Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

America Votes NO and Elects Trump: Speculation on a Trump Presidency


Last week the New York Times gave Clinton a 93% chance of winning, on the eve of the election a 83% chance – what happened?

The pollsters were wrong, again.

Wrong in the Brexit plebiscite, wrong in the Columbia FARC plebiscite and wrong in the Trump/Clinton presidential election.

I blogged about the Brexit polling miscue here and here , and,  at length, about the shortcomings of the presidential polling here.

The pollsters are not to blame for outcomes; they’re just bad at their job, predicting elections.

The American voting public, at least a majority of the public voted to reject politics by voting for the outsider. Yes, part was an anti-Obama vote, part was an anti-Hillary vote, anti-immigrant, homophobic, misogynistic  and, much of the vote was a rejection of our political system. The Republicans have been obstructionists and the Democrats kept pushing an agenda that would resonate with their core voters.  Trump was the outsider who will clean out the stables; of course, it is altogether more likely he will push for the standard Republican agenda.

The Trump/Republican economic agenda: back to the tax cuts for rich that will trickle down to the rest of us, called the Laffer Curve, and failed terribly forty years ago. See a detailed and somewhat wonky explanation on why it is “snake oil” here.

The Trump campaign rhetoric, repeated in his victory speech last night: rebuilding America, a massive infrastructure initiative, an excellent idea (except Trump wants non-union jobs!); however, how do you fund it?  If you add in massive tax cuts you can only fund through borrowing and Trump also plans to reduce the deficit. The way to lower taxes and increase spending is by cutting the largest budget cost: Medicare and Medicaid.  They are the largest single government expense, excluding defense, spending that Trump wants to increase. Of course, many of the older white Trump voters pay their medical expenses under Medicare/Medicaid.

Will Trump actually “build a wall,” round up the undocumented and send them back? Negate all the environmental protections, i. e., the Clean Air Act; deny Global Warming and revive the coal industry?

The first signs will be his cabinet choices; he can go back to the Bush era choices, respected but conservative, or, pick Giuliani for Attorney General and other outliers with little or no experience. The cabinet choices will set the tone for his term.

In education: supporting charter schools and vouchers at the federal level, perhaps sharp reductions in federal funding, and a much less intrusive US Department of Education (A good thing!) While Trump is against the Common Core; states adopted the Common Core, it is not a required federal program. Testing and accountability are at the core of the Republican agenda.

I was disappointed that Hillary did not jump on board the Diane Ravitch pro public education, pro teacher band wagon. In Massachusetts and Georgia pro charter school initiatives on the ballot were soundly defeated and in Oregon and Kansas attempts to defeat pro education judges went down. Randi Weingarten and the teacher union in New York City campaigned 24/7, I just felt the Hillary campaign took teachers for granted and they should have been louder in her support for public schools.

Will Trump get along with the Republican Congress, or, try to dump Ryan as Speaker and seek a more malleable Speaker?  On the Senate side, apparently a 51-49 split with Schumer as the Democratic Minority Leader; Senate rules require 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor, gridlock will likely continue.

I must admit I fear the worst outcomes.

The president appoints over 3,000 to staff the federal bureaucracy. The Republican agenda is to roll back eight years of Obama policy; rules governing the environment, banking, food protection, worker protection, unions, national parks, etc.

Weakening and/or destroying unions and public employee defined benefit pensions are at the heart of the Republican/Trump play list.

I can’t imagine Trump on the international stage: how will he deal with China, our major trading partner, or NATO and EU partners? Third World and Latin American nations? Will he be adventuresome or isolationist in foreign policy? Will he abandon NATO for Putin, his new found friend?

I picture the new Secretary of State: “No, Mr. President you can’t do that, it’s dangerous,” and. the Donald blustering, “Do it, I’m the President.”

My major fear: the impact on the world economy, in a fragile world economy, a recovering American economy,  I fear Trump will drive our nation and the world into a catastrophic economic times.

I hope I’m wrong.

The Election: Musing on the Future of Politics – Is There a Path to Bipartisan Politics?

Early Tuesday morning, at 6 am in New York City, polls will open across the nation and tens of millions of Americans will choose a president; millions will have already cast ballots in thirty-four early voting states voting. Unfortunately about a third of eligible Americans will not bother voting.
The polling is all over the place, I tried to parse the polling a few days ago (Read here), and, it was nice to see a Washington Monthly agreeing; it’s all about the low and haphazard polling response rates.
As the sun dips early on Tuesday, daylight savings time ended on Saturday, crowds will back up at polling locations as voters return from work. As the polls close, 9 pm in New York City, we’ll be glued to our media of choice. If the map is blue, if Hillary takes New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North /Carolina and Florida, the sweep will be on. If not, a long, long night.


A quick lesson: the candidate with the most votes doesn’t necessarily win – each state has a number of electoral votes equal to the members of Congress, fifty-one separate elections.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

a total of 535 electoral votes plus three for the District of Columbia – 538 electoral votes – a majority, 270, required for victory.

The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state.

Whoever is elected, hopefully Hillary, will face a sharply divided partisan Congress. Politics in this nation is broken, and we broke it.

