DES MOINES, Iowa — Door-knocking? Over.
Local party activity? Some Facebook traffic, if that.
Across an arc of vital swing states, the coronavirus has put politics on an uneasy pause.
Instead, political fights among state leaders from Iowa to Pennsylvania over the handling of the pandemic’s impact are raging as it spreads over this electoral heartland.
Protecting public health versus restarting the economy, along with arguments over the limits of executive authority, have taken the place of the national political debate typical of presidential campaigns at this point.
They reflect, unlike the political armistice that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks, a willingness to politicize this crisis. It’s one more clear measure of a polarized era.
“Yes, politicos and pols will always have November on their mind,” said Iowa GOP strategist John Stineman. “But, in my mind, what we are seeing right now is more about each base criticizing the other side for being wrong, a product of the political environment we have allowed to take root.”
Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Democratic nominees had won regularly for more than 30 years, tipped to Trump in 2016, sealing his victory with their combined 52 electoral votes.
While politics have slipped to an afterthought for most Americans behind a toll of mounting coronavirus deaths, lost wages and closed schools, the campaign buzz of a little more than a month ago has silenced.
In swing-voting Bay County, Michigan, Democratic activity had been humming, as it was statewide before the March 10 presidential primary, when participation jumped by 32% over 2016.
A week later, Bay City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade — the state’s largest and a Democratic tradition — was canceled. So was the county’s Democratic fundraising dinner, which was set to feature Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“I see chatter on social media. But as far as activity, it’s pretty much down to nothing,” said Bay County Democratic Chairwoman Karen Tighe.
Iowa canceled Democratic conventions in its 99 counties, a setback after 2018 Statehouse and congressional gains and a yearlong parade of presidential candidates vying for support in the February caucuses.
Republican Ron Forsell canceled plans for his fundraiser in Dallas County, Iowa, an emerging suburban battlefront.
“Politics is going to be there again,” he said. “But raising money now just doesn’t feel right.”
Democratic organizer Angela Lang’s door-to-door canvassing in struggling north Milwaukee had to shut down in late March, hurting her ability to reach this pivotal African American bloc before Wisconsin’s April 7 primary.
“I think for most Americans, politics is taking a major back seat to survival for some and the adjustment to this new normal for most of us,” said former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat.
Even as the virus raged in Pennsylvania, Republicans in Harrisburg pushed through legislation aimed at reversing the shutdown edicts of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, painting him as unconcerned with struggling families.
During debate last week, Republican state Sen. John DiSanto said Wolf had forced “1.3 million Pennsylvanians out of work so far, put businesses at risk of permanent closure and imperiled the long-term health of Pennsylvania residents and our economy.”
Democrats said that Republicans were trying to throw workers back into the pandemic’s path.
“Let the world know whose lives are we willing to sacrifice,” Democratic Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia said.
In Iowa, Democratic State Auditor Rob Sand has questioned the data Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is using to justify allowing more freedom of movement than in neighboring states. Reynolds’ aides were quick to point out public affirmation from Dr. Anthony Fauci after the federal government’s top infectious-disease expert praised Reynolds’ actions during a White House event this month.
The tension is most pronounced in Michigan, where the outbreak is far worse than in any of the other northern political battlegrounds.
Two weeks ago, Republicans sharply trimmed the emergency order Whitmer hoped to extend to June.
“Michigan’s recovery will take much longer and its economic impact will be much more devastating than it needed to be,” Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield said.
Democrats accused Republicans of racial bias for floating plans to open regions outside the predominantly African American Detroit area.
“It’s an us-versus-them thing with the rest of the state versus Detroit,” said Amy Chapman, an informal Whitmer adviser. “That’s another dog whistle of sorts.”
More than 1,900 people had died in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, the heart of metro Detroit, as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Whitmer’s criticism of the federal response in Michigan devolved into a public tiff with President Donald Trump, who responded by suggesting Vice President Mike Pence, his coronavirus task force leader, not call “the woman from Michigan.” Michigan Democrats echoed Whitmer’s criticism of the federal response to Detroit’s crisis, while GOP figures urged Trump to deescalate tension with the swing-state governor.
Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has built little campaign structure across the region. Trump is relying on state GOP headquarters for his operations, though they, too, have been largely empty.
Pro- and anti-Trump groups unaffiliated with the candidates have carried what little presidential campaigning has gone on here. Democrat-backed groups Priorities USA and American Bridge have aired millions of dollars in advertising savaging Trump’s handling of the crisis.
“Only the die-hards are paying attention to election politics,” Vilsack said. “However, opinions have formed and will continue to form on politics of how the administration is handling the situation.”
Associated Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
This story was first published on April 19, 2020. It was updated on April 20, 2020, to correct the timing of Whitmer’s declaration. She responded before GOP action, not afterward. It also corrects the timing of Republicans’ trimming the emergency order in Michigan. Republicans trimmed the emergency order two weeks ago, not last week.
China grows 'more assertive' in world politics as the U.S. leaves behind a vacuum, ex-diplomat says – CNBC
China has been flexing its geopolitical muscles as countries around the world grapple with the coronavirus pandemic — a reflection of Beijing’s belief that “China’s time has come,” a former U.S. diplomat said on Thursday.
In addition to pressing ahead with a new national security law for Hong Kong, China has toughened its stance on Taiwan — which it considers a wayward province that must be reunited with the mainland. Beijing has also kept up its aggression in the disputed waters of South China Sea and recently, at its border with India.
“China is being more assertive in pursuing goals that we know that it’s had in a number of decades,” Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”
“So clearly, this is an assertion of strength and it reflects a belief that China’s time has come, combined with the fact that this may be seen as a very good opportunity when America seems to have lost interest in global leadership and when there’s distraction from the coronavirus,” he added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visits a commercial street in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, April 22, 2020.
Ju Peng | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
Daly worked at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a cultural exchange officer. He also served as an interpreter for both American and Chinese leaders, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and ex-Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Geopolitical experts have said that China’s rise as a global power is a major contributor to tensions with the U.S. — the world’s largest economy that’s regarded as a global superpower and a world leader since World War II.
But the U.S. appears to have ceded much of its global leadership since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. That has opened the door for China to pursue some of its long-standing geopolitical goals more aggressively, said Daly.
South China Sea, India
Beijing has not let the coronavirus pandemic affect some of its territorial pursuits.
It has kept up its hostility in the South China Sea, in which it has overlapping territorial claims with multiple countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
Beijing claims nearly the entire resource-rich waterway, which is a vital commercial shipping route where trillions of dollars of world trade reportedly passed through.
Just last month, China’s relations with India also appeared to worsen when a military standoff started along the border they both share. Both sides blamed each other for initiating skirmishes which multiple reports said involved fist fights and stone-throwing, but the countries have since indicated their willingness to seek a diplomatic deescalation.
At the same time, Beijing increased pressure on Taiwan with frequent military drills near the island, reported Reuters. China said those drills are routine, according to the report.
China claims the self-governed island of Taiwan as its own province which could be taken by force if necessary. Beijing has touted a “one country, two systems” model which it uses on Hong Kong, but that idea was not popular with Taiwan — and even less now after months of protests in Hong Kong.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said last week his country would “resolutely oppose and deter any separatist activities seeking Taiwan independence.” Li, the second-in-command, notably dropped the word “peaceful” when he referred to “reunification” with the island.
Meanwhile, tensions have been reached fever pitch in Hong Kong as well.
The Chinese-ruled city was handed to China by the United Kingdom in 1997, and is governed under the “one country, two systems” principle which allows Hong Kong some freedoms that its mainland counterparts don’t enjoy. They include self-governing power, limited election rights, as well as a largely separate legal and economic framework from the mainland.
However, China pressed ahead to introduce a national security law in the city last week, essentially bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature.
Critics see the proposed legislation as Beijing’s move to tighten its grip on the special administration region following months of pro-democracy protests that turned violent at times.
Those issues that China has been pushing ahead with in recent months “aren’t new,” said Daly.
