An authoritarian figure who has joked about being President for life runs the Federal Government during a pandemic that could literally kill millions of Americans and disrupt society for months. States are postponing primary elections and struggling to figure out how voters can cast ballots while keeping social distancing. Understandably, some people worry that Donald Trump might take advantage of the crisis to stay in power.
These discussions focus narrowly on two questions: whether States could physically hold elections during a pandemic using modern systems and what would happen if they couldn’t. Most agree that elections can take place if state legislatures hurry up and figure out how to use expanded absentee voting, other voting by mail systems, or even the internet. They also think that if for some reason elections cannot be held, someone other than Trump would take power based on existing statute.
What none of these articles mention is the Electoral College and the role of state legislatures in choosing these Electors. This is the group that actually elects the President, as we found out the hard way in 2016. These days voters choose these Electors by casting votes at polling stations or by mail because state legislatures want it that way – this is not a Constitutional requirement. This means that elections for President and Vice President can take place as long as state legislatures can meet and choose Electors before Election Day.
Contributors and staff at The Bull Elephanthave predicted the outcome of today’s elections and they deliver about what you’d expect from true believers. Most think the GOP will hold the House and some think Republicans will pick up 3 or more seats in the Senate, with one suggesting a 60-seat majority. Many argue that Corey Stewart will outperform polls and one thinks he could have won with more help from the Republican national and state parties. Almost all think Barbara Comstock will lose, but few think any other Democrats will win Virginia House seats they aren’t heavily favored to win (e.g., Don McEachin [D-4]). Continue reading →
“Whenever I’m in New York, I can work myself into this state of really bleak despair, and then I go out and travel and meet … it’s not even necessarily Democratic Party activists as much as Indivisible activists or Democratic Socialists of America chapters or these sort of grass-roots groups that have sprung up since the election and are just doing so much work. And it always makes me feel so much more hopeful about the future.
You hear the same story over and over again of these kind of middle-aged women who, they voted, but they didn’t necessarily pay super close attention to primaries, maybe they had to look up what congressional district they were in, and who woke up the day after the election and were so shattered and looked around for somewhere they could go and found either an offshoot of Pantsuit Nation or a local Indivisible meeting.
And you meet these women, and they go to meetings now four or five nights a week. They have all new friends. They are just astonishing organizers, and they’re kind of using this intense local knowledge that they have. You can’t replicate that when it comes to canvassing, somebody who just knows everyone on the block. So you see that being deployed everywhere, and that I think is why you’re seeing these numbers in some of the special elections, these swings that are even bigger than the swings you see on the generic ballot.”
I can tell you that I saw the same thing all over Virginia’s First Congressional District during the primary campaign this spring, and these folks don’t seem to be tiring. So I’m more optimistic than some of my fellow Progressives that we’re really about to see a Blue Wave in November.
Rob Wittman never had much to say about broadband internet access in the Congressional District he represents until the issue came up in the Democratic Primary this spring. Much of the district is rural and without connection to the web services that stimulate economic development, support businesses and allow remote access to medical care. They are without this connection because private markets do not provide what amounts to a public utility in remote areas, and no amount of deregulation will make them want to. The return on investment simply isn’t there.
Back in the day, much of Tennessee had a similar problem with electricity. The Federal Government, not private enterprise, solved the problem through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal Democrat effort to modernize rural areas of the state. Could we learn something from this very successful effort? Continue reading →
Corey Stewart likes to pal around with people like Paul Nehlen and Jason Kessler. Nehlen is an anti-Semite who jokes on Twitter about killing political opponents. Kessler organized the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville last August. A rally attendee and Kessler supporter killed Heather Heyerwith his car. Two Virginia State Troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, Virginia, died when their observation helicopter crashed on their way to assist authorities on the ground. Kessler plans a sequel, by the way. Wonder if Stewart will attend. Continue reading →
It appears that guns and gun control could become a hot issue in next year’s state level elections here in Virginia. Attorney General Mark Herring started the hue and cry when he ended concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 states on the grounds that they don’t meet Virginia standards. Gun rights activists objected one the grounds that it would hurt tourism and that no one can point out a case where someone from a state with lower standards had committed a crime in Virginia. One blogger called it “slavery.” They complained that Herring just wanted to go around the General Assembly to achieve a liberal result using an executive action.
Washington lobbyist and Republican political operative Ed Gillespie made Virginia political news last week with this video announcement that he plans to challenge Mark Warner for Senate this year. This decision apparently pleases Virginia GOP political activists: state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, for example, called Gillespie a “good candidate” in this Bearing Drift op-ed (intended more to frame Jeff Shapiro as a Warner supporter than to call for a Gillespie run).