Thursday, May 23, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Boomerang Politics

tt has been a cycle of boomerang politics in which both

major parties have attempted to employ questionable

strategies that not only defied tradition (and good sense)

but brought net negative results.

What drove the parties to these self-destructive tactics

was an exceptional and bitter partisanship, especially

at the national level, that saw bipartisanship, civility

and compromise virtually vanish and see in their place

questionable pseudo-clever political gambits which led 

to unexpected and embarrassing consequences.

On the Republican side, a very small clique of members 

of the House of Representatives took advantage of an

ill-conceived rule made following the GOP narrow new

majority won in the 2022 mid-term elections. That rule 

enabled a tiny faction pf caucus members to make a

motion to vacate the position of speaker of the House,

and Kevin McCarthy agreed to it to gain the speakership

in 2023. If he thought the small number of dissident

members of his GOP caucus would not take advantage 

of the rule, he was very much mistaken, and when he

tried to compromise on pending legislation, he lost his

job when a small number of fellow Republicans used

the rule to oust him. After a bitter contest, Mike Johnson 

won the speakership, but left the rule in place, The 

result has been a dysfunctional session, and another

attempt to use the vacate rule. Maverick Republicans

ignored the fact that Democrats controlled the U.S.

Senate and the White House, and only hurt themselves

and their party in defeating their own House speaker.

On the Democrats’ side, a bitter obsession to prevent

a Donald Trump comeback has led to results opposite

to their intentions. First, employing an obscure and

ambiguous constitutional clause, several states with

Democrat secretaries of state attempted to remove Mr.

Trump from their state presidential ballots. When

appealed to the U.S. supreme court, it was disallowed

by a unanimous 9-0 decision. But it apparently provoked 

the GOP Ohio secretary of state to point out that  a

non-ambiguous line in that state’s constitution required

a political party to certify their presidential nominee

90 days before election day, and that the Democrat’s

nominating convention had been scheduled 80 days

before the election. If the  Democrats didn’t change 

their convention date, or the GOP-controlled legislature

didn’t hange the Ohio constitution, Mr. Biden could not

appear on the 2024 state ballot.This has so far not been

resolved,, but is an embarrassing boomerang .

An even bigger attempt to derail Mr. Trump has been a

massive so-called “lawfare” strategy to indict and

convict the former president in four trials for various 

alleged crimes. The intention was to ruin his standing 

with voters, but so far this has had the opposite effect.

Mr. Trump, unlike Mr. Biden, had several serious

rivals for the GOP nomination at the outset of the

2024 campaign. But the indictments had the effect of

reviving Mr, Trump not only with his voter base, but

with many Republicans who wanted a different

choice this November. The nakedly political nature of

the indictments not only produced sympathy for what 

seemed by many as persecution, but also gave the 

former president a free daily soapbox to air his views.

His GOP opponents could not, faced with this, ignite

their campaigns, and Trump easily won the primaries.

Despite polls which indicate a large number of voters

would not vote for Mr. Trump in November if he were

convicted of any charges, tt now seems such an

outcome might not happen. Putting him in jail would

more likely make him a political martyr, and might

guarantee his election in November.

The Democrats’ establishment also made it virtually

impossible for any serious figures in their party to

challenge Mr. Biden in the party’s primaries. One

member of Congress, Dean Phillips, who did run was

quickly isolated, did poorly, and ultimately had his

promising political career ruined. Mr. Biden has won 

enough delegates to win his party’s nomination in

August, but has continued to decline in the polls —

now alarming many down-ballot campaigns that his

possible landslide loss in November could doom their


Both major parties have indulged in self-defeating

tactics which have produced unwelcome results. How

these will impact the final results in November is

unclear, but it has made predicting what voters will

decide even more difficult than ever,


Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: What Does The Center Hold?

The two major political parties are in the process of

eliminating ideological diversity among their own

elected officials, and this is becoming a self-defeating

factor in today’s national politics.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S. Senate

where only a few years ago both parties had major

figures who held differing views, especially on social

issues such as abortion and guns.

This diversity promoted civility and good faith discussion

between the two parties, and made possible negotiation

and compromises which resulted in the passage of a wide

range of legislation.

Civility, negotiation and compromise hardly exists today

in the Congress, and among senators in particular.

The few “moderate” Democrats and Republicans in the

Senate today are about to be even fewer in number.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Senator Kyrstin 

 of Arizona, and Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, each 

original Democrats, and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah,

a Republican, are retiring. Each of them will likely be

replaced with someone of the other party or someone

more ideological of their party.

This leaves almost no true moderates among Democrats,

and only Senator Susan Colline of Maine and Senator

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as the only true moderates

among Republicans,, One independent, Senator Angus 

King of Maine is also a moderate. (A number of other

senators like to label themselves as moderate or

bipartisan, but rarely actually vote outside their party


Only one moderate in either party is running for the

Senate this cycle —- former Maryland Governor Larry

Hogan of Maryland, a Republican. His state votes

overwhelmingly Democrat, but Hogan was a very

popular governor, GOP senate campaign chair,

Senator Steve Daines of Montana was smart enough

to recruit Hogan, and head off criticism of him by

conservatives. Hogan now has a double digit lead

in a state in which the Democrat nominee for

president will likely carry by 30 points!.

In fact it was Democrat Mike Mansfield, the senate

majority leader from Montana, who last led a senate

(1961-77) with many moderates on both sides, and

was known for his bipartisanship.

With public opinion holding Congress in low regard.

the deep partisan divide of many party officials and

activists —- and the lack of legislative accomplishment

--- can be cited as a major cause of congressional


But progressive Democrats and conservative 

Republicans are locked into an historic confrontation

in the 2024 national election cycle with its controversial

putative presidential nominees. There seems to be little

space in such a political environment for moderation,

compromise and civility.


Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved