July 22, 2016

The New Yorker - The Libertarian's Secret Weapon 16min

Not long ago, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate, put a halt to his considerable consumption of marijuana. “The last time I indulged is about two months ago, with some edibles,” Johnson told me in late June, in the lobby of a midtown hotel. Johnson, who was the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, also ran for President in 2012, as a Libertarian, and received just under one per cent of the vote, but he believes this year could be different. At the end of May, William F. Weld, the former moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, became the Libertarian Party’s Vice-Presidential nominee, giving the Party its most mainstream ticket since its founding, in 1971. ... as governor, he earned plaudits from the right for being one of the more conservative governors. National Review praised him as the “New Mexico maverick” and as a “Reaganite antitax crusader,” who cut income-tax rates, slowed the growth of government, and eliminated the jobs of hundreds of state employees. During his two terms as governor, Johnson vetoed more than seven hundred bills passed by a Democratic legislature. ... There hasn’t been a serious challenge from a third-party Presidential candidate since 1992, when Ross Perot, the eccentric Texas billionaire, ran as an independent and bought hours of TV time to educate voters about the large federal budget deficit. Perot won entry into the Presidential debates and received nineteen per cent of the vote against Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Bush blamed Perot for his loss, though the best analyses of the race concluded that Perot had drawn equal numbers of voters from Bush and Clinton. ... “Third parties are like bees,” the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote, in 1955. “Once they have stung, they die.” Third parties come buzzing to life when they seize upon an issue that the two major parties have ignored. If they gain enough popular support—the sting—one or both parties will adapt to the electorate’s demands, and co-opt the third party’s ideas.

Politico - Inside the GOP’s Shadow Convention 14min

In interviews with more than 40 of the Republican Party’s leading strategists, lawmakers, fundraisers and donors, a common thread has emerged heading into the general election: Win or lose in November (and more expect to lose than not), they fear that Trump’s overheated and racialized rhetoric could irreparably poison the GOP brand among the fastest-growing demographic groups in America. ... And so, to an almost unprecedented extent, as the 50,000 Republican activists, officials and media pour into Cleveland this week, there is something of a convention within the convention. Many of these GOP titans—the intellectual and financial pillars of the party and its possible future elected leaders—are plotting a parallel course. ... In delegation breakfasts, private hotel suites and steakhouses across Cleveland—and farther afield for those, like Jeb Bush and his family, who are skipping the festivities—they are laying the foundations for the next political battles they believe can actually be won: first, to preserve the GOP majorities in the House and Senate this fall, then to save the Republican Party itself. ... Ryan and Trump disagree on fundamental, and traditionally core, GOP principles. Ryan favors free trade deals, has backed comprehensive immigration reform and wants to rein in entitlement programs. Trump is a trade protectionist, whose immigration policy centers on building a mammoth wall and a deportation force, and he wants no cutbacks to entitlements.

Wired - The Polls Are All Wrong. A Startup Called Civis Is Our Best Hope to Fix Them 15min

The US polling industry has been suffering a crisis of insight over the past decade or so; its methods have become increasingly bad at telling which way America is leaning. ... The classic pollster’s technique known as random digit dialing, in which firms robo-dial phone after phone, is failing, because an ever-dwindling number of people have landlines. ... whereas a survey in the 1970s or 1980s might have achieved a 70 percent response rate, by 2012 that number had fallen to 5.5 percent, and in 2016 it’s headed toward an infinitesimal 0.9 percent. And finally, the demographics of participants are narrowing: An elderly white woman is 21 times more likely to answer a phone poll than a young Hispanic male. So polling samples are often inherently misrepresentative. ... Today’s polling landscape appears so fraught that Gallup, long the industry leader, opted out of presidential horse-race polls this year; the reputational risk of being wrong was simply too high. Civis, on the other hand, promises a paradigm that could rescue American politics from confusion. ... Today, campaigns realize they have to look elsewhere for their intelligence, which has caused a major change in how the political industry functions. In the past, an entire campaign’s data and infrastructure would go poof after Election Day. Now Civis and similar firms are building institutional memory with permanent information store­houses that track America’s 220 million–odd voters across their adult lives, noting everything from magazine subscriptions and student loans to voting history, marital status, Facebook ID, and Twitter handle. Power and clients flow to the firms that can build and maintain the best databases of people’s behavior over time.