“What is new is them pursuing all of them with such vigor simultaneously,” he said. “And clearly they see vacuum and perhaps a lack of will from other nations, the United States in particular, to stand up for this.”
Trump’s dangerous militarization of U.S. politics – The Washington Post
The events of this week have startled even those who have been alarmed for some time about the trajectory of American politics. On Monday, Trump used security forces to disperse demonstrators before a photo op by a church. In the days since, he has kept up his steady drumbeat of divisive rhetoric, vowing to unleash the armed forces on U.S. cities. Such calls, echoed by Trump loyalists, belie the scenes of peaceful protesters gathered daily outside the White House.
We may be now inside Trump’s “Götterdämmerung,” as Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution declared — the “vicious downward spiral” as his presidential term draws to a combustive end. National polls show Trump slumping behind Democratic challenger and former vice president Joe Biden. On the streets of Washington, out-of-town federal forces confront protesters, including armed officers with little to no identification of the agency to which they belong.
Trump’s inner circle is doing little to curb his aggressive instincts as protests over the death of George Floyd continue across the country. Attorney General William P. Barr warns of a “witch’s brew” of extremists, no matter that the majority of marches and demonstrations have not been violent. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper speaks of U.S. cities as “battlespaces.” A White House spokesman told reporters that “all options are on the table” regarding military deployments to quell protests, language the administration more often uses when seeking to deter geopolitical adversaries overseas.
Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was “Chaos”, which I didn’t like, & changed to “Mad Dog”…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
So far, the most significant rebuke to the president came from his former defense secretary. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us” Jim Mattis wrote in a widely circulated statement Wednesday. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
“Every appearance in uniform, every word out of the mouth of a senior military leader, at this point has consequences,” wrote Eliot Cohen, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “While these men and women are not the only or even the prime safeguards of American freedoms, they constitute an important line of protection. And if they are willing to take a bullet for the country, they need to be entirely prepared to take obscenity-laced tirades and a pink slip for it.”
Critics warn of the damage already done by Trump’s threats to use military might at home. “Creating a sense that the military is a partisan political actor really does violence to the nature of the civil-military compact of the United States,” said Kori Schake, a former Pentagon official at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, to the New York Times.
“To divide and conquer at home, using the United States military, is an incredible escalation of the government’s coercive power,” said Alice Friend, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to Reuters.
General @Martin_Dempsey, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is criticizing the president’s threat to send federal troops into the states. “The idea that the military would be called into suppress what for the most part were peaceful protests” is “very dangerous.”
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) June 4, 2020
The world’s sole superpower is starting to look like more fragile countries elsewhere. Trump and his loyalists are only the second camp in the Western Hemisphere this past month to entertain notions of domestic military crackdowns: Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have urged a full-fledged takeover of the administrative state as the president faces a storm of controversies amid the coronavirus pandemic. And while top brass in both countries now feel compelled to publicly pledge fealty to their constitution and democracy, experts fear a growing far-right radicalization further down the ranks, especially among the local police.
“The Trump administration and its allies in Congress should dispense with incendiary, panicky rhetoric that suggests the U.S. is in armed conflict with its own people, or that some political faction is the enemy, lest security forces feel encouraged or emboldened to target them as combatants,” noted the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based organization that focuses on conflict prevention and rarely comments on domestic American affairs.
On one hand, the erosion on view challenges the country’s deep embrace of its armed forces as a wholly benign actor. The irony of prominent Republicans calling for the military to flush out demonstrators on the 31st anniversary of that kind of intervention in Beijing was not lost on many commentators.
“Tiananmen in the American imagination is something fantastic and distant, deliberately placed far away and long ago,” wrote Rui Zhong in Foreign Policy. “It is a black mark against the Chinese state alone, rather than a possibility in America itself. Only under a dictatorship could such things happen, we say, forgetting Ocoee, Opelousas, Tulsa, or Kent State.”
