Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Last Call For Chasing Smoke

Democrats need to stop chasing white Republican suburban women, because no matter how racist Trump is they will never, ever, vote for Democrats.  They may not vote for Trump, but they'll happily vote for every other Republican on the ticket if they do vote.  The best outcome you'll get is that they stay home completely. 

Vanessa Steinkamp is the kind of voter that Texas Republicans counted on. She’s a devoted conservative who volunteered for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign, interned for former GOP Sen. Bill Frist and lives in an affluent suburb between Fort Worth and Dallas that is the reddest pocket of a reliably Republican district.

These days, though, Steinkamp feels alienated, not energized, by her party. The thought of voting in 2020 brings on a weary sigh.

“It feels like there’s no place for lifelong Republicans like me,” she said.

Her unease underscores a larger problem for Texas Republicans: Female suburban voters like Steinkamp are no longer a sure bet for the party, injecting new competitiveness into the Lone Star State’s politics.

That dynamic captured the national spotlight last week when U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, a Republican who represents the communities outside Dallas and Fort Worth, including Steinkamp’s home of Colleyville, said he would not seek reelection next year — the fourth Texas Republican congressman to announce plans to retire.

Across the nation, Republicans are increasingly worried about their strength in once-friendly suburban terrain. Last week, Democrats officially took the lead in voter registrations in California’s Orange County, the storied GOP stronghold. Suburban districts in red states such as Georgia and North Carolina have become hotly contested.

I'll take voters like Steinkamp staying home in November 2020.  But let's not delude ourselves into thinking that they believe their own GOP members of Congress are the problem, or that they'll ever believe Democrats are the answer.

Steinkamp is among those who despair over Trump’s behavior, which she said falls short of statesmanlike.

“I just wish he would talk about policy and he wouldn’t tweet all the time,” she said as she ferried her three children to the dentist for back-to-school checkups. “He tweets every thought that goes through his mind. I can’t stand that.”

Steinkamp, 42, and her family moved to Colleyville four years ago for her husband’s financial services job. Once predominantly pasture, the town boasts well-manicured subdivisions of big houses sitting on even bigger lots. The median income is $165,000.

Speaking in her spacious brick home at the end of a leafy cul de sac, Steinkamp fretted about how she saw Trump’s vitriolic approach to politics spilling into her community. When she ran for city council this year, her opponent branded her as a liberal interloper from Chicago. The sting of her defeat is still raw.

Her objections extend to Trump’s policies as well. Steinkamp, a government teacher at Tarrant Community College, credited the president with signing bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, but blanched at him pursuing an $8-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia over the objections of Congress and toying with granting clemency to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“Now, will I vote for a Democrat over Trump?” Steinkamp said. She thought of the leading progressives seeking the Democratic nomination: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I do not agree with almost anything Warren says, what Sanders says. So it’s hard.”

Steinkamp said she might consider a write-in vote

Most likely Mike Pence.  And I guarantee you Steinkamp will be out campaigning for whichever GOP nutjob runs for Kenny Marchant's old seat.

Go after gettable Democrats, not disloyal Republicans.  Because white suburban women who voted for Trump in 2016 are 98% OK with current GOP racism.

The Tax For Being Black

A new study puts a dollar figure to the lack of banking services available for African-American neighborhoods and instead saturating them with check-cashing stores and payday lenders: being black in America costs you $40,000 over your lifetime in fees, interest charges, and lost savings interest.

Many African Americans have difficulty accumulating savings in part because they lack access to mainstream financial services like banking, a new study on the contributing factors to the U.S. racial wealth gap by McKinsey & Co found on Tuesday.

Many minorities in the United States depend on more expensive financial services like check-cashing counters since there are fewer banks in non-white neighborhoods. Increasing access to basic banking services, like checking and savings accounts, could save individual black Americans up to $40,000 over their lifetime, the report found.
“Black families are being underserved and overcharged by institutions that can provide the best channels for saving,” said the report authored by McKinsey partners Shelley Stewart and Jason Wright.

In majority-white counties, there are an average of 41 financial institution for every 100,000 people compared with 27 in non-white majority neighborhoods. However, more expensive services like pay-day lending are more readily available in black neighborhoods, the report said.

Further, banks in black neighborhoods typically require higher account balances to avoid service fees. The average minimum balance in white neighborhoods was $626, compared with $871 in black neighborhoods.

The racial wealth gap, or the difference between the average white and black households’ net worth, has expanded over the last two decades, according to federal data. As of 2016, the wealth of the average white family was 10 times higher than the average wealth of a black family. The white household had a net worth of $171,000 while average black and Hispanic households had a median net worth of $17,600 and $20,700 respectively.

McKinsey says closing the gap between black and white wealth in the United States could increase GDP by up to 6% by 2028 through increased investments and consumption.

That would equal a trillion dollars over ten years in wealth growth for black households, and that's precisely the reason it'll never happen.

