Under Donald Trump, socialism seeps into US mainstream

American socialists have been celebrating a comeback at the same time as approval ratings for Republican president Donald Trump and the opposition Democratic Party have hit all-time lows.

Bernie Sanders

At the end of his first year in office, only 39 percent of Americans approved of the job President Donald Trump was doing in office – lower than any US president at that point in his term in at least 40 years. His opponents the Democrats, however, are not doing much better. According to a poll late last year, only 37 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Democratic politicians in general.

To find a political tendency that hasn’t suffered from the last year, you would have to look further to the left in American politics. Socialist organizations, long relegated to the sidelines of influence or even persecuted for their views, have seen their numbers grow considerably since Trump entered the White House.

Read more: How Donald Trump changed things in 10 easy lessons

One organization in particular has experienced a surge in membership. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), founded in 1982, had roughly 6,000 dues-paying members for the duration of its history. Then, in the two days following Trump’s election, 1,000 people joined DSA. Today the organization claims to have around 32,000 card-carrying members, having quadrupled in size in just over one year. This would make it the largest socialist membership organization in the US since the Second World War.

“When Trump was elected, our size exploded,” DSA National Director Maria Svart told DW. Svart attributes the burgeoning interest in DSA not just to a backlash against Trump but also to a failure of the Democratic Party to offer an inspiring opposition to Trump. “Our organization presents an alternative,” said Svart, that appeals to “communities long neglected by the Democrats.”

What is DSA?

DSA is not a political party but an organization of dues-paying members, most of whom volunteer their time to support left-wing politicians, labor unions, or single-issue campaigns like the push for a single-payer, state-run healthcare system. The organization uses the word “democratic socialism” to describe itself in order to distance itself from authoritarian socialist governments like the former Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

The logo of the Democratic Socialists of AmericaThe logo of the Democratic Socialists of America features a rose, a historical symbol of socialism and social democracy

Prominent members or former members of DSA include philosophers Cornel West and Noam Chomsky as well as writer Barbara Ehrenreich. DSA considers itself a “big tent” socialist organization, meaning their members range on the political spectrum from left-leaning Democrats to further left Leninists (followers of early 20th century Russian revolutionary ideology).

Read more: Why the race to lead the Democratic Party has become a thing

In the November 2017 elections, 15 DSA-backed candidates won seats in city and state governments across the country. Some of them ran as Democrats, others as independents. While the DSA and the Democratic Party sometimes support the same Democratic candidate, the two organizations have no formal relationship. Several DSA members told DW that the Democratic Party is wary of supporting socialists in general.

The Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment on the DSA.

Bernie Sanders: a big boost for DSA

Few current politicians in the US call themselves socialist, with one notable exception: Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders ran for president as a Democrat in 2016, challenging Hillary Clinton for the nomination of the Democratic Party, often describing himself as a “democratic socialist.”

Supporters of Bernie Sanders in 2016 (DW/H. Flores)Supporters of Bernie Sanders protested Hillary Clinton’s nomination for president by the Democratic Party in 2016

Using that label apparently did not hurt him: An October 2017 poll showed Sanders to be the most popular politician in the US with a 53 percent approval rating – the only national politician seen favorably by a majority of Americans.

Although he has never been a member of DSA, Sanders claims to be part of their tradition. Margaret McLaughlin, chairperson of the Washington DC chapter of DSA, said that Sanders – intentionally or not – led thousands of young people to their organization after Trump’s victory.

“I think DSA, just by name recognition — the similarity between what Bernie calls himself and our organization — got a lot of people who were excited by what Bernie was saying to come organize with us,” said McLaughlin.

A socialist activist carries his laptop at a Washington, D.C., DSA meetingA DSA organizer carries his laptop – emblazoned with Bernie Sanders stickers – at a Washington, D.C., meeting

A broader left

DSA was not the only socialist organization to see its membership grow. Brian Bean, organizer for the International Socialist Organization, told DW that membership in his organization, which is significantly smaller and also further left than DSA, grew about 40 percent in the past year. Two thousand people attended their annual socialist conference in Chicago in July, 2017 – an increase of 30 percent from the previous year.

“Young people especially are seeing socialism in a more positive light,” said Bean.

The ‘S-word’ makes a comeback

The US has had a fraught relationship with socialism throughout the country’s history. In 1920, US Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs won nearly one million votes, but he did so from a prison cell. In the 1950s, the US Congress, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, put American socialists on trial for their real or fabricated ties to the socialist Soviet Union, an enemy of the US. Since then, socialists have had no significant presence in US politics.

Read more: ‘Democrats have been all talk and no action for too long’

For some analysts, the popularity of Bernie Sanders and the recent growth of the DSA represent a new era of acceptance of socialism in the US.

“I came of age in the 1980s when there was no dirtier word in American politics than ‘socialism’,” Dr. Jason Martinek, professor of history at New Jersey City University, told DW. “Now that is not the case. Millennials, who don’t have the Cold War baggage of their parents or grandparents, seem more open to socialist ideas.”

Indeed, 51 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 said they would prefer to live in a socialist or communist society than a capitalist or fascist one, according to a 2017 poll.

Historian Eric Foner of Columbia University told DW that “there is definitely a greater interest in socialism today among young people.” But Bernie Sanders’s brand of socialism, said Foner, is more closely related to European social democracy than historical socialism.

“Generally today when people talk about socialism they have in mind an enhanced version of the New Deal,” said Foner, referring to the wave of investment in infrastructure and social services that followed the Great Depression in the US in the 1930s.

Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All Town Hall (DW/A. Essif )Attendees applaud as US Senator Bernie Sanders concludes his ‘Medicare for All’ town hall meeting in Washington, D.C.

Socialism after Trump

While an embattled Democratic Party struggles to hold its ground against Republican control of the US government, many socialists feel they’re winning support from the next generation of voters.

For DSA organizer McLaughlin, the new socialist moment is tied to a new generation. “Most of the communists on Twitter are under 18 because they don’t have any emotions attached to the Soviet Union,” said McLaughlin.

For those on the political right, the idea may be frightening that, for many young Americans, the word “socialism” does not have a negative connotation. For the left, that is good news.

“We’re slowly coming out of the cold war,” said McLaughlin.


The Most Important Election of 2018 Might Be Happening in Maryland

Ben Jealous is taking Bernie Sanders’ revolution down ballot.

