Why The Democrats Need Conor Lamb to Win Pennsylvania’s Special Election

Momentum, in politics, matters.

People like to be on the winning team.  Winning energizes supporters, swelling turnout and, thus, leading to more winning; conversely, losing depresses supporters and turnout drops, leading to more losing.

This is the ‘science’ behind mass political rallies, yard signs, candidate supporting merchandise, etc. A feeling of winning actually creates more winning (arguably, Trump’s whole career).  This is, in fact, why Trump continuously boasts that Republicans are 5-0 in House Special Elections since he entered the Oval Office (conveniently ignoring the other electoral losses his party has suffered in that same period).

A Democratic win in Pennsylvania’s Special Election, in a district Trump carried by more than 20 points in the 2016 Presidential Election, would not only belie that narrative, it would shatter Trump’s famous “base“, much like the 2016 Presidential Election shattered Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall“.

Make no mistake, Pennsylvania’s 18th District is Trump country: 21 points more Republican than the nation, saturated with white blue collar and rural voters, and located in the industrial Midwest that broke for Trump in 2016 securing him the Electoral College.

A loss here would be devastating to the Trump brand, and Trump knows it – that’s why Republicans have poured in over $10 million in outside money into the race, it’s why Trump himself and Trump’s top surrogates have personally invested their political capital into this race.

It may even be why Trump announced the steel tariffs just last week, at the cost of his own economic adviser, a trade war with America’s own allies, and a potential revolt by his own party – all in a bid to bolster Trump’s image in this part of the Pennsylvania’s steel country.

A loss to Conor Lamb in Trump country would almost certainly lead to the following rippling effect:

  1. Trump’s “base” would begin to unravel.  If he can lose in a heavily partisan Trump country district that he won by 20+ points less than a year after assuming office, he will be vulnerable everywhere.
  2. Democrats would be emboldened, flipping their first House seat since Trump took office, further bolstering a Blue Wave” of momentum that they hope will take them all the way capturing the majority in Congress in November (a little less than 8 months away).
  3. Because Saccone has run a pro-Trump campaign, aligning himself with both the Trump brand and the Trump agenda, a loss would signal to Republicans (particularly vulnerable Republicans) the need to distance themselves from Trump in the lead up to November, creating a schism between the President and his own party that would weaken Trump and his agenda (which the Democrats would, naturally, exploit in November).
  4. Not only would a Conor Lamb win bolster Democratic turnout throughout the country, but it would have the same effect on Democratic fundraising as Democratic donors would be emboldened.
  5. Conversely, should Saccone prevail, it would be the Republican Party, its supporters and donors who would be more emboldened, more united behind Trump, and more ingratiating to Trump’s “base“.

For these reasons, the Democrats need Conor Lamb to win Pennsylvania’s Special Election.

Why Senator Collins Should Vote Against the GOP Tax Plan

In exchange for her surprising expected vote in favour of the Republican Party tax bill, Senator Collins received commitments from both the Trump Administration and Senate leaders to back two separate bills to fund Obamacare.

Collins has nothing to gain from such a deal and everything to lose.  She should vote against the GOP measure, for the following reasons:

  1. The so-called “commitment” received from the Senate leadership is worthless.  Even if the Senate leadership is faithful to the commitment, it only means that the leadership will try to have its members pass the bills Collins wants passed – there is no guarantee.  Collins need look no further than her own refusal to back the Senate leadership’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, killing the bill despite Senate leadership’s efforts to the contrary.
  2. The so-called “commitment” received from the Trump Administration is less than worthless.  Trump is notoriously mercurial, often changing his mind on a whim, and almost certainly suffering from impulse control.  Of even more concern, Trump has made a lifetime of sacrificing his friends, betraying “commitments” he made to many.  He even threw his allies in the House under the bus after they voted in favour of his favourite pet project: destroying Obamacare! (More on that, later.)  Why would Senator Collins put any stock into a “commitment” from Trump?
  3. Speaking of, hasn’t Senator Collins been paying attention?  Nothing animates Trump more than his hatred for Barack Obama, and nothing is more important to Trump in erasing his predecessor’s legacy than the dismantling of Obamacare.  So, does Senator Collins realistically think that Trump will actually honour his “commitment” to help shore up Obamacare, the very thing he has dedicated his first year in office trying to destroy?
  4. Even if the commitments Senator Collins has received from the Senate leadership and the Trump administration are genuine, and even if both really do try to help Senator Collins shore up Obamacare (despite efforts by both the Senate leadership and Trump administration throughout the year to do the exact opposite), both pieces of legislation championed by Senator Collins would have to pass the Republican Party controlled House – and, that is never going to happen because the House skews far more to the right than the Senate and the Freedom Caucus (the one group that may hate Obama and Obamacare just as much as Trump and Senator majority leader McConnell) would never allow either bill to pass the House.
  5. Let’s also not forget the fact that politics is a dirty sport.  Senator Collins national profile rose considerably during the Obamacare repeal effort when she resisted her own party and voted in line with her constituents wishes.  There are plenty of politicians in Washington that will want to cut Senator Collins back down to size, and this would be the perfect opportunity: manipulate Senator Collins to vote against her constituents’ wishes, in line with the Party, and then leave her all alone in the cold by not passing the two bills she bartered away her votes for in the first place.
  6. Let’s be clear.  The majority of Americans oppose the GOP tax bill.  Only 22% of the people of Maine support the the GOP tax bill (less than the national figure, interestingly).  In a perfect world, Senator Collins would feel obliged to vote in line with the majority of her constituents.  But, even in an imperfect world, Senator Collins will end up expending significant political capital merely to vote against the wishes of her own constituents without anything of significance (see above) in return.
  7. Most importantly, though, is that the Republican Party doesn’t need her vote!  With Senator McCain convalescing in Arizona, the Republican Party still has 51 senators versus 48 senators – even if Senator Collins voted against the measure it would still pass 50-49, and Senator Collins would preserve her political clout.  Although his office has promised he would return for the tax vote, even if Senator Thad Cochran were to miss the vote for some reason, Senator Collins could still vote against the measure to preserve her political clout while ensuring its ultimate passage because Vice President Pence has skipped his planned Mideast trip to stay in Washington for the GOP tax vote allowing him to cast the deciding tie-breaking vote in favour of the bill: 50(+1)-50.

In the final analysis, Senator Collins gets absolutely nothing for voting in favour of the GOP tax plan that will pass without her support anyways.

In fact, she will get less than nothing – the damage to her political clout (dropping her from ‘atop the pack’ to ‘just another politician’) will be staggering in the current political climate.

But, if Senator Collins votes against the measure, she will maintain her political clout (if not increase it to emerge as an influential “swing vote“,  entrenching her as an independent centre of power within Washington) while still letting the bill pass into law.

For these reasons, Senator Collins should vote against the GOP tax plan.

Why The Democrats Must Go On The Offensive On The Mueller Investigation Immediately!

Thus far, perhaps in order to avoid the perception that the Mueller investigation has become politicized, the Democratic Party has generally refrained from getting involved, preferring instead to allow the investigation to continue without (perceived) political ‘interference’.

However, not only are those days now over, but Democratic reticence has already allowed the Republicans to monopolize the political narrative and threatens to allow Trump to end the Special Counsel’s investigation before it snares a member of the Trump family.

In apparent coordination with the White House, the Republican Party has already begun interfering directly with the Mueller investigation by trying to shut it down, or at least force its staff out over claims of conflict of interest.

Trump’s surrogates outside of Washington have also joined in on the offensive against the Mueller, led by Trump’s propaganda arm at Fox News calling for the Mueller team to be jailed – an ironic update on the lock her up” chant made famous by General Flynn, the most infamous criminal convicted by the Mueller team thus far.

Having set the stage, it appears Trump is preparing to terminate the Special Counsel’s investigation by the end of the week.

In this context, then, the Democrats have no option but to enter the field and go on an immediate offensive on behalf of Mueller:

  1. The Democrats must immediately shift the narrative by alleging Trump’s acknowledgement of incriminating emails now the in possession of the Mueller team – the very emails that Trump’s lawyers are now (wrongly) complaining Mueller obtained improperly.  If the emails are not incriminating, then why is Trump so bothered?  If they are incriminating (and, this is what the Democrats must convince the American people of), then Trump’s termination of the Mueller investigation would be the most egregious act of obstruction of justice in the history of the United States of America (even worse than Watergate).  The Democrats must start their media blitz on the Sunday morning talk shows.
  2. The Democrats ought to release a unanimous position statement that terminating the Mueller investigation would be an impeachable offense.  Preferably, the Democrats would (at least try to) obtain some Republican co-signatories.  But, even if no Republican signs on to the position statement, it would change the narrative and force the Republicans on the defence to explain exactly why Trump terminating the Mueller investigation into Trump would not be an impeachable offense (particularly those Republicans that have already suggested the same).
  3. The Democrats must counter Trump’s (and the Republican Party’s and Trump’s allies’) non-stop repetitions alleging that the Mueller investigation has failed to uncover any collusion by continuously and unitedly repeating the mantra ad nauseum that the Mueller investigation has succeeded in convicting members of the Trump campaign and White House for lying about their contacts with the Russians – otherwise known colloquially as “collusion“.

