Darryl Paulson, Author at Florida Politics

Darryl Paulson

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: The Founders were right — democracy is flawed

I expect the title of this op-ed will generate enough hate mail to keep me busy for a month. How can anyone oppose democracy?  If the Founders hated democracy, who am I to disagree?

The Founders recognized the inherent dangers of democratic government. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, called democracy “one of the greatest evils.”

Alexander Hamilton, better known for being a Broadway phenomena that one of the most significant individuals in the establishment of the United States of America, wrote that ancient democracies “never possessed one feature of good Government. Their very character was tyranny.”

James Madison, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, along with Hamilton, argued that there was nothing in a democracy “to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual.” Over 200 years ago, Madison envisioned a future leader like Donald Trump.

Madison, in Federalist # 10, wrote that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short-lived as they have been violent in their deaths.”

Madison and most of the Founders believed republics were preferable to democracies because they protected against the tyranny of the majority. They created a system of indirect election of the president and checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Most Americans know that we pledge allegiance “to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands,” and not to the “democracy for which it stands.”

Critics of democracy claim that it is unstable and subject to frequent change. As a result, in 2017, 159 of the 206 sovereign states use “republic” as part of their name.

20th-century Italian political thinkers Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca viewed democracies as an illusion. According to Pareto and Mosca, democracies portray themselves to be dominated by the rule of the people when, in reality, they are dominated by political elites due to the apathy of the masses.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote a century ago, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

The 2016 election illustrates the limits of democracy. The normally sedate masses can be aroused by a leader who offers simple solutions to complex problems. Trump convinced enough voters that unless he was elected, America was at its end as a world power.

Trump was also able to convince enough voters that he was the leader to transform America from its downward spiral and that he would “Make America Great Again.” As America’s political savior, Trump promised his political supporters that “I alone can fix it. I alone am your voice.”

Many Americans are convinced that Trump is a new kind of leader who will restore America to greatness. I am more inclined to believe we have selected a false prophet who will lead America down a path of danger and destruction.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Darryl Paulson: President ‘Pants on Fire’

Although a Republican and a conservative, I was never able to support Donald Trump for president for three reasons. First, he has seldom been a Republican in his lifetime. Second, he is a pragmatist and populist, but not a conservative.

Finally, he has difficulty telling the truth.

So, what was so appealing about Trump that he won 30 of the 50 states and a majority of the electoral vote? His greatest appeal was being a non-politician in an era where Americans demanded political change.

Politics is the only occupation where experience is a negative. The next time you or a loved one needs major surgery, will you pick an experienced doctor or one who is doing his first operation? Only in politics do we prefer someone with no experience. We are now reaping what we have sowed.

How can you tell if Donald Trump is not lying? See if his lips are closed. Trump has changed virtually every major political position he has held. He then denies doing so, or says that changing positions is a sign of his flexibility. There is nothing wrong with a politician who changes their position, but it is not unfair to expect that person to remain true to their core values.

As New York Times columnist David Brooks has written, Trump is the “most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetime.” Trump “is oblivious to accuracy.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump lied about President Barack Obama not being born in the United States; he lied about his own position on the Iraq War; he lied about NATO; he lied about Ted Cruz’s father being involved in the assassination of President Kennedy; he lied about the unemployment and crime rate; he lied about voter fraud in elections, and he lied about his groping of women. The list is far more extensive than this.

Once assuming the presidency, President Trump lied about President Obama tapping his phones; he lied about his winning the Electoral College vote by historic margins; he lied about his inaugural crowds being larger than Obama’s, and he even lied about the provisions of his American Health Care Act.

Trump’s constant inability to tell the truth led PolitiFact to call Trump’s misstatements during the 2016 presidential campaign to be the “lie of the year.” PolitiFact concluded that 76 percent of Trump’s statements were False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire.

Lest one concludes that PolitiFact is merely another liberal hatchet job by the left-leaning media, PolitiFact labeled President Obama’s statements that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan,” and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” to be the “lie of the year” after passage of Obamacare.

Trump’s latest lie is that he fired FBI Director James Comey because he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Comey was in the third year of a ten-year term as FBI Director when fired by the president. The long-term was designed to protect the FBI Director from political interference from the White House and Congress.

During the last few weeks of the presidential campaign, Trump praised Comey for reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails against strong protests from the Democrats. Trump said, “it took a lot of guts” for Comey to reopen the investigation and, in doing so, Comey had “brought back his reputation.”

Comey was currently investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian influence in the presidential election. Five members of the Trump campaign have been found to have contact with Russian officials during the presidential race. The list includes former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, consultant Roger Stone, foreign policy adviser Carter Page, national security adviser Michael Flynn and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Corey’s dismissal puts the Trump-Russian investigation in jeopardy. Democrats are suspicious of the timing of Comey’s firing, but their position is weakened by their repeated called for Comey’s ouster.

Perhaps the most consistent aspect of the Trump campaign and presidency is Trump’s lies. As bad as those lies may be, what is worse is that Trump is attempting to place himself above the law.

Americans would not tolerate that behavior during Watergate, when both Republicans and Democrats joined forces to find out the truth. As Howard Baker said during the Watergate hearings, “what did the president know and when did he know it?”

That question is just as relevant as it was over 40 years ago.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Darryl Paulson: Should the Florida GOP feel blue?

Florida’s Republican Party has governed Florida for less than a third of the past 150 years. After the Civil War, a coalition of newly enfranchised blacks, a small number of native white Republicans and northern carpetbaggers dominated Florida politics from 1865 to around 1885.

After the blacks were stripped of their voting rights at the end of Reconstruction, the Republican Party ceased to be a political force. By 1900, more than 90 percent of black voters were dropped from the voter rolls due to barriers to black voters adopted by the state Legislature and through constitutional amendments. As a result of the removal of black voters, not a single black or Republican was left in the legislature.

Republican Party fortunes were so bad that when the party failed to run a candidate for governor in 1918, the Florida Supreme Court declared that “The law does not know such a political party as the Republican Party.

From the 1880s to the 1950s, Democrats completely controlled the political process in Florida. Only once in that 70-year period did a Republican presidential candidate carry the state of Florida. Almost 57 percent of Floridians voted for Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928 over Democrat Al Smith. Smith was the first Catholic candidate for the presidency, and Protestant voters in Florida were not ready to support a Catholic candidate.

Partisan change in Florida and the rest of the South was triggered by events at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. The convention adopted a strong civil rights plank which led to a walkout of most southern delegates and the formation of the States Rights or Dixiecrat Party headed by Governor Storm Thurmond of South Carolina.

The Southern states had agreed to support the national Democratic Party as long as the party did not interfere with racial policies and states’ rights. The bond was now broken. Beginning in 1952, the Republican Party won the electoral votes of three Southern states, including Florida. “Presidential Republicanism” was the wedge that began to open the door for the Republican Party in the South.

Republican strength in presidential elections would be followed by increasing Republican victories in Congressional elections. This would be followed by growing Republican numbers in the state legislatures and then in local elections.

From 1952 to 1992, Republicans won nine of the 11 Florida presidential elections. The only GOP losses were Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Jimmy Carter in 1976. The Lyndon Johnson campaign successfully convinced voters that Goldwater would lead the country into a nuclear war, and Florida voters were concerned about Goldwater’s proposal to privatize Social Security. Carter was helped by coming from neighboring Georgia. Republican President Gerald Ford assumed the vice presidency when Spiro Agnew was forced to resign and then became president due to Nixon‘s Watergate resignation scandal. Scandal and a bad economy contributed to Ford’s narrow loss to Carter.

Republican dominance in Florida presidential elections changed beginning with the 1996 election. Bill Clinton, who narrowly lost Florida to George H. W. Bush in 1992, defeated Republican Bob Dole by 6 percent in 1996. Republicans would win only three of the six Florida presidential elections from 1996 to 2016, and one of their losses was by 537 votes to George W. Bush in 2000.

Going into the 2016 election, almost all political observers predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in Florida and nationally. Although getting 3 million more votes than Donald Trump, Trump carried 30 states and won 304 electoral votes, including Florida’s.

In state elections, Marco Rubio retained his U. S. Senate seat and Republicans only lost one U. S. House seat despite the redrawing of districts which many believed benefited the Democrats. Republicans also retained large majorities in both houses of the legislature.

Looking toward the future, Democrats have several things working in their favor. First, the election of Trump has been a great motivating factor for Democrats. Massive turnouts at congressional town halls attest to the fact that Democrats appear to be more motivated than Republicans.

A second advantage for Democrats is that Republicans are in disarray. Republicans in the Florida House are battling their Republican counterparts in the Senate, and Republicans in both chambers are fighting Republican Governor Rick Scott. Growing factionalism within the party creates opportunities for the Democrats.

Third, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), once viewed as one of the premier party organizations in the country, has fallen on hard times. When Governor Scott’s hand-picked choice to lead the party, Leslie Dougher, was defeated by state legislator Blaise Ingoglia, Scott abandoned his role as party leader.

Scott urged donors not to give to the RPOF, but to contribute to his “Let’s Get to Work” political action committee. The RPOF now has about half of the revenues it had four years ago.

For Democrats, they face the same problem they have faced for the past 25 years:  disorganization. Numerous party leaders have come and gone, and the results from been dismal. Democrats have just elected a new party chair, Steven Bittel, and hired a new executive director, Sally Boynton Brown. Will they do any better than their predecessors?

2018 is an off-year election, and the party occupying the White House usually suffers large losses. 2018 will provide a good look at whether Florida Democrats have got their act together and will achieve better results than they have achieved in the past.

It is hard to imagine Democrats doing any worse.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Darryl Paulson: Groveland — Florida’s legacy of hate

On July 16, 1949, seventeen-year-old Norma Padgett claimed that her husband Willie was assaulted and she was raped by four black males near Groveland, Florida. Groveland is located in Lake County in central Florida.

In July 1986, I co-authored the first scholarly article on the Groveland case in the Florida Historical Quarterly, along with historians David Colburn and Steven Lawson. It wasn’t until 2013, when Gilbert King‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Devil in the Grove, focused national attention on Groveland.

The Padgett’s told Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall that they had left a dance and their car stalled. The four blacks — Walter Irvin, Sam Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — supposedly offered to help, but then assaulted Willie Padgett and kidnapped and raped his wife, Norma.

Sheriff McCall boasted that he was educated at the “University of Hard Knocks.” After winning office in 1944, McCall made a name for himself by attacking labor unions and civil rights groups. He accused communists of stirring up trouble among Lake County’s black citizens.

Within hours of the alleged rape, Greenlee, Shepherd and Irvin were arrested and beaten in order to extract confessions. Thomas fled the area but was killed “in a hail of gunfire” by a 1,000 man posse in Taylor County.

The fate of the three survivors seemed apparent. The day after the alleged rape, a 200 car caravan of 500-600 men descended on Groveland and demanded that Sheriff McCall turn over the three blacks to the mob. McCall lied and said the three had been transferred to Raiford State Prison. In reality, the three were hidden away in the county jail in Tavares.

Local newspapers called for revenge. The editor of the Mount Dora Topic demanded that the honor of the rape victim “be avenged in a court of law …” Another paper wrote: “We’ll wait and see what the law does, and if the law doesn’t do right, we’ll do it.” The Orlando Morning Sentinel, the largest newspaper in central Florida, ran a front-page cartoon depicting four electric chairs with the headline, “The Supreme Penalty” and the caption “No Compromise.”

The Groveland case quickly drew parallels to the Scottsboro Boys. In 1931, nine black men were accused of raping two white women aboard a train passing through Scottsboro, Alabama. In a hysterical and circuslike atmosphere, all of the defendants were quickly convicted, and eight were given death sentences.

The Scottsboro case attracted both national and international attention. The Communist Party and the NAACP intervened and won several significant victories before the U. S. Supreme Court. In May 1950, some 20 years after the original arrests, the last of the Scottsboro boys walked out of jail.

In Groveland, there were doubts that Norma Padgett had been raped. Only 17, she had fled to her parents after several beatings by her husband, Willie.

On the morning after the rape, Norma was seen outside a restaurant near Groveland. The restaurant owner’s son drove her into town and said she did not seem upset and never mentioned being raped.

It was not until Norma encountered her husband and a deputy sheriff that she spoke of being raped. Defense attorneys speculated that the Padgett’s concocted the story to protect her husband who had beat Norma after she refused him his “matrimonial rights.”

After a show trial where no evidence was presented that Mrs. Padgett had been raped, the jury deliberated for 90 minutes before returning a guilty verdict and death sentence for Irvin and Shepherd. Greenlee, only 16, was given a life sentence.

In April 1950, the St. Petersburg Times published an investigative report concluding that it was physically impossible for Greenlee to have been at the crime scene. Witnesses testified that Greenlee was 19 miles away at the time the crime allegedly occurred. They also concluded that much if the evidence to convict the defendants was manufactured by the prosecution.

The U. S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 1950. Justice Jackson said the pretrial publicity was “one of the best examples of one of the worst menaces to American justice.” The circus atmosphere prevented a fair trial, and there was evidence that the confessions were coerced.

In 1951, Sheriff McCall went to Raiford Prison to transport Irvin and Shepherd back to Tavares for a new trial. McCall claimed he had a flat tire and was attacked by the prisoners in the process. Shepherd died, but Irvin, despite being shot three times at point-blank range, survived his injuries. Irvin claimed that he and Shepherd did not attack McCall, but were killed in cold blood by the Sheriff.

In a 1952 retrial of Irvin, he was once again convicted and given a death sentence. Governor Leroy Collins, in 1955, commuted the sentence to life in prison. Irvin was paroled in 1968 and died the following year. Greenlee was released in 1960 and died in 2012.

Four innocent black men suffered grievously for a crime they never committed. Thomas was killed by a vigilante posse, and Shepherd was killed by Sheriff McCall. Greenlee also spent a decade in prison, and Irvin also spent two decades in prison for a crime they did not commit.

On April 27, the Florida Senate passed a resolution apologizing to the families of the four black men who the Senate said were “victims of racial hatred.” I am sure they are comforted in their graves.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida and southern politics.

 

Darryl Paulson: The Era of Bad Feelings

The Era of Good Feelings is the term used to describe the aftermath of the War of 1812 where the American nation sought to establish national unity during a period of one-party dominance. The Federalist Party, representing the urban and aristocratic citizens, disappeared after the disastrous Hartford Convention in 1814, leaving only the Jeffersonian Republicans as the sole political party. The Jeffersonian Republicans so dominated the political landscape that President James Monroe ran unopposed in 1820 and would have won a unanimous vote in the electoral college except for the vote of a few rouge electors.