Ben Jealous was in a hurry. It was a Sunday morning in early June and he had just addressed a few thousand Bernie Sanders followers at the People’s Summit, a Chicago gathering of lefty organizers. It had been a long weekend of workshops and plenaries and the odd dance party, and Jealous, who is running for governor of Maryland, had helped close it out, speaking on a panel on electoral politics titled “Beyond Neo-Liberalism and Trumpism.” For three days organizers had tallied their victories and studied their setbacks, in an effort to understand where the Sanders-inspired movement was headed. In candidates like Jealous, they seemed to have an answer—the revolution was moving down the ballot.

Jealous had other things on his mind as he rushed to the airport. The next day, his parents would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that struck down interracial marriage bans, by renewing their vows at a Baltimore church. But his path to the convention-center taxi stand was blocked by one supporter after another. A twentysomething in a T-shirt that read, “Fuck it, I guess I’m a Democratic Socialist,” wanted a photo. A woman wanted to pass along a book from the author Naomi Klein. A nurse from California just kept saying, “You’re going to win! You’re going to win!”

The 44-year-old is a difficult man to miss, towering and heavyset with short black hair and a thick goatee peppered with flecks of gray. He is rarely seen in public without suspenders, leaving you with the sense that you are talking to not just the youngest-ever ex-president of the NAACP, but also a lumberjack. In crowds, Jealous doesn’t walk so much as he parts the waters, like a boulder breaking up a rushing stream.

Finally, he had shed the friendly organizers and the photo-seekers and the man who wanted to have “a couple-minute conversation” about universal basic income. He walked off an escalator, short of breath and sweating a little, into a white-linoleum-floored foyer somewhere in the bowels of the largest convention center in the country. “I don’t know where the fuck we are,” he said. “Do you?”

It is a familiar sentiment these days. The 2016 election has thrown the Democratic Party and the political left into a series of struggles over the path forward. These fights—to obstruct or to compromise, to clean house or keep their leadership—are infused with a sense of foreboding about what three (or seven) more years in Donald Trump’s America might bring.

Jealous approaches this moment of reckoning from a different direction than many of his Democratic peers, one that almost sounds like optimism. Even after their strong showing in November, Democrats face steep odds of breaking Republicans’ grip on Congress, but Jealous’ race is emblematic of an opportunity outside Washington: In 2018, 13 states that Barack Obama carried twice have Republican governors who are retiring or up for reelection. Winning governors’ mansions, Jealous says, is “the only way to move our families forward.”

Ben Jealous shakes hands with admirers outside a restaurant moments before declaring his endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker.

His campaign is a product of two spectacular failures—the failure of then-Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to win a slam-dunk gubernatorial race in 2014 against Republican real estate developer Larry Hogan, and the failure of Hillary Clinton to win a slam-dunk race against another Republican real estate developer two years later. Without Clinton’s loss, the appetite for a Democratic Party reset would be considerably weaker; without several cycles of down-ballot losses, there wouldn’t be many places to try it.

We emerged from the convention center by an underground loading dock. No cabs. His jacket now draped over his shoulder, Jealous consulted his iPhone and shrugged, setting off toward a pocket of sunlight. “As progressives, we’ve mourned the transfer of power from the federal government to the states over the last half-century,” he said, getting back to his point. “Well, this is that sort of a judo moment, where you decide to use your opponent’s momentum against them and say, ‘All right, fine. You guys want to put all the power in your states? Well, we’ll just get back to running our states.’”

It is a simple-enough idea—federalism, but for liberals—to make you forget, for a second, how radical of a proposition a Gov. Ben Jealous would be. No one who has led an organization like the NAACP has ever been in the position he could find himself in come January 2019, in charge of the very institutions—prisons, schools, courts—that organizations like the NAACP have spent more than a century trying to influence from the outside. Nor, for that matter, has anyone affiliated with Sanders’ movement. If Jealous can make history next fall as Maryland’s first black governor, he’ll have the space to test-drive a revamped lefty politics that could show Democrats—and Berniecrats—how to make coalition politics work in a reactionary age. To some disaffected liberals, Jealous, a Rhodes scholar turned civil rights leader turned tech investor, represents a new hope. “We’re in this kind of post-Obama desert,” says the commentator Van Jones, an early backer, “and if you listen to Ben Jealous, he’s the closest thing to an oasis that I’ve heard or seen.” And yet, if Jealous is what comes next, the most surprising thing about his campaign may be that Sanders’ second wave doesn’t sound much like Sanders at all.

Benjamin Todd Jealous was born into a life of crime. In 1966, Ann Todd, a descendant of enslaved Africans from Madagascar, and Fred Jealous, whose ancestors followed the Pilgrims to Massachusetts, were two teachers living in Baltimore when they decided to get married. The Loving decision was still a year away, and 17 states, including Maryland, prohibited interracial marriage. Fred’s grandfather disinherited him when he heard the news. Determined to push ahead, the wedding party formed a caravan to Washington, DC, where they could legally tie the knot.

After the ceremony, Fred and Ann moved to California and settled in a quiet, almost entirely white town near Big Sur called Pacific Grove. Although Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who studied Jealous’ ancestry on his show Finding Your Roots, joked that he was the “whitest black man we’ve ever tested,” Jealous has never struggled with his identity, in part because of the circumstances in which his parents married. He is black, full stop, and the fact that Fred Jealous was disinherited for marrying Ann meant that the extended family Ben knew in his youth were mostly black, too. Jealous spent summers with his mother’s parents in Baltimore and has lived back East most of his adult life, but he has not fully left California behind—he learned to surf and stopped eating meat after a rigorous propaganda campaign from his sister about veal calves when he was five.

Jealous’ political baptism came in 1988, when as a short, stuttering 14-year-old, he registered voters for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. Jackson’s candidacy is remembered now for its historic nature—he was the first black candidate to win a contested primary—but it also created a lasting blueprint for progressive insurgencies. Jackson showed that a lefty coalition of working-class white and black voters, without support from party leaders, could unite under a banner of economic populism and civil rights and be taken seriously.

Jackson lost the election but won the argument. Jealous, whose five-year-old son is named for the reverend, watched the next year as two African American followers of Jackson—Doug Wilder and David Dinkins—won elections in Virginia and New York City. Candidates tend to shirk historical comparisons, but Jealous’ run is explicitly based on one: Bernie is 1988, and he is 1989.

Ben Jealous talks to a crowd of people at local restaurant Busboys and Poets.

“Jackson’s campaign says you can make social movements matter with a campaign; Wilder and Dinkins showed you could make social movements stronger and win,” he told me. “In each case they started out with the ashes of a failed presidential primary bid and would build a coalition that was much larger and much more inclusive—and that’s fundamentally what we’re doing here.”

