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It would be pretty surprising if Brexit led to Irish reunification. But given the retreat of the church there and the increasing liberality of the Irish Republic, and Northern Ireland’s desire to remain within Europe, it seems at least conceivable in a way it hasn’t ever been before. You never know.

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Continuing with the below-the-presidential race theme, because sometimes you just need to not consider Donald Trump for a while, we recently saw some career-worst poll numbers for SCOTUS obstructor-in-chief Chuck Grassley. Doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to lose this time, as the article argues. But you don’t want to acquire the reputation of an obstinate partisan (let alone the most obstinate partisan) during a presidential election year in a blue state. This particular reach goal is getting increasingly within reach, as I’ve long thought it might be.

I try not to be unrealistically optimistic, but if Chuck Grassley comes anywhere close to losing this year, do you really think that less formidable 2010-wavers like Rob Portman and Pat Toomey can hang on?

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Interesting. A few months ago the idea of Rubio losing a Florida Republican Senate primary would have seemed ridiculous, but he proved himself to be such a paper tiger running for president that it doesn’t hardly seem crazy at all. I still tend to doubt it will happen, but given that he’s sunk far beneath even my own low opinion of the man by pretending that the Orlando shooting was anything to him other than a convenient pivot point to get into the race he swore he wouldn’t enter, I’ll be rooting for it.

 

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I find myself without much of a strong opinion on the issues. If I lived in the UK I figure I would vote Remain, but sometimes I read American writers with really strong opinions and I just don’t see the urgency for us. In or out, life is pretty much going to go on for us as normal for us. What really strikes me is just how uninspiring the British political classes are–my distaste for David Cameron and George Osborne was I thought pretty strong, though Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have easily surpassed it. At this point the Leave people seem to simply be throwing out the names of countries (with the implication that they’d eventually join the EU and add to dreaded immigration totals), even though Turkey is unlikely to ever be a member of the EU and the math just doesn’t work out for a new peasant underclass of Albanians to swamp Britain (the former has about 1/20 the population of the latter, and not all of those are going to leave home, and of those not all are going to go to Britain, etc.). Whatever. Remain probably will win, but not by enough to settle the issue forever.

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How did Trump win the primaries? I’ve been working on a theory that he essentially did to the Republican Party what they’ve been doing to American society for the past two generations: divided and conquered it with polarization. He split off the Bush people, turned their latest office contestant into a despised joke and let Jeb! die off quietly. (The irony of the father’s tolerance of racebaiting (via Ailes and Atwater) creating a new GOP in which the son could not find purchase is both rich and satisfying, as is his being alive to see it.) Then Trump split the religious right into Trump and Cruz camps and turned Cruz into a pariah among many of the voters he needed, undermining Cruz’s integrity by calling out his aggressive tactics, making a mockery of any claim to moral leadership. He outsourced the work of taking down Rubio to Chris Christie, and then added Christie to his team. He basically ignored Kasich, which was the smart move there. So he won with 38%, likely the absolute maximum he could have gotten, but it was perfectly orchestrated so as to be enough. Karl Rove would toast him if he weren’t too busy crying into his beer.

Which is what makes this so comical. The notion that Democrats are “choosing” Muslims over LGBT people by, I guess, not supporting Trump’s immigration policies is a perfect example of why Trump’s skill set worked so brilliantly in the primaries but does not scale up to the general election. A wedge issue is only successful if the larger group actually supports it, and the Muslim ban does not do well outside of Republican primary voters. Seems obvious to me that Trump’s already used up his ammunition on Hillary and it did nothing, while the Democrats have just begun to hit Trump.

Given how poorly it’s going for Trump, you have to figure the odds of a convention coup are rising, but that cure would probably be worse than the disease. The only way it ends less than catastrophically for them is if Trump takes himself out of the race, and the likelihood of that depends on how much of a team player you think Trump to be.

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POLLYANNA-2As I showered this morning, I came up with another bit of perhaps overly Pollyanna-ish logic.  Considering that Trump is, in all likelihood, according to several respected commentators, going to be an epic catastrophe in a general election fight, Democrats on the downballot are going to have an even better chance of taking over the Senate, and, please jeebus, the House, and certainly some state-level offices.

Before I come up with my ultimate point, let’s bear a few things in mind:

  1. The economy is much improved from 2008 so the panic surrounding people’s lives collapsing is less omnipresent.
  2. Bernie has (a) stirred up a huge amount of energy for truly liberal ideas, (b) somehow taken at least some of the sting out of the term socialist, and (c) brought more attention to the perils of income inequality and our rigged system.
  3. Hillary has demonstrably shifted left on some issues in response to the Bernie phenomenon.  (Let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s all for show.)
  4. The last eight years have seen a complete decimation of New Democrats in Congress, wiping out many in the squishy centrist center, and especially a good number of Chickenhawk-Lites.
  5. Republicans have gone so completely insane that drawing a contrast with Democratic candidates is going to be easier than ever before (even if some of them might not be as progressive as we’d like).  (A timeless John Cole quote on Congressional “bipartisanship” is apt: “Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax.”  Hard to split the difference on that one.)

With all that in mind, I think we’ll be in very good shape if we take the Senate and/or House in November.  The last time we had all of Congress and the Presidency, it was a pretty mixed bag, in large part because of the aforementioned New Democrats and Chickenhawk-lites.  Way too many people were out there prostrating themselves at the grimy feet of Joe Lieberman.  Couple that with the hard lessons learned by many Democrats through the long days of Republican obstruction control of Congress, which has led to absolute and long-standing gridlock, and the realization that working with Republicans is mostly a fool’s game, it’s not crazy to think that we might get some real progressive reform out of a government led entirely by Democrats.  Moreover, throw in the Supreme Court, and I get a bit giddy.  What do you think?

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