Arquivo da tag: Eleições americanas

“A Time to Rethink America”: Sanders Sets Tone at Coronavirus Debate (Truthout)

Bernie Sanders speaks in front of a blue screen bearing CNN's logo
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders takes part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, D.C., on March 15, 2020.

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Published March 16, 2020

The final Democratic presidential debate of 2020 was a dispiriting affair for reasons that went far beyond the politics of it. The specter of COVID-19 lent a stark gloominess to the occasion, as did the seeming emptiness of the room itself: three CNN moderators, two men and the cameras. I never thought I’d miss a debate audience, but the energy was gone from that room, and the brightly lit set could not make up for it.

And then there’s this: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that events of 50 people or more not be held for about two months,” Bloomberg News reported on Sunday. “For the next eight weeks, organizers should cancel or postpone in-person events of that size throughout the U.S.”

Primaries are scheduled to be held on Tuesday in Arizona, Ohio, Illinois and Florida. These contests were set to be decisive before the CDC’s recommendation — if Joe Biden wins them all, his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders would become all but insurmountable — and may be all the more so now. These four primaries could be the last of the season. Georgia has postponed its primary, which was slated for next Tuesday, and Louisiana’s April 4 primary has likewise been delayed.

It’s quite simple: If we are listening to the CDC’s recommendations, the remaining primaries will probably be put on hold at some point, either until this thing burns itself out, or altogether depending on the circumstances. The primaries this Tuesday may happen, or they may not, but no one should be surprised if they are the last ones for a long while.

“Election dates are very, very important. We don’t want to be getting into the habit of messing around with them,” Sanders told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a post-debate interview. “I would hope that governors listen to the public health experts, and what they are saying is … ‘We don’t want gatherings of more than 50 people.’ I’m thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks registering people to enroll, that stuff. Does that make a lot of sense? I’m not sure that it does.”

A cancelled primary election season would be the worst of all possible outcomes, and not just because Joe Biden would basically become the Democratic nominee by default. We do elections in this country, because if we don’t, we have lost all semblance of democracy. That all-important sentiment falls to ashes in the face of the coronavirus, which has the potential to lay waste to the nation’s older and immunocompromised population if not contained.

Authorities not named Donald Trump have been warning us this situation would bring sweeping changes to our lives, and they haven’t been wrong. A shortened 2020 Democratic nomination process may soon become part of that change, so the ability of either candidate to increase their nomination chances felt blunted by the same circumstances that led them to debate each other in that bright, empty room.

Joe Biden is fortunate that Bernie Sanders was feeling conciliatory under the circumstances, because Biden lied, lied and lied throughout the evening.

Sanders was strong throughout, opening the evening with a broadside against Wall Street and the wealthy, who were taken care of by the Federal Reserve in fine style on Friday. The Fed conjured $1.5 trillion in magic money and dumped it into the banking system so businesses can still borrow without breaking themselves financially. By the end of the weekend, the interest rate had been cut to basically zero.

“Bottom line from an economic point of view,” said Sanders, “what we have got to say to the American people, if you lose your job, you will be made whole. You’re not going to lose income. If Trump can put, or the fed can put a trillion and a half into the banking system, we can protect the wages of every worker in America.”

Biden, for his part, came into the evening looking to survive without damaging himself too badly. In this, he had help from an unlikely source: his opponent. While Sanders repeatedly sought to hold Biden’s feet to the fire on various aspects of the former vice president’s voting record, it became clear early on that Sanders was not out for blood.

“I know your heart is in the right place,” Sanders said to Biden on more than one occasion, a rhetorical fig leaf intended to convey the sense that Trump is the main enemy, and these two presidential candidates share many areas of common ground. “We talk about the Green New Deal and all of these things in general terms,” said Sanders toward the end of the first hour, “but details make a difference.”

Joe Biden is fortunate that Bernie Sanders was feeling conciliatory under the circumstances, and more fortunate the CNN moderators appeared unwilling to do their jobs, because Biden lied, lied and lied again throughout the evening. When tasked to defend his serially gruesome legislative record, Biden sailed off into the land of self-serving fantasy so often that #LyinBiden and #LyingJoe were top trends on Twitter all night long.

Biden has been lying about his stance on Social Security for months now, but found a whole new gear last night. He lied straight into the camera about statements he has made and votes he has cast, as if he’d forgotten that the internet exists and such brazen bullshit artistry doesn’t fly so well anymore.

