State Legislatures

The Growing Danger Of 2018 And 2020 Elections Being Hacked By Russians And Others With Technological Expertise

It is now clear as the New Year of 2018 begins that America is endangered by the strong likelihood that the midterm Congressional Elections of 2018 and the Presidential Election of 2020 could be subjected to the kind of illegal activities clearly engaged in by Russians, who helped to fix the election results in many states in 2016.

It seems, based on public opinion polls, that the Democrats are heavily favored to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2018, and have a good chance to gain the two seats needed to have control of the US Senate as well.

Also, in many states, the Democrats, at this point, are favored to gain control of Governorships and state legislatures in 2018, an important step toward having an edge in reapportionment of seats in the state legislatures, and in the House of Representatives, after the National Census is conducted in April 2020, affecting the political balance in the entire upcoming decade.

It is not even just Russians, but in theory, with technological expertise, hackers from many unfriendly nations, including China, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and others, could manipulate and undermine our American democracy.

Our best technological experts have a massive job ahead of them, and it is clear that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are not actively involved in insuring fair elections for either 2018 or 2020, and that Trump will do anything to regain power for another four years, if somehow, he is able to overcome the charges mounting against him.

Trump has no ethics, morals, or scruples, and his party has been willing to go along with him, with only a few rare exceptions of members in both houses of Congress willing to defy him in his lust for absolute power, and the breakdown of the whole American democratic system.

The White, Educated, Republican Suburbs Moving Toward Democratic Party In Age Of Donald Trump

Early signs are that the white, educated Republican suburbs are moving toward the Democratic Party in the age of Donald Trump.

If one goes by the elections in New Jersey, Virginia, and now Alabama, that seems the beginning of a trend.

The Democrats need to pursue this, rather than just attack Donald Trump.

They need to emphasize job growth, education, health care, and the dangers to our national security represented by the “bromance” between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, what seems like Russian Collusion.

They need to show that they have a positive program of change, and rally people around the harm to our environment and consumer protection by the Trump Presidency, as well as the harm done with unqualified judicial appointments, and in our diplomacy with other nations.

If the Democrats work to offer alternatives and point out common goals for people of all races, and both genders, they can win the majority in both houses of the Congress, in many state legislatures, and in the gubernatorial races coming up in November 2018.

Time To Move Against Electoral College Distorting Popular Vote, Through National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Agreement

The issue of the Electoral College having failed to elect the popular vote winner of the Presidency for a total of five times now, and twice in the last 16 years, continues to plague us, particularly when the present incumbent of the White House lost the popular vote by the biggest margin yet, 2.85 million votes.

There is no other political election in America where the person with the most popular votes is not the winner of the election.

The Founding Fathers might have seen the Electoral College as a necessary bulwark against mass popular control at the time, but once we began having popular votes in the 1824 Presidential election, it was an advancement of democracy, and the idea that a popular vote loser would win the Presidency was appalling.

It happened in 1824 in a four person race, but then, it occurred in 1876 with a two person race, and then in 1888, again with a two person race.

Since it did not happen again for more than a century, it was assumed to be flukes that would not happen again, and over the years of my teaching career, I was often asked whether it would happen again, and I responded, that while it could happen, it was highly unlikely that it would.

And then came the Presidential Election of 2000, where George W. Bush won with Supreme Court intervention stopping the recount in the state of Florida, winning that state over Al Gore by 537 votes out of six million cast, and therefore barely winning the Electoral College, despite a 540,000 popular vote lead nationally of Al Gore.

In 2016, the situation was even worse, as Donald Trump won by very small margins in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton nationally by 2.85 million popular votes, so five and a half times the popular vote lead for Clinton over Trump as compared to Gore over Bush in 2000, but Trump winning the Electoral College, but only 12 national elections with a smaller electoral vote majority out of a total number of 58 national elections.

The problem is trying to end the Electoral College by constitutional amendment is dead upon arrival, as it requires a two thirds vote of the House of Representatives and a two thirds vote of the Senate, followed by a majority vote in both houses of state legislatures (except in the one house of Nebraska) in three fourths of the states (38 out of 50). Clearly, that will never happen, particularly with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and four of the five times that the Electoral College failed, the ultimate winner was a Republican, and the loser each time was a Democrat.

