Opinion | Why Progressive Candidates Should Invoke Conservative Values – By Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel – The New York Times

By Robb Willer and 

Dr. Willer is a sociologist. Mr. Voelkel is a Ph.D. student in sociology.

Credit…Eiko Ojala

“To beat President Trump in the 2020 election, what sort of policies should a Democratic nominee promote?

Two theories dominate. One says that he or she should run to the left, focusing on energizing the party’s base. This strategy, exemplified by Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s campaigns, appears plausible given the base’s recent progressive turn.

The other theory says that a nominee should run to the center, making a bid for swing voters. This strategy, exemplified by the short-notice candidacy of the former Republican Michael Bloomberg, is supported by research on the electoral perils of ideological extremism.

But both of these theories neglect the fact that there is more to a candidate than his or her policies. As the political scientists Christopher Ellis and James Stimson have observed, a candidate’s policies can be distinguished from his or her “symbolic politics” — the values or ideology (like “family” or “social justice” or “going rogue”) that a candidate explicitly espouses or implicitly represents.

An influential analysis of national polling data by Professors Ellis and Stimson suggests that the most effective candidate in a national election would combine the most popular feature of the Democratic Party, progressive economic policies, with the most popular feature of the Republican Party: the invocation of conservative ideology and values like patriotism, family and the “American dream.”

But are candidates free to mix and match their policies with their symbolic politics? If a Democratic candidate pursued such a mixed strategy, would it work? Or would it make him or her seem hypocritical or incoherent?

To investigate these questions we conducted two experiments, one using a nationally representative sample of Americans, in which we looked at Americans’ support for “Scott Miller,” a hypothetical 2020 Democratic nominee. The participants in our studies were presented with excerpts from Scott Miller’s speeches — but we systematically varied the content of the speeches to analyze the effects of policy platform and symbolic politics.

We found that the most effective Democratic candidate would speak in terms of conservative values while proposing progressive economic policies — with some of our evidence suggesting that endorsing highly progressive policies would be best.

In our studies, we varied Scott Miller’s economic policy platform, portraying him to some participants as moderately progressive and to others as highly progressive. The highly progressive version of Scott Miller proposed a large minimum wage increase, generous paid family leave, a huge jobs program and the expansion of Medicare to cover all uninsured Americans. The more moderate version favored smaller versions of the minimum wage increase, family leave program and jobs program, and wanted to defend the Affordable Care Act in its current form.

Our studies found that the degree of support for Scott Miller wasn’t much affected by whether his policy platform was highly progressive or more moderate. Overall, people showed a slight preference for the highly progressive candidate, but this result was small and statistically significant only in one of our studies.

What mattered far more was how Scott Miller talked about those policies. We found that when he spoke of his platform in terms of conservative values like patriotism, family and the American dream, he consistently drew more support than did the Scott Miller who couched those same policies in more liberal values like economic justice and compassion.

Interestingly, most of the increase in support for the Scott Miller with conservative values came from participants who identified as moderate as well as those who identified as conservative. Notably, liberals were inclined to support the candidate regardless of which rhetorical approach he took.

These results suggest that the most effective Democratic challenger to President Trump in 2020 would invoke conservative values while offering progressive economic policies.

This description does not closely match any of the top Democratics — with the notable exception of Pete Buttigieg, who pairs invocations of freedom, military security and religious faith with a progressive platform. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Mr. Buttigieg is also the candidate who has most outperformed expectations so far.”

Opinion | The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers – By Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch – The New York Times

By Glenn R. Simpson and 

Mr. Simpson and Mr. Fritsch are the founders of Fusion GPS.

 

“As the founders of Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the reports by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that raised some of the earliest warnings of Russia’s actions, we’re willing to clear up some of the nonsense now so abundant on the right.

