President Trump suddenly issued an executive order dissolving the White House commission he had charged with investigating voter fraud, which was operating since May 11 of last year. “Mr. Trump did not acknowledge the commission’s inability to find evidence of fraud, but cast the closing as a result of continuing legal challenges,” report Michael Tagget and Michael Wines at The New York Times. Trump noted that “many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry.” Trump said he “asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.” Kris Kolbach, who conceived the abandoned commission and served its ‘vice chair,’ tried to put a little lpstick on the pig in arguing that “the Department of Homeland Security is going to be able to move faster and more efficiently than a presidential advisory commission.” One major concern is that moving the voter fraud fraud to Homeland Security will streamline Republican access to immigration records to facilitate suppression of Latino and other voters who are citizens or applying for citizenship.
Then there is the latest chapter in the Trump-Bannon soap opera, in which the prez blasts his former Rasputin. As Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman report at The Times, “The rupture came after Mr. Bannon was quoted in a new book disparaging the president’s children, asserting that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” in meeting with Russians and calling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Mr. Trump, described by his spokeswoman as “furious, disgusted,” fired back by saying that Mr. Bannon had “lost his mind.” It will be instructive to see if the dust-up deepens divisions between the pro-Trump and pro-Bannon factions of psuedo-populist conservatives.
Wapo’s Tony Newmyer explains why “Trump spat with Steve Bannon threatens the populist economic agenda,” and observes: “…There’s no question the Trump officials whom Bannon derided as globalists, namely Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, are ascendant in his absence. Per Axios, the two are trying to contain the president’s protectionist instincts as he confronts a slew of decisions on trade matters and tariffs.” Globalists 1, Bannon zilch. Newmyer also discusses how the split between Republican factions may affect support for Trump’s infrastructure initiative.
At The Daily 202, James Hohman writes that “The break with Bannon is a huge win for the Republican establishment, which blames Bannon for Roy Moore becoming the GOP nominee in Alabama and the party losing what should have been an easy race in a ruby red state. This will likely neutralize him in several 2018 primaries where he could have played a huge role in boosting insurgents, from Nevada and Arizona to West Virginia and Wisconsin.” Who would be shocked, however, if they were back together in a few months, after Bannon does a suitably humiliating Ted Cruz grovel to get back into Trump’s good graces. As Hohman notes, “Bannon is already trying to make amends with Trump, suggesting that he might not stay off the reservation. On his Sirius XM radio show last night, he said that he remains a strong supporter of Trump. “The president of the United States is a great man,” he said. “You know I support him day in and day out.”
The New York Times Editorial “Florida’s 1.5 Million Missing Voters” notes that “Felon disenfranchisement is a destructive, pointless policy that hurts not only individuals barred from the ballot box, but American democracy at large. Its post-Civil War versions are explicitly racist, and its modern-day rationales are thin to nonexistent. It can make all the difference in places like Florida, which didn’t stop being competitive in 2000; the state remains a major presidential battleground, and victories for both parties in state and local elections are often narrow…That could all change if a proposed constitutional amendment gets enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in November and wins enough support. The initiative would automatically restore voting rights to the vast majority of Floridians who have completed their sentence for a felony conviction, including any term of parole or probation.”
A nugget from Theo Anderson’s post “Move Over, Corporate Democrats, A New Wave of Left Populists Is on the Rise” at In These Times: “People’s Action, a network of progressive and community organizing groups, has recently begun offering support and trainings for political candidates. As of November 2017, 70 of its members planned to run for office at all levels in 2018. People’s Action is particularly focused on increasing the progressive cohorts in 14 statehouses. Brand New Congress (BNC) and Justice Democrats (JD), both founded in the past two years and devoted to federal races, have recruited and are training and supporting dozens of candidates for the House and Senate. Like the other organizations that make up this infrastructure, JD and BNC are intentional about cultivating a diverse slate…JD and BNC are distinguished from the other groups by their exclusive focus on Congress. They envision their work in terms of building a unified bloc of progressive votes that will transform the institution in a relatively short timeframe. Both will likely endorse between 30 and 50 candidates in the 2018 cycle (many of them cross-endorsed).”
Josh Nanberg, president of Ampersand Strategies, offers a preview of this year’s elections in his article, “Consultant Predictions 2018” at Campaigns & Elections: “First, Democrats will reject the idea that we need a ‘national message,’ and instead build majorities one district at a time. Candidates who fit their districts and run to represent their constituents will see successes in surprising places by being true to their values and focusing on issues that resonate locally. Those who focus their campaigns exclusively on President Trump’s tweets, the Russia investigation, or other issues that don’t address voters’ real concerns about their families, their finances and their futures will have trouble breaking through the noise…Second, our candidates are going to look different this year. They’ll have different cultural and professional backgrounds. They’ll be new to politics.”
Paul Starr advocates “A New Strategy for Health Care” at The American Prospect: “Repairing whatever is left of the ACA, if anything is left, will be important but insufficient. Although the ACA has gained in popularity since Trump’s election, the law’s limitations have also become increasingly apparent. A new Democratic administration should focus on one or two signature health-care proposals that advance the long-term objectives of universal coverage and cost control and respond to people who have insurance but still face financial stress from medical bills. Two ideas could meet these criteria: making available a new Medicare plan for people aged 50 to 64—a program I call “Midlife Medicare”—and directly attacking America’s excessive health-care prices. Although the two ideas are independent, they’re closely related, since attacking prices also involves an extension of Medicare, in this case the extension of Medicare rates to out-of-network providers in private insurance.”
Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall shares some salient “Thoughts on 2018,” including “Inevitably, people interested in politics and ideology and strategy think mostly in those terms. What’s the right strategy? What’s the right ideological posture? Who on the left side of the aisle gets the run with the ball? But a lot more of it is simply people waking up, becoming activated. Those other things matter of course. But it’s people getting energized, people who were spectators deciding they need to run for office or launch new organizations. Everything is important but ideology, strategy and the rest tends to grow out of, get refined and figured out or coalesce in response to activism and activation, not the other way around. For all these reasons I think 2018 will be a different kind of year.”