#PrimariesSoWhite: Why Do Two of the Whitest States Vote First for Presidential Candidates?

download (1)

As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, the presidential nomination process remains heavily weighted by two states that are among the whitest in the nation: Iowa and New Hampshire. Candidates, in some cases, spend more than a year making frequent, extended campaign swings through both Iowa and New Hampshire, which, critics say, gives the concerns of the first states a disproportionate impact on the agenda for the entire race. During the first-ever Presidential Forum on Environmental Justice earlier this month in South Carolina, Senator Elizabeth Warren refused to criticize the primary schedule, saying, “I’m just a player in the game on this one.” Fellow 2020 presidential contender Julián Castro, however, has been a vocal critic of the existing system, noting that the demographics of the country have shifted significantly in the last several decades. “I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first,” he told MSNBC last week.

US election 2020: Democrats respond to Obama’s warning

Bernie Sanders: “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julian Castro (R) are all contending for the Democratic presidential nomination

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julián Castro (R) are all contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination

Democratic presidential candidates have given their reaction to a warning by former President Barack Obama against moving too far left in politics.

Mr Obama’s rare intervention into the Democratic race was a talking point at campaign events on Saturday.

Some Democrats called for unity, while others defended their policy agenda.

Nearly 20 candidates remain in the running and there is much debate over the best approach to taking on President Trump next year.

Speaking at a fundraising forum in Washington, the former president – considered a moderate – cautioned candidates against pursuing polices that were not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama, who was in office from 2009 to 2017, said “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to “completely tear down the system”.

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” Mr Obama said to an audience of wealthy donors on Friday.

Watch former US President Barack Obama talk about “woke” culture

The remarks represented Mr Obama’s most pointed intervention yet in a crowded race featuring 18 candidates.

Former vice-president Joe Biden and senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are leading the pack, but Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a candidate.

How did candidates respond to Mr Obama?

Although none of the Democratic candidates explicitly rebuked Mr Obama’s comments, Mr Sanders mounted the strongest defence of his policy platform.

Answering questions on a forum aired by Univision, a Spanish-language TV network, he was asked whether Mr Obama was “right” to say voters didn’t want systemic change.

Mr Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist and progressive, laughed and said: “Well, it depends on what you mean by tear down the system.”

Democratic presidential hopeful, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders speaks at the California Democratic Party 2019 Senator Bernie Sanders insisted that he was “fighting for justice”, not seeking to tear down the system

“The agenda that we have is an agenda supported by the vast majority of working people,” he said. “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren, another left-leaning frontrunner, struck a more conciliatory tone, choosing to praise Mr Obama’s trademark health care policy, the Affordable Care Act.

“I so admire what President Obama did,” Ms Warren said at a campaign event in Iowa, the New York Times reported.

“He is the one who led the way on health care and got health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans when nobody thought that was possible.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Holiday Inn in Concord, New HampshireElizabeth Warren said she admired Barack Obama’s health care achievements

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said the party ought to be focusing its energy on defeating Republican President Donald Trump, not internal political squabbles.

“Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines,” he said.

Unlike Mr Obama, Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat President Trump, regardless of their political persuasion.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks at the Liberty and Justice Celebration at the Wells Fargo ArenaJulián Castro said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat Donald Trump

“Their vision for the future of the country is much better and will be more popular than Donald Trump’s,” Mr Castro, former housing secretary in the Obama administration, said.

Conservative Barack Obama issues warning to ‘revolutionary’ Democrats

Former US President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation SummitBarack Obama said most “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to completely tear down the system

Former US President Barack Obama has issued a warning to Democratic presidential candidates, cautioning them against policies that are not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama said Democrats risked alienating voters if they lurched too far to the left politically.

The former president, speaking at a fundraising event, said most voters didn’t want to “tear down the system”.

Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a Democratic candidate.

The field is crowded, with 18 Democrats vying for the nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The frontrunners are former Vice-President Joe Biden, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

At the event held in Washington on Friday, Mr Obama did not mention any candidate by name nor criticise any specific policy proposal.

Instead, he used the appearance to urge Democrats to “pay some attention” to voters on issues such as health care and immigration.

These voters, Mr Obama said, did not necessarily have the same views as what he called “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party”.

The comments, which come less than four months before the Democratic primaries, represent one of Mr Obama’s most pointed interventions in the race so far.

They may be seen as a critique of senators Sanders and Warren – widely seen as two of the most left-wing candidates in the field.

