Media Blast Ted Cruz’s “Dishonesty” And “Hypocrisy” Over Previous Immigration Positions

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Media criticized GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for claiming he never supported legalizing undocumented immigrants by pointing to his documented support of legalization in 2013.

Ted Cruz Distorted His Immigration Reform Record At The GOP Debate

Ted Cruz Claimed He “Never Supported Legalization” Of Undocumented ImmigrantsDuring the December 15 GOP presidential debate Ted Cruz claimed that he “led the fight against [Sen. Marco Rubio’s] legalization and amnesty” immigration reform bill in 2013. After Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Cruz “support[s] legalizing people who are in this country illegally,” Cruz responded that “it is not accurate what [Rubio] just said” and that he “never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization”:

[MARCO] RUBIO: As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards. So I think what’s important for us to understand and there is a way forward on this issue that we can bring our country together on. And while I’m president I will do it. And it will begin by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving to the American people.

[DANA] BASH [(DEBATE MODERATOR)]: Senator Cruz?

[TED] CRUZ: Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting “the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.” He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said,” he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.”

[…]

RUBIO: Did Ted Cruz fight to support legalizing people that are in this country illegally?

CRUZ: He campaigned promising to lead the fight against amnesty.

[…]

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ; I have never supported a legalization…

RUBIO: Would you rule it out?

CRUZ : I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law …. [TIME12/15/15]

But In 2013, Cruz Supported Legalization Of Undocumented Immigrants And “Want[ed] Immigration Reform To Pass.” In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 21, 2013, Cruz sponsored an amendment to the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have “allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States permanently and obtain legal status.” At the hearing, Cruz urged his colleagues to support his amendment, which he said “allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows.” He further said, “I don’t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass.” [Yahoo News, 12/16/15, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 5/21/13]

Media Criticize Cruz For Lying At The Debate About His Previous Support For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yahoo News: “Cruz Has Changed His Story” And “Misrepresented His Own Intentions.” Yahoo News senior political correspondent Jon Ward blasted Ted Cruz for his “dishonesty on immigration,” writing that “it is very hard to square” his support for legalizing undocumented immigrants in 2013 “with [his] claim [at the debate] that he ‘never supported legalization.'” Ward noted that in addition to reversing his position, “Cruz is also claiming that he was not truthful at the time about what he was up to,” which, if true, would mean he “blatantly misrepresented his own intentions at the time on at least four occasions”:

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won plaudits in Tuesday night’s debate for his takedown of Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., immigration reform effort in 2013.

Yet if Cruz’s explanation of why he proposed an amendment to the 2013 legislation is true, then he blatantly misrepresented his own intentions at the time on at least four occasions.

Cruz denied on Tuesday that he has ever supported legal status for undocumented immigrants.

“I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support it,” Cruz said, when questioned by Rubio.

In 2013, however, Cruz sponsored an amendment that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States permanently and obtain legal status, while eliminating a path to citizenship. It is very hard to square that effort with Cruz’s claim that he has “never supported legalization.”

That doesn’t stop him from trying, however. Cruz’s campaign said last month that his 2013 amendment was a “poison pill,” intended to undercut the main legislation and reduce its chances of passing. By eliminating a path to citizenship, Cruz hoped to turn Democrats against the bill. Top Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler repeated the “poison pill” assertion after the debateTuesday.

[…]

It’s no surprise that in a GOP presidential primary season, Cruz has changed his story about why he put forward an amendment that would have provided a path for legal status, if not citizenship.

The Texan is competing with Donald “I’m going to build a wall” Trump to win over a conservative base that is even more agitated about illegal immigration than it was in the summer of 2013.

But in changing his story, Cruz is also claiming that he was not truthful at the time about what he was up to. The Cruz campaign has yet to respond to a request for comment. [Yahoo News, 12/16/15]

Daily Beast: Cruz “Change[d] His Immigration Tune At Breakneck Speed.” On December 17 The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff wrote that Cruz “comes perilously close — if not slightly over the line — to taking multiple positions on” immigration reform after “chang[ing] his immigration tune at breakneck speed.” Woodruff noted that there “are two schools of thought on the right regarding immigration,” and Cruz “is trying to be in both — which is damn near impossible without a little bit of dishonesty one way or the other”:

Ted Cruz loves legal immigrants. Except when he hates them.

Thus–as a post-game interview with Jake Tapper after last night’s debate suggested–he’s having a little trouble explaining exactly where he comes down on immigrants who actually play by the rules.

“If someone is here illegally and apprehended, they will be sent back to their home country,” he said. “It’s critical. I’m also a big advocate of welcoming and celebrating legal immigrants. And I think most Americans agree with the principle legal: good, illegal: bad.”

But here’s the hiccup: Cruz struggles mightily to decide whether or not he actually agrees with that principle.

On one hand, Cruz–like many immigration hardliners–wants to stop illegal immigration. But he also wants restrictions on legal immigrants and that’s where threading the needle gets tricky on an issue he can’t afford to mess up.

The senator, like every single other politician in America, talks differently depending on what audience he’s addressing. But, unlike some of those other folks, the Texas senator comes perilously close–if not slightly over the line–to taking multiple positions on this issue, the single most contentious of the campaign.

And just like he said one thing about Donald Trump behind closed doors and another on the debate stage, he changes his immigration tune at breakneck speed.

But unlike his personal assessment of Trump’s character, his views on immigration policy — namely, whether legal immigration is good or bad–actually matter as the debate over the border and who is allowed to comes across becomes increasingly important in the Republican field. And he’s bending over backwards to make them totally unclear. [Daily Beast, 12/17/15]

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota: Ted Cruz Struggles To Explain His 2013 Immigration Position “Because He’s FlipFlopped.” On the December 17 edition of CNN’s New Day, host Alisyn Camerota highlighted that “the reason … Ted Cruz is struggling to explain [his previous support for legalization] is because he’s flip-flopped,” explaining, “He supported a path to legalization … and now he’s trying to claim that he didn’t”:

MAGGIE HABERMAN: Ted Cruz for the first time yesterday seemed to struggle on the issue of immigration. He has been very, very clear and focused and smooth in his responses. He was during the debate. But in an interview last night, it was the first time that he stammered, he had trouble getting through it. He introduced an amendment to what was the immigration reform bill in 2013.

ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): The Gang of Eight bill, that he now criticizes.

[…]

HABERMAN: He had trouble defending this yesterday. It was again the first time – Cruz is an expert debater, this has been written about repeatedly. He is very polished. This is the first time he is getting real scrutiny. It’s also the first time Marco Rubio is getting real scrutiny.

CAMEROTA: Errol, the reason that he is struggling, that Ted Cruz is struggling to explain that is because he’s flip-flopped. He supported a path to legalization, to legality in 2013 and now he’s trying to claim that he didn’t. And Rubio called him out at the debate. he said, you supported it. And he was like no. No, I didn’t. He changed the subject basically. But he did. [CNN, New Day12/17/15]

Texas Tribune: Cruz Has Made “A Clean Break From His Own Record.” On December 16 The Texas Tribune reported that “a far different Ted Cruz has shown up on the campaign trail” after his immigration “flip-flop,” noting that Cruz’s current hardline immigration position “wasn’t always the case.” The Tribune further wrote that Cruz has “distanced himself from the positions he advocated” in the past and has made “a clean break from his own record”:

Listen to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on immigration policy these days and there’s little daylight between the firebrand senator and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

They’re both in the deport-first-and-ask-questions-later camp.

But that wasn’t always the case. In the summer of 2013, as Congress was mulling sweeping immigration reforms, Cruz was promoting a “middle ground” that would have dramatically boosted legal immigration and even given legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the country.

[…]

A far different Ted Cruz has shown up on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Gone are the pledges to double legal immigration to 1.35 million people a year — up from 675,000 — and to eliminate the country-by-country caps that Cruz said at the time “penalizes the nation of Mexico significantly.”

That proposal included a whopping fivefold increase in legal temporary work permits, known as H-1B visas.

Cruz jettisoned those increases weeks ago when he advocated for restrictions on legal immigration until the economy improves and specifically called for a temporary moratorium on all H1-B visas.

For weeks after that flip-flop, which was contained in his sweeping immigration campaign proposal, Cruz took heat for repeatedly refusing to answer what he would do with the estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country now.

