100 Days: The Washington Walrus Review

100 Days: The Washington Walrus Review

Saturday (29th April) will mark the 100th day of the Trump administration and while the reviews have been contemptuously abysmal, the ratings have been ‘huuuuuge.’ This still seems to matter even in the face of overwhelming rejection, criticism, and abject failure.  If it didn’t, we could count him out. The struggle, unfortunately, continues for the resistance.

So where do we begin? 100 days is not a long period of time to assess a presidency and Trump does have a point when he discounts it as a ‘ridiculous standard.’ (Yes, this was from a Tweet.) Indeed, most historians would agree on this point, citing LBJ’s commitment to Civil Rights and Reagan’s action on taxes as significant initiatives taken outside this time frame. Even, Clinton was a little slow to start. This president has jettisoned so many disastrous schemes already however that it seems a little naive to conjecture that he may be reading the instruction manual. Trump cannot read. It therefore seems appropriate, as with most administrations, that we should at least consider the tone he has set for what is to come.

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Women’s March

 

Darkness. The tone has been one of great darkness. A little abrupt? Well, let’s flit through some of the things that have occurred these past three months. Before he had even gotten through his first weekend, the women’s march had mobilized millions worldwide in unison against his sexist postulations. Then, his travel ban was overturned as quickly as it had been implemented. (Remodeled versions of this ban continue to dominate the courts, though Trump baffingly still considers this an achievement.) He had little time to reflect on this however, for the American Health Care Act he endorsed was ready to fail, even with a Republican majority. Then, as if that was not enough, he managed to give rise to Cuban Missile-like fears with North Korean relations. While all this was happening, a credibility gap was forming not only between him and his base, but between him and his hapless press secretary, Sean Spicer, who continually referenced tweets, establishing a new low for media relations. To top all this off, he has gathered around him the type of cabinet Sauron of Lord of the Rings fame, would even consider excessive.  There’s not enough time to go through every appointee but son-in-law Jared Kushner is basically in charge of Middle East talks and Rick Perry has the EPA. Yes, those are just some of the main talking points…

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Sauron, Maeir, ally to the Valar Melkor, and force for evil in three Ages of Arda.  We’ve been using a lot of Lord of the Rings references lately.

Trump’s shortcomings as a president not only undermine the values of democracy, civil liberties, and common morality however. They also betray the cause of his campaign, the hopes of his base, and the future of America’s youth. Is rejuvenating the coal industry really a step forward? Is TPP even promising when across the globe, more and more capital has been injected into a green industry? Just who wants this border wall? Yes, there are many questions (and lapses in logic) but don’t expect the answers from Trump. He’s a doer, not a thinker. That is why crude nationalism is the new rationale. That is why diplomacy has been pushed aside in favor of military might. That is why the Age of Terror has been ramped back up to fifth gear. We have suffered in the process but Trump, despite amazingly poor approval ratings for what should be his ‘Honeymoon’ period, only seems to push more and more. After all, in a time of ‘Alternative Facts’, political polarization, and great distrust of the media and the far left, there will always be some band of neanderthals ready to defend him at every turn.

Trump’s first 100 days can therefore be characterized for the tone they have set, in many ways, more so than any other president’s. Besides the fact that there is a steeper learning curve for him than those before (given his lack of political experience), he has moved boldly and without trepidation on many of the causes he said he would address. If Democrats want to succeed, they will need to keep up with the momentum of these past three months as 1,360 days yet remain till the next inauguration.

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Should Obama Criticize Trump?

Should Obama Criticize Trump?

President Obama has stated that while he will not engage in political battles outside of office, he will speak up when American ideals are “at stake.” Ergo, he will be more of a Jimmy Carter than a George W. Bush when it comes to commenting on his successor’s policies. And so he should be! The president’s opinions are highly respected worldwide and even out of power, he will continue to act as a source of inspiration and comfort for millions of people dreading the near future. As we have seen thus far however, he can’t go in too boisterously. Transitions are at the best of times awkward and some level of protocol must be recognized for the good of democracy. So, let’s take a look first at the candor with which Obama should conduct himself up until January’s inauguration before examining the ways in which he should behave thereafter, with a few comparisons to other presidents along the way.

