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Politics Chat: Trump And Biden Reach Final Stretch Of Their Presidential Campaigns – NPR



It’s nine days until Election Day, and a historic number of Americans have already voted. More will do so in the coming days.


We are almost there, people. Just over a week until Election Day and a new reminder of just how unprecedented and unpredictable this campaign is. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff is now in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. That’s on a weekend where a record number of Americans have also been confirmed positive. Let’s check in now with our own Mara Liasson, NPR national political correspondent.

Good morning to you, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marc Short is considered a close contact of the vice president’s.

LIASSON: Yes, he is, and the White House said that the vice president and Mrs. Pence both tested negative. They’re in good health. Pence – even though he is considered a close contact of Marc Short’s, he’s also classified as an essential employee, and the White House says he’s going to keep on traveling, maintain his campaign schedule. Per the CDC guidelines, essential workers who have been exposed to COVID can continue to work if they monitor for symptoms and wear a mask at all times. We know that Short himself is quarantining.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. As we know, it can take some time, though, for there to be enough virus to show up on a test, so obviously, we’re going to keep a close eye on this. But let’s zoom out a little bit now and look at both campaigns. Where are the candidates going in these final days, and what does that tell us about the state of the race?

LIASSON: Well, it tells us a lot. Donald Trump was in North Carolina and Ohio and Wisconsin yesterday. North Carolina and Ohio aren’t states that are usually considered battleground states. They’re states that Republicans should be able to take for granted. Wisconsin – obviously a big, important swing state.

Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania, so it shows you that he’s not taking his birth state for granted. That’s a state that Donald Trump won last time. The Democrats want to get it back. And the Democrats are sending Barack Obama to campaign in Miami. They sent him there. That – he is the most popular person in the Democratic Party, and Florida is a state that Donald Trump has to win to get to 270 votes. So it shows you that Democrats are trying to at least force the Trump campaign to spend a lot more time and money in Florida.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. And there are a lot of statistics being passed around about how many votes have been cast already and by whom and how all that compares to 2016 and other elections, so I’m going to put this to you. What’s your take on all those numbers?

LIASSON: The numbers are really interesting. Right now, 50 million votes have been cast so far. That’s early voting and by-mail voting. That is a third of the total votes cast in 2016, so I would say we are on our way to a historically high turnout election. In Florida and in Texas, the votes cast so far are greater than the number of total votes cast for Donald Trump in those two states in 2016. We don’t know by whom.

We also do know that a Tufts University study of young voters aged 18 to 29 in Florida, North Carolina and Michigan show that they are voting early by – in multiples of the numbers they voted four years ago. And, of course, we do know that young voters tend to split for Democrats 2-to-1. So it’s hard to say what early voting means.

There was an early advantage for Democrats in the states that do report party ID, but now we’re hearing from Florida that Republicans are turning out to vote early in numbers that could offset that advantage. And it’s hard to draw conclusions about early voting because we don’t know if it’s a sign of greater turnout advantage or is a party just banking votes early that they would get anyway on Election Day?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. And speaking of big numbers, let’s talk about money. I mean, we’ve seen just huge sums of money being paid out during this election. Is a cash advantage that – like the Democrats have as important as it used to be? And where are the candidates spending all that money?

LIASSON: A cash advantage is important. Money doesn’t equal votes, but it really helps. And what’s interesting about this year is that it is very unusual that an incumbent president, especially a Republican incumbent who – there are just more deep pockets on the Republican side – is being outraised and outspent by the Democrats.

Now, plenty of rich people are also giving to Joe Biden, but his average donation is $44. That’s a sign of enthusiasm. He also has much more cash on hand right now than the Trump campaign. It shows you how much money the Trump campaign has kind of blown through. And we also know that big donors are now – on the Republican side are now sending their money to Senate races, not to Donald Trump. They’re trying to build that firewall, and that’s going to be – he’s not going to be able to raise a lot of money in the last couple of days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. You mentioned Senate races. There’s a big race in South Carolina between Senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison. Just briefly, what other big races are you watching?