That nuance disappeared Tuesday at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where Cruz took the GOP debate stage as a top tier candidate for president and distanced himself from the positions he advocated as a newly minted U.S. senator. [Texas Tribune12/16/15]

Establishment Right-Wing Media Are Also Calling Out Cruz’s Hypocrisy

Fox News’ Bret Baier: “Looking Back … Which One Should People Believe?” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, host Bret Baier grilled Cruz on his immigration reversal, asking Cruz to “square that circle” of hypocrisy. Baier pressed Cruz to answer “looking back at what you said then, and what you’re saying now, which one should people believe?” After Cruz responded that the Gang of Eight bill “was a terrible bill,” Baier countered and said “that’s not what you said at the time”:

BRET BAIER (HOST): Now that amendment would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. permanently and obtain legal status, so how do you square that circle?

TED CRUZ: Actually, Bret, it wouldn’t have. What was happening there is that was the battle over the Gang of Eight, the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, which was a massive amnesty bill proposed by Senator Rubio, by Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama. And I was leading the fight against amnesty. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Steve King, leading the fight to secure the borders, and what I did — that particular amendment was an amendment I introduced to remove citizenship, to say those who are here illegally shall be permanently ineligible for citizenship. Now, the fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn’t mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bill. The Gang of Eight bill was a mess, it was a terrible bill.

[…]

BAIER: That is not what you said at the time. And Yahoo dug up these quotes from back then. You said, “‘If this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.’ A few weeks later, during a debate on the senate floor, Cruz repeated his belief that this amendment is the compromise that can pass.” And you repeated later in Princeton that “If my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.” It sounded like you wanted the bill to pass.

[…]

CRUZ: What my amendment did is take citizenship off the table, but it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean that I supported the other aspects of the bill, which was a terrible bill. And Bret, you’ve been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation. Which is what that amendment did is it revealed the hypocrisy of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats and the establishment Republicans who were supporting them, because they all voted against it. And listen, I’ll give you the simplest proof why this notion that my fighting amnesty somehow made me a supporter of amnesty. Jeff Sessions voted with me on my amendment to eliminate citizenship. Now is anyone remotely suggesting that Jeff Sessions supports amnesty? Of course not.

[…]

BAIER: The problem though is that at the time you were telling people like Byron York with The Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You told him, “My objective was not to kill immigration reform.” You said you wanted it to pass at the time, so my question to you is looking back at what you said then, and what you’re saying now, which one should people believe? [Fox News, Special Report12/16/15]

Charles Krauthammer: Cruz‘s Previous Support For Legalization “Was Exposed” And His Reversal “Is Not A Defensible Position.” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer hammered Cruz for his “mistake” of falsely claiming he never supported legalization at the GOP debate, saying that “it’s clear from the record … that he wanted to pass the bill” and wanted “legalization.” Krauthammer criticized Cruz for his reversal, saying “it is not a defensible position and that was exposed today”:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The Rubio/Cruz match last night was the highlight of the evening. But what’s so interesting is what it led to today. Rubio was willing to take a hit on an issue he knows he is the least popular with with the GOP electorate. But he did it in order to be able to ask one question of Cruz, which is always a danger in the debate. A, you’re giving up your time. And, b, you have no idea what he’s going to say. But what he elicited from Cruz was the statement that he had never supported legalization. And that was a mistake as was exposed in this unbelievable questioning that you did today, because when you asked him that, he had no answer. He pretends now that he did that in order to kill the bill. But it’s clear from the record that he said at the time repeatedly, and not even in Congress but even in the meeting at Princeton with one of his old professors, Robbie George, that he wanted to pass the bill, but wanted instead of citizenship, legalization. The fact that he said he never supported it is not a defensible position, and that was exposed today. So that was a very complicated chess match between the two. Cruz had the better of it last night, but now he is stuck with something he’s going to have to explain away that is not very easy. [Fox News,Special Report12/16/16]

NRO: Cruz “Had Every Chance To Say He Opposed [Legalization] And Didn’t Do So.” National Review Online contributor Jim Geraghty wrote on December 16 that “there is no reason to believe that in 2013, Cruz opposed a path to legalization.” Geraghty argued that Cruz “had every opportunity to state that he didn’t” support the Gang of Eight bill and “had every chance to say he opposed a legal status for illegal immigrants” and failed to do either:

On May 31, 2013, Ted Cruz came to Princeton University for an annual alumni reunion and sat down in front of cameras in a packed auditorium with his old professor Robert P. George.