Electoral politics has always been nasty. Opponents of George Washington called him “King George,” convinced he would rule as a monarch.Jefferson did everything he could to denigrate and damage Hamilton, his bitter enemy (Read The Hamilton Affair: A Novel, Elizabeth Cobbs – 2016). Lincoln was portrayed as a gorilla. Republican candidate James Blaine accused opponent Grover Cleveland of fathering an illegitimate child and marched through the streets chanting, ” Ma. Ma, where’s my pa?” After Cleveland won his admirers marched through the streets chanting, “Went to the White House, ha ha ha.”

Politics in the nation was party politics; we pulled the lever for our party without too much concern over the candidate. Party politics began to unravel in the 60’s; the sharp divisions over the war in Vietnam and civil rights legislation moved the parties in different directions. Tom Hayden and others led a revolt at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that shattered the party and resulted in two terms of Richard Nixon and a party that has never fully recovered. (Sol Stern reminds us of the impact of Hayden here) The traditional Democratic Party: labor unions, the progressive left, minorities, women, the young has been battling internally for the soul of the party. Jimmy Carter won as a reaction to the Nixon impeachment, Clinton and Obama actually ran outside the party, neither was the choice of the party fathers.

The Republicans put together a Southern Strategy, appealing to covert and overt racist sentiments prevalent among whites in the South. Add the gun crowd, the Evangelicals, disaffected white males; a voter base that elected white Republicans throughout the South, and, elected Donald Trump as their candidate, a candidate far outside the Republican camp. The Republican strategy was usurped by a reality star.

In spite of the wails of progressives about the nature of elections today we get the elections we deserve; constant, unrelenting personal attacks erode support for the opposition. If your goal is to lower taxes on the wealthy, outlaw abortion, convert Medicare to a voucher program, recreate segregated schools by supporting vouchers, you can only accomplish it by destroying your opponents. To the public issues are boring, sex, violence and scandal mean eyes on the screen. For eight years the Republicans attacked Bill and Hillary, personal attacks weakened Bill’s ability to pass legislation. Republicans would lose national debates over issues; they have succeeded, to some extent, in impairing Bill Clinton and Obama’s ability to govern. Paul Krugman says it much better than I can here.

Progressive democrats abjure “dirty politics,” and lose elections.

Effective teachers know they have to meet the students where the students are before they can raise them to where we want them to be. Democrats who proudly remained “above the fray,” disconnected from the sans-culotte; politics, from time to time, means rolling in the mud, it is not an intellectual pursuit.

Donald Trump may become president because he tapped in to the dark side of Americans, The harder the hit at a football game the louder we cheer, concussion protocols are booed; smashing an opponent into the boards at a hockey game, or better, a fight, wild cheers. Obnoxious (to me, obnoxious) lyrics in rap are commonplace, TV shows and movies trivialize the most violent acts, and we choose to click on newspaper articles that involve sex, violence and corruption.

Social media provides a platform for the vilest exchange of insults.

Southern strategys within the Republican Party made Donald Trump possible. The Grand Old Party isn’t so grand; Tea Party versus Evangelical versus mainstream (i. e., Paul Ryan) may not be able to dance. On the Democratic side the left, or progressive or Bernie wing, whatever you want to call it, is in combat with the “electeds” wing, the Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid party leaders. Too many Democrats are sitting on the sidelines during this election cycle, in my view like the angry child crying because s/he didn’t get his way.

A freshman House member met with Speaker Sam Rayburn, “Mr. Speaker, I noticed that in the Rivers and Harbors Bill cities without either a river or a harbor are receiving funding,” Rayburn (perhaps apocryphally) “Young man, you’re messing with the testicles of the universe.”

Lyndon Johnson, with Rayburn as Speaker of the House, passed the most significant civil rights legislation since the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Johnson was able to “wheel and deal,” to offer this thing for that vote, the ebb and flow that had characterized the legislative process.  The progressives ended:”ear marks,” (Read progressive view attacking the process here) that created the space for the deal-making).  Lincoln probably offered jobs in exchange for votes to pass the 13th Amendment in Congress.

All of the above brings me back to Federalist # 51,

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

 Madison’s simple words, But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  is prescient. Anyone can sit at a computer and anonymously spew the most vicious hate.

If we turned off the TV set, refused to buy newspapers that spew hate, conducted civil discourse on social media sites, “unfriended” the haters, maybe, just maybe, the political strategists would change their ways.

Will the Republicans continue playing the attack dog?  Continue to obfuscate, to pursue a path of politics by destruction? Will the Democrats choose party leaders with the ability to negotiate and fight?

The best path for the parties, both Democrat and Republican, to rebuild, to recreate themselves, is to produce meaningful bipartisan legislation:

* A massive infrastructure law: tens of billions to reconstruct highways, bridges and rails.

* Full participation in environmental initiatives: global warming, alternative fuels, energy independence

* Continue to build a coast to coast cyber highway.

  • Figure out ways to fund higher education – graduates without deep debt

Can you imagine President Clinton, Democratic and Republican leaders standing on the same stage, rebuilding their parties and the nation?

Or, another round of self-destructive hyperpolitics.


The Lysistrata Effect: Misogyny, Women and the Presidential Election

If you live in an apartment house you have laundry room and elevator friends. I chat in the laundry room waiting for the spin cycle to end, my neighbor describes himself as a “Reagan-Romney Republican” and he calls me a “Paul Krugman Democrat.”

