Category Archives: Politics

Red Oklahoma

Source: Eric Blanc, Jacobin, April 13, 2018

A century ago, Oklahoma had the strongest socialist movement in the US. Today, there are signs it’s being reborn.

Related:
Learning lessons from the Oklahoma walkouts
Source: Elizabeth Lalasz and Sean Larson, Socialist Worker, April 25, 2018

The April rebellion of the teachers in the “right-to-work” state of Oklahoma has turned politics and life upside down in a once-reliably conservative state. ….

Company Men: The 200-year legal struggle that led to Citizens United and gave corporations the rights of people

Source: Kim Phillips-Fein, New Republic, Vol. 249, no. 4, April 2018

More than 100 years ago, at the height of the last Gilded Age, Congress passed its first law prohibiting corporations from spending money to influence election campaigns. From the start, the wealthy chafed against this limit, and some sought to test it in court. Alcohol manufacturers—terrified of high taxes and Prohibition—might not have seemed the ideal candidates to take on this fight. But they were nonetheless the first to challenge the law, contributing cash to candidates in state and federal races and then arguing that any effort to keep money out of politics was no less than an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.

At that time, state and federal courts rejected these arguments out of hand. To the Michigan Supreme Court, for example, it was self-evident that a local brewery had no “right to participate” in elections. The company, wrote the chief justice in a 1914 decision, was created not to engage in politics, but “for the purpose of manufacturing beer.” In a different case involving the Brewers Association, a federal court ruled that corporations “are not citizens of the United States,” and that as far as the franchise went, they must “at all times be held subservient to the government and the citizenship of which it is composed.”

Yet the beermakers finally had their day in 2010, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United. In a reversal of last century’s common sense, the Court found that corporations did have free speech rights after all and that campaign finance laws placed an intolerable restriction on those rights….

Institute of Politics Spring 2018 Youth Poll

Source: Harvard Kennedy School, Institute of Politics, Spring 2018

Spring 2018 marks the 35th National Youth Poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School examining the political opinions and civic engagement of young Americans ages 18 to 29. Since its conception by two Harvard undergraduate students in 2000, the Harvard Public Opinion Project has provided the most comprehensive look at the political opinions, voting trends, and views on public service held by young Americans. Beginning on April 10th, 2018 and continuing through the month of April, the IOP will release results from specific portions of the poll.

A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the Kennedy School of Government, finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America.  

For the first time, the Harvard Public Opinion Project asked a series of questions about how responsible 18- to 29-year-olds believed different groups were for the existing problems in American politics and society today. Politicians were viewed as very or somewhat responsible by at least 7-in-10 young Americans, regardless of political affiliation. Money in politics and the media were mentioned by at least 6-in-10 Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

– Young Democrats under 30 blamed politicians (77% responsible), Donald Trump (77% responsible), money in politics (75% responsible), structural racism (69% responsible) and lack of access to higher education (66% responsible) as the most significant factors responsible for the state of politics and society today.

– The top five factors Republicans believe are responsible are: the media (72%), politicians (70% responsible), political correctness (64% responsible), money in politics (63% responsible), with other Americans (45%), a distant fifth.

Today’s youth reject capitalism, but what do they want to replace it?

Source: Joseph Blasi, Douglas L. Kruse, The Conversation, April 4, 2018

Today’s youth are increasingly unhappy with the way their elders are running the world.

Their ire was most recently expressed when thousands of teenagers and others across the country marched on March 24 demanding more gun control, a little over a month after more than a dozen of their peers were shot and killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

But there’s growing evidence that today’s young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29 or so, are strongly dissatisfied with other fundamental aspects of our political and economic system. Specifically, growing numbers are rejecting capitalism.

This led us – a sociologist and an economist – to wonder how would young people redesign the economic system if they could. The answer, based on recent surveys, should make any status-quo politician seriously rethink their economic policies.

Public Unions Under First Amendment Fire

Source: Tabatha Abu El-Haj, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-W-01, February 28, 2018

From the abstract:
Unions today are under First Amendment fire, with the compelled speech doctrine as the weapon of choice. Conservative interests are waging a legal war against agreements that include “fair-share service fees,” under which public-sector unions are permitted to charge non-union members to pay their share of the costs of collective bargaining. Espousing libertarian theories of free speech doctrine, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and its allies maintain that fair-share service fees, at least in the context of public-sector unions, constitute a form of political speech, and that laws mandating their payment by non-union members violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against compelled speech. The Supreme Court is poised to accept this position, having granted certiorari in Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Council 31, a case that threatens to overrule the Court’s longstanding acceptance of the constitutionality of fair-share service fees.

Notwithstanding the superficial appeal of the compelled speech argument, this Article argues that pro-union interests have plenty of cover within the First Amendment’s freedom of association doctrine. Viewing Janus and its ilk through an associational lens demonstrates the fallacies that lie behind doubts concerning the constitutionality of such agreements. Although it is doubtful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm the constitutionality of fair-share service fees this term, it is important to air such arguments in order to head off potentially even more significant First Amendment attacks on unionism that are currently underway and to articulate a theory of the First Amendment that remains consistent with the basic New Deal compromise that leaves matters regarding labor policy to our legislatures, where they belong.

Governors’ Party Affiliation and Unions

Source: Louis‐Philippe Beland, Bulent Unel, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Volume 57, Issue 2, April 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Employing a regression discontinuity (RD) approach on gubernatorial elections in the United States over the last three decades, this paper investigates the causal effects of governors’ party affiliation (Democrat versus Republican) on unionization of workers, and unionized workers’ working hours and earnings. Surprisingly, we find no significant impact from the party affiliation of governors on union membership and union workers’ labor‐market outcomes.

Extreme Gerrymandering & the 2018 Midterm

Source: Laura Royden, Michael Li, Yurij Rudensky, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, March 2018

From the summary:
Many Democrats are optimistic about their chances of winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. But in a new report, we measured how much harder partisan gerrymandering will make it for Democrats to win seats — and found that even a blue wave election akin to 2006 would be far from enough. Maps drawn after the 2010 tea-party wave to favor Republicans, particularly in big swing states like Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio, mean Democrats would need to win the national popular vote in 2018 by the biggest margin in a midterm since 1982.

Assaults on Days of Campaign Rallies During the 2016 US Presidential Election

Source: Christopher N. Morrison, Benjamin Ukert, Aimee Palumbo, Beidi Dong, Sara Jacoby, Douglas, J. Wiebe, Epidemiology, Published Ahead-of-Print, Post Acceptance: March 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Aim. 
This study investigates whether assault frequency increased on days and in cities where candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton held campaign rallies prior to the 2016 US Presidential election.

Method. 
We calculated city-level counts of police-reported assaults for 31 rallies for Donald Trump and 38 rallies for Hillary Clinton. Negative binomial models estimated the assault incidence on rally days (Day 0) relative to that on 8 control days for the same city (Days -28, -21, -14, -7, +7, +14, +21, and +28).

Results. 
Cities experienced an increase in assaults (Incidence Rate Ratio [IRR]=1.12, 95%CI: 1.03-1.22) on the days of Donald Trump’s rallies, and no change in assaults on the days of Hillary Clinton’s rallies (IRR=1.00, 95%CI: 0.94-1.06).

Conclusion. 
Assaults increased on days when cities hosted Donald Trump’s rallies during the 2016 Presidential election campaign.