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It seems from various reports that Obama was just as surprised, shocked, and distressed as the rest of us by the results of the November 8th election. His initial address on Trump’s victory, whilst uncomfortable at parts to watch (owing to the long-standing animosity between the two) was nevertheless graceful though. He remarked how, while Bush II and he had many disagreements, he was well looked after when it came to the transition period- something he was very grateful for. Aiming to extend this courtesy to his successor, Obama has thus put politics and personal qualms aside for the good of unification. After all, he remarked upon that awkward televised meeting between the two, “when [he] succeeds,  America succeeds.” Has a president ever had to show such restraint?

The US stands at its most deeply divided in decades. Trump’s policies may not be reflective of his voters’ own sentiments but his popularity and victory are symptomatic of a country pushing back the dial on a cultural shift towards liberalism. Racism, homophobia, and sexism were never wholly problems of the past but the scope of their significance hardly perpetuated the likes of the 1950s. Now, it seems for a great many Americans, all the cards are out on the table again. Obama has to tread carefully therefore- he’s not the president for just states like California and Washington, he’s the president for all these people, whose voices (like it or not) were heard this election. To compromise Trump with (let’s face it) the facts would serve not only to undermine the legitimacy of the Oval Office but alienate a great portion of the population and foreign interests.

Obama’s stature will not wholly diminish come the next presidency. The likes of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, after all, are still given a spotlight when they have something to say. His responsibilities however will become Trump’s, allowing him once again to lead the ordinary life of an American citizen. That means, that like every other citizen, he is entitled to his opinion. Like everyone else, he can choose to express this when and how he likes, or not at all, if he wants to take the more quiet line of both the Bushes. While world leaders can technically can do this, they never seem to because of the dynamics of politics. In power, you have to work with people and that’s more easily accomplished when relations are kept sweet.

A certain level of caution, even outside of office, wouldn’t go amiss either. Former presidents have such a high profile that to intervene stridently with strong criticism can have a major effect on another administration. For example, Jimmy Carter’s opposition to engagements such as the Gulf War or his decision to speak to the press after a North Korean trip arranged by the Clinton administration were hardly appreciated by teams, devising specific, PR-led strategies. He’s loved by many for his blunt assessments (e.g. once calling George W. Bush the worst president of his lifetime) but sometimes sensitivity is needed in politics too. Bill Clinton, in many ways, is a nice compromise between Carter and the Bushes. He speaks on occasion on issues he supports, such as health care, but he doesn’t speak controversially- very much, as if he is (was) preparing to return to the arena of politics. Of course, future scenarios will hardly run in a neat parallel to what Clinton experienced in his post-presidency. Bush II had to contend with an injured country in the wake of 9/11. Clinton was a very different president in terms of politics but he recognised his successor needed all the support he could get. They even went on to become good friends! Obama and Trump, I estimate, will not.

Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush shake hands and joke on stage during a Presidential Leadership Scholars program event at the Newseum in Washington

Thanks to the House and Senate elections, Trump is in a greater position than most succeeding presidents, to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor. If he moves on Obamacare or the Iran Nuclear deal without any justification, it is likely the pushback from Obama and his camp will be nothing short of vitriolic. This is understandable. Bush II may have turned a surplus into a defecit before his first year was out but Clinton’s legacy was assured by the state of the union in 2000. A great part of Obama’s legend will depend on how his programs sustain in the future. Years from now, if the Affordable Health Care remains, historians will look back and say it all came to fruition in 2009. Trump’s not only a threat to Obama of course but liberal values he and his followers support. If Trump goes to build his wall, work against women’s rights, etc, then Carter may have a friend in the former president’s club. And while I personally admire old Jimmy, he kind of needs one.

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Carter- always standing to the side

Reflections – Election 2016

Reflections – Election 2016

A state of shell-shock remains. Although we’ve had nearly two days now to process the results, I still can’t help shake the feeling that we are living in some kind of dark, twisted timeline; one in which Donald Trump has won the presidential race. What’s most terrifying of course is that this most simple statement will soon feel natural to the tongue: Donald J. Trump is president! If shudders could echo, the world would burst apart at the seams. Alas, we must now accept this. And so, even though it feels slightly disheartening and pointless, we must try and diagnose exactly what went wrong.