“I can’t wait for this election to be over – I can’t vote for Trump, I’ve always voted for the Republican candidate, I can’t this time, plus, my wife would kill me – she’s working for Hillary.”

“It’s a secret ballot, how would she ever know?”

“Oh she’d know, my first wife found about my girlfriend and my girlfriend found out about my wife – they always find out.”

This election reminds me of a 5th century play Lysistrata by the Greek playwright Aristophanes.

Lysistrata is an account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War by persuading the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace.

The Lysistrata Effect: the impact of women in this election is unparalleled. The NY Times Chances of Winning metric has Hillary at 92% – the highest percentage since the candidates were nominated. The fivethirtyeight blog predicts Hillary with 343 electoral votes (270 required for a win) and Hillary leads in the popular vote 49 – 42 percent.

My neighbor said, “I can’t wait for this election to be over and we can get back to politics as usual.”

We’re not going back to “politics as usual,” Trump may very well be trashed in this election, he is not going away. The Democrats may very well close the gap in the House of Representatives; however, they will win seats in contested districts and defeat the more liberal Republicans, I know liberal Republican is an oxymoron, they are liberal when compared to the Tea Party Republicans, the Freedom Caucus.  If the Freedom Caucus withholds votes they will be able to prevent Paul Ryan from being elected as speaker and prevent any bill from coming to the floor. Will the mainstream Republicans forgo the “Hastert Rule” and seek Democratic votes to elect a speaker and pass legislation?

Will Trump support Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries to attempt to defeat Republicans who did not support him?

We are entering into a chaordic age, “… the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization, or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos.” Perhaps we are moving to a realignment of parties, maybe similar to the Independent Democratic Coalition (IDC) in the Albany Senate.

“You can’t go home again,” you can only look forward, and there is no question that the future is murky. The voting public is alienated from the political system; only 57.2% of eligibles voted in the 2012 election, Of the 35 OECD nations the US is in 26th place in percent of eligibles who vote. There is little question that negative campaigning tears down candidates, too many Americans have no faith in our political system.

James Madison, in Federalist # 51 framed the necessary conflicts between governors and the governed.

 … what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.

What Should Be the First Educational Initiative of the HRC Administration?

Woke up this morning and checked out my phone: emails, tweets (a different world!), and, scanned the NY Times online. Every day the Times have a graphic, the percentages predicting the presidential election outcome. In July Hillary was in the mid-eighties and by mid-September had dipped to the mid-seventies. This morning Hillary hit 89% – the highest Times election prediction.

The Nate Silver fivethirtyeight blog  predicts Clinton 86.4% and 341 electoral votes (270 needed for victory), and, in the popular vote Clinton leads 49% to 42%.

The Third Presidential Debate will take on Wednesday, October 19th in Las Vegas; Chris Wallace of Fox will be the moderator. The tenor of the debates will not change.

Trump has “legitimatized” racism, misogamy and homophobia, voters may think and not use the “N” word, don’t worry, Trump is the surrogate. For the Trump camp the hope is in the lessons from the Brixit and the Columbia plebiscites, the polls predicted “yes” votes and the “no” prevailed in both cases. Are there Trump votes outside of the reach of the pollsters? Trump will be Trump, hoping that the lesson from Brixit prevails.

With pollsters predicting a big Hillary victory will Trump voters throw in the towel and not bother voting, and/or, will the Hillary voters, anticipating a big Hillary win will also not bother to vote?

Hopefully, I’ll feel relieved on November 9th

A couple of weeks after the election HRC, (G-d willing!!) will begin nominating cabinet members. Who will be the Secretary of Education?  I can give you a list of who will NOT be nominated; I have no idea of the nominee.

The first hundred days are crucial for incoming presidents: setting the tone for the presidency. Bill Clinton chose health care reform and stumbled badly. His presidency never achieved the accomplishments he anticipated.  While Hillary may regain the Senate it is unlikely the Democrats will also seize the House. The Republicans have been successful in thwarting Obama, with relatively little voter negativity.  Plus, history shows that midterm elections usually favor the “out” party. In 2010 and 2014 the Republicans thrashed the Democrats in the midterm elections. HRC will have a two year window to convince the nation that she was the “right” choice.

Reducing poverty and supporting the middle class is at the heart of the HRC agenda; however they are heavy lifts (See Brookings Institute paper here)

… graduating from high school, belonging to a family with at least one full-time worker, and having children while married and after age 21—correlated closely with economic success. We call this the “success sequence.” Individuals who follow it almost never live in poverty.

What can Hillary do in the field of education that does not require legislation or will be bipartisan?

For example: the college student debt crisis is acknowledged by both parties; however, the parties sharply disagree on the path.

How do we help students complete high school with the skills needed to pursue their goals? Raising graduation rates will require not just new kinds of high schools, but investment in children at all stages of life: home visiting, early childhood education, and new efforts in the primary grades.[ Home visiting programs improve parenting and connect families to adequate medical care. The effects continue well into adolescence. Similarly, research suggests that low cost interventions like providing parents with books and texting them reminders to read to their children, can have substantial effects on child literacy skills.

