Trump’s extremism further divorces Republican base from reality

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After being ganged up on by civilian Trump supporters, a Black Lives Matter activist is ejected from a Trump campaign event.

When Donald Trump formally launched his presidential campaign on June 16, he brought out a seemingly contradictory response in commentators. The most straight-faced of news commentators thought he was a joke and didn’t expect him to last. Only the cynics, Sarah Palin fresh in their memory, worried that he had a real chance. Five months later and the cynics were right: Trump remains on top in the GOP primary.

According to Nate Silver, the analyst who famously predicted nearly every state in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Trump’s prospects of actually winning the nomination – let alone the presidency – remain slim. Silver may well be right, but it doesn’t mean Trump will be disappearing off American TV sets anytime soon. His mere presence in the race has already done enormous damage to our national conversation. Continue reading

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Bernie Sanders gives speech defining democratic socialism

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Bernie Sanders lays out his vision of democratic socialism to a crowd at Georgetown University.

Millennials might be willing to embrace socialism, but the word has been a liability for self-defined democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. It was the focus of his first question at the first Democratic debate. To his credit, Sanders has not tried to distance himself from the word. Instead, on November 19 Sanders delivered a powerful, campaign-defining speech at Georgetown University outlining his vision of democratic socialism and the future of the nation. Continue reading

Election season highlights the shallowness of American democracy

Charles and David Koch are interviewed by MSNBC anchors "Morning" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Charles and David Koch are interviewed by MSNBC anchors “Morning” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

No serious scholar of history or political science considers the United States a democracy. Nor is the country a Constitutional Republic, which is sometimes given as the technical term. We like to think of ourselves as democratic, but America is, more or less officially, an oligarchy. This means the people have very little influence over policy, which is instead implemented by and in favor of private concentrations of wealth.

With election season in full swing, this simple fact gets overlooked and the platitudes about democracy are pushed harder than ever by pundits and politicians. Ironically, no time in America reveals more about our democracy deficit than the presidential election cycle. Between campaigns that are bought wholesale by billionaires and a news media that frames the election in the perspective of big business, Americans really aren’t invited to participate in the process much at all. Continue reading

How the Sanders campaign can increase its momentum

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

With over a million small contributions from 700,000 ordinary Americans, the Bernie Sanders campaign has remarkable popular support. He’s accomplished this despite some notable handicaps: he self-applies the label democratic socialist; he refuses to take money from Super PACs; and he’s up against Hillary Clinton, a member of one of America’s royal families whose nomination in the Democratic primaries is often treated as inevitable. As inspiring as it is to see him doing well, there are some things his campaign could do even better. Continue reading

The GOP is a cult

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline,

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline, “Your money, your vote.”

The title of this article is intended to be slightly salacious and incendiary, but it’s also an honest diagnosis. The GOP, driven by a radical fundamentalist ideology, is unrecognizable as a traditional political party. “Cult” is a frankly accurate way to describe an organization that creates an alternate reality, worships power and seems to be following a suicide pact.

All this was on display in the most recent Republican debate. It was arguably the most heated debate so far, but not because of passionate disagreements on policy. Candidates battled less like diplomats determining the fate of the free world than like a chimp tribe choosing an alpha. The Republican Party is radicalized way beyond the point of debating sensible policy positions. Continue reading

Sanders vs. Trump could be just what the country needs

Billionaire real estate developer and reality show personality wants to be the most powerful man in the world.

Billionaire real estate developer and reality show personality wants to be the most powerful man in the world.

As soon as Donald Trump announced himself as a presidential candidate, the media labeled his candidacy a waste of time and dismissed him as a clown. Such characterizations are hard to argue with and, indeed, Trump repeatedly confirms them. But in the early stages of the 2016 campaign, amid a Republican lineup with no obvious standouts, this petulant personification of the right-wing lizard brain has emerged as the early GOP frontrunner. Continue reading

Voting for Bernie Sanders will be a pleasure

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in his congressional portrait.

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in his congressional portrait.

Of the last seven presidential terms, only Barack Obama’s two have not been held by a Bush or Clinton. Preliminary media coverage is already predicting the 2016 ticket will be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton, keeping the dynastic tradition intact. A more depressing – not to mention less democratic – prospect is difficult to imagine. But Americans are lucky to have a candidate who promises to shake up our lesser-of-two-evils politics in 2016: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Continue reading