Friday, January 8, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Enter Joe Biden

Joe Biden will become president of the United States in a few
days, Almost all Democrats and some Republicans will be
relieved.

Mr. Biden faces formidable challenges. When I first called
attention to his presidential potential in 1985, in a newspaper
editorial, I had no idea it would take 35 years for my
prediction to be realized.

The issues facing the nation in the 1988 campaign are much
different from those now, particularly in domestic tranquility
and foreign policy. The new president has made some
thoughtful cabinet and staff choices. Pandemic vaccines are
now available. The stock market is quite optimistic.
Lockdowns are beginning to ease.

Mr. Biden’s presidential style will be sharply in contrast to
his predecessor’s. So will be most of his policies. His party
very narrowly controls both houses of Congress.

Mr. Biden faces not only a polarized electorate, he is
confronted by his own divided party. He is by nature and
record a liberal centrist, but several loud voices in the
party want to pull him sharply to the left.

A calming, positive voice, and careful and cautious policy
movement might be what the nation needs now as it
emerges from its nightmare pandemic year

A new president is always surrounded by demands and
pressures ---and advocates of all sorts.  Mr. Biden’s own
party leaders and activists --- and an overly allied
establishment media --- gave his predecessor no
“honeymoon” in 2016-17, so he will likely begin his term
without some traditional good will. (Apparently, the
political honeymoon no longer exists.)

Beyond the bitterness of the campaign,and the extreme
contemporary partisanship, the business and well-being
of the nation continues --- and is always the priority.

In that larger sense, there should be hope that the promise
of the then young and unknown senator I first identified
in 1985 will now be fulfilled.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All right reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Elections in 2021

A few of the close elections of 2020 are not quite resolved yet,
but they soon will be. The 2021 election cycle, mostly local
elections, has already begun, and because of the pandemic,
recent urban unrest and violence, it is likely to be far more
interesting and controversial than usual.

Mayors and city council members in urban area across the
nation will now have to face voters and defend their actions
and policies of the past tumultuous months. Most cities are
dominated by Democrats, and will very likely to continue so,
but overall success of incumbents running for re-election,
normally a no-brainer, appears to be in some doubt.

New York City, the nation’s largest, always attracts much
media attention outside its five boroughs, and its mayor is
often a national figure (e.g., Fiorello LaGuardia, John Lindsay,
Ed Koch, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, et al) and
usually served multiple terms. Current Mayor Bill DiBlasio,,
however, has been especially controversial and, his critics say,
inept, Bu he is term-limited and won’t be running for
re-election. The race to succeed him should be among the
moat colorful in 2021..

In other large cities, such as Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland,
St. Louis, Seattle and Minneapolis, municipal elections will
be held. Already, several incumbents who advocated
defunding the police have announced they are not running
for re-election. The mayor of Minneapolis, who did resist
the call to defund, is up for re-election.

Crowded cities have suffered some of the worst in the
pandemic crisis, and it will be interesting to see how their
voters express themselves at the polls in 2021.

Two states will hold elections and elect governors in 2021,
and if and when there are unexpected vacancies in  U.S.
house and senate seats, there will also be special elections
this year.

Normally, an off-year is a respite from noisy electoral
politics. But 2021, like 2020, could well provide surprise and
controversy.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: New Year's Greetings

 The Prairie Editor
WISHES ALL HIS
SUBSCRIBERS
NOT ONLY A HAPPY,
BUT A BETTER
NEW YEAR AS WELL

Sunday, December 27, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Curious Interregnum

The time between a presidential election and a new
administration, especially when there is a change of
political parties, has a special flavor, but the interregnum
of 2020-21 seems to be in a category of its own.

Of course, the extraordinary months of pandemic, lockdown,
quarantine and universal anxiety which immediately
preceded the election were bound to have a great impact,
and they did, but the result has also been complicated by the
unusual character of both the outgoing and incoming
president, and by special circumstances.

Historically, bitter interregna are not unknown in the past
century.  Herbert Hoover was not gracious on March 4, 1933
(thereafter, inauguration day was January 20) while he drove
with Franklin Roosevelt to the swearing-in. Since election
day, 1932, President Hoover had been desperately trying to
avert a total collapse of the U.S.economy and banking system
without FDR’s cooperation.

On January 20, 1961, Richard Nixon, then vice president,
watched the swearing-in of John  Kennedy whom he believed
had stolen their close election a few months before --- and
this was reversed 8 year later on January 20, 1969 when then
Vice President Hubert Humphrey had to watch Nixon’s
swearing-in after their close and tumultuous contest.

On January 20, 2001, Vice President Al Gore looked on as
George W. Bush took the oath after their contested and close
election that was not decided for a month.

Outgoing President Donald Trump now believes his
re-election was stolen, and is minimally cooperating with
his incoming successor Joe Biden who will be the oldest
inaugurated president. The pandemic continues, and its
economic consequences are not fully known. Mr. Trump
has stalled stimulus legislation, asserting it is too little,
and appears at odds with his own U.S. senate majority,
while Mr. Biden faces a deep divide in his own party, and
an unhappiness with some of his cabinet and staff
choices. Before inauguration day, two Georgia senate
run-off elections will determine control of that body.
Democratic control of the U.S. house was significantly
reduced in 2020, as was its influence in many state
elections. Congressional redistricting will soon take place.