House Republicans like Representatives Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan seem eager to portray Fusion as co-conspirators with the Ukrainians in some devilish plot to undermine Mr. Trump’s 2016 candidacy. That could not be farther from the truth. None of the information in the so-called Steele dossier came from Ukrainian sources. Zero. And we’ve never met Serhiy Leshchenko, the Ukrainian former legislator and journalist whom Republicans want to blame for the downfall of Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

That said, our investigation of Donald Trump did get a great boost because of Ukraine, just not in the way Republicans imagine. We began looking into Mr. Trump’s business dealings and ties to Russia in the fall of 2015 with funding from Republicans who wanted to stop his political ascent. The Ukraine alarms went off six months later, when candidate Trump brought into his campaign none other than Mr. Manafort, a man with his own tangled history with Russian oligarchs trying to get their way in Ukraine.

It turns out we already knew a great deal about Mr. Manafort’s activities in Ukraine because we worked on several stories about his work for Russian-backed politicians eight years earlier, when we were both still writing for The Wall Street Journal. That reporting threw a spotlight on how Mr. Manafort, while representing clients involved in fierce geopolitical struggles over Ukraine, had neglected to comply with a lobbying law requiring that he register as a foreign agent — the very law, among others, to which he pleaded guilty of violating.”

Opinion | Why the Searing Politics of the Trump Era Give Me Hope – by Lee Drutman – The New York Times

“But here’s why I’m ultimately optimistic: I see how much the election of Mr. Trump acted as an impetus for people who care about democracy to get involved. The 2018 election registered the highest turnout midterm election in 104 years, and the smart money is on a similarly high turnout election in 2020. It may sound strange to say, but Mr. Trump’s election may yet turn out to be the shock and near-death experience that American political system needed to right itself.

I’m also optimistic because the one reform with the most potential to break our zero-sum partisanship, ranked-choice voting, is gaining tremendous momentum at the state and local level. In 2018, Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting for federal elections (after Mainers approved it in two statewide referendums). This month, New York City voters adopted it. Also in 2020, expect voters in Alaska and Massachusetts to decide whether they want in on ranked-choice voting.

By removing the spoiler effect of third parties, ranked-choice voting can break the us-versus-them force driving our partisan warfare, and create space for a political realignment that creates new coalitions to shape economic reforms and negotiate social change.”

Opinion | The Day That Decided the 2020 Election – by Timothy Egan – The New York Times

“The impeachment hearings had been bumping along, the main story clear: a parade of impeccable public servants trying to uphold the values of their country against a gangster White House. A candidate who had gloated over chants of “lock her up” for an opponent who had used unsecured emails had, once elected, conducted foreign policy by extortion, on open cellphone lines penetrated by the Russians.

Most Americans felt that Trump had committed an impeachable offense, but barely half favored removing him by the constitutional equivalent of the death penalty.

Instead, he said that the unusual diplomatic dance in Ukraine was not part of a rogue operation holding up American tax dollars as part of a scheme to take down a political opponent. It was White House policy, the government of the people in service of one person.

“We followed the president’s orders,” he said. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” “

Opinion | Vacillating Trump Supporter, Take Two – by Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Hardwick’s is very much an American story. He was born in rural Kentucky, where his father, Joseph, was a grocery store manager. His mother, who was manic-depressive and underwent electroconvulsive therapy, died when he was 5. His dad eventually remarried and borrowed heavily to open a truck-stop restaurant in Burnside, Ky., on a busy highway. The restaurant failed. It took years to pay off the loans.

Hardwick’s father moved the family to Akron, Ohio. Wonder Bread hired Joseph as a bakery worker. He was 50. He was happy because you had to have 15 years of experience to qualify for the pension plan, so he would just qualify if he retired at 65.

“We had no car and he walked to work every day for 15 years,” Hardwick told me. “He was crushed in an elevator accident when I was in the eighth grade and he didn’t work for over a year. I dropped off the basketball team and got a paper route delivering The Akron Beacon Journal and essentially became self-supporting. I also gave money to the family from the $15 a week which I earned, good for a kid in the mid-1950s.”

Hardwick’s break came when Wonder Bread supported a new program at Florida State University that granted degrees in baking science and management, and chose to jump-start it with scholarships to four children of employees. Hardwick was one of those children. He eventually earned an M.B.A. in marketing, worked for two years for Wonder Bread and joined Pfizer in 1966. Over almost four decades, he rose to the highest echelons of the company.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

The American dream? Looks pretty like it to me. Along the way Hardwick was involved in the civil rights movement in Florida in the 1960s. At the end of his Pfizer career, he worked for several months in Vietnam on a program to eliminate trachoma. He does not rule out Medicare for all one day, and he thinks there’s a case for a wealth tax, but he’s convinced Elizabeth Warren’s program shifts the United States leftward too far, too fast, denying some essence of the country that gave him and countless others an opportunity to get ahead through hard work.

