Tag Archives: bernie sanders

World poverty is falling. Bernie Sanders would reverse that

I love it when Bernie Sanders calls for the USA to be more like social democratic Europe. Unfortunately, that’s not all he is campaigning for.

On his campaign web page, he says:

If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.

That statement is very dangerous.

Over the last fifty years, there has been a dramatic fall in world poverty. Not just in China, but across the developing world. This has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions. Have a look at the following chart from https://ourworldindata.org. There is still far too much absolute poverty, but the downward trend is extremely good news.

World-Poverty-Since-1820-full

Click on the graph to see the full size version.

This trend is under threat from protectionism.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 55 Comments

What the Liberal Democrats could learn from Obama, Sanders and Trudeau

Justin Trudeau by Canadian Pacific CCL FlickrAs a young American woman who has interned in the Canadian Parliament, volunteered for American campaigns and is now working in the British Parliament, it has been interesting following the 2015 British Parliamentary elections through a variety of lenses. The recent change of government in Canada and the ongoing presidential election in the United States seem worth unpacking, in order to delve into possible lessons which could be learned by Liberal Democrats from these other spaces.

I propose that there are lessons worth learning from two American Democrats, President Obama and Bernie Sanders, as well as Canada’s new Prime Minister Trudeau. For the former, the reasons may be self-evident. President Obama rose from a relatively unknown position into an incredibly influential presidency. For Bernie Sanders, it is worth understanding how another political outsider has once again come to challenge Hillary Clinton in her bid for the presidency. Though he will likely lose the primary, Mr. Sanders has been a formidable opponent from a stance that rarely would be noticed in the United States. With regards to the Canadian elections, I would like to explore the ways in which a party can move from a third-party position into a powerful government in the way the Liberals have done under Trudeau.

There are three characteristics which President Obama and Bernie Sanders have shared in their campaigns: they excel in grassroots organising, they offer clear messages of hope, and their platforms are cohesive. The first point, grassroots organising, is something which Liberal Democrats would benefit from greatly. Bringing staunch supporters out to volunteer in elections is a powerful force to reckon with, especially in university areas. In my home state, Ohio, both Obama and Sanders effectively coordinated university students to participate in the electoral process as vocal volunteers. From what I have seen, it seems that the Liberal Democrats could recruit a significant amount of volunteers from universities for the 2020 elections. This is a lesson sorely learned by the Liberal Democrats in the aftermath of the 2010 elections.  Understanding the implications of reversing stances on university tuition prices is a hard lesson, but it does offer a high incentive for maintaining consistency in the future.

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Postcard from Orlando: Hillary sweeps the board with big wins in Florida and Ohio

Hillary Florida GOTVWhat do Florida, North Carolina and Ohio have in common? They’re AWS, which means All Winning States on this side of the pond.  As I write (0515!GMT) Hillary appears to have won Illinois and Missouri by a margin that would have any agent worth their salt screaming “Recount,” at the top of their lungs.
Whilst Florida was always polling strongly for Hillary, the big prize tonight was Ohio for her campaign.  After the shock loss of Michigan last week, Hillary’s campaign needed a big win in the rust belt.  In Ohio, she got it.
The two states are significant. Ohio is the ultimate swing state, crucial to Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.  Florida has even more of a history since George W Bush’s controversial “win” in 2000.  At a rally for his wife on Monday, former President Bill Clinton said “You don’t need to explain to Floridians the importance of voting.”
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Adventures of a Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses – Part 3

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 11.10.23Monday 1 February

It’s a polling day of a different kind. Rather than 15 hours of voting, everything is crammed into just 2 hours.
Across the state, individual caucuses will be held in an astonishing 1,681 locations. There is one caucus for every precinct (polling district) with each one requiring a chair to oversee proceedings and a speaker for each of the candidates. It requires a phenomenal level of planning and organisation by both the Democrat and Republican state parties.

I get out during the day and visit the Iowa Historical Museum with its brilliant ‘first in the nation’ exhibition, including memorabilia dating back to the first caucuses in the early 1970s. Geoff, my guide, easily wins the prize for the most overexcited Iowan of my visit so far. He can of course be excused on this, his day of days. He reels off facts and joyously regales the tale of when his neighbour offered his house as a caucus site in 2008, only for it to be overrun with voters in that record breaking turnout year. “He put the Clintons in his front room, the Edwards in his kitchen and Obamas upstairs”, he said, “he was able to fit all the Dodds and Bidens in his bathroom!”

And so caucus hour arrives at 7pm. I’m covering Polk County’s 80th precinct caucus, held in the Wright Elementary School on the south side of Des Moines. It’s a precinct in which Obama beat Romney by over 30% in 2012 so there are lots of Democratic voters for the three campaigns to haggle over.

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Adventures of a Liberal Democrat at the Iowa Caucuses Part 2

Iowa caucuses C-Span busSunday 31 January

After a rather dramatic and delayed journey to the US,  I’m finally in Iowa. Most folk on my flight from Chicago are either news reporters covering the caucuses or members of the US Congress stumping for one of the candidates.

The buzzword is ‘turnout’. There’s hope the numbers turning up to tomorrow night could break all records. Folk seem most excited about the weather….or the lack of it. At this time of year, Iowans are normally wading through feet of snow. Not this year. It’s cold but not painfully so and there are no snow storms predicted. “It’s perfect caucusing weather” my car rental guy told me.

The latest polls suggest a tight race on the Democrat side with the respected Des Moines Register poll showing it too close to call. There’s some scepticism about whether all these young students who have gone nuts for Bernie Sanders will actually turn out. I remember hearing something similar in 2008 about the supporters of some guy called Obama…

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Hillary minds her left flank – while Jeb stacks up the money (but is it in the right place?)

There’s a lot of those internet/Facebook quizzes going round, as usual. One of them asks several questions to show you which US presidential candidate one comes nearest to, in terms of policy.

Strangely enough, I and most of Lib Dem friends come out nearest Bernie Sanders. “Who he? – Ed” – was the first thought that ran through my mind, when that answer came up for me, although I had vaguely heard of the junior senator from Vermont.

Is the US the only country where a 73 year-old can be described as “junior”? And is it wrong that whenever Vermont is mentioned, I either think of Bill Bryson’s hilarious tales from Vermont or that fantastic old comedy programme with Bob Newhart where he ran a hotel in Vermont and spent much of the show opening the door and letting in gustfuls of snow?

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