DC Report

Ralph Nader now views Democrats as the best defense against the GOP’s 'fascist drive'

In the past, progressive activist, attorney and author Ralph Nader wasn’t shy about attacking Democrats from the left. Nader, now 88, often endorsed Green Party candidates, and he argued that the centrist Clintonian wing of the Democratic Party had moved too far away from the politics of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

The Democratic Party, as Nader saw it, had made way too many compromises to Corporate America and become GOP-lite. But these days, Nader is encouraging Americans to vote Democratic, arguing that Democrats, flaws and all, are the only thing standing between the United States and “fascism.”

In an October 6 column, Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank explains, “For first time in his 88 years, Ralph Nader is campaigning for the Democrats, not against them…. It’s not that Nader suddenly likes Democrats. It’s that Democrats are the only thing standing in the way of an authoritarian takeover of the United States — and this is no time to be carping over trifles.”

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Among liberals and progressives, there are two very different views of Nader. Some liberals and progressives view Nader as the “spoiler” candidate who took votes away from Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in 2000 and put President George W. Bush in the White House. According to that school of thought, Bush never would have had a chance to nominate Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court if Bader hadn’t caused Gore to lose the 2000 election.

But another liberal/progressive school of thought argues that if Gore had been a better candidate, he would have defeated Bush in more swing states and gone to the White House in January 2001. Blaming Nader for Gore’s loss, according to that school of thought, is horribly misguided and overlooks the flaws of Gore’s 2000 campaign.

Whatever one’s thoughts about Nader and the 2000 election, Nader isn’t shy about encouraging Americans to vote Democrat in 2022.

During an early October interview, Nader told Milbank, “What’s different now is in 2000, there wasn’t a fascist drive coming over the horizon. Right now, we’re dealing with the greatest menace to a modest democratic society since the Civil War.”

READ MORE: 'The dictionary definition of fascism': Conservative columnist condemns Donald Trump's MAGA 'cult'

Nader and New York City Democrat Mark Green, according to Milbank, have formed an organization called Winning America — and their primary goal is defeating Republicans.

Green told Milbank, “Ralph once said he’d be a Democrat when the Martians invade. They invaded, and they’re here — and they’re a few inches away from engaging in a fascist takeover of our few-century democracy.”

In their Winning America manifesto, Nader and Green slam today’s Republican Party as “the worst GOP in history — serially corrupt, violence-prone, anti-labor as well as compulsively dishonest and authoritarian.”

The activists write, “Unless Democratic nominees tell a story about what 2023 and 2025 would look like if reactionary Republicans return to power — ending Obamacare, urging higher taxes on 75 million people, corporatizing Social Security and Medicare, shredding the social safety net/regulatory protections, jailing girls after abortions, overturning Marriage Equality, spurring more MAGA mobs threatening officials under, again, an outlaw president — the minority party will try to coast to victories by simply blaming (President Joe) Biden, blackness and wokeness, whatever that means.”

Nader told Milbank, “After 2000, my Democratic friends said, ‘Ralph, look, why don’t you work with the party?’…. OK, so we’re now working with the party.”

READ MORE: President Joe Biden's 'semi-fascism' remark was no gaffe

'Great for democracy': Former adviser to Canadian premier explains why the US needs more debates

In some of the most high-profile races of the 2022 midterms — for example, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race — the candidates have only agreed to one debate so far. Former banker David Knight Legg, who serviced as principal adviser to the premiere of Alberta, Canada, discusses this trend in an op-ed published by Politico on October 6. And Legg is highly critical of it, arguing that political candidates in the United States should be holding more debates — not fewer.

“A rare bipartisan consensus is emerging in America,” Legg explains. “Campaign managers from both sides of the aisle have decided that debates — the transparent, open exchange of ideas where candidates must answer questions and respond to their opponents in a live format — are simply too perilous. They must be curtailed or canceled altogether. This is a huge mistake.”

Legg goes on to cite some examples of major statewide races of 2022 that will have few, if any debates.

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“In Maryland and Arizona, Democratic candidates for governor are refusing to debate because they don’t want to give a platform to opposing views they deem extreme,” Legg observes. “In Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, dueling campaigns have grudgingly reduced debate to a single event — and then only if certain contested conditions can be met. In Nevada and Missouri, senators are now set to be elected this year without a single public debate. Gavin Newsom in California and Jim Pillen in Nebraska are refusing to debate even with opponents who don’t stand a chance of winning the governorships of their states.”

Legg continues, “So why are candidates really dodging debates? First, follow the money. In the financial arms race of modern campaigns, debates level the field, giving all candidates 90 minutes of free, unfiltered prime-time exposure…. Second, debates disrupt targeted messaging.”

A debate, Legg observes, “can wreck a candidate’s carefully constructed image.”

“The format doesn’t just highlight the range of issues, it also reveals character under pressure,” Legg argues. “Candidates have to express and defend their beliefs in a live, unscripted environment without the support of a teleprompter or staff. They can easily make mistakes, forget facts, go off-script, or react emotionally…. But what makes debates dangerous for campaigns are exactly what make them great for democracy.”

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'Unexpected trend' of Kemp-Warnock voters hints at the return of 'split-ticketers' in Georgia: conservative

Sen. Raphael Warnock and 2022 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams are two of Georgia’s most famous Democrats. The difference between them is that Warnock has been slightly ahead of his GOP rival in most recent polls.

Warnock, running for reelection, is being challenged by Republican Herschel Walker, while Abrams is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Abrams became a major rock star in the Democratic Party after narrowly losing to Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial election of 2018, but Kemp entered the general election in 2022 with considerable momentum after defeating a GOP primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, by a brutal 52 percent in May. Even though Perdue was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Kemp enjoyed a massive victory in that primary.

Most polls have been showing Kemp with single-digit leads over Abrams. In early September, a Fox 5/InsiderAdvantage poll showed Abrams trailing Kemp by 8 percent. But a Quinnipiac poll released on September 14 showed Kemp leading Kemp by only 2 percent, which was a hopeful sign for Abrams’ campaign.

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According to Never Trump conservative and former Republican Tim Miller, Georgia’s “Kemp-Warnock voters” are an example of an “increasingly rare breed” in the United States: “the split-ticket voter.”

In an article published by The Bulwark on September 19, Miller explains, “The split-ticketer’s decline has been thoroughly documented by our foremost political biologists. The number of House districts that have a representative from a different party than their presidential vote has plummeted this decade…. In fact, the current Senate has the fewest split-ticket delegations since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment gave us the direct election of senators.”

But Peach State residents who are planning to vote for GOP incumbent Kemp and Democratic incumbent Warnock, according to Miller, indicate that the “split-ticketer might recover in Georgia.”

Miller notes that he recently visited Calhoun, Georgia in the hope of talking to some Kemp/Warnock voters and had no problem finding them.

READ MORE: 'Make nice with MAGA': A 2020 'false elector' is Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp’s running mate

“They were much easier to find than I expected,” Miller reports. “Over the course of two days, the Kemp/Warnock voters I found included: a Trump 2020 voter; a past campaign colleague of mine; my college friend’s retired parents; a current UGA student; a suburban Atlanta tax consultant; an exurban Atlanta banker…. Despite the massive spread in these voters’ ages and ideological orientations, their explanations for their votes had directionally similar themes.”

Miller continues, “For starters, they thought Brian Kemp is doing a good job and Herschel Walker is a clown. That, I expected. But underneath, a more unexpected trend emerged: For many of the ticket-splitters, it seemed like their perception of Abrams vs. Warnock was as much of a factor as the difference between the Republicans.”

One of the Kemp/Warnock voters Miller interviewed was Ansley Thompson, who Miller describes as a “thirtysomething, stay-at-home mom who had been a straight-ticket Republican voter since 2016.” Warnock and Abrams are both liberals, and both are quite popular with the Democratic base. But Thompson views Abrams as more of an ideologue and believes that she hasn’t made an “effort to appeal to moderates.” That isn’t to say that Abrams really is such a hardcore ideologue, only that Thompson sees her that way.

“I suppose that In These Polarized Times, not actually being the insurrectionist makes Kemp different,” Miller writes. “In an alternative universe where the Republican Party was looking for a model with an ability to reach crossover voters in 2024, Kemp might be the rare species that offers it. Alas, the GOP doesn’t seem to be sending any explorers to Georgia to survey the fauna. The rest of the party is happy with the snake they know. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via e-mail.”

