The Caucus-Primary System In The Future Needs To Be Reformed

The Caucus-Primary system for Presidential elections needs to be reformed, as it is clear that having Iowa and New Hampshire go first, with both being totally lacking in diversity, is not a system for the long term.

The argument could be that California and Texas should go first, as they are very diverse and together have about 20 percent of the national population.

Add states such as Wisconsin and Virginia, and that would be a good start toward a system that would be much more amenable to the promotion of racial and ethnic diversity in a nation that will be majority non white in a generation. Therefore, it would be more reflective of reality, and allow minority candidates a better chance to survival in the process.

It is sad that Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and Cory Booker have been forced out of the Presidential race for the Democrats, due to lack of financial support. Hopefully, the future can be different.

18 comments on “The Caucus-Primary System In The Future Needs To Be Reformed

  1. Princess Leia January 14, 2020 8:35 am

    Agreed. Suggestions on fixing our primary system…

    1. End first-in-the-nation primary status of small, overwhelmingly white states. 90% of New Hampshire’s 1.4 million population and 85% of the 3.1 million people in Iowa are non-Hispanic white. The only whiter state Democrats could pick is Vermont. This is insane. States with larger, more representative Democratic voters should lead the primary. States in the south and elsewhere with large black populations should lead, and states like Nevada, Texas, and California should be voting before the whitest of white states.

    2. Eliminate caucuses. As we have discussed during the previous primary, caucuses are the most undemocratic way to be choosing a Democratic candidate. With the exception of Hawaii and Nevada, all caucus states have a majority white Democratic electorate, and caucuses require people to show up in person for extended periods of time of at schedules difficult for working people (who are disproportionately people of color). We cannot be the party that complains about the Electoral College nullifying the popular vote and about voter suppression of the Republican party while we incorporate a racist, antidemocratic voting system as part of the process for choosing our nominee. All states should vote in the primary by secret ballot.

    3. Require all candidates who run to contribute a large part (50% would be my choice) of their campaign funds to a common DNC primary fund and distribute this fund to qualifying candidates who have a fundraising disadvantage. This should apply to self-funding candidates as well. As we have shown here at TPV, the campaign donation universe – especially the individual donor pot – is a very small sliver of the American public, made up overwhelmingly by men and to a smaller degree white women, and by design disadvantages candidates of color and those who draw the most support from voters of color.

  2. D January 14, 2020 4:40 pm

    [The following includes more than one video which I cannot post here.]

    * * * * *

    ‘Fact Check: Joe Biden Has Advocated Cutting Social Security for 40 Years’

    By Ryan Grim (01.13.2020)

    As early as 1984 and as recently as 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden called for cuts to Social Security in the name of saving the program and balancing the federal budget. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted Biden’s record on Social Security in prosecuting the case that Biden isn’t the most electable candidate. The issue could be raised again in Tuesday night’s debate.

    After a Sanders campaign newsletter continued the attack on Biden’s Social Security record, the Biden campaign complained to fact-checkers at Politifact that his comments were being taken out of context. Placed in context, however, Biden’s record on Social Security is far worse than one offhand remark. Indeed, Biden has been advocating for cuts to Social Security for roughly 40 years.

    And after a Republican wave swept Congress in 1994, Biden’s support for cutting Social Security, and his general advocacy for budget austerity, made him a leading combatant in the centrist-wing battle against the party’s retreating liberals in the 1980s and ’90s.

    “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,” he told the Senate in 1995. “I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.” (A freeze would have reduced the amount that would be paid out, cutting the program’s benefit.)

    “The truth is the last election did one thing,” Biden continued. “I do not know whether it really made you guys a majority party for long. I do not know. We will find out. I know one thing it did. What it did was it made sure that there was nobody left on the left in my party who, in fact, said we do not care about moving the budget toward balance.”

    What Biden was expressing was a common sentiment among the centrist faction of the party in the 1980s and ’90s — the belief that old tax-and-spend liberals were out, and that a type of “New Democrat” was needed, one who understood the necessity of fiscal restraint. Cutting spending was the only way, he argued, to salvage what was left of the Great Society and New Deal. The mentality of Biden-style Democrats — that the best the party could do was play defense — was dominant for a generation; it’s now being fundamentally challenged not just in the presidential campaign but in congressional primaries across the country.

