Friday, February 24, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Weekend News Update 3


[UPDATE: February 25, 2017
Tom Perez was elected DNC chair Saturday afternoon
by a 235-200 vote on the second ballot. Mr. Perez had
been only one vote short of a majority in the first ballot.
In his acceptance speech, he designated Congressman
Keith Ellison, the candidate he defeated, to the largely 
ceremonial post of vice chair. Chair Perez now has the
problematic task of uniting the Democratic Party factions 
before the 2018 national mid-term elections.]
National Democrats (DNC) are set to choose a new party
chair as the liberal party heads into the 2018 midterm
elections as a distinct minority opposition to conservative
Republicans on the national and state levels. Several
candidates are in the race, but two figures have dominated
the contest. Congressman Keith Ellison represents the
Minnesota 5th district which is primarily located in the
city of Minneapolis. It is a safe Democratic (DFL) seat, and
Ellison has won re-election easily. He has pledged to resign
his seat if he wins. (A liberal DFLer almost certainly would
replace him in a special election should he resign.) He has
received endorsements from Senator Bernie Sanders and
Senator Elizabeth Warren, leaders of the more radical wing
of the party. Tom Perez is the former secretary of labor
under President Obama, and although also a figure of the
left wing of the party, he has been endorsed by former Vice
President Biden and others from the party’s establishment.
Since it is expected that the DNC election will go to several
ballots, it is possible that, as others drop out, DNC members
might coalesce behind a compromise third candidate. Most
of the candidates have tried to outdo each other to appeal to
the far left of the party. Mr. Ellison has called for the
impeachment of President Trump. Some have noted that the
apparent move to the far left by the party risks antagonizing
independent voters, as has happened in Great Britain. To
reinforce the latter view, two British parliamentary special
elections just took place to replace longtime Labour Party
members. In spite of both being long-time, solid Labour
ridings (districts), one barely re-elected a Labour member
and the other saw an upset defeat of the Labour candidate.

France, Netherlands and Germany (in that order) are
scheduled to hold their national elections in the next few
months. With the European Union (EU) in such disarray
following a series of member nations’ economic turbulence,
and the British (UK) withdrawal from the EU in its recent
Brexit vote, these elections would seem critical to the
survival of the EU itself. This seems especially so because
leading candidates to head two of the EU member nations
(France and Netherlands) are anti-EU establishment critics,
and Chancellor Angela Merkel, once thought to be electorally
invulnerable, is the dominant EU figure on the continent.
The nationalist and populist fervor represented in Brexit and
the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. has been sweeping
most of Europe.


President Donald Trump’s replacement appointment to be his
national security advisor, Lt. General H.T. McMaster, has been
universally praised, even by the president’s political opponents.
Mr. McMaster was selected after the president’s original choice
for the job, Michael Flynn, resigned after only a month in the
job, and following controversies involving his contacts with
foreign governments.


Although Democrats, should they vote in a block, could delay
the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. supreme
court, the political risks of doing so has made such an outcome
more and more unlikely. First, several Democratic senators have
publicly indicated they do not support filibusters (although they
have not necessarily said what they will do in this case). Second,
thanks to the precedent set earlier when Democrats were in
control of the senate, the GOP majority has a proper procedure
for abolishing the filibuster rule, and could not only confirm Mr.
Gorsuch by a simple majority vote, but would have the procedure
in place for any future supreme court rulings. (Senator Ted Cruz
even recently speculated that at least one more vacancy might
occur soon.) Third, although clearly conservative, Mr. Gorsuch
would replace another conservative, and thus not change the
previous balance of the court. The next Trump court appointee
might provoke a bigger battle in the U.S. senate.

Along with Missouri Democratic Secretary of State Julian
Kander, the “Show Me” state seems to be breeding
bipartisan future national political stars. New Republican
Governor Eric Greitens is only 42, was a Rhodes Scholar at
Oxford University, a former Navy Seal, and a successful
author. As both parties look forward to 2020 and 2024,
and potential battles from now on for control of Congress,
they are searching increasingly to their political “benches” for
the younger leaders of the future.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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