READ MORE: Brian Kemp's upcoming testimony could be a major problem for Donald Trump: legal experts

Why control of the US Senate may not be called on Election Night: report

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell angered some far-right MAGA Republicans, including National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott, when he described control of the U.S. Senate as a toss-up and mentioned the “quality” of GOP candidates as a factor. McConnell still believes that Republicans are likely to “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, but he said, at an event in Kentucky in August, that Democrats may very well keep their Senate majority and perhaps even expand it slightly.

U.S. Senate races in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio and other states are shaping up to be real nail-biters; some polls are showing Democratic nominees slightly ahead, while other polls are showing GOP nominees slightly ahead. For Democrats, expanding their Senate majority would mean holding on to every seat they are defending — including the ones held by Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia and Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona — while flipping some GOP-held seats.

In an article published by Politico on September 19, reporter Zach Montellaro emphasizes that on Election Night 2022, voters may not find out which party will control the Senate in 2023.

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“It took five days after Election Day 2020 to tally enough votes for media organizations to call the presidential race for Joe Biden,” Montellaro explains. “The same thing could happen in some of the country’s most important midterm elections this year. Many of the same factors in the same battleground states are at play in 2022, starting with races that could have very slim margins. Add in the continued popularity of mail voting and state laws in Pennsylvania and elsewhere that can delay processing of those ballots, and the chance of another waiting game is distinct — possibly with control of the Senate up in the air.”

Montellaro warns that if the Senate races are really close in key battleground states and votes are still being counted, some MAGA Republicans may prematurely declare victory. Rachel Orey of the Bipartisan Policy Center described the period after Election Night and before a winner is called as “one of the most precarious time periods for the spread of election myths and disinformation.”

Orey told Politico, “When the public is uncertain, they’re much more amenable to claims of fraud.”

Nonetheless, Montellaro reports that “election officials are cautiously optimistic that any delays in results this year won’t be as large or as widespread as in 2020.”

READ MORE: These election models give Democrats a '70 percent or better' advantage in the battle for Senate control

“One main reason is that midterms usually have significantly fewer ballots to count than in a presidential election like 2020, which saw a record number of votes,” Montellaro notes. “And some voters who opted to vote via the mail in 2020 — the type of ballots that are often, though not always, last to be reported — are expected to return to voting in person, with the pandemic fading and Trump-aligned Republicans continuing to rail against mail voting.”

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These election models give Democrats a '70 percent or better' advantage in the battle for Senate control

Earlier this year, GOP strategists were optimistic that a major red wave in the 2022 midterms would give Republicans control of not only the U.S. House of Representatives, but also, the U.S. Senate. However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told fellow Republicans at a gathering in Kentucky that while he still believes that Republicans are likely to “flip” the House, he considers the Senate a toss-up — and McConnell acknowledged that Democrats may keep their Senate majority and perhaps even increase it slightly.

But two new election models, journalist Chris Cillizza reports in an article published by CNN’s website on September 8, see the Senate not as a toss-up, but as leaning Democrat.

“Two prominent election forecasting models now give Democrats a 70 percent or better chance of retaining their Senate majority in November — a major shift that suggests the fight for control may no longer be the toss-up that it has long been considered,” Cillizza reports. “The FiveThirtyEight election model finds that in 70 out of 100 election simulations, Democrats emerge from 2022 in the majority. The Economist’s model is even more optimistic for the party, finding that in 78 out of 100 simulations, Democrats retain their majority in November.”

READ MORE:Mitch McConnell torches GOP 'candidate quality' and admits Democrats may keep Senate

Cillizza, however, stresses that one should “be wary of taking these models as fact.”

“It’s worth noting that these forecasts are built on probable outcomes and their predictive power depends on how good the underlying data are,” Cillizza explains. “So, in 30-ish percent of the scenarios each models runs, Republicans win the Senate majority. In interpreting those numbers, FiveThirtyEight characterizes that probability as Democrats being slightly favored to win the Senate.”

Cillizza goes on to cite four of the “most competitive” Senate races of 2022: incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly against GOP Blake Masters in Arizona, incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock against Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman against Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan against “Hillbilly Elegy” author and Republican nominee J.D. Vance in Ohio. If Democrats were able to hold all of the Senate seats they are defending but flip the GOP-held seats in Pennsylvania and Ohio, they would be slightly increasing their narrow Senate majority.

Cillizza writes, “What’s clear as of today is this: Democrats are on the front foot in the race for the Senate majority, a major shift and surprise from even three months ago.”

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How Democrats can end the 'electoral scourge' and enact a 'ban on dark money' in primaries: columnist

When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, critics of the decision predicted that a flood of dark money would pour into the United States’ elections. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a scathing critic of the ruling, has complained that Citizens United “launched unlimited money into our elections and opened the gateway to unlimited dark money.”

Liberal/progressive Washington Post opinion columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel slams dark money as an “electoral scourge” in her September 6 column, arguing that Democrats need to do as much as they can to remove dark money from their primaries.

“A deluge of this unregulated, often undisclosed cash has flooded the 2022 primary season, influencing elections nationwide,” vanden Heuvel explains. “Senate Republicans, backed by corporate lobbies, consistently block congressional action on the issue. But now, Democrats, at least, have the opportunity to clean up their own primaries.”

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The columnist continues, “When the Democratic National Committee gathers in Washington this week, Judith Whitmer, chair of the state party in Nevada, and more than 30 DNC members will support DNC Resolution 19, calling on the party to ban dark money in Democratic primaries. No one can doubt that action is imperative. According to the nonpartisan research group OpenSecrets, dark money topped $1 billion in the 2020 presidential race. This year, the Wesleyan Media Project reported, nearly 60 percent of all ads in Democratic House primaries have been purchased by sources that did not disclose, or only partially disclosed, their donors.”

Vanden Heuvel stresses that the DNC “has the authority to act” where dark money in DNC primaries is concerned but warns that a “ban on dark money from outside groups won’t be easy” for the Democratic Party “to enforce.”

“The Whitmer resolution calls for the party to set up mechanisms to investigate and expose the use of dark money, and to empower states to set primary rules to ensure transparency,” Vanden Heuvel notes. “Likely measures could include requiring all candidates to disavow outside advertising by groups with undisclosed donors. Sanctions against contracting with campaign firms and operatives who work for groups in violation would be even more effective…. The Democratic National Committee can take action to clean its own house. It should not fail this test.”

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Why Chuck Schumer is likely to keep his leadership role after the midterms: report

In 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer finds himself in a similar position to that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Despite some people wanting to replace him, Schumer seems to be secure as leader of his party in the U.S. Senate. It remains to be seen whether or not Democrats will maintain their narrow majority in the Senate, but if recent polls of Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio and Arizona are any indication, Democrats have a good shot at holding the Senate in the midterms — and perhaps even flipping a few GOP-held seats.

According to Politico’s Burgess Everett, there is a good chance that Schumer will still be the Democratic leader in the Senate in 2023.

“As House Democrats brace for a potential leadership shakeup if they lose power this fall,” Everett reports in an article published on August 29, “Chuck Schumer and his team are settling in across the Capitol regardless of who is in charge…. The most intrigue in the caucus is over who will chair the party’s campaign committee through a 2024 cycle with a rough map. But there’s little chance of a challenge to Schumer — or anyone else for that matter, at least at the moment.”

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Schumer is up for reelection in 2022, and pundits wondered whether or not he would face a Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City. But AOC decided against that, and Schumer is now going up against Republican nominee Joe Pinion in the general election. If he wins, Schumer will begin a fifth term in January 2023. An Emerson College poll released in early August found Pinion trailing Schumer by 22 percent.

Schumer has a great deal of momentum going into November’s midterms. He was a major cheerleader for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to replace the retired Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. And he played a key role in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, working out a deal with centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. After passing in both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill was signed into law by Biden on August 16.

“Their leadership team has earned another two years, in Senate Democrats’ view,” Everett reports. “After a 2021 with a party-line win on coronavirus recovery and a bipartisan infrastructure law, Schumer led the way this year on a huge follow-up filibuster-proof bill focused on taxes, health care and climate change. That’s on top of bipartisan deals on microchip manufacturing and firearm access, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and even student loan relief sought by Schumer.”

Everett adds, “What’s more, Senate Democrats are in contention to hold the Senate — and Schumer thinks they might even pick up seats. It’s a clear contrast with the House, where Democrats are fighting long odds in their bid to keep the chamber.”

READ MORE: How Mehmet Oz is scrambling to save his 'floundering' campaign: report

Even if Democrats don’t hold the Senate, Everett reports, Schumer is likely to remain as Democratic leader in that chamber of Congress.

According to Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, more Democrats than not are pleased with Schumer’s leadership in the Senate.

