The cold hard math of the Democratic primaries

Volunteers for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, Iowa

Volunteers for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, Iowa

Right now, it’s silly season in politics. The mainstream media, the presidential primary candidates and their campaigns are serving up small shiny objects, and the public is lapping them up. On the Democratic Party side, in the primary race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, these shiny objects range from coin tosses to speaking fees to the definition of a “progressive” to “Berniebros.” But hidden behind these superficial stories is some cold hard math involving delegates and demographics.

In the Iowa Caucus, a smiley face and a gold star for everyone

Donald Trump after giving "concession" speech at Iowa Caucus

Donald Trump after giving “concession” speech at Iowa Caucus

Last night’s Iowa Presidential Caucus gave all the front-runners in the Democratic and Republican Parties something to smile about. At least, the Caucus results gave each of the following campaigns something to spin positively about:

Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley show substance at Democratic Town Hall

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after clinching 2008 Democratic presidential nomination

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after clinching 2008 Democratic presidential nomination

Last night, one week before the Iowa Caucus, CNN hosted a Town Hall event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, featuring Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. The three candidates showed differences in their views and policies while answering questions from the audience of mostly undecided Democratic voters and from moderator Chris Cuomo. But perhaps more striking was the level of knowledge, substance and forcefulness each candidate exhibited on the issues.

A realist’s take on the Democratic primary race

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a show of unity in 2008.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a show of unity in 2008.

A true realist might not care who wins the 2016 Democratic presidential primary contest, so long as it’s the Democrat who is most likely to defeat the Republican nominee. The prize is winning the White House, and all the advantages that entails, from nominating U.S. Supreme Court justices to conducting foreign policy to pursuing or protecting social agendas on everything from God to guns to gay marriage. We have an ongoing series about the differences between having a Democrat versus a Republican in the White House, and the list is very long. While there are differences between the Democratic candidates, those differences pale in comparison to the Republican candidates. So let’s take a realistic look at the Democratic primary race:

Barack Obama channels Reagan and JFK in State of the Union

President Obama speaks at the Pentagon last December

President Obama speaks at the Pentagon last December

President Barack Obama‘s final State of the Union address last night was marked by an optimistic, confident tone in promoting America’s values and its leadership position for the future. In doing so, Obama was reminiscent of two presidents who loom large in our recent history: Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

Barack Obama, the anti-lame duck president

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Barack Obama this week signaled that he would have a robust final year in office as he announced executive actions on the registration of gun purchases, especially narrowing the “gun show loophole.” Obama also held a town hall meeting aired by CNN on Thursday to talk about his anti-gun violence actions. Moreover, just a week ago, President Obama appeared on an epic, hilarious episode of Jerry Seinfeld‘s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Obama was not only very funny and relaxed, he also managed to plug his Affordable Care Act, which has covered an estimated 17.6 million more people in the past two years, causing the percentage of Americans without health insurance to drop to the lowest level ever measured. In short, President Obama is exploding the stereotype of the lame duck president.

Guns versus terror

Statue of Liberty with gun

Statue of Liberty with gun

In the ongoing war between the political right and left to control the national dialogue, the latest battle involves conservatives talking about terror and liberals talking about guns. We saw this on display during last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, as the news headlines reported that “Terror takes center stage during Republican debate.” Likewise, terrorism but also gun safety law solutions took center stage at last Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate, as the ABC News moderators asked questions seemingly ripped from the Republican book of talking points.

Huffington Post flip-flops on Donald Trump coverage

Donald Trump, confusing the Huffington Post

Donald Trump, confusing the Huffington Post

Just over four months ago, the Huffington Post announced that, from then on, it would cover Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign in its Entertainment section rather than in Politics or News. The explanation given was that “Trump’s campaign is a sideshow.” At the time, we said that the Huffington Post’s decision was “boneheaded” because, among other reasons, there were plenty of other Republican candidates whose campaigns fit the “sideshow” bill and/or appeared to be just business enterprises, yet they weren’t being singled out like Trump. Now, the Huffington Post has flip-flopped on its Trump decision, stating that “we are no longer entertained” by Trump, because Trump’s campaign has “morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics.”

Winning the gun violence argument

America's intersection of children and guns

America’s intersection of children and guns

After yet another mass shooting in America, this time in San Bernardino, California, the debate over what to do about gun violence has been rekindled. However, when both sides simply fall back into their standard arguments, there’s no reason to believe that a different result will occur. To achieve a different outcome, we need some new thinking and new language. Here’s how the majority of Americans can win the argument to reduce gun violence:

The real American terrorists

Anti-NRA protest

Anti-NRA protest

We have a terrorism problem in America, and it isn’t Syrian refugees. The FBI defines “domestic terrorism” as actions that:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

Right wing domestic terrorist acts, such as the recent shootings at the Colorado Springs, Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, as well as four arsons in 74 days at other Planned Parenthood clinics, meet the definition. The same can be said about previous politically-motivated killings and attacks, such as the shooting of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, bombings, arson and attacks on abortion clinics, the attacks on black churches and their members, the shootings at the Sikkh temple in Wisconsin, attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and attacks on LBGT Americans.