There’s not much point denying that Trump, foul as he is, has released Keynes’s “animal spirits” in the United States. The challenge to the next Democratic candidate is to keep the economy strong while returning the country Trump has dishonored to decency. The task is immense: reasserting American values, widening opportunity, reinventing education, tackling the climate crisis, re-establishing the meaning of truth. It needs the involvement of all Americans of good will.

Hardwick is such an American. Plutocrat? Oligarch? Big Pharma? I don’t think such labels help. I don’t think they tell you anything about the human being so labeled. If there’s one sure route to a second Trump term, it’s more of the liberal contempt that produced the “deplorables.” It’s more of the knee-jerk stereotyping that denies that Trump supporters have reasons for thinking as they do. We know exactly how that movie ended in 2016.

Opinion | Bloomberg’s Bogus- Belated Mea Culpa -by Charles Blow – The New York Times

“Last Sunday I wrote a column entitled “You Must Never Vote for Bloomberg” because of Michael Bloomberg’s promotion, advocacy and defense of the racist stop-and-frisk policy that ballooned during his terms as mayor of New York City.

This Sunday, Bloomberg apologized for that policy.

Speaking at the Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said:

“Over time, I’ve come to understand something that I long struggled to admit to myself: I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong. I didn’t understand that back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives, but as we know, good intentions aren’t good enough. Now, hindsight is 20/20. But, as crime continued to come down as we reduced stops, and as it continued to come down during the next administration, to its credit, I now see that we could and should have acted sooner and acted faster to cut the stops. I wish we had. I’m sorry that we didn’t. But, I can’t change history. However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”

This is a necessary apology, but a hard one to take, coming only now, as he considers a run for the Democratic nomination, a nomination that is nearly impossible to secure without the black vote.

It feels like the very definition of pandering.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Charles Blow, I was a big fan of yours for years, and reposted your essasys on my political blog, InconvenientNews.net. But something has changed. What? There is a brittle arrogance to the tone of your position here. The sincere apology of a successful and rich white man is unacceptable, because he hasn’t, as your fans have commented, offeredd to make ammends equal to his sin. My goodness, trying to save the country from Donald Trump, and then facing the resposiblity of the presidency could actually give one repenting sinner a real chance to make ammends, like you have possilby never considered. There can be a deafness to the far left and right, where apologies are never accepted. As humans, we all have to be careful to guard against total clarity.

Opinion | How to Dislodge the Brute in the White House – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Chuck Hardwick outside his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

“Chuck Hardwick, lifelong Republican, former Pfizer executive, now retired in Florida, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but not without misgivings. He’d met him in the 1980s and noted a “consuming ego.” Still, elections are about choices, and he disliked the “scheming” Clintons. He was mad at the media for first mocking Trump during the primaries and then turning on him as nominee.

Three years later, Hardwick, 78, whose political career included a stint as speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, is unsure how he will vote in November 2020. Trump confounds him. He admires the president’s energy, his courage in taking on difficult issues like China “stealing its way to prosperity,” his corporate tax cuts, and what he sees as a revitalizing impact on American ambition.

“But if I was on a board that had hired Trump as C.E.O.,” Hardwick tells me, “I’d have to say to him: ‘You’ve got good traits but you can’t manage people. You’re fired.’”

“. . .  For Hardwick, Elizabeth Warren is not a choice. He likes her American story, her humble beginnings, her quick mind, but thinks she’s too far left on economic policy for the country to accept.

That’s probably right. When you want to make the United States more like Europe, you always run the risk of destroying what makes America unique: its hustle and unrelenting creative churn. America was born in contradistinction to Europe not as an extension of it. That identity is nonnegotiable.