During the conversation, Cruz addressed his amendments to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill at length, including one that would have only removed citizenship, not legal status, from illegal immigrants.

[…]

Cruz replied,”I believe that if my amendments were adopted, the bill would pass. My effort in introducing them was to find solution that reflected common ground and fixed the problem.”

Asked directly, Cruz had every opportunity to state that he didn’t intend for his amendment to be adopted or for the Gang of Eight bill to pass at all and in fact replied the opposite. At no point did he describe his amendment as a poison bill or procedural maneuver to derail the bill. He had every chance to say he opposed a legal status for illegal immigrants and didn’t do so.

At this point, there is no reason to believe that in 2013, Ted Cruz opposed a path to legalization (not citizenship) for illegal immigrants. [National Review Online, 12/16/16]

Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin: Cruz Is “Caught In A Web Of Inconsistencies And Downright Misrepresentations.” In a December 17 opinion piece, The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin criticized Cruz for his reversal, writing “it was a mistake to think he could so easily leap from one position to another without being nailed for hypocrisy or inconsistency, or both.” Rubin slammed Cruz for “painting [his colleagues] as sellouts and [strutting] around with an air of superiority,” only to be “caught in a web of inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations,” and ultimately noted “it is on immigration … that things finally may have come home to roost” for Cruz:

There is something to the idea of political karma. The politician most reviled by his colleagues for painting them as sellouts and who struts around with an air of superiority is now caught in a web of inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations on foreign policy and his favorite issue, “amnesty.”

On foreign policy, it has not escaped notice that by zigzagging between dog whistles for the followers of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and trying to mimic Donald Trump’s tough talk, he’s created a foreign policy that “is part isolationist, part realist and part pipe dream,” as my colleague Michael Gerson puts it. At least Paul believes what he says. For Cruz, his choice of position neatly and consistently coincides with whatever he figures the talk show crowd wants to hear. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the wittiest and bluntest of the 2016 contenders, observed, “Ted Cruz’s carpet-bombing comments made no sense, and I’ve been in the Air Force for 33 years. I think that Ted Cruz is a man who is lost. He is trying to be an isolationist when that’s hot; he’s trying to be a Lindsey Graham-type when that’s hot.”

But it is on immigration — where Cruz has vilified any responsible voice favoring reform and stirred up the party’s worst xenophobic tendencies — that things finally may have come home to roost.

[…]

Cruz thinks he is the smartest guy in every room. Sometimes he is. However, it was a mistake to think he could so easily leap from one position to another without being nailed for hypocrisy or inconsistency, or both. Rubio has been pounding away at these themes for a few weeks, but now that they have spread across conservative and mainstream media, Cruz will face persistent scrutiny, just as the voters in Iowa are making their final decisions. [The Washington Post12/17/15]

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Rand Paul: Donald Trump’s plan to close the Internet is against the Constitution

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Donald J. Trump either does not understand or does not have much respect for the Constitution, Rand Paul said the day after the ‪#‎GOPDebate‬.

Donald Trump either does not understand or does not have much respect for the Constitution, Rand Paul said Wednesday.

Trump, the Republican front-runner, said he “would certainly be open to closing [the Internet] in areas where we are at war with somebody” at the CNN Republican debate Tuesday. The billionaire businessman was referencing shutting off parts of the Internet that helped incite or facilitate terrorism.

But Paul said following Trump’s strategy was fundamentally against the Constitution.

“If you’re going to close the Internet — that’s like something they do in North Korea, something like they do in China — but it also goes against the Constitution. It goes against the First Amendment,” he said on “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News.

“Closing the Internet would require a change to our Constitution where we get rid of the First Amendment. That’s a big step,” he said.

Paul dismissed Trump’s current standing in the 2016 horse race, saying that the polls could change in a matter of weeks.

“The polls are very fluid. Ben Carson, who I like a lot, has dropped 20 points,” the Kentucky Senator said. “Same thing could happen to Trump.”

Paul painted to one of Trump’s positions on terrorists as being potential popularity shifters.

“He’s talking about killing women and children — the families of terrorists,” he said. “I don’t think many Americans want to kill two-year-old children or four-year-old children.”