Why Trump Won 

1. Voter Apathy – The facts are not clear yet but it seems that 130 million out of 230 million (approximately) went out to vote this year. The ones who didn’t presumably had something better to do, like catch all new episodes of ABC’s The Middle. This long-held popular belief among many however that voting “doesn’t make a difference” and that “they’re all the same” has cost humanity dearly this time. To any who chose not to vote; you only have yourself to blame – do not try to hide behind some miscalculated notion of being too dignified to get your hands dirty. It may well emerge that the real victims of a Trump presidency are minority groups in the U.S., particularly African Americans, and Latinos. The tragedy here is that voter apathy played a significant role within these demographies. For example; a woman in Alabama littered her front yard with signs that read, “African American’s Don’t Vote November 8, 2016 Presidential Election,” which coincided with a t-shirt and flier campaign to discourage blacks from voting. The central argument here is that a larger number of the electorate were simply dissatisfied with the choice they were presented with. This, though, is simply not good enough. Remember, where apathy festers, mercy is not forthcoming.

2. The Media – The mass media gave far too much time to Trump from the beginning and they calculated the spirit of the American voter so poorly that they influenced not only the course and outcome of this election but the threshold for what would become acceptable in American political rhetoric. Bernie bemoaned this in nearly every televised interview he gave but the priority always lay with whatever crap Trump was up to. As for the pieces on celebrity endorsements and their reactions to the results; really? Next time around, pay serious attention to the people of America, not just their idols. It’s condescending, it’s click-bait cheap, and it’s irresponsible! On another note, the reputation of pollsters now hangs by a thread. Placing faith in polls has always been a worthless endeavour, as has been proved through the recent referendums on Scottish Independence, and Brexit. The Media’s pitiful dedication to spurious poll figures throughout this year’s election coverage has cast a serious shadow over the public’s faith in various agents of information.

3. American Culture – While it seems the Religious Right may not have been as pertinent to the outcome of this election as others, the clear divide in liberal and conservative circles has become more evident than ever. We cannot ignore the people of the Midwestern states any longer; they are as much a part of the American fabric as liberals are. The states of Wisconsin and Michigan hung in the balance for much of election night, which indicated the Democrats risky strategy of targeting densely populated urban areas like Detroit. The same can even be said of Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Also, bigotry, sexism, and racism are apparently no longer on the blacklist.

 

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The State of the Nation 

 

What Does This Mean?

1. Global Warming – Climate change is the most significant issue for our generation. Trump, if we are to believe him (and I don’t know whether to) believes it is a hoax- so do many Republicans and they control the House and Senate. This is the most dangerous repercussion of the election as a result, as the US could withdraw its support from the Paris accords and its commitment to a cleaner future.

2. Obama’s Legacy – This was my first thought after “oh shit…” On November 8, I expected to wake up the next morning to a comfortable Clinton lead and a Democratic Senate. There would be change undoubtedly but for the most part, programs such as the Affordable Care Act would be upheld. Now, it could all be undone. Obama’s pages in the history book could effectively be erased. It was a glum, knee-jerk reaction and I can only hope, these darkest fears won’t be realized. It’ll take two years of intensive marshaling on the Democratic Party’s part against Republicans on the floor of the Senate (thankfully the GOP majority is not a 2/3 one) but beyond that, Congress must be regained in the 2018 mid-term elections.

3. Perhaps It Won’t Be Too Bad? – There’s Republicans all around him but I’ve always believed that the office of the presidency eschews overt partisan influences. Presidents have to tackle problems as they arise and with many issues (especially foreign ones), that calls for what is simply, the best response. Sometimes at home, that can mean playing the middle ground. Let’s not forget, George Bush Sr. raised taxes despite an election pledge and Bill Clinton chose to work with a Republican majority where he could. Admittedly this is a thin veil of hope. Let’s consider another desperate avenue then- Trump’s ego. It’s big and I doubt he would like to go down as the worst president in US history. Right? Again, we’re clutching at straws here.

Hillary’s Concession

Clinton’s concession speech was indeed “painful” but it was also beautiful because it revealed something a great many of us had forgotten; that she’s just a human being too. With this speech, it likely dawned on many people what a big mistake had been made, not only at the polling booths but throughout the entire election cycle, when people chose to take her up on every minuscule non-controversy. Her political career may be at an end now (it may also not be) but her example for women and girls out there should never be forgotten. She did not moan. She did not contest the election. She did not say she lost because she’s a woman (although, I think we’ve got to accept there’s an element of truth behind this idea). Rather, she accepted the result with grace and eloquently said that we owe Trump the “open mind” he refused so many.