Both candidates have called for far-reaching political and economic change, including policies that would end private health insurance and decriminalise illegal border crossings.

But Mr Obama, who occupied the White House from 2009 to 2017, said the country was “less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement”.

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr Obama said at the meeting, reportedly attended by wealthy liberal donors.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden wave to their supporters after Obama gave his victory speech during an election night gathering in Grant Park on November 4, 2008Barack Obama, pictured here with Joe Biden after giving his election victory speech in 2008, is viewed as a moderate Democrat

The Democratic race is still largely up in the air even as the first of the state-by-state votes that will decide which of the contenders challenges Mr Trump for the White House looms in Iowa in February.

Some Democrats are concerned that Mr Biden, a moderate, will struggle to beat Mr Trump, prompting a flurry of latecomers to join the race.

In recent days Deval Patrick, the two-time former governor of Massachusetts, entered the field amid speculation that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may follow suit.

Meanwhile, political gossip about whether Hillary Clinton might enter the fray continues to set tongues wagging in Washington DC.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Clinton said she was “under enormous pressure” to challenge Mr Trump, who beat her in the 2016 presidential election.

Elizabeth Warren Won’t Admit It, but the Primary System Is Racist

Column default
By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, and the Democratic Party even more so, the presidential nomination process remains heavily weighted by two states that are among the whitest in the nation, Iowa and New Hampshire.

When we asked about this racial disparity at a presidential candidate forum that the “Democracy Now!” news hour co-hosted in South Carolina last week, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren bristled, replying, “I’m just a player in the game.” Warren and the other Democratic candidates need to answer why their party’s primary process favors these two small, rural, aging and almost entirely white states, and they need to explain how this “game” that weeds out candidates so early in the process is anything other than a glaring example of systemic racism.

The forum was held at South Carolina State University, an HBCU (historically black college or university) in Orangeburg, S.C. Here is the question and answer, in full:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Warren, just 30 seconds left. But speaking about racial injustice, do you think the order of the primary states should change? You have Iowa and New Hampshire —

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Wait, let me make — let me just — before you finish, are you actually going to ask me to sit here and criticize Iowa and New Hampshire?

AMY GOODMAN: No, I’m asking about the order.

SENELIZABETH WARREN: No, that is what Iowa and New Hampshire are all about.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me just ask. They’re two of the whitest states in the country, and then we move to South Carolina with a very significant population of people of color, and it means the candidates spend so much of their time catering to those first two states. Overall, do you think that should change?

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Look, I’m just a player in the game on this one. And I am delighted to be in South Carolina. Thank you.

Warren’s irritated reaction to the question betrays the Democratic Party’s rigid orthodoxy on first-in-the-nation status for both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

In 1972, Iowa Democrats moved the caucus up to Jan. 24, to give themselves extra time to process the results from all the precincts (currently numbering 1,678). That early date made the Iowa caucuses the nation’s first indicator of each candidate’s standing, and thus attracted extraordinary media attention.

Sensing they were on to something, the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties agreed to always hold their caucuses early, and on the same day, to maximize national press coverage. New Hampshire then managed to cement its hold as the first primary state, immediately following the Iowa caucuses. This has been the status quo since the 1970s, but nothing says it has to stay that way.

MSNBC played our exchange with Warren for Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro, who responded,

“I actually believe that we do need to change the order of the states, because I don’t believe that we are the same country that we were in 1972. … Our country has changed a lot in those 50 years, the Democratic Party has changed a lot. Demographically it is not reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not of the Democratic Party. And I believe that other states should have their chance. So yes, of course, we need to find other states. I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first.”

There are already four majority-minority states: California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas, along with the District of Columbia. Holding caucuses or primaries in these states first would likely have a dramatic effect on the outcome.

The lead-up to both Iowa and New Hampshire now are so long, with candidates, in some cases, spending more than a year making frequent, extended campaign swings through both states. Imagine if they were spending that much time in more diverse states, like South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren, to her credit, did travel to Orangeburg to participate in this first-ever presidential candidate forum on environmental justice. The forum was co-moderated by Mustafa Santiago Ali, former Environmental Protection Agency official, now at the National Wildlife Federation. At the top of the forum, Mustafa defined environmental justice:

“Environmental justice is the disproportionate impacts that continue to happen in our communities. The things that no one else wants, they place them in communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous lands. They become the sacrifice zones, the sacrifice zones for coal-fired power plants, for certified animal feeding operations, for waste treatment facilities, for unhealthy housing.”

