America’s Wake-Up Call – Joe Biden on the Issues

With just over five weeks left until election day, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.  Today, we are talking about issues that matter the most to all of us.  Let’s face it, we need to stop talking about how awful Donald Trump is and focus on how much better Joe Biden will be.  It’s true that we must be concerned with voting Trump out of office before he turns this nation into a dictatorship, but it’s not enough just to throw out the bad … we must know what we are replacing it with.

There are dozens of issues that are important, but we really want to focus on the ones that are most important to everyone.  After giving it much thought, and narrowing the list, Jeff and I believe the following are of the most immediate concern:

  • Climate change
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Racial Justice
  • Income Inequality

There are many other issues, such as gun control, campaign finance, immigration, infrastructure, the economy, criminal justice, and more.  But, given the constraints of time, we will focus on the ones that affect every one of our lives, and that have long-term implications that will affect not only us, but future generations – our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the future.  We will cover the first two today, and the other three soon.

Climate Change:

No matter how important the other issues are, climate change must, in the long run, be the most important.  Climate deniers may argue that we are being alarmists, doomsday prophets, but scientists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are bringing about their own demise every day. We can see the results with our own eyes – the worst ever destructive wildfires on the West Coast, the most active hurricane season on record, and record high heat & humidity in many areas.

Biden has made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure.

The money, which would be spent over four years, would go toward energy efficiency upgrades, the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and greatly increasing the share of renewable energy from wind, solar and other technologies in America’s power sector.

His plan calls for ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035. By no later than 2050, he would bring the country to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases under the plan.

Biden has also promised to restore all environmental protections undone by the Trump administration and rejoin the Paris climate agreement, committing to the pact’s goal of preventing global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

“Climate change is a challenge that’s going to define our American future. I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet … We’re not just going to tinker around the edges.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has unraveled nearly every climate regulation that was put in place by the Obama administration, in part because of his unrelenting hatred of President Obama, and in part because of his financial ties to the fossil fuel and logging industries.  Just yesterday it was announced that Trump plans to eliminate protections for the Tongass Forest in Alaska and open it to logging!  Joe Biden will not put profit ahead of the planet.

His administration has weakened limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, as well as from the oil and gas industry. It has opened more public land to oil and gas drilling and limited wildlife protections. And it has relaxed pollution regulations on coal-fired power plants in an effort to revive the dying industry.  Donald Trump’s actions, if allowed to continue, will ensure the end of the human and many other species by the end of this century.

California’s environmental protections have been a particular target for Trump. The Trump administration has revoked the state’s authority to set tougher car emission standards than those required by the federal government, placing a major obstacle in California’s path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

I think Trump summed up his view on climate change when he said …

“People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it. I don’t think science knows.”

Need I say more?

Health Care:

When the Affordable Care Act was put in place in 2010 during the Obama administration, it was a historic step that provided affordable health insurance to approximately a third of the people in this nation who had previously been unable to afford it.  Was it perfect?  No, of course not … we all knew it would require adjusting and tweaking as time went by and problems arose, but it was a start, the first step toward a universal health care plan.  Joe Biden’s healthcare plan includes building on the foundation of the original ACA, as well as including an expansion of the public option.

Specifically, he would create a new government insurance plan to be sold on the ACA markets. The 2 million or so people currently stuck in the Medicaid expansion gap would be automatically enrolled, for free. Obamacare’s tax credits would be enhanced, pegged to more generous insurance, and eligibility for government assistance would be available to anybody. Nobody would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on insurance premiums.  And nobody would be excluded on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

In addition to restoring and improving on the Affordable Care Act, Biden has a plan to lower prescription drug costs, starting with repealing the exception that prohibits drug corporations from negotiating with Medicare over drug prices.  Prescription drugs in the U.S. are, on average, 3.7 times higher than the combined average of other countries.  Think about that one … while someone in Canada might be paying $50 for a prescription, you are paying $185!

By comparison, Donald Trump has stated since before his election in 2016 that he wanted to reverse ACA in its entirety.  Since he has been unable to do that, he has instead undermined and chipped away at portions of it.  There is currently a case pending in the Supreme Court that would completely abolish ACA, and while Trump claims he will present an even better plan, there is no evidence that he could or would.

Coronavirus Pandemic:

No discussion on health care would be complete without addressing the coronavirus pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 207,000 people in this nation, the highest death toll of any nation on the planet.  With a surge in cases predicted in the coming months, experts predict we will have more than 300,000 deaths by the end of the year.  Trump’s response has been “it is what it is”, and more recently he claims that the coronavirus “affects almost nobody”.  Joe Biden, on the other hand, has a plan.

On his first day in office, he plans to reverse the withdrawal of the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO).  He plans to call for a national ‘mask mandate’, and meanwhile urges governors of all states to implement mask mandates for their states. He would adopt nationwide testing and contact tracing, including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites and providing federal funding for “regular and reliable covid-19 testing for every worker called back on the job.”

He plans to restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was established by the Obama-Biden Administration and eliminated by Trump in 2018.  The thing, though, that I think is most important about Biden’s approach to the coronavirus is that he plans to listen to the scientists.  These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to studying diseases such as the coronavirus, SARS, HIV, Ebola and other infectious diseases … they know what they are doing, and Joe Biden recognizes this, whereas Donald Trump says “I don’t think science knows.”

I realize that what I have written about Biden’s stance on these issues is necessarily somewhat vague, but to drill down to details would require far more than there is time for.  However, feel free to visit the Biden/Harris campaign website for further details.  Perhaps the biggest difference between Joe Biden’s plan and Donald Trump’s is that Biden actually has a plan, whereas Trump seems to wing it from one day to the next.  Joe Biden is a decent man who actually cares about the people of this nation.  Donald Trump is not and does not.

Next week, Jeff will be writing about the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how it could affect the November election.  We will cover other election issues, as I mentioned in the beginning, in future posts, as well as numerous other topics … well, as many as we can squeeze into the next five weeks!

Note that in order to make it easier to find past articles, we have divided the Table of Contents into two — Discord & Dissension, with all of our posts from January thru May, and America’s Wake-Up Call, with our current posts.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

America’s Wake-Up Call — Is Joe Biden Worth Your Vote?

Today, in Part II of our project America’s Wake-Up Call, Jeff introduces us to the next President of the United States, Joe Biden, and helps us understand just what makes Joe Biden the right man for the job. Thanks Jeff!!!

On The Fence Voters

In recent months, I’ve been amused at the sight of the following campaign sign: Any Functioning Adult 2020. Yes, it’s very tempting to feel that way, isn’t it?

The way things are going in this country, a functional and literate adult would be a luxury that we simply do not have. We’re jumping from one catastrophe to the next under the current president, from a raging pandemic and wildfires to racial inequality and injustice. And his only answer seems to be: “Elect me, or this is what you’re going to get in a Biden presidency.”

Of course, what’s happening now is on his watch, not Joe Biden’s, a fact he deceptively and casually refuses to acknowledge. Unfortunately, his cult band of followers will blindly nod their heads in agreement at whatever utterances ooze from their dear leader’s mouth.

In this election, we cannot worry about those voters. But we…

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America’s Wake-Up Call — Jeff & Jill Are Baaaaack!!!

The date for the re-start of mine and Jeff’s project, September 11th, came about quite by accident … to start with, that is.  We counted back eight weeks from election day, picked the first Friday in those 8 weeks, and … were stunned to see that with this logic, our first post would be on the 19th anniversary of 9/11.  Nineteen years … wow.  In some ways, it seems like only yesterday, doesn’t it?  The building I was working in, a publishing company here in Cincinnati, has since been demolished, but I remember the exact place I was standing when one of my staff called me over to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  The rest of that day is a blur, but that single moment in time remains frozen in my mind.

For a number of reasons, 9/11 is very personal to me, as it is to many of you but that isn’t my focus with this post.  This is the final leg of mine and Jeff’s project, started back in January of this year with the goal of helping our readers understand the importance of this election year, the issues, and why it is so crucial that each and every one of us do our part.  It just happens, though, that this anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, provides us with a good lead-in to jumpstart our project.  The title for this second half of our project is “America’s Wake Up Call”, and by the time you finish reading this post, I think you will understand why.

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and one that we believe was headed for the White House that was brought down by heroes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  In under two hours, our lives were changed.  At that time, President George W. Bush was at the helm.  No matter what happened later, no matter what mistakes or poor decisions he made in the months and years that followed, I will always remember him for what he did in the hours and days that followed:  he united us.  He comforted, he understood, he grieved along with us.  His was the voice of caring, of compassion, of intellect, of … calm and reason.

This is the text of his address to We the People on the evening of 9/11 …

bush-2Good evening.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance. America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.

Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

Now, fast forward to 2020.  Can you envision the current occupant of the Oval Office, whom I refuse to refer to by the title of “president”, giving such a speech or acting in such a rational manner as G.W. did on that day?  Try to imagine, if we had a similar crisis in this nation today, how Donald Trump would react.  He would screech, he would point fingers, his face would be twisted into a hundred contortions.  He would blame … he would blame Democrats, he would blame Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer.  He would blame any and every one of us in one way or another.  Would we feel comforted as we did nineteen years ago?  Hell no!  We would be terrified! 

Bush-1George W. Bush united the people of this nation … he brought us together in our shared grief, and helped us to understand that we needed to reach out to each other, that we were all in this together and that together we would get through the days ahead, the loss of loved ones, the shattering of our lives.  Donald Trump is not anywhere near the man that George W. Bush is and was on that day.  Donald Trump would use the crisis as a means to drive the wedge that already exists between the people of this nation just a little bit deeper, to cause us to fear one another instead of reaching out and offering comfort, just as he has done with the current pandemic.

I can offer at least one hundred reasons that Donald Trump must be defeated on November 3rd, that Joe Biden must be elected, but this may well be the best reason … we need a leader who leads, who cares about us, who has the intelligence and demeanor to remain calm in the midst of a storm and unite rather than divide.  We do not have that leader today … let’s make sure that next January we do.

Discord & Dissent Table of Contents

Jeff & Jill Need Your Help!

As most of you know, Jeff and I began a project titled Discord & Dissension in January of this year.  We posted every Friday on a variety of topics concerning the upcoming November election, from the various congressional races, the candidates, climate change and other critical issues, the Courts, voter apathy, and more, until May when we found ourselves exhausted and decided that we needed a break, a hiatus, so that we could come back strong in the weeks leading up to the election.  Well, guess what, folks?  We are just 11 weeks from election day as of yesterday!

So, Jeff and I have begun collecting our thoughts (some had run away and we had to chase them down!), dusting off the cobwebs, and doing a bit of brainstorming about our direction in those all-important weeks before the election.  We plan to resume our posts on the afternoon of Friday, 11 September, barring anything unforeseen at this time.  We will have 8 weeks, 8 Friday posts, plus possibly an extra “Special Edition” on November 2nd or 3rd.  But we need your help!  The title for this second half of our project will be America’s Wakeup Call, for that is truly what we must all do … wake up and help others to do the same … before it is too late.

We have a few ideas, but we would really like to hear from you guys before we formulate a plan.  What is most important to you?  What would you like to know more about?  Issues?  If so, do you have specific issues you’d like to know more about?  Polls?  Polls can be confusing and misleading … is there anything you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask?  Do you want to know more about Joe Biden and/or Kamala Harris … the person?  Would you like to know more about the best, safest way to vote in your state in this year’s election?  What interests you most – environmental issues, law & justice, our relations with other nations, immigration, or something else?  Do you understand your constitutional rights, or would you like some additional information?

Our goal with this project is to provide the information you need to make informed choices, to help you to better understand what is at stake, so in order to meet that goal, we really want to hear from you about what matters most, what you’d like us to cover.  Feel free to leave a comment here on this post, or if you’d prefer anonymity, email me at using “The Project” in the subject line, and either Jeff or I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Thanks to you all for your input and your support of our project.  The stakes are higher this election day than any other has been in our lifetimes, and we need to make sure we help people in whatever way we possibly can!

Below is a link to the full Table of Contents for the project to date:

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension-A Pause

Jeff and I are taking a little break from our project … I’ll let Jeff explain …

On The Fence Voters

At the beginning of the year, Jill Dennison and I decided to collaborate on a project that we hoped would focus our collective attention on the upcoming presidential election. Both of us felt then, and now that this election is the most consequential of our lives.

We told you how we got to the present hyperventilating partisanship in Washington, D.C. We reminded you how one political party was doing its level best to keep as many people from voting via unprecedented suppression tactics and gerrymandering.

We told you about the current administration’s unprecedented corruption, their total denial of climate change, and their attempt to destroy the administrative state. We alluded to how important the courts were to our future, as well as showcasing the myriad of issues that will confront voters in this election.

We also touched upon the growing dispute going on at the time between Bernie Sanders and…

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Discord & Dissension — Part XIV — How To Lose An Election

I was pondering what direction to take for this week’s Discord & Dissension post when something crossed my radar that caused my jaw to drop, made me sit up and really take notice.  It disturbed me so badly that it sent me plummeting back into the rabbit hole from which I had only recently emerged, as I thought:  If this is what Democrats are thinking of Biden, we’re doomed.

But I’m not a quitter, and we’ve got 28 weeks left to try to turn things around.  This election season is like none in history, with no campaign rallies, little advertising that I have seen, but then I don’t watch television, and who knows whether there will even be national conventions or debates?

I am an Independent, though most assume I am a registered Democrat, but I am pulling for the Democrats and will be voting Democrat, needless to say.  Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, and the only choice other than Donald Trump, a criminal and conman who currently resides in the White House.  Now, what I want to talk to you about today is … inspiration, motivation, passion, and support.  The thing that set me off on this tangent was this cartoon …Biden

What bothered me about it … well, a couple of things.  One, is that it paints Biden as totally worthless, not much better than a brick, and the cartoonist’s point was, “Okay, Biden is worthless with no redeeming qualities, but hey, he’s better than Trump.”  Well friends, a tarantula is better than Trump, but it won’t win an election.  Now granted, there are groups whose motto is “Vote blue, no matter who”, but the reality is that it won’t win the election, either.

In a retrospective of the 2016 election, we can define certain hurdles, obstacles, which played a role in the defeat of the more worthy, more experienced, more intelligent candidate, Hillary Clinton.  Heavily gerrymandered states that dilute the vote of poor and minorities who typically vote Democrat.  The Russian influence and attempts to hurt Clinton’s image while helping Trump is well-documented, contrary to what Trump claims.  In Republican-led states, various dirty tricks were used to disenfranchise voters.  And, of course the media played a role by giving Trump, rather an anomaly at the time, nearly unlimited airtime … free airtime.

All of those obstacles still exist going into the 2020 election, but we have newly added hurdles.  Due to the coronavirus, most primaries have been pushed back until June or July, and it’s questionable whether or how they will happen even then.  The nominating conventions are a big question mark.  And, the biggest potential hurdle is the election on November 3rd.  Will it be safe to visit the polls, where hundreds of people are packed into a high school gymnasium?  The obvious answer is to immediately plan for voting by mail in all 50 states, but the Republicans are fighting that one tooth and nail.  Not to mention that Donald Trump seems to be on a one-man crusade to cause the United States Postal Service to become officially bankrupt around June, which could throw a wrench the size of Seattle into that plan.

So, as you can see, if the Democrats are to oust Donald Trump in November, they have a huge task ahead of them, and only 28 weeks in which to accomplish it.  Time to get busy, but denigrating Joe Biden is definitely not the way to go about it!

Joe Biden has a very good platform.  Yes, it is more moderate than either Bernie’s or Elizabeth’s, but in truth, Bernie Sanders would never have been able to get half of his ideas passed into law.  His ideas were great, and I fully supported them, while at the same time realizing that in reality, they were a roadmap, a goal for some point in the future, and would be achieved only over time, one step at a time, two steps forward and one step back.  I think that Biden’s platform is more realistic, while at the same time, putting people first, people over corporate profits.  Let’s take a look at some of Biden’s talking points …

Let’s start with some of the things that are the highest priority to the average person.

  • There can be no issue more relevant, more critical, than the environment  and combating climate change. He will re-commit to the Paris Climate Accord and take the steps to ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050, including regulations that go well beyond those that were in place before Trump rolled back every single one in 2017.
  • Health care  is on everyone’s minds these days.  President Obama’s administration, which included Joe Biden, developed the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  While not perfect, it was the first step in a progressive program that would have led to Universal Healthcare.  ACA was working until Donald Trump arrived on the scene and began decimating it.  While others would tear down ACA and start over with something akin to Medicare for all, Biden is in favour of building on the foundation of ACA, expanding and enhancing it.
  • Minimum wage was last raised on July 24th, 2009. At that time, it was raised from $6.55 to $7.25, where it has been for nearly eleven years, and remains today.  Republicans have fought against raising the federal minimum wage because it would raise costs to business, thereby cutting into the corporate profits.  Biden supports immediately raising the federal minimum wage to $15.
  • One of the issues I consider most important is that of gun regulations. There was absolutely no reason for the assault weapon ban to be allowed to expire, and since it did, nobody in the federal government even talks about re-instating it.  Nobody is willing to discuss enhanced background checks, restrictions on those found guilty of domestic violence, and just to breathe the notion of limits on number of guns a person can own will make you a target.  Biden’s plan includes holding gun manufacturers accountable, and banning the production and sale of assault weapons for non-military use.

Needless to say, I have only covered the tip of the iceberg.  Biden’s platform covers a number of topics from bankruptcy reform to immigration, from infrastructure to LGBTQ rights.  I can only cover a small bit here, but please, I urge you, go to and check out his views on the issues … I think you’ll find that he has some very progressive ideas.

No, Joe Biden isn’t Bernie.  He doesn’t have the fire and passion that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have.  But, Joe has good ideas, workable ideas, and ideas that may just even float in Congress.  Joe takes a stand for We the People, for those of us working and struggling to take care of our families, to get ahead a bit.  Donald Trump takes a stand for the wealthy capitalists and to hell with We the People.  Now really, my friends … which do you want?

Okay, if you don’t want Trump, whether you’re a Bernie fan, or simply a “vote blue, no matter who” supporter, you’re going to have to find a way to generate some genuine enthusiasm for Joe Biden.  Not just, “Well, he sucks, but he’s better than Trump”.  That attitude won’t get it!  It won’t win the election on November 3rd.  What it will do is cause an even higher number to stay home, either because they see no reason to vote, or because they think they are making some sort of a statement.

Get excited, folks!  Show some enthusiasm, else you’re likely to find out, in case you ever wondered, how the average German citizen felt by the end of 1933.  No, I’m not being an alarmist, not being a drama queen … I am being dead serious.

Please, folks, no more cartoons like the one at the beginning of this post, or like …


apathyboring-bidenThese do not help the cause, they actually help Trump more than anybody, and those of us who truly care about having a president who knows what he’s doing, who cares about the people of this nation, do not find them remotely funny.

Joe Biden has been endorsed by President Obama, by Bernie Sanders, by Elizabeth Warren, and numerous members of Congress, ambassadors, governors, and others far too numerous to list.  This is likely to be the single most critical election in our lifetimes, the one that will define the next 50-100 years or more of the nation.  It is the one that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution of 1787 will survive, or be buried forever.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension-Part XIII-The Administrative State

In this week’s episode of mine and Jeff’s project, Jeff reminds us all just why it is so important that we vote Trump and his band of crooked cronies out in November. If the people of this country weren’t convinced that Donald Trump & Co are out to destroy our government before, then they surely must be after the bungling ineptitude of the past two months! Thanks Jeff … great post!!!

On The Fence Voters

As my friend Jill and I have been pointing out over the last several months of our project, the issues that confront us in this year’s election are enormous and growing by the minute. While many Americans may not have realized how crucial good government is to our well-being before, they certainly do now. We see, in real-time, what an incompetent and unresponsive government can do to a society. Lives continue to be lost at an alarming rate, while the leader of the free world dithers and blames everyone but himself.

Unfortunately, though, our current president and the Republican Party paved the way for this. When a political party believes that government should only exist for security purposes, and not much else, what you see is what you get.

This mantra is nothing new. The attack on the government by the Republican Party began many years ago, highlighted by none…

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Discord & Dissension – Part XII – Fight For The Senate

So far, Jeff and I have focused solely on the presidential election in November, and granted, that is the single most important of the many elections coming up in November, but it is not the only crucial one.  We will come back to the presidential election soon, but for today I want to talk about the Senate races.

There are 35 senate seats up for grabs on November 3rd, 23 of which are currently held by republicans.  The current demographics of the Senate are 53 republicans, 45 democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the democrats.  So, the democrats, in order to gain a simple majority, will need to flip at least a net 4 of the 23 republican-held seats.  Can they do it?  I think there is a better-than-average chance that they can and will, but as we saw in 2016, it doesn’t pay to take anything for granted.

But before I get into the specific races that I think will be integral to re-gaining a democratic majority, let’s talk for just a minute about the down ballot, also known as the coattail effect.  For those who may not be familiar with the term, it is the tendency for a popular political party leader to attract votes for other candidates of the same party in an election. For example, in the United States, the party of a victorious presidential candidate will often win many seats in Congress as well; these members of Congress are voted into office “on the coattails” of the president, as happened in 2016, giving Congress a republican majority in both chambers.

However, it also works in the opposite direction, and that may be to the democrats’ advantage this year, as Trump is almost certain to lose popularity the longer the pandemic crisis goes on, the more lives are lost due to his ineptitude, egomania, and continued disregard for the lives of the people of this country.  Those republican senators like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham who have almost slavishly cast their lot in with Trump, are almost certain to suffer if Trump is falling in the polls, as I expect to see happen (fingers crossed).

Twelve of the twenty-three republican seats up for grabs are considered to be safe for the republican party, so at this time there isn’t much point talking about flipping those seats, so I will focus on the other eleven.  They are …

  • Martha McSally – Arizona
  • Cory Gardner – Colorado
  • Kelly Loeffler – Georgia
  • David Perdue – Georgia
  • Joni Ernst – Iowa
  • Pat Roberts – Kansas *
  • Mitch McConnell – Kentucky
  • Susan Collins – Maine
  • Steve Daines – Montana
  • Thom Tillis – North Carolina
  • John Cornyn – Texas

Martha McSally and Kelly Loeffler were never elected to their senate seats, but rather were appointed by their state’s governors to fill seats on the death of Arizona Senator John McCain and the poor health of Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.  Neither are particularly popular in their states, and both have been the source of some controversies, the latest involving Kelly Loeffler and insider trading when after a briefing by top government scientists about the coronavirus in January, she immediately sold stocks that later tanked. She then turned around and re-invested in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and whose share price is one of the few that has risen since the crisis began.

For now, in the interest of both time and space, I will focus only on the four races where democrats stand the best chance to take over a republican seat, and I will come back to the others in a future post.

McSallyIn nearly every poll, McSally trails behind her democratic opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly by a margin of between 5 and 12 points.  Mark Kelly is very popular, and I personally don’t foresee McSally being able to pull a rabbit out of her hat.  McSally is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, but she uses that almost as a weapon sometimes, a bit too much to suit most people.  She lost the 2018 election to democrat Kyrsten Sinema but gained her senate seat later that year after the death of John McCain.  I do think this is one the democrats can flip with relative ease.

gardnerTurning our sights now to Colorado where Senator Cory Gardner has become so unpopular that his approval rating is a mere 37%.  His democratic opponent is almost certain to be former Colorado governor and former presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper.  There are few Colorado polls out at this time, but the most reliable one puts Hickenlooper 12 points ahead of Gardner.  Another I think can be won by democrats, for even Trump has lost a good bit of his popularity in the state.

Susan-CollinsBy all rights, Susan Collins should be a pariah, an outcast in her home state of Maine.  Her democratic opponent, Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, is in fact leading in the polls, but by a small margin.  Ms. Collins has been in the Senate since 1997 and like some of her fellow senators, namely Mitch McConnell, is the perfect example of the need for term limits.  She lost some of her popularity when she referred to then-nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, as “an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father”, despite credible accusations of sexual misconduct.  She then added: “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”  Then she plunged a bit further during the impeachment trial when, after having said a few months prior that Trump had made “a big mistake” in asking foreign countries for political favours, she turned around and voted not to convict Trump.  She claimed she believed that Trump “has learned from this case”.  Within days, it became obvious that he hadn’t, and Ms. Collins became the butt of many jokes.  Currently, she is polling between 2.5 and 4 points behind Ms. Gideon and given that there are still some 200 days until the election, it is likely that she will say something else that proves her unfitness for her senate seat.  We can hope, at any rate.

thom-tillisIn North Carolina, the race between republican incumbent Thom Tillis and democrat Cal Cunningham is considered to be a toss-up at this point.  Only two polls have rung in, one putting Tillis ahead with a two-point lead, the other in favour of Cunningham by 5 points.  One thing that may help Cunningham is that North Carolina’s approval rating for Trump is only in the 43% range, and this may be where the down-ballot comes into play.  I’m less certain of this one than I am Arizona, Colorado and Maine, but it is definitely one where anything could happen.  Remember, there are 6+ months left …

Those are the four senate seats most likely to be flipped.  Two others, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Moscow Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, bear watching and, by some accounts, may be easily switched, and we’ll talk a bit more about those, as well as others at another time.  Meanwhile, though, remember I said that to gain a majority in the Senate the democrats would need to gain a net 4 seats.  So, if the democrats are able to persevere only in the above four states, they must also hold all their current seats for a majority.  There is, fortunately, only one seat held by democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, that is in jeopardy, but it is a serious jeopardy.

doug-jonesSenator Jones earned his seat in a special election in 2017 to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat after Sessions became the Attorney General.  At that time, Jones ran against the scandal-ridden infamous Roy Moore, racist extraordinaire.  While at this time, there are three contenders for the republican nominee, and the primary has been postponed until July, most surveys are showing that any of the three, one being Jeff Sessions himself, could easily beat Jones.  I think, realistically, this is one that the democrats will lose, giving them a net 3 new seats, and tying the Senate 50-50.

Now, one last thing.  If, as most reading this are hoping, Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump for the office of president, a net 3 gain will suffice, for the vice president is the one who would break any ties.  However, if Donald Trump should win his bid for re-election, and there is a tie in the Senate, the republicans would prevail, as they have for the past three years.  One way or another, we must make sure this doesn’t happen.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

A Lone Mini Snark

I just have one very short mini-snark today …

It is sad that we do not believe anything that we are told by our federal government.  It is beyond sad, frightening in fact, during this time of crisis when we our very lives depend on having accurate information, but we know we cannot trust that information.  For the past two years, when monthly employment data was released, I’ve just rolled my eyes and said, “Yeah, right”.  No way we added 225,000 jobs in January, a month that typically sees a decline as companies lay off seasonal workers, winter sets in and there is less activity.

But the release of employment data for March earlier today by the Department of Labour is a slap in the face … do they really believe we are so stupid as to believe that only 701,000 jobs were lost, when 6.6 million people filed claims for unemployment in one single week ending March 28th???  I realize that the jobs lost won’t precisely match the unemployment claims, for a number of reasons, one being timing, another being that some companies like Amazon and grocery companies actually hired large numbers.  But this disparity is an outright lie.  I, for one, don’t like paying people to lie to me.  It undermines our safety and our ability to plan accordingly.

Our friend Keith’s timing was prescient with his post today, speaking of the lies we are being told, and I urge you to wander over and check out his post.

Note to Readers:

Part XII of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension, was initially planned for this afternoon, but due to unforeseen circumstances, must be delayed until next week.  It was our initial intent to publish once a week, every Friday, but obviously when we planned this project last December, we could not have foreseen the nightmare that would usher in the year.  Both Jeff and I see this as our mission, our goal for the rest of the year, to bring you the most accurate assessments of candidates and issues, to keep you informed and also to motivate and inspire our readers to make this election count.  We will return next Friday with Part XII, and that is a promise.  Thank you all for your patience.