If you thought the 2016 was an embarrassing show of American political theater, 2020 will lower the bar for you more than you thought possible. The person who wins the election in November will be the oldest person ever elected to the Presidency. Both major party nominees have shown signs of cognitive decline and have a track record of crude, insensitive, and bizarre comments and behavior. But the vast majority of our utterly polarized voting populace will happily vote for their preferred candidate and declare that they've made a huge moral victory over the opposing team. Regardless of how we feel about the two nominees, it's important and informative to analyze probable outcomes of the election. Politics and policies aside, barring catastrophe, either Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20, 2021. And we can very reasonably predict which states will lend their electoral votes to which candidate, for the most part. Joe Biden is sure to win the coastal states of California (55 electoral votes), Oregon (7 electoral votes), Washington (12), New York (29), Connecticut (7), Rhode Island (4), New Jersey (14), Delaware (3), Massachusetts (11), and Maryland (10). So that gives Joe Biden an assured 152 votes and ten states on the East and West Coasts. However, he will win a few non-coastal states, and of course, the 3 electoral votes from Washington, DC. The Biden/Harris is also very likely to win in Illinois (20), Hawaii (4), Vermont (3), and Colorado (9). This will yield a total of 191 electoral votes for the Democratic ticket.
Let's take a look at what the Trump/Pence ticket is guaranteed. There is a swath of Southern, Midwest, and Western states that are very safe bets for the Repuublican ticket. Alaska (3 electoral votes), Alabama (9), Arkansas (6), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Iowa (6), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Ohio (18), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), and Wyoming (3) are quite likely to lend their electoral votes to Trump. That gives Republicans a total of 25 states and 219 electoral votes.
Now, we've accounted for 38 states and 410 electoral votes. Twelve states are still in play.
Arizona: In 2016, Clinton won Arizona by 3%, so Biden has a pretty good chance of repeating her win, especially as he is sharing the ballot with a very strong US Senate candidate in 2020.
Florida: The perennial swing state, Florida was clinched by Trump in 2016 with only 1% of the vote separating him from Hillary Clinton. He will have to work hard to maintain that lead this year.
Maine: Because Maine has two separate districts that award electoral votes separately, Trump was able to obtain one electoral vote from Maine in 2016. His lead in that district was so great in 2016 (more than 10%) that he is likely to repeat that winning performance in 2020.
Michigan: This was a “make or break” state for Trump's 2016 campaign. He was able to win in 2016 by less than .25%. Trump was the first Republican in 28 years to win in Michigan, and it will be a major focus in his 2020 campaign.
Minnesota: Hillary Clinton won Minnesota in 2016 (not surprisingly, as it is a traditionally blue state) but by less than 2%. Trump will do what he can to make inroads in Minnesota to widen his margin of success in 2020.
Nevada: Nevada is another state that Clinton won in 2016, but by less than 2%. Another target state for Trump's campaign that will not be an easy win for him or Biden.
New Hampshire: New Hampshire is perhaps second only to Maine in its likelihood to lend an electoral vote to Trump. Clinton won New Hampshire by only .37% of the vote. New Hampshire is the only true batteground state in New England in 2020.
New Mexico: The only reasons this state made the list are that Clinton didn't hit 50% of the vote in 2016 and that it was an anomaly in that election because their ex-Governor Gary Johnson earned over 9% of the vote as the Libertarian nominee. It is quite likely that Biden will win in 2020, but it will be interesting to observe how many of his voters will vote Libertarian this year and how many will revert back to the D/R binary.
Pennsylvania: This was another historic win for Trump's 2016 run and also an incredibly thin margin of victory (less than 1%). Pennsylvania is a major 2020 battleground and could go either way as it borders Trump's home state of New York and Biden's home state of Delaware. Like Michigan, Pennsylvania has spent decades as a comfortably blue state, so it may be an easier win for Biden.