It's crushingly expensive to be poor in America.  It's crushingly expensive to be black in America.  It's devastatingly near-inescapable poverty if you're both.  The payday lender, title lender, and subprime lender industries exist to prey on black and brown people, to strip them of everything, and America is only too happy to "create jobs" to do it.

And that brings us to the other major systemic racism issue in the country: criminal justice reform and mass disenfranchisement of black voters.  With Florida finally taking steps to allow ex-cons to vote, many of them black, Kentucky now stands as the state that disenfranchises the black vote to most.

Since 1990, changing attitudes have led many other states to ease bans on political participation by those with felony records.

Kentucky is an outlier. Nearly one in 10 of the state’s adults, and one in four African-Americans, has a felony record that bans them from voting for life, according to The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice advocacy group. It is the nation’s highest rate of black disenfranchisement, the group says, and among African-American males like Mr. Harbin, the rate is considered even higher: an estimated one in three.
Those astounding rates are the product of the tough-on-crime ethos of the 1980s and 1990s, when crushing penalties were imposed for nonviolent violations like low-volume drug sales and failure to pay alimony.

The share of voting-age Kentuckians with felony records rose nearly fourfold from 1980 to 2010. Among the state’s black residents, it grew nearly sevenfold. Despite changes to criminal sentencing guidelines seven years ago and a declining crime rate, the state’s prison population continues to rise, with well over half the 24,000-plus prisoners warehoused in overcrowded county jails.

But politicians have been whipsawed between the progressive impulses of the state’s cities and its traditional culture. In 2015, Kentucky’s departing Democratic governor issued an executive order restoring voting rights to 140,000 residents with nonviolent felony records, only to see his Republican successor reverse the edict shortly after taking office. The state legislature voted in 2016 to erase records of the least serious felonies, but only after a costly and sometimes arduous expungement process. In two years, the state has granted expungements in only 1,663 cases, and denied them in another 171.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, staked out an unequivocal position on voting rights for those with felony records earlier this year. His political rise is rooted in Louisville, the state’s largest city and a Democratic bastion.

“Voting is a privilege,” he said. “Those who break our laws should not dilute the vote of law-abiding citizens.”
Political scientists suggest that Mr. McConnell might never have attained the Senate had those with felony records been allowed to vote when he first sought the seat in 1984. An analysis of that campaign in 2002 concluded that Mr. McConnell’s 5,200-vote victory in that razor-thin race would have been converted to a narrow loss had felons been allowed to cast ballots. 

When I say America is built and designed around institutional racism from the ground up, this is only a small fraction of what I mean. And the Trump regime is bound and determined to make it worse.

Fixing The Trump Disaster

Jonathan Capehart heads to a family barbecue in North Carolina and finds why Joe Biden continues to be popular with older black voters.

As I learned over Easter brunch, my own mother likes Buttigieg. But her heart (right now, anyway) is where the hearts of the overwhelming majority of the people I talked to are — with Biden. Twenty of the 26 people said Biden was their first choice. The No. 1 reason mentioned is Biden’s experience. “He’s a former vice president,” said one. “He’s been in there before,” said another. And another said, “He is a good man.” Not one person mentioned former president Barack Obama, the man who made Biden his vice president. The message here is that you are mistaken if you think African American affection for Obama is the wind beneath Biden’s wings. Nope. They like Biden.

But there is also something else at work here, and it’s a danger to all the African Americans, young people and women in the race, particularly Harris.

One aunt said something my mother said to me nearly a year ago. That it’s going to take a white man to straighten out the mess we’re in. “The way the system is set up now, there is so much racism that it’s going to have to be an old white person to go after an old white person,” my aunt told me. “Old-school against old-school.” She talked further about what this meant for younger candidates such as Buttigieg. “The whole world is in a crazy state, and somebody’s gotta put it back in order. And I think a lot of the young people who want to put it back in order, want to change it completely,” she continued. “But first, you’ve got to put it back in order before you can start changing it.”

Now get this. Before saying all that about Biden, guess who my aunt’s favorite candidate is in the Democratic field? Harris. Yet, my aunt, like everyone else at the barbecue, thought that Biden was the one who could beat President Trump. She thought this not only because the former California attorney general and former San Francisco district attorney is not “an old white person,” but also because Harris is a woman. “Nobody is going to vote for a woman,” said another female relative. “They didn’t vote for Hillary [Clinton]. ... Hillary didn’t win. If she were a man, she would have won.”

In an America that elected Donald Trump, I think a lot of people are convinced that the Democrats have to nominate an old white guy to stand any chance at beating him.  It's the Biden "electability" argument, and it threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I hate that people believe that anyone other than a Boomer white guy can win, and that it's too much of a risk to attempt anyone else versus an America that is a white supremacist, sexist nation.

I don't want to admit that's the way it has to be because I think there are multiple better candidates than Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders (or Pete Buttigieg for that matter).  But I'm one voter in Kentucky.  I'm not the guy who's going to pick the nominee.

There's hope, and there's fear.  Right now, we're in fear mode.


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