Schatz told Politico, “You don’t get major legislation through without a few people (being) grouchy about a few things. But victory has a way of healing.”

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How Mehmet Oz is scrambling to save his 'floundering' campaign: report

On August 19 in Rolling Stone, journalists Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley reported that privately, former President Donald Trump has grown pessimistic about Dr. Mehmet Oz’s U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania — where Oz has been trailing the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, in poll after poll. Trump, according to Rolling Stone sources, has privately complained that Oz is going to “f*****g lose” if he doesn’t find a way to turn his campaign around. But Politico reports that Oz’s campaign believes it has found a way to do that: attacking Fetterman, who recently recovered from a stroke, over his health.

In an article published on August 26, Holly Otterbein and Natalie Allison of Politico report, “Mehmet Oz sees an opening to rescue his floundering Senate campaign: After largely refraining from making his opponent’s health an issue, the celebrity doctor has decided to go there. Oz’s Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, suffered a stroke in May and since then, has largely avoided public events and been noncommittal about debates. Instead, he’s been relentlessly trolling Oz on social media and dominating the airwaves with campaign ads. Meanwhile, Oz has struggled to consolidate support from the conservative base, despite former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.”

The Oz campaign’s willingness to attack Fetterman over his health was evident on Tuesday, August 23, when campaign spokesperson Rachel Tripp remarked, “If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke” — a comment that Fetterman’s supporters have attacked as mean-spirited.

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Tripp’s comment follows all the mockery and ridicule Oz has suffered because of his “crudité” video, which was filmed back in April but resurfaced in August. The video shows Oz in a Pennsylvania supermarket, where he complains about the high cost of vegetables and blames President Joe Biden for the expense involved in making “crudité” or a veggie platter. Mocking Oz’s use of the French word “crudité” and his inability to get the name of the store right, Fetterman raised more than half a million dollars for his campaign.

Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello slammed Tripp’s attack as “extremely insensitive and frankly unhinged,” adding that “Dr. Oz literally does not know how to talk about the real issues that matter to Pennsylvanians.”

Oz, according to Otterbein and Allison, has challenged Fetterman to five debates — and Oz campaign adviser Barney Keller is claiming that Fetterman “won’t debate because he had a major stroke.”

“Democratic strategists said Oz’s attacks on Fetterman’s health come from a place of weakness — in particular, a need to appeal to the GOP base,” Otterbein and Allison report. “They said his team’s latest criticism about eating vegetables also shows that Oz doesn’t understand Pennsylvania, the land of cheesesteaks and pierogies. A Democratic pollster who conducts focus groups for campaigns in Pennsylvania said that swing voters don’t bring up Fetterman’s health problems themselves while discussing the Senate race, but when they are asked about it, they tend to find it relatable. The pollster was granted anonymity to describe proprietary research.”

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That Democratic pollster told Politico, “50-year-old women from Delco, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my husband. Oh God, are all men this way?’”

“Delco” is what Pennsylvania residents call the Philadelphia suburbs of Delaware County.

A few recent polls weren’t as bad for Oz as some previous polls have been. Many polls released in July and August have found Fetterman ahead of Oz by double digits, but Emerson College and Trafalgar polls released in late August found Oz trailing Fetterman by only 4 percent.

READ MORE: Donald Trump privately admitting that Mehmet Oz will lose Senate race

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Democrats should launch an 'all-out effort to protect rights' if they keep their majorities: journalist

During a recent speech at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce gathering, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed confidence that Republicans will “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives in November but wasn’t nearly as bullish on Republicans’ prospects for winning back the U.S. Senate. Democratic strategists have been fearing a major red wave like the ones in 1994 and 2010, but recent polls have given them reason to believe that Republicans may not perform as well in the 2022 midterms as they feared — and that Democratic candidates may even flip some GOP-held seats in the Senate.

Liberal New York Times opinion writer Jamelle Bouie, in his August 26 column, points out that according to FiveThirtyEight, Republicans are still “heavily favored” to take back the House — which Democrats have a “one in five” chance of keeping. But Bouie offers some recommendations for Democrats should they manage to keep their majorities in both the Senate and the House in November.

“The national environment may have shifted away from the Republican Party,” Bouie writes. “There is a real chance, in other words, that Democrats could enter the next Congress with their majority intact — a major change from earlier this year, when it looked as if Republicans would ride a red wave to victory in November. And if Democrats get exceptionally lucky — if conditions break just the right way in their favor — then there’s a chance that they begin the new year with a larger majority in the Senate in addition to a majority in the House.”

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Bouie continues, “The question is: In the unlikely event that Democrats enter 2023 with a stronger majority (than) they’ve had the past two years, what should they do? There has been plenty of discussion about what Republicans should do with their putative majorities, but what should the Democrats do with theirs?”

The columnist goes on to recommend some things that Democrats will need to “prioritize” if they manage to keep their Senate and House majorities in November, including “an all-out effort to protect and secure the rights that are under assault by the Republican Party and its allies on the Supreme Court.”

“On social policy,” Bouie writes, “Democrats should fight to make a child allowance a permanent feature of the social safety net…. On the question of rights, there are three places where Democrats should act as quickly as possible. The first is abortion and reproductive health…. Passing abortion rights into federal law isn’t just the smart thing for Democrats to do, it is the right thing to do — the only way to show the public that the party is willing and able to live up to its rhetoric on reproductive freedom. You can say the same for the other two issue areas that Democrats must address if they somehow keep their majority: labor and voting rights.”

Bouie adds, “Both are under assault from right-wing judges and politicians, both need the protection of the federal government, and both are fundamental to the maintenance of a free and fair society. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would strengthen the right of workers to form unions and bargain with their employers, is still on the table, as are proposals to revitalize the Voting Rights Act and end partisan gerrymandering.

READ MORE: Donald Trump privately admitting that Mehmet Oz will lose Senate race

The columnist argues that if Democrats increase their Senate majority, they should “kill the legislative filibuster.”

“Otherwise, this agenda, or any other, is dead in the water,” Bouie writes. “If Democrats win a Senate majority of 51 or 52 members, they might be able to do it. And they should. It is not often that a political party gets a second bite at the apple. If Democrats win one, there is no reason to let the filibuster — a relic of the worst of our past — stand in the way of building a more decent country, and a more humane one at that.”

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These 'Flippable Five Fund' candidates are joining forces to increase Democrats’ Senate majority

When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at a recent Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce gathering in Florence, Kentucky, the 80-year-old Republican expressed confidence that his party will retake the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms. But he wasn’t nearly as bullish on the U.S. Senate, citing “candidate quality” as a factor.

McConnell told attendees, “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different; they're statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome. Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.”

Democratic strategists, meanwhile, have grown more optimistic about their chances of holding their Senate majority — or perhaps even expanding it. And according to reporting in Politico on August 23, five Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in swing states are teaming up and pooling their resources in races where they believe they have a shot at flipping seats presently held by Republicans. Those Democrats, according to Politico, have dubbed those resources the Flippable Five Fund.

READ MORE: Donald Trump privately admitting that Mehmet Oz will lose Senate race

The five Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in the Flippable Five Fund, Politico reports, are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio, Rep. Val Demings in Florida, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina. Some of them are taking on incumbents — Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin — while the others are competing in states where incumbents have decided not to seek reelection: Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina and Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio.

Fetterman is up against Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, while Ryan is competing with “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance in Ohio and Beasley is taking on Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina.

Beasley explained the reasoning of the Flippable Five Fund in a tweet that she posted on August 22, writing, “A 50/50 Senate is not cutting it. That’s why I’m joining forces with @TheOtherMandela, @TimRyan, @ValDemings and @JohnFetterman to launch the Flippable Five Fund. Because our races are Democrats’ best chance to pick up seats this November and bring change to Washington.”

In a separate August 22 fundraising tweet, Beasley wrote, “If we want to end the filibuster and codify Roe, we need to expand our majority. If we want to lower costs and make progress on climate and voting rights, we need to expand our majority. Can you rush a donation to the Flippable Five Fund now?

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Presently, the 50/50 split in the U.S. Senate that Beasley described consists of 50 GOP senators and 50 senators who are either Democrats or independents who caucus with Democrats such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders, who ran for president in the Democratic presidential primaries of 2016 and 2020, presently identifies as an independent but has long been an ally of the Democratic Party’s liberal/progressive wing.