Virginia: Another reliably blue state in recent decades, Virginia is another that is almost safely in the bag for Biden. However, even though Hillary Clinton chose Virginia Senator Kaine as her running mate in 2016, they only had a 5% margin of victory over Trump and they failed to garner 50% of the vote in Virginia, so it's still in play for this November.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin was a key victory for Trump in 2016 and it's another that his re-election could depend on. However, he only won by less than 1% in 2016, so it's certainly not guaranteed.
In general, I think the electoral map in 2020 will look a lot like 2016. I think it is a distinct possibility that Trump could win at least a couple states that he lost in 2016, such as New Hampshire or Minnesota or even Nevada. On the other hand, Biden could win a few that Clinton couldn't pull of in 2016, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin. There are a lot of factors playing into people's choice this year. The economic roller coaster of the past few years, Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the political theater of the Russian collusion Congressional investigation and subequent impeachment proceedings. President Trump certainly has the upper hand in having the incumbency, a strong economy minus the pandemic, and many campaign promises kept (although many that he didn't deliver on). Biden has the advantage of not being Trump and not much else beyond incredible funding and a media that wants nothing more than a win for Team Blue. His strategic VP pick will potentially give him inroads with people who may not have been so quick to give him their vote otherwise. But Trump can afford to lose one or two states in the Rust Belt. If he keeps his 2016 trifecta of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, he can even afford to lose Florida to Biden. It's impossible to predict exactly how Election Day 2020 will play out, but realistically, I'd say the only states likely to change from 2016 to 2020 are New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If Biden wins a majority of these, he will win the election. There is a slim possibility of a 269-269 split in the Electoral College, but that is a very slim possibility. The most likely outcome is that Trump wins with a smaller electoral college victory than he did in 2016. I would say there is perhaps a 20% chance that Joe Biden will pull off a small win in the electoral college. Depending how the economy, pandemic, and Biden's cognizance are doing in November, we are more than likely looking at another Trump win.
Here at Electric Liberty, we've written on police brutality and racial injustice in the past, and maybe not very delicately so. In 2020, there is still much to say. If you love freedom, you have to love the words of Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Throughout the past ten years, we've seen so many cases of black Americans losing their lives at the hands of law enforcement. Yes, there are many cases where these killings were justifiable. However, there are also many cases where the killings are absolutely not justifiable. And sadly, in 2020, we are seeing many inexcusable cases of violence against black Americans. Unfortunately, partisan and ideological polarization in the country cause many of us to take a side immediately when we hear about police brutality and interracial violence against black Americans. In general, I see conservatives automatically jumping to the defense of law enforcement, saying that the violence was justified and that the black victim deserved it. Conversely, liberals tend to automatically side with the victim, saying that there is no justification for lethal police force used on black people. As I find myself increasingly moving to the libertarian ideology, I try to look at the facts of each case before reaching a conclusion. In the case of George Floyd, there was no justification for his killing—the police officer clearly murdered a non-violent, compliant man. This case should outrage all of us. And the fact that the authorities did not immediately charge the officer (Derek Chauvin) with killing him reflects a huge lack of accountability in our policing system. It reminds me of some of the first cases where I found common ground with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The shooting of Tamir Rice was an occasion where a black child lost his life (for the high crime of playing with a toy gun) with no charges pressed against the officer who killed him. Then, Eric Garner was killed by a policeman for “resisting arrest” after allegedly selling loose cigarettes. He had underlying health issues, and many times told the team of policemen who were trying to subdue him that he could not breathe. Not one of the officers involved faced charges for Garner's death. For the past few years, we haven't seen so many of these high-profile cases. But, during the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, three glaring cases shocked the nation. First was the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. In this case, a retired law enforcement officer and his son exploited a “stand-your-ground” law, pursuing a black jogger and provoking him into an altercation where they claimed self-defense, despite being the aggressors. It was over two months between Arbery's murder and charges being pressed against the father-son duo who killed him. Not even a month after that incident, plainclothes detectives performed a no-knock raid on an apartment, killing Breonna Taylor while her boyfriend tried to defend her with his legally owned and registered firearm. Not only did none of the officers involved face any charges, but Taylor's boyfriend was charged with shooting one of the police officers. Those charges have since been dropped, but its incredible that he was charged for shooting at officers who entered the apartment without uniforms or announcing themselves as police. He was simply exercising his right to defend himself.