With the death of the Federalist Party, Monroe went on a national goodwill tour in 1817. While in Boston, the former Federalist stronghold, the term Era of Good Feeling was first used in a local paper.

I am coining a new term to describe the current state of affairs of American politics: the Era of Bad Feelings.

We have two political parties and each one hates the other. While political parties, by nature, are competitive, they have had a history of working together until the 1980s. After about a half-century of Democratic Party dominance in Congress from the 1930s to the 1980s, the Republican Party decided to stop working with the Democrats and, instead, oppose them on virtually every issue. Compromise was replaced by conflict.

The end of compromise led to the collapse of ideological diversity in both political parties. Entering the 1980s, both the Republican and Democratic Parties had a mix of moderates, liberals and conservatives. Today, the Republicans have a few moderates among the mostly conservative ranks, and the Democrats have a few moderates among its liberal base. The political center is gone and the political extremes dominate both parties.

Political hatred of the other party has grown so strong, that it affects what we read, what we watch, where we live and even who we marry. A Pew Research study of 10,000 Americans found that partisans prefer living in communities of like-minded individuals. Fifty percent of conservatives and 35 percent of liberals think it is “important to live in a place where people share my political views.”

Liberals watch MSNBC and read American Prospect, the Progressive and the Daily Kos. Conservatives have Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to listen to, and they read the Drudge Report, Weekly Standard, National Review and Breitbart.

As Americans increasingly live in communities of like-minded individuals and limit their viewing and reading only to sources that support their political views, it has led to a hardening of the political arteries. They constantly have their own political views reinforced instead of challenged.

Political hatred is becoming so ingrained in Americans that parents increasingly object to their children marrying outside their faith. I’m not talking about religious faith, but their political faith. A half-century ago, only 5 percent of Americans objected if their child married a member of the opposite party. Today, that number has increased to 40 percent.

As part of the growing intolerance of those who hold opposing political views, we increasingly engage in stereotyping to justify our hatred. Instead of dealing with individuals, it is easier to ascribe negative traits to everyone who belongs to the “wrong party.”

Republicans stereotype Democrats as socialists intent on destroying the free enterprise system and encouraging individuals to go on welfare rather than work. Remember Mitt Romney‘s statement to Republican donors that he could not win the vote of 47 percent of the American voters because they were dependent on government handouts?

Democrats attack Republicans as homophobic Neanderthals who hate women and minorities, and they have no compassion for the less fortunate in society.

Stereotyping is the lazy person’s way to stop dealing with people as individuals and instead lump everyone together as a bad person. It is so much easier to dismiss the ideas of an entire group, than it is to sit down and talk about an issue and how to resolve it.

The most recent manifestation of the Era of Bad Feelings is the 2016 presidential election. Many Republicans hated Hillary Clinton. They would argue that they disliked her because of her policies, but most could not envision any circumstance under which they could support her.

Democrats hated Donald Trump because they viewed him as a racist and a womanizer, and they also believed he was unprepared to be president. To many Democrats, the billionaire Trump could never understand the burdens of poor Americans.

Sixty-three million Americans voted for Trump and, yet, somehow Democrats are convinced all of them were crazy. Clinton received 3 million more votes than Trump, but Republicans saw this as a sign of Democratic insanity.

If we spent a fraction of the time trying to understand and empathize with members of the other party, we may actually find that most of them are decent, honest people who have the same concerns that we have. We might even discover that they may have a better idea than we have.

We cannot expect more of politicians than we expect of ourselves. It is time to end the irrational hatred that is counter to our real values and is impeding our ability to solve the problems that desperately need to be solved.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics, political parties and elections.

Darryl Paulson: The filibuster, the nuclear option and the future of American politics

What little Americans know about the filibuster is due to James Stewart‘s portrayal of Senator Jefferson Smith in the classic movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the movie, Senator Smith filibusters a fraudulent land deal until finally collapsing on the Senate floor. This past week, it was the filibuster that collapsed on the Senate floor as the “nuclear option” was invoked by Senate Republicans.

History of the filibuster.

The early Congress did not recognize the ability to filibuster. Senators could invoke a “previous question motion,” which meant that a simple majority could vote to end debate. Vice President Aaron Burr, as President of the Senate, streamlined the Senate rules in 1805 by persuading fellow Senators to abandon cutting off debate. That move allowed for the possibility of unlimited debate.

The first filibuster did not occur until 1837, and the filibuster was seldom used in the 19th century. It was not until 1917 that the Senate adopted Rule 22 or the Cloture Rule, to create a mechanism to halt a filibuster. Rule 22 required a vote of two-thirds of the Senate (then 64 of the 96 senators) to halt a filibuster.

Rule 22 came about in response to a request by President Woodrow Wilson to arm merchant marine vessels to protect them from U-boat attacks. A group of 11 progressive senators, led by Republican Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, blocked the bill.