Biden was similarly slippery on his support of the bankruptcy bill, on the Hyde Amendment and reproductive rights, on his vote for the Iraq War, on the Defense of Marriage Act, and on any and all areas where his record fails to meet the standard Sanders set simply by being in the room. One of the two candidates last night spent the last 30 years being right on the signal issues of the day, and it showed.

“A time to rethink America,” indeed.

“The fact is that the idea that I in fact supported the things that you suggested is not accurate,” was a typical Biden response to Sanders throughout the evening. The CNN moderators didn’t bother trying to call Biden on his loose relationship with the truth, but Sanders persistently did so.

Biden’s most newsworthy moment of the evening came when he flatly declared that he would select a woman to serve as his vice president. “I commit that I’ll pick a woman to be vice president,” said Biden. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow, I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”

This was, among other things, Joe Biden paying a debt to Rep. Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement before the South Carolina primary resurrected Biden’s moribund campaign. Clyburn has made it clear that he wants Biden to select a woman for a running mate, and preferably a Black woman. Biden’s announcement last night was a “Yes, sir” telegraphed to the House majority whip via live television broadcast.

For Sanders, this debate was perhaps his last, best opportunity to make the case for his vision for the presidency as clearly as possible. As usual, he did not disappoint:

In this moment of economic uncertainty, in addition to the coronavirus, it is time to ask how we get to where we are, not only our lack of preparation for the virus, but how we end up with an economy, with so many about people are hurting at a time of massive income and wealth inequality. It is time to ask the question of where the power is in America. Who owns the media? Who owns the economy? Who owns the legislative process? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage?

Why do we pump up the oil industry while a half a million people are homeless in America? This is the time to move aggressively, dealing with the coronavirus crisis, to deal with the economic fallout, but it’s also a time to rethink America, and create a country where we care about each other, rather than a nation of greed and corruption, which is what is taking place among the corporate elite.

“A time to rethink America,” indeed. A great many sacred cows — most especially capitalism and its deleterious effect on health care — are on their way to the coronavirus slaughterhouse. Whether or not we proceed with the remaining primaries, we will be other than what we are as a nation when we come out the far side of this. Bernie Sanders told us as much last night, just as he has for the full term of his public life. If and how we heed him, finally, will be up to us in the end.

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter (Politico Magazine)

And it’s not gender, age, income, race or religion.



If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Based on these questions, Trump was the only candidate—Republican or Democrat—whose support among authoritarians was statistically significant.

So what does this mean for the election? It doesn’t just help us understand what motivates Trump’s backers—it suggests that his support isn’t capped. In a statistical analysis of the polling results, I found that Trump has already captured 43 percent of Republican primary voters who are strong authoritarians, and 37 percent of Republican authoritarians overall. A majority of Republican authoritarians in my poll also strongly supported Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, shutter mosques and establish a nationwide database that track Muslims.

And in a general election, Trump’s strongman rhetoric will surely appeal to some of the 39 percent of independents in my poll who identify as authoritarians and the 17 percent of self-identified Democrats who are strong authoritarians.

What’s more, the number of Americans worried about the threat of terrorism is growing. In 2011, Hetherington published research finding that non-authoritarians respond to the perception of threat by behaving more like authoritarians. More fear and more threats—of the kind we’ve seen recently in the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks—mean more voters are susceptible to Trump’s message about protecting Americans. In my survey, 52 percent of those voters expressing the most fear that another terrorist attack will occur in the United States in the next 12 months were non-authoritarians—ripe targets for Trump’s message.

Take activated authoritarians from across the partisan spectrum and the growing cadre of threatened non-authoritarians, then add them to the base of Republican general election voters, and the potential electoral path to a Trump presidency becomes clearer.

So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.

It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with. That means it’s also time for political pollsters to take authoritarianism seriously and begin measuring it in their polls.

Matthew MacWilliams is founder of MacWilliams Sanders, a political communications firms, and a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he is writing his dissertation about authoritarianism.

Read more:

Hurricane Sandy no help to Obama in 2012 presidential race, new study suggests (Science Daily)

Date: June 5, 2014

Source: Union College

Summary: Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary.

After Mitt Romney was defeated by President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, some political pundits and even Romney himself tried to pin the loss in part on Hurricane Sandy.

Observers, particularly conservatives, believed the storm was an “October surprise” that allowed Obama to use the trappings of his office to show sympathy and offer support for the victims. The devastating storm hit a week before Election Day, killing hundreds and causing more than $50 billion worth of damage.

But a new study examining the psychological impact of Sandy on people’s voting intentions indicate the storm’s influence was basically a washout.

“Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary,” said Joshua Hart, assistant professor of psychology and the study’s author.

The study appears in the June/July issue of Social Science Research, a major journal that publishes papers devoted to quantitative social science research and methodology.

