Do Republicans Endorse Trump’s Actions?

National Politics

The religious statement one often hears when someone thought to be a religious person is found to have committed some transgression of the law, is “Love the sinner, but not the sin.” This seems to be a constant task for Republicans regarding Donald J Trump (R) because in many instances they love his judicial appointments, tax cuts, environmental policies and the current state of the economy.

The problem is whether or not he has abused his office to the point where he has broken the law or violated the tent of the US Constitution. His hubris and narcissism are unmatched along with his tone deftness to anything except whatever narrative he scripts for himself and others. The mounting number of lies told on a daily basis is staggering and not expected to abate, and his supporters turn a blind eye to these realities because they like the outcomes.

As we enter into the fifth day of the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States, we witness the indelible mark of him being the 3rd President in the history of our country to be impeached. This stain will never be removed even if, as is expected he is acquitted by the US Senate.

The Senators who stand in judgment appear to be standing firmly in party line and the twenty Republicans Senators standing for reelection are all faced with many competing issues. So far, the White House defense team is positioning the question, not based on facts, but rather blatant partisanship. Their appeals do not address the merits of the case at hand, rather they challenge process and decry this as an attempt to overturn the 2016 election.

Today, in a New York Times article entitled John Bolton’s Account Upends Trump’s Denials, but Will It Upend Trump?, excerpts from the manuscript of his forthcoming book, Bolton confirms Trump did condition aid on support for an investigation into his political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden (D).

Bolton’s Book seems to filet the argument being mounted by the White House defense team, and he is far harder to refute. The ability to forgo witnesses and documents is the hill Republicans will need to decide to defend. The expected continual release of information will be what their vote will be based on. If these Senators are more concerned with their own reelection, than with the public learning the full truth of the matter then voters in Arizona (Marth McSally), Colorado (Cory Gardner), Kentucky (Mitch McConnell), Maine (Susan Collins), South Carolina (Lindsey Graham) and Texas (John Cornyn) will have something significant to consider, what is more, important protection of your majority in the Senate or the United States of America’s integrity.

Klobuchar in Iowa

National Politics

In spite of being stuck in Washington, DC due to the impeachment trial, while the non-Senators campaign across Iowa, US Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) Presidential Campaign did well on the political talk show circuit on Sunday and also received another boost from the Emerson Polling of 450 Iowans taken between Jan 23-26, 2020. The future of Klobuchar’s Presidential bid will be determined largely in Iowa and whether or not there are four or five tickets out of the Hawkeye state.

In order to emerge from Iowa, the viability number is 15% and with Klobchar now at seen at 13%. If she truly is within striking distance the question is where will the supporters of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D)  10%, Tom Steyer (D) with 5% Andrew Yang (D) with 5%, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) with 5% go?

For those familiar with DFL walking sub-caucuses here in Minnesota the movement of the non-viable candidacy’s supporters will be paramount to evening’s outcome, especially for Klobuchar. The poll shows she has a 39% for 2nd choice, but again as long as former Vice-President Joe Biden (D), US Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) remain viable votes can only come from ButtigiegSteyer, Yang or Gabbard.

The Value of Voter Data and the Weaponization of Party Identification

Minnesota Report

Until the rise of Donald J Trump (R) the fear of others knowing how one votes was a minor consideration. But now, when we regularly hear the vitriol and lies spouted from the podium of the President the fear factor becomes far more real.

First off, the purpose of a primary should be clear at the onset. It is for those of a particular political affiliation to come together and express their collective sentiment in this case on a Presidential nominee. Also, we know firsthand of people who work in nonpartisan positions who will not be voting in this primary process due to potential conflicts with their positions. In Minnesota, the Primaries belong to the political parties.

Now, there is one interesting facet underway, not only will a political party get the information on participants in their own party, but also on the other three political parties. The problem is in this election without there being a contest on the Republican side, because Trump is the sole candidate and as discussed prior the other two parties have no contest either everyone will likely be participating in the DFL Primary.

In 1992, when Minnesota held its first Presidential Primary the voter lists for the political parties became far more robust. Now, with the return of the Presidential Primary, the political parties will once again have better lists, but these lists are not the entirety of the electorate. Yes, people will need to declare which ballot they select in order to cast a vote for a candidate on that ballot, but in the case of the newly created Grassroot Cannabis Party and Legal Marijuana Now parties, who lack a viable Presidential candidate option data on these voters will be suspect.