But the alternative is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Agreement, developed in recent years, with 10 states and Washington DC with 165 electoral votes agreeing by legislation that they would support the popular vote winner nationally, instructing their electors to do so. The problem is that the 10 states and DC are clearly, at this point, Democratic or “Blue” states—California, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington State.

Once states with 105 additional electoral votes agree to pass such legislation, it would go into effect, but that is the more difficult matter. At this point, 12 states with 96 electoral votes have had one house of the state legislature agree to such a law—Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma,and Oregon. Also, two other states have had committees in the state legislature approve it unanimously, with these two states—Georgia and Missouri—having 27 additional electoral votes.

So if all these states that have taken partial action completed the process in the next few years, we would have 24 states and DC, with a majority of the total popular vote and population, being capable of awarding the Presidency to the winner of the national popular vote, and this would end the idea of a popular vote loser becoming President.

Republican reliable states—Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Missouri—are part of this group, but the question is whether they will take the steps to put it into effect.

While there is no certainty this will ever happen, there is optimism that it will eventually occur, as otherwise, the possibility of a return of 2000 and 2016 is highly likely in the future, and not just once.

If this were to occur, it would promote a truly national Presidential campaign, instead of the present focus in recent decades on 12-15 states, and ignoring the clear cut “Blue” and “Red” states in favor of the “Purple” or “Swing” states alone.

Three Essential Victories–Virginia And New Jersey Governorships And Alabama Senate Race

Ralph Northam in Virginia.

Phil Murphy in New Jersey.

Doug Jones in Alabama.

These are three elections that need to happen, to move the Democratic Party forward in state governments and in the US Senate.

Beyond these three leaders, the emphasis must be to recruit candidates who can take House seats from the Republicans and win state legislative seats in 2018, in addition to the Senate and gubernatorial races next year.

But the first step is to make sure Virginia stays Democratic in the Governorship; that New Jersey go Democratic for Governor; and that Roy Moore, a horrific Senate nominee, be stopped by Doug Jones, a good, decent man, and give the Democrats their 49th seat in the US Senate.

If they can win that seat, and take the Nevada Senate seat of Dean Heller and the Arizona Senate seat of Jeff Flake and the Tennessee Senate seat of Bob Corker, who is not running for reelection in 2018, and somehow keep all their present seats (a tall order) the Democrats could control the Senate and have 52 seats, precisely what the Republicans have right now.

Politics is psychological, and these victories are essential if we are to work to change the equation in the states and in Congress!

The Urgency Of The Democratic Party Taking Back The House Of Representatives, And State Governorships And Legislatures In 2018

Jon Ossoff, the Democratic front runner in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia (Atlanta suburbs), fell just short of the 50 percent needed to win that seat in the House of Representatives, and avoid a runoff.

Now he will face Republican Karen Handel on June 20, and it will be more difficult to gain the seat, a traditionally GOP district in the past 38 years since Newt Gingrich won the seat in 1979, followed up by Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary, who vacated the seat to become part of Donald Trump’s cabinet.

One can be assured massive amounts of money will be spent on both sides of this race, which, if Ossoff wins, would be a major blow to Donald Trump and his agenda.

The 24 point swing in Kansas’s special election for the House, and now the 10 point swing in Georgia, in the first round, are signs that the Democrats COULD regain the majority in the House of Representatives in 2018, after eight years in the “wilderness”.

It is simply a sign of the reality that the Democratic Party, at a low point, having lost so many seats in both houses of Congress in the Barack Obama era, along with governorships and state legislatures, have the urgency to work very hard to start their revival.

The average number of seats gained by the “out” party in the midterm elections is 23 in the House of Representatives, and right now, the Democrats need 24 seats to regain control, so it is within potential gains that one might expect.

The US Senate will be nearly impossible to win seats, however, as only 8 Republicans are up for reelection in 2018, as against 25 Democrats.

Looking at the GOP held seats, the only possible gains, and not easily, might be Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, and Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada. The only other possible hope would be if somehow Ted Cruz could be unseated in Texas, but that is highly unlikely. So at this point, the most that could be expected is a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence able to use his vote in a tied Senate.