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GOP debate scorecard: The big winner wasn’t anyone on the stage, it was Democrats

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Trump comes off as a sniveling bully; Bush as simple-minded; Cruz as maniacal. And that’s good news for Democrats.

One thing is certain from Tuesday night’s Republican debate on CNN: Whatever polling data the Republicans are reading, it’s telling them that GOP primary voters are worried that ISIS is sneaking in through the air ducts and that the only thing that will save them now is thumping your chest really hard and repeating, “Radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism” until the magical spell works and the baddies go away.

 Oh, and bombing someone. Definitely have to bomb someone.

So who won this debate, clearly aimed at people who, like Lindsey Graham, really miss the Bush administration and those carefree days when it seemed that all the world’s problems could be solved by bombing some innocent civilians half a world away? Here’s an examination:

Winner, Untouchable Division: Donald Trump. Trump came across as a sniveling bully and a consummate bullshitter who clearly just says the first thing that pops into his head and then, when confronted, just doubles down on it instead of admitting he was wrong. But that’s never hurt him in the polls before, and it’s unlikely to do so now.

Bonus points: Trump’s “plan” to bar Muslims from traveling into the U.S. became one of the central points of contention in the debate. Trump continues to amaze with his ability to control the narrative just by flapping his loose jaws while other politicians fail to get a word in edgewise with their carefully constructed talking points.

Loser, Conservatives Are A-Skeered Division: Rand Paul. The crowd was definitely not feeling his attempts to be a maverick by rejecting the security state and (some) war. Paul, never the principled libertarian he plays on TV, did his best to pander to the heightened bloodthirst of the conservative crowd by chasing after Rubio on immigration, but ultimately the moment fell flat, flatter than Paul’s poll numbers.

Winner, Impressing The Political Press Division: Jeb Bush. Bush’s war-mongering and simple-minded posturing would probably not hold up well in a contest with Hillary Clinton. However, he said a couple of things that were true during this debate, such as noting that all this Muslim-bashing is going to undermine our relationships with Muslim allies we need to fight ISIS. This made him look like a foreign policy genius compared to the clowns on stage pretending Syrian orphans are about to go jihad on us, and he’ll probably get a bunch of kudos for it from the political press.

Loser, Actually Getting Anywhere With The Voters Division: Jeb Bush. The audience loved it when Bush said, “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency,” but only, oh irony, because Trump has trained them over months to react to every feeble insult like it’s the sickest burn they’ve ever heard. But despite landing a couple of blows during the debate, Bush’s concluding remarks were so limp he got bored with them and trailed off. Voters will soon forget that he’s even in this race.

Winners, Tap-Dancing Around The “How Fascist Are You” Question Division:Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. You can’t denounce Trump’s nutty idea of a Muslim travel ban, because you’ll just drive more of your idiot base into his arms. But you can’t endorse it, either, because it’s unconstitutional and seriously a legitimate threat to national security. So both candidates, when faced with the question, rattled off officious-sounding nonsense to run out the clock. Rubio gave us a history of the San Bernardino shooter and Fiorina gave us a history of social media, but both accomplished the main goal of babbling until the buzzer sounded without either of them actually answering the question.

Loser, What’s This Debate About Again Division: Chris Christie. Christie’s Hail Mary pass in the past few months is to paint himself as a “law and order” type, feeding off conservative hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement in hopes of getting some kind of attention. An entire debate dedicated to Syrian politics did not help him in this mission, even though he mentioned that he’s a federal prosecutor roughly 1.2 billion times during the debate.

Winner, Oh God He Might Actually Win Division: Ted Cruz. He was nearly as maniacal as Donald Trump when it comes to racist pandering and was by far the most convincing in the contest to see who is most eager to kill them all and let God sort them out. This is a man who knows how to fight and claw his way to the top of any trash pile you give him, and winning the Republican nomination is what he was born to do. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Loser, Being Able To Sleep At Night Edition: The viewers. Well, at least viewers who still have enough wits about them to know Barack Obama isn’t a secret Muslim and that chemtrails aren’t mind control. Those viewers watched candidates dedicate nearly 2 hours out of a 2 and a half hour debate to the question of Syrian politics and the most immediate takeaway is not a one of them has the first clue about what’s really going on in the unbelievably complex civil war there.

Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding that the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are.

Winner, General Election Division: The Democrats. The Republicans look for all the world like they’re going to nominate their candidate based on fears about a country most of them can’t find on a map. Better yet, that candidate will not be chosen based on his foreign policy qualifications, but on whether or not he said the nastiest things about Muslims. Either way, it’s going to be fun for the Democrat to run against this impetuous pick 11 months from now, when the issue of Islamic terrorism has faded from the public imagination and journalists have returned to asking questions about issues that are far more immediate to voters than who has a leg up in the Syrian civil war this week.

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The GOP debate, in one tweet

For someone who follows US foreign policy, Tuesday night’s GOP debate was almost physically painful to watch. This tweet, from New York Times Magazine contributor Ana Marie Cox, perfectly summarizes why:

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In other words: the debate was over two hours of scary rhetoric and fearmongering, with pitifully little policy substance to back it up.

“We need to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us,” Jeb Bush declared. “America has been betrayed,” Chris Christie announced. “America’s influence has declined while this president has destroyed our military,” Marco Rubio exclaimed.

And those are all quotes from the opening statements! The entire debate was filled with hyperbole designed to convince the audience that the candidates understand the fact that foreign news today seems very scary. (The reality, incidentally, is that America is safer than it almost ever has been).

And when the candidates got away from fearmongering, and talked about actual policy substance, the debate was very often a nightmare. A few examples:

  • Ted Cruz said we should “carpet bomb” ISIS, but clearly didn’t know what that meant. And, in fact, his whole ISIS answer made no sense.
  • Ben Carson’s plan for dealing with North Korea was bizarrely focused on Vladimir Putin: he proposed to put the “one horse show” (his term for Putin) “in a box” by doing something to energy exports to Europe. He never explained what that had to do with North Korea.
  • Donald Trump called for America to shut down “areas” of the internet “where we are at war with somebody.” Nobody, probably including Trump, knows what that means.

Things like this don’t happen, as Cox said, in a meaningful debate over foreign policy. But in a night where substance was secondary, and fear came first, then policy incoherence was almost besides the point.

 

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‘Sieg Heil!’ Trump supporter yells out Nazi salute as Black Lives Matter protester is dragged out

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A Monday evening rally for Donald Trump in Las Vegas, Nevada, brought out the worst the usual supporters of the presidential hopeful. At least one Black Lives Matter protester was in attendance at this rally, and he was met with the usual warmth we’ve grown accustomed to at such events. As an added bonus this time, an audience member yelled, “Seig Heil!” as the protestor was being led out of the area. You can view the video of the event below. Listen very carefully and towards the end of the video—and after the bleeped out profanities—you should be able to hear the salute used by Adolf Hitler’s adoring fans. NBC News reports that shouts of “light the mother–— on fire” and “shoot him,” also filled the air.

Yep. Murder.

Meanwhile in Birmingham, Alabama, Mercutio Southall is scheduled to meet with police this week to ask that formal charges of assault be filed against the people who escorted him out of a Trump rally last month. Southall alleges that he was choked, kicked, and called numerous racial slurs as he was being removed and police did not arrest his attackers, even though it was all caught on video. You can read a letter that Southall’s attorneys sent to the Birmingham Police Department, calling his assault a hate crime, here.

The vitriolic hate, xenophobia and outright fascism exhibited by Trump and his supporters make it abundantly clear that more than just a vote for “the other candidate” is in order: Trump and all that he stands for must be rebuked, denounced and shunned in the name of decency and civilization.

Now.

Video below.

 

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Which Politician Lies the Most?: TRUMP AND CARSON!

PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan, writing in The New York Times claims that “Donald J. Trump’s record on truth and accuracy is astonishingly poor. So far, we’ve fact-checked more than 70 Trump statements and rated fully three-quarters of them as Mostly False, False or “Pants on Fire” … We haven’t checked the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson as often as Mr. Trump, but by the percentages Mr. Carson actually fares worse.”

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“Even though we’re in the midst of a presidential campaign full of falsehoods and misstatements, I see cause for optimism. Some politicians have responded to fact-checking journalism by vetting their prepared comments more carefully and giving their campaign ads extra scrutiny.”

“More important, I see accurate information becoming more available and easier for voters to find. By that measure, things are pretty good.”

