Connect with us


The End of ‘Who Me? For V. P.?’ Politics – The New York Times



WASHINGTON — Politics has always abided by certain unwritten rules. Not all of them make sense.

One timely example: the rule stating that people who want to be picked as a presidential nominee’s running mate must never appear to be openly campaigning for the job — even though he or she plainly wants it (probably very badly).

If, traditionally, prospective vice presidents were asked whether they would like to be so-and-so’s running mate, they would typically follow some variation on the familiar dodge. They would say how flattered and humbled they were to be mentioned before claiming that they were not really thinking about getting selected, not at all, not one bit.

In other words, they must be reluctant. Or at least act reluctant.

But that custom is fading in this strange lockdown of a veepstakes season. Prospective running mates appear more and more to be shedding their fake reluctance — or not bothering to shroud their ambition in faux nonchalance.

You can call this progress, a win for the notion of saying what you want and advocating yourself. Credit Stacey Abrams as a trailblazer.

Ms. Abrams, who barely lost the Georgia governor’s race in 2018 and whose name has seemingly been bandied about as a potential Democratic running mate ever since, has repeatedly flouted this first rule of (non)campaigning for the vice presidency.

“Yes, I would be willing to serve,” Ms. Abrams said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked whether she would be the best running mate for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr. She told The New Yorker that she would be willing to help Mr. Biden “not only win an election but to govern.” She believes she would make an “excellent running mate,” she told Elle. “If I am selected, I am prepared and excited to serve.”

Again, this is not how this courtship has usually worked. Or how it still works, in the case of some other candidates that Mr. Biden is supposedly considering.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, for instance, Democrat of Minnesota and a former presidential candidate, seems to have the reflexive hesitation move down pat:

She would be loath to “engage in hypotheticals,” Ms. Klobuchar told CNN’s Michael Smerconish when he asked her the (hypothetical) question about whether she would be interested in serving as Mr. Biden’s running mate. “Right now, I am focused on my state,” Ms. Klobuchar assured everyone.

Of course, Ms. Klobuchar undermined her sheepishness in a spasm of possible Freudian candor when she told a Biden rally crowd that she could not imagine a better way to end her presidential campaign “than to join the ticket — to join Joe Biden!” She promptly corrected herself, saying she meant “join the campaign.”

Likewise, Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, has said that while she would be “honored” to be considered as Mr. Biden’s running mate, she has also been “focused full time” on her day job. Same with another oft-mentioned prospect, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who has said she is “focused on helping the people of my state.”

“I’m not running for anything,” Ms. Whitmer told Politico. “You don’t run for that,” she added, “that” being running mate.

Which is not to say that Ms. Whitmer would not love to be the former vice president’s future vice president.

Credit…Michigan Office of the Governor, via Associated Press

“If you are seen as playing hard to get, it protects you from being publicly rejected,” said Joel Goldstein, a law professor at Saint Louis University and an expert on the vice presidency. (Note: Mr. Goldstein gets a lot of calls in running mate season; his wife compares him to “an exotic plant that blooms every four years.”)

Politically, there is also a self-protective element to this, Mr. Goldstein added. “If someone campaigns for the job and doesn’t get it, they leave themselves open to the charge that so-and-so doesn’t want to be senator or governor or whatever,” he said. For this and a variety of other reasons, it has been considered safer not to be direct about one’s desires.

That is changing in 2020, though, which is an especially notable shift, given that Mr. Biden has pledged to name a woman as his running mate, and voters have traditionally expected women to be more circumspect about their ambitions.

In the case of Ms. Abrams, candor about her ambition is part of a larger political imperative. Not only is she not interested in being coy, she said she had an obligation to do the opposite. “As a young black girl growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if I didn’t speak up for myself, no one else would,” Ms. Abrams said on “Meet the Press.” “My mission is to say out loud if I am asked the question — ‘Yes.’”

