Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Pennsylvania

How a Petty Tyrant Turned a Functional DSA Branch into a Church

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. Today I want to tell you the tale of the decline and fall of Pittsburgh DSA. It’s just one branch, but as I continue to write about the DSA and people continue to send me their stories, it’s become increasingly clear that this sort of thing is happening again and again, all over the country.

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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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How We Let the Orange Monster Win

Somehow Donald Trump is going to be President. Trump campaigned tremendously poorly, feeding us a steady stream of horrific gaffes, flip-flopping on policy, and taking political positions that sounded crypto-fascist. We managed to lose anyway. This is an existential moment for all opponents of Trump, whether you count yourself on the left or in the center. We need to have an honest conversation about what we did wrong so that we can make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

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Candidate Evaluations: Rick Santorum

The list of presidential candidates has expanded again–Rick Santorum has decided to join the mess. This forces me to return to the Candidate Evaluations series, where we examine a US presidential candidate’s background, policy history, and explicit statements in an attempt to figure out whether the candidate would actually be any good at being president, rather than focusing on electability or likeability, as is common in the mainstream press. When I started this series, I did not imagine I would be made to do so many of these, but here we go again. Read the rest of this entry »