To my Conservative friends, buckle up. With a 50-50 tie in the Senate, which is essentially a Democratic majority, it’s time to focus on something bigger than all of us. Every single nominee Joe Biden puts before the Senate will have the theoretical backing of almost every Democrat, save a few. Xavier Becerra, the Medicare-for-All and abortion whenever candidate is getting his estate in order and ready to move to the Capital as Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Lloyd Austin, a retired 4-star General and failed strategist in the war against ISIS is the nominee for Secretary of Defense.
Despite the potential for Democrats in the White House and in Congress to push through their agenda with little ability for congressional Republicans to present any opposition, many conservatives are still lamenting President Trump’s electoral defeat choosing instead to support futile legal challenges instead of preparing for the substantial challenges ahead. But please, tell me more about overturning individual results in Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, all after going 1/62 in the courts.
Procedurally Democrats can, if they hold their line, nuke the filibuster and allow for a simple majority to pass virtually all bills that come to the Senate floor. What would that mean? $15 minimum wage- sure. Legislatively passing DACA without funds for border security- why not? Abolishing the Hyde Amendment- of course! Don’t believe me- that’s ok, don’t take my word for it, take Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro’s.
In a committee hearing on the Hyde Amendment, a bill that prohibits federal funding for abortion procedures for Medicaid patients, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut’s 3rd district had this to say, “While the Labor, HHS, Education bill has carried the Hyde amendment every year since 1976, this is the last year.” A bill that prohibits federal funding for abortion, with exceptions to cases of incest and rape, as well as endangerment of the mother, this policy has been on the books since 1976 and is now in jeopardy of being struck down. Although Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are pro-life, they have supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and liberal judges in confirmation hearings. In addition to these Senators, both Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are among the most liberal Republicans in the Senate and identify as pro-choice. Even if two of the previously mentioned senators object, that wouldn’t be enough, as a 50-50 tie would require the vice president to cast the tie-breaking vote. Kamala Harris is about as pro-abortion as it gets, with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood’s Congressional Scorecard. That would bring the bill to President Biden’s desk, where in 2019 he indicated “… I could no longer continue to abide by the Hyde Amendment. “
What about nationalizing the minimum wage? This is a senseless proposal that would destroy small businesses in states with minimum wages vastly smaller than such. I am not against raising the minimum wage, but I believe states know their respective economies and how to stimulate growth more so than the vast bureaucracy that is Washington DC. Not to mention, 48(!) states are below the $15/hr mark by over 20%, of which 21 would need to more than double their wages per hour. A blanket wage increase with no phase-in period has no logic and would be devastating to a still-recovering economy. With a $15 minimum wage bill already clear of the House floor (passed in the 116th Congress), it could come down to the wire in the Senate, which would have been impossible if not for the sweep in Georgia.
Now is the time for the Republican party to be unified, sticking together to stand up for Conservative values, most importantly the right to life and economic commonsense. These issues are of great importance to members of the GOP, yet lawmakers are instead focusing on dangerous and detrimental ideas such as overturning federal elections to retain power.
It’s no surprise to Saint Anselm students that campus is a hotbed for political activity. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has been to the hilltop. The whirlwind is getting started a bit early, though. Presidents’ Day Weekend and the following days brought two prominent candidates to campus and even more to the state.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) returned to New Hampshire, most notably for an event at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) was in Raymond, New Hampshire on Saturday to meet voters. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), too, was in the state, bringing her message to the first-in-the-nation primary state.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) made his Granite State debut this weekend, spending multiple days in the state. He held a town hall event in Portsmouth that attracted around 500 people. A house party in Manchester brought in 350 people. Events in Rochester and Conway brought in about 200 each. It was a strong beginning to the senator’s New Hampshire effort.
Most notably, for Saint Anselm students, were two major events on campus. One was the CNN Town Hall with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), which was held in the Dana Center on Monday night. That event was followed by a Politics & Eggs event at the Institute of Politics with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), widely considered a front runner in the race.
Chairwoman of the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador Program Julianne Plourde ‘20 shared her thoughts on the busy presidential campaign. She was at both the CNN Town Hall and the Politics & Eggs event. “Being able to attend the CNN Town Hall for Senator Klobuchar gave a preview into what the next year is going to be like on campus. It’s exciting knowing that having presidential candidates and national news networks walking around campus will be the usual.” The experience, she explained, is pretty unique to Saint Anselm. “No other school around is able to give their students these experiences on such a regular basis.”
During the town hall, Klobuchar answered questions, including one from Olivia Teixeira ‘20, the President of the New Hampshire College Democrats. Teixeira opened-up about what it was like to be on camera and ask the senator a question: “Asking a question for CNN was a great experience. Despite rumors that the questions were staged, that is not the case. They made sure we asked genuine questions that we submitted beforehand and were very accepting of all the questions we submitted.”
