Trump, Law & Order, and Record High Incarceration

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Inmates gather in the gym at San Quentin Prison due to overcrowding (Eric Risberg/Center for American Progress)

Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions have done little to implement specific criminal justice policy, but their threats to undo Obama’s reforms are jarring. What we are seeing from the Trump administration is not surprising, many Republican presidents have a history of being tough on crime. President Nixon’s “war on drugs” agenda is most memorable, as he ordered for an outright war on drugs in inner-cities by implementing mandatory prison sentences and no-knock warrants, disproportionately effecting Black and Brown folks.

During Reagan’s presidency, his “tough on crime” rhetoric resulted in a sharp increase in prison population and incarceration rates. As a result, prison populations in the U.S. continue to increase at a rate faster than any other nation in the world.  However, Obama was the first president in 36 years to leave office with a lower federal prison population than when he started.

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Federal prison population (Pew Research Center/Vox)

During Obama’s presidency, he took executive action to pardon 1,324 inmates charged with nonviolent drug offenses and backed former Attorney General, Eric Holder, on his Smart on Crime Initiative, which placed pressure on federal prosecutors to stop charging low-level drug offenders. In 2010, he signed into law the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. This disparity explicitly targeted the Black community during the “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” eras.

Obama stressed the importance of looking at drug addiction through the lens of a health problem, not a criminal justice problem. He often explained the hypocrisy in locking up children and individuals for low-level drug offenses, while many lawmakers have used drugs before–admitting his trial use of marijuana and cocaine. All of this was to stop prison overcrowding and put an end to oppressive laws that disproportionately targeted people of color.

Using 2010 Census information, the Prison Policy Initiative calculated that Black folks are five times more likely to be incarcerated than White folks, and Hispanic folks are twice as likely than White folks. Additionally, Black citizens make up 13% of the U.S. population but 40% of the incarcerated population. Hispanics only make up 16% of the U.S. population but 19% of the incarcerated population. This equates to 2,306 Black citizens incarcerated per 100,000 and 831 Hispanic citizens incarcerated per 100,000 people. The statistics for the White population, however, are frighteningly lower. Making up 64% of the population, White folks make up 39% of the incarcerated population, equating to 450 White folks incarcerated per 100,000. From a Vox study on FBI data on racial disparities in police killings, it was found that racial minorities make up about 34% of the general population but account for 62% of unarmed victims killed by police.

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Racial disparities in police shootings (Alvin Chang/Vox)

The Trump administration disagrees with many of the criminal justice reform laws passed by the Obama administration. Even though crime is at an all-time low, Sessions has made it clear that he believes the criminal justice system should not go easy on low-level drug offenders, and openly criticizes Obama’s decrees issued in response to violent police activity. As a result, Sessions has created a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which aims to increase prosecution and police force against violent crimes. However, it is still unclear what exactly this task force will do, but more details will be released on July 27th.

One positive policy in Trump’s criminal justice agenda is his commission to study the opioid epidemic, which is headed by Governor Chris Christie, who is known for treating drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal justice issue. This newfound commission, when fully developed, has the possibility of helping those with severe addictions by providing them with rehabilitative services rather than issuing prison sentences. The only caveat is that this opioid epidemic is mainly affecting White communities. So, what does this commission task force mean to Black people?

D. Watkins–a prominent author and Professor at the University of Baltimore–came from a drug-laden neighborhood in East Baltimore. In a recent article published in Salon, Watkins remembers his early life as a drug dealer while addressing the current opioid epidemic in prominently White neighborhoods.

“White people and those in more privileged areas are starting to feel the same way. And even though I’d never wish that pain on anybody, I’m glad this problem is finally getting the attention it needs,” writes Watkins, while looking back on the crack cocaine epidemic and the Black communities that were destroyed. It is unfortunate that these problems are being addressed when the epidemic mainly affects White communities, but not when they effected Black communities.

