Want to Stop Extremists from Becoming President?
Try Primary Runoffs.
Recently in The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Kevin McCarthy’s Deplorable House
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JOE PERTICONE: Does the Right Want an Iraq War in Mexico?
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CHARLES S. BULLOCK III AND LOCH K. JOHNSON: Want to Stop Extremists from Becoming President? Try Primary Runoffs.
Donald Trump was the first president to come to office with no prior experience in government or the military. He had never served as a state governor or lawmaker, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, as vice president, or as a decorated military leader—the training grounds for previous presidents. A central reason why Trump was able to bypass these political apprenticeships, which provide valuable experience in learning how to govern in complex settings, was the lack of runoffs in presidential primaries. The method of primary voting used in the United States allowed him to capture the GOP nomination with only a plurality of the vote—even though a majority of GOP primary voters supported other candidates.
Prior to the introduction of nomination primaries by the Progressive movement in the early 1900s, political bosses typically handpicked their favorite candidates—often toadies—in now-legendary smoke-filled (and bourbon-scented) back rooms at party headquarters. This approach changed dramatically with the use of primaries as a way of opening up leadership selection to rank-and-file voters.
MONA CHAREN: Old News: The Elderly President Is Running.
In late 2019, Politico asked a high-ranking Biden aide about the candidate’s age. “If Biden is elected,” the anonymous advisor said, “he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection.” The following month, another aide told Vanity Fair that Biden had signaled to advisors that he would “quietly indicate that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise.”
That was then. Though Biden never did forswear a second term, thus avoiding Teddy Roosevelt’s 1904 mistake which made him an instant lame duck, it was widely assumed at the start of this term that he would be a “transitional” president. No longer. Today, all of the signs are pointing toward another run.
Eliot and Eric welcome retired Australian Major General Mick Ryan, author of The Future of Warfare, the Futura Doctrina newsletter, and former head of the Australian War College. They discuss the ongoing fighting around Bakhmut, the prospects for both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries respectively in the weeks and months ahead, and how this conflict might end.
The biggest threat of extremist violence right now is coming from the right wing. But 100 years ago, it came from the left. What history can teach us about how America can survive this new phase of domestic terror. The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance joins Charlie Sykes today.
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With new announcements of military aid to Ukraine from various countries coming almost every day, and with the United States and most of its allies signaling a readiness to stand with Ukraine until full victory in its war with Russia, there have also been voices from the left, right, and center warning about the dangers of groupthink and of silencing or ignoring dissent. Emma Ashford, a Foreign Policy columnist and Stimson Center fellow, issued such a warning on Twitter at the war’s first anniversary.
Debate and the free exchange of opinions on a policy as important as backing another country in a war—a war with a nuclear power, a war we might get drawn into more directly—is essential. Yes, when emotions run high, it is very easy for legitimate questions to receive less regard than they deserve. And yes, a war of aggression in the heart of Europe of a kind not seen since World War II (the wars in the former Yugoslavia and in Chechnya were not, technically, foreign wars) is going to unleash that kind of emotion.
March Madness. One of the things I love about my alma mater’s inexplicable choice to join the Atlantic 10 is that three of our opponents are a short drive from my house. I’m a big fan of Billiken basketball. What’s a Billiken, you ask? I’ve got you covered.
Unfortunately, one of those opponents, George Mason, is my wife’s alma mater. So, flying the flag while she’s at work is probably not a welcome sight, given that we blew them out of the water today. So, as long as the Billikens are in it, expect some basketball content. When it’s bracket time, I hope to do an Overtime bracket! In the meantime, I’m firing up my Billiken Pep Band playlist from the early aughts.
Everything is a Remix… The final video in the series, one of my favorites, covering AI image generation.
The battle of Jericho… A touching podcast about Will Wright’s brave son Jericho, and how he’s battled Gastroparesis to a brain tumor. Listen and donate if you can.
An Evangelical, censured… David French on former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis and her censure: “It will be interesting to see whether she faces any kind of consequences within right-wing Evangelical circles. I'm dubious, but perhaps I'll be surprised.”
Appeals court upholds new gun purchase age… After the Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas shooting, Florida raised the age to buy a rifle to age 21. Pro-gun orgs fought to overturn it and lost. To the high court we go!
Gannett and local news destruction… The scale is breathtaking.
Ukraine Friends… Donated 22 ambulances from the U.S., and in Latvia, they’re donating the cars they confiscate from drunk drivers.
The office guy… Who shocked the tennis world.
Amazon pauses D.C. megapolis… HQ2 is on pause.
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