Categories for Musings

My latest: working for Joe Biden and the Dems

None of us.

There is a simple reason why no one really wants to say Donald Trump is going to lose in 2020.

Because no one really got it right in 2016.

This writer is one of the many who got it wrong. Never saw it coming. And I was close enough to the action to know better.

Full disclosure: I’ve helped out the Democrats for years, and I was again proudly working for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  As a foreign national, I couldn’t donate to her campaign, or get paid.  But I could volunteer for her, and I did – in Maine, in New Hampshire, and at her Brooklyn headquarters.

We had more money.  We had better people.  We had organization. We had ideas galore. We had experienced campaign managers.  And we had the best candidate, too: a former Secretary of State, a former Senator, a former First Lady and accomplished lawyer.  We had it all.

Our opponent was a joke. Donald Trump been caught on tape, proclaiming that he “grabbed [women] by the pussy.”  He refused to release his taxes – because, we suspected (correctly), he hadn’t paid his fair share.  He was an unapologetic racist, calling Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, and pledging to bar Muslims from entering the United States. 

And he had denigrated captured war heroes like John McCain – who was being tortured in Vietnam right around the time Trump was dodging the draft and chasing escorts around New York City.

We couldn’t lose – or so we thought.  For months, every national poll had shown us far ahead of Trump. The politics and the punditocracy, too: all were convinced we’d win.

We didn’t.  

Even though Hillary got three million more votes than Trump, the United States’ byzantine electoral college system produced a perverse, and shocking, result: the narrowest of victories for Donald Trump.  Because slightly more than 70,000 votes went the wrong way in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump bested Clinton in the electoral college.

Could it happen again?

It could.  It might.  A characteristic of Trump’s core vote, those of us on Clinton’s team later learned, is that they are older and tend to hide from pollsters in the lead-up to voting day – and then they come out to vote, en masse.

Trump was assisted, too, by Bernie Sanders in 2016.  Sanders had repeatedly demonized Hillary as corrupt and a captive of Wall Street – thereby suppressing our youth vote.  The clueless, witless FBI director also helped to kill Hillary’s momentum when it hurt the most, with a bogus and needless probe of some emails.  And, finally, white suburban women – who we had thought would be repulsed by Trump – voted against their self-interest, and for a “man” who bragged about sexual assault.

Four years later, and with three weeks to go until voting day, none of that applies anymore.  For Donald Trump, the political landscape is radically different.

The coronavirus has sickened or killed Trump’s most loyal supporters – white retired seniors.  Poll after poll now show that older Americans have abandoned Trump because they have been appalled by his mismanagement of the pandemic, which has killed 215,000 Americans.  Seniors are now mostly lining up behind the Democrats’ Joe Biden.

Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, has a far better relationship with Biden than he did with Clinton.  As a result, Sanders has urged his youthful supporters to rally behind Biden – and they have.

This time around, there is no manufactured scandal swirling around the Democratic presidential nominee.  Trump tried to get one going in Ukraine against Biden and his son, of course.  But that only resulted in Trump’s impeachment – and Biden winning the Democratic nomination in a walk.

Finally, white suburban women long ago abandoned Trump, fed up with his sexism and misogyny and payoffs to porn stars.  Biden’s massive national polling lead has been fuelled, for the most part, by female voters.

But that’s the polls.  Is Joe Biden winning on the ground, where it counts? 

This time around, I am doing phone banking – calling up registered voters, to I.D. the vote, to get out the vote.  I’ve called hundreds of residents of New England states so far, asking how they’ve marked their absentee ballots. And this is how many have told me they’ve voted for Donald Trump:

None of them.


Trudeau isn’t as popular as he used to be…

… but it’s difficult to find a single word, here, with which to disagree. It’s one of the reasons why I think he is going to be reelected: the pandemic has become his political ally.

From USA Today:

Don’t bet on the U.S.-Canadian border reopening after the closure agreement expires Oct. 21.

In an interview Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country is committed to keeping the border closed until the United States gets control of COVID-19.

“The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” he told the hosts of “Smart Start,” which airs on Canada’s Global Television Network. “We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place.”

In the past week, 13 states – including Alaska, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota, which border Canada – topped their own records for new cases in a seven-day period. North Dakota, which shares a 310-mile-long border with its northern neighbor, reports cases at a speed one-third faster on a per capita basis than any U.S. state experienced in the worst of the spring or summer surges.

Although its COVID-19 infection rate is far lower than that of the USA, Canada has not been immune from a second wave of cases.

According to the Canadian government, the country reported nearly 31,000 new cases and 372 deaths in the past two weeks. Cumulatively, it has had more than 193,000 cases and almost 9,750 deaths. The provinces of Quebec, which reported more than 7,000 new cases in the past week, and Ontario, which counted nearly 5,500, are in the worst shape, according to New York Times data.

“I think this second wave is really exhausting,” Trudeau acknowledged. “It’s frustrating for everyone to have to keep going through this. We showed that we can pull together and get through this, as we did in the spring. Then people got used to the slow burn in the summer. Now that cases are spiking again – with the approach of winter, with the approach of flu season – we need to get things back under control.”

The upside, he said, is that “we know how to do it in a more targeted way now than in the spring. We know what kinds of businesses are more likely to spread COVID-19, what kinds of activities.”

That approach, he said, “allows us to do the right things medically and keep us safe while not totally ruining people’s economies.”

Trudeau warned Canadian snowbirds to resist the urge to travel south in search of warmer climes.

“I know there’s a lot of people worried about what’s happening south of the border in Florida, Arizona, California and other places where the virus is not under control or less under control than we are here,” he said. “The challenges around the health care system being overloaded down there and access to health insurance – making sure you have coverage in case something does happen – are a lot more difficult.”

He said a travel advisory is as far as the government is willing to go.

“Ultimately, if someone chooses to travel, we’re not going to keep them imprisoned in Canada. There’s freedom of movement in this country,” he said. “Still, people have to recognize they’re putting themselves at risk, putting their loved ones at risk. And they may not have the right kind of health insurance or repatriation flights that we did early on if they choose to leave the country.”