Jealous’ politics fell into a Jacksonian mold from there, and he wound up at Columbia University in New York City, where Dinkins was mayor, and where Thurgood Marshall’s successor at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Jack Greenberg, then serving as the dean of students, got him a work-study job at the LDF. Jealous became a fixture in the classroom and on the quad, marching against the Gulf War and burning Christopher Columbus in effigy. “Ben has a significant presence,” says Carlton Long, a former Columbia professor who remains close with him. “He showed up to campus wearing his letterman jacket with his last name on the back, and that created a little bit of consternation among students. ‘Is this a message? Does he think we all envy him?’”

Living in New York also brought him closer to his godbrother, the comedian Dave Chappelle, whose father was best friends with Fred. Jealous was such a ubiquitous presence at Chappelle’s Manhattan comedy gigs that he was known to bystanders simply as “Chappelle’s Puerto Rican bodyguard.” (One of his first fundraisers featured a meet and greet with the comic.)

At Columbia, Jealous befriended another Californian with a mixed racial background and an activist streak, Eric Garcetti, and they teamed up in a series of clashes with the administration. The duo staked out a university-owned convenience store to catch the clerks refusing service to the homeless, and when Columbia’s trustees were considering scrapping need-blind admission, Jealous and Garcetti helped organize a blockade of the building where the meeting took place. Stylistically, they represented contrasting approaches to the same ends. Garcetti, the son of then-LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti, conducted back-channel negotiations; Jealous climbed through a window to crash the meeting. “Maybe they thought I was quote-unquote ‘somebody reasonable,’” says Garcetti, now the mayor of Los Angeles. “They might have seen him as more radical.” In the end, the program was saved, but Jealous was put on notice.

Jealous, however, was not one to heed requests to mute his activism. Determined to stop the university from tearing down the ballroom where Malcolm X was shot, Jealous led another blockade of an administration building, preventing Greenberg from leaving until he and his fellow protesters had listed their demands. He was kicked off campus for a semester.

For a time he wasn’t sure he’d be back at all. In 1993, Jealous moved to Mississippi, taking an $85-a-week job as an organizer in Jackson, where the Republican governor had proposed eliminating the state’s historically black public universities (HBCUs) to save money. (In the coup de grâce, one was to be replaced with a prison.) To a kid from Pacific Grove, Mississippi was another world, in which the 1860s, to say nothing of the 1960s, had never ended. Medgar Evers’ assassin was only just then standing trial, and the Ku Klux Klan had threatened to retaliate against the HBCU organizers if they continued their protest. Jealous spent a night in jail after one demonstration and narrowly avoided worse trouble when his friend Chappelle flew down for an event with a bag of weed in his duffel. They were later pulled over and nearly arrested; they were spared when one of the cops recognized Chappelle—”Boy, didn’t I see you on Def [ComedyJam last night?”

Much of the work on the ground was still being done by old-line civil rights activists, such as the crusading newspaper editor Charles Tisdale, who after the successful organizing campaign would hire Jealous as an investigative reporter at his paper, the Jackson Advocate. The Advocate‘s offices had been firebombed twice by the Klan in the 1980s and would be torched again three years after Jealous left. “He doubled our security,” Alice Tisdale, the publisher, joked of Jealous, who quickly worked his way up to managing editor.

Most of Jealous’ Advocate bylines were incremental attempts to correct a deliberately broken system of justice—one series of articles helped clear a black farmer who’d been wrongly accused of arson; another compelled the state to relocate an inmate who’d testified against a homicidal guard. “The Bible talks about [how] you really have to hate injustice, you have to hate evil, and you have to have a burning inside of you,” Tisdale says. “And I think Ben realizes that.” But Jealous also saw glimmers of hope. He often describes an encounter late one night at a Waffle House. He and a few HBCU organizers were sitting in a booth when a rough-looking white man walked over with a carryout bag. The man recognized them from the local news; he called them “boys” and used the word “nigger.” It had been a long day, and they were on edge. They thought he was about to pull a gun—but instead he shook their hands and offered to write them a check.

People make their way to the Galilee Baptist Church in Suitland, Maryland, for the National Capital Baptist Convention where Ben Jealous, along with other political figures, will speak to church members in the community.

It sounds like a parable out of a motivational speech (it is), but it’s central to what Jealous is selling now, when he pumps black voters with stories about a Maya Angelou-quoting white guy he met in the Baltimore suburbs, or a Trump-voting single-payer supporter on the Eastern Shore. Don’t assume you know who your allies are. His mantra: “If you are comfortable in your coalition, your coalition is too small.”

Jealous returned to Columbia after two years down South, more focused on his studies but still uncertain about his future. “I used to wonder what direction his life would go,” says Judith Russell, a Columbia professor whom Jealous considered a mentor. “He just has a sensitivity to him about ethical matters that’s kind of spiritual.” He started working for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and was increasingly involved with the Episcopal Church. His grades improved, and after graduating two years late in 1996, he followed Garcetti to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. (The two have remained close; Jealous even wore Garcetti’s graduation gown at his Oxford commencement.) Before he left for England, Jealous and a few Rhodes scholars appeared on Charlie Rose to discuss the future. It was a showcase for America’s brightest young things in an era of economic prosperity, but Jealous’ forecast was overcast. Jealous couldn’t shake the suspicion, he said, “that this social revolution might have taken a bad turn—that a lot of the people who may 20 years ago have gone into public interest law now are going to Wall Street.”

When he returned to New York, Jealous spent a year training to be a priest and moved into a home in Harlem for people with addictions who had been diagnosed with HIV, a period he describes as a “spiritual antidote to the decadence of Oxford.” Jealous’ experiences in New York and Mississippi had nurtured a “profound sense of betrayal,” he later told Julian Bond, the iconic civil rights leader and longtime NAACP chairman. The children of the civil rights generation had been told “that the playing field was now fair,” but instead they were coming of age “just in time to find ourselves the most murdered generation in this country, the most incarcerated generation on the planet.”

Notably, though, at a time when many of his peers were drifting away from the old-guard civil rights institutions, Jealous embraced them. Inspired by his experiences with the Tisdales, he spent three years as executive director of an association of black newspaper publishers—the informational lifeblood of the civil rights era that had fallen on hard times at the end of the millennium. That stint was followed by three years as the director of the US human rights program at Amnesty International. The group’s signature accomplishment during his tenure was the abolition of the juvenile death penalty—another example, as he tells it, of the virtues of coalition-building. The objective was to get a majority of states to ban the sentence, so that the Supreme Court could find it “unusual” (in addition to “cruel”). First, organizers from campus Amnesty and NAACP groups hit on the idea to join forces with campus pro-life groups. Then, instead of focusing their energies on moderate lawmakers, they appealed to rock-ribbed conservatives and liberals alike. It sounds like a West Wing plot, but it worked, and in places where groups like Amnesty did not generally have much sway—their biggest victories were in South Dakota and Wyoming.