The concerns of the first states in the presidential nomination process disproportionately impact the agenda for the entire race. Democracy is about representation. The primary and caucus system needs to be reformed now.

JPMorgan CEO whines about possible wealth tax.

JPMorgan CEO Accuses Warren of “Vilifying” Richest Americans

H2 jpmorgan ceo warren vilifying rich americans

In more election news, JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon criticized Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren during an interview with CNBC.

Jamie Dimon: “She uses some pretty harsh words, you know, some would say, vilifies successful people, so that — I don’t like vilifying anybody.”

Senator Warren fired back Tuesday, tweeting, “It’s really simple: Jamie Dimon and his buddies are successful in part because of the opportunities, workforce, and public services that we all paid for. …The fact that they’ve reacted so strongly—so angrily!—to being asked to chip in more tells you all you need to know. The system is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon doesn’t want that to change. I’m going to fight to make sure it works for everyone.”

Bill Gates doesn’t want a 2% Wealth Tax. Perhaps he can’t afford it.

Bill Gates criticises Elizabeth Warren’s plan for tax on super-rich

Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill ^ Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook

Bill Gates has become the latest billionaire to express concern for presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a new tax on the super-rich.

At a conference, the philanthropist and Microsoft founder said it would stifle business innovation in America.

Ms Warren, a Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential race, has offered to meet Mr Gates in response.

It comes after criticism of Ms Warren’s policy from figures like Jamie Dimon, head of banking giant JP Morgan.

Under the original plan, households with a net worth between $50m (£39m) and $1bn (£780m) will be charged with a 2% “wealth tax” every year. This would rise to 3% for any households with a net worth of over $1bn.

But last week, Ms Warren suggested doubling the latter rate – from 3% to 6%. She said the money raised from this new tax would be used to fund her healthcare plan, which is expected to cost the federal government $20.5tn over 10 years.

Mr Gates hit back at the idea during a talk at the New York Times DealBook conference in New York on Wednesday.

“I’m all for super-progressive tax systems,” he said. “I’ve paid over $10bn in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20bn, it’s fine.

“But when you say I should pay $100bn, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over. Sorry, I’m just kidding,” he added.

“So you really want the incentive system to be there and you can go a long ways without threatening that.”

Mr Gates is the second-richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $106.2bn.

When asked if he would be willing to meet with her about the policy, Mr Gates said he wasn’t sure if Ms Warren would “sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money”.

Hours after his comments, Ms Warren said she would “love” to meet Mr Gates to explain her plan in more detail.

Tax reform has become a key talking point among contenders for the US presidential election. The debate has been partially spurred by tax reform under Donald Trump’s administration, which the president dubbed “the biggest tax cut in history”.

Mr Trump said cuts would help to boost the economy, but critics argue they disproportionately benefit the country’s wealthiest individuals.

Earlier this year, a group of America’s richest people penned an open letter calling on presidential candidates to roll out a wealth tax on the super-rich.

“America has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more,” they said in a letter, proposing that the money be spent on tackling climate change and economic inequality.

Signatories included investor George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The group said they were non-partisan and not endorsing any candidate.

Who are the 2020 US Democratic presidential candidates?

The pool of candidates vying for their party’s nomination in 2020 is among the largest and most diverse in US history.
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos [Files/Reuters/AFP]
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos

Less than two years out from the 2020 US presidential election, the pool of Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination is among the largest and most diverse in United Stateshistory.

With 21 candidates already in the race and a number of individuals yet to announce their campaign, the list is likely to grow as the US primary season gets closer.

Here is a look at who has thrown their name in the race so far:

Michael Bennet, 54

Michael Bennet has served as a US senator from Colorado since 2009. Bennet, a former head of the Denver school district, carved out a profile as a wonky, policy-oriented senator.

He gained internet fame this year for a harsh scolding of Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas over the government shutdown.

Bennet was close to launching a presidential campaign after that but had to pause it when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In this file photo taken on April 10, 2019, US Senator Michael Bennet speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference in Washington, DC [Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP]

Bennet’s office said last month that the senator was successfully treated. That cleared the way for his May 2 launch.

Joe Biden, 76

Joe Biden served as vice president under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017 after nearly four decades serving as a senator from Delaware.

Biden is the most experienced politician in the race, and the second oldest, after 77-year-old Bernie Sanders. This will be his third presidential run. His first White House bid in 1987 ended after a plagiarism scandal.

In a video announcement of his candidacy posted on Twitter on April 25, Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden noted US President Donald Trump‘s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Last month, Biden struggled to respond to comments from Lucy Flores, a 2014 lieutenant governor nominee in Nevada, who said he made her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a campaign event. Several other women have made similar claims.