When a Democrat-sponsored reconciliation bill in the Senate receives 50 “yes” votes and 50 “no” votes, Vice President Kamala Harris has the power to break that tie — which is what recently happened when the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed in the Senate. If Democrats, in November, hold every Senate seat that they are defending and manage to flip all five seats that the Flippable Five Fund is going after, they still wouldn’t have a filibuster-proof supermajority. But they would have a better shot at getting bills passed if they are eligible for reconciliation, which is the process in which some bills can get around the 60-vote demand of the filibuster.

If Democrats increased their Senate majority but lost the House, they would still have an advantage when it comes to Supreme Court nominees should a seat become available. President Joe Biden’s nominee, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, was approved on a 53-47 vote.

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'Tea leaves': This bellwether special election could preview Democrats' midterm prospects

When Republican Glenn Youngkin pulled off a narrow victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial election in 2021, countless pundits described it as a very bad omen for Democrats — as Virginia was a state where the Democratic Party had been making considerable gains. And Democratic anxiety continued in 2022 when poll after poll showed President Joe Biden with low approval ratings, fueling fears that the 2022 midterms will bring a massive red wave like the red waves of 1994 and 2010. But with the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, many pundits who were predicting doom for Democrats in November are now wondering if the midterms outlook for Democrats is improving.

There are some hopeful signs for Democrats. In Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, for example, some polls are showing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee, with double-digit leads over Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Donald Trump-backed Republican nominee. Polls are also showing Democratic candidates to be quite competitive in the U.S. Senate races in Ohio, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. And the Dobbs ruling infuriated millions of abortion rights supporters, giving Democrats in swing states and swing districts something to campaign on aggressively.

In an article published by Politico on August 19, journalists Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris describe a special U.S. House election in Upstate New York’s Hudson Valley as a bellwether that could give Democrats some idea on what awaits them in November. The main candidates in that race are Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marc Molinaro, who are competing in New York’s 19th Congressional District — which Biden carried by single digits in 2020.

READ MORE: Progressives elated after Joe Biden signs 'landmark' Inflation Reduction Act into law

“A special election here next week could offer Democrats a preview of the pain coming their way in November,” Mutnick and Ferris explain. “Or it could provide powerful evidence that a Republican wave election is not in the offing. Both parties are dumping money into this Hudson Valley district to notch a short-lived but symbolic victory in the last competitive race before the midterms. The winner will succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado for just a few months. But the messaging, turnout and margin of the contest will offer tea leaves into what lies ahead this fall in the battle for control of the House.”

The Politico reporters continue, “For Democrats, a win would offer proof that the party can translate their recent legislative victories and voter anger over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling into tangible gains. After nonstop attention on their stalled policy agenda, internecine bickering and dire polling, Democrats are desperate to tell a different story.”

The special election in that congressional race will be held this Tuesday, August 23. The Times Herald-Record’s Chris McKenna notes that Ryan is actually competing in two congressional races at once: the special election where he is up against Molinaro, and a Democratic congressional primary where he is competing with fellow Democrats Aisha Mills and Moses Mugulusi — and the winner of that primary will take on Republican Colin Schmitt in the general election, which won’t be decided until November. If Ryan manages to win both the Democratic primary and the special election on August 23, he will be going into the general election looking like a very competitive candidate.

Although Democrats enjoyed a major blue wave when they retook the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, their majority shrunk in 2020 —and Republicans don’t need to flip a lot of Democrat-held seats in 2022 to obtain a majority. The Democrat-held seat in New York’s 19th Congressional District is one that Republicans are hoping to flip.

READ MORE: How GOP extremism may boost Democrats' midterms prospects

Ryan told Politico, “A win here would validate that the ground is shifting. Democrats are really good at being hard on ourselves, and we’ve been doing an awful lot of that. And sometimes, you need to zoom out. It will, maybe not reset, but I think certainly fundamentally reshape the trajectory.”

If Republicans are able to flip that Hudson Valley seat, Mutnick and Ferris note, it “would calm fears that the party peaked three months too early.

“Despite some evidence of an awakened Democratic base,” the Politico journalists observe, “operatives remain convinced that few down-ballot candidates can outrun President Joe Biden’s unpopularity — especially in this sprawling district, which unites the liberal towns north of New York City with struggling farm communities a hundred miles away.”

Ryan has been hitting Molinaro hard on the abortion question, while Molinaro has been trying to dodge that issue to focus on inflation and crime.

“In many ways, Ryan is piloting an early test whether or not access to abortion can sway competitive congressional races,” according to Mutnick and Ferris. “When the Dobbs ruling was issued, he quickly used his paid advertising on TV and in the mail to stress his commitment to abortion access. It wasn’t even a discussion whether to do so, Ryan said in an interview.”

READ MORE: How the 'Dobbs backlash' could affect the 2022 midterms: conservative

Why a Kyrsten Sinema primary challenge looks 'more and more likely': reporter

Although centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has been a frequent source of frustration for her party’s progressive wing — not unlike Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — she has her share of admirers among independents, libertarians and Never Trump conservatives. Sinema is on very friendly terms with the McCain family, including anti-Trump GOP activists Cindy McCain (the late Sen. John McCain’s widow) and Meghan McCain (Sen. McCain’s daughter). And her defenders have argued that if Sinema faces a primary challenge in 2024 and Arizona Democrats nominate a staunch liberal or progressive instead of her, they run the risk of putting that U.S. Senate seat back in Republican hands.

But in an article published by the Daily Beast on August 12, reporter Sam Brodey lays out some reasons why a primary challenge is becoming increasingly “likely” for Sinema.

“In the last year,” Brodey explains, “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) hasn’t missed many opportunities to stick it to her own party — becoming, quite literally, the embodiment of a thumbs-down to the most treasured agenda items for Democrats. That maverick posturing has made a primary challenge to the Arizona centrist in the 2024 election more and more likely by the month.”

READ MORE:Acting 'out of ego': Robert Reich calls out centrist Dems Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema

Brodey continues, “Last week, however, Sinema did something that may have made a primary battle not just a likelihood, but a near-certainty.

After Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced a deal on a $700 billion climate, health care, and tax reform package, all eyes turned to Sinema to see if she’d lend her support and become the crucial 50th vote. But as talks ramped up, Sinema made clear that she wouldn’t support the so-called Inflation Reduction Act — at all — if lawmakers didn’t take a sledgehammer to significant tax reforms included in the legislation.”

Sinema ultimately voted “yes” on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, but not until Democrats agreed to remove tax-related parts of it that even Manchin had agreed to.

“In Sinema’s sights were two key measures in particular: one to establish a minimum corporate tax rate and another to close the so-called carried interest loophole, a break that allows many finance professionals to tax their incomes at a lower rate,” Brodey notes. “Virtually all Democrats, and President Joe Biden, saw this legislation as a long-awaited opportunity to compel an array of finance interests — from wealthy private equity barons to hedge fund honchos — to pay more in taxes, and in the process, raise hundreds of billions of dollars to help pay for the legislation. Sinema, clearly, felt otherwise. She spent much of her considerable political capital to preserve a favorable tax structure for deep-pocketed special interests.”

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is often mentioned as a possible primary challenger for Sinema in 2024, was quick to slam Sinema for the ways in which she altered the Inflation Reduction Act before voting for it.

READ MORE: Samantha Bee searches for a Democrat who likes Kyrsten Sinema — without much luck

Emily Kirkland, a progressive activist in Arizona, told the Beast, “Any successful primary challenge was always going to be built on the idea that Kyrsten Sinema favors the richest people in the country over the needs of people in Arizona. Her maneuvering just encapsulates that narrative so cleanly…. There’s no question you can run a campaign against her that is not about progressive vs. moderate or left vs. right.”

Democrat Chris Herstam, who formerly served in the Arizona State Legislature, told the Beast, “You wouldn’t use all the leverage in the world that you have on the reconciliation bill and make the most important issue providing continued tax relief and tax loopholes for fabulously wealthy hedge fund managers. It plays right into the hands of a Ruben Gallego.”

Arizona Republic reporter Gregory Svirnovskiy took a look at the rivalry between Sinema and Gallego in an article published on July 22.

Svirnovskiy reported, “Rep. Ruben Gallego is campaign fundraising off the prospect of his running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona's 2024 Democratic primary…. Gallego has continued to lob barbs at Sinema. On Twitter, he's called her out for refusing to end the Senate's legislative filibuster, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. The filibuster has so far made it impossible for President Joe Biden to push through much of his legislative agenda…. Just weeks ago, Gallego challenged Sinema to an Arizona town hall where she could explain her continued adherence to the filibuster at the expense of federal regulations protecting the right to an abortion.”