Although this commission to end opioid addiction has yet to be fully developed, it is a start, at best. Unfortunately, Sessions does have the final say in all-things criminal justice related and he, historically, has a harsh stance against drugs. This is not to say Sessions does not believe in treatment programs, but he believes they come too late to solve the drug problem.

Time will only tell if these suggested programs will curb addictions, end prison overcrowding, and put a stop to racial disparities but, with Sessions in charge, the odds are not in our favor.  Fortunately, it is ultimately up to the states whether or not they choose to adopt federal criminal justice policies and, in the past, cities and states have supported initiatives to shorten prison sentences and favor prosecutors who are soft on crime. So, there may be hope after all.

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Can 1,000 Democratic candidates take back the House?

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The House of Representatives had 435 seats, and they’re all up for grabs in 2018. Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to retake the majority. And with 1,000 Democratic candidates running next year, it looks like they might actually be able to do it.

Democrats have not had a majority in the House since the GOP landslide of 2010, where Republicans capitalized on the anti-Obama sentiments of their base and the fact that liberal voters tend not to show up on off-years to pull off a net sweep of 63 seats. That left Democrats with only 193 of 435 seats. Today, they still only have 194, though some special elections this year like Georgia’s 6th could potentially give the party an edge before the 2018 onslaught.

Most of this energy is coming from grassroots activists, who have formed organizations like Brand New Congress to replace corporate incumbents in the House with progressive outsiders. So it is not just your typical elite who was primed for politics entering these races; it is just your average dedicated American. The campaigns too are driven by grassroots enthusiasm, with much of the money coming in through crowdfunding, as has been the case with Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana. With the DCCC and other national party organizations endlessly failing to invest in races the people care about, liberal activists have realized that if you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself.

According to VICE News, there has been an almost 60% increase from 2014 in the number of Democrats who have announced their candidacy at this point in the race. And this is just the beginning.

Incumbent Democrats and Republicans alike should be scared about next year. A new wave of enthusiastic citizens is coming, and it’ll be unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

La Marcha de Mayo: Immigrants Make America Great

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There’s a quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night that’s become quite relevant since the election: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” It’s always been fairly popular, most likely because there are many people who appreciate the idea that somewhere inside them lurks a person that just needs some greatness to find ’em.

Well, America, it’s 2017. If nothing else, it might be safe to say that we have found our greatness. Indeed, it could even be argued that it has been thrust upon us.

But greatness, like many things, can mean different things to different people. Some people choose to express it by posting ethnonationalist Pepe memes on Twitter. Ana Breton, on the other hand, is organizing La Marcha de Mayo, a 10,000 person strong march celebrating the lives and contributions of Latinx immigrants to the United States.

“I just felt this anger and needed to do something about it,” she said. “I couldn’t be sad. I had to do something.”

For Breton, who was born in Mexico City, Trump’s call for a border wall that would restrict migration into the United States was a tangible threat that would actively hurt her community. After attending the Women’s March on Washington, she started looking for immigration marches or rallies in New York City that she could join, but found none. For most people, this would have been the end of the story.

Ana, instead, collided with her moment of greatness.

“It was spontaneous,” she said. “Just: ‘I’m going to create a march for this!’”

Within three days, 10,000 people had RSVP’d on her Facebook event, each responding to the same urgency to take action. Breton, who works as a digital producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and has never organized before, had to google both “How to hold a March” and “How to hold a Rally.”

“I found out I needed to get a permit, but that’s actually quite easy to get,” she said. Harder is keeping track of the emails – she had to create a new account just for the march.

Immediately, offers of help came pouring in from all different types of people, almost none of them professional activists. Of the 30 main volunteers who meet on weekends to plan La Marcha, there are three high school teachers, a holistic coach, a makeup artist, and a mom and daughter team.

One of the volunteers, a graphic designer named Isabela Montalvo, contacted Breton after the election to say that she wanted to put her talents to good use for social justice causes. She’s since designed all the social media buttons and flyers for La Marcha, devoting services that Breton emphasized could have gone towards paying professionals-for-hire.

“The movement has been taken on by regular people,” Breton said. “The best thing that I was able to do was give someone a platform to do what they love.”

Greatness: small and banal, and all the more amazing for the simplicity of 30 people realizing that they could do something important, that they might have been the ones they were waiting for.

These volunteers have already managed to put together an art show that raised $4,000 towards the cost of the rally, and their efforts were eventually noticed by Mixteca, a nonprofit organization with prior experience holding marches and rallies. Mixteca became their sponsor, and any money not used at the march will be donated to Mixteca to help with their mission of empowering Mexican and Latin-American immigrants in New York City.

The march itself promises to look a little different from the ones we’ve so far seen on CNN – a celebration of the community rather than a true protest against the Trump administration. There will be music played by local bands along the route as well as an art show displaying the work of Latinx immigrants, which will hopefully mitigate the sometimes awkward patches of silence seen at past marches.

“We get to shape what we want this march to look like,” Breton said. “One thing we’re trying to do with the rally is to show off voices and give platforms to voices we haven’t heard before.”

And here’s where it gets even more interesting: when most of your team has never done something like this before, your rally doesn’t end up looking like any of the others. Unburdened by the cynicism and instincts born of years of experience, the volunteers at La Marcha just asked each other who was someone they really wanted to hear speak and invited them.

“There’s usually lots of politicians and celebrities [at rallies like this], and no offense to them, but we didn’t really want to do something like that,” Breton said. “Lot of people are scared and hiding because of how they’re perceived and we’re trying to bring out their voices.”

In this case, that means reflecting in their lineup that there isn’t one type of immigrant, or one type of Latinx-American. Groups highlighted include Afro-Latinx and Muslim-Latinx, amongst others.

“We’re trying to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible.”

In the months since Ana Breton first created the La Marcha de Mayo Facebook event, she’s found herself overwhelmingly emotional in a positive way.

“Anytime someone posts on the Facebook event I get emotional,” she said. “Nonstop happy crying.”

If Breton has a takeaway from her first experience with political activism, it’s that any person can start a movement. La Marcha de Mayo has gained so much traction over the past months that there are talks of turning it into an organization to help the anti-Trump Resistance movement and immigrants in New York City. For now, her only hope is that at least one person will show up on May 6th and learn about how immigrants make our country stronger.

In the days (and weeks and months) since the election, we’ve all seen what appears to be some of the greatest examples of public political engagement in the modern era. People, mobilized on the streets, gathered at airports and marching down streets in groups ranging from three to 300,000. People calling their representatives over and over again, attending town halls, deciding to run for office, each of them looking around and thinking: if not me, then who? If not now, then when? Millions of Americans, each experiencing the mantle of greatness being thrust upon them and assuming it with grace.

Because apparently, it really does take Donald Trump to Make America Great. He’ll even be able to see it on May 6th, if he isn’t too busy sharing those Pepe memes.

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Anti-LGBTQ executive order coming Thursday

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Chelsea Lauren / AP

On Thursday, May 2, the National Day of Prayer, Donald Trump is set to sign the anti-LGBTQ “religious liberty” executive order Christian conservatives have been begging for even since he took office.

The order will legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination on the basis of what conservatives call “sincerely held religious beliefs.” A draft of the order was leaked to The Nation less than two weeks into Trump’s illegitimate presidency, and was immediately met with terror and anger from the LGBTQ community. The Nation‘s Sarah Posner wrote of the “sweeping” order:

The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

[…]

Language in the draft document specifically protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

The order is modeled after similar “religious freedom” bills legalizing anti-LGBTQ discrimination, including the one pushed by Vice President Mike Pence during his time as Governor of Indiana. Pence has been one of the top Christian conservatives in the White House pushing for this executive order.