LIASSON: Well, watching Maine and Colorado. Those are the two blue states won by Hillary Clinton where there’s a Republican Senate incumbent up for reelection. In both those states, the Republican has been trailing. The next state I’m watching is Arizona – again, a Republican incumbent who’s been polling behind the Democratic challenger. And then there are all sorts of sleeper races. South Carolina is one of them, as you mentioned – Alaska, Kansas. There’s a lot of – I would say the Senate is a jump ball right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That’s NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Thank you so much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

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Identity politics vs. melting pot vision – OCRegister



The jousting over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of a U.S. senator to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is fast becoming the epitome — or nadir — of identity politics.

It’s a mindset in which the personalities, talents, character and accomplishments of individual human beings are secondary to being defined by their race, ethnicity, gender, age and/or sexual identification — and are expected to automatically reflect the values and mores of their designated categories.

Inevitably, then, politics become a competition among identity groups for power and distribution of public goods — a modern version of tribalism that succeeds the earlier vision of America as a melting pot that blends immigrant cultures into a unique society.

Oddly, ordinary Americans increasingly resist such categorization. We intermarry, we happily live in integrated neighborhoods, we have and adopt children of mixed ethnicity, we send our children to integrated schools and we embrace food and music from disparate cultures. That’s especially true in California, the most ethnically and culturally complex of the 50 states.

Harris herself is both a product of the melting pot vision — her mother migrated from India, her father from Jamaica and they met as students at the University of California — and of the politics of identity. Depending on the audience and the moment, she identified herself as Black or Indo-American, but she also married a white man who is Jewish.

Not surprisingly, therefore, Newsom is feeling pressure from identity groups to choose a new senator from within their ranks, each saying Newsom “must” pay homage with an appointment.

Willie Brown, the former Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor who was also Newsom’s political mentor, is leading a public drive for a Black woman to succeed Harris, who is also a former Brown protégé.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, still another Brown protégé, is on his list, along with Congresswomen Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Barbara Lee of Oakland.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund is another group publicly pushing Newsom to make history by appointing the nation’s first openly non-heterosexual senator.

Several women’s organizations are demanding that Newsom replace Harris with another woman.

Finally, Latino groups are pressing Newsom to honor the state’s largest ethnic group by appointing California’s first Latino senator.

Asked about his intentions during a briefing on COVID-19 this week, Newsom said he doesn’t have a self-imposed deadline, “But progress has been made in terms of getting closer to that determination.”

The odds-on favorite among political handicappers is that Newsom will appoint a Latino, possibly Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who has a lengthy and close relationship with the governor.

As the cynics — or realists — see the situation, Newsom has already given a nod to Black and LGBTQ groups by naming Martin Jenkins to a seat on the state Supreme Court. He could placate one of the other groups by naming a successor to Padilla in the secretary of state’s office. The same dynamics would apply if he chose another Latino, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, for the Senate.

While the competition for Newsom’s senatorial appointment typifies identity politics, it also demonstrates their unfortunate aspect of ignoring what should be the most important factor. We should have someone in the Senate of good character and demonstrated competence and who approaches the position with an independent mind, as the state’s other senator, Dianne Feinstein, has done.

It should not matter which identity group wins the competition. It should matter that whomever Newsom chooses will be seen as representing every Californian, not just one faction of the state’s 40 million residents.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to

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Munk Debates: Should we fear, or embrace, populist politics? – National Post



Article content continued

Elites cannot reform themselves, as seen throughout much of American history. We do see occasions where established parties undertake reform. But serious reform often necessitates the mobilization of people. So in the end, we shall welcome and not denounce populist politics.

Donald Critchlow is a Katzin family professor at Arizona State University’s faculty of history. He is the author of “In Defense of Populism: Protest and American Democracy.”

By Timothy Garton Ash

I’m all in favour of popular protest as part of a democracy, but that’s not populism. If it were, then Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King would have been populist.

Populist politics, which comes in our resolution, is a style of politics that we have seen from U.S. President Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India, Boris Johnson in Britain, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland and Viktor Orban in Hungary. The remarkable thing is that, different though these people and countries are, in the last five years they’ve had a style of politics that has distinct features in common.

