of the most corrupt administrations in history with legislative accomplishments — even when his party did have unified control of the government — that would fit in a thimble. Trump is also emblematic of the recklessness a president can exhibit when thinking of himself as empowered to overpower and dominate other institutions or the rule of law itself.
Complain as we might about the folly of using one’s vote to alternate perpetually between the parties, it’s enough of a reality to sober any Democrats who believe their midterm victory in 2018 gives them an automatic upper hand in 2020. You might imagine logically that the phenomenon of a party winning a second consecutive presidential election while losing the intervening midterm would be relatively rare. It has actually happened (just going back to the end of World War II) in 1956, 1972, 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2012. Some of it has to do with differential turnout patterns in presidential and midterm elections, but the regularity with which the president’s party loses ground in the midterms suggests that voter oscillation, whether or not it consciously reflects a desire for divided government, is likely a factor. Democrats need to include in their 2020 messaging some recognition of this fact, and they to make it clear that any of their voters from the 2018 midterm who think voting for Trump will keep things under control in Washington will risk ushering in the most uncontrolled presidential term since Andrew Johnson decided to try to veto the results of the Civil War.
‘Checks and Balances’ Voters Could Reelect Trump
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Ukraine’s president rebukes Trump, rather mildly, in new interview
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‘Checks and Balances’ Voters Could Reelect Trump
By Ed Kilgore
Voters who oscillate between the two parties may produce the very abuses of power they claim to fear.
You probably forgot Steve Bullock was running for president, which is okay because he isn’t anymore
Amid fundraising struggles and a repeated inability to qualify for the debate stage, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Monday morning he is suspending his campaign for president.
The Democrat attempted to sell himself as the moderate voice needed to beat Donald Trump, given that he demonstrated the ability to win in a red state. But Bullock ultimately was unable to break through; his Real Clear Politics polling average stood at just 0.4 percent nationally and he likewise failed to move the scale in Iowa, where Bullock was sinking most of his hopes.
77-Year-Old Candidate Hopes ‘No Malarkey’ Bus Will Excite Voters
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Another entry in the long tradition of lame campaign buses — and one that might not benefit Biden’s much-needed appeal to young Iowa voters.
ICE Deports ‘Crucial Witness’ in New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel Collapse
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Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma raised basic safety concerns related to construction flaws that may have led to the accident, which killed three.
If You Can’t Have Wealth Taxes, You Don’t Have a Country
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Fake news is the new attack ad — UK edition
Google has banned eight different adverts paid for by the Conservatives over the last month because they broke its rules, The Independent can reveal.
The move by the search giant comes amid mounting concerns about the Tories’ use of disinformation and fake news as campaigning tools at the general election. Transparency data released by the search giant this week shows that the adverts “violated Google’s advertising policies” and had been removed.
Six of the banned adverts were put up by the Tories on the day of the Labour manifesto launch – when the Conservative Party set up a fake website called labourmanifesto.co.uk purporting to contain the opposition’s policies. During that incident, the Tories paid Google to push its fake version of the Labour manifesto to the top of search results for those searching for the deal document.
Department of Justice faces difficult choice about whether or not to seek justice
Legal experts see signs that DOJ is laying the groundwork for a potential criminal probe into whether the president and his top advisers broke federal laws by withholding a White House meeting and nearly $400 million dollars in foreign aid from Ukraine unless the country’s new leaders agreed to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
In Washington, the FBI has already contacted an attorney for the whistleblower who first revealed the scheme. In New York, federal prosecutors are expanding a probe into Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, who played a pivotal role in the Ukraine campaign. And on Capitol Hill, lawmakers busy with impeachment are collecting documents and testimony that could help fuel any DOJ probe into the president and others around him who were involved in the scheme. …
But the ghosts of 2016 linger. DOJ and FBI leaders are still weathering bipartisan scorn for their handling of dual election-year probes into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s Russia connections. Any moves to examine Trump as 2020 heats up will receive similar scrutiny — as will any choice not to examine Trump.
The network and president that are toxic to appearances of bipartisanism
[Florida governor Ron] DeSantis’ absence from Fox News is a drastic shift in media strategy. DeSantis’ allies say it’s intentional, allowing the governor to avoid questions that could suck him into polarizing partisan battles and divert him from his new job of governing 21 million residents.
“Gov. DeSantis regularly speaks to Florida media on a weekly basis about issues that are germane to his stewardship as the state’s highest elected official,” his spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said. “That will continue to be his focus.” …
But DeSantis’ exodus from the national airwaves comes at the most perilous moment of the Trump presidency. As the impeachment investigation marches forward in the House of Representatives, DeSantis is no longer on the front lines defending Trump, who is known to keep tabs on who has his back — and how they perform on TV.