Wilson was outraged and condemned “A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own … have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”

Filibuster rule changes.

From 1917 to 1970, only 58 cloture petitions were filed (about one per year), and cloture was invoked only eight times. From 1971 to 2006, the number of cloture petitions jumped to 26 per year and cloture was imposed one-quarter of the time. From 2007 to 2014, cloture petitions were filed 80 times a year and half of the cloture votes were approved.

As the use of the filibuster increased, the Senate looked at various ways to modify its use. In 1975, the Senate voted to make it easier to invoke cloture by requiring only a three-fifths vote instead of two-thirds. That would be a short-term solution with limited impact.

In 2005, Republicans controlled the Senate and were concerned that Democrats would not approve nominees of George W. Bush. Republicans argued that the use of the filibuster on judicial nominations violated the constitutional authority of the president to name judges with the “advice and consent” of a simple majority of the Senate. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi used the word “nuclear” during the debate, and the concept of the “nuclear option” developed.

Also in 2005, a “Gang of 14” senators, half Democrat and half Republican, reached a compromise to defuse the “nuclear option.” The Democrats promised not to filibuster Bush’s nominees except under “extraordinary circumstances,” and Republicans promised not to invoke the nuclear option unless they believed the Democrats used the filibuster in non-extraordinary circumstances.

On Nov. 21, 2013, the Democrats triggered the nuclear option and eliminated the filibuster for all nominees except for the Supreme Court. They accused Republicans of filibustering an extraordinary number of President Obama‘s nominees.

Republicans took back control of the Senate in the 2014 election and kept the Democratic rules in place. On April 6, 2017, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell extended the nuclear option to Supreme Court nominees after it was apparent that Democrats had the votes to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the court. The vote to change the rules to a simple majority passed 52-48 on a straight party-line vote, and the Senate then confirmed Gorsuch with 55 votes, as three Democrats joined the Republicans.

Implications of the nuclear option.

Now that the filibuster is dead in the nomination process, will it also fall by the wayside with respect to legislation?  The answer is likely yes.

The larger question is whether the filibuster is a good or bad part of the legislative process?  Many argue that the Constitution is premised on majority rights and the filibuster allows a minority to dictate public policy. In other words, it is undemocratic.

Supporters of the filibuster contend that it serves a useful purpose. Its use forces legislators to compromise in order to secure passage of major legislation. On controversial issues such as civil rights, a supermajority vote ensures that the legislation has widespread support and its passage was critical. When cloture was invoked on the 1964 Civil Rights Act after a 60-day filibuster, the first time cloture had been successful on a civil rights bill, it was a clear sign that national consensus had been achieved and a strong Civil Rights bill was needed.

Critics of the filibuster argue there is no need to mourn its death. The filibuster has been a tool to frustrate the will of the majority and to impede passage of important legislation.

Supporters counter that the death of the filibuster will lead to greater polarization, although that is hard to imagine. They argue that a simple majority vote will allow a president to appoint more extreme nominees and will allow the Senate to pass more extreme legislation. In addition, major legislation like Obamacare will be subject to “repeal and replacement” every time political control of the Senate shifts from one party to another.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Why Donald Trump won — A review of the 2016 election

We know Donald Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost the 2018 presidential election.

What else do we need to know? We need to know why Trump won and Clinton lost.

We know that Clinton won the popular vote 65,844,954 to 62,979,879, or by 2.9 million votes. Trump’s popular vote deficit was the largest ever for someone elected president.

We all know that he popular vote does not determine the winner in a presidential election. The only thing that matters is the electoral vote, and Trump won 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227. Trump won 34 more electoral votes than was needed to win the election.

There were also seven “faithless” electors who cast their vote for neither Trump or Clinton. Three voted for former general and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul and Sioux anti-pipeline activist Faith Spotted Eagle each received one vote.

Ask individuals why Trump Won and Clinton lost and you will receive a variety of responses. Some Clinton supporters argue that she lost because of Russian hackers and WikiLeaks releasing her emails. Others blame FBI Director James Comey’s “October surprise” about reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails shortly before the election.

Others blame Clinton for her defeat. She was an unpopular candidate who barely defeated a little-known Vermont senator even though the Democratic National Committee seemed to do everything possible to assist Clinton in winning the primaries. Many saw Clinton’s use of a private email server, in spite of warnings, to be a self-inflicted wound, as was her comment about Trump’s supporters being a “basket of deplorables.”

Heading into election night, the election was Clinton’s to lose, and that’s exactly what she did. Clinton was not the only Democrat to lose. What was supposed to be a great election for Democrats, turned into a great election for Republicans.

Republicans lost only two senate seats, although they had to defend 24 of the 34 contested seats. Republicans lost only six seats in the House, although Democrats had hoped to win control of both chambers at one point. In addition, Republicans picked up two more governorships, raising their total to 33, and they won control of both houses in the state legislatures in two more states, giving them complete control in 32 of the 49 states with a bicameral legislature.

