Tuesday, August 30, 2022



It seemed only yesterday that the summer of 2022 had

finally arrived with wave after wave of hot weather. But

now autumn is almost here. State Fairs across the

nation just precede the Labor Day holiday — and then

it’s back to school, even more political ads on TV and

radio, last visits to summer cabins and cottages, 

baseball playoff slots come into view, football teams

begin practice, farm harvesting begins, wide-eyed

freshmen and women show up for orientation, and the 

leaves begin to turn.

It seemed to go especially quickly this year! Was it the

aftermath of the pandemic that made it seem so? Or

was it something else? Does a particular age group

feel it more than others? Will autumn go as fleetingly?

As if to remind us that all is not rosy after our collective

ordeal of the past three years, the stock market had a

nosedive day, new pandemic cases appeared, and 

prices are still going up and up and up.

The long view is that all of it is just another historical

cycle, similar to one or more which happened so long

ago we have forgotten them. That’s the long view, but

it is of little comfort, even if true, because it is also

possible that daily life as we have known it in these

past golden years might have indeed truly changed,

taking us into some new territory, perhaps not so


The haste of this past summer now leads us into an

unknown autumn, and perhaps a long winter. After

several millennia of so-called civilization, and 

approaching our numbers to eight billions, it seems

unsettling that so many of us are still caught up in

deprivation, hostility and suffering in spite of all our

extraordinary technologies and scientific advances.

Everywhere the certainties and assurance most of

us grew up with are called into question. The leaves,

of course, will turn, but what about the human

patterns? How many children will go back to school?

Are colleges and universities worth attending? Will

downtown offices revive? Will goods and services

be available? Is it safe to be in a crowd? And so on.

And so on.

Spring and autumn are the most congenial seasons,

although Nature has a few tricks to play on us in even

these two intervals between the hot and freezing 

seasons in the temperate zones.

Two of the oldest and closest allies of the U.S., Great 

Britain and Israel, will choose new leaders before 

winter comes, and right after that, Americans will go to

the polls to decide a very important future political   


Perhaps the haste of the summer of 2022 has only

been an impatience, a restlessness, with so much of

what we have recently endured, with so much we

have to do.

Perhaps it something else.

Next spring seems so far away.


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 5, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Intraparty Factions Rising

The two major parties, each always containing rival

factions, are currently more significantly divided than

usual, and potentially losing individual elections at all 

levels because of these hyper-intraparty ideological

and personal conflicts.

It is no secret that the distance between the two parties

themselves seems magnified on issues, rhetoric and

personalities — and this has confounded those who

observe and analyze U.S. politics and elections as the

nation heads into the 2022 mid-term voting cycle that

will conclude in November.

Political polling has established a certain conventional

wisdom that a Republican (red) wave is likely in the 

mid-term voting. There is no doubt about President

Joe Biden’s unfavorabllity, and the dissatisfaction

with the direction the nation is taking, especially in its

economy, but the intraparty factions in states and

regions are making some gubernatorial, and U.S.

house and senate races too opaque and unsettled 

for conventional analysis.

A case in point is the U.S. senate race in Missouri.

Donald Trump carried this state by double digits in

both 2016 and 2020. It has become heavily GOP

in statewide elections.  But controversy befell a

recent Republican governor who in 2018 had to

resign. This year, in an attempt for a comeback, that

politician ran for an open U.S. senate seat resulting

from Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s decision to

retire. At least two other well-known GOP figures 

also ran in the party’s primary just concluded, and

one of them, state Attorney General Eric Schmidt,

won the primary, and will be on the November 

ballot against self-funder Democrat Trudy Busch 

Valentine who won her primary. Republicans who 

thought the controversial former governor being 

on the ballot might give Democrats a pick-up 

senate seat breathed an initial sigh of relief. 

However, former Missouri GOP Senator John

Danforth belongs to the moderate anti-Trump wing

of his party in the state, and reportedly is funding 

with millions of dollars from his personal wealth

the independent candidacy of John Wood, once

Liz Cheney’s lawyer on the January 6th hearings,

who says, if elected, he will caucus with the

Republicans in the U.S. senate. He probably can’t

win, but he could well draw enough voters from the

GOP nominee to give the election to the Democrat.

Danforth and Wood say they are in the race to win,

but that seems disingenuous considering Missouri

voting patterns. Knowing Wood would caucus with

the Republicans precludes any meaningful votes

from Missouri Democrats. Safe Republican could 

become a toss-up in Missouri.

Other cases in point are more self-inflicted. In the

key state of Pennsylvania, which Biden carried

narrowly in 2020, the state had been going red

following Biden’s anti-coal, anti-fracking and 

anti-pipeline energy policies which impacted so

negatively on so many state workers and families.

But state Republicans lacked a strong gubernatorial

candidate, and a celebrity out-of-state physician,

Mehmet Oz, narrowly defeated a potentially stronger 

candidate in the open U.S. senate race, created 

when GOP incumbent Senator Pat Toomey retired. 

The Republican nominee for governor is associated

with politics further right than many Pennsylvania

voters, but he received, as did Dr. Oz, Donald

Trump’s endorsement. Post-primary polling now has

both GOP nominees trailing their Democratic 

opponents by about 10 points. Earlier in this cycle,

Pennsylvania had been rated Lean Republican.

Democrats, divided into liberal and more radical

factions, have seen several long-time U.S. house

members challenged from the party’s left, and in 

some cases actually ousting their own incumbents

with more radical figures who could lose otherwise

safe Democratic seats in November. A case in point

is Oregon Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader

who was defeated in a recent primary by progressive

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and the race in November 

could now be a toss-up. Other incumbent Democrats

from super-safe districts, especially in New York, are

being challenged from their left, and might lose their

primaries, but the seats will remain Democratic no

matter who wins. What does matter in such cases if

the radical challenger succeeds is the further drift to

the ideological left of the liberal party, giving GOP

candidates in other districts a useful target. A case

of this is far left Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of

Minnesota’s 5th district (Minneapolis) who wins in

her urban area, but whom GOP congressional

candidates in other districts of the state cite as an

extremist figure emblematic of her party. This cycle,

as in 2020, she has a serious and well-funded

moderate liberal opponent, Don Samuels, in her

DFL primary, but he has an uphill challenge.

Redistricting following the 2020 census has also

put incumbent members of Congress from the same

party running against each other in  newly-drawn

districts. Several incumbents of both parties have 

been involuntarily retired in primary losses so far this

year, and the races usually have been decided on the 

basis of which wing of their party they espouse. 


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.