Two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29, Hart began surveying likely voters when it became apparent the storm could impact the bitterly contested race between Obama and Romney.

Over the course of a week, the nearly 700 voters polled were asked about their exposure to the storm and related media coverage, as well as their voting intentions. Hart randomly assigned around half of each day’s sample to think about the hurricane before reporting their voting intentions, so he could compare preference for Obama versus Romney between voters who had been thinking about the storm, and those who had not.

Prior to the positive news coverage for Obama on Oct. 31, there was no influence of Sandy reminders on Obama’s vote share. This was also true on Nov. 1, the day after his well-publicized embrace with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie while touring the hard-hit Jersey Shore. It was that appearance in particular that angered Romney supporters since Christie was a Romney surrogate.

Obama did receive a slight bump in support from study participants on Nov. 2 and 3 who thought about Sandy before reporting their voting intentions, but by Election Day, this trend reversed, when news coverage of the storm shifted and became more negative, focusing on loss of life, lingering damage and power outages.

“The data suggest that people going to the polls Nov. 6 with the hurricane on their mind would have been less inclined to vote for Obama,” Hart said.

Still, that didn’t stop a number of pundits from speculating that the storm was a critical factor in Romney’s loss by slowing his momentum, despite polling evidence to the contrary. In winning 26 states and collecting 332 electoral votes, Obama received 51.1 percent of the popular vote to Romney’s 47.2 percent.

Shortly after the election, Romney insisted Sandy played no role in his defeat.

“I don’t think that’s why the president won the election,” Romney told Fox News, instead blaming his own “47 percent” comments and his inability to connect with minority voters.

Six months later, Romney changed his tune.

“I wish the hurricane hadn’t have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks,” Romney told CNN.

Hart said his study doesn’t reflect the whole of the story on Sandy’s effect in the 2012 race, but that the results say more about the pundits than the voters.

“What it says about voters, perhaps, is that it can be difficult to predict or intuit exactly how they are going to process something like Sandy,” he said.

“It depends on a number of variables and the effect may change over even shorter stretches of time. Yet pundits tend to seize on certain ‘laws’ such as presiding over a disaster makes an incumbent look presidential. But each event like Sandy deserves to be studied as a unique occurrence to help answer questions about the impact of unpredictable, large-scale events as they unfold.”

In trying to determine whether or how an event affects elections, Hart says that it is important to use experimental approaches to test the influence of “priming,” or activating thoughts of different topics, on voters’ attitudes, in addition to more traditional polling methodology.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joshua Hart. Did Hurricane Sandy influence the 2012 US presidential election?Social Science Research, 2014; 46: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.02.005

Mudança climática é tabu na campanha eleitoral dos Estados Unidos (Envolverde/IPS)

Por Becky Bergdahl, da IPS – 25/10/2012

sa12 300x198 Mudança climática é tabu na campanha eleitoral dos Estados Unidos

Nova York, Estados Unidos, 25/10/2012 – Os Estados Unidos sofreram este ano o verão mais quente de sua história, com secas e incêndios em diversas partes de seu território. E, segundo um informe da firma de resseguros Munich Re, as perdas com pagamentos de seguros devido a eventos climáticos extremos quase quadruplicaram desde 1980. Diante disto, alguns poderiam esperar que o aquecimento global fosse um dos temas mais importantes da campanha no país para as eleições presidenciais de 6 de novembro.

Entretanto, nos três debates eleitorais, transmitidos pela televisão para todo o país e boa parte do mundo, nem o presidente e candidato à reeleição, Barack Obama, do Partido Democrata, nem seu adversário, Mitt Romney, do Partido Republicano, sequer mencionaram o tema. Houve outro debate, entre os candidatos a vice-presidentes, no qual a mudança climática também foi omitida.

“Está se perdendo a oportunidade de se falar sobre um dos principais desafios que enfrentamos”, disse à IPS Bob Deans, assessor do ecologista e não governamental Conselho para a Defesa dos Recursos Naturais. “Segundo um novo estudo da Universidade do Texas, 73% da população norte-americana acredita que a mudança climática está efetivamente ocorrendo. Já em recente pesquisa da Universidade de Yale, 70% dos entrevistados deram a mesma resposta. As consultas foram feitas em setembro.

Assim, o que vemos é que sete em cada dez norte-americanos têm conhecimento do problema”, pontuou Deans, que também citou um informe da Munich Re, segundo o qual os desastres naturais aumentaram mais na América do Norte do que em qualquer outra parte do mundo desde 1980. As perdas asseguradas por catástrofes climáticas na região totalizaram US$ 510 bilhões entre 1980 e 2011, segundo a firma alemã, a maior multinacional de resseguros do mundo.