On the other hand, it also serves as a reminder to observers abroad of the limits of American commitments to democracy and the rule of law. “It will certainly be very easy for leaders in Africa, those with their own dictatorial tendencies, to justify future behavior by referencing the actions of the U.S. administration in the last few weeks,” wrote Nigeria-based analyst Idayat Hassan. “What Africans can learn from recent U.S. events is that democracy must never be taken for granted and that the rights of all citizens must continually be fought for.”
Politics This Morning: Canada slowing COVID-19 infection rate, but threat remains as restrictions ease, says Tam – The Hill Times
Good Friday morning,
Fresh figures from federal public health officials showed that Quebec and Ontario account for more than 90 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 caseload. The latest projections, released yesterday, suggested that Canada could see between 97,990 to 107,454 cases by June 15.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said while Canada has made progress in curbing the infection rate and controlling the spread of the epidemic, the threat hasn’t fully abated, as there is still no vaccine for the virus.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott has been tapped by Ontario to advise it in its efforts to collect racial and socioeconomic data during the pandemic. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ms. Philpott said her job will be to bring together “huge amounts of information” that have been siloed. Such data, she said, will be useful in improving the government’s research efforts and response to medical care. Her position is unpaid.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted not to comment on the release of a video that shows an RCMP officer hitting an Inuit man with his truck in Kinngait. The chief superintendent of the Nunavut RCMP has called for an investigation into the incident. According to the Globe, the victim was arrested for public intoxication, but was not charged. Mr. Trudeau reiterated comments he made earlier this week, acknowledging the existence of systemic racism amid the ongoing protests against police violence, triggered in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.
As anti-racism and police brutality protests show no signs of waning, one activist and some Parliamentarians said that there’s growing recognition that it’s time to go beyond long-overdue “piecemeal reforms.”
Independent Senator Rosemary Moodie observed the protests, which are colliding with a deadly pandemic that’s disproportionately affecting racialized communities, are drawing out more allies. “Every race is out there on the streets, supporting the concerns of what’s happening,” Sen. Moodie said.
Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, who immigrated to Canada as a refugee from Somalia, told Toronto Star that the process for addressing systemic racism in Canada starts with amplifying the “voices of those who feel that sting of discrimination of racism as part of their lived reality,” who can define the scale of the issue. He said there’s also work to be done at the community level, by empowering groups who are front-line responders when incidents occur.
Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the government delayed the rollout of COVID funding for seniors to prevent fraud, which has been an issue flagged public servants in the processing of cheques through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program. The top-up in financial assistance to vulnerable seniors will arrive the week of July 6. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough sought to assure MPs the government intends to pore over cases where fraud might have occurred.
In scheduled events, the House Indigenous Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear from First Nations Tax Commission and the Inuit Business Council, among others, at 11 a.m. Happening simultaneously is the Government Operations Committee meeting, where industry officials and Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada are slated to testify. The Industry Committee, meanwhile, is holding a hearing at 2 p.m. Witnesses include the Montreal Port Authority and Spartan Bioscience Inc.
The Hill Times
MLBPA rejects league’s demand for additional salary concessions – Sportsnet.ca
Apple parts supplier Broadcom says 2020 iPhone launch will be delayed – MobileSyrup
In Space No One Can Hear You Campaign: Trump Team Pulls Ad – NDTV
- Sports17 hours ago
NBA Board of Governors approves competitive format to restart 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play – NBA CA
- Science23 hours ago
The Strawberry Moon Eclipse May Be Visible Over Metro Vancouver This Week – 604 Now
- Tech19 hours ago
Rumor: Alleged 2021 5.5-inch iPhone prototype shows notchless screen and USB-C port – 9to5Mac
- News8 hours ago
Canadians living in China watch developments in Meng case closely – CTV News
- Tech24 hours ago
Successful investors are using big data and machine learning—now you can, too – Financial Post
- News23 hours ago
Ontario, Quebec account for more than 90% of national COVID-19 cases: federal data – CBC.ca
- Economy8 hours ago
BoC eyeing supply, consumer demand for July economic outlook, deputy says – BNNBloomberg.ca
- Science4 hours ago
Full 'Strawberry' Moon coincides with a penumbral lunar eclipse tonight – Daily Mail