All of the above does not take place in an international
vacuum.  Mr. Biden is known to have some very different
views on foreign policy, but Mr. Trump’s recent success
in the Middle East (which has received bipartisan praise)
presents problems for the incoming president’s stated
desire to reinstate the Iran accord cancelled by Mr.
Trump. Issues that vexed his predecessor in Asia (China
and North Korea) and Europe (Russia and Brexit) will
now vex Mr. Biden.

Although the election is over, prior to Mr. Biden’s
inauguration less than a month from now, much remains
unresolved. The holiday season that coincides with most
of the political interregnum period was unlike any other.

By January 20, 2021, more will be clearer, but uncertainties
are in the political forecast well beyond then.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Consequences

The phenomenon of unintended and undesirable consequences
is not only well-known in politics, it is frequently ignored by
political  leaders and strategists seeking short-term advantage.

Decision-makers in both parties and in the media do this,
especially in a political period like we are in now.

Some conspicuous current examples of this are worth noting.

Beginning on election night, 2016, many Democrats attempted
to undo or deligitimitize Donald Trump’s presidential win.
The effort lasted until election day, 2020.  Most of these same
persons are now calling on Republicans to accept and “unify’
behind the presidency of Joe Biden. It in’t going to happen.

I want to make it clear that I am not here judging that the
Democrats were wrong in 2016-20, but I am pointing out that
their behavior was inevitably going to provoke the reaction
now occurring among many Republicans. Nor am I judging
here that those Republicans are right in 2020 that the
presidential election was stolen. Joe Biden, almost certainly
will be sworn in as president on January 20, 2021.

But Mr. Biden, as did Mr. Trump for four years, will almost
certainly face implacable legitimacy questions as he takes
over the executive branch of government.

Reacting to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid’s
heavy-handed dominance of the U.S. senate, and his changing
senate rules to enhance his party’s control, when Republicans
regained control, they used Reid’s precedent to enable the
confirmation of conservative federal judges under new rules
that frustrated the traditional prerogatives of liberal senators.
When Democrats regain clear control sometime in the future,
they might use the GOP precedent to eliminate filibustering,
and thus frustrate a future Republican senate minority. At
the least, they will use the GOP rules to confirm liberal
judges.

In Iowa’s 2nd congressional district election in 2020, the GOP
candidate won by 6 votes (out of more than 300,000 cast.
After some initial recounts failed to reverse the result, but
well before she exhausted her legal remedies, the losing
Democratic candidate announced she would take her case
to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The state of Iowa has now
certified the Republican as the winner. The U.S. constitution
states, however, that each body of Congress has the final
say over its members, and the Democratic-controlled
house could overrule the Iowa certification, and seat the
Democrat. This is very rarely done --- the last time was in
1984 when the Democrats held a much bigger majority than
they do now. (Then, 10 Democrats refused to go along with
their own majority.) But even if Speaker Pelosi does have
the votes to overturn the certified Iowa result, she risks an
almost certain backlash in the next election, as well as
giving Republicans a reasonable precedent for overturning
future close elections.

In 2020, many Democrats went along with the radical call to
defund the police, as well as supported Medicare for All  and
Green New Deal policies advocated by one wing of the party.
But election results show that outside of the large urban
areas, these ideas were unpopular with voters, and cost them
several U.S. house and senate senate seats they might have
won.

Many Democrats and some Republicans wanted so badly to
defeat Donald  Trump in 2020, and they have apparently
succeeded. But the unintended consequences of their success
might not be so pleasant. They are now in charge of a
pandemic-ravaged economy, a quarantine-weary populace, in
a world of hostile global rivals --- with a sizable portion of
U.S. voters doubting their legitimacy as much as they doubted
their predecessor’s.

Are they also rid of Donald Trump? Perhaps. But there might
now be eight more years of his presence instead of only four.

In any event, the nation continues, and for the sake of all, the
hope is that the new president can lead the U.S. successfully
through the many storms ahead.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Special Message To Subscribers

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

HAPPY HANUKKAH!

&  HOLIDAY SEASON GREETINGS!

to all my subscribers from

The Prairie Editor

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Mandate Of 2020

Most of the commentary about the 2020 national elections has
concluded that the voters did not give elected officials a clear
mandate for the next two and four years.

But such conclusions are based on partisan or ideological
premises on both the left and the right.

In fact, based on the actual voting results across the nation, the
majority of state voters expressed the pragmatic and centrist
desire for government to play a sensible and cooperative role
for the remainder of the pandemic crisis. Divided government
is careful moving government, and voters overall sent a signal
that they want no radical lurch to the left or right.

Urban violence, programs to defund the police and plans to
raise taxes contributed to the general down-ballot winning
performance of Republican candidates in 2020, but lack of a
genuine GOP healthcare alternative to Obamacare, seeming
indifference to some environmental issues, and the pandemic
denied conservatives a mandate as they once again lost the
national popular vote.

So-called identity politics, a strategy favored by Democrats,
presumes monolithic voting patterns of ethnic, religious and
labor groups. Its past success was notably not realized in
2020, as meaningful percentages of blacks, Hispanics, Jews
and union members continued leaving the Democratic Party.
If this trend continues, Democrats will lose control of the
U.S. house in 2022.

The mid-term elections of 2022  already loom. They will be
held after reapportionment of congressional districts and the
local elections of 2021. The pandemic, following widespread
vaccination, likely will be over, but its economic and social
aftermath likely will linger. Voters will not reward any party
or any administration which fails to advocate and implement
broad-based policy solutions.

Whoever is in charge faces a daunting, volatile, and
problematic two years ahead.

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Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.