From these cases, we can see that a lot of black Americans are being deprived of their right to life at the hands of law enforcement. Are they the only ones? No. Police officers kill unarmed people from every racial group every year. Yes, race plays a part in some police killings, but it's an issue of racism coupled with the unwillingness of police officers to hold each other accountable for these senseless acts of violence. It's a sad time for justice in America where we have to obtain video of a white retired law enforcement officer shooting an unarmed black man (Ahmaud Arbery) and have it circulated in front of millions of viewers on social media before the shooter faces charges. It seems like the only way to ensure that justice is served is to have a public outcry. That shouldn't be the case. Whenever there is an officer-involved shooting, it should be investigated immediately—no paid administrative leave. If an independent investigation shows that the shooting was justified, sure—pay the officer retroactively. But taxpayers shouldn't give police officers a paid vacation for shooting a civilian. This kind of “blue privilege” is why we are seeing demonstrations around the country—to send a message to law enforcement that the days of killing Americans—black Americans, in particular. Many of these demonstrators are simply exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble, speak, and petition the government. Some, however, are turning violent:burning neighborhoods, looting businesses, even destroying a police precinct in Minneapolis. Martin Luther King, III recently reminded us the words of his father: A riot is the voice of the unheard. The Black Lives Matter movement has been voicing its concern for police brutality towards black Americans for the better part of the decade, and have largely been unheard. Colin Kaepernick was dismissed by many (myself included) for his silent kneeling protests during the national anthem at football games. After years of mostly peaceful activism went unheeded, very few police procedures changed, and we are still witnessing unarmed black Americans being slain by police officers on a monthly basis. While I can't condone violent rioting of the scale of destruction we've seen in the past week, Dr King's words provide a very clear explanation as to why it's happening. Not an excuse—but an explanation.
George Floyd was killed after being apprehended for using a fake $20 bill. The message that his killer sent to the world is that Floyd's life was worth less than $20. This is why so many protesters have resorted to property destruction, unleashing damages already estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. If authorities will extinguish a man's life for $20, destructive rioting is a way that protesters can show that his life was worth unfathomably more than that. Again, this is not excuse, but an explanation. And in many cities, the violence has turned into violent assaults—civilian on civilian, civilian on police, and police on civilian. An unfortunate consequence of these protests will be an increased militarization of the police, and a more natural and mutual distrust between police officers and citizens.
Going forward, we need our police forces to be accountable both to us and to each other. Body cams need to be used by police officers to be able to review cases where excessive force is used. Guns really need to be last resort for officers, rather than being the first thing that they reach for. There are many aspects of our policing and justice systems that need to be reformed to prevent deaths of innocent American citizens in the future. Conservatives, liberals, and everyone in between need to work together to make these changes, at the municipal and state levels, because one thing we can all agree on is that police officers should not be killing peaceful citizens. We all need to be aware of the facts that racism is a factor, that unchecked police privilege is a factor, and that acknowledging one without the other is dangerous. Now is a time for our nation to come together, rebuild, and heal. We need to be willing to listen to perspectives that we might not agree with or relate to. Only through this mutual respect and dialogue can we move past our history of racial injustice and unchecked police brutality. Know that at Electric Liberty, we will always be open to your thoughts, criticism, suggestions, and ideas as we endeavor to form a more perfect Union.