In a video, Biden pledged to be “more mindful” of respecting “personal space”, but Flores told Fox News this week that the former senator’s jokes on the matter have been “so incredibly disrespectful”.

The incident is just a glimpse of the harsh vetting from both Democrats and Republicans expected for Biden, who has run for president twice before but never from such a strong political starting position.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Biden Courage Awards last month in New York [Frank Franklin II/AP Photo]

In recent weeks, he was repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face questions about her allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court.

Biden has since apologised for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, it is another example of why critics believe he may struggle to catch on with the Democratic primary voters of 2020.

Cory Booker, 49

Cory Booker has served as a US senator from New Jersey – the first African American in the state’s history to hold the office – since 2013. He was the mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.

His entry into the Democratic primary was steeped in history and symbolism, befitting his status as the second black candidate in an historically diverse field. Invoking the legacy of the national movements for civil rights and for women’s suffrage, the New Jersey senator during his candidacy announcement urged a return to a “common sense of purpose”.

Cory Booker speaks to voters during a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]

Booker could face difficulty winning the hearts of the progressive Democratic base due to his past financial ties to banking and pharmaceutical interests. He said he would stop taking contributions from pharmaceutical companies in 2017.

He announced his presidential bid on February 1.

Pete Buttigieg, 37

Pete Buttigieg has served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012.

Before that, Buttigieg was a consultant for McKinsey and company.

He is the first openly gay Democratic candidate to run for president. He announced his presidential bid on January 23, 2019.

There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high-school friend with no experience in presidential politics.

Despite this, he has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. On the campaign trail, he has frequently spoken about the struggle to legalise same-sex marriage.

Pete Buttigieg speaks during the US Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

He has also repeatedly criticised Vice President Mike Pence for his view that discredits LGBTQ rights.

“I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people and especially in the LGBTQ community,” the Indiana Democrat said in an interview with NBC’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show this month.

Buttigieg’s moment may pass if he does not take swift action to build a national organisation capable of harnessing the energy, he will need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast.

Julian Castro, 44

Julian Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio, Texas in 2009 and served until 2014.

He served as the 16th US secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) under US President Barack Obama from 2014 until 2017.

Castro, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, was raised by a local Latina activist, and after a brief career in law, he was elected mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city at the age of 34.

Julian Castro listens as he is introduced at a gathering of Tri-City Young Democrats in Somersworth, New Hampshire, US, on January 15, 2019 [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

It was not long after that election that Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state’s demographics and improving the party’s fortunes.

He announced his presidential run on January 12, 2019.

John Delaney, 56

John Delaney served as a US congressman for Maryland’s sixth district from 2013 to 2019.

Delaney, a former banking entrepreneur, is known as politically moderate with a willingness to reach across the aisle.

He has supported a measure to raise money to build infrastructure by allowing US corporations to avoid taxes when they repatriate profits overseas if they buy bonds that would be used to build infrastructure.

John Delaney stands in a food vendors building during a visit to the Iowa State Fair [File: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

He announced his presidential run in a Washington Post op-ed published on July 28, 2017.

Delaney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was the first to announce he will seek his party’s nomination in 2020.

He said he was entering the presidential race early because he knows he will need time to build name recognition.

Tulsi Gabbard, 38

Tusi Gabbard has served as a US congresswoman from Hawaii’s second district since 2013.

Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress. At the age of 21, she became the youngest to be elected to a US state legislature serving on the Hawaii House of Representatives.

She has also served in the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq and was deployed to Kuwait.

She was a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage when she served in the state legislature in her 20s. But she has since disavowed those views and professes her support for LGBTQ rights.

Critics have pounced on her efforts to block the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Hawaii and a meeting she held with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this year, she penned an op-ed responding to media reports about her alleged ties to Hindu nationalists.

Tulsi Gabbard delivers a nomination speech for Senator Bernie Sanders on the second day at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

“While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this landmark first, and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters,” she wrote.

Gabbard officially launched her presidential campaign on February 2, 2019.

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52

Kirsten Gillibrand has served as a US senator from New York since 2009. Before that, Gillibrand served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.

Gillibrand has also worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 US Senate campaign.

She has been a vocal advocate for electing more women to office and a forceful critic of the Trump administration.

Kristen Gillibrand asks a question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC [File: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters]

Gillibrand, who has been a forceful public advocate for victims of sexual misconduct, came under fire for how her deputy chief of staff, Anne Bradley, handled a sexual harassment claim made by a female staffer against one of Gillibrand’s male aides.