“When friends conclude despondently that the truth doesn’t matter, I remind them that people haven’t started voting yet. I don’t take current polls too seriously because data suggests that most people don’t settle on a candidate until much closer to casting their vote.”

LUNATIC Trump Proposes $5 Million Ransom for Showing Up at CNN Debate

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MACON, Georgia — Donald Trump says he isn’t joking anymore.

The front-running GOP presidential candidate, who often has crowds laughing during his rallies, threatened to change his jokey style because it results in him being misrepresented — both in the press and in attack ads from his opponents.

“They take two second snippets,” he exclaimed before settling back into his usual style, comedy included.

But that’s not the only threat Trump levied. In a chilly arena that was transformed from an ice rink into an event space by laying down plastic tiles to cover the rink floor, the businessman put a price on his participation at the coming CNN Republican debate: $5 million.

“How about I tell CNN, who doesn’t treat me properly … I’m not gonna do the next debate, okay?” The demand garnered tepid applause from the crowd.

Trump zeroed in more on his idea: “I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which goes to Wounded Warriors or goes to vets.”

That was something the crowd could get behind, and an idea Trump has floated once before.

“The problem is they’ll say ‘Trump is chicken,'” he said. “One thing I’m not is chicken, okay?”

In keeping with his say-anything style, Trump then managed to hit eight of his GOP opponents in the span of about five minutes. Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, all earned a jab from Trump — who even included Sen. Ted Cruz in his diatribe, though with more of a warning than an attack.

“There’s only one way to get to the top and it’s all through Trump, let’s face it.”

And when the moment comes that Cruz does attack him, the GOP frontrunner said it would be a “sad day but we will hit back, I promise.”

PHOTOS – On the Stump: Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

A frequent target at these rallies: Hillary Clinton, who Trump said “should’ve been indicted” over her email scandal. He also added in a throwback to the tumultuous years of the Clinton White House, mentioning the Whitewater controversy and reminding the crowd that “we can’t get involved in that anymore.”

He also attacked Barack Obama, saying that history would remember him as a “horrible president” who “didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”

The barbs were typical Trump, but for some his usual candor wasn’t as compelling as it has been in the past. About half an hour into Trump’s nearly hour-long remarks members of the crowd, which law enforcement officials estimated to be just shy of 6,000, began to file towards the back of the arena. Some told NBC News they were moving to the upper rafters, presumably for a quicker exit once the rally ended. Another young man draped in an American flag was prioritizing his own needs, saying “I just have to pee.” One woman though, before being pulled away by her boyfriend, expressed dismay over the speech’s content.

She told NBC News that Trump was “just talking more about Obama” instead of discussing how he himself would unify the country. Her boyfriend tugged her arm and, unprompted, clarified her words, saying that they were leaving early to go pick something up at her place of work.

Still, the ones that stayed with him to the end were confident as ever in their support of the man who has led the Republican field in polls for months. “We need more of him!” a man said as he exited. Another woman said “Mr Trump really has his finger on the pulse of America right now.” Ryan Farmer, 23, said that in his eyes Trump was the somebody America needs to “step up and truly lead. He’s the true definition a leader in every sense.”

There to bolster his leadership credentials, an outsider of an election past: Herman Cain. The Georgia native told the crowd he was there simply because “Donald Trump asked me to.” Cain even included his catch phrase — “aw shucky ducky!” — before turning over the floor to The Donald, coming short of endorsing him, though this is the second time the two have appeared together in The Peach State.

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DONATE TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD: I guess the Republican presidential candidates and GOP members’ mouths are zipped.

Let’s all donate to Planned Parenthood. While some want to take away our rights, we can make Planned Parenthood stronger. I want the money to be put to a no cost abortion for a women who had to make a tough choice, that is no ones elses bussiness.

DONATE HERE

 

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD: I guess the Republican presidential candidates and GOP members’ mouths are zipped. Has anyone heard the GOP’s plans for keeping Planned Parenthood clinics safe and preventing White extremists (terrorists) from killing innocent people?