After writing about the 2020 Senate races this past week, we're looking at the governors' races this week. There is significantly less action to follow in the gubernatorial races this year. Just eleven seats are up for election. Of these, There are seven held by Republican governors and four held by Democrats. Many of these races are fairly safe and are likely not to change parties. Delaware Governor John Carney and Washington Governor Jay Inslee are two of the safest incumbents for reelection. On the GOP side, Utah is the safest seat, followed closely by North Dakota. Indiana and Missouri are comfortably positioned to stay red. There are primarily just five governors' races to watch this year:
Montana: Incumbent Governor Steve Bullock has had some tight races in his two successful runs for governor. In 2012, he won by a plurality of only 49%. In 2016, he fared a little bit better, with just over 50% majority. And, this year, Bullock's lieutenant governor is poised to vie for the governorship. There is a strong chance that this reliably red state will switch to a GOP governor.
New Hampshire: This state is one of the rare cases in which the governor has just a two-year term. Incumbent Chris Sununu won by only 2% in 2016, but despite the “Blue Wave” of 2018, he comfortably won re-election by a 7% margin. If he retains his support, Sununu should be in good shape for a third term.
North Carolina: North Carolina is one of the reddest states on the East Coast However, in 2016, Democrat Roy Cooper managed to edge out Republican incumbent by 0.2%. This should be the easiest seat for the GOP to flip in 2020.
Vermont: This is the only state other than New Hampshire where governors serve only two-year terms. Incumbent Republican Phil Scott has been elected twice in this super-blue state. First, in 2016, Scott won by 8% and then in 2018, he won by almost 15%. He remains one of the most popular governors in the country, so unless Democrats put forth a strong candidate, Scott is likely to win a third term.
West Virginia: Probably the oddest history in this set of elections is that of the incumbent Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia. A lifelong Republican, he ran as a Democrat and won with just 49% of the vote in an election where 9% of voters voted third party. Within a year, he switched parties to Republican. Despite being a very red state, West Virginia has a streak of electing Democrats in state-wide elections, so Jim Justice is probably the most vulnerable Republican incumbent governor in 2020.
2020 shouldn't be a very eventful year for gubernatorial races. In 2017, there were 33 GOP governors and only 16 Democratic ones. In the past three years, the Democrats have gained eight governorships, for almost an even split (26 Republicans and 24 Democrats). In 2020, we predict that Sununu stands firm in New Hampshire, Phil Scott remains Governor of Vermont, and Jim Justice holds his position in West Virginia. However, we believe that the governorships in Montana and North Carolina will be flipped to the GOP, so in January, there will be 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic ones. Thank you for keeping up with our analysis and we encourage you to follow us for more 2020 election coverage.
As the 2020 Presidential Election is simply beginning to look like a repeat of 2016, we thought we'd focus on something a bit more interesting this week. We just saw the dwindling field of 2020 Democratic hopefuls fracture, with pretty much everyone bowing out and throwing their support behind Joe Biden, crippling Sanders and leaving him with a sizable gap in delegates between the two contenders.
But, 2020 isn't just about the Presidential race. There are also an entire slate of House races, numerous Governor races, and my personal favorite, 35 US Senate races. Trump and Republicans are hoping to consolidate their majority in the Senate, while Democrats are hoping to turn the tide and continue their “blue wave” momentum from 2018. The Senate map is MUCH different this year than it was in 2018. There more than 20 incumbent GOP Senators defending their seats—many of which they took from Democrats in 2014. Democrats have only to defend a dozen of their own seats, so in terms of party composition, this Senate map is almost the exact opposite of 2018.
Incumbents have a massive advantage, and with four Senators in this batch retiring at the end of this term, all the others will have the advantage of at least ten months of incumbency, with the latest Senator having just been appointed in January. Of the twelve Democratic seats up for reelection, I would say that only half of the are really safe. Leaving six potential flips to the GOP. However, with 23 GOP seats, several of them are vulnerable, as well. Of the 23, 20 are pretty secure, leaving three vulnerable GOP Senators. Thus, we have nine Senate seats to watch in this race.