In addition to Ms. Abrams, other potential Biden running mates have been open about wanting the job. “I would certainly say yes,” the former national security adviser Susan Rice said last week when asked by PBS’s Margaret Hoover what she would tell Mr. Biden if he asked.

“Yes,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked her the same question last month. Ms. Warren’s firm and unqualified response appeared at first to stun Ms. Maddow, who eventually became delighted. “I’m so happy you just gave me a concise answer to that,” Ms. Maddow said, before going to a commercial.

Several factors might explain this recent erosion of political reluctance. Social media has fostered an ethic that rewards getting noticed. “We’re in a much more aggressive celebrity and self-promotional culture in 2020,” said Beth Myers, a longtime top aide to Mitt Romney who oversaw the former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee’s running mate vetting process in 2012. “Everybody has their own mini-celebrity personality to maintain.”

The incumbent president has basically been saying and tweeting the quiet part out loud for the last four years. And he has been rewarded for it, at least by his supporters. Whatever you think of Donald Trump, no one will ever accuse him of being bashful.

Mr. Trump’s own running mate selection in 2016 followed a reality show format in which three presumed finalists (Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Speaker Newt Gingrich) engaged in public tryouts before being winnowed in a final elimination round — with Mr. Trump serving as judge, jury and M.C.

Still, it’s worth noting that Mr. Trump’s eventual running mate, Mr. Pence, assumed a much more uninterested posture than the other candidates did, to a point where Mr. Trump felt the need to ask him late in the process if he even wanted to be chosen.

“Chris Christie calls me nonstop about this job,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Pence, according to an account in the 2019 book “Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House.” “He’s dying to be vice president. And you, it’s like you don’t care.”

Mr. Pence had indeed given the impression he would be just as content to seek another term as governor of Indiana, according to the book. Mr. Trump announced his selection the next day in a tweet.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

As a general rule, the expectation that presidential candidates must “wait their turn” — another form of reluctance — is nowhere near as powerful as it once was. Two of the anointed Democratic “stars” of the last midterm elections did not even have to win their 2018 contests before hearing their names mentioned as presidential candidates in 2020.

This included Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic minority leader in the Georgia Legislature who narrowly lost her campaign for governor in a race laden with controversy over accusations of voter suppression; and Beto O’Rourke, a little-known former congressman from Texas, who barely lost his Senate race in 2018 and was next seen on the cover of Vanity Fair declaring himself “just born to be in it.” In this case, “it” referred to the presidential race of 2020 (which ended in November for Mr. O’Rourke, no longer the “it” candidate).

Pete Buttigieg, 38, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., did not bother to even win a statewide or federal office, or even a race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, before bolting for Iowa. He appeared not the least bit self-conscious about being in such a hurry.

In one revealing exchange during a November appearance by Mr. Buttigieg on the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” the host, Michael Barbaro, asked the candidate whether he had joined the military in part because it might benefit his future political prospects. Nearly every presidential candidate in this situation would have replied with the same definitive claim of purity, whether or not it was true: Yes, of course they would have joined, no matter what.

Not Mr. Buttigieg. “You know, I wrestle with that,” he replied, adding he would like to think he would have enlisted anyway, but could not say so for sure.

“That strikes me as a very candid answer,” Mr. Barbaro observed.

It was, even in the guise of angst or “wrestling.” Beats fake reluctance any day.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link


Biden Is the Politician America Needs Right Now – The Atlantic



Getty / The Atlantic

When Joe Biden entered this presidential race, he was flayed as an ally of segregation. Kamala Harris chided him for his defense of busing. His opponents roundly portrayed him as an architect of mass incarceration and an apologist for Strom Thurmond—as a clubbable senator not particularly bothered about the moral character of the backs he slapped.

These attacks were leveled not to suggest that Biden was a racial revanchist, but to reinforce a widely shared criticism of the man: He is not a visionary, but a malleable politician, with a barometrically attuned sense of the good.