All of the interventions listed above cost dollars and a Republican Congress will not support the legislation. In addition, the policies are local, policies that have to be adopted at the state and local levels. The Obama/Duncan efforts alienated teachers and communities; once again, big, bad Washington telling us what to do and how to do it. The best decisions are usually made by teachers and school leaders supported by superintendents and the education hierarchy. Sadly Washington, or Albany or Tweed issue ukases, the troops salute, and very little changes. Race to the Top, 4.4 billion dollars, over $700 million to New York State: is there any evidence that the dollars changed outcomes?

I would suggest a major initiative: Career and Technical Education, former known as Vocational Education, a policy that can be supported by both parties; the new ESSA law devolves policy initiatives to the state level  Bipartisan federal legislation to encourage state and local educational authorities to create paths to employment would play a major role in reducing poverty.

I was speaking with a middle school principal in an extremely poor neighborhood – he asked his counselor to make every effort to guide his eighth graders to vocational high schools.

“My kids need jobs, their path out of poverty is a job and they need skills, high school has to mean something, they need a purpose to continue in school, spending four years learning academics and a skill, an internship, working as an apprentice will prepare my kids to lift themselves into the middle class.”

Packaged federal programs, like P-TECH, sound nice, receive a great deal of ink, and impact a miniscule number of kids; vocational, or, to use the current term Career and Technical Education (CTE) costs money to start and cost dollars to support. CTE programs must link with industries who are the potential employers as well as unions who will be the colleagues of the new workers.

There is no prep-packaged solution, HRC should not make the same fatal mistake that Obama-Duncan made, the paths, and there are many, must be created at the local level.

Schools have never been good at working beyond the boundaries of school buildings; a first meeting rarely results in a partnership. The most effective partnerships are created locally, by a school leader, Manhattan Day and Night Comprehensive High School works with Deutsche Bank, the fifteen International High Schools (all students have been in the country four years or less) work with the Internationals Network, a 401 that raises dollars to support the schools in the network,  public, not charter schools. Conversely Automotive High School has been on the verge of closing for years.

Manhattan Institute sees hope: two research briefs by Tamar Jacoby look to the future:

 Education 2.0: Employers Hold the Key to Better Career Training Vocational Education  and Keeping New York City on the Cutting Edge of Technical Education.

The European Union has well -established vocational education programs in schools as well as retraining programs for adults (Read a detailed report here)

There are at least a dozen high-profile education topics, from pre-kindergarten, the Common Core, charter schools, testing, teacher college preparation, all worthy of examination by the new administration; however; all are riddled with controversy and are best left to local decision-making. The belief that the best road out of poverty is a job is held across party lines and education and the private sector can partner and the nation will applaud.

The losers, the Republicans, will continue to do what has worked, obstructionism, and HRC needs winners, policies that are so popular that opposing them will alienate the citizenry: I believe Vocational Education, CTE is that issue.

A Vote for Gary Johnson (or, Jill Stein) is a Vote for Trump

Face the Nation and the other Sunday Talking Heads news commentary shows talked about the softening of the Obama coalition, the daily NY Times “percentage” in August had Hillary ahead 90-10, now the “poll” gives Hillary a 75-25 lead; whatever that means.

The Nate Silver fivethirtyeight blog,”Chance of Winning,” has Hillary: 61.1% and Trump 38.8% and Gary Johnson at 8% with Hillary winning the electoral votes narrowly.

The next big moment will be the September 26th presidential debate; it will grab the attention of the American public. The Hillary erosion is among the millennials, the younger voters, young Afro-American males and the left leaning Bernie voters are all lukewarm on Hillary.

The third party candidates are Gary Johnson . and Jill Stein.

I was chatting with a nineteen year old – he had taken a leave from his college and worked for Bernie full time, and, told me he was voting for Gary Johnson.

“Oh, you’re voting for Trump.”

“No, I’m voting for Gary Johnson.”

“No, you’re voting for Trump.”

I was “parent-like” and a little harsh. “Your candidate lost, you’re angry and you’re letting your ego drive your vote – you want to ‘get even’ with Hillary so you’re voting for Trump.” He insisted he was voting for Johnson. “You’re pulling the Johnson lever (probably should have said bubbling in the Johnson box), you’re actually voting for Trump – be honest – vote for Trump.” He told me he could never vote for Trump, I insisted he was voting for Trump. Hopefully I planted a seed of doubt.

Diane Ravitch has written a number of blogs explaining why she is voting for Hillary and why it is so important. Her loyalist supporters immediately commented, they voting for Johnson or Stein.

“You can’t trust Hillary” (Can you trust Trump?)

Anthony Cody, a leader of the Network for Public Education wrote a superb essay on the importance of philosophical allies working together, “Don’t Attack your Allies When You’re Fighting Goliath.”

I appeal on a more pragmatic line – what will happen if Trump wins …

If, heavens forbid, the networks declare Trump a winner early on the morning of November 9th stock market numbers will tumble. The stock market operates 24/7 and even before the opening bell the Dow-Jones will dive and continue to dive – 1,000, 2,000, who knows, probably a dive never seen before. Stock markets fear uncertainty, fear instability, and in times of uncertainty and instability investors move their assets in the safest class of investments. A stock market spiraling downward drags down all boats.  Trump would blame Obama, who, as a lame-duck president would have limited options. The 2008 economic recession could easily be child’s play compared to what awaits us. Pensions, Medicare, all in jeopardy.