Isto mostra que a mudança climática não é apenas uma questão ambiental, mas também é financeira, segundo Deans, integrante de uma das organizações ecologistas mais poderosas dos Estados Unidos. “Conforme o clima vai ficando extremo, as pessoas vão entendendo que também se trata de um assunto econômico sério, não apenas uma questão de abraçar árvores”, afirmou o ativista.

“O aumento do nível do mar pode colocar em risco as casas, e se uma casa está ameaçada não se consegue obter uma hipoteca. Os produtores de milho não conseguem uma boa colheita em anos. Vemos famílias que tiveram fazendas durante anos e agora não podem mais sustentá-las”, destacou Deans. Durante os debates públicos, incluindo um centrado em política externa, no dia 22, tanto Obama quanto Romney mencionaram a necessidade de se reduzir os preços dos combustíveis. Porém, nenhum se manisfestou sobre a questão de se reduzir as emissões de gases-estufa responsáveis pela mudança climática.

“Fica cada vez mais óbvio que Obama e Romney não são diferentes. Ambos se equivocam em pensar que qualquer menção ao clima é uma desvantagem política”, disse à IPS a ativista Kyle Ash, do Greenpeace Estados Unidos. “Apesar de a última pesquisa ter demonstrando que a vasta maioria do público está muito preocupada pela mudança climática, os dois candidatos preferem atender os interesses dos combustíveis fósseis em lugar de investir em soluções para o problema do clima”, apontou.

“A maior diferença entre ambos está na plataforma da campanha republicana, que diretamente nega a mudança climática. Mas, os dois candidatos estão em cargos administrativos que adotaram políticas contra a contaminação”, disse Ash, para quem tanto Obama quanto Romney se arriscam a perder votos se continuarem ignorando este assunto tão importante. “Centenas de milhares de norte-americanos solicitaram a Obama e a Romney que expressem suas opiniões sobre política climática, já que é um tema grave e premente para a economia, e inclusive para nosso estilo de vida básico”, afirmou Ash.

Em uma tentativa de mobilizar a população e pressionar os líderes políticos, a seção norte-americana do grupo internacional de ação climática lançou uma nova campanha, denominada Do The Math Tour (Gire Faça os Cálculos), que começará em 7 de novembro, dia seguinte às eleições, e incluirá atividades em 20 cidades. Conta com apoio de celebridades, como a jornalista e ativista canadense Naomi Klein e o arcebispo anglicano sul-africano Desmond Tutu, prêmio Nobel da Paz.

“Se vamos enfrentar as campanhas pelos combustíveis fósseis, precisamos de um movimento. Elas têm todo o dinheiro, por isso precisamos testar algo diferente. Este giro está criado para gerar um movimento suficientemente forte para vencer”, disse à IPS o ativista Daniel Kessler, da 350. Org. “É um cálculo simples. Podemos queimar até mais 565 gigatoneladas de carbono e manter o aquecimento global abaixo dos dois graus. Qualquer coisa além disso colocará em risco a vida na Terra”, disse Kessler. “As corporações agora têm 2.795 gigatoneladas em suas reservas, cinco vezes mais do que a quantidade segura. E planejam queimar tudo isso, a menos que atuemos rapidamente para detê-las”, acrescentou.

Kessler também disse que, embora nenhum candidato fale abertamente sobre a mudança climática, há claras diferenças entre Obama e Romney. “Parece que Romney como presidente seria um desastre tanto para o meio ambiente quanto para o clima”, afirmou. “Disse que quer tirar da EPA (Agência de Proteção Ambiental) a autoridade para regular as emissões de carbono, acabar com os créditos fiscais para energia renovável e manter os enormes subsídios às firmas de petróleo e carvão, que já estão entre as mais lucrativas do mundo”, recordou Kessler.

“As políticas de Obama não são suficientemente fortes para enfrentar o problema da mudança climática, mas ele tem que lutar para proteger a EPA e fazer o maior investimento em energias limpas na história mundial”, enfatizou. Os comandos das campanhas dos candidatos não responderam aos pedidos da IPS para que comentassem este assunto. O aquecimento global “é completamente ignorado pelo presidente Obama e por Romney nos debates públicos”, disse Scott McLarty, coordenador de mídia para o Partido Verde. “Mas, nos debates alternativos, a candidata do Partido Verde, Jill Stein, falou sobre a mudança climática várias vezes. E continuará falando”, disse McLarty à IPS.