But in Philadelphia yesterday, Biden delivered perhaps the most thorough-going and hard-hitting critique of American racial inequities ever uttered by a major presidential nominee. Certainly, no nominee has ever proposed such a robust agenda for curbing the abusiveness of police, and with such little rhetorical hedging.

In the face of upheaval, he’s given reason to hope that the traits that were his supposed weaknesses could prove to be his great strengths. If one of the ultimate purposes of protest is to push politicians, he’s shown himself a politician willing to be pushed. His tendency to channel the zeitgeist has supplied him with the potential to meet a very difficult moment.

One of the alleged truisms about older people is that they are cemented into ideological place. Their minds are said to have limited ability to switch political lanes. But in the past few months, Biden has altered his worldview. At the beginning of his candidacy, he announced himself as the tribune of normalcy. Donald Trump was a pathogen that had attacked the American host—and Biden would provide the cleansing presence that would permit a reversion to a pre-Charlottesville status quo.

What was so striking about his speech in Philadelphia was that it acknowledged that he had gotten it wrong. The country couldn’t return to a prelapsarian state of tolerance, because one didn’t exist. “I wish I could say that hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairy tale with a guaranteed happy ending.” Faith in progress is the nostrum of liberal politics, yet Biden broke with that faith in Philadelphia, and by so doing, he seemed to concede his own failure to appreciate the depths of American racism.

Since the beginning of quarantine, Biden has been chided for disappearing from view—and he receives strangely little media attention when he does rear his head. Over the past few days, for example, he’s treated the protests with deference, something cable news has largely ignored. When he met with activists who berated the Obama administration’s record on race, he didn’t react defensively. Instead, he studiously took notes. The relatively few images that circulate show him engaged in the empathetic poses that so often seem overwrought, but that also project openness and respect. In a church in Wilmington, Delaware, he dropped to his knee, a position obviously reminiscent of Colin Kaepernick but also a stance of self-abasement in the face of awe-inspiring anger.

So much American history has transpired since early February, it’s easy to forget that Biden’s candidacy was salvaged in the South Carolina primary. In the aftermath of that victory, he spoke about the debt he owed to black voters. There’s a chance that this was, to borrow a phrase, malarky. But in the former vice president’s antiquated style, where one’s word is supposed to be stronger than oak, this debt has already guided him to stake his candidacy on a clear statement of solidarity with the protests.

More than other figures in the Democratic Party, Biden can speak warmly about the protesters without risking political backlash. With his gaffes, which sometimes veer toward the politically incorrect, he’s hardly an easily caricatured avatar of wokeness. His penchant for cringeworthy remarks, and his old-time mannerisms, help cushion whatever anxiety some white voters might have about his tough criticisms of police and blunt condemnations of systemic racism.

On Monday, George Floyd’s brother spontaneously addressed a crowd at the site of his brother’s killing, clutching a bullhorn. Through his mourning, he tried to guide the shape of the protest movement that had risen in his brother’s name. He pleaded, “Educate yourself and know who you vote for. That’s how you’re going to get it. It’s a lot of us. Do this peacefully.”

It was as if he were distilling a body of political-science research that has shown why so many protest movements around the globe have fizzled out these past decades. Social media permit the quick gathering of crowds, but without the organizational infrastructure or robust agenda that can sustain a true movement. Terrence Floyd was urging something different: He wanted the crowds in the streets to think politically.

The challenge for the Biden candidacy is to bridge an alliance with a resurgent left. Biden, a creature of the Senate, has to convince young people rushing to the barricades that he’s worth a trip to the polls. And the challenge for the left is to accept that Biden is its greatest chance of achieving its long-held dreams. What he’s demonstrated over the past week is a willingness to play the role of tribune, to let the moment carry him to a new place.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Franklin Foer is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of World Without Mind and How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


US Floyd killing also rocks British politics – Anadolu Agency




UK politicians on Wednesday condemned the killing of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of US police sparked protests across the country and the world, but the government was also grilled on taking a firm stand against police brutality.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, a weekly British parliamentary tradition where the prime minister takes questions from the leader of the opposition and MPs as a whole, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer opened his line of questioning with the situation in America.

