It was never about Joe Biden

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

After the election, some commentators were quick to point out that Joe Biden is likely the only Democrat who could have defeated Trump. After all, the results were far closer in key states than the recent polls had led us to believe.


Defeating Trump, after all, was a national emergency. All hands had to be on deck. Thank God he was defeated. Could we have risked any other result with any other candidate?

To be sure, after running a mediocre primary campaign, Biden ran a nearly flawless general election campaign. The task Biden had, however, was easier than Trump’s. Trump was behind the entire campaign. Biden had to simply not make any mistakes and he would be elected. …

The pandemic once again reveals one of the truisms of American life: political power is what matters

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Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

So once again our lives are thrown into chaos with my grandson’s school closing again. He is now expected to do his kindergarten schoolwork online, a tall order for a five-year old. Where he once was excited to learn, couldn’t wait to go to school, now he dreads the online meetings he has to attend.

If it seems that he’s a little young to be getting burned out, you’re right. But online schooling is no substitute for young children, for whom playing with other kids is their primary means to learn. Depriving them of that interaction is seriously harmful, and we will be dealing with the ramifications of these lost years far into the future. …

A legislative strategy for Joe Biden

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Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash

For the past few years, Democrats have been completely outmaneuvered by Republicans. Don’t believe me? Consider that in the last fifty years, Democrats have nominated and confirmed only four Supreme Court Justices. Despite losing the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 elections, Republicans have appointed 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court Justices. Legislatively, we’re getting killed.

I would argue that the key moment this trend started was under the leadership of Tip O’Neill (D-MA). According to his autobiography Man of the House, then-Speaker O’Neill believed Americans would rebel against the drastic cuts in services proposed by then-President Ronald Reagan. As a result, he and the Democratic-controlled House passed Reagan’s budget package. …

How we can regain some of the Obama-Trump voting white working class

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Photo by Stephen Mayes on Unsplash

The circular firing squad, the recriminations and the finger pointing have all started. Democrats, frustrated that they again underperformed the polls and face the prospect of another two years of Republican control of the Senate, are looking for scapegoats to blame.

Never mind that Biden won an impressive victory, winning an absolute majority of the vote and defeating an incumbent. Democrats also held onto the House and defeated two Republican incumbent Senators. As a result, there are those arguing that the Democrats should be pleased with the results.

Most Democrats are not, however. We may be happy about seeing Trump defeated, but our expectations were certainly not met. While the pipedream of a blue wave may have been unreasonable, poll aggregation sites were predicting that the Democrats would win control of the Senate. …

One of the biggest myths in politics: “Everybody I know…”

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Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

When I was working in City Hall in a large-ish midwestern city, the Mayor used to say to me “that is never going to be heard on the sidewalk.”

He was referring to a political truism that has a number of sayings attached to it.

“Signs don’t vote.”

“The chattering classes…”

The point of all these sayings is that your eyes have a way of deceiving you. Economists Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler described these inclinations as “cognitive biases.” …

He may be able to shoot someone in Fifth Avenue, but he can’t do this

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Trump supporters at a campaign rally. Source: Wikipedia. By Office of the President of the United States.

It looks a lot more like a cult that a political movement. Trump himself marvels at the loyalty of his supporters. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Trump remarked at a campaign stop at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. “It’s, like, incredible.”

Similarly, at one point as his limo pulled away from an event, Trump commented to his communications director Hope Hicks “look at these people. It’s literally a little bit sad.”

And his friend Howard Stern pointed out that “the people Trump despises most love him the most. He’d be disgusted by them.” Stern pleaded with his audience “go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. …

According to tax returns obtained by the New York Times, Trump is insolvent

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Photo by Marco Zuppone on Unsplash

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has set up a conflict of interest tracker on their website. According to their calculations, Trump has amassed a historic number of conflicts: 3406 at last count.

Generally speaking, presidents and other elected officials seek to avoid conflicts of interest. When we elect people to office, we hope that they are looking out for our interests, not their own or those of others. …

The nominee proves that the Supreme Court is not apolitical

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Amy Coney Barrett in 2018. By Rachel Malehorn. Wikipedia.

In 2016, then Notre Dame Law School professor Amy Coney Barrett argued on CBS News that Merrick Garland should not be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Garland, of course, was appointed by President Barack Obama to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 after Scalia’s death. That appointment was made on March 16 of that year, 237 days before that year’s election.

Barrett argued that the appointment should not go forward for two reasons. First, it was an election year. Second, Garland, at the time a 63 year-old, highly qualified centrist judge on the U.S. …

Following the money

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The Mayflower at sea. From “United States; a history: the most complete and most popular history of the United States of America from the aboriginal times to the present day.” (1893). Flickr.

In the early 17th century, the English settlers in Virginia had a problem. From the beginning, there were two major European settlements in what would become the United States: the Massachusetts Bay Colony growing from its humble beginnings in Plymouth, and the Virginia Colony centered around Jamestown. Despite the fact that the climate of Massachusetts, with its long hard winters, seemed harsher, the death rate for European settlers was much higher in Virginia than in its northern counterpart.

It was already hard enough to get Europeans to sail across the Atlantic to settle here. Just think of your reaction if a company offered to ship you to Mars. You might just die on the perilous journey there, and if you survive the trip, you would spend the rest of your life toiling there. Upon your arrival, you would be faced with an inhospitable environment totally foreign to anything in your prior experience. But for a few lucky ones, hard work could result in prosperity, the kind of opportunity that was in short supply in your current home. …

The Trump administration has been an unqualified failure, but yet people still somehow defend it

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Picture by author.

To give Trump credit, he is extremely good at one thing: lying. He lies with such facility that it is breathtaking. As soon as I say something that approaches an untruth, my conscience attacks me. Trump obviously has no such compunction.

Just today, responding to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic quoting Trump as calling American war heroes “losers” and “suckers,” Trump claimed that he had never called former U.S. Senator and war hero John McCain a “loser.” Unfortunately for Trump, there is video.

Never was the reality distortion engineered by Trump and his cronies on greater display than at the recent Republican National Convention. According to Mike Pence, for example, Trump handled the coronavirus crisis splendidly. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who famously began her tenure as White House press secretary by pledging “I will never lie to you,” claimed that Trump is trying to make sure pre-existing conditions are covered. Then there’s Kellyanne Conway claiming that Trump is respectful of women. And the former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell claiming that Trump had “charmed” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. All these claims fly in the face of the truth, which is in general nothing to brag about. …


Michael Greiner

Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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