She asked the Minnesota senator to share her thoughts about gun safety legislation. The senator’s response left an impression on Teixeira, she said. “I appreciated Amy’s genuine emotion when responding to my question and the answer she gave was a very shared Democratic belief.” Overall, Teixeira said she was more likely to vote for Klobuchar because of how she did at the town hall.
Grace D’Antuono ‘19 also attended the CNN Town Hall. She said that while she’s not considering voting for Klobuchar, she went to “learn more and to be a part of the beginning of the 2020 campaign here on campus.” She was impressed by the senator’s answer to Teixeira’s question, noting that Klobuchar “understands recreational gun use and wants to protect that while still promoting screening for background checks and banning assault rifles.”
The morning after Senator Klobuchar’s town hall, Senator Harris was at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics for a Politics & Eggs event. Harris’ stop came after a town hall event in Portsmouth where many in line had to be turned away because there wasn’t enough capacity in the venue.
Harris addressed affiliates and members of the New England Council as well as students of Saint Anselm College before taking questions. Her remarks centered on three issues: middle-class tax relief, education reform, and climate change. She promised that, as a candidate for president, she would “speak truths” on the trail and be honest with the American people.
She opened her speech by addressing questions that she would not seriously contest the New Hampshire primary. Harris denied these rumors, saying she plans on competing in New Hampshire and that she intends to do “very well” in the nation’s first primary.
Emily Burns ‘22 was in the audience on Tuesday. She said she was “really excited” to see Harris come to the hilltop. Burns thought the senator “spoke incredibly eloquently” and said she seemed “very presidential.”
Despite her glowing review of Harris’ performance, Burns was unsure that she would support the candidate down the road. “I’m not totally sure yet,” she said when asked if she was leaning towards supporting the senator from California. “One of my big concerns is prison reform and while she spoke about that, she has a kind of questionable past in that area,” Burns explained.
The controversy over Harris’ past as a prosecutor has been a major factor in the race so far, with some questioning whether Harris’ commitment to criminal justice reform can be genuine given her past. For her part, the candidate embraced her record during her speech at Politics & Eggs, talking about how she was inspired to become a prosecutor by some lawyers of the Civil Rights Movement, including Thurgood Marshall.
In a recent poll conducted by Saint Anselm College, Harris was viewed the third-most favorably by New Hampshire voters. She only trailed former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Sanders announced a presidential campaign on Tuesday.
While it is no secret that Kamala Harris wrote her newest book, The Truths We Hold, to lay out the case for a presidential campaign, there was no guarantee it would be a success. In fact, I read Julián Castro’s An Unlikely Journey immediately before reading Harris’ memoir. It was fine. It had cute anecdotes about his childhood and some inspiring ones about his time on the city council. It painted the odds that Castro overcame to become a credible presidential candidate just two generations after his grandmother immigrated to Texas, but it failed to craft a cohesive narrative about who Castro is.
The Truths We Hold, however, is a far more successful work of political memoir. It may not be on the level of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, but Kamala Harris does a masterful job of weaving her personal narrative into a story that emphasizes key American values and the issues facing a divided nation today. Her work as a prosecutor, a district attorney, and as California Attorney General spills off the page as she describes the issues she worked on, the challenges she faced, and the questions facing the United States in the coming years.
The book gave Harris the chance to answer questions on voters’ minds on her own terms. Doubts exist among those on the left about whether or not Harris’ career as a prosecutor is acceptable in the age of Black Lives Matter. Harris describes her decision to go into law as a prosecutor, calling on the memories of civil rights lawyers who prosecuted KKK members and the nation’s most famous attorney general, Robert Kennedy. In fact, her chapter about her time as a prosecutor is now her presidential campaign slogan: For the People. The chapter seeks to dispel the left’s criticism. She meets her critics by sharing her history of reforming the system from within.
In page after page, the real Kamala Harris emerges. Those who know her as a political figure are likely familiar with her surgical questioning of Brett Kavanaugh. The Truths We Hold goes deeper than a C-SPAN camera can in demonstrating the motivational forces that stir within this leading presidential contender. She is a daughter with a deep reverence for her mom and the wisdom she imparted. She is a stepmom – Momala – to two children that she came to through marriage but loves as her own. She has many fundamental beliefs – Medicare for All, a gentler immigration system, a fairer criminal justice system – but perhaps none are so important as her belief in Sunday family dinner, which she often prepares for her family.
Beyond the prosecutorial style of this larger-than-life politician is a deeply passionate and caring advocate on behalf of those she has been chosen to serve. Many people have long noticed Harris’ expertise as a politician, but I was among those who, at times, questioned her sincerity. Did she really believe the progressive politics she espoused? Or was it theater designed to prepare for a presidential run? It is impossible to read The Truths We Hold without seeing the sincerity with which Harris approaches this endeavor.
Whether or not Kamala Harris becomes the 46th President of the United States, her book is a must-read for any person who is intending to vote in the 2020 election.