One must realize that while many of the 25 Democratic seats are seen as safe, a large number are not so, including Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Note that Heitkamp, Manchin, and Donnelly tried to protect their flank by voting for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but McCaskill, Tester, Nelson and Casey did not do so.

But beyond Congress, it is urgent that state governorships be gained, as well as control of more state legislatures, all in planning for the next census of 2020 and the redistricting of House seats and state legislative seats that will come after 2020, with the evil reality of gerrymandering affecting the next decade.

Democrats’ Dilemma: Weaknesses In State Legislatures, Governorships, US House Of Representatives, And US Senate–A Party In Trouble!

The record shows that 900 Legislative seats were lost by the Democratic Party in the past 8 years under Barack Obama. The Democrats are at a low point, with control of only 15 Governorships and 13 state legislatures in both houses, and they face the crisis to defend 25 of 33 Senate races in 2018, and somehow gain at least three more to become the majority, all of which seems highly unlikely. Also, the Democrats only gained six seats in the House of Representatives, so would need 24 seats to gain control in 2018.

Before the surprising results of the Presidential Election of 2016, it looked as if the Democrats had a bright future nationally, but now it seems just the opposite, unless and until, somehow, rural and working class whites are drawn once again to the Democratic Party.

So the question arises if it is time for a change in House leadership from veterans that have been there for many years and are all over 70, including Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn, to younger leadership from states that are important battlegrounds.

Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who is 43, is trying to replace Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader in the House, and after 14 years of Pelosi leadership, and six years out of the majority and counting, it seems wise to make the change, but it seems unlikely to happen.

Disturbing Statistics On The Midterm Elections Of 2014: The Battle Cry For Progressives And Democrats!

Despite the economic improvements under Barack Obama and the obstructionism of the Republican Party for four years, the GOP won control of both houses of Congress, and reelected many Tea Party Governors, who by all sane judgements, should have been defeated.

Beyond that, 30 state legislatures now are controlled by the Republican Party; two thirds of state legislators nationally are Republicans; 31 states have Republican Governors; and the Republicans have a greater number of seats in the House of Representatives than they have had since 1928, when Herbert Hoover was elected, soon to be followed by the Great Depression.

And the percentage of voters participating was the lowest in any midterm election since 1942, in the midst of World War II, only about a third of the voting electorate.

This midterm was dominated by people over 45, and particularly over 65, who were heavily white and registered Republican, while traditional Democratic voting groups–African Americans, Latinos, women, those under 45, and those supportive of labor rights and the environment—stayed home in large numbers, not realizing the importance of voting.

If left to their own desires, the Republican Party, the Tea Party Movement, and the conservative think tanks and talk show hosts, would now set about to impeach President Obama (even though there is no chance of his removal by a two thirds vote of the US Senate); repeal ObamaCare; repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; prevent any action on climate change; further destroy the labor unions that remain viable; continue to promote voter suppression which assisted the GOP victory; continue to allow the Koch Brothers and other reactionary billionaire and millionaire domination of campaign expenditures; fight to undermine feminism and civil rights enforcement; work against immigration reform; reverse the movement toward gay marriage and gay and lesbian equality under the law; and become engaged in multiple overseas wars that benefit powerful corporations and defense industries.

Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and we are more like the Gilded Age and the 1920s domestically, but with the addition of the war industries that have our young men and women, many of them from poor families, who are utilized as cannon fodder for war profits, and then mistreated as veterans in years after their war service!

Is this the kind of America that the majority of this nation want? If it is, they will get what they deserve. But there is a sneaking suspicion that this will, hopefully, motivate the vast two thirds of the population who did not vote, to rise up and participate in insuring, for the short run, resistance to the GOP agenda, and longer term, to insure a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President are elected in 2016!

The Coming War On The 17th Amendment By Conservatives!

The right wing in America has a planned strategy to conduct war on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the greatest of all amendments added since the first ten were enacted as the Bill of Rights!

The 17th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1913, came as the outgrowth of the Progressive Era, and occurred at its peak, the vigorous campaign for progressive reform promoted by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the Presidential Election of 1912. It was also endorsed by the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who had elements of progressivism in him despite his general reputation as a conservative, which led to his disastrous third place finish in 1912, despite being the Republican nominee.