By the time he took over the NAACP in 2008 at the age of 35, the national mood had shifted. Barack Obama was ascendant, and even some African Americans were wondering about the purpose of an aging civil rights group in the age of a black president. Jealous’ predecessor spoke freely of a “post-civil rights” era. A New York Times Magazine profile of Jealous and other young black political leaders asked if Obama marked “the end of black politics.”

The selection process brought many of these anxieties to the surface. Critics seized on Jealous’ agelight skin, and lack of connections to the black church (an ironic complaint, given his still-recent flirtation with the priesthood). “He has had no presence in black leadership at all,” fretted one San Francisco minister. “At best, he has been a technocrat.” But Bond, who was just 25 when he was elected to the Georgia Legislature, was impressed by Jealous and saw his youth as an asset. “Ben’s selection would not have happened but not for Julian Bond,” says Wade Henderson, an NAACP veteran who served on the selection committee. Nor was Jealous entirely unfamiliar to the organization, having worked for the Legal Defense Fund in college—historically the NAACP’s more pugilistic arm. (It was at the LDF where Jealous met his now ex-wife, Lia Epperson, a civil rights attorney.)

Jealous viewed the Obama era as an opportunity to reorient the organization. The NAACP had accomplished a lot in its 100-plus years, but it had long harbored a conservative streak. Some board members wanted the organization to transition toward community services—rather than attacking structural racism—and placed a premium on respectability politics. The year before Jealous arrived, the NAACP held a funeral for the N-word. Not for the first time, it faced a generational divide. Younger activists, to whom the idea of a racial end-of-history seemed absurd, were gravitating to more combative groups such as Van Jones’ Color of Change. “It was a train wreck inside a circus on a sinking ship,” Jones says. “They were running out of money. They were not taking on relevant issues. They were just kind of an internally focused dinosaur.”

Jealous discusses his plan to end mass incarceration by using the saved funds for education.

But Jealous was a member of that restless generation himself. Although he admires Obama and the two have some obvious similarities—”We graduated from the same college, we have a white parent and a black parent, we’re both distant cousins to Dick Cheney,” as Jealous puts it—he bristled at the idea that one leader would change much on his own. “History has proven the fallacy of the Moses archetype for black leadership,” he told reporters the day before Obama’s inauguration. Obama often shied from tackling white supremacy head-on. Under Jealous, the NAACP would have no such inhibitions.

He placed the group at the fore of high-profile civil rights cases. When Trayvon Martin was shot, he all but moved to Sanford, Florida, to fight stand-your-ground laws. But his biggest successes again involved unlikely coalitions. He signed on to a gender discrimination lawsuit against Walmart—typically outside the NAACP’s purview—and used that as leverage to convince the nation’s largest private employer to hire ex-convicts. In 2012 and 2013 in Maryland, where the organization was headquartered, the NAACP helped pass marriage equality, a DREAM Act, and the abolition of the death penalty—an intersectional triple play that Jealous rattles off to almost everyone he meets. “Marriage equality was not something that was necessarily easily solved, particularly in an organization where the clergy plays an important role in the leadership,” Henderson says. “Ben used personal capital to make that happen.” By the time he left in 2013, citing stresses on his family, the organization’s membership numbers were back on the rise and its fundraising was booming. The biggest complaint upon his departure was that he had left too soon.

But there were bumps along the way. In 2010, Andrew Breitbart published a videoon his fledgling conservative news site of an Agriculture Department employee named Shirley Sherrod appearing to boast to an NAACP chapter about discriminating against a white farmer. Speaking for the organization, Jealous said he was “appalled” by her comments. But Sherrod’s remarks had been edited—in the next breath, she had talked about getting past her impulse and helping the farmer anyway. The NAACP retracted its statement. Jealous said he’d been “snookered.”

When I asked him about the episode, he pointed at the clock on his phone, to indicate that our interview had gone longer than it should, and then went silent for a moment. Jealous is a commanding public speaker today in part because he is, by nature, a terrible one. He struggled with a severe stutter into his 20s, and to avert this, he often pauses mid-thought for seconds at a time, as if he is searching for just the right word. “I learned the power of being deliberate,” he said. “And the value of saying, ‘I was wrong, I apologize,’ quickly.” The fiasco marked the beginning of a friendship between Jealous and the Sherrods. The couple ran a public land trust near their home in Albany, Georgia, and in 2011, Jealous drove down from Maryland and spent part of his vacation living and working on a farm they had recently acquired. He dropped by again last year. “People wanted to feel that they were protecting the president,” Sherrod says. She forgave Jealous immediately. But, Jealous says, “that was the lowest moment of my professional career.”

During the Obama years, Jealous found a receptive audience and willing partner in the White House, and in particular at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. But he also found the Obama years frustrating. When rumors began circulating in 2016 that Jealous would endorse Sanders, Clinton confidante Neera Tanden told a colleague that “he’s really hung up on Obama not caring about black people.” (The email was later published by WikiLeaks.) That wasn’t quite true, but it was clear he thought things were moving too slowly. In an appearance on Meet the Press shortly after Obama’s second inaugural in 2013, Jealous noted that after four years, the black unemployment rate was a full point higher than it had been when the president took office. Meanwhile, the fundamentals of American racial and economic inequality were unchanged. “It’s almost a certainty that the kids coming out of college will be worse off than their parents,” he lamented months after he left the NAACP.

It was not especially surprising, given his career arc, that Jealous would back Sanders. He found Clinton’s continuing support for capital punishment archaic, and her decades-old comment that preteen “super-predators” necessitated a crime bill was “not just a violation of psychology, [but] a violation of theology.” Perhaps most gravely, Jealous worried she would cede too much ground to the opposition in the interest of finding consensus—something that flew against his entire coalitions theory of change. Jealous believed the moment demanded an “idealist” who could speak critically of the American system to people who felt excluded from it, and such a candidate would necessarily come from outside the political establishment. Jealous endorsed Sanders in early February 2016 and almost immediately took a place in the senator’s inner circle, popping up at strategy meetings and introducing the candidate almost everywhere he went. “They come from different generations, they come from different backgrounds, [but] the two of them clicked very quickly,” says Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager and longtime consigliere. “The guy was all-in. He was an incredibly important player in the campaign.”