When speaking to Florida reporters, DeSantis is plainly annoyed if he’s asked to weigh in on his White House friend. He’s above Beltway bickering, he now insists. He brushes aside inquires into national controversies, even when they involve him. At a recent news conference in Palm Harbor, he shut down questions about Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two arrested Soviet-born businessmen and associates of Rudy Giuliani who donated to DeSantis’ campaign.
If the Obama campaign had featured only Joe Biden
A stunning (yet unsurprising) attempted scam and extortion scheme within the Epstein saga
[Lawyers David] Boies and [John Stanley] Pottinger discussed a plan. They could use the supposed footage in litigation or to try to reach deals with men who appeared in it, with money flowing into a charitable foundation. In encrypted chats with [Patrick] Kessler, Mr. Pottinger referred to a roster of potential targets as the “hot list.” He described hypothetical plans in which the lawyers would pocket up to 40 percent of the settlements and could extract money from wealthy men by flipping from representing victims to representing their alleged abusers. …
In the end, there would be no damning videos, no funds pouring into a new foundation. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger would go from toasting Kessler as their “whistle-blower” and “informant” to torching him as a “fraudster” and a “spy.”
Kessler was a liar, and he wouldn’t expose any sexual abuse. But he would reveal something else: The extraordinary, at times deceitful measures elite lawyers deployed in an effort to get evidence that could be used to win lucrative settlements — and keep misconduct hidden, allowing perpetrators to abuse again.
Mr. Boies has publicly decried such secret deals as “rich man’s justice,” a way that powerful men buy their way out of legal and reputational jeopardy. This is how it works.
How Nadler’s Impeachment Hearings Will Differ From Schiff’s
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Each day of the upcoming House Judiciary hearings will be long and perhaps even more contentious than what we’ve already seen.
Tom Steyer’s early state ad blitz is turning some voters off
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Even some of Steyer’s local staff privately acknowledge the volume of ads has gone overboard.
Steyer has massively outspent other Democratic candidates on social media in an effort to gain traction in polls and ensure he makes the debate stage. But the recoiling of some New Hampshire voters suggests there are limits to the strategy — Michael Bloomberg beware. Indeed, some residents feel like they can’t touch a piece of technology without seeing his face.
Police Kill Attacker After Stabbings in London Bridge ‘Terrorist Incident’
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Two people, in addition to the perpetrator, are dead after the attack.
The Kamala Harris campaign is a mess according to those on the inside of the Kamala Harris campaign
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Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris. In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party’s ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris’s sister, and a manager, Mr. Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate’s consulting team. Even at this late date, aides said it’s unclear who’s in charge of the campaign.
At a “Thanksgiving Rally” in Hong Kong, demonstrators celebrate the U.S. and President Trump for passing legislation to support pro-democracy protesters
Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
A “terror-related” incident in London
Police are treating a stabbing attack near London Bridge as terror-related.
A suspect was shot by armed officers on Friday afternoon after “a number of people” were stabbed.
“At this stage, the circumstances relating to the incident at London Bridge remain unclear” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said.
“However, as a precaution, we are currently responding to this incident as though it is terror-related.”
The White House Scheduled Trump Tweets to Keep His Afghanistan Trip Secret
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The one group that doesn’t support Warren’s tax plan won’t surprise you
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to tax the assets of America’s wealthiest individuals continues to draw broad support from voters, across party, gender and educational lines. Only one slice of the electorate opposes it staunchly: Republican men with college degrees.
Not surprisingly, that is also the profile of many who’d be hit by Ms. Warren’s so-called wealth tax, which has emerged as the breakout economic proposal in the Democratic presidential primary race.
Iraqi protesters get results
BREAKING: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi says he will submit his resignation to Parliament in the wake of anti-government protests which have claimed hundreds of lives. https://t.co/n2JVwaQHgH
On surprise trip to Afghanistan, Trump announces surprise talks with Taliban
President Trump paid an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and declared that he had reopened peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after scuttling talks in hopes of ending 18 years of war.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, at the main base for American forces north of Kabul. …
Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement on peace talks came at a critical moment in the United States’ long, drawn-out military venture in Afghanistan, a time when the country is mired in turmoil over disputed election results and Americans at home are increasingly tired of an operation that began shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Melania Trump Will Be Fine
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Her cold reception in Baltimore belies a life of staggering insulation, even compared to her predecessor.
the national interest
the national interest
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There’s no world in which his business dealings in Ukraine are legitimate.
Surely Trump will stop claiming otherwise now
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Americans Are Dying Younger, Having Fewer Babies, Studies Find
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something like thanks
something like thanks
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