The leaked draft, which the White House claimed to be “one of hundreds circulating,” was criticized by legal scholars not just for its bigotry, but for its illegality.

“This executive order would appear to require agencies to provide extensive exemptions from a staggering number of federal laws—without regard to whether such laws substantially burden religious exercise,” Georgetown University Law Center professor Marty Lederman told The Nation. “The exemptions would raise serious First Amendment questions, as well, because they would go far beyond what the Supreme Court has identified as the limits of permissive religious accommodations.”

The Nation wrote that the order would likely violate both the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, just as a federal district court ruled last year that a similarly-worded Mississippi bill did.

The drafted order, in essence, was “religious freedom” legislation on steroids. It would allow any – yes, any – person or organization to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the United States without any interference whatsoever from the federal government. It went so far as to create a new group in the Department of Justice specifically to protect “religious freedom.” So if that provision is kept in the new order, Jeff Sessions’ already unjust Department of Justice will be tasked with enforcing discrimination across the country.

Apparently, however, following the legal critiques of the leaked draft, Pence and other Christian conservative policymakers have worked to reword the order so that it may pass muster in court. Nonetheless, its discriminatory intent cannot be erased, which is why the American Civil Liberties Union had already promised to fight the order in court. But even if a court rules against the order, as has been the case with several of Trump’s other executive orders, Trump and his colleagues could take it to the Supreme Court, where the ideological balance has been shifted right with Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch.

Regardless of what comes out of the executive order, this is yet another reminder of just how difficult the battle for LGBTQ and abortion rights will be under Trump and the GOP. With both Congress and the Oval Office against us, we must always be prepared to defend our humanity and our right to exist as ourselves.

Fake news isn’t the problem.

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Recently, The New York Times has sparked a fierce debate amongst journalists and readers by hiring rape apologist, climate change denier, racist, and Islamophobe Bret Stephens, supposedly in order to bring a conservative voice to the Times‘ (already right-leaning) op-ed page. The argument further exploded after the Times published Stephens’ first column, which was entirely dedicated to climate change denial. Stephens’ claims were immediately debunked by journalists and scientists alike, but that did not stop defenders of Stephens from claiming that critics were trying to insulate themselves in a “liberal bubble” and silence conservative voices.

I wrote earlier about how hiring conservative writers to create a supposed ideological diversity is not the diversity the overwhelmingly white, cisgender, heterosexual male New York Times needs, but now that the Times has been forced to justify publishing Stephens’ absurd first column, there is much more to dig into.

But let’s back up a bit. Why, exactly, did the Times feel the need to hire a man who denies the existence of climate change and the rape epidemic, attacks Muslims, Arabs, and black Americans, and calls hunger in America an “imaginary enem[y]”? It goes back to the media’s ridiculous post-mortem on the results of the 2016 presidential election.

Following Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory, the (white) liberal media had an existential crisis about how shocked it was at the results. (Reminder: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.) Rather than take responsibility for their undying, cynical obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails that not only sunk her popularity, but also massively overshadowed legitimate policy coverage, the media blamed its own (white) liberal bias and decided that it needed to diversify – not in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, status, or education, but in ideology. The media diagnosed its problem as liberal bias, meaning that it needed to balance itself out with more conservative voices. (Interestingly, despite propagating the myth that Trump’s Electoral College victory was rooted primarily in the “white working class” vote, the media has still declined to bring in poor voices, thus staying in its elite bubble.)

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This logic, one that refuses to actually take responsibility for the irresponsible coverage of Hillary Clinton’s emails, led to the Times bringing Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens onto its op-ed team. As The New Republic‘s Sarah Jones explained, this reasoning really makes no sense given the current ideological leanings of the Times‘ op-ed section:

It runs from the standard right-wing propaganda of Stephens, to the centrist bromides of David Brooks, to a moderate liberalism that cheers Trump’s bombs on Syria and boos student protesters at Middlebury, to the howling wasteland that is Thomas Friedman’s column, where he screams gibberish at a merciless sky. (His last contribution to public discourse was a blow-by-blow description of playing golf in Dubai with a yogi. Truly, we are blessed.) When she is not describing her intolerance for weed chocolate, Maureen Dowd is commending Donald Trump for being the true dove in the presidential race. Frank Bruni, meanwhile, does whatever it is that Frank Bruni does.