Starmer said that he was “shocked” by the death of George Floyd. In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he condemned what happened to George Floyd, but that people should protest peacefully.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Absolutely correct that @Keir_Starmer opens up #PMQs about the death of #GeorgeFloyd asking the PM what his position was on that horrendous event and the subsequent demonstrations #BlackLivesMattter”.

Ian Blackford, the leader at Westminster of the Scottish National Party (SNP), asked Johnson what he told President Donald Trump about the killing. He also asked Johnson if he could say “black lives matter.”

Johnson said: “Of course black lives matter”, but added that protests must be peaceful.

Blackford noted that Johnson did not disclose what he told Trump, and then pressed the prime minister on whether the UK will review the export of riot gear to the US.

Johnson said he was happy to look into the matter but that British exports are covered by the most scrupulous guidance in the world.

On Wednesday, Emily Thornberry, the shadow international trade secretary, called on the UK to suspend the sale of riot equipment to the US, and review whether British-made riot gear was being used against protesters in America.

The Labour MP wrote a letter to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, which said: “If this were any other leader, in any other country in the world, the suspension of any such exports is the least we could expect from the British government in response to their actions, and our historic alliance with the US is no reason to shirk that responsibility now.”

“The British public deserve to know how arms exported by this country are being used across the world and the American public deserve the right to protest peacefully without the threat of violent repression,” she added.

Last Sunday, British Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrators filled Trafalgar Square in protests at the killing of George Floyd.

BLM protesters have called for further demonstrations in London: Hyde Park on June 3, Parliament Square on June 6, and the US Embassy on June 7.

The US has seen protests since last week when a video went viral showing Floyd being pinned down by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as he was being arrested.

Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Shortly after, Floyd appeared to lose consciousness, but Chauvin maintained his position on the victim.

He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.

His last words were “I can’t breathe,” which became the slogan of the nationwide protests.

Floyd was killed by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” an independent autopsy found Monday.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Greens face big challenges as COVID-19 transforms the political landscape –



The Green Party missed out on a golden opportunity in the 2019 federal election. The COVID-19 pandemic might rob it of another opportunity in 2020.

Poised for a historic breakthrough — at times running third in national polling, ahead of the New Democrats — the Greens made only modest gains in the last election. The party won just one more seat than it had going into the vote and increased its share of ballots cast to just 6.5 per cent, still lower than its best result in the 2008 election.

Now, with support for the federal Greens and their provincial cousins either stagnating or dropping as Canadians shift their concerns away from climate change toward the novel coronavirus pandemic and the economy it is gutting, the party faces significant challenges ahead.

Wednesday at 9 PM ET marks the deadline for nominations for the Green leadership race. As of Wednesday morning, there are six candidates officially in the running: Amita Kuttner, Dimitri Lascaris, David Merner, Glen Murray, Annamie Paul and Dylan Perceval-Maxwell.

Murray, a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister, is the only candidate with elected experience, though all of the others have run for office under the Green Party banner at least once.

The candidates have until September to meet all eligibility requirements. The race is scheduled to conclude in October.

At the outset, the contest provided the Greens with an opportunity for renewal. Elizabeth May, who announced her resignation as leader in November, had been at the head of the party since 2006. But the pandemic has made it more difficult for the campaign to gain any traction.

It also has taken a toll on support for Green parties at both the federal and provincial levels.

Polls by the Angus Reid Institute and Léger published this week recorded national Green support at between five and seven per cent, virtually unchanged from where it was on election night. In British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, where the party holds its three seats, support was lower than it was in October.

The B.C. Green Party — which became the first Green Party in Canada to win multiple seats in an election when it took three in 2017 — had to postpone its own leadership race due to the pandemic. While polls suggest the party’s support is no higher than it was three years ago, the B.C. New Democrats under Premier John Horgan have opened up a wide lead over the B.C. Liberals; Horgan’s handling of the pandemic is getting high marks from British Columbians.