She announced her presidential run on January 15, 2019.

Kamala Harris, 54

Kamala Harris has served as a US senator from California since 2017.

Before joining the Senate, Harris was the attorney general of California. She has also served as San Francisco district attorney.

Her track record as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general has drawn scrutiny in a Democratic Party that has shifted in recent years on criminal justice issues.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

Senator Kamala Harris speaks to the media after announcing she will run for president of the United States [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

She supports a middle-class tax credit, Medicare for All healthcare funding reform, the Green New Deal and the legalisation of cannabis.

She launched her presidential run on January 21, 2019.

John Hickenlooper, 67

John Hickenlooper served as the governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019.

Before that, Hickenlooper served as the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011.

Hickenlooper, cofounder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, has positioned himself as a centrist and an experienced officeholder with business experience.

John Hickenlooper speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, DC [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

He is the only Democratic presidential candidate so far to oppose the Green New Deal plan to tackle climate change, saying it would give the government too much power in investment decisions.

He announced his presidential run on March 4, 2019.

Jay Inslee, 68

Jay Inslee has served as the governor of the state of Washington since 2013.

He has also served in both the state legislator and US House of Representatives. He was the regional director for the US Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Jay Inslee speaks on Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle [Ted S Warren/ AP Photo]

Inslee, who announced his presidential run on March 1, 2019, has made fighting climate change the central issue of his campaign.

As governor, Inslee has moved to put a moratorium on capital punishment and fully implement the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, accompanying the expansion of Medicaid health coverage for the poor.

Amy Klobuchar, 58

Amy Klobuchar served as a US senator from Minnesota since 2007, becoming her state’s first elected female senator.

Before joining the Senate, she was the Hennepin County lawyer.

Amy Klobuchar waits to speak at the Ankeny Area Democrats’ Winter Banquet on Thursday, February 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Klobuchar gained national attention in 2018 when she sparred with Brett Kavanaugh during Senate hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.

She announced her presidential run on February 10, 2019.

On the campaign trail, the former prosecutor and corporate lawyer supports an alternative to traditional Medicare healthcare funding and is taking a hard stance against rising prescription drug prices.

Wayne Messam, 44

Wayne Messam has served as mayor of Miramar, Florida, since 2015.

Messam grew up in South Bay, an agricultural town of 3,500 people, adjoining Lake Okeechobee. His parents emigrated from Jamaica.

Messam believes Miramar has much that the rest of the US would like to have: environmentally friendly development, high-end manufacturing and major corporate operations.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam poses for a portrait in Miramar [Brynn Anderson/AP Photo]

Pundits have said he is unlikely to win due to low name recognition and funding. No sitting mayor has ever won the presidency and he has a lack of political experience.

On March 28, 2019, he announced he was running for president.

Seth Moulton, 40

Seth Moulton has served as the US representative for Massachusetts’s sixth congressional district since 2015.

Moulton first came to prominence in 2014 when he unseated long-term incumbent Representative John Tierney in a Democratic primary to represent the sixth congressional district.

Moulton announced his presidential bid on April 22, 2019.

In a YouTube video announcing his presidential candidacy, he said: “Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice.”

Seth Moulton speaks at a Merrimack County Democrats Summer Social in Bow, New Hampshire [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

In the video, Moulton said he wants to tackle climate change and grow the US economy by promoting green jobs as well as hi-tech and advanced manufacturing.

Moulton served in the Marines from 2001 to 2008. During his 2014 congressional bid, he became a vocal critic of the war in Iraq in which he served, saying no more troops should be deployed to the country.

He has advocated stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons should not be owned by civilians.

Beto O’Rourke, 46

Beto O’Rourke served Texas’s 16th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

O’Rourke gained fame last year for his record fundraising and ability to draw crowds before of his unexpectedly narrow loss in the US Senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

His Senate bid generated a torrent of media attention and excited voters in a party desperate for fresh political faces. He lost the race by fewer than three percentage points, the tightest senate contest in the state in four decades.

O’Rourke announced a $6.1m fundraising haul for the first 24 hours of his campaign, bettering his Democratic opponents.

Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign stop at a cafe on April 19, 2019, in Somersworth, New Hampshire [Scott Eisen/AFP]

Since his Senate bid ended, O’Rourke has worked to keep himself in the public eye, regularly staying in touch with his supporters and sitting for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

But with progressive policies and diversity at the forefront of the party’s nominating battle, O’Rourke will face a challenge as a wealthy white man who is more moderate on several key issues than many of his competitors.