READ MORE: Civil rights groups blast Kyrsten Sinema for being an 'enabler' of Arizona voter roll purge

Preventing election theft is 'like playing whack-a-mole': journalist

The events that followed the United States’ 2020 presidential election were unprecedented in U.S. history. Never before had an American president been voted out of office only to falsely claim that the election had been stolen from him and look for different ways to throw out or overturn the Electoral College results. And never before in U.S. history had supporters of the president who was voted out of office violently attacked the U.S. Capitol Building in order to prevent Congress from certifying the president-elect’s Electoral College victory. To this day, Trump and many of his allies in the MAGA movement have yet to admit the fact that President Joe Biden legitimately won in 2020, defeating Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote.

Political comedian Bill Maher has warned that all hell could break out in the U.S. after the 2024 presidential election if Trump is the GOP nominee, loses, refuses to admit that he lost, and shows up on Inauguration Day 2025 demanding to be sworn into office. Maher fears that the United States’ next presidential election could be followed by a major constitutional crisis along with widespread violence and unrest, and he is hardly the only U.S. citizen who is seriously worried about 2024. Others are sounding the alarm as well, including a combination of Democrats and non-MAGA conservatives who have proposed strengthening the Electoral Count Act of 1887 in order to make sure that the 2024 election goes smoothly.

Journalist Russell Berman examines those efforts in an article published by The Atlantic on August 5. But Berman has a warning: strengthening the Electoral Count Act is challenging and “tricky.”

READ MORE: Susan Collins announces new bill to protect future election certification

“Preventing the next attempt to overturn an election is a bit like playing whack-a-mole,” Berman explains. “Plug one gap in the nation’s rickety, interlocking system for counting votes — say, by ensuring that a power-hungry vice president cannot unilaterally declare his or her ticket the winner — and another pest seems to materialize immediately. Congress is confronting this reality as it tries to rewrite a 135-year-old law governing the final, fraught act of certifying the Electoral College results — the very statute that former President Donald Trump used as a pretext to demand that then-Vice President Mike Pence anoint him the victor on January 6, 2021. Last month, a bipartisan group of senators announced, to substantial fanfare, that it had reached an agreement to revise the 1887 Electoral Count Act. But closing off every path to subversion is proving to be a tricky task.”

Berman continues, “The legislation is modest in scope; its aims are not. The proposal’s authors believe that its enactment is necessary to guarantee that the violent insurrection that occurred last time around does not become a quadrennial affair.”

The bill is co-sponsored by centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has said “we have a duty to ensure that” the events of January 6, 2021 “never happen again.”

“Election-law experts across both parties agree that the Senate proposal, known as the Electoral Count Reform Act, would resolve legal ambiguities that Trump and his allies tried to exploit before the transfer of power,” Berman notes. “As written, the bill would clarify that the vice president, regardless of party, has only a ministerial role in presiding over Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote. The proposal would also make it harder for members of Congress to raise objections to a state’s electors; doing so would require support of at least one-fifth of the members in each chamber, rather than just one in both the House and the Senate, as it stands now. Another provision seeks to head off rogue state legislatures by ensuring that they respect the outcome of their popular vote as determined by the laws that were in place at the time of the election.”

READ MORE: The Supreme Court is laying the groundwork to pre-rig the 2024 election

Democratic attorney Norm Eisen, during a hearing, described Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 as “a significant step forward”; however, Eisen also fears that it “could invite unwelcome manipulation.”

“Eisen highlighted a pair of provisions that he said could be exploited by governors trying to ignore or outright reject the popular vote in their state,” Berman writes. “One would set a six-day window to challenge the certification of an election by a governor. The goal is to ensure that legal disputes are resolved in time for the Electoral College to meet in December and then for Congress to certify the results in January. But, Eisen pointed out, that time frame could actually play to the advantage of a governor who certified the wrong winner rather than the candidate who clearly won his or her state’s election…. Another provision Eisen flagged would bar states from declaring a ‘failed election’ while allowing them to change or extend their elections because of ‘extraordinary and catastrophic events.’”

Berman adds, “The point is to give states some flexibility to alter elections for legitimate reasons, as in the case of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster; the attacks of September 11, 2001, for example, occurred on a pivotal election day as New Yorkers prepared to choose their next mayor. New York City postponed its primary by two weeks. The bill, however, doesn’t clearly define what constitutes ‘extraordinary and catastrophic events.’ That, too, presents an opportunity for ‘mischief’ by election-denying state officials, Eisen warned. What if a governor alleged, without evidence, rampant voter fraud and deemed that ‘an extraordinary event’ that warranted a re-vote?”

Berman goes on to point out that “Eisen’s concerns are shared by another prominent Democratic election lawyer, Marc Elias.”

“Part of their complaint is the bill’s narrow scope: In order to win Republican support for any changes to election law, Democrats had to jettison their much broader dreams of enacting stronger protections for voting rights and minimum federal standards for access to the polls,” Berman observes. “But Eisen and Elias are also highlighting a potential flaw with the new proposal that may be impossible for Congress to fully rectify. For instance, the bill seeks to reduce the chances that the vice president, Congress, or a rogue secretary of state will mess around with or overturn election results.”

Berman continues, “In doing so, however, the legislation grants more authority to governors to certify a state’s electors. What if the sitting governor is corrupt? As Eisen was testifying Wednesday, vote counters in Arizona were determining whether Republicans had nominated one of the nation’s most steadfast election conspiracy theorists, Kari Lake, as the state’s next governor. In Pennsylvania, the GOP has already given its nod to a Trump loyalist, Doug Mastriano, who marched to the Capitol on January 6…. The question lawmakers must answer in the coming months is whether this new attempt to fortify America’s elections stops more mischief than it inspires.”

READ MORE: How GOP-controlled state legislatures could pull off a coup in 2024: journalist

How GOP extremism may boost Democrats' midterms prospects

One thing that Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrats Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have in common is that all of them watched their parties suffer major poundings during the midterms but went on to become two-term presidents; Reagan’s reelection victory over Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in 1984 was a massive landslide despite the gains Democrats had enjoyed in the 1982 midterms. Presidents can recover from weak approval ratings and midterms losses and go on to win a second term, as Reagan, Clinton and Obama all demonstrated.

President Joe Biden continues to suffer from weak approval ratings, which doesn’t necessarily mean that those ratings won’t improve or that he won’t be reelected in 2024 if he decides to seek a second term. But Democrats, mindful of Biden’s approval ratings and the major red waves of 1994 under Clinton and 2010 under Obama, have been fearing that Republicans will recapture the U.S. House of Representatives — and possibly the U.S. Senate as well — in the 2022 midterms. Articles published by The New Republic and the conservative website The Bulwark on August 5, however, highlight a scenario in which this year’s midterms become a referendum not on Biden, but on the radicalism and extremism that has overtaken the GOP.

In The Bulwark, John J. Pitney — a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California and author of the 2020 book “Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald J. Trump” — stresses that Democrats have an opportunity to make the 2022 midterms about Republicans if they focus on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and the far-right radicalism of former President Donald Trump, the MAGA movement and the MAGA candidates running for office this year.

READ MORE: Meghan McCain melts down after Kari Lake and other GOP extremists win in Arizona elections

“In a typical midterm election,” Pitney explains, “the party not holding the presidency casts itself as a check on the incumbent administration, even more so when the president’s party controls both chambers of Congress. The elections of 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2018 all started with unified government and all ended with the out-party winning control of the House — and the Senate in 1994. The in-party has never been able to wear the ‘check and balance’ mantle — until this year. During the 2022 midterm, there are a couple of ways in which the Democratic appeal is essentially that they will act as a counterweight against an out-of-step Republican Party.”

Pitney continues, “The first involves the Supreme Court. Historically, we refer to the legislative and executive as the ‘political branches,’ as opposed to the supposedly apolitical judiciary. The general public no longer sees the Court that way. In a Quinnipiac University survey, 63 percent of voters agreed that ‘the Supreme Court is mainly motivated by politics.’ And a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that 74 percent of adults say the Court has become ‘too politicized.’ If people regard the Court as a political branch that is overreaching what the public wants, then they may view the midterms as a way to check it.”

Pitney goes on to describe Trump as “another target for checks and balances.”

“In normal times,” Pitney notes, “voters would not see any need to check the loser of the last presidential election. But these are not normal times. Trump is likely to run in 2024 and has already said as much. Most Republican voters believe the lie that Trump won the 2020 election, and as we saw on January 6, some of them are willing to act on that delusion. Trump and his followers are openly trying to stock Congress and state governments with election deniers. Many of them will be in office next year. Accordingly, a vote for Democrats is a vote against a powerful foe — not an incumbent administration, but a government-in-waiting and its accomplices.”