1. Alabama. In 2017, there was a special election to fill the seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions. Democrats poured resources into the race to elect Doug Jones, who was the first Democrat to win election to represent Alabama in the US Senate in 25 years. He won by a razor-thin margin because Republicans nominated Roy Moore, who faced several allegations of sexual abuse (including underage victims). If Republicans nominate a candidate without that sort of baggage in 2020, they are almost assured to win back this seat in ruby-red Alabama.
2. Arizona. This election is to determine who will sit in the seat formerly held by the iconic John McCain. After his death, John Kyl and then Martha McSally were appointed to hold the seat. McSally is running for the seat this November, but it's not going to be an easy win. Arizona is increasingly a purple state, and McSally's likely opponent in the general election is retired astronaut Mark Kelley, whose wife is Gabby Giffords, who survived a mass shooting in 2011. He appears to have a strong coalition to flip the seat.
3. Colorado. Incumbent Cory Gardner flipped his Senate seat red in 2014, winning with less than 49% of the vote (third party candidates had actually taken over 5% of the vote). Democrats will invest a lot in getting this seat back, as Colorado's other Senator is also a Democrat, who won his most recent race by over 5%.
4. Michigan. This has the potential to be one of the LEAST interesting races of 2020...or the most interesting. Incumbent Senator Gary Peters won by over 13% in 2014. However, he is likely to face John James, retired Army officer and businessman who lost to Peters' Senate colleague Stabenow by less than 7% in 2018, the closest margin to represent Michigan in the US Senate by a Republican in 18 years. Although this race is on the safe side for Democrats, we can expect both parties to pour funds into making it a battleground.
5. Minnesota. Another state that is likely to remain blue, Senator Tina Smith is running for her first full term in the seat she won in a special election after initially being appointed to it when it was vacated by the disgraced former Senator Al Franken. She did win by over 10% in 2018, but if Republicans put forward a strong candidate, it could certainly prove to be a competitive race.
6. New Hampshire. New England is a particularly hostile place for GOP contenders, but New Hampshire has been increasingly purple as of late. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton hit 50% of the vote in 2016. The incumbent, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, won by about 3% against ex-Senator Scott Brown in 2014. With a strong GOP candidate, New Hampshire will be a Senate battleground state.
7. New Mexico. Despite New Mexico having one of the bluest Congressional delegations out there, there is a glimmer of hope for Republicans in the announcement of Tom Udall's retirement. He did win by 11% in 2014, but the fact that Democrats will have a non-incumbent vying for the seat is the best news that a Republican contender could hope for. Expect both parties to pour money into the race.
8. North Carolina. This state is on the reddish side of purple, but incumbent Senator Thom Tillis won by less than 2% in 2014, with third party candidates taking nearly 4% of the vote. While he has a good chance of keeping his seat, he is probably the second most vulnerable Republican in this set of races.
9. Virginia. While this is certainly a more bluish-purple state, the newly Democratic-dominated state legislature has been taking a lot of liberties with their legislative agenda, alienating and mobilizing Virginian Republicans. Incumbent Senator Mark Warner won by less than 1% in 2014, so he is certainly among the more vulnerable Democratic candidates for Senate in November.
If all of these seats flip, the GOP would gain three seat in the Senate. The absolute best case for Democrats is if they successfully defend their weak candidates AND pick up the three weak GOP seats, giving the house an even 50-50 split. Best case scenario for Republicans is defending their weak seats and picking up six new ones. This would give them an nine seat majority in the Senate.
The most likely outcome I see for these races is as follows:
Democrats retain Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Virginia.
Republicans retain North Carolina.
Democrats flip Arizona and Colorado.
Republicans flip Alabama and New Hampshire.