Jealous’ work for Sanders is one of the first things he mentions everywhere he goes these days, and his agenda reflects the leftward lurch in the Democratic Party since November 2016—Medicare for all, universal pre-K, free college, a $15 minimum wage, and an end to the war on drugs. Of the hundreds of Sanders-backed candidates seeking office, from Deep South mayoralties to big-city district attorneys, Jealous is the highest-profile, and his is the race where Sanders himself has the most skin in the game. Sanders endorsed Jealous last July, 11 months before the primary, and has made several visits to the state to campaign. Should Sanders decline to run in three years, Jealous might be the closest thing to a passing of the torch.

Jealous enters the Galilee Baptist Church in Suitland, Maryland, where he is scheduled to speak at this year’s National Capital Baptist Convention.

But Jealous is not Sanders redux. The Vermont senator has a tendency to see economic and racial inequality as two distinct crises, with the former taking up far more oxygen than the latter. He had made few inroads in communities of colorprior to running, and his candidacy, in hindsight, was doomed to demographic failure. Sanders’ coalition widened as the presidential campaign went on, and Jealous took an active role in helping to broaden his support—ushering him around South Carolina and cutting a minutelong ad set in West Baltimore—but it didn’t always look like a rainbow coalition.

Jealous doesn’t have that problem. He has spent his career articulating the ways in which economic and government institutions are built to keep racial minorities down. That frees him up to more closely emulate his idol Jackson, to build a coalition that gets each faction interconnected with the others. When he meets with black audiences, he makes a point of describing the conditions in Cumberland, Maryland, a largely white railroad town afflicted by the opioid epidemic and dead-end jobs. When he meets with white audiences, he tells them about the McCulloh Homes housing project in West Baltimore where his mother grew up.

“I typically talk about race and class in the same breath, not as the same thing, because they’re not, but as parallel struggles that are interconnected, interwoven,” he told me when we met again in September. He was sitting in the lobby of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he is a visiting professor. “Look, the Democratic Party practiced identity politics for a reason, which is that if you signal to different groups that you heard their concerns before you got there, they’re more likely to listen to the rest of what you have to say.”

The other major difference is his economic message itself. Jealous is not a socialist—he’s a venture capitalist who believes in the power of markets to instigate social change. He had expected to spend his post-NAACP career teaching, or launching an Emily’s List-style incubator for candidates of color. Instead, he ended up as a partner at the Baltimore office of a firm called Kapor Capital. The VC arm of the organization, where Jealous works, invests in companies—usually firms founded by women or people of color—whose services target communities whose needs are not being met by Silicon Valley or anyone else. (It has a nonprofit sister organization, the Kapor Center, that funds philanthropic ventures directly.) “Every single problem that a rich person in San Francisco has, some startup is solving,” Jealous told a conference in 2014, not long after taking the job. He wanted to apply the startup world’s enthusiasm for solving first-world problems to actual first-world problems.

Jealous name-drops companies like LendUp—”which is disrupting the payday lending space”—and Honor, an Uberlike app that is “disrupting the middleman in the home health care industry.” His favorite of the bunch is a company called Pigeonly, which was founded by a former drug trafficker to slash the exorbitant cost of calling into prison (sometimes as much as $14 a minute) through a setup similar to Skype. At the NAACP, Jealous had pushed for regulations to curb the cost of prison phone calls by 50 percent, but Pigeonly, he points out, has already cut it by 80 percent.

It is hardly the stuff of Mitt Romney-era Bain Capital, but it is also difficult to imagine Bernie Sanders ever talking about the Uber for home care services. A defining lesson of the Sanders campaign was that you could run as an openly socialist candidate and many people wouldn’t care. That’s meaningful. It is already shifting the boundaries of debate within the Democratic Party considerably to the left. But the takeaway wasn’t that the only way to energize progressives was to run a socialist candidate. If Jealous, at the crest of Sanders’ second wave, can take down a popular Republican incumbent, it might offer a lesson for how other Democrats can assemble their own coalitions, to harness frustrated, shut-out working-class voices under a populist banner. Van Jones, who has known Jealous since they worked in college with the AIDS activist group ACT UP to protest President Bill Clinton’s ban of Haitian refugees, compares the campaign in Maryland to Deval Patrick’s 2006 gubernatorial run in Massachusetts. “Every single theme that he hit wound up being almost a carbon copy for the Obama campaign in 2008,” Jones says. “You could have another Deval Patrick effect, where in the middle of the Bush horror, somebody kind of figured out a pathway and pattern.”

In September, I met up with Jealous for a weekend on the trail in Prince George’s County and Baltimore. He was locking in a string of endorsements—including Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the Service Employees International Union, and a group of black pastors—that showed the contours of a unifying coalition nine months before the primary.

Nine other Democrats have signed up to run, but Jealous was not particularly concerned about any of them, nor was he worried about Gov. Hogan, who consistently ranks as one of America’s most popular governors. Hogan, who has been battling advanced non-Hodgkin lymphoma for most of his first term, never endorsed Trump and has managed, for the time being, to escape the stench emanating from Washington. Maryland may be broadly Democratic, but it packs a range of influences into a small area—Appalachian in the west, tobacco country in the east, and two major population centers along I-95: an ailing Rust Belt city in Baltimore and the booming suburbs of DC. In 2014, Hogan took advantage of those fault lines. He flipped white working-class enclaves in historically blue Baltimore County (which surrounds but does not include the city), and ran up huge margins in the east and west while black voter turnout cratered. “He was an outsider candidate who ran on a message of change in this state, and he spoke to those communities who have been hungry for change, whereas the Democratic nominee did not,” says Larry Stafford Jr., a Democratic campaign veteran who is now the executive director of Progressive Maryland. “Maryland was a forecast for what happened in the 2016 election.”

After speaking at the National Capital Baptist Convention, Jealous and Reverend Charles W. McNeill, Jr. join church members for a group picture.

Jealous doesn’t dispute Hogan’s appeal but points to polls showing that a significant number of Marylanders who view Hogan favorably won’t say they’ll vote for him—a sign that things could go south in a bad year for Republicans, as 2018 is expected to be. “Donald Trump will take care of Larry Hogan,” Jealous says.

Meanwhile, Jealous was piecing together his coalition a few voters at a time. A Q&A with African American clergy in Hyattsville was followed by a cookout at the McCulloh Homes, which outsiders might recognize as the low-rises from The Wire. Jealous was at the housing project for the second time in a month. He relaxed in striped suspenders with his 11-year-old daughter, Morgan, by his side, joking with the pitmaster about tofu and signing copies of his book, Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding.

