I am not one for hyperbole, but the 2020 Presidential election is extremely important. In addition to many local- and state-level races, the election will determine who will control Congress for the next two years, and who will occupy the White House for the next four years.
Heading into such consequential elections, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) would be a helpful tool in making sure that candidates for the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, Presidency, and Vice Presidency were not running afoul of federal campaign finance law.
There’s one problem though—the FEC is not in a position to enforce federal campaign finance law heading into this. Why? Because the FEC needs at least four commissioners (out of six that could be in place) in order to enforce federal campaign finance law, and right now, the FEC is at…three commissioners. It was an issue noted the previous time the FEC lacked a quorum (which was just mere months ago), and it’s an issue again.
The reality is that this situation has been in the making for quite a while now. Back in 2018, one of the commissioners at the time, Lee Goodman, resigned and the FEC went down from five to four commissioners—the bare minimum needed for quorum. What this meant was that if one additional person resigned, retired, died, or was otherwise not present for an FEC meeting, the commission would lose the power to enforce campaign finance law. Therefore, when another of the commissioners, Matthew Petersen, resigned in August 2019, the FEC was left with only three commissioners, which was short of the quorum of four they needed to make any substantive decisions. Only when Republican Trey Trainor was confirmed did the FEC regain its ability to enforce campaign finance law, but it once again lost that ability when another of the commissioners, Caroline Hunter, resigned.
While we wait for there to be a quorum with our election commission, I can’t help but think that heading into this election year, we actually do have a major election integrity issue. But, the issue is not with fraud resulting from absentee voting—it’s with the lack of enforcement of campaign finance law because of an election commission that is not functioning properly. Unless this issue gets resolved, I worry that 2020 will be a bit of a “wild west” in terms of adherence (or lack thereof) to campaign finance laws.
Those of you who’ve been on my blog during the last week or so will know that I’m doing a mini-series on what it was like to have current candidate for president Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City. I explained in Part One why his record as mayor is relevant, and I explained in Part Two the multitude of problems he had with his treatment of others. Today is the third and final part of my mini-series, which will go into his record on some other issues, as well as where we should go from here with the Bloomberg candidacy.
One of the most important issues this campaign is that of trying to “save our democracy.” And rightfully so, because there is a genuine fear among many that President Trump is dangerous to American democracy. However, if Mayor Bloomberg’s record tells us anything, it’s that he would also be a danger to American democracy. New York City voted not once, but twice, to have term limits for people holding elected office in New York City government (mayor, comptroller, public advocate, council members). Yet, Bloomberg, with the help of the city council at the time, overturned the voice of the people, and changed the limit from two terms to three (it was changed back to two terms…after Bloomberg won a third term). People fear that President Trump would try to overturn the election if he loses, or ruin our democracy further if he wins—those are understandable fears because he has been, for example, not always indicated a willingness to concede an election to a winning candidate, even if it is clear he loses the election. However, Bloomberg, with the help of the New York City Council, managed to do something that not even President Trump has managed to do (yet): actually overturn an election (Bloomberg overturned two, after all). If he becomes President of the United States, let’s hope he leaves his ability to overturn elections in New York City, and not bring that ability to Washington, DC.
He gets praise for his stance on the environment. And, in theory, I agree with him on the fact that the environmental crisis should be treated with urgency. However, I find that praise hollow when he drastically cut funding from public transit while he was mayor, even though use of public transit instead of the car does a world of good for the environment. It’s also hollow when his own environmental practices were subpar, such as having an entourage of SUVs that often idled (mostly to keep on the air conditioning unit on in the SUVs so that he could stay cool during the summer)—he apologized for the idling, but not for the use of the SUVs in the first place (or even an explanation of why those environmentally-unfriendly gas guzzlers were necessary for his team), to my knowledge.
Bloomberg also tries to cultivate an image for himself as being just on health care. Yet, his record on health care in New York City was anything but. Noteworthy was the number of community hospitals that, under his tenure, were forced to close. The New York Times editorial board accused Mayor Bloomberg of having long ago “checked out” on this issue, and a then-mayoral candidate by the name of Bill de Blasio got arrested for protesting the proposed closure of one of the hospitals. Bloomberg also vetoed a proposed law that would have required many city businesses to provide paid sick leave, so if he got his way (he didn’t, ultimately), then tough luck to those working for businesses that didn’t provide the paid sick leave—you’d better work through your flu with a fever of over 102 degrees, even though that would, of course, endanger yourself and others.
