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All politics is national | ticker VIEWS

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The legendary Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill, was fond of saying, “All politics is local”

That was the key to his leading his members of the House:  to understand them and win their vote, you had to understand their home base, and shape your objectives to meet their politics.

It worked for Tip in delivering bills for President Jimmy Carter and holding Democrats to curb the worst excesses of President Ronald Reagan.

But a new era is upon us:  In the US, all politics is national. 

Bruce wolpe on ticker news

Multi-channel 24/7 cable news, multi-platform social media, Facetime/Zoom and the dark web:  they feed a homogenised bath of politics, rhetoric, cultural hot buttons and reference points. 

Everyone is playing with race, crime immigration, abortion, guns and voting rights in the same sandbox.

There were two elections for governor last week:

Virginia in the south and New Jersey in the north – but the trends were virtually identical. 

Biden carried those states a year ago by 10 and 16 points, respectively. 

Virginia saw a swing to the Republican winner of 12 points; in New Jersey it was 14 – but the Democrat barely held on. In both states, last year’s anti-Trump suburban and independent voters shifted back to the Republicans.

What happened to Biden and the Democrats?

He had an excellent start in January.  Relief that Trump was gone, a big initial economic recovery program, and unleashing the vaccine campaign. 

But as a former Ohio Republican congressman said, “You’ve had the debacle in Afghanistan, inflation, product shortages, and as a proxy for all of that, the fact that gas prices have skyrocketed.” And Delta staggered a return to normal.

Last week Biden was at 42% approval (he had been as high as 55%) and over 50% disapproval.  A near-record 70% of the country felt that America was on the wrong track.

No president can win for himself or his party from that position.

The whole Biden agenda was adrift too.  Weeks without progress.  Nothing was getting done.  EJ Dionne of Brookings wrote:  

“The warning signs were there for months. Democrats buried a series of popular initiatives under a debate over how big the program should be. They bickered and dawdled while the president’s approval ratings burned, obsessing about adversaries within while ignoring the partisan enemy outside the gates,

“Is it any wonder that so many among the party’s supporters failed to show up on Tuesday?”

As your Political Note outlined last week, the message of the Democratic setbacks was crystal clear: 

“Democrats!  You damn fools!  If you cannot govern you cannot win elections! How many times do we have to learn this lesson? You didn’t pass Obamacare early and lost the House in 2010.  So let’s pass these bills! And nothing on voting rights! If you have any hope of holding the House, what the hell are you waiting for?”

And guess what:  Biden got it.  At his day-after press conference, Biden understood: “People want us to get things done… we should produce for the American people… people need a little breathing room… we have to produce results for them.”  

And he underscored this yesterday in the White House:  

“The American people have made clear one overwhelming thing, I think — and I really mean it — all the talk about the elections and what do they mean and everything: They want us to deliver.  They want us to deliver,

Democrats, they want us to deliver.  Last night, we proved we can. 

On one big item, we delivered … But I think the one message that came across was: Get something done.  It’s time to get something done.  Stop — you all stop talking.  Get something done.” 

And that is why the infrastructure bill had to pass.  If the exquisite differences in ideological positioning among the Democrats had prevailed, and that bill had gone down, the Biden presidency would have been over. The Democrats in the House finally got that too.

But winning that battle does not mean the war is won.  Hardly. 

The $2 trillion social programs and climate bill is up next.  There will be zero Republican votes for it.  Republicans want to keep the benefits of that huge package – universal pre-k, expanded health care, senior care, clean energy and climate programs, child and earned income tax credits, affordable housing – from reaching voters. 

If Democrats fail to unite and pass it, they are eminently beatable next November, and the Republicans can take back control of Congress, and then work to get the White House back in 2024.

Biden’s most consequential battles are still ahead.

And all politics is national. 

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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Ticker Views

Why it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated

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Three months in and Russia has intensified its offensive in the eastern part of the nation, but its gains have been slow

America’s Defence Intelligence Agency head also says between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed as a result of the combat.

But all Moscow has gained is a small piece of Ukrainian territory in the east.

Vladimir Putin remained tight-lipped about any plans to escalate the war during his Victory Day speech.

Some fear that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine didn’t live up to his expectations, which could force him to resort to desperate measures.

However, Ticker News spoke with Eastern Europe expert Sergej Sumlenny who says it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated.

How does this war end?

Sumlenny says there’s no “good exit” in sight while Putin remains in power.

“He has not entered into this war to believe he’ll finish Ukraine in one to three days, or one week top,” he says.

The Eastern European expert says the Russian army has already suffered double as much losses as the Soviet Army within 10 years in Afghanistan.

“The Russian army could not achieve any significant victory. Russian President Putin on the ninth of May on Victory Day in Russia could not present any victory. And that was a huge revelation for him and he understands it,

“So I don’t see any exit strategy for him. He clearly tries to push further without any success. Like Russia delivers war criminals to The Hague, the International Criminal Court pulls out its army out of Ukraine and establish over 300 kilometre demilitarised zone on Russian territory working into Ukraine. That would be a great end,” Sumlenny proposed.