The end result being that the partisan composure of the Senate will likely not change, and in 2021, its likely to still be a 53-47 split. Granted, there are many variables that may change things between now and November, but it is hard to see a path for Democrats to take a majority in the Senate. But at the same time, it's difficult to see Republicans build on their majority. Quite possibly, this will be the most expensive set of Senate races in history, with many competitive races and tensions high as candidates align for or against President Trump. Hopefully we will provide coverage and analysis of the House, gubernatorial, and presidential races as we draw closer to November.
The media is in a frenzy about President Trump’s recent derogatory comments on immigrants coming from “shithole” countries. Left- and right-wing publications were quick to pick polarized sides on the issue. Left-wing news sources (and some Democratic politicians) immediately said that Trump’s comments were racist, repulsive, and inexcusable. Right-wing sources tried to explain away Trump’s remarks by saying that “shithole” is just a colorful way of saying what we all know to be true—that Haiti, El Salvador and many African countries are in extreme poverty and may not be places that we should tap into for new immigrants. And here we are, in the middle, trying to make sense of this from a non-partisan perspective. And as usual, we conclude that both sides are wrong. First we saw some controversy over whether Trump indeed used the word “shithole.” Illinois Senator Durbin (D) told the media that Trump asked “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Many legislators refused to confirm or deny that Trump said this, but Senator Tim Scott (R, SC) said that Durbin’s quote was “basically accurate,” according to Newsweek. Personally, I trust Senator Scott’s testimony here. I’m going to use some majorly stereotypical SJW language here, so please bear with me while I “unpack” why Trump’s words are “problematic.”
The problem I noticed with right-wing coverage of the incident is that it focused on the word “shithole.” This reminds me a lot about how the right wing interpreted the leaked tapes where Trump referred to “grabbing” women “by the pussy.” People on the right claimed that liberals were simply offended by Trump using the word “pussy,” when liberals were really upset that Trump was bragging about grabbing women sexually who had not given explicit consent. We can look at it more broadly by interpreting Trump’s clarification that “when you’re a star, they let you” as consent. But, it’s important to acknowledge that in our culture rife with sexual harassment and more severe sexual misconduct happening regularly, it’s vital to get explicit consent before engaging in sexual grabbing. Thus, it is completely understandable that people on both sides of the aisle were perturbed by Trumps’ “grab em by the pussy” comments, and I can empathize with the people who rescinded their endorsements of him after hearing the recording. Once again, Trump’s supporters are misinterpreting liberal outrage on Trump’s “shithole" comment by saying that liberals are “triggered” by hearing “shithole.” This is not the case. Profanity in politics has been a near constant since the days of LBJ, if not longer. One needs only turn on the TV to hear some liberal late-night political commentators to hear language so vulgar. But the outrage wasn’t simply a result of him calling African nations (also Haiti and El Salvador) "shitholes". It was because he posed the question of why we want people to come here from said countries. The answer is obvious; the United States is the land of opportunity. We are so prosperous that we have always made it possible for immigrants to come here to better their lives. Even if they come from the worst places on earth, they should be given a chance to assimilate and contribute to our society. Many so-called conservatives are saying that these "shitholers" are coming here and bringing all the terrible aspects of their country with them to drag down our country. This couldn't be further from the truth. Immigrants come here more than willing to shed the negative aspects of their culture in order to pursue the American Dream. They are trying to come here because we are the greatest country in the world and they want to be a part of it. They want to come here because they DON'T want to live in a "shithole," and coming to America may be their only shot at ever escaping that environment.
Liberals also jump to faulty conclusions about the "shithole" comments. It was immediately presumed that Trump was saying that he didn't want black people coming here from Africa or Haiti. He said he'd prefer to see new immigrants from Norway. Leftist commentators could not have more quickly held this up as an example of Trump only wanting white European immigrants and not black or brown people from Haiti or El Salvador. And it was wrong of them to immediately boil "shithole" down to a racially-charged term. What do many African countries, Haiti, and El Salvador have in common? Extreme poverty, violence, poor valuation of human rights, etc. Norway is a highly developed country with a strong economy, low crime, and one of the best human rights track records in the world. Clearly, one could look at the conditions of these countries referred to as "shitholes," and conclude that they are objectively worse places than Norway without looking at or considering the pigment of their occupants.