Obama’s Last Months

As the transition from a Democratic to a Republican White House takes place, a great deal of the Walrus’ attention will focus on the legacy of Barack Obama. Time has a way of clearing perspective which will undoubtedly change much of what we have to say on his domestic and foreign efforts. The class with which he has conducted himself these past two days however, cannot be repudiated. He’s undoubtedly disappointed, angered, and upset by the results. He has also recognized however the effort Bush II’s team made for him upon taking office in 2009. Trump’s success is America’s, he stated. What else can a true patriot say?

Once More Unto The Breach – Trump Vs. Clinton – Round Two

Once More Unto The Breach – Trump Vs. Clinton – Round Two

Tonight, while you’re fast asleep in your bed with subconscious rumblings of the dreaded Monday morning work alarm, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dual once again, this time at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The general consensus among most lucid pundits in the wake of the first debate was that Clinton managed to sink her teeth into a drowning Trump and came out on top – there is billionaire blood in the water.

Their first war of words coaxed a record audience of 84 million, which surpassed the 81 million that had watched Reagan battle Carter in 1980. While two weeks ago, the candidates faced each other in a traditional format, tonight’s platform offers up something wholly more tantalising and engaging, a town hall styled debate. For those of you not familiar with the Town Hall format, candidates must field questions from not only the moderators but also the audience in what is usually a partisan setting. Que drama, consternation, chaos, and plenty of uncomfortable dry sniffing…

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This was the Town Hall set up when Mitt Romney faced off against Barack Obama in 2012 at Hofstra University – the venue of the first debate between Clinton and Trump

This year, however, with thanks to a civic group named the Open Debate Coalition, questions submitted via an online portal have been permitted. These questions have been whittled down to the thirty most popular and will feature in tonight’s debate marking the first time this variation has been used in the history of the Presidential debate. The task of meriting a question’s popularity falls to co-anchors CNN and ABC so expect a very slight left of field filter.

If we look at both candidates’ strengths in terms of how they react and respond to the environments they occupy, it becomes glaringly obvious that Clinton prefers smaller, more intimate settings – much like her husband (not in that way). Trump, on the other hand, thrives on addressing his dirigible, ire bloated, cadre in prodigious arenas and gargantuan sporting centres – reflecting his bumptious gestalt.

Trump’s gauche behaviour cannot now be un-coupled from his publicly enshrined lewd internal monologues that reaffirm his capricious, deleterious true nature. One can only guess how much practice that he has put into his latest debate strategy – if you can call it that. In light of recent events, the GOP are attempting to collectively pressure Trump. Many Republicans who had previously endorsed Trump have pulled their support. In Utah, for example, Governor Gary Herbert, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have stated that they can no longer support their nominee, while others such as Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart have called for Trump to drop out of the race altogether.

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has pulled his support of Donald Trump this week amidst mounting GOP pressure following the nominee’s perverse audio leak from 2005

The derision within the GOP is absolutely anticipated. How many more times can Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, appear before the cameras with the same hollowed out response to the party’s miscreant nominee? It’s a worn out scenario and clearly one that has left many Republicans notably frustrated.

Trump has responded by lambasting the party through his bully-pulpit, Twitter, and at the same time he has been praising his devout supporters who appear to be sticking by him no matter what.

The toxic rhetoric that has propagated the 2016 election thus far will once again come to a head this evening. While the debate may not be as substantive as many would like, one thing will be both incredibly interesting and entertaining: just how will Donald Trump engage with the average American citizen. If we return to the 1992 Presidential debate that featured incumbent George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot, viewers witnessed a masterclass in how to relate to common concerns while appearing professional, intelligible, attentive, and dare I say it, presidential. Bush seemed uninterested and irritable at times, and Perot, well lets face it, he just seemed happy to be there. Check out Bill’s cool performance below.

While Hillary Clinton can appear robotic and cold, she has one quality that Trump doesn’t possess in his political arsenal, empathy (feigned or not, he is a terrible actor). Shane Ross, the current Minister of Transport once referred to Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a political corpse – if Trump doesn’t have a strong showing this evening, he is likely to be atrophied by the Republican Party.

Matthew O’Brien

 

A Divided Left?

A Divided Left?

As Philadelphia prepares to host throngs of Democratic Party delegates for the upcoming Democratic National Convention next month, authorities are gearing up for the inevitable ‘Bernie or Bust’ protestors. This wildly loyal cadre of Sanders’ supporters, most of whom are Independents young and old, are eager to voice their displeasure with the internal processes of the Democratic Party, and their vehement dissatisfaction with the manner in which this primary season has been managed.