Economically, the wealthy became even wealthier. There’s no doubt about that. But if you weren’t wealthy? Not so much. While he thought that taxes on the wealthy were a dumb idea, he thought it was preferable to shoulder the burden of “fiscal responsibility” on unions by letting the contracts of every single one of New York City’s 153 unions expire—unions where many of the members are in the middle and working class. The most painful example of economic inequality under Bloomberg’s watch, however, was that was the increase in homelessness that happened while he was mayor—an increase that continues to this day. While I acknowledge that there may be certain factors with such trends that may not have been in his control (such as policies at the state or federal level), this is a fact worth reflecting on. Given that economic inequality is such a major issue of this era, it’s puzzling that the Democrats would even consider nominating someone for President of the United States who oversaw economic inequality become substantially worse when he was mayor of his own city.
The bottom line is that, when doing a thorough examination of his record as mayor, his record was overwhelmingly an ugly one on social justice issues. Even more alarming is the fact that many of these social justice issues he was poor on are issues that are relevant today, for whoever is President of the United States—issues such as racism, sexism, economic inequality, and protecting our democracy. As to whether you think Bloomberg is still better than the other candidates in spite of all the baggage I’ve presented, that’s for you to decide. Just make sure you vote whenever you have the opportunity.
This calendar year, we already know what one of the biggest stories will be: the elections for President of the United States. The first part of the year will focus on the Democratic Party primaries and caucuses, while much of the second half of the year will have campaigning for the election in November between the Democratic nominee and President Donald Trump.
For all my readers who live in the United States (which is most of my readers), I ask that you keep in mind issues such as economic justice, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues, environmentalism, immigration, and more, as you consider which candidate to support. In other words, I hope my readers keep in mind the sorts of issues that I try to talk about here on a weekly basis.
Too often, these issues, and other issues relevant to those on the margins in American society, are not taken into consideration as much as they should be. The good news, however, is that every voting American has the power to change that in 2020.
For those of my readers who are in the United States, please
remember to vote tomorrow.
While much attention may be focused on the election for
President that is about one year from now, the smaller elections are important
as well. Elections for local and state offices, as well as referendums on your
ballot, can have a major impact on whether certain injustices are addressed or
So, while the excitement may not be there for the elections
in 2019 quite like there will be for the elections in 2020, I encourage all of my
American readers to vote. As for all of my non-American readers, I hope that
you will also vote when/if you have elections.
When my brother and I went through the educational system,
we were taught that the big fight for African American civil rights was in the
1950s and 1960s…and then there was nothing on that fight after then.
That is somewhat understandable, because several of the most
significant court decisions and pieces of legislation on African American civil
rights in the history of the United States happened/passed in the 1950s and
However, the fight for African American civil rights is far
from over, and in fact, in a number of ways, the United States has seemingly
gone backward on African American
There is clearly a disconnect going on here, between what
some people believe and what the reality is.
Below are three of the common
beliefs about African American civil rights that are incorrect. Those incorrect
beliefs are in bold and the answers
to those incorrect beliefs are in regular text:
We have gone forward on voting rights in recent decades. Actually, the United States has gone backward on voting rights for African Americans. Several years ago, the United States Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since then, many hundreds of voting sites have closed down, an overwhelming majority of them being in African American communities. Additionally, Voter ID laws have come into play in numerous states; these ID laws have disproportionately affected people of color. If you think that voting rights for African Americans are going forward, think again.
School segregation is in the past. It’s over. To the contrary, racial integration in schools has also gone backward. This Atlantic article goes into great detail about school segregation in the United States. But the TL; DR (short for too long; didn’t read) version is that school segregation is actually getting worse, and there seems to be relatively little political will to sufficiently address that fact. And that’s not just a problem in the American South—there was a whole feature story, also in The Atlantic, about how the new chancellor of the New York City schools has made desegregation of schools a major priority because segregation has become a problem in New York. The consequence is schools that are separate…and unequal.
White people and people of color are treated equally under the law. That’s not true either; the criminal justice system still shows racial disparities. A study in 2017 showed that black men get 19.1% longer sentences than white men on average…for the same crimes! Innocent African Americans are much more likely to be wrongfully convicted than innocent people of other races—50% more likely for murder, 3 ½ times more likely for sexual assault, and a staggering 12 times more likely for drug crimes. The disparities may not come as a surprise for many, but the magnitude of the disparities may catch some off-guard—while also demonstrating that the United States has a long way to go on criminal justice issues.
Some people may yet argue that the fight for African
American civil rights is over, and that anyone who believes otherwise is
somehow holding on to misplaced bitterness. However, during this Black History
Month, I argue that actually, it’s far from over. To the contrary, we’re going
backward, whether people realize it or not.
Note that this list is not comprehensive. In order to keep this post relatively
short, I narrowed it down to three key areas where the fight for African
American civil rights is clearly not over.