So, in conclusion, I hope we've learned three lessons: Conservatives--Don's assume that liberals are triggered over dirty words. Liberal comedians say the most vile things and most liberals don't bat an eye. Always assume that liberals are offended by the CONTEXT of the mean words. That is usually the case. Liberals-- Don't assume that Trump or Republicans are racist as a default position. We should be able to acknowledge that people of color are living in poor conditions without you assuming that we are blaming them or hating them for critiquing their society. You often critique and stereotype poor white culture from an academic standpoint and presumably don't do so in a prejudiced way. Finally and most importantly, President Trump--Please consider the impact of your words. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be honest or "call it as you see it." I'm not saying to censor yourself in the name of political correctness. I'm saying that as leader of the free world, you need to understand that the United States is a shining city on a hill. As President Reagan paraphrased the Book of Matthew, our beacon "guides freedom-loving people everywhere." Freedom-loving people have sacrificed everything to have the opportunity to become Americans. Throughout American history, people have come here from the "shitholes" of the world and America has welcomed them with open arms. Please have the empathy to realize that Americans have enough wealth and prosperity to share with immigrants seeking a better future. This is not to argue for unbridled immigration or open borders or anything like that. But understand that the vast majority of Americans are people whose ancestors came from "shitholes." Rather than reject people who wish to pledge allegiance to our flag because of their country of origin, please continue to allow diverse people to come here and become part of the Melting Pot. Make an effort to show respect to minorities, regardless of their country of origin. And please, recognize that people from every corner of the globe have made great contributions to our country and regardless of what "shitholes" we came from, we all want to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
One of the reasons that Bernie Sanders was so popular in 2016 and continues to be popular today is that he incessantly promised voters a host of handouts in the event that he was elected. Two of these absurd promises were offering free college tuition for most students and the other was a pledge to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Today, we’d like to address the second of these outrageous campaign promises. First, let’s consider that the current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour—mandated by the federal government. So, Senator Sanders and his followers are seeking to increase the federal minimum wage by over 100%. This big of an incremental increase has never happened. Typically, the federal minimum wage increases every few years by 10-20%. It takes around 15 years to double. In 1961, it was $1 per hour. Thirteen years later, it reached $2 an hour. Seventeen years later, in 1991, it finally surpassed $4. Keeping with the trend, it should have hit $8 an hour around the time Obama was inaugurated in 2009. In 2009, Obama signed into law an increase to $7.25 an hour which has remained stagnant for the past eight years. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush each raised the minimum wage twice during their tenure. Each Bush Administration saw a net increase of 27% to the minimum wage. President Clinton raised it by 21% in his eight years. President Obama, who campaigned as a champion of the working class, raised the federal minimum wage by only 11%. This is the man who infamously said “I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody”. However, had he simply continued the almost linear pattern set by the previous three presidents, he could have very easily raised minimum wage to over $8. Since the last two GOP presidents raised the minimum wage over 25% each, President Trump would be projected to raise it to over $10 by the end of his administration. We would be looking at a $15 minimum wage around 2026. Despite President Obama leaving the minimum wage static for over seven years (a span only surpassed by President Reagan), 2026 seems like a relatively reasonable timeline to hike the federal minimum to that level.
