Category Archives: Politics

The Entire Public Sector Is About to Be Put on Trial

Source: Naomi Walker, In These Times, Views, May 25, 2017

The Right’s assault on public-sector workers is an assault on the public sector itself.

Within the next year, the Supreme Court is likely to rule on the latest existential threat to workers and their unions: Janus v. AFSCME. Like last year’s Friedrichs v. CTA—a bullet dodged with Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death—the Janus case is a blatant attack on working people by right-wing, moneyed special interests who want to take away workers’ freedom to come together and negotiate for a better life.
For years, the Right has been hammering through state-level “right-to-work” laws in an effort to kill public sector unionism; it would see victory in the Janus case as the coup de grace. ….

These Protesters Are Hitting Trump Where It Actually Hurts

Source: Mattea Kramer, The Nation, May 23, 2017

Could the president be influenced by threats to his profit margin? ….

…. Since Donald Trump’s election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president. They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there’s one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics—including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration’s agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies—protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14th.

Such economic dissent may prove to be an especially apt path of resistance, especially for the millions of Americans who reside in blue states and have struggled with a sense of powerlessness following the election. After all, it’s not immediately obvious how to take effective political action in the usual American way when your legislators already agree with you. But what blue-state dwellers lack in political sway they make up for in economic clout, since blue states have, on average, greater household incomes and more purchasing power than their red-state compatriots. The impact of coordinated blue-state boycotts could be enormous. That’s why Grab Your Wallet, along with Color of Change, a racial-justice group, and numerous other organizations are encouraging individuals to see their purchasing power as political muscle. ….

…. At first glance, Grab Your Wallet is a modest website: a Google spreadsheet that lists about 50 companies to boycott. Included are the department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor, as well as online retailers like Overstock.com, Zappos, and Amazon, all of which sell some type of Trump swag. (The precise number of companies listed continues to decline, as retailers dump the Trump brand.) The site gets an impressive two million unique visitors every month, and when I spoke with Coulter, she told me that 22 retailers had dropped Trump products since the start of the boycott. She believes that this is just the beginning…..

Symposium: Court clarifies review of racial gerrymandering, but does not impose strict scrutiny on every intentional creation of a majority-minority district

Source: Kristen Clarke and Ezra Rosenberg, SCOTUSblog, May 22, 2017

As we prepare for the upcoming round of 2020 redistricting, the opinions in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and Cooper v. Harris make clear that what constitutes unlawful racial gerrymandering will prove critical. Although states and localities can act intentionally to preserve and create majority-minority districts, they must do so in a way that complies with the Constitution. First, and put simply, race cannot predominate over every other consideration. And, second, unlawful racial gerrymandering cannot be justified as an attempt to achieve partisan ends.

The decisions provide a workable approach for addressing allegations of unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, while at the same time rejecting the proposition that the intentional creation of a majority-minority election district automatically triggers strict scrutiny. This is clear from the sum and substance of the majority opinions, and from the explicit language in the separate opinions of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in Bethune-Hill and that of Thomas in Cooper. A contrary result would have imperiled legitimate attempts by state legislatures to create majority-minority districts….

Resistance School

Source: Resistance School, 2017

From about us:
We are a group of progressive graduate students at Harvard who came together in response to the election of Donald Trump, with a desire to help transform our country to better reflect our shared values…..

Resistance School is a free four-week practical training program that will sharpen the tools we need to fight back at the federal, state, and local levels. Our goal is to keep the embers of resistance alive through concrete learning, community engagement, and forward-looking action.

We believe that both long-time activists and new additions to the movement need to forge effective offensive strategies to secure progressive victories. Throughout April, we invite you to join with neighbors, friends, or classmates to participate in livestreamed interactive workshops with renowned political campaigners, communicators, and organizers. Each of the skills they’ll showcase is critical to amplifying our collective impact.
Together we’ll learn how to:
– Communicate our values in political advocacy (Session One)
Summary
Readings
Worksheets
– Mobilize and organize our communities (Session Two)
Summary
Readings
Worksheets
– Structure and build capacity for action (Session Three)
Summary
Readings
Worksheets
– Sustain the resistance long-term (Session Four)
Summary
Readings
Final Assignment

The Delegate Paradox: Why Polarized Politicians Can Represent Citizens Best

Source: Douglas Ahler, David E. Broockman, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Research Paper No. 17-30, April 24, 2017

From the abstract:
Many advocate political reforms intended to resolve apparent disjunctures between politicians’ ideologically polarized policy positions and citizens’ less-polarized policy preferences. We show these apparent disjunctures can arise even when politicians represent their constituencies well, and that resolving them would likely degrade representation. These counterintuitive results arise from a paradox whereby polarized politicians can best represent constituencies comprised of citizens with idiosyncratic preferences. We document this paradox among U.S. House Members, often criticized for excessive polarization. We show that if House Members represented their constituencies’ preferences as closely as possible, they would still appear polarized. Moreover, current Members nearly always represent their constituencies better than counterfactual less-polarized Members. A series of experiments confirms that even “moderate” citizens often prefer ostensibly polarized representatives to many less-polarized alternatives.