Are these scare tactics or is this scenario a possibility?

This is a once in a lifetime election – we’ve never had a candidate “endorsed” by the Klu Klux Klan and Nazi organizations who accepts their support. We’ve never had a candidate who threatens to incarcerate a religious group. Trump supporters, and, yes, I speak with Trump voters, brush aside Trump’s bizarre pronouncements.

Back in 1972, after a bitterly contested primary election McGovern won the Democratic nomination. Many mainstream Democrats did not vote for McGovern, many crossed over and voted for Nixon. Nixon won 48 states. They weren’t Republicans, they were Hubert Humphrey supporters; the heart of the Democratic Party opposed the war in Vietnam and flocked to the polls across the nation to express their displeasure in the war by voting for McGovern. The mainstream Democrats were overwhelmed by the passion of the anti-war voters, and, expressed their frustration and anger by refusing to vote for the McGovern, the Democratic candidate.

Traditional Democratic voters felt the party had been hijacked by the anti-war faction, and, couldn’t bring themselves to go to the polls and support the anti-war McGovern.

We are facing a similar situation – Bernie voters cannot bring themselves to vote for Hillary. There is no issue similar to 1972. The positions of both Hillary and Bernie are quite similar. Bernie voters argue the election was stolen due to the inappropriate support of Hillary by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as well as the impossible to define issue of “trust.”

Back in the days of school board elections I supported slates of candidates. Elections are about winning, and winning in the proportional representation style election required putting together slates. We didn’t always agree on all issues, we agreed on enough issues to paste together coalitions that assured we would win enough seats for a majority on the Board.

There is an opportunity to not only win the White House but to take over the Senate and erode the Republican majority in the House; an opportunity to actually pass progressive legislation.

It might be unkind; too many anti-Hillary voters are simply selfish and blind. Yes, your candidate might not prevail in a primary; we move on and work for the winner of the primary within our party. To sulk, to stay on the sidelines simply boosts the other side – in this election the “other side” could drag our nation into a catastrophic depression or worse.

Is There a Brexit Election Parallel? Are Millions of Trump Voters Hiding in the Weeds?

The June vote on whether or not the United Kingdom would leave the Common Market was a straightforward yes or no vote. For weeks the talking heads, the sages, the experts, the pollsters offered opinions, read the polling tea leaves; and, although the vote would be close predicted the vote: 52-48 to stay in the Common Market – whoops!! The Brits voted 52-48 to leave the Common Market. Prime Minister Cameron resigned and the economic future of the UK hangs in the balance.

The US presidential election is 63 days away and our election is far more complex.

Does the candidate with the most votes win?

If you were in my Social Studies class you know the answer is: not necessarily. Other nations either have a “most votes win” presidential system or a parliamentary system in which the party (or coalition of parties) with the most members in the parliament elect the prime minister. Although we vote for candidates we are actually choosing electors that “formally” elect the president in early December.

In the Electoral College system each state has electors equal to the number of representatives plus the two senators; the House of Representatives have 435 members, plus 100 for the Senate and three for the District of Columbia. The winner needs 270 electoral votes. Except for Maine and Nebraska states have winner take all elections – the winner receives all of state’s electoral votes no matter the closeness of the election within the state; Maine and Nebraska divide the votes proportionally.

California has 55 electoral votes, Texas 38, New York and Florida 29 and Alaska, Delaware and others have the minimum of 3.

In which elections did the winner not win the majority of the popular vote?

In 1824 in a four-way race no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes, pursuant to the Constitution the election was decided by the House of Representatives and Andrew Jackson, although he received the most votes lost to John Quincy Adams. (Jackson won in 1828 and 1832)

The 1876 election was extremely close, in the most corrupt election in our history a commission declared the winner in three states electing Hayes although Tilden won the popular votes.

Harrison, in 1888 easily won the electoral votes however Cleveland narrowly won the popular votes.

Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 by half a million votes, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that disputed votes should be recounted however the US Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote overturned the Florida court effectively declaring Bush President by the narrowest of margins.

On November 8th there will be 51 elections – the fifty states plus the District of Columbia.

Each camp has a map – the road to 270 electoral votes, the Democratic states, the Republican states and the states that will decide the election. Campaigns allocate resources, dollars for TV ads, dollars for Get Out the Vote (GOTV) on-the-ground foot soldiers, and each state campaign is tailored to the local issues in each state. The Clinton camp tailoring their messages to women, younger voters, Afro-Americans and Latinos and union members while the Trump camp to white males, older voters, evangelicals and disaffected voters.

While the pollsters give Clinton the lead the question haunting pollsters is whether there are Trump voters hiding in the weeds. Less than 10% of polling phone calls receive a reply and are the respondors answering honestly?  Then there is the land line versus cell phone issue:  older voters still have land lines, younger voters do not.

As I wrote a few days ago the pollsters were wrong in the Brexit vote and the reasons can be just as applicable in the presidential. The intense scrutiny of the media during the spring campaigns have waned, the media is no longer carrying the election 24/7, they are allocating far fewer resources, and, the general populace is tiring of the seemingly endless campaign.

The first debate on September 26th will place the race in the foreground – three debates, three opportunities to face the American public. The contrasting styles will be fascinating. The first and third debates will be the traditional moderator debates and the second a town hall format.