Yet, there is always a hope and purpose that through the carnival-esque mechanisms of the convention process, the nominee will emerge and successfully unite the party behind their banner. This incredibly tough challenge falls not only to the presumptive nominee, Hilary Clinton, but also to the yolk of the Democratic Party and those pious super delegates. However, the outcome of disunity and a growing chasm of indifference is often the result. Will it be the same this time?

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Sanders said that he will vote for Clinton in November to stop Trump

In short, no! Yesterday, Bernie Sanders stated that he will vote for Hilary Clinton in November in order to stop the meretricious master of tautology, Trump. Though Sanders’ concession to Clinton is long overdue, one cannot help but get the feeling that the political revolution at the foundation of his incredibly successful campaign will endure in some form.

For Sanders and his millions of dedicated supporters who continue to feel the ‘Bern,’ a revision (and in some cases overhaul) of Democratic electoral processes and procedures is desideratum. Following a meeting of the two Democratic primary candidates this week in Washington DC, the task fell to Hilary Clinton to placate the Sanders’ campaign in the interest of uniting the party and securing a larger voter base this coming Autumn. Both campaigns issued similar statements in the wake of the meeting saying that the candidates and their aids spoke constructively about beating their opponent and ‘progressive ideas.’

 It is no surprise that the Vermont senator has called for the ousting of leadership from the convention committee all the way to the upper echelons of the party. He has been especially critical of DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Floridian Representative, Schultz, was this week replaced by Brandon Davies – a Clinton surrogate. This move likely came as a conciliatory tactic by camp Clinton following comments made by Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, on MSNBC. These overtures were clearly an attempt to placate Sanders’ stoic efforts. Caveat Emptor!

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Hordes of Sanders’ supporters hungry for political revolution and reform

In a Washington Post article that Sanders composed this past Thursday, the obstinate senator laid out his 95 theses that, should we be living in the 1500s, he would nail to the doors of both the Wells Fargo Center and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Sanders consistently and emotively repeats the question, ‘what do we want?’ at the beginning of each new point – appealing to the union and solidarity of his support base. Scansion aside, there is nothing new from Bernie here, yet he makes some incredibly salient points about the flawed criminal justice system and climate change.

If Bernie Sanders can auspiciously carry his brand of revolutionary politics to the convention floor and begin a comprehensive dialogue in a public forum the mollification process may continue. Among the alterations that the senator is lobbying for is the abolition of closed primaries, automatic voter registration, and the monitoring of voting machine software.

Sanders needs to show the Democratic Party that he still holds some of the chips, but will have to temper his approach if he is to garner any substantive gains. On the flip side, Clinton and the Democratic establishment know that the Sanders’ promissory note is a valuable asset and have slowly come around to his $15 an hour minimum wage, ban on fracking, and Wall Street reform. Though, according to a Bloomberg poll published on Wednesday, only 55 percent of Sanders’ supporters said that they would vote for Clinton – proving that the ball is now firmly in the establishment’s court.

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The National Guard were heavily utilised at the DNC in Chicago, 1968

For Democrats, the malaise of the 1968 DNC held in Chicago haunts the party to this very day, as it became a lacerating event that distilled a year of heartbreak, assassinations, riots and a breakdown in law and order. For many American’s, it symbolised the fragility and chaos of the nation. The present environment is equally as delicate and anarchic loaded with pernicious potential. While the issue of unity within the Democratic camp is tenuous, it’s not nearly as tensile as the threads holding the Republican Party together.

Matthew O’Brien

Hillary or Bernie? The Audacity of Change

Hillary or Bernie? The Audacity of Change

Earlier this year, the popular liberal commentators The Young Turks discussed Obama’s ill defined but probable endorsement of Hilary Clinton, suggesting that he perhaps felt stung by the notion that Bernie’s campaign reflected his own one in 2008; for change. While his Presidency has been gratifying in many areas for liberals,  few would argue that it exactly reflected the rhetoric of that glorious, “hope-mongering” (as he once put it) campaign. Simply put, he did not break the political establishment of old. Bi-partisanship has entrenched the country into its greatest division in years. Wall Street still looms malevolently; its regulations tightened but its lesson unlearned or accounted for. Campaign finance, as Sanders would put it, is a “mess” and despite economic recovery, millions are still struggling with poverty. While these issues aren’t wholly the President’s fault, it is interesting to consider The Young Turks’ assertion, especially in light of the struggle between progressive and revolutionary rhetoric being exhibited between Hillary and Bernie.