Enter Bernie and the #Fightfor15 crowd. Their message is easier to empathize with: every member of our society who works full time deserves to have a livable wage and good standard of living. However, who determines what is a livable wage and how can it be established? As it stands, it is exceptionally rare for low-wage workers to work full time to begin with. Thanks to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s so-called “Fair Labor Standards Act”, tens of millions of hourly workers are prohibited from being scheduled even close to 40 hours a week, as every minute they work past 40 hours in a week, their employers are legally obligated to pay them 150% of their normal hourly rate. Personally, I think most low wage workers would rather have the opportunity to work 45 to 50 hours at their normal hourly rate than have to work 35 hours a week or less at near-minimum wage. Many progressives argue that class mobility has stagnated over the past few decades. The argument is that it is becoming impossible to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” because higher education has become so expensive and yet so crucial to attaining higher-paying jobs. Simultaneously, those low-wage earners are being prohibited, through the collusion of unions and the government, from working extra hours to dig themselves out of poverty. I know I'd rather work 45-hour weeks at $10 an hour than be stuck only working 32-hour weeks at $10 an hour because my employer is afraid an extra shift might put me too close to that 40-hour barrier. I've heard a leftist argue that working beyond 40 hours in a week can take a toll on the body and actually be dangerous, but most researchers draw the threshold at 50 hours a week before demonstrable damage is done. One of my best friends is an immigrant who came to America ready to work hard to achieve some very impressive and lofty goals. I have known him for three years and he has always worked more than 70 hours a week since I met him. He travelled halfway around the world in pursuit of the American Dream and is one of the most inspirational people I know. His dedication calls to mind the words of Mohammed Ali: “suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
I won't get into the economics of the minimum wage. I've seen numerous businesses fail because of the rising cost of labor, and we can look at the numbers of major corporations to demonstrate that doubling the minimum wage would cripple a number of industries. Progressives' response will undoubtedly be that if these corporations can't afford to pay their workers a “living wage,” they can't afford to be in business. But I imagine most workers would prefer to have a job making $9 an hour than have no job at all. A $15-per-hour minimum wage would put our lowest earners (the ones who aren't laid off) above the median income of workers in over 150 countries. Indeed, currently, the median income in the United States is only about $15 per hour. It is profoundly misguided and arrogant to campaign for a $15 minimum wage. I can sympathize with the small fraction of our society making $8 an hour or less. My first job that I had nine years ago paid only $8 an hour. I would recommend that people earning so little do one of three things. First: be exceptional. If you do a great job making $8 an hour, you are likely to get a raise or promotion, or even be offered a better paying job elsewhere. Second: get a second job. Two years ago, I was fed up making so little that I obtained a second job, and then a third. If one job can only schedule you 30 hours or less, why not have two jobs that each give you 25 hours a week? Then rather than making a paltry $240 a week, you'll be up to $400 a week. Third: if you're compelled, lobby your state legislature to raise the minimum wage to something reasonable. Many state legislatures have raised the minimum wage to over $10 an hour. If your state hasn't followed suit, try to change things. If #fightfor15 became #fightfor10, I guarantee you that in the next two years, the federal minimum wage would be $10 an hour. But progressives are some greedy folks, and they want a massive wealth redistribution yesterday. Lastly, consider the fact that roughly 30% of our paycheck isn't even ours—as it goes directly back to state, local, and federal government through our taxes. If you really want more money, why don't you campaign for lower government spending and lower taxation, so you can keep more of the money that you're already making?
Looking ahead to the 2018 United States Senate elections, there’s not much good news for the Democratic Party. Twenty-three Democrat-held seats are up for grabs along with both Senate Independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Contrast this with only eight Republican Senate seats up for re-election, so 2018 will be an uphill battle for Democrats, giving Republicans the luxury of focusing their energies on about a dozen very vulnerable Democratic incumbents. While 11 of the 23 Democratic/Independent seats are in virtually no danger of being lost to the GOP, there are six Republican Senators who are not remotely in danger of losing their seats. These 17 seats are essentially not even in play. The remaining sixteen have the potential to be very contentious races. Thirteen Democrats (Plus Maine Independent Angus King) might turn out to face competitive challengers, while two Republicans might have tough campaigns ahead.