BuzzFeed - How The Haters And Losers Lost 25min

From political power brokers to the entire island of Manhattan, a varied cast of taunting insiders has inadvertently driven Donald Trump’s lifelong revenge march toward the White House. This is what it’s like to be one of them. ... Trump was referring to a profile I’d written two years earlier in which I chronicled a couple of days spent inside the billionaire’s bubble and confidently concluded that his long-stated presidential aspirations were a sham. He had tweeted about me frequently in the weeks following its publication — often at odd hours, sometimes multiple times a day — denouncing me as a “dishonest slob” and “true garbage with no credibility.” ... Trump’s performative character assassination led to plenty of teasing from friends and colleagues about how I had inadvertently goaded Trump into running. But as his campaign gained traction, the tone started to curdle into something more…hostile. Once, after discussing Trump’s latest outrage on cable news, the host grumbled to me, “Won’t it be great when Donald Trump becomes president because you wrote a f***ing BuzzFeed article daring him to run? I mean, won’t that be f***ing fantastic?” ... I had landed on a long and esteemed list of haters and losers — spanning decades, stretching from Wharton to Wall Street to the Oval Office — who have ridiculed him, rejected him, dismissed him, mocked him, sneered at him, humiliated him — and, now, propelled him all the way to the Republican presidential nomination, with just one hater left standing between him and the nuclear launch codes. ... In the fall of 2010, with the national tea party wave cresting, Trump decided it was time for a rebrand. His marketing instincts had been the driving force behind a lifetime of political promiscuity, including stints as a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, and a member of Ross Perot’s Reform Party. Though he wasn’t one to read Hayek or quote Jefferson, Trump could tell there was something about this new conservative movement that was resonating with his core fanbase, and he wanted in. For guidance, Trump turned to conservative super-activist and Citizens United president David Bossie. ... “Half of the story here is the dismissiveness that the political operative class had toward him.”

Washington Post - Two Clintons. 41 Years. $3 Billion. 18min

Over four decades of public life, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built an unrivaled global network of donors while pioneering fundraising techniques that have transformed modern politics ... The grand total raised for all of their political campaigns and their family’s charitable foundation reaches at least $3 billion ... The majority of the money — $2 billion — has gone to the Clinton Foundation, one of the world’s fastest-growing charities, which supports health, education and economic development initiatives around the globe. ... The Post investigation found that many top Clinton patrons supported them in multiple ways, helping finance their political causes, their legal needs, their philanthropy and their personal bank accounts. In some cases, companies connected to their donors hired the Clintons as paid speakers, helping them collect more than $150 million on the lecture circuit in the past 15 years.

GQ - The Yunited States of Yuge 20min

Many of the properties that bear Donald Trump's name are not owned by him. Many of the properties owned by Donald Trump were not erected by him. While he does sometimes conjure buildings out of the dirt, Don's more of a collector, a tweaker, a stamper-uponer ... Trump's reported history of property acquisition shows he regularly deploys a cunning tactic that, depending on your political stance, you might refer to as either “shrewd” or “technically legal.” Step one: Purchase some innocuous piece of territory at the edge of a real estate gem (a yard, for example). Step two: Use this as a tactical base from which to launch campaigns dissuading anyone who considers buying the actually desirable property. Step three: Wait for the price to plummet, then buy it for a fraction of the cost. ... as Mr. Trump's black Cadillac SUV inches closer to the White House, some of his fellow citizens find ourselves wondering: How might things run around here with this guy in charge? Why is his sales pitch so irresistible that we might be willing to let him take a shot at governing, using a nation of 323.8 million people as guinea pigs? ... To find out, I embarked on a far-reaching tour of Donald Trump's America—the parts of it he legally owns, plus one part of Donald Trump's America that is actually located in Ireland—to see if the way Donald Trump runs a boutique hotel could tell me anything about the way he might run a federal republic. ... Most have never met Trump. “The people he's hired to be my bosses, I respect,” says one, who cringes when footage of a Republican debate plays on a nearby TV. “It's the first time in my life I feel I'm not working with idiots.”