    Biden himself, at least on his campaign website, now supports making Social Security more generous, not less. But that’s at odds with decades of his own advocacy, a record that could become a major political liability among voters concerned Biden will finally get his wish to trim back Social Security checks. Because about half of black seniors on Social Security rely on it as their primary means of support, any trimming of the program hits those beneficiaries particularly hard.

    Over the years, Biden, in speeches and interviews, has often taken pains to let listeners know that he’s taking an unpopular stance, being explicit about the risk he knows he’s taking.

    “One of the things my political advisers say to me, is, whoa, don’t touch that third rail,” Biden told Tim Russert on “Meet the Press,” while running for president in 2007.

    With this year’s presidential contest being fought over the terrain of electability, Biden’s 35-plus-year effort to cut Social Security, arguably the most popular government program in existence, is potentially a major liability among older voters — and hypocrisy has never held Trump back from making an effective political attack. Biden’s historical position also stands in stark contrast to Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom support increasing benefits and have offered ways to make the program solvent indefinitely.

    “As Bernie Sanders himself said in 2015 — after all of these quotes — ‘Joe Biden is a man who has devoted his entire life to public service and to the wellbeing of working families and the middle class,’” said Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Biden.

    Biden’s fixation on cutting Social Security dates back to the Reagan era. One of Ronald Reagan’s first major moves as president was to implement a mammoth tax cut, tilted toward the wealthy, and to increase defense spending. Biden, a Delaware senator at the time, supported both moves. The heightened spending and reduced revenue focused public attention on the debt and deficit, giving fuel to a push for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

    In the midst of that debate, Biden teamed up with Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley to call for a freeze on federal spending, and insisted on including Social Security in that freeze, even as the Reagan administration fought to protect the program from cuts. It was part of the Democratic approach at the time not just to match Republicans, but to get to their right at times as well, as Biden also did on criminal justice policy.

    “So, when those of my friends in the Democratic and Republican Party say to me, ‘How do you expect me to vote for your proposal? Does it not freeze Social Security COLAs for one year? Are we not saying there will be no cost-of-living increases for one year?’ The answer to that is ‘Yes, that is what I am saying,’” Biden said in a Senate floor speech in April 1984, referring to the adjustment that millions of seniors look for every year.

    Biden was facing reelection to the Senate in 1984, which was shaping up to be a heavily Republican cycle, and continued returning to the issue of Social Security.

    His plan with Grassley was backed, the New York Times reported in May 1984, by a bevy of business trade groups, “including the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Business Executives for National Security and the National Association of Manufacturers.”

    The Biden-Grassley plan was ultimately rejected, but Biden never wavered on it, arguing in 1988 that had he been able to cut Social Security, he’d have been able to save other social programs and force Republicans to cut defense spending.

    “I introduced an amendment, notwithstanding my quote liberal credentials, of freezing the federal budget, absolute freeze,” Biden boasted. “I did it for a simple reason: I sat on the Budget Committee for 11 years. And I’d find the same thing occur every time. We’d start off with grandiose ideas of how we’re going to cut the budget. We would never touch entitlements, we would never touch the defense budget, and we couldn’t touch the interest on the debt. Which meant that out of a trillion-dollar budget, that left us only $156 billion And what we would do each year is we would go out and cut out education, food stamps, Head Start, [welfare] payments, on down the line, everything that I cared about got cut, because at the very end, we’d say, ‘Well, we’ve gotta make some cuts.’ And that would be the path of least resistance.”

    That political approach — that by ceding to Republicans, they will respond by compromising in return — has been thoroughly discredited by the last 40 years of events, though it remains the animating argument of Biden’s campaign.

    In November 1995, he again reminded the public of his deficit hawkery. “I am a Democrat that voted for the constitutional amendment to balance the budget. I have introduced on four occasions — four occasions — entire plans to balance a budget,” he said on the Senate floor. “I tried with Senator Grassley back in the 1980s to freeze all government spending, including Social Security, including everything.”

    “When I introduced my budget freeze proposal years ago, the liberals of my party said, ‘It’s an awful thing you are doing, Joe. All the programs we care about, you are freezing them — money for the blind, the disabled, education and so on,’” Biden continued. “My argument then is one I make now, which is the strongest, most compelling reason to be for this amendment — or an amendment — that if we do not do that, all the things I care most about are going to be gone — gone.”

    The first few months of 1995 were taken up with debate over another GOP-led balanced budget amendment, with Biden arguing forcefully to exclude Social Security from it.

    “After the year 2014, we will be in deficit in the Social Security system,” he warned. “It seems pretty clear to me this is about two things: One, they need the Social Security dollars to make the deficit look like it is less than it is, and then the next step is they are going to need to try to deal with changing it to increase the amount of money they get in the trust funds to make the deficit look even less, which means that Social Security is going to get hit.”

    Biden pushed for an amendment to carve Social Security out of the balanced budget amendment. Clear as it may have been, the amendment to protect Social Security failed. Biden voted for the balanced budget amendment anyway, even after his multiple warnings that it would undercut Social Security.

    It was, in fact, the argument over Social Security that torpedoed the balanced budget amendment by a single vote on the Senate floor, after it had already passed the House. “After days of persuasion, the Republicans supporting the amendment were unable to attract the one last vote they needed for a two-thirds majority, resulting in a victory for Democrats, who raised doubts in the final hours about whether the Social Security trust fund would be safe if the measure became law,” the New York Times reported in March 1995. Biden’s inability to bring along one additional Democratic colleague had saved the program, and saved the Constitution from being amended with a draconian fiscal constraint mechanism.

    Ironically, the budget would reach balance anyway by the end of the decade, as federal revenue climbed — the result of an economy in hyperdrive thanks to a tech bubble. President George W. Bush turned that surplus into a mammoth tax cut for the wealthy, and within just a few years, Biden was again calling for cuts to Social Security to deal with the deficit.

    n his 2007 interview with Russert as a presidential candidate, the “Meet the Press” host asked, “Senator, we have a deficit. We have Social Security and Medicare looming. The number of people on Social Security and Medicare is now 40 million people. It’s going to be 80 million in 15 years. Would you consider looking at those programs, age of eligibility…”

    “Absolutely,” Biden said.

    “ … cost of living, put it all on the table.”

    “The answer is absolutely,” Biden said, reminding Russert that earlier in his career, he had been part of the small number of senators who had come up with the deal that raised the retirement age, and promised to protect each other from voters outraged at the cuts:

    “I was one of five people — I was the junior guy in the meeting with Bob Dole and George Mitchell when we put Social Security on the right path for 60 years. I’ll never forget what Bob Dole said. After we reached an agreement about gradually raising the retirement age, etc., he said, ‘Look, here’s the deal, we all put our foot in the boat one at a time.’ And he kicked — he stepped like he was stepping into a boat. ‘And we all make the following deal. If any one of the challengers running against the incumbent Democrat or Republicans attack us on this point, we’ll all stay together.’ That’s the kind of leadership that is needed. Social Security’s not the hard one to solve. Medicare, that is the gorilla in the room, and you’ve got to put all of it on the table.”

    At Iowa’s Jefferson–Jackson dinner in November 2007, weeks from the Iowa caucus, Biden again returned to Social Security. “The American people know we have to fix Social Security,” he said. “They know we can’t grow our way to a solution. They know we’re going to have to make some tough decisions. They’re ready to make those decisions. They’re ready to step up. We have to be ready to straightforwardly tell them what we’re about to do.”

    As vice president, Biden was involved in multiple administration attempts to cut Social Security as part of a “grand bargain” with Republicans, all of them blocked by tea party Republicans, who couldn’t agree to any tax increases. In 2014, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said at a conservative event that Biden had privately told him he was supporting of raising the retirement age and means-testing Social Security benefits. “I asked the vice president, don’t we have to raise the age? Wouldn’t means-testing and raising the age solve the problem?” Paul recounted, with Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee on stage, adding that Biden said, “Yes in private, but will not say it in public.” Paul hadn’t been paying close enough attention.

    A few years later, at a Brookings Institution event in April 2018, Biden addressed Social Security again. “Paul Ryan was correct when he did the tax code. What’s the first thing he decided we had to go after? Social Security and Medicare. Now, we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare,” Biden said, then added in a whisper: “That’s the only way you can find room to pay for it.”

    Last week, the Biden campaign told Politifact that Biden was mocking Ryan and being sarcastic. Immediately after his whisper, he went into the kinds of adjustments to Social Security he thought should be made, the same type that Paul said he told him supported privately.

