Tag Archives: iowa caucuses

Tom Arms’ World Review

Surprise, Surprise, Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed to the two-state solution.

The Israeli Prime Minister has never made any secret that he believes that the only guarantee of Israeli security is Israeli control of Palestinian security. On Thursday he reiterated his position.

Any Palestinian state, Netanyahu argues, would be dedicated to the overthrow of the Israeli state. And even if they publicly committed themselves to peace, Netanyahu wouldn’t believe them.

The primary responsibility of every country is defence. Ipso facto, there can be no Palestinian state—according to Netanyahu.

Most of the rest of the world believes that there are basically three possible outcomes to the Arab-Israeli Crisis: The Israelis wipe out the Palestinians. The Palestinians wipe out the Israelis. Or the two sides somehow work out a modus operandi that allows the two groups to live side by side in peace.

The Biden Administration was hopeful that the experience of Gaza would show that the only long-term opportunity for peace is a political solution which involves a Palestinian state.

But Netanyahu appears unfazed by Gaza. He told a press conference this week that Israel must have security control over all land west of the River Jordan, which would include the territory of any future Palestinian state.

This is a necessary condition, and it conflicts with the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty. What to do? I tell this truth to our American friends, and I also told them to stop the attempt to impose a reality on us that would harm Israel’s security.

John Kirby, the US National Security Adviser, replied: “Israel and the US see things differently.”

Donald Trump, on the other hand, sees the Middle East very much through Bibi eyes. His Abraham Accords were designed to circumvent the Palestinians and the two-state solution. Netanyahu’s continued intransigence could—at least in part—reflect his hope for a Trump victory in the November presidential elections.

A Trump Landslide?

Iowa was a Trump landslide. Or was it? Only 15 percent of the state’s 718,000 registered Republicans voted—the lowest turnout in years.

Why? There is no certain answer but here are a few possibles, starting with the MAGA camp: The weather was atrocious. Nobody in their right mind would risk leaving home to caucus in the sub-Arctic temperatures.

Also, the media named Trump the big margin winner before the caucusing started. Why bother risking frostbite to vote for one of the losers or even for the winner? Best stay warm.

Now, for the non-MAGA Republican perspective: We don’t want Trump, but none of the others can win, so why risk hypothermia for a wasted vote?

Everyone is an individual, even in Iowa. So chances are that there are 69,000 reasons why 85 percent of the state’s Republicans failed to caucus. But if that figure is extrapolated across America—then Trump is in trouble come the general election.

As any seasoned campaigner will tell you. The key to winning elections is to persuade as many as possible of your registered voters to get out and vote. Apathy can result in political disaster.

Taiwan

Conspicuous by its near silence in the aftermath of the Taiwanese elections is the voice of Chinese President Xi-jingping.

To briefly re-cap, the Chinese leader was loud in his election support for the Kuomintang but and condemnation for the incumbent Democratic People’s Party. This is because the KMT favoured closer relations with Mainland China based on the 1992 “one country two systems” concept. The DPP, on the other hand, is moving Taiwan closer to a quasi-sovereign independent state.

The DPP’s William Lai won the presidency, although the party has lost its majority in  parliament.

The US is in two-minds about the result. They want Taiwan in the democratic capitalist camp. But not necessarily as a sovereign Taiwan. This could provoke Beijing into a military solution which would drag in America’s Pacific-based Seventh Fleet.

So the State Department issued a rather anodyne statement which welcomed the fact that Taiwan held democratic elections, without focusing on the possible repercussions. Statements from Japan, the EU and NATO countries followed suit.

Beijing was, if anything, more anodyne, it has said virtually nothing about the election result itself. Instead it focused on the statements from the Western countries and basically said they had no right to make any comment because Taiwan is part of China. The diplomatic conversation then ended.

There could be lots of reasons for the Chinese not to take the argument further. There is no point. Xi is busy purging his military and party structures. The Chinese economy is sluggish. Or, he could be waiting for a Trump victory in November.

Is honour now satisfied in the Iran-Pakistan tit for tat missile exchanges?

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REPRISE: Adventures of a UK Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses Part 3

Editor’s Note: Eight years, at the beginning of the 2016 year of Brexit and Trump Hell, Kevin Lang, now our Group Leader on the City of Edinburgh Council, found himself in Iowa during the caucuses. Across three articles, he gives us a great insight of what happened at the Democrat caucus. 

