Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Midterms

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  • nzlemming,

    What amazes me is the Latinos still voting for Republicans, especially the ones from Cuba. How can they not understand that Trump's "birthright citizenship" bullshit is aimed directly at their kids? (Yes, I know he can't do that without a constitutional amendment which he's never going to get now, but it's a fair indicator of what he will try next.)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    Given his lack of interest or ability to respect any traditional norms, I wonder what initiatives Trump and McConnell might try to push through an integrity-deficient lame duck Congress majority - and whether those same integrity-deficient Republican congressmen will go along with it.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 302 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    All those "tight" races going to the Republicans? Vote suppression and Gerrymanders work.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2202 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Given how much the voting system is stacked against them these are good results for the Dems and the rest of humanity. The popular vote once again is not reflected in the results but if that was the system Hillary would be president.

    Trump isn’t a true reflection of US politics but a product of a distorted system that enables the worst

    Since Nov 2016 • 260 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The Democrats now have a few months to find a really good Presidential candidate.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3151 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Interesting that the primary colours are the exact opposite of NZ: red for the right, blue for the left. I see Bernie Sanders is showing 66% in purple. I assume that means he has abandoned the Democrat flag of convenience he waved when running for the presidency a couple of years ago.

    There's a purple contender in Maine polling 58%, so I'm guessing it means independent. The ABC coverage & panel is good viewing, dynamic coverage & well-balanced format with partisan participants doing rather well in presenting dispassionate commentary.

    Results are consistently all over the place! No discernable trend apart from the swing to Democrats in the house. Margins in many races are too close to call, many others have more than 5% differential, many have more than 10%, and the young Democrat woman with the binary name is coming in at 78% despite her ethnicity. Seems multiculturalism is prospering overall despite racism or conservatism prevailing in some places.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    No discernable trend apart from the swing to Democrats in the house.

    It's really quite a large swing, though, however much the annoying coverage on American TV tries to talk it down. Just because it did actually follow what the polls predicted doesn't mean it's not highly significant. The House being in Democrat hands is a major power shift in the USA, and it will begin manifesting immediately.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10560 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    The House being in Democrat hands is a major power shift in the USA, and it will begin manifesting immediately.

    I smell...SUBPOENAS!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to nzlemming,

    We do not have 'birthright citizenship' (Jus soli) in NZ - ours is a Restricted Jus Soli;

    New Zealand: Since 1 January 2006, a person born in New Zealand acquires New Zealand citizenship by birth only if at least one parent was a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident (includes Australian citizens and Permanent Residents) (see New Zealand nationality law), or if to prevent being stateless.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli

    I think a Restricted Jus Soli is what Trump is aiming for in the US.

    The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution of 1868 was enacted to address the citizenship rights of the children of former slaves. The context under which it was made law is completely different to the context under which it is being and has been applied more recently.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm reserving judgment on the significance of the swing until final results are declared. You may be right but evidence of a real shift in the electorate would be expected to show up elsewhere too. So far all we have is the smaller shift to the Republicans in the Senate. I haven't seen any aggregate shift in the governorship totals published yet.

    I'm keen to see the total vote proportions, and have that compared to 2016. BBC has this: “forecasts based on early voting suggest turnout will be as high as 47%. This would be higher than any year since 1970.” Almost half of the electorate actually got up & voted! A stunning endorsement of democracy, democrats will be thrilled that the system is working so well.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    There were structural reasons why the Senate was unlikely to flip, the main one being that half of it was not up for election. But I'm not following what your reservation is. The election followed the poll predictions - it was not a rogue result. The people who make the laws and control the purse strings in the USA are now a Democrat majority. It's a huge part of the governance, and does not flip lightly. To move by around 8% in 2 years is a sign the voters want this check on the President, who has only just been elected. His honeymoon is most certainly over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10560 posts Report Reply

  • Roger M, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The greatest democracy in the world?

    * Gerrymandered re-districting
    * Rampant voter suppression
    * Machine voting with no paper trail and often no checks at all.
    * Voting system providers, usually owned by politically aligned companies
    * Politically controlled and partisan judiciary
    * Indirect voting through electoral colleges
    * Candidates able to keep their day job and control the electoral process
    * Almost completely uncontrolled election financing
    * Politically appointed and partisan bureaucracy

    I think the question is, does the US qualify as a democracy at all?

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2018 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Roger M,

    Yes, it does. Periodically it completely overthrows its leadership without violence, by ballot that is open to most of the population. That is the bare minimum requirement to be considered a democracy. But yes, it could be improved enormously. And I don't think it will in any foreseeable future.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10560 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    There were structural reasons why the Senate was unlikely to flip, the main one being that half of it was not up for election.

    Two thirds – and most of what was up was seats the Dems already held (which is why they "won" the Senate popular vote by 12 million votes). And it wasn't that many votes in the key races away from being a different result.

    Another way of looking at the House result is that it's a turnaround of 63 seats in the House since Obama's infamous 2010 "shellacking" in the midterms.
    Phil Quin is quite good value on Newsroom today:

    In a narrow sense, it could be argued Trump successfully built a firewall in his heartland to prevent any possibility of losing both chambers. By making his closing argument on drummed up immigration fears, not the booming economy, and playing a full deck of race cards, he no doubt helped his party in the old confederate states and Appalachia.