The pollsters, the talking heads, give Clinton a lead, whether expressed as a percent changes of winning (currently 86-14 Clinton) or the more common percent comparing candidate to candidate (Clinton leads in the high single digits).

Are there voters who are still undecided?

Will the Bernie voters come to the polls for Clinton?

Will the younger voters flock to the polls as they did in 08 and 12?

Will women and minority voters vote for Clinton in unparalleled numbers?

Will white males and older voters come to the polls in large numbers for Trump?

In the Brexit election “leave” voters were under the radar, the pollsters simply missed the leave voters or perhaps the leave voters avoided participating in the polling process.

Is the same phenomenon possible in our presidential election?

What is both fascinating and deeply disturbing is the lack of issues – the Clinton campaign has tried to make the campaign issue oriented, the Trump campaign has avoided engaging in the traditional issue debates.

Voters may very well decide on who they dislike least.

Probably since the day of the Obama victory the Republican strategy has been to denigrate Obama, some attacks on policy (Affordable Care Act), others just plain racist (he’s a Muslim born outside of the USA). Whether we abhor it or not, negatively campaigning resonates with the public.

The motto of the New York Post, if it bleeds it leads!!

I was listening to someone disgusted at the headlines in the Post, as they were buying the paper. A Post employee told me the most outrageous stories receive the highest number of “clicks,” online reads.

Are we getting the type of election and news coverage we desire?

Tomorrow: I promise, back to discussing education.

How Might a Clinton or Trump Presidency Impact Federal Education Policy?

Every day the online New York Times prints the “odds,” expressed in a percent of the Clinton-Trump race – yesterday Clinton was leading 90% to 10%.

The election is no longer 24/7 all over TV screens; as we move towards September the baseball pennant races and the opening of the college and NFL football season are beginning to eat up the media air.

A few shots of a Clinton or Trump rally, a paid Clinton advertisement warning about Trump provoking a catastrophe and lengthy talking head reflections on San Francisco quarterback not standing for the national anthem as a protest against the treatment of Afro-Americans in America.

For large percentages of Americans election fatigue has set in.  There are probably very few undecided voters – yes, Republicans voters who can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump and unenthusiastic Hillary voters … the electorate has chosen sides.

For the last few weeks my morning coffee crowd has moved from political chatter to renewed interest in the resurgent Yankees and Jets/Giants chances; quite sensible.

The last chance to address tens of millions of Americans will be the debates

First presidential debate (September 26, 2016, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY)

The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Second presidential debate (October 9, 2016, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO)

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources.

Third presidential debate (October 19, 2016, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV)

Same format as first debate.

The last time a presidential debate changed minds was the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate.

Of course, to quote, Yogi, “It’s never over until it’s over.”

Both camps are already having internal discussions about cabinet choices.

On the education front the Department of Education is in the final stages of crafting the regulations for the new Every Student Succeeds Act, a Department of Education that will undoubtedly have a new leader no matter who wins the election. The proposed rules are highly controversial (See Ed Week cheat sheet here  and read the extensive criticism and suggestions from the NYS Commissioner Elia here.

One item hanging over New York State and Colorado, the only two states with significant percentages of opt outs; in both states many schools fell below the 95% participation rate and may face unspecified sanctions.

Should the current lame duck Secretary of Education make the decision or the next Secretary of Education? In fact, should the current Secretary of Education release the new regulations or leave it to the new administration?

I imagine in some quarters names for a successor to Secretary King are already being tossed around – not here. I’ll wait until the networks declare a winner on November 8th.

The entire election season, from the cavalry charge of Republicans and the Bernie/Hillary battles:  virtually nothing about education. The reason is not complicated – the American public is sharply divided. See Education Next polling result here.  Appealing to one faction alienates another.

We know a Republican would push for choice, i.e., charter, parochial, private and home schooling all eligible for public dollars. For example, Title 1 Portability, Title 1 dollars would follow the student to wherever the student is receiving education services. Of course, Trump could call for abolishing the entire Department of Education and sharp cuts in federal dollars.

The Democratic side is more complicated, while opt outs and others might want reduction or the end of testing civil rights organizations, allies of the Democrats are strong advocates of testing and the disaggregation of results by ethnicity, race and handicapping condition. One the other hand Clinton made very pro-teacher, pro public education speeches at both the NEA and AFT conventions, and, appears to have an excellent relationship with AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Check out Diane Ravitch’s web site – she will report a talk with Hillary.

Let’s win the presidency, the Senate and the House on November 8th – and then we argue over the future of the federal role.

The AFT Convention: Summing Up – Can Teachers and Their Union Prevail in the Clinton-Trump Matchup?

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power gain our freedom when we learn
That the Union makes us strong

At the end of the AFT Convention the delegates stood, clasped hands and sang “Solidarity Forever,” a fitting ending to an exciting and upbeat week.

As I arrived in Minneapolis for the convention, the hundredth year of the founding of the American Federation of Teachers, I wondered whether the bruising Bernie-Hillary primary battle would spill over into the convention. Would the Bernie supporters still bear scars from the months of sparring, at times personal and nasty, or, would the specter of Trump heal all scars?