Trump won, in part, by shifting six states from the Democratic to the Republican column. Trump won the key state of Ohio by 8 points and Iowa by 9 points. He also squeaked out narrow wins in Florida (1.2 percent), Wisconsin (0.8 percent), Pennsylvania (0.7 percent) and Michigan (0.2 percent). Victories in these six states added 99 electoral votes to the Trump total, more than enough to win the election.

Republicans like to point to Trump’s strengths by noting he won 30 states to 20 for Clinton, carried 230 congressional districts to 205 for Clinton and swept over 2,500 counties compared to less than 500 for Clinton. The political map of America looked very red and looked very much like a Trump landslide.

But maps often distort political reality. After all, Clinton did win 2.9 million more votes than Trump. If she had not lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 percent, she would have been president and Trump would be managing his hotel chain.

The usual explanation for Clinton’s loss was that turnout was far lower than normal. That is not true. The total turnout of 136.6 million was a record turnout and represented 60 percent of the voter-eligible population.

Turnout was down slightly for black voters, but that ignores the fact that 2008 and 2012 had record black turnout due to the Barack Obama candidacy.

According to a recent analysis of the 2016 presidential vote by The New York Times, Trump’s victory was primarily due to his ability to persuade large numbers of white, working-class voters to shift their loyalty from the Democrats to the Republicans. “Almost one in four of President Obama’s 2012 white working-class supporters defected from the Democrats in 2016.”

Trump was able to convince enough working-class Americans that he was the dealmaker who would work for the little guy and Make America Great Again.

“I am your voice,” said Trump, and the America voters believed him.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg specializing in Florida Politics, political parties and elections.

Darryl Paulson: On Neil Gorsuch; both parties should just grow up!

Until 1987, presidential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court were respectfully received and reviewed by the U.S. Senate. In 1986, Antonin Scalia, a judicial conservative and constitutional originalist, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a vacancy on the court.

He was confirmed 98 to 0 by the U.S. Senate.

The confirmation process imploded in 1987 when another Reagan nominee to the court, Robert Bork, was subject to such a vicious attack concerning his record and judicial temperament, that the word “borking” became part of the political lexicon. To be “borked” was to be the subject of a public character assassination.

Since the defeat of Judge Bork in 1987, the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominees has become bitter and brutal. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated the highly-qualified jurist Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy due to the death of Scalia. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings on the Garland nomination, arguing that it should be left to the next president.

Democrats were outraged by the treatment of Garland and are taking out their anger by attempting to defeat President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Democrats contend that Gorsuch’s views are out of the mainstream and accuse him of favoring corporations over workers. They also argue that he fails to fully defend the right to vote and favors the “powerful candidate interests over the rights of all Americans.”

Republicans respond by asking how, if Gorsuch’s views were so extreme, did he win confirmation on a 98 to 0 vote 10 years ago, when he was seated on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado. Would not some of those senators have opposed his extreme views when first nominated?

Not only that, but the American Bar Association (ABA) told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Judge Gorsuch received its “well qualified” rating, the highest rating available from the ABA. Nancy Scott Dogan of the ABA said, “We do not give the “well qualified” rating lightly.” So, why does the ABA see Judge Gorsuch in such a different light than Democrats in the Senate?

Republicans want to confirm Gorsuch for several reasons. With the death of Justice Scalia, Gorsuch would likely carry on his conservative views. For quite some time, the court has been divided between four conservatives, four liberals and the swing vote of Justice Kennedy.

The Republicans and Trump also need a political victory. The Republican failure to “repeal and replace” Obamacare was a deep political blow to the party and its president.

President Trump, who promised his supporters that they would “get tired of winning,” are beginning to wonder what happened to all those promised wins.

Democrats want to defeat Gorsuch as political payback for the treatment of Garland, and also to make amends for Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.

In addition, Democrats want a second major defeat of Trump after he failed to secure passage of the Republican health care plan. Democratic activists do not want their elective officials to give 1 inch to the Republicans.

In 2005, the “Gang of 14” senators from both parties reached an agreement to prevent an impasse over judicial nominations. The filibuster and 60 vote requirement would continue for Supreme Court nominees, but a simple majority would be needed for other nominations.

Since Republican outnumber Democrats 52 to 48 in the Senate, eight Democrats must support Gorsuch for him to be confirmed. So far, no Democrat has indicated support for Gorsuch. As a result, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to use the “nuclear option.”

The “nuclear option” would allow the Senate to approve a change in the filibuster rule to require a simple majority of the Senate, or 51 votes, to confirm a Supreme Court appointee. To change the filibuster rules only requires 51 votes.

If Democrats are successful in their filibuster against Gorsuch, it will be the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in over 50 years when the Senate rejected President Lyndon Johnson‘s selection of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice.