    But by doing so, he turned off suburban voters in House districts across the country, resulting in a nine percent advantage nationally for the Democrats. To put that in context, that represents the best outcome for the party since 2008 – a presidential year marred by a cratering economy and a deeply unpopular war that voters blamed squarely on Republicans. (Before anyone quibbles that Trump managed to win office despite losing the popular vote the first time, not even the most creatively contorted Electoral College maths imaginable can turn a nine point deficit into a victory).

    If Republicans fall for their own “split decision” talking points, and fail to heed the myriad warning signs thrown up by their walloping in the House, they will sleepwalk into an electoral buzzsaw once 2020 rolls around. The GOP appears to have lost women voters by a staggering 20 points. And while Hispanic, African American and millennial antipathy to Trump didn't translate into hoped-for victories in Florida,Texas and Georgia, it is nevertheless real, intense – and growing. The well of white racial resentment from which Trump draws so gleefully is not bottomless, and it doesn't come without costs.

    Another point of interest: voters in three deep red states overruled their legislatures and voted for an expansion of socialised healthcare.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    There aren't many on the political right whose opinions I bother to check out. Not easy recalling anyone past George Will capable of incisive insights. Wikipedia: "<i>The Wall Street Journal<i/> called him "perhaps the most powerful journalist in America"." He left the Republicans in 2016 due to disgust with Trump. Here's his view in the Washington Post (columnist 44 years):

    "Tuesday was, on balance, deflating to Democrats, who learned - or perhaps not - that despising this president, although understandable, is insufficient. His comportment cost his congressional party only slightly more than half the carnage that President Barack Obama’s party suffered in the middle of his first term."

    "The GOP depressingly ends 2018 more ideologically homogenous than it has been for 11 decades. Hitherto, it has been divided between Theodore Roosevelt progressives and William Howard Taft conservatives; between Robert Taft conservatives and Thomas Dewey moderates; between Nelson Rockefeller liberals and Barry Goldwater libertarians. In today’s monochrome GOP — color it orange, for the coiffure of its Dear Leader — postures range all the way from sycophancy to adoration."

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody,

    For any other democracy, it would be a good result for the nation - as it would require negotiation across the two houses. In other words, the kind of checks and balances envisioned by the authors of the Constitution, and the same kind of mechanism that MMP has afforded us in NZ.

    But the US media won't be supporting such a cooperative, collaborative democratic approach - no way. They are baying for division, obstruction and impeachment as that ensures legislative paralysis and the status quo (under which they are doing just fine), i.e., nothing progressive happens and there is no real change. Lame duck presidents are their objective.

    The fact that the US democracy has become so constipated in this way is intentional - it is the hand being played by the non-elected Davos elites.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Governors: Kobach and Scott Walker out are great results. Some good new talent. But still a bit flummoxed and sad about a few races. Gillum losing to De Santis in FL especially – and DeWine winning in Ohio. With those republican governors, ending the gerrymandering in key states isn’t going to be easy.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2083 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    With those republican governors, ending the gerrymandering in key states isn’t going to be easy.

    On the other hand, Dems have taken the governor ship in other key states, but they do face a Rep legislature in most cases. I think the significant thing that the Dems need to build on is that, even with the gerrymandering and voter suppression (Georgia WTF?), they ran some very close races in places you would not expect them to. And they can consider the success they got as a driver and gameplan for 2020.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    With those republican governors, ending the gerrymandering in key states isn’t going to be easy.

    We've got our very own form of gerrymandering taking place in Canterbury;

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/108441705/Former-PM-accuses-ECan-of-gerrymandering-to-farming-interests?fbclid=IwAR1AolWEkOpx4oCPOdQjdukPlK2Q5nZKeKF9q6-YM_l8hfhNJJsBWy0ynXw

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Roger M,

    I think the question is, does the US qualify as a democracy at all?

    The Dems taking the Congress is just the first step back towards political sanity. Yet there are systemic issues that still need fixing, as the voter suppression-driven margins of error in Georgia & Florida go to show.

    The Economist demoted the USA to a "flawed democracy" for the 2nd year in a row, thanks to the malaises that have been brewing for a generation, and coming together and materialising in the form of the Trump Regime. More infographics here.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5397 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    simply stacking the electoral commission with cronies

    On this point, what would be involved in this compared with the USA, given NZ's Electoral Commission's executive is (effectively) appointed by Parliament, rather than by the SSC or a Minister, or any specific individual? It also has some fairly clearly stated objectives in legislation (4C), which presumably mean it could be challeneged in court if it strayed from facilitating participation, promoting understanding of the system and maintaining confidence in the system's administration.

    That said, I'm still wary that our Electoral Act is treated as just another piece of legislation, which Parliament can mess with at any time like any other law. If we had a clearer constitutional framework in place then I'd expect it to be more difficult to change than that. (Probably not impossible, though. Having stuff that's virtually impossible to change seems to be part of the cause for all the crazy stuff that happens in the US.)

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

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