At a farmers market the next morning, he stopped to inspect the merchandise at a stand selling oversize hula-hoops. The owner announced that “the next governor of Maryland” was about to test his wares—the sort of impromptu photo op that can haunt a candidate—and Jealous, shrugging, picked up a ring that could fit comfortably around a midsize sedan and twirled. “Oh my God,” someone shouted.

Jealous chugged a chocolate milk (“the breakfast of champions”) and continued on his walk, passing a juvenile courthouse, where two men were sitting on the sidewalk watching the Ravens on a phone. Players on both teams had kneeled for the national anthem at the start of the game, so Jealous vented about Colin Kaepernick. “I’m tired of them keeping him from playing,” he said. “It’s just like they did Muhammad Ali.”

Finally, after stopping by a Unitarian church, he came face to face with his own handiwork—a smooth, seven-foot-tall slab of granite in the middle of a public park. Since the late 19th century, the pedestal had supported a statue of former Chief Justice Roger Taney, whose majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision declared that free African Americans were not US citizens and had no standing to sue in court. Two days after Heather Heyer was run over by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists were protesting a proposal to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, Jealous had held a press conference in front of the Taney statue, demanding it be not just taken down, but melted. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh carted the statue off two days later. Jealous marveled at the way the plaque had been unscrewed and removed, leaving no trace of its past life behind. “I wanted to take a photo standing on top of the platform,” he said. (He didn’t.)

The statue, which Hogan initially opposed removing, had rankled Jealous not only because of what Taney stood for, but because it was just one more way in which historical memory had been distorted to enforce cultural dominance. In his theory of politics, an object in motion tends to return to its original state. “The mistake that those of us in the movement make,” Jealous said, “is we misremember the original state of race relations.”

Americans might look at the starting point of race in America through the prism of Roots or 12 Years a Slave, Jealous says, but he goes back to a 1663 revolt in the Virginia Tidewater community of Gloucester. What made the Gloucester County rebellion unique was that it was not a slave rebellion in a traditional sense—it was an alliance of enslaved Africans and Irish and English indentured servants. The casus belli was an edict that stipulated that their current status (that is, as enslaved or indentured) “shall convey to your children.”

“As Americans from the very beginning, so long as we could hope that our children could be better off than us, we were willing to endure a lot—but the moment that it became clear that we were locked out from the American Dream, we would rebel together,” Jealous said.

“And this is one of those moments.”

COURTESY: Mother Jones

Trump: DOJ must do ‘what is right and proper’ and investigate Hillary Clinton

President Trump opened up on Democrats with both Twitter barrels from high in the sky Friday, exploiting fractures in the rival party after top operative Donna Brazile revealed insiders plotted to steal last year’s presidential primary from Bernie Sanders.

“Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be apoplectic of the complete theft of the Dem primary by Crooked Hillary!” Trump tweeted from Air Force One, as he headed off on a 13-day tour of Asian nations.

It was part of a mid-morning Twitter barrage in which Trump called for his own Justice Department to probe a range of scandals involving the Democratic Party and his vanquished 2016 presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems,” Trump tweeted early Friday. “New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus…”

In excerpts released Thursday from an upcoming book, Brazile, a longtime party stalwart and Clinton confidante, confirmed longstanding suspicions that the Democratic National Committee she once headed worked with Clinton to ensure she won the party’s presidential primary over Sanders, the Vermont senator who built a huge following with his blend of Democrat politics and socialism.

“I always felt I would be running and winning against Bernie Sanders, not Crooked H, without cheating, I was right,” Trump tweeted.

Brazile’s explosive charge has sent shockwaves through the party.

“I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested,” Brazile wrote in a book excerpt first published in Politico Magazine. “By Sept. 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.”

The proof, according to Brazile, was a joint fundraising agreement document between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary for America. It had been signed in August 2015, four months after Clinton announced her candidacy and a year before she officially secured the nomination over Sanders.

“The agreement –signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC and Robby Mook, with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile wrote. “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decision on all the other staff.”


Even before Friday morning’s tweetstorm, Trump reacted to the allegations against Clinton on Thursday night on “The Ingraham Angle.”

“It’s illegal, number one, and it’s really unfair to Bernie Sanders,” Trump said. “I’m not a Bernie Sanders fan, although I must say I got a lot of his votes when he was thrown out. Many of those people voted for me because of trade because I agreed with him on trade…But that was, I thought that was terrible.”

“Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.,” Trump tweeted again. ‘Pocahontas,’ when used by the president, is typically in reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN Thursday, Warren, D-Mass., was asked whether she believed the DNC was rigged, to which the senator simply responded, “Yes.”

But on Friday, Trump took the opportunity to add the Brazile bombshell to a list of allegations and situations that he wants his Justice Department to investigate, including her “deleted E-mails” and “the Server,” pointing back to the months-long Clinton email investigation.

Trump also referred to “Uranium,” alluding to the controversial Obama-era Uranium One deal. The 2010 deal concerns the sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. Clinton, at the time, was secretary of state.


Trump also referred to “Podesta,” though it is unclear if he was referring to Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, or his brother, Clinton’s longtime confidante and 2016 campaign manager John Podesta.

This week, Tony Podesta stepped down from his lobbying firm, which was co-founded with his brother John, in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe expanding to question Podesta’s Foreign Agent Registration (FARA) filings, and whether he was in violation of that law.

A spokesperson for Podesta told Fox News that they were compliant with their FARA filings and were “fully” cooperating with Mueller’s team.

The president tweeted again, moments later, underscoring the need for a federal probe.

“….People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!” Trump tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy: Fox News

Sean Hannity: The real list of reasons Hillary lost

Sean Hannity

Hillary Clinton was all smiles at the release of her new book, but the failed presidential candidate should be anything but happy, because the book, titled “What Happened,” is full of excuses, lies and fake news.

Crooked Hillary, as President Trump calls her, is in complete denial about why she actually lost the election. My colleague and friend, Gregg Jarrett, has put together a list of 32 reasons Clinton has given for why she lost. And the list grows and grows and grows as Clinton blames everyone and everything but herself and her terrible campaign for her defeat.

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White supremacists, voter ID laws, James Comey, Bernie Sanders, Facebook, Russia, WikiLeaks.

“And then let’s not forget sexism and misogyny, which are endemic to our society,” Clinton told CBS on its “Sunday Morning” show.