In 1998, we know for a fact the Jesse Ventura (Reform) candidacy was developed through a strategy developed by Ed Gross a great vote counter in DFL Party circles. Gross said he would not target DFLers with his work but rather all of the other voters, which proceeded to succeed.

Knowing who is with you as well as who is not are important factors in any election. If there were a contest on the Republican side as well as the DFL side then good data would be produced from this Primary Election data, but sadly it will only enhance the voter information for the Republican, Grassroot Cannabis and Legal Marijuana Now parties.

Trump’s Tribe

National Report

Much has been discussed about the devolution into tribalism in the American Electorate. In 2003, was born and it was an attempt to gather together likeminded people with similar interests. This form of tribalism in the social media realm was seen as an alternative to mainstream culture. It was initially embraced by people seeking alternative lifestyles to seek a social community.

The rise of like-minded communities was not exclusive to those on the left, but also the rise in extremist factions, hate groups, and the Tea Party occurred on the right. These communities also have embraced Donald J Trump (R) because of his appeals to white nationalism, isolationism, and factionalism. Trump’s political factionalism is an appeal to rightwing authoritarianism is based on not white unites us universally, but rather on what separates us specifically.

The use of demagoguery and hyperbole is tactically useful with a population that is not intellectually curious and only seeks to identify with sources that reinforce one’s own opinion. The comfort found in one’s own tribe is a blatant example of xenophobia. The fear of others, or what you don’t know is common among the gathering throng.

The great fear seen in the larger society is the power of this group is waxing and not waning, but the truth is because a large part of the faction is made up of angry white males it is in decline strictly due to mortality.

The final judgment is Trump’s Tribe is in decline and though not likely to become extinct anytime soon, it will grow smaller over time and once it leader is no longer to the focal point of the cult of personality.

Republican 2020 Vision, Hindsight or Foresight

Minnesota Report

Yesterday’s, press conference by the Republican Senate majority discussed much of what they had done in the past legislative session and more what they would like to do during the 2020 session. The issues and initiatives advanced by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) were targeted right toward the Republican rural, conservative fiscal and social base.

He began his presentation highlighting the $650 million in tax reductions for the state’s middle class, passed in the last budget and called for a complete exemption for all Social Security payments from state income tax. He also discussed state conformity from $20,000 annually to the federal amount of $200,000 for depreciation of Agricultural land found in Section 179. He then turned to affordable healthcare premiums, noting Minnesota has the lowest in the country and called for pharmaceutical transparency. He then shifted to a discussion about the problems in the Department of Human Services and drew a direct connection to MNLARS.

In education, he called for closure in the Achievement Gap and “Real” School Choice and private vouchers, while also opposing the push for a Constitutional Amendment for education outcomes because it would create a liability for the state. Later, while noting concerns in Greater Minnesota about using public transit in the Twin Cities he emphasized increases in gang violence and public safety concerns and advanced an idea of considering a tie between this and LGA funding while also placing it first before Criminal Justice Reform. Finally, he addressed a bonding bill that reflects more recent ones of $825 and $988 million compared to the $2.5 billion being discussed by Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN).

This showed his solid grasp of the wide range of topics his caucus is seeking to address in the bonding bill for the 2020 legislative session. Additionally, regarding the budget surplus he supports giving it back to taxpayers in some form of tax relief and there was a point made about his proposal for a license tab fee holiday.

One of the last questions asked was in regards to PolyMet and the decision by the lower court to deny two permits and he pointed out during the Polar Vortex last winter on 10% of the energy produced came from renewable sources and referred to radical environmentalists preventing jobs from Northeastern Minnesota.

Nearly, all of these issues are well spelled out on the Republican Caucus website.

It is always a good idea to know what the other side is interested in prior to the different sides being in the heat of the battle.

Tackling the Transportation Funding Problem

Minnesota Report

Face it, roads, bridges, transit and all forms of transportation fixes and improvements all cost significant amounts of money. Republicans are calling for the use of some cash for projects rather than creating long-term obligations through state bonding. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) did acknowledge the cost of borrowing now was cheap, but also a reduction in the overall amount was fiscally beneficial to the state.

This money could only come from the current state budget surplus, but logically the $1.5 billion in one-time money will not stretch very far if it is going in multiple directions.

We still believe one-way to fund transportation in the future is to establish a fee collection from commercial operators based on a mileage system. Because these users of our transportation system are more frequent users and thereby create a greater negative impact.