    “Now, I don’t know a whole lot of people in the top one-tenth of 1 percent or the top 1 percent who are relying on Social Security when they retire. I don’t know a lot of them,” Biden said, alluding to the need to means-test Social Security. “So we need a pro-growth, progressive tax code that treats workers as job creators, as well, not just investors; that gets rid of unproductive loopholes like stepped-up basis; and it raises enough revenue to make sure that the Social Security and Medicare can stay, it still needs adjustments, but can stay; and pay for the things we all acknowledge will grow the country.”

    When the program is popular, “adjustment” is a Washington euphemism for cuts. But you can count on Trump to use the more common term.

    Update: January 13, 2020, 10:30 a.m.
    The story has been updated with a statement from the Biden campaign sent after publication.

  3. Pragmatic Progressive January 14, 2020 4:47 pm

    Why the Progressive Message Isn’t Resonating With Older African Americans
    They want a president who will get things back to where they were in 2016, not 1950.

    One of the questions that has stumped (mostly white) reporters during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is the overwhelming support Joe Biden is getting from African American voters. While it is true that other candidates garner some support from younger black voters, the older crowd remains firmly in Biden’s camp.

    We’ve heard some helpful explanations of this phenomenon from African American commentators recently, like Charles Blow and Marcus Johnson. But Jason Johnson from The Root went right to the source and talked to a group of older black voters. A couple of things he heard stood out to me. First of all, these folks have been watching the political scene for decades now—and they’ve drawn some conclusions.

    [Senior Week committee members see Trump as a threat and have policy preferences just like everyone else. However, they have seen decades of “working class” white America voting against their own economic interests if it meant screwing over African Americans, too. So many of them looked for the best candidate for black America this week —one you could also sneak by white folks.]

    here has been a raging debate among Democrats for decades about whether it is possible to win back white working-class voters. More than any other group, African Americans know that racism sits at the center of that discussion. Given that their primary objective is to beat Donald Trump, these older black voters have made an interesting calculation. They are betting on a candidate they can “sneak by white folks.”

    I suspect that one of the things that went unsaid in these discussions is that older African Americans have spent years making that kind of calculation and never succumbed to the idea that they have to be emotionally inspired by a presidential candidate. That leaves them free to be pragmatic on the question that seems to be front and center in 2020—electability.

    At one point, Johnson gives us a hint about why so many older African Americans are rejecting the arguments made by the more progressive candidates.

    [Just this week, Yang, again focusing on white voters, said that growth and progress have slowed for all Americans since the 1940s. I thought Yang was supposed to be good at MATH? Literally every generation of black people has done better than the previous one, (even kids in the ’90s) but that doesn’t mean the ’40s were some golden age either. Trust me, we have committee members born in the ’40s—and by almost every empirical measure black Americans are better off in 2020 than we were in 1940.]

    Embedded in the minds of most white people—regardless of party affiliation—is the idea that life was better for middle-class Americans in the aftermath of World War II. Progressives hail things like FDR’s New Deal and the rise of unions that spurred the hopes of an American dream.

    What we tend to forget is that, for African Americans, racism and Jim Crow were alive and well through all of that. So the 40s and 50s were hardly a golden age for them. The trajectory of their lives didn’t change until years after the success of the Civil Rights Movement. Eventually, African Americans started to buy into the so-called “American dream.” Back in 2011, Ellis Cose identified the country’s “new optimists.”

    [African-Americans, long accustomed to frustration in their pursuit of opportunity and respect, are amazingly upbeat, consistently astounding pollsters with their hopefulness. Earlier this year, when a Washington Post–Kaiser–Harvard poll asked respondents whether they expected their children’s standard of living to be better or worse than their own, 60 percent of blacks chose “better,” compared with only 36 percent of whites.
    Although many African Americans identify long-standing problems that still plague the community—such as unemployment and access to high-quality education—the black population remains largely optimistic about the future and satisfied with the direction the country is going in, according to a new survey by Ebony magazine and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.]

    The rise of that kind of optimism within the African American community coincided with the rise of white progressive angst about income inequality and the way that it was killing the American dream. In addition to the election of this country’s first African American president, that helps explain the disconnect between progressives and black voters during the Obama presidency.

    Of course, the racism that fueled the election of Donald Trump turned all of that on its head. But that recent history helps explain why older African Americans would be suspicious about the kinds of deep structural changes proposed by the more progressive presidential candidates. Not only are they betting on Biden being the candidate they can sneak by white voters, they simply want a president who will get things back to where they were in 2016—not 1950.