He announced his presidential bid on March 14, 2019.

Tim Ryan, 45

Ryan has served as a US House representative from Ohio’s 13th district since 2003.

He represents a northeastern Ohio area that has reportedly lost manufacturing jobs in the past few years and shifted to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Ryan has said Trump has turned his back on those blue-collar voters who fled to him in 2016 and failed to live up his promise to revitalise the manufacturing industry.

Tim Ryan speaks at the Heartland Forum on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa [File: Nati Harnik/AP Photo]

Ryan pledged to create jobs in new technologies and to focus on public education and access to affordable healthcare.

He first gained national attention when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader in 2016, arguing it was time for new leadership.

Ryan announced his presidential run on April 4, 2019.

Bernie Sanders, 77

Bernie Sanders served as a US representative for 16 years before being elected to the Senate in 2006 where he currently represents the state of Vermont.

A progressive and cofounder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is the longest-serving Independent in the history of Congress.

Sanders announced his presidential run on February 19, 2019. Sanders ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2016 after losing to Hillary Clinton.

In the 2020 race, Sanders will have to fight to stand out in a packed field of progressives touting issues he brought into the Democratic Party mainstream four years ago.

Bernie Sanders speaks as he holds one of his first campaign events in Chicago, Illinois, on March 3, 2019 [Joshua Lott/Reuters]

His proposals include free tuition at public colleges, a $15 minimum hourly wage and universal healthcare.

He benefits from strong name recognition and a robust network of small-dollar donors, helping him to raise $5.9m during his first day in the contest.

Eric Swalwell, 38

Eric Swalwell, an Iowa native, has served as a House representative from California’s 15th congressional district since 2013.

Since joining congress, Swalwell has advocated for raising the cap on the portion of salary that is subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

He has also proposed a “mobile congress” that would allow politicians to cast votes remotely from their districts.

Eric Swalwell speaks during a joint hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Swalwell announced his presidential bid on April 8, 2019.

He said tackling student debt and gun violence were among the reasons he jumped into the Democratic primary race.

Elizabeth Warren, 69

Elizabeth Warren has served as a US senator from Massachusetts since 2013.

Warren, known as a progressive, taught law in a number of universities and was a Harvard professor.

Warren is a leader of the party’s liberals and a fierce Wall Street critic who was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Earlier this year, she apologised to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test to prove her claims to Native American ancestry, an assertion that has prompted Trump to mockingly refer to her as “Pocahontas”.

Elizabeth Warren addresses the Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network during a post-midterm election at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill [File: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]

She announced her presidential run on February 9, 2019. She has promised to fight what she calls a rigged economic system that favours the wealthy.

She recently unveiled a student loan forgiveness proposal that would cancel up to $50,000 of debt for millions of Americans. She also supports free college tuition for students at two and four-year institutions.

Marianne Williamson, 66

Marianne Williamson is an author, entrepreneur and activist. Williamson is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery programme serving home-bound people with life-changing illnesses.

She is also cofounder of the Peace Alliance, an education and advocacy organisation.

The Texas native believes her spirituality-focused campaign can heal the US.

Marianne Williamson meets with child care advocates at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City, Nevada [Bob Strong/Reuters]

A 1992 interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show propelled her to make a name for herself as a “spiritual guide” for Hollywood and a self-help expert.

She is calling for $100bn in reparations for slavery over 10 years, gun control, education reform and equal rights for lesbian and gay communities. In 2014, she made an unsuccessful bid for a House seat in California as an independent.

She announced her presidential run on January 29, 2019.

Andrew Yang, 44

Andrew Yang is the founder of Venture for America. In 2012, the Obama administration selected him as a Champion of Change.

In 2015, he was selected as Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.

He filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020 on November 6, 2017.

The entrepreneur and former tech executive is focusing his campaign on an ambitious universal income plan.

Andrew Yang arrives at a town hall meeting in Cleveland on Sunday, February 24, 2019 [Phil Long/AP Photo]

Yang wants to guarantee all American citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a $1,000 cheque every month.

The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Yang also is pushing for Medicare for All and proposing a new form of capitalism that is “human-centred”.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls on Congress to Impeach President Trump

APR 22, 2019

H3 elizabeth warren impeach trump

On Friday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful to call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump over what she called his repeated efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution makes clear that the accountability for the president lies through Congress, and that’s the impeachment process.”