The 17th Amendment developed in reaction to “muckraker” David Graham Phillips’ path breaking non fiction exposure, “THE TREASON OF THE SENATE”, which demonstrated the corruption of the US Senate, and its leading figure, Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, and led to direct popular election of the US Senate from 1913 onward.

One could argue that even with popular vote, the US Senate often disappoints us, and there are Senators who are an embarrassment and a disgrace to that legislative body.

But now, conservatives are promoting the idea of the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning us to the method in the Constitution adopted in 1787, to have the often corrupt state legislatures choose the Senators, and deny the population the popular vote involvement in selecting the members of the upper body of Congress.

The theory has developed that all the laws passed to promote political, social and economic reform since 1913, including the massive reforms of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and all other Presidents might be repealed as illegitimate if the Senate method of election returned to the pre 1913 system.

This is an alarming development, and joined with the desire to get rid of the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) and the 19th Amendment (woman suffrage), all of these “Progressive” amendments, could, if enacted take us back to the 19th century Gilded Age!

Republican Governors And Potential Presidential Candidates Falling Like Flies In Political Corruption Indictments

It is amazing to watch as Republican Governors, interested in running for President in 2016, are falling like flies in political corruption indictments!

First, we had former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Then, we had New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Next, we had Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

And now, news comes of the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

These Governors and one former Governor are all despicable in their public records, and it could not happen to a better group of politicians, than to see these Governors destroyed by the political scandals and corruption surrounding them.

These Governors prove that the concept that state government, and being Governors, makes them better qualified for national office, is a myth.

The more one studies state governments across the nation, including the state legislatures, the more one realized that no matter how much we complain about national government, overall, it does a far better job with far less corruption than state governments!

Conservatives and Republicans love to promote the idea of state and local governments as being “better” and more representative of the population they serve, but the truth shows, both historically and in the present, that national government is far better in results and ethics, even though there is plenty of room for improvement!

Conservative Right Wing Attack On The Constitution: The Threat Of Another Constitutional Convention Wiping Out Constitutional Amendments!

The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution, admitting in the process that there would always be room for improvements, so made clear that amendments were appropriate over time.

So we have had 27 Amendments, including the first ten that make up the Bill of Rights.

When one looks at the amendments, particularly those that came after the Bill of Rights, one realizes that the vast majority of them were “progressive” in tone, designed to expand democracy in America, or else, amendments dealing with the office of the Presidency.

So the “progressive” amendments included the 13th (ending slavery and involuntary servitude); the 14th (promoting due process and equal protection and making African Americans citizens); the 15th (guaranteeing the right to vote for African Americans and others which had been denied that right); the 16th (providing for a federal income tax to raise revenue to deal with mounting social and economic issues); the 17th (granting the people the right to elect their two United States Senators by popular vote); the 19th (guaranteeing women the right to vote); the 23rd (guaranteeing residents of Washington, DC the right to vote); the 24th (preventing a poll tax for voting); and the 26th (guaranteeing young people 18-21 the right to vote).

So nine of the seventeen amendments after the first ten of the Bill of Rights promote progressive change, while the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 25th deal with the office of the Presidency.

The only amendment that was ever passed to limit the freedom of Americans was the 18th (prohibition of liquor), but later repealed by the 21st Amendment.

Now we have the real threat by right wing conservatives, including the Tea Party Movement, who want a new Constitutional Convention to wipe out these “progressive” amendments!

They do not like voting rights for African Americans, other minorities, women, residents of Washington DC (mostly African Americans) and young people; and they are unhappy that African Americans are considered equal under the law, and if they had the ability to do so, they would love to re-enslave poor people, which by corporate power is occurring in an informal way for many minorities, as well as white lower class people struggling every day to survive!

And they wish they could restore the US Senate elections to the corrupt state legislatures, taking away the popular vote. Finally, they hate the federal income tax, even though many of them avoid substantial taxation by having investments, rather than working for a living like most of us do. So they would prefer a sales tax, which is regressive, and would hurt the middle class and the poor much more than the wealthy elite!

But that is exactly the extremist right wing intention—to restore the “good old days” when they were in charge, and everyone had to kowtow to them!

We must not allow such a threat to develop, so the battle for progressivism is never ending, as a result!