By going on the offensive now, the Democrats can neutralize the Republican interference in the Mueller investigation, immediately shift the narrative towards impeachment, and put the White House on the defensive by forcing Trump to disavow any plans to terminate the Mueller investigation (thereby costing Trump any remaining political capital he may have left if he does backtrack on his forced assurance of impartial neutrality).

Additionally, if the Democrats are successful in shifting the narrative and Trump does attempt to terminate the Mueller investigation, the Democrats can enter the 2018 midterms with an opportunity to play offense in every single electoral seat by forcing Republicans to try and defend Trump’s obvious obstruction of justice.

This would allow the Democrats to nationalize every open seat in the 2018 midterms running against the most unpopular first-year president in history – an unpopularity that will almost assuredly spike if/when Trump attempts to terminate the Mueller investigation.

That’s why the Democrats must go on the offensive on the Mueller investigation immediately!

Why The Palestinians Should ‘Hint’ at 3rd Intifada to Trump

In response to recent reports emerging that the Trump administration will recognise Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israeltomorrow, the Palestinian leadership should ‘hint’ that such a move will result in the Third Intifada.

In discussing such an escalation, the Palestinians should focus on three talking points:

  1. Trump’s recent retweet of an anti-Muslim by a far-right anti-Muslim fringe group has inflamed anti-American passions amongst the Muslim Palestinian community (not to mention amongst the larger Muslim Arab community in the Middle East), proving that, in the eyes of the Palestinians, Trump is personally biased against them.
  2. Recent reports that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Trump’s Middle East peace enjoy, concealed his position as director of a foundation that funded Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law – even while he was attempting to influence foreign nations to vote against an anti-Israeli settlement resolution at the United Nationsin violation of the Logan Act – prove that, in the eyes of the Palestinians, the Trump family has been deceiving the Palestinians vis-a-vis American commitment (at least under the current administration) to being an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  3. The Palestinians would consider Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a betrayal of American commitments to the Palestinians – particularly to the moderate Palestinians that have thus far tried to keep their people committed to continuing dialogue towards an ‘always-just-around-the-corner-but-never-actually-materialising‘ peace deal – and proof that the peace process is merely a Trojan Horse meant to force the Palestinian leadership to contain the Palestinian people all the while the Israelis (with American assistance/complicity) exploit the situation to create ‘facts-on-the-ground’.

(Ironically, it was Israel’s attempt to create such ‘facts-on-the-ground‘ that caused the Second Intifada.)

In making their pitch, the Palestinians must impress upon the Trump administration that the Third Intifada will be outside of its control because of the passions the Trump family’s apparent anti-Palestinian bias has unleashed, and the extremely emotionally charged issue of Jerusalem.

In fact, if possible (depending upon the progress of negotiations between the PLO and Hamas), the PLO leadership may consider coordinating fiery press release statements from Hamas ‘threatening’ a response to any such move by the Trump administration.

Both Hamas and the PLO will benefit from the release of such statements: Hamas will benefit by continuing to portray itself to the Palestinians as the only reliable faction willing to stand up to the Israelis and their ally the Americans; the PLO will benefit because it can point to itself as the only faction that can prevent Hamas from plunging the area into another violent Intifada (which the PLO will only be able to do if the Trump administration pulls back from its plan of declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, naturally).

If the Palestinians are able to convince the Trump administration not to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian negotiation position is strengthened.

On the other hand, even if the Palestinians are unable to convince the Trump administration not to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then any (almost certain) protests that emerge throughout the Palestinian territories (and, perhaps, beyond), will be a bargaining chip the Palestinians can utilise in the next round of negotiations (ie. the Palestinians can demand certain concessions in exchange for containing the protests).

Either result benefits the Palestinian negotiating position and forces a ‘jump start’ of a process that has ground to a halt.

That’s why the Palestinians should ‘hint’ at a 3rd Intifada to Trump.