READ MORE: Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial nominee is running on an anti-democracy platform

Although Biden is “deeply unpopular,” Pitney argues, Democrats “have been handed an opportunity to portray themselves as the opposition party.”

Meanwhile, in The New Republic, journalist Alex Shephard, emphasizes that “a summer dominated by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and explosive January 6 commission hearings have pushed” the Democratic Party “to narrow leads in generic ballot polling.”

“FiveThirtyEight’s tracker now has Democrats and Republicans tied, while several recent polls have shown sharp gains for President Biden’s party when voters are asked who they would prefer to have control of Congress,” Shephard observes. “On Tuesday, (August 2) voters in Kansas — a state that hasn’t gone blue in a presidential election since 1964 — strongly rejected a proposed amendment that would have likely banned abortion in the state. Polling from YouGov and Indivisible in Arizona, meanwhile, found that voters in the state overwhelmingly reject both candidates who supported Donald Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ and those in favor of restricting abortion in the state. According to the results, which were conducted between July 28 and July 31, 51 percent of voters surveyed said they would view a candidate who believed the 2020 election results were fraudulent ‘less favorably,’ while only 23 percent said they would view them ‘more favorably.’”

Shephard adds, “Meanwhile, 55 percent said they would view a candidate in favor of banning abortion after six weeks ‘less favorably,’ while just a third of voters said doing so would lead them to view them ‘more favorably.’ When asked to choose between a generic Democrat holding the view that abortion should be legal through the first trimester and in any cases involving rape or incest and a generic Republican that favors banning all abortions, 60 percent chose the Democrat; just 27 percent went with the hypothetical Republican.”

The ballot measure in Kansas that Shephard refers to asked voters whether or not legal access to abortion should be removed from the state constitution; 59 percent of Kansas voters said “no” — which is, to borrow a phrase that Biden famously used during the Obama era, a “big f*****g” deal considering how deep red that state is.

“The results in Kansas point to another reality for Democrats: Speaking loudly on issues voters actually care about matters,” Shephard notes. “In the immediate wake of the Supreme Court decision that gutted Roe’s protections, the Biden Administration was notably slow to respond, only putting out milquetoast executive actions in the weeks after the decision. The Kansas result demonstrates that even voters in red states respond to major issues like abortion access…. The repeal of Roe and the January 6 hearings have given Democrats an opening to stake out a firm position on a favorable issue for the first time in months. They may as well take their best shot.”

READ MORE: CPAC 'proud' to host Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán to 'fight against socialism'

Why an AOC presidential run isn’t 'out of the question': journalist

On Friday, July 22, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted his endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is seeking a third term to the U.S. House of Representatives; if the Democratic congresswoman receives her party’s nomination, she will go up against a Republican nominee in the general election. It remains to be seen how much of a red wave the United States will see in the 2022 midterms, but one Democrat who stands a very good chance of being reelected is AOC. Her district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, is overwhelmingly Democratic — and she is quite popular amongst the left wing of her party.

AOC has toyed with the idea of a primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker — inspiring Democratic strategists to wonder how well she would perform in a statewide race. The progressive congresswoman has demonstrated that she is quite capable of enjoying a landslide victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District, but unlike Schumer, she has never competed in a race where she would also be campaigning everywhere from Albany to Saratoga Springs to Buffalo to Rochester to Schenectady.

In an article published by The Hill on July 29, journalist Niall Stanage goes a step further and toys with the idea of Ocasio-Cortez running a national race and seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024 if President Joe Biden decides against running for reelection.

READ MORE: Right-wing justices should be impeached for lying under oath: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“As President Biden’s approval ratings sink and polls show many Democratic voters would prefer a different nominee in 2024, some activists are beginning to entertain longshot options,” Stanage explains. “When it comes to unlikely-but-not-impossible scenarios, one is far more intriguing than any other: a presidential bid by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).”

AOC, born in New York City on October 13, 1989, is now 32, which is too young to run for president. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a president must be at least 35, and the youngest president in U.S. history, John F. Kennedy, was 43 when he defeated Richard Nixon in 1960’s presidential election. But Ocasio-Cortez will turn 35 in 2024 and would be old enough to be sworn in as president on January 20, 2025.

“An Ocasio-Cortez campaign would electrify her fans and detractors alike,” Stanage observes. “Right now, the Beltway consensus is that it’s out of the question. But is it? Ocasio-Cortez has conspicuously declined to commit to endorsing Biden for a second term. In a CNN interview last month, she told Dana Bash, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.’”

Stanage continues, “The New York congresswoman, who shot to fame in 2018 when she defeated then-Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary, is already a fundraising juggernaut. She could easily raise the funds to run a competitive campaign. She also has an enormous social media following — more than 13 million followers on Twitter alone.”

READ MORE: A ‘return to Jim Crow’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fears the US could cease to be a democracy

Ocasio-Cortez is routinely lambasted on right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and Fox Business, which paint her as way out of the mainstream. But truth be told, AOC’s views aren’t that far to the left; mainstream media outlets in West European countries typically describe her a liberal, but not far-left. And Fox News pundits are often criticized for living in a bubble and only interacting with fellow Republicans.

“Earlier this week,” Stanage observes, “a University of New Hampshire poll asked Democratic voters in the Granite State who would be their first choice as a 2024 presidential nominee, including Biden as an option. The headlines went to (Transportation Secretary Pete) Buttigieg, who edged out Biden by a single point at the top of the poll. But Ocasio-Cortez was again competitive with contenders who are taken far more seriously. She trailed Harris by only a single percentage point.”

Stanage goes on to lay out some reasons why a presidential run by Ocasio-Cortez “shouldn’t be written off.”

“First: Yes, she is old enough to run,” Stanage writes. “The minimum age to be president is 35. Ocasio-Cortez will celebrate her 35th birthday roughly three weeks before Election Day 2024. The second is that she has long leveled a broad critique of the Democratic Party leadership in Washington — in summary, that it is too cozy with rich, powerful interests and not responsive enough to the needs of its own voters.”

READ MORE: 'For the sake of the planet': AOC slams SCOTUS for its assault on efforts to mitigate climate change

How the GOP's attacks turned a Michigan Democrat into a 'political celebrity'

In a fundraising e-mail sent out in April, Michigan State Sen. Lana Theis, a Republican, accused Democratic Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow of being a “groomer” who wanted to “groom and sexualize kindergartners” — and when McMorrow forcefully called Theis out on the Michigan Senate floor, her speech went viral. Three months later, reporter Adan Wren looks back on that controversy in a July 28 article for Politico, explaining how badly Theis’ political stunt “backfired.”

McMorrow and Theis are both seeking reelection to the Michigan State Senate, and Theis has faced a Republican primary challenge from far-right MAGA conspiracy theorist Mike Detmer. As mean-spirited as Theis’ attack on McMorrow was, Detmer has slammed Theis for not being far enough to the right; the fundraising e-mail was obviously Theis’ way of telling Republican primary voters that she isn’t a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Michigan’s Republican and Democratic primaries will be held on Tuesday, August 2.

But ironically, Wren stresses in his report for Politico, Theis ended up helping Theis a lot more than she helped herself — even though that obviously wasn’t Theis’ intention.

READ MORE: We can't lose if we stand up against hate': an interview with Michigan's Mallory McMorrow

“The numbers are in, and it’s official: The attack on Democratic Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow backfired,” Wren reports. “The Michigan Republican state senator who falsely described McMorrow as a ‘groomer’ in an April fundraising e-mail raised less than $300 in the days following the solicitation, according to campaign finance filings. McMorrow, on the other hand, raised more than $1 million.”

McMorrow’s “spirited speech in the Senate in her own defense,” Wren notes, “made her a political celebrity on the left.”

“Theis didn’t see an influx of small-dollar donations from the solicitation — her take from individual donors was just $235,” Wren observes. “But McMorrow used the response to her speech to build a database of 11,000 donors from all 50 states, according to her husband and treasurer Ray Wert.”

In April, McMorrow’s speech received so much attention that she received a phone call from President Joe Biden, who applauded her for speaking out.

READ MORE: Republican ‘dehumanization’ tactics mirror Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin: ex-GOP official Nicolle Wallace

Theis, according to Wren, didn’t return Politico’s interview request. But Cody Mott, a Republican attorney based in Michigan, spoke to the publication — and he believes that Theis may not have even seen the anti-McMorrow e-mail before it was sent out.

“My guess is she never read that email,” Mott told Politico, “and it was a pretty big mistake.”