Mueller left whether President Trump should be indicted or found guilty of obstruction of justice to Congress. Another Democratic presidential candidate, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, said it would be “perfectly reasonable” for Congress to begin impeachment hearings. House progressives, including prominent freshman lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, have called for Trump’s impeachment. That contrasts with senior Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who said last week impeachment is “not worthwhile at this point.”

Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren launches 2020 presidential bid

The 69-year-old from the US state of Massachusetts has already become a main target of President Donald Trump.

Senator Warren waves at the crowd at the campaign rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts [Brian Snyder/Reuters]
Senator Warren waves at the crowd at the campaign rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she will run for president, adding a fierce advocate of economic populism to an already crowded field of Democrats in the United States vying for the presidency in 2020.

The Massachusetts Democrat, a leader of the party’s progressive wing, made her announcement on Saturday from an historic site in Lawrence, northwest of Boston, that launched the US organised labour movement.

Warren, a Harvard Law School professor-turned-senator, may be the most well-known figure to enter the presidential race. Since being elected to the Senate in 2012, Warren has stood on the most progressive end of the Democratic Party, advocating higher taxes on the wealthy and consumer protections.

Elizabeth Warren makes big move towards 2020 presidential run

Her platform includes a tax on the richest 75,000 Americans.

“Hardworking people are up against a small group of people that holds far too much power, not just in our economy but also in our democracy,” Warren said at the rally in Lawrence. “We are here to say enough is enough.”

She called President Donald Trump a “product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else”.

Native American ancestry dispute

The 69-year-old from the US state of Massachusetts has already become a main target of Trump, who has dubbed Warren “Pocahontas” for previously identifying herself as a Native American, a controversy that has plagued the run-up to her candidacy.

The storm over Warren’s ancestry claim deepened when she sought to neutralise the attacks by releasing a DNA analysis in October, which said that she had a Native American ancestor “six – 10 generations ago”.

The Cherokee Nation blasted Warren for the test, which they said was a false claim to tribal membership, leading the senator to apologise.

Speaking from Washington, Al Jazeera’s correspondent Heidi Zhou-Castro said that as popular as Warren’s wealth reform proposals may be with the liberal base, “she does have quite a liability with her claims of Native American ancestry.”

“She seems to not be able to escape the controversy surrounding these claims,” Zhou-Castro said.

“Democratic voters have said in polls that their primary concern leading up to 2020 is selecting a candidate who can defeat Trump, and they’re worried that just as Trump was able to use Hilary Clinton’s emails scandals and blow that into a big thing that was very damaging to her campaign, that he may use this claim of Elizabeth Warren’s Native American ancestry as her Achilles’ heel.”

Zhou-Castro went on to say that Warren’s major opponent at this point is former Vice President Joe Biden, who despite not yet declaring his candidacy, is leading the field in polling among would-be primary Democratic voters.

To tax or not to tax the rich more, that is the question

Thanks to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren, the most important battle in American politics is finally on.

File: Demonstrators take part in a protest against tax cuts for rich people in the Manhattan borough of New York City,US November 27, 2017 [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]
File: Demonstrators take part in a protest against tax cuts for rich people in the Manhattan borough of New York City,US November 27, 2017 [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren have poked the B-hive. That’s B as in billionaire!

Higher taxes! On the rich.

The two billionaires with presidential ambitions who are associated with the Democratic Party – Howard Schultz (who built up Starbucks to ubiquity) and Michael Bloomberg (who made his billions delivering urgent info to Wall Street) – instantly came buzzing out of their hives.

Taxing the rich was dire! Dangerous! It would mean no more honey!

Mr Schultz threw a full double Caramel Creme Frappuccino right in Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s face! Metaphorically, of course. She, by floating the idea of a top marginal income tax rate as high as 70 percent, had caused him to leave the Democratic Party and announce his run for president as an independent.

Money has played an ever-increasing role in US politics. Members of the media not only know that, they promote it. The viability of candidates is based on their access to funds. Schultz could self-fund. That gave him instant status. All the news networks had him on. Immediately. Normally, it’s considered impossible for an independent to win. Still, Schultz said he had a fully caffeinated vision. There were more independents, 42 percent, than either Democrats, 31 percent, or Republicans, at just 24 percent. They would unite behind him. Plus, he would get anti-Trumpians from the right and centrist Democrats as appalled by anti-rich radicals as he was. What policies would he promote if he won? How would he get everyone else, who were still members of the two parties, to come together on them? In his vision, he saw himself swept into office by such a wave, that rather than defy it, legislators would also become his followers. He would then bring in the “best people”, “real problem solvers”, who would come up with the “best deals” … it sounded appallingly familiar.

