Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Bernie Sanders

What the Midterms Tell Us About How to Oppose Trump

The Midwest is increasingly the critical region in American politics. It is the only region in which large numbers of states flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016, and in the 2018 Midterms the Midwest was once again the site of many of the most interesting results. For me, this region includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I don’t include agricultural red states like the Dakotas or Missouri, which have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996.

Despite their shift toward Trump in 2016, many of these Midwestern states demonstrated a willingness to support Democrats in 2018. In the Senate, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Democrats held the line against Republican challengers, losing only in Indiana. In governor races, Democrats retained Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and took Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan from the Republicans. The Republicans were able to defend their hold on Iowa and Ohio.

In much of the writing about the midterms, the focus has been on Democratic successes in the Southwest. Observers praise Beto O’Rourke for nearly beating Ted Cruz in Texas and are excited about the Democrats’ performance in the Arizona and Nevada Senate races. But I think this emphasis is a mistake. We are repeating the errors of the Clinton campaign–trying to compete nationally by demographically changing the South instead of creating messages that can win in the Midwest.

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The Decline and Fall of Elizabeth Warren

There was a time when everyone on the left in the United States liked Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), when she seemed like the most left wing option available in a sea of swamp creatures. Warren gave the left the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011, and in return she became its darling–the person everyone on the left wanted to see run for president, the person everyone on the left hoped could someday win. This is the story of how that changed. Read the rest of this entry »

The Problem With Fact Checkers is that They’re Journalists, Not Academics

The row between the fact checking websites and Medicare-for-all supporters has continued over the past couple weeks. I briefly weighed in to point out that, studies aside, it’s difficult to estimate the cost because it’s impossible for us to know what level of healthcare spending will, in the long-run, be politically acceptable. The attempts to get an estimate all involve assuming particular levels of spending ex ante. The Republicans canĀ claim that we would need to continue spending 18% of GDP, but they don’t know. Bernie Sanders canĀ claim that we would be able to impose Medicare’s level of compensation, but he doesn’t know. Just like in other countries with systems like this, the level of expenditure would constantly be up for political renegotiation. Britain spends 7% of its GDP on its National Health Service. Will we spend 7% or 18% or somewhere in between? Anyone who tells you that they know for sure is lying.

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Why Abdul El-Sayed Lost

Abdul El-Sayed ran on a left-wing platform, but lost his bid for the democratic nomination for Governor of Michigan by more the 20 points. There are some who will argue that El-Sayed’s loss signifies a lack of popularity for left-wing politics, but El-Sayed lost for contingent reasons.

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The Decline of the 20th Century Political Campaign

Political campaigns started getting expensive in the 1960s, when television advertising became the next big thing in campaigning. Even before TV, reaching people was hard work. You needed to knock on doors, phone bank, and send out mailings. All of this required a lot of dedicated activists and dedicated dollars. And so politicians depended very heavily on the activists and donors who could provide these things. All of this is in the process of changing. Activists and dollars are becoming less important than they used to be. They still matter, but not as much. And as time goes on, they grow weaker.

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