Something missing from the 2020 Democratic debate: labor law reform. What’s the new Employee Free Choice Act?

Smart academic Richard Yeselson has a review of a book about American strikes in The Nation.

The strike once one a great American tradition but it gradually declined, as labor unions themselves have weakened:

One way to deal with this is to make it easier to join a union for those who want to. In 2009 this took the form of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would empower employees to join unions with a simple “card check” — if the majority of a workplace signs a union card, you’re in. The bill faced overwhelming corporate opposition and was not passed, despite support from the Obama administration.

Contrary to what some may claim, unions have been the strongest check on income inequality in the modern economy, not taxes. Empowering unions would make it a lot easier to reduce inequality, yet no major contender for the presidency is making labor law reform a priority, unlike in 2008.


Basically everyone is getting the AIPAC and 2020 Democrats story wrong, and the left is curiously declaring victory

Earlier this week, the liberal group MoveOn started a petition asking 2020 Democrats to not attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee event. They have learned that basically no Democratic contenders are schedule to speak there, and are declaring victory. This is a real victory for the movement!

Or not.

The thing is, AIPAC doesn’t invite presidential contenders to speak in the off-year before the election. They invite them to speak during the actual year. So none of these people were going to show up in the first place. It’s not a statement, or anything like that.

Ron Kampeas, one of the smartest people on this beat, notes this, writing, “No declared presidential candidates are scheduled to speak at the conference, and AIPAC’s policy is that presidential candidates are invited to speak only in election years.”

He did note they sometimes show up and mingle with attendees. In a crowded campaign, that really isn’t worth it right now.

Yes, debate on Israel-Palestine is shifting. No, this isn’t an example of it.


Beto O’Rourke was for cutting Social Security before he was against it. That matters because politicians often campaign one way and govern another

Former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke mused about cutting Social Security benefits in 2012.  This week, he claimed a sort of evolution, saying he’s become a lot smarter and he’s against cuts now.


Here’s the problem with convenient political evolutions — they are not like scientific evolution, which tends to go one way. Politicians flip back and forth. President Obama campaigned against cutting Social Security, then came out for cutting it, then later came out for expanding it after an expansive campaign against his cuts (full disclosure: I was involved in that campaign).

What would a President Beto O’Rourke do? It’s anyone’s guess. But the political calculations of a Democratic primary race where a democratic socialist is leading the field is a little bit different than say, if O’Rourke had to negotiate budget deals with Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.


Beto O’Rourke and Klobuchar’s denunciations of Netanyahu are in line with AIPAC — not breaking with status quo and not going nearly as far as Warren and Sanders


This is likely being interpreted by some as a break with the norm — Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who previously basically apologized and groveled before the pro-Israel lobby, is breaking with the status quo by criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alliance with a far-right political movement:

Here’s the problem. So did Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar:

So has…the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you know, the powerful right-wing group that helps freeze US-Israel policy in place.

What’s happening here is pretty clear. Netanyahu is being turned into a scapegoat by pro-Israel activists because it looks like he might end up in jail or his party will be defeated in the election by a coalition led by someone who bragged about how much destruction he caused in Gaza. Then the US-Israel relationship can continue at pace.

Is criticizing Netanyahu really all that bold? In terms of the context of the wider debate, not really. Dozens of House Democrats refused to attend his address to Congress during the debate over the Iran deal, that relationship has been soured for years. The bigger question is what US policy towards the Israeli government should be, and neither O’Rourke nor Klobuchar have dissented on that question at all. Imagine if this was the sort of line we drew for other policy areas — it doesn’t matter what your health care policy is, you just need to criticize Aetna. It wouldn’t fly. (And for what it’s worth, O’Rourke also took some shots at the Palestinian Authority, which while far from perfect has basically bent over backwards to Netanyahu in negotiations and got nothing for it.)

The litmus test for activists shouldn’t be criticizing Netanyahu. Even AIPAC is doing that. The litmus test should be US military aid to Israel, sanctions on Israeli settlements, and protecting Israel’s government at the UN.

To date, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is the only one who has loudly condemned actual Israeli policies and written letters to the Israeli government demanding the end of specific policy like home demolitions; Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined him in some of these endeavors. O’Rourke and Klobuchar, on the other hand, are basically just touting AIPAC’s line: Netanyahu personally is a problem, but US-Israel policy is basically fine.

The Washington Post should not gauge black voter support for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren based on looking at a campaign rally

This article from the Washington Post gauged black support for Massachussetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders based off of looking at the composition of a few campaign stops.

Perhaps the reporters felt this is fair because they compiled some stops, but the plural of anecdote is not data.

The polling shows Sanders is getting more African American support than California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, who the article seems to posit as having some sort of advantage with this voting population.

One of the problems with the media is it doesn’t practice a lot of rigor when it comes to reporting and analysis, it bases far too much of its information on personal biases and anecdotes rather than comprehensive surveys and research. This is a long time problem, but the media could always get better.

Cory Booker won’t commit to rejoining the Iran deal

An important detail in this long read from Al Monitor, which asked 2020 candidates about rejoining the Iran deal:

Longshot candidates Wayne Messam, a mayor from Florida, and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson also said they would return to the deal, with Messam vowing to make it a priority. Other Democratic candidates have been more evasive.

“My concern right now, my focus, is the denuclearization of Iran,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “We need to be focused on best strategies to get us there. 2021 is a long time from now, and I’m focused on the steps we have to do right now.” The senator is a close ally of the pro-Israel lobby whose vote for the nuclear deal was long in doubt before he cast a decisive ‘yes’ vote for President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy effort.

Diplomacy with Iran should be a top priority for the next president. Booker’s refusal here may be tied to his long-time close relationship with pro-Israel activists.

Name ID of first-and-second tier Democratic candidates is already pretty high

Are former VP Joe Biden and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders only leading the race due to high name ID? A new Morning Consult poll suggests that the lower-ranked candidates have already developed decent name ID.


About a quarter of Iowa voters didn’t know enough about Sanders to rate him in the Summer of 2015.

This suggests name ID is being developed rapidly during the 2020 campaign, unlike Sanders’s long slog in 2016 to achieve high name recognition.