Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Indiana

Pete Buttigieg Governed South Bend Like a Republican

Have you ever lived in a place with a Republican mayor? I have. My hometown has been governed by a Republican mayor since 2004. Republicans have a simple strategy for running cities–they try to attract as many high-income residents as possible. This means doing everything you can to make the town pretty. It means offering investors all sorts of incentives to come to town. If you live in a town run by a Republican mayor and you’re doing well, it seems like the town is getting a lot better. It gets prettier. They built parks. You read in the local paper about new business coming to town. It all sounds great, and Republican mayors often get re-elected by large margins.

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Let a Studebaker Tell You What’s Wrong With the Mayor of South Bend

My name is Benjamin Studebaker, and I grew up in Indiana. I am not happy with the way the press is covering Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Let me tell you why. Read the rest of this entry »

How the Church Left Depoliticizes DSA Branches

I have another DSA story. If you haven’t heard, the DSA is the Democratic Socialists of America. It’s a left-wing organization that’s been around since 1982, but it’s become politically more significant over the last couple years. Inspired by Bernie Sanders, DSA’s membership has expanded from 6,000 to about 60,000 over the last few years. The DSA is committed to lots of nice things, like a Medicare-for-All Single Payer system. I heard a story about a YDSA branch at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. It’s a local story. A small story. But it tells us a lot about the condition of left-wing organizing today.

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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 Southernization of the Midwest

Amidst the talk of House and Senate races in the midterms, there are a number of Midwestern states in which there is a significant chance that Democrats will take governorships. In 2008, Barack Obama won Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won only Illinois and Minnesota, and Minnesota was a close call, decided by just a single point. This is the region that has changed the most politically in the last decade. Most of these states have, at some point in the last 10 years, fallen under control of a Republican governor who has attempted to radically reform their labour laws and pension systems in bids to remodel these Midwestern states after the states of the deep south. Their strategy is simple–lower taxes, stifle wage growth, strangle unions, kill regulations, and pirate jobs and investment from the states that fail to do the same. It’s a great Midwestern race to the bottom. But at the midterms on Tuesday, there’s an opportunity to throw some sand in the Republican gears. Here follows the story of each of these states, to inspire you and your friends to do what you can to save each of them from southernization.

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