The op-ed page is unbearably white—spare a thought for Charles Blow—and predominantly male. There is space for Ross Douthat to casually wonder if there’s a case to be made for a bigot like Marine Le Pen, but none whatever for a bona fide socialist, even though America’s most popular politician is a democratic socialist. Stephens isn’t even a particularly cogent or striking conservative—he’s bog-standard neoconservative material. His hire can’t even be defended as an attempt to understand the populist insurgence upsetting the Republican Party.

But ultimately, this goes even deeper than the (white) liberal media’s post-election self-critique. There is a deep-seated belief in the media that the voices of “both sides” must always be heard if news is to truly be fair and balanced. While well-intentioned, this belief is absolute nonsense, especially in our current political climate. Simply put, not all opinions are equal, and sometimes one side is simply wrong and not worth giving a platform. Senior Deakin University philosophy lecturer Patrick Stokes covered this issue all the way back in 2012 in a Conversation piece:

The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Stokes used the example of the anti-vaxxer movement. In this case, one side is simply wrong. Vaccines do not cause childhood diseases. That’s a fact. But the media has felt the need to portray “both sides” of the story, forcing actual scientists to defend themselves against anti-vaccine activists whose entire cause is based on lies. By elevating both voices and acting as if anti-vaxxers need to be heard out, the media, whether intentionally or not, validates anti-vaxxers and implies that their “opinions” are just as important as actual facts.

But this is not limited to the vaccine debate. The “both sides” approach to news is applied to every topic, from transgender equality to police brutality to climate change, and so on, and so on. But in case after case, “both sides” are not equally valid, and the voice of one side is not worth elevating whatsoever.

“Both sides” are not equally valid when one believes that we should keep symbols of slavery while the other knows we should not. “Both sides” are not equally valid when one believes that transgender women are fake while the other knows that they are real. “Both sides” are not equally valid when one defends police brutality while the other condemns it. “Both sides” are not equally valid when one side denies scientific facts while the other accepts them. Both sides are not equally valid when the extremists of one side advocate for the extermination of the Jews, the deportation of black and brown immigrants, and the criminalization of queerness while extremists of the other side advocate for universal healthcare, the expansion of the social safety net, and democratic socialism. In all of these cases and many more, one side’s beliefs are rooted in ignorance and bigotry. When that’s the case, both sides do not deserve equal platforms.

While “both sides” journalism is always intellectually dishonest, it is outright dangerous when it comes to discussions of marginalized folks in the United States. Validating the opinions of anti-transgender bigots isn’t being “fair and balanced”; it’s dehumanizing and demeaning trans folks and elevating rhetoric that leads to anti-trans violence. When 11 trans people have already been murdered in the United States in 2017, the stakes are quite high. The media should not be allowing the perpetuation of bigoted myths – such as the ones that trans women are sexual predators or that Black Lives Matter is inherently anti-police – by giving a platform to bigots. By uncritically giving a platform to bigots and forcing marginalized folks to debate their oppressors on live television, or in a Heineken ad, as if marginalized identities and bigotry are equally valid, the supposedly “liberal” media is actively participating in the oppression of marginalized folks.

That isn’t to say that bigots can’t have their bigoted beliefs. They can think and say whatever they want. But it is by no means the responsibility of the media to give a megaphone to those voices. Rather, the media should give a voice to the marginalized folks it has excluded for all of American history. That’s not censorship. It’s simply choosing to do the right thing. Bigots can still say whatever they want, just not on your platform. And if it means creating a “liberal bubble,” then so be it. However, I’d like to hope that respecting, accepting, and embracing marginalized identities is a universal value, not just a liberal one.