  4. Former Republican January 14, 2020 5:00 pm

    These older African American voters get it! Trump is the existential threat. All the cool things progressives are promising don’t mean a darn thing if Trump isn’t defeat.

  5. Southern Liberal January 14, 2020 5:44 pm

    I think that Black voters are much more skeptical about grandiose schemes because the progress they have seen has been incremental. Certainly signing the Civil Rights Act was dramatic, but actual change was slow and took a whole lot of work. They don’t think pie-in-the-sky ideas will come to pass, or if so it will take many years of hard work. So yes, they want someone who will undo the damage of the last 3 years first and foremost. Makes sense.

  6. Princess Leia January 14, 2020 6:31 pm

    I share this sentiment by John Famer as well…

    From The Root: To older black voters, voting for the Democratic nominee is like trying to do a group project for Black History Month in high school but all your classmates are racist. You still have to get the project done, you just have to figure out a way to get as much as you can out of it without tipping off the rest of the group.
    Jason Johnson is a colorful commentator but I have to admit I’m not a fan. I’ve seen him twist the truth too often to put a lot of faith in what he says. If anything, he speaks more for Jason Johnson than for the African American community.
    That said, peel down the quote above and you get a picture of black voters who are pragmatic, non-ideological, and willing to settle for imperfect candidates who can get the job done. Lord knows, Joe Biden is hardly a model candidate for AA causes — he’s no Obama or even Bill Clinton. But he’s a known quantity and checks enough boxes to win the lion’s share of AA support. With that, his chances for the nomination move from good to excellent.
    I’m not black but I’m old enough to know that unexciting choice may be the best hope for the Dems this cycle. My ideal candidate, as usual, doesn’t exist. I’d like to see someone more progressive and forward-thinking, who’s younger and sharper and able to excite a new generation of voters with a vision of a (realistically) better future. That doesn’t seem to be happening, though.
    The left wing of the party is having a food fight this week. Neither BS or EW is young. Neither has much cred with the AA community. And neither speaks the kind of vision that I think will win wide support with voters. BS especially is unrealistic, rigid, and vague (these are actually my kinder criticisms). EW, despite many admirable moments, has had her share of missteps.
    Time will tell, but it seems unlikely to me that 2020 is a particularly good year for radical change. As Nancy says, blacks have seen progress over the decades and don’t want to risk losing what they’ve gained. The country as a whole is far better off than ten years ago, when unemployment was at 10% and we seemed dangerously close to the abyss. Big change is easier to try when times are tough and getting worse. It’s hard to convince many voters that we need massive change in the midst of relative peace and prosperity.
    One lesson AA voters can teach the rest of us: Your candidate may or may not get the nomination, and whoever is on the ballot in November may or may not excite you. But vote, and vote Dem. Politics is a long game.

  7. Former Republican January 14, 2020 8:35 pm

    Haha! Tom Perez is giving a pep talk prior to the debate. He was talking about any of these candidates would be better than Trump. He then said you could pick out a stranger on Fifth Avenue and even he or she would be better than Trump.

  8. Princess Leia January 14, 2020 8:39 pm

    I still say a slug would be better than Trump.

  9. Rational Lefty January 14, 2020 10:13 pm

    Been watching the debate. Smaller group = better debate.

  10. Former Republican January 14, 2020 10:24 pm

    Biden is stammering again.

  11. Princess Leia January 14, 2020 10:26 pm

    On healthcare, public option is the winning strategy. Good to see that 4 of them get that.

  12. Rustbelt Democrat January 14, 2020 10:39 pm

    Sanders trade answer deserved to be challenged. When the AFL-CIO is supporting the current deal yet Sanders won’t because it isn’t everything he wants, that goes to the heart of how he would govern — demanding it be his way or no way.

  13. Princess Leia January 14, 2020 10:41 pm

    Agreed, Rustbelt.

  14. Former Republican January 14, 2020 10:46 pm

    If anyone needs a fun diversion, I think it’s clear that Mike Bloomberg is only in this thing to hammer Trump and mock the system. His Twitter feed tonight is a riot.

  15. Pragmatic Progressive January 14, 2020 10:49 pm

    I like it. Women moderators, easy pacing. Not everyone wants progressive red meat all the time. This is by far the most cogent debate.

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