The first votes of the 2020 Presidential Election are going to be cast a little over a year from now, on February 3, in Iowa. New Hampshire will vote about a week later, and then the party really starts. A number of states have taken steps to front-load the primary calendar, giving their state, and its delegates, more sway in selecting the nominee. In 2020, it is possible that the Democratic nominee could surpass the delegate threshold by the end of March. The 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, did not do so until June 6.
There are currently four declared major candidates for President running as members of the Democratic Party.
The first to announce, in July of 2017, was former Maryland Congressman John K. Delaney. Delaney, a former business owner, has very low name recognition but, as he said at an event in the Dana Center last year, his hope is that running for so long will give him the opportunity to meet as many voters as possible in as intimate venues as possible in order to push up his name recognition. Congressman Delaney’s platform is broadly centrist, promoting a jobs training program, a shift to clean energy, and a reform to America’s public education program.
Hawaii Congresswoman and former Army National Guard medic Tulsi Gabbard was the second Democrat to throw her hat into the ring. She first rose to prominence in the national dialogue in 2016, when she resigned as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee in support of Senator Bernie Sanders’ upstart presidential campaign.
Congresswoman Gabbard, in her fourth term as a member of Congress, is having trouble getting her campaign off the ground as she is dogged by several controversies from her past. In 2017, she took part in a Congressional fact-finding mission to the warzone in Syria and met with Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and has a long and bloody track record of suppressing dissent in the country. Congresswoman Gabbard has said that she supported al-Assad’s rule and opposed U.S.-led “regime-change.” She has a mixed record on social issues such as abortion and has drawn ire over her archaic positions on same-sex marriage. She once led the campaign in Hawaii for a “Traditional Marriage” constitutional amendment.
Julián Castro, a former Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, become the third major candidate to announce he was running for President. Secretary Castro has a record as a strong progressive, being an early supporter of same-sex marriage and promoting a Medicare-for-All proposal. At a recent visit to the Hilltop, he put an emphasis on pre-K education and his immigration story. Secretary Castro’s largest base of support comes from the shifting demographics of the United States, as he represents a younger, more progressive, and more inclusive picture of the future.
The only other major Presidential to declare that they are running is California Senator Kamala Harris. A first-term Senator, Harris is the child of immigrants and spent much of her early years in Quebec, where her mother moved after divorcing her father. Senator Harris has made a fast rise through the California political ranks, serving as San Francisco’s District Attorney and California’s Attorney General before being elected to the Senate in 2016. She is the first Senator from Jamaican or Indian heritage and has staked herself out as a progressive voice in Washington, leading the opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pushing for passage of the DREAM Act, and authoring criminal justice reform legislation.
While only four candidates have formally announced their Democratic campaigns for President, a number have launched Exploratory Committees, a coy political tool enabling someone to look into running for President while fundraising a significant amount of money without having to follow the normal FEC disclosure rules.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an outspoken Progressive, was the first to do so, followed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand reached national prominence in 2017, after being appointed to the Senate when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, for her stiff opposition to many Trump Administration nominees as well as leading the campaign to oust Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as his sexual misconduct scandal became public.
Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made history as the first openly gay person to form an exploratory bid for a major party’s nomination. Before jumping into the presidential race, he conducted an unsuccessful long-shot bid for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.
It is likely that several more candidates will join the Democratic field before the end of 2019. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has floated the idea of a self-funded campaign and some expect him to use his event at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics next week to launch his campaign.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced he is running for President on the sole issues of addressing climate change but has yet to file with the FEC. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to launch his second campaign for the Presidency sometime next week.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke have all been speculated to be interested in running in 2020, although none have formed exploratory committees or launched campaigns.
As for the Republican side, it is unlikely that a serious, viable challenge to President Trump will emerge. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have been frequently talked about as a potential “Anyone But Trump” candidate, but President Trump’s support among Republicans is very strong, nearly 90%. At the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meetings, held this weekend in New Mexico, the party passed a resolution declaring their support for President Trump’s reelection, essentially giving a stiff finger to any potential challengers.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a popular Governor in a blue state, has recently been floated as a potential candidate, with reports indicating he is in talks to headline a Politics & Eggs at Saint Anselm College in the coming weeks and is planning a trip to Iowa with Never Trump leader Bill Kristol. It is not obvious what potential base of support Governor Hogan has other than the Never Trumpers.
Early on in the 2020 media cycle, there was a lot of talk of a potential “Unity Party” bid, reminiscent of when Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democratic Senator Andrew Johnson as his running mate to unite the country in 1864 during the throes of the Civil War, with Republican Governor Kasich and Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. This talk has, largely, died down since the fall, when Governor Hickenlooper told reporters in Colorado that Kasich “didn’t even send me a text” when Governor Kasich formed a new PAC to look into running for President.
Regardless of how big or how crazy the 2020 primary fields are, or even the general election, the Hilltop with surely be at the center of it all.