This also isn’t to say that the left is perfect and the right is downright evil. Modern American politics are much more complex than a simple liberal-conservative spectrum, especially in our post-election political society. Liberal transphobia and racism are alive and well in 2017, and the Democratic Party is a hot mess regarding its approach to abortion rights. But as The New Republic‘s Brian Beutler wrote following polling results about Trump’s Syria attack:

Negative partisanship—the observable effect that antipathy to the other party has on public opinion—seems, like everything else in U.S. politics, to be asymmetric between the parties. Republicans are the key drivers of it.

[…]

Reflexive even-handedness the analytical foundation of countless news stories, and nearly all punditry, but it wasn’t derived from dispassionate observation of political reality. Rather, it was contrived to burnish the mainstream media claim to political neutrality, and the neutrality of parent companies. But its effect was to leave implacable conservative critics of mainstream culture totally dissatisfied, and has failed every other consumer in the market for accurate, unskewed news and on-the-level commentary. It should have been put to rest long ago, and can’t die soon enough.

This brings us back to Bret Stephens, and why a venerable publication like the Times, which post-election proudly touted itself as a purveyor of truth in a vast sea of fake news, would hire a man who so blatantly rejects reality in order to justify his conservative views.

The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple reached out to the Times for an interview about Stephens’ first column. Times editor James Bennet declined, but gave Wemple this response:

Wemple wrote in his analysis of the response:

In anticipation of future clashes with social media, Bennet would be well-advised to keep that statement in his top drawer, or perhaps a Microsoft Word file. Because it deserves the title “Editorial Page Editor’s Boilerplate Kumbaya Response to Public Outrage.” It could apply to a controversial op-ed on abortion, on gun control, on climate change, on a criminal-justice report, whatever. That’s because it doesn’t grapple with any of the substantive issues raised about the column itself.

When it comes down to it, there’s no real justification for publishing Stephens’ column. If news outlets are going to share falsehoods, it should only be in the context of debunking them. Letting a column like Stephens’ stand on its own, unchallenged, was a mistake, and a mistake it seems that the Times is eager to repeat.

In the first three months after the election, the Times gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers through its “truth” campaign, more than it added in all of 2015. “The truth is more important now than ever,” the Times proudly proclaimed.

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Unfortunately, it’s clear that the Times‘ dedication to “truth” has been overridden by the the mainstream media’s overwhelming obsession with representing “both sides.” The Times and other respected news outlets have loudly touted themselves as the cure for the epidemic of “fake news.” But “real news” cannot be the solution when it so fervently feels the need to prop up bigotry and lies. It looks like “real news” is the real “fake news” in Trump’s America.

Democrat hoping to replace Chaffetz raises over $600,000

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Democrat Kathryn Allen has already raised over half a million dollars for her campaign to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd congressional district.

Allen created a Crowdpac for a potential 2018 campaign on February 11 of this year, but her campaign didn’t gain momentum until March 7, when Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz – best known for his obsession with persecuting Hillary Clinton – said regarding the GOP’s then-ongoing first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare: “Maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care.”

Allen, a family physician, immediately contrasted Chaffetz’s words with her experience and compassion. “More medically trained people are needed in government,” read her fundraising page. “Congress is ailing and we have a prescription.”

Within just a day of Chaffetz’s insulting remark, Allen raised $40,000, a record for a Crowdpac campaign. At the time, her goal was $50,000. She promptly raised it to $75,000. The following day, her total was over $200,000 from over 5,000 individual donors.

By April 19, the day Chaffetz announced that he would not be running for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2018, Allen had raised over half a million dollars.

Allen was prompted to run by both Chaffetz’s awful performance in the House as well as Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory. She told USA Today: “I became very angry and interested in what I could do about it.”