According to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a successful Democratic filibuster would mean “that qualifications no longer matter.” A candidate unanimously confirmed to the Court of Appeals a decade ago and one who has received the highest rating from the ABA is not suitable for the court.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of only three senators still left who brokered the “Gang of 14” deal, is keeping the door open to use the nuclear option. As a firm believer in the rules and traditions of the Senate, Collins argues that “it would be unfair if we cannot get a straight up-or-down vote on Judge Gorsuch.”

But then, it was only a year ago, that Obama and the Democrats were making the same argument on behalf of Merrick Garland.

If only one of the two parties could grow up!

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Do universities discriminate? Promoting ideological diversity, free speech in U.S. universities

In the previous three pieces, I have written about how university hiring policies have led to the virtual exclusion of conservatives on college faculties. We have seen how universities have wrapped students in a protective cocoon to prevent them from hearing speech that might be offensive with the use of speech codes, safe spaces, and micro-aggressions. Finally, we have seen how the academy has abandoned its mission of exposing students to diverse views and it some cases has actually encouraged students to shout down speakers with unpopular views.

Can anything be done to encourage universities to fulfill their mission of fostering diversity in all areas, including ideological diversity? This will not be easy, especially in the age of Trump. Liberal college campuses are more likely to dig in their heels and protect the academy from the evils of Trumpism. The situation will probably grow worse, not better in most campuses.

We need to foster ideological diversity for the same reasons we need racial and gender diversity. Universities should reflect the communities they represent, and this is clearly not the case today.

Former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell argued in a 1978 case that diversity was essential to a universities mission. The more diverse the faculty and student body, the more robust will be the exchange of ideas.

Yale University law professor Peter Schuck, in his book Diversity in America, contends that faculty have a “higher responsibility to our standards, ourselves and our disciplines that our preferences for ideological homogeneity and faculty-lounge echo chambers betray.”

Echoing that sentiment, John McGinnis of Northwestern Law School writes that “liberal ideas might well be strengthened and made more effective if liberals had to run a more conservative gauntlet among their own colleagues when developing them.”

The growing conservative attack on higher education by state legislators should come as no surprise. Decades of liberal orthodoxy have led conservative legislators to cut university funding and impose more programmatic controls. Why would any group provide financial support to another institution that constantly demeans conservative ideas and values and refuses to hire them on their faculty?

It is in the best interest of universities to improve ideological diversity for two primary reasons: it is the right thing to do, and the university will reap financial benefits.

Approaches to ideological Diversity

Some universities, including Harvard, Penn State, the University of Texas and others have adopted “conservative coming out days.” I am not sure if this means that faculty who have not come out as conservatives should declare their philosophy, or that universities should seek out conservative faculty through affirmative action. Most conservatives would reject an affirmative action approach.

Other universities are showcasing their commitment to ideological diversity by creating a specific faculty line for conservatives. The University of Colorado created an endowed chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.

One or two conservative hires hardly indicates a commitment to a diversified faculty. I am not sure that any faculty member wants to be viewed as the “conservative hire.” Will students and faculty come to his or her office to see what a conservative looks like?

Some conservatives have pushed for the adoption of the Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR) created by conservative activist David Horowitz and his Center for the Study of Popular Culture. The Bill of Rights contains eight provisions relating to faculty recruitment and hiring, free speech, research and campus speakers.

A number of state legislatures have adopted the Academic Bill of Rights over the opposition of the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers and several other groups. Critics argue that ABOR “infringes academic freedom in the very act of purporting to protect it.”

Money, or the lack of money, is the lifeblood of a university. Some conservatives have urged alumna should withhold financial support for their university until it supports ideological diversity.

Universities must end their policies of Groupthink which excludes conservative students and faculty from meaningful participation in university life. Speech codes and safe spaces must end, as well as the coddling of easily offended students. Safe places do not foster education, but create an unreal scenario of what students will face in the real world.

Too often, universities have smothered free speech rather than fostering it. When students demand safe places, they often mean I disagree with your ideas, so shut up!

Too often, universities have become home to Orwellian offices such as the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. That is fine for groups and ideas that have the universities seal of approval, but it often means the “not welcome” sign is posted for unpopular and undesirable groups.

The election of Donald Trump has led to a surge in the sale of George Orwell’s 1984. New print runs have occurred to keep up with the growing demand for the book. I would just remind readers that Orwell’s book was not directed at any specific individual or philosophy, but at authoritarianism in all of its forms.

The clash of ideas is the real mission of a university. How can the clash of ideas be heard if not all of the parties are allowed to express their views? How can universities promote diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation, but neglect ideological diversity?

Ideological diversity will benefit the university intellectually, as well as financially. We must end the ideological homogeneity that dominates higher education and put an end to what Orwell called “smelly little orthodoxies.”

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Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Do universities discriminate? The assault on conservative speakers at American universities

Free speech is an essential element for vibrant intellectual discourse and discovery at American universities. Part of that speech requires the students and faculty to be exposed to competing ideas. Too often, one side, the conservative side is missing in action not by choice, but by exclusion.

Since 2000, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has found over 300 cases where speakers were disinvited or shouted down on college campuses. The vast majority of these were conservatives.