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In a sense, Hillary truly does stand for progressivism; having championed women’s rights for years and led the effort for an ambitious if unsuccessful health care bill in 1993. There have been hiccups along the way (with her support for same-sex marriage sliding in at a convenient time) but evolution in thought and policy should naturally coincide with progressivism. Many of Clinton’s detractors have argued that she is part of the political elite; a chameleon who adapts to her environment as it changes. That’s true but is it necessarily a bad thing? For all her flaws and that hyena cackle, Clinton’s hardly rebounded and flopped her way to the top the way Mitt Romney has. Rather, she has allowed herself some leg room so that she may face the mercurial world she acknowledges Washington to be. As she said herself, she’s a progressive but one “who likes to get things done.” It worked for good old Bill when the GOP regained the Congress in 1994, could it not work again?

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On the other side of this struggle for the soul of the Democratic party is Sanders; a rogue independent, who wants to drive the party back to the Left it so long ago abandoned. At this point, his nomination seems highly unlikely but the people are nevertheless paying attention because his cause remains relevant. Can America continue to accept a rigged economy? Can America afford to see so many of its citizens unable to afford third level education in a competitive global market? Can America continue on this rightward path that began in 1980? Earlier this year, we here at the Walrus wrote a piece on the “return of the left.” This is very much the revolution Sanders and his supporters want. It’s certainly not politically viable on Capitol Hill, especially with the likes of today’s Republicans but it is a bold step, many would argue, is essential for a modern United States.

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Every now and again, the US will witness an election which changes everything; from the way its politics is conducted to the way it is perceived abroad. In 1860, it was with Lincoln. A hundred years later, it was with the election of John F. Kennedy. In 2008, it was with the first Black President (albeit for a small bit). Other elections are not so dramatic however. Eisenhower, for example, may have resolved the Korean War which dampened Truman’s appeal in the early 1950s but the course America took, economically and in terms of Cold War policy, remained very similar. In the late 1980s, George Bush Sr. faced a rapidly changing world with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but moved into it with care for the populist Reagan vision, whilst acting off of his own more reserved diplomacy. So with Bernie and Hillary, we see two different trajectories for the US; a revolution in rhetoric and a will for progressivism with respect for the past. As Bernie’s appeal continues to soar, we will likely see Hillary’s campaign continue to pay more credence to liberal principles but the revolutionary zeal for which the people beckoned in 2008 will remain in waiting.

Andrew Carolan

 

A Contested Republican National Convention in 2016?

A Contested Republican National Convention in 2016?

It is often said that history repeats itself, and like so many platitudes, this is true most of the time. Yet, while fundamental historical tenets and axioms that govern the discipline rarely change, the context and players certainly do. Let’s apply this to the present situation that is currently facing the Republican Party in the United States and the distinct possibility of a contested Republican National Convention this summer.

The last contested convention took place in August of 1976 and pitted B-star Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan against the establishment curry favourer and incumbent, Gerald Ford. This was the first contested convention since the brokered Democratic National Convention of 1952 in which there were 6 hopefuls vying for the nominations. The 1976 card however had just two Republican runners.

As the convention got under way at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, Ford had amassed a greater number of primary delegates than Reagan, coupled with a plurality in popular vote. This was not enough however to get him to the magic number of pledged delegates needed to secure the nomination. As the convention kicked off in the Show-Me State, Ford and Reagan went on the charm offensive.

The President was able to use his executive prerogative to lure straggling delegates to his side by offering luxuries such as: exclusive flights aboard Air Force One, gourmet dinners in the White House (that were accompanied by wanton firework displays), or executive “favours,” the cornerstone of political leverage, longevity, and legacy.

Among the many bulwarks that Reagan’s managers tried to construct in an attempt to stymie Ford’s lead, was the pursuit of Rule 16-C, which stipulated that convention rules would be changed to require any presidential candidate to name his vice-presidential choice prior to mass ballot. This backfired though when Reagan shocked the nation with liberal Senator, Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania.