The 63-year-old political outsider identifies as a progressive, but is running on a populist platform that uses nonpartisan language to appeal to all voters. This is incredibly important given that Chaffetz’s seat has not been won by a Democrat since 1994 and Donald Trump won the district with a 47% plurality to Hillary Clinton’s 23%.

“Coalitions of citizens are important for effecting change,” she writes in the 24-point principles section of her fundraising page. “It is my hope to bring together moderate democrats, moderate republicans, liberals, and concerned citizens of all stripes to fight against an administration which has threatened freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.”

Her platform includes many popular bipartisan policies such as campaign finance reform, an end to gerrymandering, equal pay for equal work, healthcare as a right, and cuts to regulations that “hamper innovation and morale.” She even frames her progressive policies in in human rather than partisan terms, writing: “Empathy and respect should guide our interactions, even with those with whom we disagree.”

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the DCCC and other national Democratic organizations will contribute to Allen’s campaign, as they tend to focus on what they consider swing districts rather than traditionally red districts, as demonstrated by their lack of interest in Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Rob Quist in Montana. As with those two campaigns, Allen will have to depend on grassroots activism if she wants to flip Utah’s 3rd congressional district blue.

Donate to Kathryn Allen’s Crowdpac here!

Joe Biden still considering 2020 run

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Joe Biden speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

By Election Day 2020, Joe Biden will be 78 years old. But age isn’t stopping Biden from considering a run in the next presidential election.

According to POLITICO, Biden and his staff are already planning out the next three years, should the former vice president and Delaware senator decide to run again. Should he go for it, it will be Biden’s sixth time either running or considering running for the Democratic nomination.

Biden’s previous attempts have been wildly unsuccessful. He ended up dropping out of the 1988 race before the primaries due to several controversies, while he dropped out of the 2008 primary race after the very first contest, where he received only 1% of the vote.

Though he said that his 2008 presidential run would be his last, Biden seriously considered running in 2016. Despite the creation of a “Draft Biden PAC,” the then-vice president declined, stating that he needed to focus on family in light of the tragic death of his son Beau in 2015. However, he later told NBC Connecticut’s Keisha Grant that he regrets not running “every day,” though the decision was ultimately right for his family.

Since leaving Washington alongside his best bud Barack Obama, Biden has spoken at numerous colleges and political events. “He wants to have a voice,” a Biden adviser told POLITICO. “The more stuff he does like this, the more people hear his voice.”

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Joe Biden on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. (Dominick Reuter / AFP)

Biden believes that he has an answer to the question of what the Democratic Party should be in the Trump era. Though many commentators, strategists, and party leaders claim that Democrats need to abandon “identity politics” in favor of appeals to the “white working class” that supposedly delivered Trump his Electoral College victory, Biden has a vision for America that includes both the middle class and civil rights. This kind of populist message, one resembling Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, is what the Democratic Party truly needs right now. It is especially important in retrospect of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Biden, along with commentators from across the political spectrum, criticized Clinton for weak messaging rooted in her confusion as to why she was running in the first place. “I don’t think she ever really figured it out,” Biden told the Los Angeles Times. “She thought she had no choice but to run. That, as the first woman who had an opportunity to win the presidency, I think it was a real burden on her.”

Should Biden win the 2020 race, he will be the oldest candidate to be elected to the Oval Office. Ronald Reagan currently holds that mantle, being 73 years of age at the time of his 1984 landslide victory.

But does Biden actually stand a chance in the 2020 election? At the moment, it’s unclear. Early polling suggests that he would be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, with incredibly high approval ratings among Democratic voters. However, the same Public Policy Polling survey shows that only 8% of Democratic voters want a candidate in their 70s.

With a presidency as scattershot as Donald Trump’s, it’s impossible to know what the political landscape will be like in three years. But if Democratic leadership still aims to snatch up the vote of the “white working class” as well as mobilize minority voters who stayed home in 2016, Joe Biden certainly has a lot to offer.