READ MORE: 'We will not let hate win': Democratic Michigan State Senator decapitates Republican bigotry in fiery speech

House Democrats call for new IG to probe deleted Jan. 6 Secret Service texts

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection suffered a major disappointment upon learning that text messages sent or received by members of the U.S. Secret Service during that time appear to have been deleted. And the leaders of the January 6 committee and the House Oversight Committee are now calling for a new inspector general to be appointed to lead an investigation.

On Tuesday, July 26, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi — appointed by Pelosi to chair the January 6 committee — and House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney sent a letter to Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari and Allison C. Lerner, who chairs the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). And they were highly critical of Cuffari.

“Inspector General Cuffari is required by law to ‘immediately’ report problems or abuses that are ‘particularly serious or flagrant,” Thompson and Maloney told Cuffari and Lerner in their letter. “Yet, Inspector General Cuffari failed to provide adequate or timely notice that the Secret Service had refused for months to comply with DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) requests for information related to the January 6 attack and failed to notify Congress after DHS OIG learned that the Secret Service had erased text messages related to this matter.”

READ MORE: Secret Service deleted text messages related to January 6th: report

Thompson and Maloney continued, “These omissions left Congress in the dark about key developments in this investigation and may have cost investigators precious time to capture relevant evidence. Inspector General Cuffari’s actions in this matter, which follow other troubling reports about his conduct as Inspector General, cast serious doubt on his independence and his ability to effectively conduct such an important investigation.”

The House Democrats, in their letter, went on to say that “in light of these serious failures,” they were requesting that Cuffari “step aside from the ongoing investigation into the Secret Service’s erasure of text messages and whether Secret Service personnel complied with federal recordkeeping requirements, and that the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) appoint a different Inspector General to complete the investigation.”

National Public Radio’s Ximena Bustillo, in an article published on July 26, reports that NPR “has independently confirmed that the Secret Service is in receipt of the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's letter, issued last week, that notified the agency of a criminal investigation into erased text messages by the agency's watchdog branch.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service told NPR, "We have informed the January 6 select committee of the inspector general's request and will conduct a thorough legal review to ensure we are fully cooperative with all oversight efforts and that they do not conflict with each other.”

READ MORE: Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony is 'smoking gun' for 'seditious conspiracy' by Donald Trump: legal experts

Foreign policy expert details the reflexive 'journalistic curse' that’s 'undermining' U.S. democracy

The fact that liberals and progressives — as well as right-wing Never Trump conservatives — were glad to see former President Donald Trump depart the White House on January 20, 2021 doesn’t mean that they believe President Joe Biden should be exempt from scrutiny. Many Never Trumpers who generally like Biden’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been scathing critics of the way he handled the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan; many liberals and progressives wish that Biden favored a government-operated “Medicare-for-all” health care system rather than funding Obamacare.

But Marvin Kalb, in an article published by the Brookings Institution’s website on July 21, argues that “bothsideism” serves no useful purpose for the media when it comes to Biden or any other Democrat. In fact, Kalb — a Brookings senior fellow known for his focus on foreign policy — describes “bothsideism” as a “journalistic curse” and stresses that there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to covering politicians.

“Not only does criticism not come in equal shapes and sizes, appropriate for all presidents and both political parties — a journalistic curse called ‘bothsideism’ — but, when unfairly applied, as it has been in covering Biden, it runs the serious risk of further damaging our still-free press and weakening our already shaky democracy,” Kalb writes. “The press image of Biden, president of the United States of America, has been whittled down to that of a doddering old man, wobbly on his feet and barely able to articulate a single thought without slurring. Is that a fair and balanced image of Biden? Hardly. But can the press do better?”

READ MORE: Journalist to ‘ageist’ pundits: Stop calling Joe Biden ‘too old’

Kalb points out that according to Washington Post opinion columnist Perry Bacon Jr., some journalists believed that because they did so much negative reporting on former President Donald Trump when he was in office, they have felt the need to show “balance” by going out of their way to write negative articles about Biden.

“Granted, the press is ordinarily skeptical of any incoming president, but Biden was never given much of a honeymoon,” Kalb argues. “Still, Biden survived his first few months in office in reasonably good shape. His approval rating was a respectable 55 percent. Some journalists were willing to give the new president the benefit of the doubt on controversial issues. But, as we know, Biden’s poll numbers dropped dramatically after he made the controversial decision, in August 2021, to withdraw the last contingent of American forces from Afghanistan under conditions that were, to say the least, challenging…. What we have all noticed is that as Biden’s poll numbers collapsed, negative coverage of him rose, leading in turn to still lower poll numbers, which have only further darkened his political prospects — a looping interaction between polling and press negativity from which there seems no escape.”

Kalb writes that while Fox News is expected to “attack Biden regardless of the facts,” the “mainstream press” should be doing a better job.

“I suspect there are more than a few Fox reporters who know better,” Kalb writes. “I have no hope for Fox commentators. They are in another world. But it is not understandable when the mainstream press blows a daily, even hourly, opportunity to cover Biden fairly…. The tendency to wallow in the negative represents a major and continuing failure of the American press, which has now mushroomed into a problem of such historic importance that, if left unattended, may soon contribute mightily to the undermining of American democracy.”

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Democrats are 'playing with fire' by pushing MAGA extremists in Republican primaries: conservative

In some Republican gubernatorial primaries, Democratic strategists have been promoting far-right MAGA extremists — reasoning that if they win the nomination, they will be easier to defeat in general elections. Never Trump conservative and Daily Beast opinion writer Matt Lewis discusses this strategy in his July 22 column, warning that Democrats are “playing with fire” — as some of these extremists who win GOP primaries may win general elections as well.

“America is a tinderbox,” the conservative columnist warns. “Donald Trump and his allied political arsonists are on a rampage. And yet, it’s Democrats who keep pouring gasoline on the flames. That’s my conclusion after watching the spate of election-denying MAGA candidates win Republican primaries, with more than a little help from their frenemies. Indeed, Democrats are spending millions to boost far-right candidates.”

The far-right MAGA extremists, conspiracy theorists and QAnon sympathizers who have won GOP gubernatorial primaries in the 2022 midterms include Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland. In both of those races, Democratic strategists believed they would have an easier time winning the general elections if they promoted the most extreme, pro-QAnon candidates in the primaries. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee who is running against Mastriano, said, during the primaries, that Mastriano would be the easiest to defeat — yet polls are showing that race to be frighteningly close. A Cygnal poll released in late June showed Shapiro leading Mastriano by only 3 percent.

READ MORE:Larry Hogan lashes out at Donald Trump as Maryland governor’s race becomes a referendum on MAGA

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan — a popular Republican governor who was reelected by 12 percent in 2018 — lambasted both former President Donald Trump as well as the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) after Cox defeated the more moderate GOP candidate, former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, on July 19.

“On Tuesday, Republicans rejected the moderate two-term Gov. Larry Hogan’s chosen heir apparent, to vote in favor of Trump-backed Dan Cox, a man Hogan describes as a ‘QAnon whack job,’” Lewis explains. “After Cox’s victory, Democrats were quick to denounce the GOP, declaring that, ‘They’ve succumbed to the ultra-ignorant QAnon, MAGA wing of their party.’ They have a point. The only problem? Democrats helped build that.”

Lewis adds, “The Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) funded an ad that aired during the run-up to the Republican primaries, noting, among other things, that Cox was ‘100 percent pro-life.’ The ad included flattering photos of Cox with his family, and one with him next to a smiling, thumbs-up-giving Donald Trump. The ad concludes with this: ‘Dan Cox: Too close to Trump, too conservative for Maryland.’ You don’t have to be a genius to see the deceptive game Democrats are playing.”

Lewis points out that Democrats, according to the New York Times, “spent more than $1.16 million on TV ads trying to help Dan Cox in the Republican primary for Maryland governor.”

READ MORE: Arizona primary election posing significant challenges for Trump-backed candidates

“Nor was this just a one-time occurrence,” Lewis observes. “In multiple states, Democrats have meddled in Republican primary races, always on the side of the far-right fringe-y candidate — their cynical assumption being that the MAGA candidate will be easier to defeat in a general election. In Arizona, Democrats are helping Trump-backed candidate Kari Lake, by thanking her more mainstream primary opponent for past donations to Democrats.”

Lewis notes that in Pennsylvania, Shapiro “spent $840,000 to boost” Mastriano during the primary.

“The problem? Mastriano is just 3 points down, according to a recent poll,” Lewis warns. “There’s also the problem that, according to Politico, he has ‘a real shot at winning.’ Still another problem? As the Washington Post notes, ‘Pennsylvania governors appoint their own secretaries of state, who supervise elections.’ What this means is that Democrats have helped make it more likely that a Gov. Mastriano could assist Trump in swinging the Pennsylvania election results.”