There is an alternative list of reasons for Clinton’s humiliating loss to President Trump. Topping it is the secret email server, on which she illegally sent and received sensitive government information makes the real list of reasons why she lost.

Clinton’s team deleted 33,000 emails using BleachBit — in other words, acid wash — after being served with a congressional subpoena. An aide also smashed those old mobile devices with a hammer. Can’t get the emails from there. Just as bad, members of the Clintons’ legal team did give the FBI Blackberries, but those Blackberries didn’t have SIM cards in them, rendering them meaningless.

Comey didn’t hurt her on this issue, he covered for her.

Also on the list is the crooked work of the Clinton Foundation, which took millions and millions of dollars from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and others – countries that treat women, gays, lesbians, Christians and Jews horribly.

Then there was the Uranium One deal, in which Hillary Clinton was one of nine people to approve the transfer of up to 20 percent of America’s uranium — the foundational material for nuclear weapons – to the Russians. The folks who profited from that deal ended up kicking back as much as $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

And what about Hillary’s vow to put coal miners out of work and her refusal to campaign in states hard hit by the Obama economy?

Clinton’s own list of excuses is as pathetic as she is delusional. She can’t come to grips with the reality that she was a terrible candidate with no message, no vision for the American people.

The real reason she lost? Americans chose wisely on Nov. 8.

Adapted from Sean Hannity’s monologue on “Hannity,” Sept. 12, 2017

Sean Hannity currently serves as host of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) Hannity (weekdays 10-11PM/ET). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Sean Hannity.

Courtesy, Fox News

Bernie Sanders attacks Trump nominee for following teachings of Christ

Todd Starnes

First they came for the wedding planners and the bakers. Then they came for the Catholic farmers and the Baptist high school valedictorians. And now, the secularists are coming after the evangelical public servants.

On Wednesday, Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, was viciously attacked by Sen. Bernie Sanders over his Christian faith.

Click here for a free subscription to Todd’s newsletter: a must-read for Conservatives!

Sen. Sanders deemed Vought unsuitable for office because he believes that salvation is found alone through Jesus Christ. He said someone with that kind of a religious belief system is “really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

Sen. James Lankford warned that Sander’s comments “dangerously close to crossing a clear constitutional line for how we evaluate qualifications for public service.”

“The First Amendment is crystal clear that the federal government must protect every American’s right to the peaceful and free exercise of religion,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “We cannot say we have the free exercise of religion and also require people to practice their faith only in a way that government officials prefer.”

The Vermont senator’s comments brought strong condemnation from Christians across the nation – including Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

“Senator Sanders is taking the Obama era’s religious hostility and putting it on steroids,” Perkins said.

Thousands have signed a Family Research Council petition demanding Sanders apologize for his outburst of religious bigotry.

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas (and a Fox News contributor), said that there are only two choices for the senator: “Apologize to the country for his foolhardy attempt to introduce an unconstitutional litmus test that would exclude 41 percent of the country, or resign.”

The controversy stems from an article Vought wrote in 2016 defending his alma mater, Wheaton College. In that article, he described Islam as a “deficient theology.”

“This is a fundamental problem,” he wrote in The Resurgent. “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

Sanders confronted Vought during the congressional hearing. The following is a transcript provided by FRC:

Sen. Sanders: “‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.’ Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?”

Mr. Vought: “Absolutely not, Senator. I’m a Christian, and I believe in a Christian set of principles based on my faith…

Sanders: “…Forgive me, we just don’t have a lot of time. Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?”

Vought: “Again, Senator, I’m a Christian, and I wrote that piece in accordance with the statement of faith at Wheaton College…”

Sanders: “I understand that. I don’t know how many Muslims there are in America. Maybe a couple million. Are you suggesting that these people stand condemned? What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?”

Vought: “Senator, I’m a Christian…”

Sanders [shouting]: “I understand you are a Christian, but this country [is] made of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?”

Vought: “Thank you for probing on that question. As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals…”

Sanders: “…Do you think that’s respectful of other religions?… I would simply say, Mr. Chairman that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”

As Perkins pointed out, salvation through Jesus Christ is a core biblical tenet held by Christians for millennia.

 “Yet Senator Sanders is making it clear that he believes the U.S. Senate should disqualify nominees who express this most basic biblical belief,” Perkins said.

“Americans should never be forced to choose between their faith and public service. Nor should the U.S. Senate try to impose a stealth litmus test that says ‘you can be religious as long as you don’t actually believe or talk about what the Bible teaches.'”

After Sanders’ wrapped up his rant, David French wrote a powerful rebuke of Sanders for National Review.  “There is nothing ‘extreme’ about his statements, and they mirror the statements of faith of countless Christian churches and schools across the land,” French wrote. “Are these believers also not fit for public office?”

It’s a fair question and one that I posed to Sen. Sanders’ office. Does he believe Christians are unfit to hold public office?

The senator’s press office did not answer that question directly.

“The question at hand is not about Mr. Vought’s freedom to hold certain religious beliefs,” the senator’s spokesman told me. “The question that concerns Sen. Sanders is whether Mr. Vought will carry out the duties of his office in a way that treats all Americans equally, even those whose beliefs he has criticized.”

It was an ugly moment in American politics, but it was also an instructional moment for American Christians.

Progressives and secularists are waging a brutal assault on people of faith – and it’s only gotten worse since President Trump took office. I predicted that would happen in my latest book, “The Deplorables Guide to Making America Great Again.”

People of faith must stand together and renounce anti-Christian bigots and bigotry – especially when those bigots walk the halls of Congress.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.

Sanders blasts GOP healthcare act’s ‘disgraceful’ tax breaks for the wealthy

Sanders blasts GOP healthcare act’s ‘disgraceful’ tax breaks for the wealthy
The Republican plan to overhaul the US healthcare system is “far worse” than Obamacare, according to Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, and represents a disgraceful effort to “give massive tax breaks” to the wealthy.

Last week, the Republican Party released new healthcare legislation aimed at dismantling the “skyrocketing costs” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by Barack Obama in 2010.

Obamacare is collapsing. If we just did nothing, we would see a further collapse of the health insurance markets. – @SpeakerRyan

The House Republican’s American Healthcare Act (AHCA) strips away mandates on individuals and employers, while certain subsidies and taxes will be binned.

Speaking on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday, former presidential candidate Sanders hit out at changes that he said will give a “$275 billion tax break to the top 2 percent” of earners.