Much of what he says about the Hillary campaign is worth our own opposition politicians thinking about as we approach our own election later this year. I thought you might like to re-read Kevin’s posts. 

Of course this year it’s the Republicans going mad in Iowa with the front runner, Donald Trump, not bothering himself to take part in the debates.

I always find the Pod Save America podcast, presented by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor a great source of information on US politics. Vietor has returned to Iowa to see what’s happening on the ground there with two special episodes of the On the Ground in Iowa podcast. Have a listen here

Over to Kevin:

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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REPRISE: Adventures of a Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses, Part 1

Editor’s Note: Eight years, at the beginning of the 2016 year of Brexit and Trump Hell, Kevin Lang, now our Group Leader on the City of Edinburgh Council, found himself in Iowa during the caucuses. Across three articles, he gives us a great insight of what happened at the Democrat caucus. 

Much of what he says about the Hillary campaign is worth our own opposition politicians thinking about as we approach our own election later this year. I thought you might like to re-read Kevin’s posts. 

Of course this year it’s the Republicans going mad in Iowa with the front runner, Donald Trump, not bothering himself to take part in the debates.

I always find the Pod Save America podcast, presented by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor a great source of information on US politics. Vietor has returned to Iowa to see what’s happening on the ground there with two special episodes of the On the Ground in Iowa podcast. Have a listen here

Over to Kevin:

As if Scottish and UK politics aren’t enough, I’ve long had a curiosity, a voyeuristic fascination with politics and elections in America.

It’s not just that elections there really matter and have an impact well beyond the US domestic border. It’s also the energy and enthusiasm (no matter how superficial or manufactured) that I’ve found infectious. It’s why I, along with my best mate (and 2016 Holyrood candidate) Alex Cole-Hamilton, went to help Obama’s first campaign in 2008. We did our little bit to help the Democrats win Virginia for the first time in a presidential election since 1964.

I also learned a lot about campaigning, especially the impact of reaching out and meeting voters face to face along with the importance of continually making your volunteers feel valued and appreciated. That said, as a Liberal Democrat, it was somewhat unnerving to campaign in a place where door to door leaflet delivery was against the law and subject to pretty stiff fines.

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Iowa field notes: 29 candidates, 2100 plus events, but who will win the first contest to be the next President of the United States?

The Liberty and Justice Celebration, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, November 1st, 2019.
This and all photos below are by Alex Paul Shantz


It’s the first Friday in November, and inside an arena in downtown Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, guests in smart clothes eat dinner around an elevated stage. Suddenly, the lights dim, artificial smoke envelopes a walkway, and the pop song ‘High Hopes’ blares out. Around one end of the arena, across three levels of tiered seating, thousands of people jump to their feet, dancing and waving three feet high letters that say “Boot Edge Edge”. Striding along a walkway towards the stage is… Pete Buttigieg, the 37 year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana?

At this point, I realise I’m at one of the most unique political events I’ve ever attended. Part fundraising gala and part political rally, but with production values that more closely resemble a pro wrestling event. It is in fact the Liberty and Justice Celebration, the final and most important multi-candidate ‘cattle call’ in the year-long campaign preceding the Iowa Democratic caucuses.

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Adventures of a Liberal Democrat at the Iowa caucuses – Part 1

As if Scottish and UK politics aren’t enough, I’ve long had a curiosity, a voyeuristic fascination with politics and elections in America.

It’s not just that elections there really matter and have an impact well beyond the US domestic border. It’s also the energy and enthusiasm (no matter how superficial or manufactured) that I’ve found infectious. It’s why I, along with my best mate (and 2016 Holyrood candidate) Alex Cole-Hamilton, went to help Obama’s first campaign in 2008. We did our little bit to help the Democrats win Virginia for the first time in a presidential election since 1964.

I also learned a lot about campaigning, especially the impact of reaching out and meeting voters face to face along with the importance of continually making your volunteers feel valued and appreciated. That said, as a Liberal Democrat, it was somewhat unnerving to campaign in a place where door to door leaflet delivery was against the law and subject to pretty stiff fines.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments
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