Lewis continues, “Again, Democrats are assuming they will easily beat Mastriano and the other Trump acolytes across the nation. This is quite a high-stakes assumption to make, especially given the apocalyptic terms liberals are wont to use regarding Trumpism and the precarious state of American democracy…. When dealing with something as fragile as liberal democracy, you’d think Democrats might handle it with a bit more care.”

READ MORE: Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial nominee is 'like Jim Jones in Guyana' and has both parties worried: report

How the 'Dobbs backlash' could affect the 2022 midterms: conservative

When the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. named his activist group the Moral Majority back in 1979, it reflected a belief that the majority of Americans agreed with his far-right Christian fundamentalist views. But with the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 and moved as far to the right as Falwell hoped it would, the Court’s popularity continues to plummet — and Never Trump conservative Jennifer Rubin, in a July 21 column for the Washington Post, wonders if the “Dobbs backlash” could result in a lot of anti-Republican votes in the 2022 midterms.

By “Dobbs backlash,” Rubin is referring to public reaction to the High Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. With that ruling, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years and ended abortion as a national right.

“The Supreme Court’s transparent right-wing bent and disregard for precedent, facts and history — not to mention the justices’ increasingly nasty and injudicious tone — have had two predictable results,” Rubin argues. “Neither is good news for the right-wing activists who fought for decades to pack the Court with unbridled partisans.

READ MORE: How Clarence Thomas went from a 'fringe figure with extremist views' to the Court’s 'center of gravity': report

Rubin continues, “The most immediate impact is on the Court’s standing with the public…. A new Marquette University Law School national poll, for example, shows ‘approval of the U.S. Supreme Court has fallen to 38 percent, while 61 percent disapprove of how the Court is handling its job.’ Specifically, ‘The percentage saying they have little or no confidence in the Court has more than doubled since 2019.’”

Rubin also notes that a Quinnipiac University poll released on July 20 found that only 37 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing.

Discussing Marquette poll’s, Rubin observes, “The plunge has been dramatic and swift. In May, the Court’s approval stood at 44 percent. In March, it was 54 percent, and in September 2020, it was 66 percent. Voters have figured out that the Court is exercising raw power.”

Rubin emphasizes that the Dobbs ruling is causing the Court’s reputation to sink lower and lower, and she wonders if voters will express their disdain for the Court by voting against Republicans in November — even voters who have grown critical of President Joe Biden. The Court, according to Rubin notes, has trigged a “resurgence in support for abortion rights.”

READ MORE: This former anti-abortion activist believes Alito used his rhetoric in Dobbs ruling

“Multiple states will include referendums on their November ballots to protect abortion rights,” Rubin observes. “There has also been a more general surge in support for Democrats in the midterms. The great ‘decoupling’ continues — that is, a sizable number of voters who disapprove of President Biden’s performance nevertheless plans (to) vote Democratic in November. A Politico-Morning Consult poll found that 18 percent of Biden disapprovers plan to vote for Democrats in the midterms. Polls from CNN and the New York Times-Siena put that figure at 19 percent. We’ll see whether this lasts until November. If so, it might be labeled the ‘Dobbs backlash’…. In the end, the Court’s turn toward aggressive partisanship will likely come with a heavy price — both for the Court and the right.”

READ MORE: Is the Supreme Court coming for our Miranda rights?

Journalist to ‘ageist’ pundits: Stop calling Joe Biden ‘too old’

With the 2022 midterms only three and one-half months away and President Joe Biden continuing to suffer from low approval ratings, many political pundits have been focusing on Biden’s age — and even some Democrats have argued that the 79-year-old president is “too old” to seek reelection in 2024. But journalist Andrew V. Lorenzen, in an article published by The Nation on July 18, argues that Biden’s age is irrelevant.

Lorenzen isn’t saying that Biden or any other politician shouldn’t be aggressively scrutinized from a policy standpoint, only that focusing on Biden’s age is a distraction from the real issues.

“Criticizing elderly politicians for lacking sufficient ‘fight’ is among the oldest — and dirtiest — campaign tricks in American politics,” Lorenzen observes. “It’s part of a simple but devastating playbook. Rather than substantively critiquing Biden’s policies or governing, one can call him ‘too worn-out and unfocused’ or ‘far past his prime.’ Maybe say he’s not ‘vigorous enough’ for good measure. Slowly but surely, you can construct a narrative that a country beset by crises hurtling from every conceivable angle is struggling because their leader is old, not because of those crises or the policies that led to them.”

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Lorenzen notes that “ironically,” Biden used the same ageist “playbook” back in 1972, when he ran against the late two-term Republican Sen. J. Caleb Boggs in Delaware. Biden, who was 29 at the time, won that race and remained in the U.S. Senate until January 2009 — the month he was sworn in as vice president under President Barack Obama.

“While running against aging Sen. Cale Boggs in 1972,” Lorenzen notes, “Biden argued that Boggs had ‘lost that twinkle in his eyes’ and was ‘just not a fighter.’ You can swap the names Boggs and Biden, and these attacks from 1972 would be indistinguishable from those used in 2022. Of course, such comments about age are far from a one-way street. Biden, who was 29 when first elected senator, faced criticism for his youthfulness and was derisively referred to as a ‘young kid’ by Delaware Gov. Russell Peterson.”

Lorenzen continues, “That’s the problem with ageist campaigning — it’s mutually assured destruction for the old and young alike. The old are accused of being weak. The young are accused of being naive. In the end, the political perspectives of both age groups are disregarded.”

The journalist voices his opposition to having a “maximum age limit” for politicians, noting that some voters believe it should be either 60 or 70.

READ MORE: Democrats need to adopt the GOP's ‘politics of fear’ to win 2022 midterms: journalist

“Well, say goodbye to leaders often beloved by young progressives: Bernie Sanders is 80, Ed Markey 75, and Elizabeth Warren, 73,” Lorenzen notes. “The list goes on. Sure, you’ll also be ruling out folks whose policies you don’t support. The retirement party for Mitch McConnell, who turned 80 this year, would certainly be a raucous affair. And at 76, Donald Trump wouldn’t be able to run again. But the problem with these politicians is not their age — the problem is their agendas.”

Bringing up Biden’s age, Lorenzen emphasizes, is intellectually “lazy.” But again, the journalist isn’t saying that the president’s policies shouldn’t be scrutinized aggressively; if anything, Lorenzen believes that ageism is a distraction from the type of issue-based scrutiny a president should be receiving.

In Biden’s case, progressives have been happy with some of the things he has done in the White House, while noting areas where they believe improvement is needed. One of them is abortion.

Biden’s record on abortion, over the years, could be described as anti-abortion but pro-choice — which, ironically, is a position that former President Donald Trump once held. Biden, known for being a devout Catholic, has been critical of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but progressives would like to see him being more aggressive.

In 2020, Biden campaigned forcefully on universal health care, expressing his opposition to the type of single-payer “Medicare for all” plan that his Democratic primary rivals Sanders and Warren favored but favored a major expansion of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. But while the ACA has enjoyed record enrollment under Biden, the U.S. remains the only major developed country that doesn’t have some form of universal health care.

Another criticism of Biden from the left is that he needs to be more forceful in fighting climate change, but that is challenging in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s late June ruling, 6-3, in West Virginia v. EPA — which limits the Environment Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plans. With the ruling, the High Court isn’t fighting climate change, but promoting it.

One thing Biden has accomplished that former President Donald Trump never accomplished during his four years in the White House is a major border agreement with Mexico.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has agreed to spend $1.5 billion over the next two years on border control technology. Contrary to the claims of far-right MAGA Republicans, the Biden Administration isn’t for “open borders.”

In a Twitter thread posted on July 18, conservative Never Trump journalist David Frum posted, “Given his party's weak performance down-ballot in 2020, Biden over-performed on delivering a Democratic agenda. Arguably, indeed, he delivered more than was wise from his own personal point of view. If he'd delivered less for his party, he might be polling better for himself.”

Lorenzen wraps up his July 18 article with a message for pundits: Critique Biden’s record, but leave his age out of it.

“Biden is old, but that isn’t the problem,” Lorenzen argues. “Rather than succumb to lazy generalizations, we should question the barriers we construct — for the old and the young — to get involved in politics. Instead of critiquing politicians for their age, we should be having a conversation on how we can build a political system where every generation is included and age really is just a number.”

READ MORE: Fox News airs Biden clips 'out of context' to make ageist claim he was lost during Obama’s White House visit

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