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who has made active preparations to enter the Democratic primary, gives Hardwick a serious option to reject Trump. “I like him — no-nonsense, stable, clear-thinking, data-driven, he would do a good job and keep the economy moving. He looks better to me every day.” Anyone else? “I would not rule out voting for Biden.” “

Obama Cautions Democratic Hopefuls on Tacking Too Far Left – The New York Times

By 

“WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama on Friday warned the Democratic field of White House hopefuls not to veer too far to the left, a move he said would alienate many who would otherwise be open to voting for the party’s nominee next year.

Though Obama did not mention anyone by name, the message delivered before a room of Democratic donors in Washington was a clear word of caution about the candidacies of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The two have called for massive structural changes — and in Sanders’ case “revolution” — that would dramatically alter the role of government in people’s lives.

The centrist wing of the party has warned for months that a far-left nominee could alienate moderate Republicans and independent voters needed to oust President Donald Trump.

“The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. And I think it’s important for us not to lose sight of that,” Obama said. “There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff. They want to see things a little more fair, they want to see things a little more just. And how we approach that I think will be important.” “

Opinion | If Trump Were Anyone Else … – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“As the impeachment process unfolds, President Trump’s defenders will throw up dust clouds of complexity. But as the first day of open hearings suggested, it’s simple. Forget about Ukraine and diplomacy for a moment.

Suppose that a low-ranking government official, the head of a branch Social Security office, intervened to halt a widow’s long-approved Social Security payments. The widow, alarmed that without that income she might lose her home, would call the branch director to ask for help.

“I’d like you to do me a favor, though,” the director might respond. He would suggest that her Social Security payments could resume, but he’d like the widow to give him her late husband’s collection of rare coins.

Everybody would see that as an outrageous abuse of power. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, we would all recognize that it’s inappropriate for a federal official to use his or her power over government resources to extract personal benefits. The Social Security official could say that the payments eventually resumed, or assert that the widow’s son had engaged in skulduggery — but he’d be out of a job in an instant and would face a criminal investigation.”

Ediorial | Republicans’ Best Defense Is a Bad Offense – The New York Times

“What did Americans learn from the first day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry?

They learned damaging new information, about another witness who reportedly overheard a telephone conversation in which President Trump pressed to find out if the Ukrainians had committed to investigating his top political rival.

They learned they are still served by people of integrity who are committed to advancing the national interest. The day’s two witnesses, George Kent and William Taylor, both deeply experienced diplomats, provided precise, scrupulously nonpartisan and damning testimony about the effort at the center of the inquiry: the secretive shakedown of Ukraine by Mr. Trump and his associates, for the president’s political gain.

And those Americans who tuned in also learned that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have set themselves a degrading task. Rather than engage the facts about Mr. Trump’s Ukrainian escapade, they are twisting them and eliding them and inventing new ones they’d prefer. They spent most of Wednesday stuffing straw men and then ostentatiously knocking them down.”

David Lindsay:  This editorial is an excellent summary of what I watched most of.

Here is one of many good comments I endorsed:

The History Prof
New York

I came of age politically in 1972 by watching the Watergate impeachment hearings. I was 14 years old, and in my naivite, I believed what all the pundits said after Nixon’s resignation: “the Constitution works!” Although teens of the era were taught to distrust older Americans, we had watched in awe as Sam Ervin, John Sirica, and Peter Rodino led the effort to defend the rule of law. And we were grateful to the three senior Republicans–Sen. Barry Goldwater, House Minority Leader John Rhodes, and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, for meeting with Nixon to advise him to resign, which he did the following day. I think the idealism which Watergate instilled in me led me into teaching. For 35 years I have taught my students about constitutionalism and the rule of law, and the Anglo-American tradition that no person–neither a king nor a president–is above the law. But where now are the Goldwaters and the Scotts, the men who put their loyalty to the Constitution above their loyalty to the Republican Party? I have watched in dismay during the past month as the Republicans have attacked the decent, heroic Americans who have come before the Judiciary Committee to testify: Bill Taylor, Fiona Hill, Lt. Col. Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, George Kent, etc. Why do the Republicans besmirch their reputations? Because unlike the “Never Trumpers,” who upheld their own conservative values, the Republicans in Congress are “Trumpers-at-any-Price.” History will judge them very harshly.

10 Replies785 Recommended