I was pleasantly surprised, there were plenty of teacher leaders who were avid supporters of Bernie, and unquestionably the goal now was the defeat of Trump and total support for Hillary. I spoke with a number of teachers who will be attending the Democratic National Convention today as Bernie delegates who are already working with the Hillary election machine.  They weren’t Hillary acolytes, they have their doubts, and the fear of a Trump victory overcame doubts.

The AFT Convention attracts a wide range of union members, from the big cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, etc.) to small cities and rural communities; from teachers to nurses to a wide range of other public employees – 1.6 million AFT members.

The theme of the convention: Honoring our Past and Inspiring Our Future, was obvious throughout the week. A 98-years old retired teacher from Chicago gave a rousing speech, the head of the Minneapolis Area Labor Federation, who looks 18 and had been a grocery store clerk was now organizing across the region. The AFT is the second largest organization organizing nurses, local after local recounted fights with hospital conglomerates cutting corners to maximize profits and endanger patients. Teachers and nurses are natural allies.

The convention moved from speaker to speaker, interspersed with videos, and the reporting of resolutions from the thirteen committees

Read the text of the approved resolutions here.

After each session the convention publishes a description of the events of the previous day called “Afterwards” Select and watch speakers here.

On the first day of the convention the delegates divide up by interest and attend one of the thirteen committees that discuss the ninety-one resolutions submitted by locals from across the nation. The committees range from Education Issues (the most popular – about 800 delegates attended), Human Rights, Organizing and Collective Bargaining, Pensions, International Affairs, Women’s Rights, Higher Education, Nurses Issues and a few others. For two hours, under Robert’s Rules, the committees discuss the resolutions: they may amend, add, delete, and combine or defeat resolutions. (Voting concurrence or non-concurrence) Three of the resolutions are chosen by the committees to be debated on the floor of the convention. (The other resolutions are acted upon by the Executive Council). In the past the debate has been vigorous, at time contentious. This year virtually all the resolutions had the support of the overwhelming number of delegates. In some instances locals worked together to modify similar resolutions, the AFT staff provided research backup, to me, the one overriding issue was the November election.

Rashad Robinson, the leader of “The Color of Change” explained national efforts to build a political constituency,

ColorOfChange.org exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice. Our goal is to empower our members – Black Americans and our allies – to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the Los Angeles Federation of Teachers (UTLA) and Keron Blair, the Director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools  (AROS) discussed plans in the fall for school walk-ins, a nationwide movement to build support for public schools in school communities. The words of Solidarity Forever, “We can break their haughty power gain our freedom when we learn that the Union makes us strong,” echoed again and again as I trudged back to the Big Apple.

I did watch the Trump Acceptance Speech, and it reminded me of something, something deep within my memory neurons; then, that flash!

Have you ever watched the 1935 classic “Triumph of the Will,” the Leni Reichanthal documentary of the 1935 Nazi Party Congress?

Watch a few minutes of film showing der Fuhrer speaking to Nazi Youth linked below:


And the mix tape of clips from the Donald and the Richenthal classic.


and draw your own conclusions.


Off to Minneapolis: Preparing for the American Federation of Teacher Convention: Will the Bernie and Hillary Supporters Bond?

On Monday the American Federation of Teachers will celebrate its hundredth anniversary at their bi-annual convention, this year in Minneapolis. About 3,000 teachers, school-related personnel and nurses will spend four days setting policy for the national union, listening to a range of speakers and on Monday afternoon meet the “presumptive” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (You can watch on the AFT.org website).

National conventions are always fascinating, an opportunity to meet teachers from around the nation. Chicago (CTU-Local 1) has been at war with Rahm Emmanuel, their mayor, with another strike possible in September.  California appears to be making positive changes away from endless testing, or, are they creating a dense accountability system – talking with teacher trade unionists from across the nation is always enlightening.  I will be meeting teacher union guests from other countries. Recently I was speaking with teachers and school leaders from Austria: How do you become a principal in Austria? “You belong to the right political party.” Are teachers involved in hiring staff? (Odd look) “No, neither is the principal, teachers are assigned by the bureaucracy, and have lifetime tenure after a few years.  We needed a history teacher, they sent us a gym teacher, and our system is totally top down.” BTW, Austria scores above average on PISA assessments (See here).

The convention schedule is packed full of meeting – first meeting 7 am Monday morning. The delegates will debate changes to the AFT constitution and bylaws and debate, in committees, ninety-one resolutions submitted from locals around the country. Linda Darling-Hammond will lead a discussion of teacher assessment and the new federal All Students Succeed Act (ESSA) that replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The US Department had just released draft regulations – no question the regulations and the possibilities for innovation pilots will be discussed (See Education Week discussion here)

On the convention floor there are multiple microphones (usually six, seven or eight) scattered around the arena. Any delegate can jump up to a microphone to support, oppose or amend a resolution. The committees, after debating the resolutions, set priorities, the highest priority resolutions must be debated on the floor – there are thirteen committees – the top three priorities must reach the floor.

The Democratic Platform on Education was set last week, the original platform reflected the de-reformers, led by Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), a coalition led by Bernie supporters and Randi Weingarten made significant changes (Read details here), angering the DFER faction, who are supporters of the Duncan-King policies.

A theme of the convention will be bonding the Hillary and the Bernie acolytes and building a teacher-led Hillary campaign across the nation. Not an easy task since passions were high during the lengthy campaign, considering the Trump alternative, one would hope the Bernie folks will jump on board.