However, he acknowledges an end could take months.

“As long as this will not be provided, Ukrainian army will continue to fight back, destroying Russian military equipment killing Russian soldiers unfortunately for Russia, until Ukrainians will push Russians out of their country, it can take months, but it will be inevitable.”

Putin is dangerous, with power or without power

The West holds talks to Putin during eight years of his war on Ukraine.

The West Hall talks to Putin after he has attacked Georgia in 2000, after he annexed Crimea in 2014, after he guessed a Syria, like since 2012, and further, and it didn’t help.

Russia was invited to every international international ground like conventional platform like g20 but Russia conceals everything. And it didn’t help.

According to Sumlenny, when Putin feels to be strong, he strikes and he kills.

“He felt very strong in February this year. That’s why he attacked Ukraine, he felt desperate or threatened by all sides. And that’s not true. But he felt very strong. That’s why he attacked, so now he feels weak,” he says.

“Of course, he’s dangerous like any dictator, but it’s better to have in him desperate and weak than strong and aggressive.”

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Ticker Views

Senate set to kill abortion rights this week

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The aftershocks of the earthquake triggered in Washington last week, with the explosive leak of the first draft of an opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and backed in by four other Justices, including the three radical conservatives appointed by former president Donald Trump, continue to shake the foundations of the capital and the landscape across the country

USSC Bruce Wolpe joins U.S correspondent Veronica Dudo, and ticker’s Holly Stearnes join a panel on U.S. abortion rights

The magnitude of the impact of the draft opinion is simply enormous. 

What has been accepted by well over 60% of the American people as a constitutional right – the ability of women to have access to abortion services – is about to be removed. 

There is no good that comes from going down that road of taking rights away from people. In 1856, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that former slaves did not have standing in federal courts because they lacked U.S. citizenship, even after they were freed.

PROTESTORS IN U.S.

That decision, so outrageous, contributed to the Civil War.  In 1954, in Brown v Board of Education, the Court ruled that segregated “separate but equal” schools for Black students recognised by the Supreme Court 50 years earlier was unconstitutional as this did not afford equal protection under law – a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment enacted after President Lincoln and the North won the civil war and ended slavery. 

The arc of justice in other words, is best when the law advances rights – not takes them away.

33 million American women between the ages of 15 and 44 living in over two dozen states across the country will be denied access to abortion services if this draft opinion is ultimately adopted. 

But nothing in the Constitution prevents Congress from enacting a law to legally establish and protect a woman’s right to have access to abortion services. 

U.S WOMAN PROTESTS

This is the basis of the Women’s Health Protection Act which passed the House last September. 

The Democratic leadership of the House recognised that what everyone is facing this week was coming, and that the best protection against overturning the precedent of Roe v Wade is through legislation. 

The bill provides that, “Congress finds abortion services are essential to health care. A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services.”

This is the bill that the Democratic leadership will bring to the Senate this week.  It will fail.

No Republicans in the House voted for this bill, which passed on a party-line vote of 218-211.  There are only two Republicans in the Senate– both women, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – who support abortion rights.

All but one or two of the 50 Democrats will support it. Bu the Senate is not a democratic institution.  A simple majority vote is insufficient to pass legislation. 

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 21: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

A bill needs a supermajority of 60 votes to pass the Senate.  That is completely out of reach today for abortion rights.

The Senate could change its rules and allow the abortion rights bill to pass in this one instance by a simple majority.  But that will not happen either.

At least two Democrats oppose upending this Senate tradition, and no Republican will vote against their leadership to alter the Senate to pass a Democratic bill on abortion.

This ugly hyper-partisanship will have several ramifications. 

If this Senate cannot protect these rights, perhaps more Democrats in the Senate can.   Democrats will use this vote to target Senate seats held by Republicans that are up in the November midterm elections in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin. 

This could well energise not only Democrats but also key swing independent voters who do support, in significant numbers, abortion rights.

But the human impact on women is frightening. 

The journalist who obtained the draft opinion in the leak from the Supreme Court, and broke the story, Josh Gerstein of Politico, said this last Friday:

“And if Justice Alito’s draft opinion that we reported and made public on Monday becomes the Supreme Court’s final word on this issue, you’d have really a situation of abortion haves and have-nots across the country, where you would have many states where abortion was relatively available and probably about 26 states where abortion is banned or very, very sharply restricted. You would then have women trying to get medication abortions in those states or possibly travel through what might develop as a kind of Underground Railroad to get them out of those states and into other states where they could get legal abortions. It would be a pretty dramatic change in the availability of abortion across the country.”

Gerstein is right. This is the world we are in. 

WOMEN ACROSS THE U.S RALLY IN PROTEST

160 years after the Civil War, another Underground Railroad – this time to take women away from states with restrictive medical laws. 

A Handmaid’s Tale come to life, as Canada pledges to open its borders to American women seeking reproductive health services.

Engraved on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington are the words, “Equal Justice Under Law.”

The Supreme Court’s imminent decision and the failure of Congress to enact legislation to overturn it betrays a US political system failing to protect all women equally under law.

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