First of all, they all counterpose a supposedly pure “the people” to allegedly corrupt liberal metropolitan and cosmopolitan elites. Although, by the way, the leaders of these movements are seldom actually men or women of the people. Donald Trump is a millionaire son of a millionaire, and Boris Johnson is hardly a horny-handed son of toil.

Secondly, when you look more closely, “the people” they talk about in the abstract, rather revolutionary style, turn out to be only a part of the people. There’s always an “us” and “them.” The “us” is very often defined in ethnic terms. It’s often nativist — it’s a native population. The “them,” immigrants, be it Hispanics in the United States or east Europeans in the United Kingdom during the Brexit debate.

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Covid might mean fewer family political fights over Thanksgiving – CNN



A version of this story appeared in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
I wrote a sort of guide on how to get smart on the Democrats’ investigation and politics before sitting down over turkey.
This year, Biden is President-elect, and with the pandemic raging, the federal government is counseling Americans not to go to Thanksgiving dinner at all.
You might give your crazy uncle, and anyone else you eat with, Covid. Or they might give it to you. That’s the truth, even though the way lies and conspiracy theories have taken root — thanks not just to social media but to new, fringe media outlets — makes it very difficult to counter fake with fact.
It’s obvious, for instance, that Trump, who might spend the holiday thinking about the notion of a self-pardon, may never publicly recognize Biden as president or concede that he lost. And he’ll carry that fantasy into the next four years, along with a war chest of small-dollar donations he’s squeezed from supporters with countless fundraising appeals after his loss and which he’ll clearly use to fund his post-White House public life.
Related: Read this CNN investigation into how dark money helped prop up three phantom candidates in Florida.

Dow hits 30k! What is it thinking?

Why would the stock market hit a record now, a time when:
  • Wall Street expects the government to pump trillions more dollars into the economy as stimulus
  • Millions of Americans are out of work
  • There are real questions about the health of US democracy
  • No one has actually gotten an approved Covid vaccine stuck in their arm
You can buy into that wisdom of crowds stuff, or you can look at how the stock market is forever and increasingly distinct from the economy as a whole.
This video with CNN’s Jon Sarlin does a really good job explaining how the market can do well no matter how the economy feels to actual Americans.
It’s really a marker of indices, it’s loaded with surging tech stocks, it’s affected by speculation, it’s compounding inequality and more. So, yes, Tesla has soared more than 10x in a year and Elon Musk is almost as rich as Bill Gates. Best Buy is having its best year in decades. Amazon is on a tear. But that’s not the economy. It’s the market.
And a picture of the economy must include the disgustingly long lines outside US food banks this Thanksgiving and the 12 million people about to lose expanded unemployment benefits in the new year.
Note: The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index is now showing levels of Extreme Greed.
What kicked the Dow to this new record? Trump emerged briefly to give a statement bragging about the market Tuesday, but it’s actually the acknowledgment by his government, without his consent, that Biden won the election, that appears to have triggered this latest bump. That, along with news of Covid vaccines and Wall Street’s comfort level with Janet Yellen, according to CNN’s Paul LaMonica.

Virtual school still sucks

Experts have been warning that virtual school will lead to a lost year for some kids and compound inequality in US schools.
Here’s the proof, from CNN’s Elizabeth Stuart, writing about the largest school district in Virginia:
The Fairfax County Public School District found a sharp increase in failing grades for the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year, especially among younger students, students with disabilities, and students who speak English as a second language, according to a study released this week examining student performance with virtual learning.
Among middle and high school students, the study found an 83% increase in “F” marks, when compared to the number of students who got “F’s” during the first quarter of the 2019-20 school year.
The increase was largest among vulnerable populations, including a 63% increase among Black students, a 106% increase among English learners, and a 111% increase among students with disabilities.
“More students were failing courses during the (primarily) virtual instruction period than had occurred when instruction was delivered in-person,” the study said.
This is horrible news if you’ve been following the growing number of school closures as states and districts deal with Covid outbreaks.

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