As we have said before there is a viable alternative funding source.

Because most ridesharing and delivery services are all app-based they have an onboard GPS tracking system that can show the actual mileage rates and hence could easily afford a user-based fee system. If it were to be based on a model similar to the Minnesota Gas Tax then 2/3rds would go to the state and 1/3rd to the municipality. If this type of fee were in place at $.09/mile a significant revenue source for both state transportation and municipal road projects could be built. A study is currently underway at the MN Department of Transportation to access some of these issues. 

The additional cost of a $2.5 million bonding bill is only penciled out at $200 million over 20 years and that is a very solid investment in our collective needs. The main areas being discussed on both sides appear to be around roads and bridges, higher education and wastewater infrastructure. The problem is much of these below the surface issues have been deferred for many years and we have sarcastically called for a “Deferred Maintenance Bonding Bill” before. The number of things deferred is sizable and the longer these needs are unmet the great the costs will be to either fix the problem or replace the structure altogether.

The question is when will a sizable amount of money be targeted at this problem, which is perpetual. The overall problem is no legislator has ever lost an election for not voting for a bonding bill.

Klobuchar’s Presidential Fundraising Numbers

National Elections

Early reports about US Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) Presidential fundraising numbers at $11.4 million. We thought these warranted a bit of scrutiny to see how well she faired from within Minnesota compared to the rest of the nation.

Overall, her Amy for America campaign has raised $18,469.983.23 with $5,905,097.83 or 44.89% coming from Minnesota. These amounts Include Primary and General election dollars. In Q3, excluding General election earmarks, because candidates need to get past the Primary in order to spend General Election monies, and contributors can max out at $2,100.00 for each, she had begun to build some momentum from the debate stage you can see the surge in her support across the nation.

Her totals in Q3 for Primary contributions show $4,316,380.24 with only $415,279.66 or10.65% coming from Minnesota.

Since Minnesota sits at 14th when it comes to per capita income and these comparative numbers show some interesting elements, of course, the bulk of the state contributors’ resident in Hennepin County.

MN Congressional Districts: Will there be Seven or Eight?

Minnesota Report

With 2020 being a Census Year, and at the forefront of a “Stub Election” our term for the two-year state senate elections at the end of the decade, due to redistricting Minnesota has the chance to determine its own political fate. Currently, all that is available are projections, estimations, and speculations about how many people in the Land O’ 10,000 Lakes will stand up and be counted.

As we have noted in a previous article The Biggest Challenger to Minnesota in the US Census Contest is Wisconsin the “Cheeseheads” have bested us and the rest of the nation in the last two counts. Its doubtful any sports like challenge will take place between our two states because the Republican-controlled legislature has failed to provide the Badger State with any resources to count themselves. We may win this go-round by default.

This means our state will succeed regionally, but unless there is a significant local effort we may lose out to Alabama. In 1990, our competition was Arizona, and in 2000, it was Missouri, which in both instances we prevailed and those states both lost a Congressional seat. This meant Minnesota had the smallest Congressional Districts in the nation.

State Demographer Susan Brower is stating our projected trend is leaning toward a loss of a seat, but one thing is clear the numbers are finally determined by actual counts and not speculations. Because Minnesota has only shown a participation rate in the low 80’s in each of the last counts we can clearly shape our own future.

Many census-taker jobs are open and they are actively seeking applicants while providing a competitive wage.

It is worth noting the various maps of our congressional districts over the last three decades to show how dramatically they have changed.

Passing of a Behind the Scenes Moveable Force in the SOS

Minnesota Report

We attended the visitation for former Deputy Secretary of State Elaine (Voldness) Voss last evening. Today, at 11:00 AM services are taking place at Peace Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids. We had the opportunity to listen to great stories from Former Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe (DFL-MN) and another key staffer later Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky about how the office actually ran during Voss’ tenure. She was clearly one to reckon with.

Checks & Balances Publisher Shawn Towle developed a great deal of his political knowledge early on through many conversations with Voss who provided clear insight on how the Minnesota political process actually works.

Growe and Strudevant Scribing a Book

Minnesota Report

Former Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe (DFL-MN) 1975-1999, the second woman to hold the position, and former Star Tribune Columnist Lori Strudevant are crafting a book for the Minnesota Historical Society due out in August. We are expecting an interesting retelling of many stories about significant changes in Minnesota’s election procedures that set the stage for many changes nationwide.

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