Schweiker was rated 89 percent by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, and 47 percent by the American Conservative Union, making him an unattractive choice. The risk taken by Reagan’s staff was injurious to his ambition and the vote on Rule 16-C wasn’t passed. President Ford managed to garner the necessary momentum to rubber-stamp his name on the ballot securing 1187 votes to Reagan’s 1070.

Interestingly, Reagan was viewed as an outsider to the Republican establishment, and was disparaged by many within the party elite – akin to Trump, though lacking the profound animus that Trump garners. Reagan left an indelible mark on the 1976 convention with his humble, extemporaneous closing stump speech that was a clarion call for unity within the party in preparation for the general election. It was at this moment when the charged Republican congregation witnessed the content of the former Californian Governor’s character – there was no equivocation, he would return.

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The Republican National Convention showcasing it’s pageantry in 2012

Many commentators have, in recent weeks, teased out the potential for a contested Republican convention this summer. In fact, it has become a highly popularised suggestion as a method of stopping the rogue Trump machine that seems to be getting more vitriolic and abhorrent by the day.

The last two weeks have been telling with Trump’s loyal troops marching on, propagating his language of hate and raw xenophobia. It is the results over the next few weeks which will contribute towards a degree of certitude on whether the convention will be a formality, or a tilt-a-whirl of political jockeying. This process can be obfuscating and frustrating to unravel and navigate. The confusion that perforates the aura of the process is muddied further by the semantics of the RNC Rulebook. Indeed, some of the rules referenced through the document are contradictory.

To parse the current situation: Trump has 741 delegates, Cruz has 461, and Kasich trails with 145. If Trump can sustain the momentum throughout the duration of the primaries, he may very well hit the desired 1237 delegate count. Traditionally, if this were the case, Trump would secure the Republican presidential nomination following the first count at this year’s RNC much to the party’s chagrin. Though, it is still unclear whether he can do this. The 2016 election cycle has been unprecedented for many reasons, and it seems set to continue in a carnival style of discourse.

While Donald Trump says that he is confident of securing the nomination after the first count, he has suggested that if this doesn’t happen and a contested convention takes place, there will be rioting in Cleveland – an ominous, but predictable portend from the demagogue. It appears that the establishment wing of the Republican Party, through a series of machinations, are doing all they can to downplay the electability of the billionaire bigot.

Curly Haugland, a member of the RNC Rules Committee, stated this past week in an interview with CNBC that the power is in the hands of the delegates, not the voters. He added, “The political parties choose their nominees, not the general public, contrary to popular belief.” Is this a clumsy warning shot of animosity across Trump’s golden bow? It looks that way. This bumbling anti-democratic statement is corroborated by the RNC rulebook, which whimsically states that:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the following be and hereby are adopted as The Rules of the Republican Party, composed of the rules for the election and government of the Republican National Committee until the next national convention…”

As these rules were adopted before the 2016 election cycle, technically like-minded Republican’s could possibly interpret the phrase, “until the next convention,” to suit their agenda by altering the rules to block Trump’s path to the nomination.

Looking at this from the other candidates’ perspectives, Ted Cruz remains confident that he will showcase a strong performance in the remaining primaries reiterating on Monday to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that his was the only campaign to have bested Trump on a number of occasions. Meanwhile, John Kasich remains steadfast in the face of adversity. He reinforced this stance on CNN’s State of Union exclaiming that he is confident in his electability and that he expects the delegates to act seriously and select the right man for the job when the time comes.

Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus could be facing a very divided RNC this coming summer

Chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, commented that the Republicans are “preparing for the possibility” of a convention in Cleveland. Meanwhile Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has downplayed the possibility of a 2016 run for the White House if a contested convention is called. That being said, he has not openly denied this media speculated, Twitter trending, notion. Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner endorsed the current speaker for GOP nominee this past week, though he added further that his comments were off the cuff – good save!

One thing is for sure, the phantasmagoria that is this 2016 Republican primary race is set to get even more nebulous as the convention approaches. It has become apparent that the protectorate of the GOP kernel has realised that Ted Cruz, a man who is not entirely representative of their values, is the lesser of two evils when stacked against Trump. Frankly, the marshaling of ‘establishment’ politicians, Mitt Romney, and now Jeb Bush, may have come too late.

Just like Ford in 1976, the importance of a united front is desiderata in order to mount a successful campaign against either Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the autumn. Should Trump be denied the glory in Cleveland, expect rapture. The Republican loyalists have only themselves to blame.

Matthew O’Brien