READ MORE:‘Unprecedented freedom’: Republicans present Obamacare replacement

“It is an absolute disaster, it is a disgrace and this really has nothing to do with healthcare. What this has everything to do with is a massive shift of wealth from working middle income people to the very richest people in this country,” Sanders said.

The Republican “health care” plan is a disgrace. It has nothing to do with health care. It’s a $275 billion tax break for the top 2%.

The act has already provoked the ire of the American Medical Association, which says it “cannot support” the move in its current guise.

Under the amendments, a much-maligned Obamacare individual mandate which saw people taxed for not having health insurance will be stricken from the system. Meanwhile, Medicaid, a social welfare program providing low income earners with greater access to medical services, would be frozen in 2020.

🚨BREAKING: Committee passes the American Health Care Act to provide relief to the American people >> http://bit.ly/2njhtUi 

The AHCA also repeals the high income Medicare tax, which required people earning more than $200,000 to pay a 0.9 percent tax on their wages. A second 3.8 percent tax on “unearned income” like investment revenue will also be abolished.

“They’re going to decimate Medicaid, which is why the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association oppose it. This is a disgrace,” Sanders said.

READ MORE: Republicans release Obamacare replacement bill

Asked by CBS host John Dickerson how the ACA could continue in its “rickety” financial state, Sanders admitted the legislation is not perfect but said that, under Republican plans, up to 10 million people may soon be without health insurance.

Sanders added: “It is very hard for [Paul Ryan] or anybody not to deny that what Republicans are bringing forth is far, far worse than Obamacare and that its primary purpose is massive tax breaks to the very wealthiest people in this country.”

Appearing on the same Sunday show, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Obamacare was collapsing and that he expected the new legislation to pass in the Senate.

.@SpeakerRyan on Republicans’ healthcare replacement plan: “I believe we can get 51 votes out of the Senate.”

In what could be considered a message to reluctant conservatives still on the fence about backing the act, Ryan said he agreed with President Donald Trump that next year could be an electoral “bloodbath” for Republicans if the new legislation fails.

Trump said 2018 would be “bloodbath” if AHCA fails. @SpeakerRyan agrees: If we don’t keep our word to the people who sent us here, yeah.

Moral outrage shrouds reality of Russian hacking case

Moral outrage shrouds reality of Russian hacking case
© Getty

In a time of virtually complete political polarization, there is one point upon which both parties appear to agree: moral outrage at the notion of Russian attempts to influence our election.

There are bipartisan demands for a special prosecutor and a full criminal investigation.  However, while the outrage is most evident, the alleged crime is more difficult to discern.  Before we order a massive independent investigation, it might be useful to examine both the basis for the self-evident outrage and the less-than-evident crime.

Moral outrage as political necessity

As our politicians went on the air to vent their disgust over Russians trying to influence our election, there was an interesting study published this month on moral outrage in an academic journal, Motivation and Emotion.  The researchers found that moral outrage is rooted, not in altruism, but self-interest — often to affirm one’s own status and avoiding responsibilities or guilt.

“Individuals,” the study notes, “respond to reminders of their group’s moral culpability with feelings of outrage at third-party harm-doing.”  The most astonishing aspect of this study is that it was not done entirely on Capitol Hill.

Many other countries can be forgiven if they are a bit confused by the expressions of outrage at the notion that Russia hacked emails or tried to influence our election.  The United States objecting to hacking or influencing elections is akin to Bernie Sanders expressing disgust over accounting irregularities.

The United States has not only extensively engaged in surveillance in other countries but hacked the accounts of our closest allies, including the personal communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Moreover, our country has a long history of direct interference in foreign elections from overthrowing governments to funding opposition movements.

One study found 81 different instances of the United States interfering with the elections of other countries between 1946 and 2000. We learned from the best; foreign interference in our country goes back to 1700s when France and Britain actively sought to influence our early governments.

Democratic leadership have a particular interest in expressing moral outrage over the election. The extent to which the election becomes an example of “third-party harm-doing,” the less attention will be drawn toward the party establishment which virtually anointed Hillary Clinton as their candidate despite polls showing that voters wanted someone outside of the establishment.

Not only did they select the single greatest establishment figure, but someone with record negative polling.  “The Russians did it” is a much better narrative.

Of course, the Russians did not “hack the election.”  No votes were fabricated.  Indeed, there is no proof of emails being fabricated (despite the claims of some Democratic leaders like Donna Brazile at the time).  The reason the public has not risen up in anger is that it is hard to get the public outraged over being shown the duplicitous and dishonest character of their leaders — even if the release was clearly one-sided against Democrats.

The public has every right to be outraged, but the outrage of our government officials would make Claude Reins blush.

Moral outrage in search of a crime

In the end, Russian attempts to influence our election should be a matter of national concern and investigation, though we would be in a far superior position if we acknowledged our own checkered past in such efforts.  However, the call for a “Special Counsel” or “independent prosecutor” seems a bit premature since we do not have a clear crime other than the hacking itself (which has already been confirmed).

Clearly the Russians hacked DNC emails but we do not need a special counsel to confirm extensive hacking operations by a host of different countries. It is like complaining about the weather.

Dana Boente, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (and the acting deputy attorney general), could determine that an investigation by the Justice Department would still present a conflict of interest even after the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The process for the appointment of special counsels through the courts lapsed in 1999.  Thus, the current standard would involve Boente determining that the “criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted” and must be done outside of the Department.  But what is the crime under investigation?

The suggestions that Sessions committed perjury are far-fetched and unsupported.

Some have suggested violations of the Logan Act. However, that 1799 law concerns calls for the fine or imprisonment of private citizens who attempt to intervene in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments.  It has never been used to convict a United States citizen and does not appear material to these allegations.  If there were monetary payments to influence the election, that would constitute a crime but there has yet to be evidence such crimes.

Finally, there do appear to have been criminal leaks during and after the election.  However, those are insular, conventional matters for investigation by the Justice Department.

We generally do not start special counsel investigations absent a clear articulated and supportable criminal allegation.  There are a host of obvious political or policy concerns that could be the subject of an independent investigation by a commission or joint legislative/executive effort.  There are real concerns over conflicts in the current administration given the focus on the presidential election.

Yet, we are simply likely to confirm much of what we know: we were hacked.  We are also likely to confront what many do not want to discuss: we have hacked others for years.

Until there is more evidence of a crime by United States citizens, there is little reason for a special counsel as opposed to the current investigations.  We should investigate the hacking and efforts to influence our elections, certainly. But our politicians may want to leave the moral outrage and hypocrisy behind.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and teaches a course on the Constitution and the Supreme Court.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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