Schultz also felt personally insulted by Elizabeth Warren.

She tried to criticise him “for being a billionaire“. His umbrage was not for himself, it was on behalf of the American Dream. “I’m self-made. I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, New York. I thought that was the American Dream?”

Warren’s actual proposal was that the first $50m in assets would not be taxed. Assets above that would be taxed at two percent. Assets above one billion dollars would be taxed at three percent.

It would affect just 75,000 households.

What would that do to Schultz?

His net worth was reported to be $3.3bn. He would pay two percent on the $950m between the first $50m and a billion, then three percent on the remaining $2.3bn. He would be paying $88m. That sounds like a lot. Until you realise he would be left with $3.21bn! Even with a very conservative strategy, Schultz would expect to make more than three percent on his money. So his wealth would continue to increase in spite of the new tax.

Schultz screamed, “Socialism!!!”

Yes, of course, Americans would stop pursuing their own special dreams if they knew that at the end they might be worth a mere $3.21bn instead of $3.3bn.

Misleading the public

Back in 2012, Bloomberg said, “Raising taxes on the rich is about as dumb a policy as I can think of.”

Bloomberg is a good liberal on many things. But when it comes to taxing the rich, he is a perfect example of the automatic resistance and, this is important, the fundamental dishonesty of much of what we will hear.

He spoke of driving “out the one percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes.” Without them, “our revenue would go away, and we wouldn’t be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids.”

Those statistics refer to personal federal income taxes. They exclude the many other taxes Americans pay: Social Security, Medicare, sales taxes, property and school taxes, various fees and levies. Add those in, and we find that Americans pay something closer to a flat tax than a progressive tax, with only the very rich and the truly destitute paying significantly less. This quick conflation that makes it seem like the rich already pay for everything is not only misleading, it is employed constantly without correction. We will hear it over and over again in the coming 22 months.

When the ‘S-word’ is not enough

While Schultz used the “S-word”, Bloomberg used both the “S-word” and the “V-word”!

V for Venezuela!

“If you want to look at a system that’s non-capitalistic,” he instructed us, “Just take a look at what was once, perhaps, the wealthiest country in the world, and today, people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela.”

Venezuela is clearly a country with a lot of problems. However, it’s top marginal tax rate is just 34 percent. Even after the Trump tax cuts, the top US rate is higher, at 37 percent. Nonetheless, the V-word has already become the new synonym for socialism-as-a-disaster and an argument for not taxing the rich.

Neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Warren are backing down. They’re sticking to it and in doing so they have established the standard for the upcoming campaigns. Among the declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Bernie Sanders have specifically called for tax hikes on the rich. Another potential presidential candidate, Sherrod Brown, said we’re likely to hear many more proposals like theirs, because “clearly, we need to make the wealthiest one percent pay more.”

The battle is on

For the last half-century, the number one issue for Republicans has been tax cuts for the rich. Increasing both their wealth and power.

The Democrats have been sadly complicit, routinely servicing their own big donors, those members of the financial elites, like Bloomberg and Schultz, who are socially liberal. The policies of the two parties combined have led us to ever increasing inequality. That condition underlies America’s social unrest and the dissatisfaction with democracy that has spread worldwide.

The only real way to address it is with taxes.

That debate is on. That debate will be a battle. It will be fierce, loud, full of lies, and, at last, some real elements of truth.

Neither Schultz nor Bloomberg has issued their own tax plan. Though Schultz says, urgently, that we need “comprehensive tax reform.” With not even a hint of what it will entail, except the getting the best people on it.

Then, there’s Kamala Harris plan. It is both “progressive” and very problematic, both politically and economically. 

It’s ending the Trump tax cuts and reaiming them at the least well off, from the genuinely poor up to the middle, using payments. This is necessary since she’s speaking of federal taxes and federal income taxes only take money from the top 50 percent, so you can’t reduce them on the bottom 50 percent, you can only give out money. 

The political problem is that really does come off as handouts. The crudest form of redistribution. The practical problem, as with Obama’s tax cuts, is where does that money go? Does it go to places that grow the economy or to buying cheap goods from China? How does it build business and raise wages? The economic problem is that it retains the ever-growing Trump deficits. 

In any case, the battle is on. It promises to be as busy and noisy as a busted open beehive. 

It is also the most important and only real political debate in American politics – which translates to world politics – in decades. 

by

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.