As partisanship drops, so does Maritime Green support

He’s not the only premier to experience a boost in support in recent weeks. Most premiers have — in part because the crisis has encouraged many of them to put partisanship aside and work collaboratively with other parties.

The desire for that kind of politics helped the Greens in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island make their big breakthroughs in the 2018 and 2019 elections in these provinces. But the pandemic seems to be sapping one source of the Greens’ political appeal by encouraging the governing parties to take a more cooperative, less partisan approach.

In New Brunswick, the latest Narrative Research poll found Blaine Higgs’s Progressive Conservatives leading with 48 per cent support, while the Greens trailed in third with 15 per cent. That is a drop of five percentage points for the New Brunswick Greens since February — and those are the kind of numbers that would give Higgs the majority government he was unable to win in 2018.

The poll found 41 per cent of New Brunswickers choosing Higgs as their preferred premier, an increase of 15 points since February. Green Leader David Coon fell four points to 14 per cent over that time.

Support for P.E.I. Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker (right) has dropped as Premier Dennis King’s polling position has improved, thanks to his handling of the pandemic. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

In Prince Edward Island, where Peter Bevan-Baker’s Greens form the Official Opposition in a minority legislature, Dennis King’s governing PCs have surged nine points since February to 54 per cent support. The Greens dropped six points to 22 per cent, putting them in a tie with the Liberals.

While King jumped 15 points to 53 per cent as Islanders’ preferred premier, Bevan-Baker fell 10 points to 21 per cent.

Though it could be a momentary blip for the governing Tories in these two provinces (crisis-induced spikes in support don’t always last), it should worry the Greens that they appear to have taken a step back in two provinces that once showed great promise for them.

COVID-19 dwarfing climate change as an issue

But the real existential issue for the Greens might be the impact the pandemic has on Canadians’ concerns about climate change.

At the beginning of the year, Nanos Research found that the environment was being cited by 21 per cent of Canadians as the most important issue of national concern. The economy trailed in second with 15 per cent.

COVID-19 has completely dwarfed these issues; 50 per cent of those polled by Nanos in April cited the pandemic as the most pressing issue facing the country. It has since dropped down to 33 per cent, though that still makes it the top issue of concern.

The pandemic’s surge as a political issue has come at the expense of the environment, which is now listed by eight per cent of Canadians as the most important issue facing the country. But while the environment has lagged, concerns about the economy have increased — it is now cited by 23 per cent as the top issue.

It is possible that as concern over COVID-19 recedes (which may not happen soon, given the threat of a second wave in the fall), the environment will rise again as an issue. But the damage the pandemic has done to the economy makes it more likely that most Canadians will be focused on economic matters in the short- to medium-term.

Former Green leader Elizabeth May, left, with leadership contestant Annamie Paul during the 2019 federal election campaign. Annamie Paul is the early fundraising leader in the Green leadership race. (Cole Burston / Canadian Press)

The longer-term picture is harder to forecast. The last time the environment was the top issue in polling was in the mid-2000s, before the financial crash in 2008 pushed it to the back burner again. It took another decade for the environment to re-emerge as the top issue of concern for Canadians.

survey by Abacus Data for Clean Energy Canada offered little clarity about the likely longer-term impact of the pandemic on public opinion. The poll found that 32 per cent of respondents agreed that the pandemic had led them to believe that the focus should be on the economy and health care rather than climate change. But an equal number said it made them feel that Canadians can and should make changes to how we live and work to fight climate change.

It all leaves the Greens and the six leadership candidates in a difficult spot. The progress the Greens have made over the last few years has been built primarily on two pillars: growing concern about climate change and fatigue with the old way of doing politics.

But the pandemic has shifted people’s priorities and demonstrated that traditional parties can put partisanship aside. Suddenly, those pillars look a lot less sturdy.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading