Category Archives: Politics

Bernie should leave the race

For far too long in this election cycle Democrats (myself included), moderates, and sensible Republicans believed that the Republican establishment would overwhelm Donald Trump. In fact, the dichotomy between establishment and insurgent Republicans is false. It was, after all, John McCain (then a four-term United States Senator) who, by picking the eminently unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate, brought into the mainstream a particularly dangerous and deranged strand of politics. Republicans further stoked fear and anger to send to Congress far too many loud, boisterous, and politically intransigent individuals (often by defeating Republican members who had admirably served the country for long periods of time). It should be remembered that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul are all part of this loud, boisterous, and politically intransigent group. Tellingly, the establishment is now trying to coalesce around Marco Rubio, who, in 2010, was the anti-establishment Senate candidate in Florida.

Events such as Chris Christie’s odd endorsement of Donald Trump have finally laid bare the fact that the Republican establishment is not the savior we hoped for. With the growing sense of inevitability surrounding Trump’s nomination, it is time for Americans to gear up and roundly defeat him. And that begins with Senator Bernie Sanders bowing out.

To anyone that is looking at the primary calendar and delegate math, it is abundantly clear that Sanders cannot win the nomination. For him to continue will be ruinous to the country.

Allow me to explain: Bernie Sanders’ populist and fantastical campaign is appealing not to the better angels of our nature, but to the same feelings of anger, insecurity, and fear that Donald Trump appeals to. That is not, in any way, to equate Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump. In the current election cycle, it is necessary to note that Sanders has a basic sense of human decency and an understanding of the institutions that make this nation work. And further, let me be completely clear: it is difficult to overstate how important of an issue economic inequality is, and Senator Sanders deserves abundant gratitude not only for bringing the issue to the forefront of this election, but also for fighting for economic justice over the course of his career.

But my point is that Sanders, like Trump, is playing with fire. And to the extent Sanders and Trump supporters overlap, Sanders continuing to campaign will serve only to further stoke these negative emotions.

Thomas B. Edsall cites an NBC/WSJ poll showing 6% of voters would consider voting for either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. That might seem like a small group of people, but considering that elections can be decided by small margins in a handful of states, it is hard to see what good a continued Sanders campaign does.

Sanders exiting the race of course will not erase the concerns surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Just like any campaign, hers is not perfect. But if you listen to Clinton’s speech from Saturday night in South Carolina, you will see that she is now beginning the difficult task of injecting some positivity in this unnecessarily dour and bizarre campaign. These are the themes we need carrying us into the future, not Sanders’ outlandish rhetoric, and certainly not Donald Trump’s bigoted rhetoric.

Tonight is Super Tuesday. I hope, first of all, that Donald Trump Drumpf loses every primary. Beyond that I hope Bernie Sanders leaves the race and endorses Hillary Clinton. If neither of these things happen, I’ll be expanding these arguments over the next few days.

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2014 Midterms – Races I’m watching

Midterm elections are tomorrow. Here are the races I’ll be keeping an eye on:

Measure D:

This is a soda tax measure on the ballot in Berkeley. The tax isn’t perfect, and I was initially opposed to it. However, the intensity of opposition to Measure D made me realize this wasn’t about creating the ideal soda tax, but taking a step in the right direction.

Measure S:

This is a Berkeley redistricting measure designed to create a student district for City Council elections. Even for those that share the goal of a student district, the boundaries S would impose are controversial. Many students, myself included, are not part of this so-called student district – and I live across from campus. But on a more fundamental level, I don’t think a student district would be the best way to let the student voice be heard in City Council. Indeed, having just one designated student representative would allow the other City Council members to easily mute the student voice. I’m hoping S fails and we can have a fresh debate about student representation on City Council.

CA – 07:

Congressman Ami Bera is in a tight race with former Congressman Doug Ose. While I was in DC, I told Bera he ought to run for Governor. He smirked and said something about getting him reelected. I hope he gets reelected. And runs for Governor.

CA – 17:

Congressman Mike Honda is up against Ro Khanna, who’s been district (s)hopping for some time now. A DC taxi driver once yelled at me incredulously for suggesting Honda might lose. He then went on to mention that Honda was his favorite member of Congress. He was also the only member of Congress he knew. The interaction gave me an idea of the role Congressman Honda plays in creating a positive image of the United States internationally. It is highly doubtful Khanna could do that. Further, I have yet to hear a single coherent argument for voting Honda out of office.

Side note, it seems both campaigns have released internal polls showing the race being close. Given the decisive margin by which Congressman Honda won the primary election, I’m highly skeptical about these numbers and do not expect a close race.

HI – 02:

Here’s to Congresswoman Gabbard getting an upgraded office next Congress.

Texas Governor’s Race:

It is unlikely Wendy Davis can win in Texas, but that was clear from the outset. Battleground Texas needed a candidate for short-term excitement while trying to build long-term infrastructure. While one can hope for a miracle, the bigger question is whether excitement about making Texas more competitive over the long-run will remain after the election.

Georgia:

In the early 1970s, Georgia had a Governor named Carter and a Senator named Nunn. That might be happening again.

Other Senate races:

Overall, the big question is whether Democrats can keep the Senate and most models predict Republicans have the advantage. On Thursday, the New York Times Editorial Board predicted a Republican Senate would lead to more gridlock. While I would prefer the Senate to stay blue, I am skeptical about this diagnosis. Nominations might be slowed down, but even a Democratic Senate with relaxed filibuster rules has been sluggish on nominations. Republican control of both Houses of Congress, combined with Republican Presidential aspiration in the Senate, ought to give rise to at least some compromise. The House will no longer be able to blame the Senate for blocking everything, and vice versa.

I’m voting for Obama

When I cast my first general election ballot, I’ll be voting to reelect President Obama. Here’s why:

Health Care:

With the Affordable Care Act, President Obama achieved something that presidents as far back as Harry Truman had been trying to enact. Even the wildly popular Bill Clinton was unsuccessful in his efforts to pass universal health care. And just yesterday, Thursday, June 28th, the nation’s highest court blessed key parts of the law as constitutional. Within 18 months, the law will be fully enacted. While I will not bore you with overly complicated analysis of the law, I will present what the law means to me, and how it relates to my support for the President’s reelection. Universal health care represents, at a fundamental level, a concern for the society as a whole, and its members. With its provision to help those that cannot afford health care, the law recognizes that something like healthcare cannot be treated as some sort of a luxury object. It makes efforts to promote health among all Americans, not just those with economic means. And that is partly why I support the President for reelection. His actions display a desire to help America as a whole, and I believe that is integral to creating a more perfect union.

And further, while the Affordable Care Act may not be perfect, it represents a much better solution than that offered by the President’s opponent, Governor Romney, which at this point is to simply to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and provide no replacement. To me Governor Romney’s plan represents a regression to a more primitive situation – one in which each man is for himself, and so only those with the means to purchase healthcare can remain healthy. It benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and drives a wedge between different economic groups.

Economic Policy:

The economy was a big deal in 2008, and it is a big deal today. Yes, under President Obama we haven’t reached an all-time low in unemployment and every American isn’t a millionaire. But I believe the President’s economic policies are sounder than those of Governor Romney.

President Obama championed the auto industry bailout. Governor Romney famously proclaimed to “let Detroit go bankrupt”. Allowing the latter would have pushed us deeper into economic recession. A weak auto industry would have ripple effects throughout the entire economy. Companies that made plastics for cars would be hurt. Electronics companies that made car radios would be hurt. Marketing firms that made ads for cars would be hurt. All this would simply lead to more unemployment and less consumption, thus crippling the economy. Instead the President’s auto industry bailout did precisely what worked in the 1930s and 1940s to bring the US out of the Great Depression. And that was to inject money into the economy. More money for automakers means more money for employees which means greater consumption and a stronger economy.

On a different aspect of economic policy, tax policy also highlights an important difference between President Obama and Governor Romney. Governor Romney, and almost every single Republican member of the House of Representatives, has signed what is popularly known as the anti-tax pledge. Basically it means supporting no new taxes. Ever. And while the “no tax increase” mantra sounds nice, it isn’t practical at all as we always hear laments about America’s deficit and debt. To fix these problems, two solutions exist: cutting spending, and increasing revenue. Governor Romney would like to approach this problem by removing half of the solutions at the outset. This represents putting ideology over country. President Obama on the other hand is not operating under such constraints. Reducing spending and increasing revenue are both options. That, to me, is a much better way to solve the problem, and therefore I support the President for reelection.

Government should not be a business:

Governor Romney touts his business record as one of his primary qualifications to be President of the United States. I honestly do not think that a business record is a qualification for the nation’s highest elected office. The point of a business is to make a profit. The point of government is not the same. Government is supposed to be looking out for society and how to make it better. One such example of government making life better is that of the Interstate Highway System. Without such a system, the road trip I took with my dad last summer spanning nearly 5,000 miles would not have been possible. Further the Interstate Highway System allowed communities to develop in previously sparsely populated areas. Pearland, the city that I live in, was put on the map because of highways.

It’s highly unlikely that any private business would have decided to develop nearly 50,000 miles worth of roads connecting the nation. It is similarly unlikely that private industry would have put a man on the moon when NASA did. In both of these cases, government looked beyond simply making a profit, and instead did what was deemed in the best interest of the nation. That is not to say that private industry does not play a critical role in our society, it is simply that the motives of government and private industry are different. I believe that President Obama better understands the motives of government, and thus I support his reelection.

Social Issues:

We live in a society of people with different beliefs and backgrounds. I firmly believe that America should provide equal rights to all, regardless race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. President Obama’s support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and his support for gay marriage affirm his belief in equal rights for all Americans. This is another factor in my decision to support President Obama.

An Inspirational Figure:

While I could go into more and more reasons why I support President Obama, I’ll end with an emotional factor that is part of my decision to support the President’s reelection. He was not born into a politically well-connected or wealthy family. He built himself up from any regular American. On the other hand, Governor Romney is the son of a captain of industry, and a former governor of Michigan. Whether or not it is fair, electing Governor Romney reinforces the notion that in order to achieve a position of power, one must be hereditarily endowed. I believe that President Obama’s reelection would further solidify the fact that America is the land of opportunities, and that all you need is hard work to achieve great levels of success. As the son of immigrants, and as someone about to enter college, the idea that my success is dependent only upon me, and not on political connections, is extremely inspiring to me. Thus, beyond the policy reasons I described earlier, I feel that President Obama’s reelection better inspires a new generation of Americans to achieve the heights of success. This further strengthens my support for President Obama’s reelection.

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