Voter Suppression Analysis

Source: Priorities USA, Civis Analytics, May 3, 2017

From the Dēmos summary:
….This analysis covers the effects of voter identification laws on voter participation during the 2016 election. Specifically, we find that changing to both “strict” and “non-strict” voter-id laws has a significant negative effect on total voter turnout and that these effects are most severe in African American areas of the country.

As a result, we can say with confidence that adding strict identification requirements had significant negative effects on voter participation during the 2016 election. ….

Related:
In Wisconsin, ID law proved insurmountable for many voters
Source: Christina A. Cassidy and Ivan Moreno, Associated Press, May 9, 2017

….By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. …

Fifty Shades of Green: High Finance, Political Money, and the U.S. Congress

Source: Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen, Paul Jorgensen, Roosevelt Institute, May 2017

From the summary:
Social scientists have traditionally struggled to identify clear links between political spending and congressional voting, and many journalists have embraced their skepticism. A giant stumbling block has been the challenge of measuring the labyrinthine ways money flows from investors, firms, and industries to particular candidates. Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen directly tackle that classic problem in this paper. Constructing new data sets that capture much larger swaths of political spending, they show direct links between political contributions to individual members of Congress and key floor votes.

Their study builds on two earlier studies published by the Roosevelt Institute. Gerald Epstein and Juan Antonio Montecino’s “Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance” assesses the staggering costs imposed on the U.S. economy by deregulated, out-of-control finance. Mark Cooper’s “Overcharged and Underserved” analyzes the charges telecommunications oligopolies levy on Americans and their disastrous impacts on services and economic growth.

The message of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen’s study is simple: Money influences key congressional floor votes on both finance and telecommunication issues. Americans may not have the “best Congress money can buy”—after all, as they note, their results could be even bleaker—but there is no point in pretending that what appears to be the voice of the people is really often the sound of money talking.

Managers’ Political Beliefs and Gender Inequality among Subordinates: Does His Ideology Matter More Than Hers?

Source: Seth Carnahan, Brad N. Greenwood, Administrative Science Quarterly, Online First, May 5, 2017

From the abstract:
To explore whether managers’ beliefs and attitudes influence gender inequality among their subordinates, we theorize about the relationship between managers’ political ideology, situated on a liberal–conservative continuum, and differences in the hiring, work team selection, and promotion of male versus female subordinates, as well as how a manager’s gender moderates this relationship. We analyze novel microdata from the U.S. legal industry from 2007 to 2012 and find that large law offices whose partners are more liberal hire a larger percentage of female associates, that more-liberal partners are more likely to select female associates to be members of their client teams, and that associates whose supervising partners are more liberal have greater gender parity in promotion rates. Further, we find that the ideology of male partners is significantly more influential than the ideology of female partners in affecting these differences. We find little evidence that sorting on the part of higher-quality female associates drives the results.

Why Unions in the United States will Die: American Labor Organizations in the Age of Trump

Source: Raymond L. Hogler, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 29 Issue 2, June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This essay analyzes the effects of Donald Trump’s election as President on organized labor in the United States and, more specifically, on the demographic of workers responsible for his electoral college victory. The argument is that culture rather than economics explains Trump’s success in capturing key industrial states. His support depended on white middle-aged male voters without college degrees, the same cohort that makes up the backbone of unions in the United States. The likelihood is that Trump’s policies will further immiserate the American working class rather than reinvigorate it. In three key areas, Trump’s presidency will result in lower union membership density and higher inequality of wealth. The cultural orientation of Trump’s supporters outweighed politics, policy, and competence in selecting a national leader.

A Hundred Days of Trump

Source: David Remnick, New Yorker, May 1, 2017

With his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, he threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker.

Related:
After 100 Days of Trump, America’s Gotten Corruption Fatigue
Source: Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone, April 29, 2017

Trump is enriching himself as president – but what’s worse is that it’s starting to seem normal