Increasingly on university campuses, the prevailing view is that you are free to share your views as long as they do not offend or challenge existing orthodoxy. We do not want to give a platform to those who do not share our views on race, gender, ethnicity or political issues. In other words, the “not welcome” sign applies to conservative speakers, as well as those whose politics offends the sensibilities of students.

The list of rejected speakers is far too long to detail, but I will provide a listing of a small percentage of individuals who were deemed persona non grata at universities.

Christian LaGarde, head of the International Monetary Fund and one of the most influential persons in the world, was rejected by Smith College after students accused her of being connected to “global capitalism.” How could one of the leading women’s university’s reject LaGarde, one of the most powerful woman in the world. Being too close to capitalism overrode any gender sympathy. If only she had been a Marxist, or at least a socialist.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a leading academic as well as Bill Clinton‘s Secretary of State, was rejected by Scripps College because she was a “genocide enabler.”

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, was booed off the stage at Brown University primarily for being the police commissioner of New York City. Students and faculty protested his aggressive policing and racial and ethnic insensitivities.

Condoleeza Rice, one of the leading Soviet scholars in the world, former provost at Stanford University, the national security adviser to George W. Bush (2001-05) and Bush’s Secretary of State (2005-09), was deemed unfit to speak at Rutger’s after students attacked her role in the Iraq War.

Human rights advocate Ayana Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Muslim, has become a leading critic of female genital mutilation in Africa, as well as a critic of the oppression of women under Islam. The author of three best-selling books, Hirsi Ali was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential women in the world.

It would seem that students and faculty would welcome the opportunity to hear the views of Hirsi Ali. Not so. Brandeis rejected Hirsi Ali because of her association with the conservative American Enterprise Institute and her criticism of radical Islam.

The most recent conservative to be booed and assaulted by students was Charles Murray. No one denies that Murray’s views are controversial, but does that mean his views should not be heard. It does on college campuses.

Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in March 2017 by the schools American Enterprise Club, a conservative student organization. Murray was to discuss his latest book, The State of White America, 1960-2010.

Murray’s book explored the growing cultural gap between the white elite and the white middle-class, an issue of growing significance in light of the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump‘s victory.

When his appearance was announced, 450 Middlebury alumni protested his talk and criticized the university for giving him a platform. Better to remain in the darkness then open up anyone’s views to the light. Opponents argued their opposition had nothing to do with “free speech.” It seems to me it had everything to do with free speech.

Although most conservative speakers are automatically suspect on American campuses, Murray is hardly a provocateur. His views may be controversial, but they have stimulated intellectual debate for decades. Murray is a prolific writer and social critic and he currently is The Bradley Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Before facing the packed audience, Middlebury’s vice president for communication, opened the forum by telling students “You’re going to love this part.” He then proceeded to tell students about respecting Middlebury’s policy of respecting the rights of speakers.

University president Laurie Patton began her remarks by declaring: “Let me state the obvious. We are a left-leaning campus.” She then made it abundantly clear that no one should interpret her presence as an endorsement of Murray’s views. I wonder how many liberal speakers receive the same warm welcome.

As soon as Murray began to talk, the students turned their backs to him and then spent the next 20 minutes chanting slogans. No one asked the students to stop disrupting Murray or asked the students to leave as Middlebury policy requires.

After chanting such catchy slogans for 20 minutes, including “Who is the enemy. White Supremacy,” and “Your message is hatred. We cannot tol-er-ate it.” Never mind they had not heard one word from Murray because of their great intolerance.

The university announced that Murray and Middlebury professor Allison Stanger, who was selected to pose questions to Murray, would be taken to an undisclosed location where their discussion would be live-streamed.

On their way to the undisclosed facility, Murray and Stanger were assaulted by the mob. Stranger’s hair was pulled in one direction by a protester, as another protester pulled her in the opposite direction. Stanger was taken to a hospital and fitted with a neck brace.

Did Middlebury students feel remorse for their actions? Absolutely not. In fact, they blamed the university security personnel for the disruption and said that Stanger’s hair was “inadvertently caught” during the chaos. This is a little like children telling their parents, “It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t do it'”

The student newspaper was filled with comments justifying what transpired. To many of the students, some ideas are so illegitimate that they should not be heard. So much for free speech.

One student, Nic Valenti, wrote that allowing Murray’s views to be heard was “grossly disrespectful,” “a waste of time,” and an insult to “young people with their perceptiveness of realizing that this whole situation is f—ing bull—-.”

Universities have failed in their responsibility to allow alternative viewpoints to be heard. Murray never spoke to the hundreds of students, faculty and general community who attended his talk and hoped to be informed. Not a single student was disciplined, even though university policy stipulates it should be done.

The real loser in the Middlebury fiasco? Students, faculty, Middlebury College and, most importantly, free speech.

Look for Part 4 of “Do universities discriminate” Friday, March 24. The closing piece will focus on promoting ideological diversity and free speech on college campuses.

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Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

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