The latest polls, if you have any confidence in polls, predicts a very close election (Read polling results here).

I’ll be blogging from Minneapolis – stay tuned.

Can Donald Trump Become Our Next President?

Back in October/November all the political gurus, the experts, predicted that Donald Trump would not be the Republican nominee. Nate Silver, the statistical wunderkind and the writer of the fivethirtyeight blog, rather smarmily, mused that Trump has a “less than 20%” chance of becoming the Republican nominee.

“Right now, [Trump] has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked

I hate to gloat, as I talked to the folks in the street I increasingly felt that Trump support was deep, especially among those not involved in politics. Joe Six-Pack was angry – angry at everything and everyone, after all, weren’t all politicians corrupt? Remember, more than half of eligible voters do not participate regularly in elections, the traditional non-voters, to me, appeared to be leaning to the Trump column.

See my November blog: https://mets2006.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/can-trump-end-up-as-the-republican-presidential-candidate/

Over the next three months leading up to the Republican convention Trump will have a clear path to unify the Republican Party. There are Republicans, the evangelicals, the loyal party insiders, Republican women who may deride the Trump candidacy and choose not to participate in November. The anti-Trump Republicans will not move to the Democratic column.  Clearly the Republican insiders have a conundrum: how do they campaign for Republicans in the Congress and State legislatures without jumping on the Trump bandwagon? And, will it matter?  Would a Trump presidential campaign have coattails, or, alienate traditional Republican voters?

On the Democratic side Bernie plans to campaign across the nation leading up to the Democratic convention; ironically as Bernie wins primaries Hillary edges closer to wrapping up the requisite number of delegates. It is possible that Bernie could win all of the remaining primaries and Hillary end up with the number necessary to guarantee nomination. In close primaries Hillary and Bernie split the delegates. The Bernie machine will continue to highlight his differences with Hillary, continue to attack Hillary’s positions and behaviors.

Hillary plus Bernie voters equal a Democratic victory in November and possibly gaining a majority in the Senate and reducing the Republican majority in the House, and, re-taking State capitals and legislatures. If any significant number of Bernie voters remain on the sidelines a Trump path to the White House would be easier.

If anti-Trump Republicans and anti-Hillary Independents and Democrats choose not to participate it would be impossible to predict the outcome.

Campaigns are usually about issues and policies; the Trump campaign has been policy-free.

Trump is the ultimate Teflon candidate.

No matter the outrageousness of his comments his popularity increases.  Trump, musing that Ted Cruz’s father cavorted with the Kennedy assassins had no negative impact, in fact, may have gained him votes. His “build a wall,” his “invade Syria,” and on and on only encourages and motivates his voters.

Virtually every “talking head,” every professional who has spent a lifetime running campaigns has been proven wrong,

As Trump rolls to victory, Cruz and Kasich have dropped out; however, the latest polling gives Clinton her largest lead over Trump since July.

The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump’s victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July.

With conventions not scheduled until the end of July, and Trump and Sanders hammering Clinton her polling numbers can erode. On the other side as Clinton slowly turns from Bernie to Trump her campaign will continue to build support among women, Afro-American and Hispanic voters. For me, a key to the election are the younger Bernie voters: will they, enthusiastically or reluctantly, move to the Clinton column?  The more Bernie continues to campaign vigorously and toss barbs at Clinton the harder it will be to move his supporters to the Hillary camp. I am sure in the Democratic establishment/Hillary camp the discussion is over how to appeal to the millennials and the left-wing of the party.

The specter of the 1972 McGovern debacle haunts the Democratic Party.

Just as Trump’s rise to the Republican nomination is so incredible so is Bernie’s challenge to Clinton. Remember Sanders is a seventy-two year old independent from Vermont – not even a registered Democrat. Two years ago he was an anomaly, a quirky outsider; no important legislation bears his name, an avowed Democratic Socialist, an agnostic or atheist in a nation that views socialist with godless communism; who mobilized younger voters and the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Bernie can be remembered as the candidate that refused to acknowledge his loss, gave Clinton a lukewarm endorsement and will be blamed for a Trump victory in November, or, the key to a Clinton victory by bringing his voters to the Clinton column.  Or, neither.

The real campaign begins in August – three months of head to head – can Trump, or should Trump rebuild himself? Can he morph to a kinder, gentler, saner candidate? Or, should he?  Should Trump continue to be Trump, outrageous outbursts, seemingly insane accusations, the “loose,” unpredictable candidate so loved by his supporters?  The Republican Party is panic struck.  Trump could be trashed at the polls taking down other Republicans, or, do they jump on board and hope he has coattails.

In a policy-free election cycle education has totally disappeared. In all the presidential debates was there a single question dealing with education? In the CNN polls  referenced above the largest Clinton-Trump difference was in handling education. Of ten areas voters place education as third most important, behind the economy, terrorism and tied with health care. For voters who describe themselves as Democrats education tops the list. Among registered voters by 64% to 31% voters think Clinton would do a better job of handling education.

As the song goes, sort of, it’s a long way from May to November

Hovering at the edges of the Trump appeal are issues of race, ethnicity and gender.

Listen to Tom Lehrer:

National Brotherhood Week – precious and timely!!!