DONATE HERE

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THanks

OPTIMISM: I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican

OPTIMISM

 

Given the kind of things the Republican presidential candidates have been saying every day for weeks now, you might reasonably conclude that US politics is stuck not just in another decade, but in a previous century. Ben Carson thinks Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”. To boost an argument against gun control Carson also said that Hitler would have killed fewer Jews in the Holocaust “if the people had been armed”. Donald Trump, meanwhile, would expel 12 million undocumented migrants because so many are “criminals, murderers and rapists”. Carly Fiorina asserts that “every single policy” Hillary Clinton espouses, including paid family leave and equal pay for women, “has been demonstrably bad for women”.

This Republican race to the political bottom is happening because America’s conservatives are losing the culture wars. The US is now beyond the electoral tipping point, driven by a new progressive majority in the electorate: racial minorities (black and Hispanic) plus single women, millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) and secular voters together formed 51% of the electorate in 2012; and will reach a politically critical 63% next year.

And each of these groups is giving Clinton, or whoever emerges as the Democratic candidate for the 2016 White House race, at least a two-to-one advantage over a Republican party whose brand has been badly tarnished.

The country today, particularly the bigger urban centres, is being dramatically remade by the hi-tech, internet, big data and energy revolutions. Just as important are the revolutions in migration, the family, gender roles and religion. Together these revolutions are producing seismic and accelerating changes to the economy, culture and politics – which is what animates so many Republican candidates. America is emerging as racially blended, immigrant, multinational, multicultural and multilingual – a diversity that is ever more central to its political identity. We are not talking here about trends, but profound demographic changes accompanied by a dramatic shift in values. They have produced a country where racial minorities form 38% of the population, and 15% of new marriages are interracial. One in five global migrants end up in the US, and thus nearly 40% of the populations of New York and Los Angeles are foreign born, as are 50% of Silicon Valley’s engineers and more than half of US Nobel laureates.

Karl Rove, George W Bush and first dog Barney
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 Karl Rove, George W Bush and first dog Barney. ‘Rove saw moral issues such as opposition to gay marriage as the most powerful force in politics.’ Photograph: Dennis Brack/EPA/Corbis

Since 2011 a majority of Americans have been living in unmarried households, and a diversity of family types – from same-sex marriages and cohabitation to remarriage after divorce, delayed child-rearing, childlessness and those who never marry – is now accepted. Millennials are in fact marrying later and having few children, while working class women are avoiding marriage with working class men who are no longer assured of secure, decent-paying manufacturing jobs. With the traditional male breadwinner role nearly extinct, three-quarters of women are now in the labour force and two-thirds are the principal or joint breadwinner. The result: single women will form a quarter of the electorate in 2016. Religious observance meanwhile has plummeted across all religious denominations, with the exception of white evangelicals. People who define themselves as secular now outnumber mainline Protestants.

The political landscape is also being reshaped by a reversal of the historic pattern of mobility and home ownership. The middle class ladder used to take every generation and new wave of immigrants from city centres to suburbs to the exurbs. But in the past decade cities, with their falling crime rates, have attracted more people – particularly retiring baby boomers – than suburbs, and real estate values in metropolitan areas have risen faster than elsewhere and created more jobs. At the same time, only half of millennials have a driver’s licence, a rite of passage for prior generations.

Not only are baby boomers now outnumbered by millennials – but also the groups could not be more different: 66% of boomers are married, 72% are white and their income is $13,904 above the national median; over 40% of millennials are racial minorities, 60% are single and three-quarters believe America’s diversity of race, ethnicity and language makes the country stronger.

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All this social disruption has taken place at remarkable speed: the political centre of gravity has in effect swung from right to centre in under a decade. When Barack Obama first ran for the White House in 2008, 46% of Americans described themselves as conservative, but that has fallen to 37% now. In some national polls, the number of American liberals equals the number of conservatives. Gallup marked 2015 as the year when cultural attitudes reached a significant benchmark: when 60-70% of the country said gay and lesbian relations, having a baby outside marriage or sex between unmarried women and men were all “morally acceptable”.

The shift marked by these polls reflects the new American majority and explains why next year’s election will prove shattering and divisive for the Republican party, even if it retains its strongholds in the House of Representatives and states.

It also explains why, since 2004, Republicanshave been engaged in a ferocious counter-revolution to stop these new and expanding demographic groups from coalescing to form a politically coherent bloc capable of governing successfully. The tactic adopted by Karl Rove, George W Bush’s election strategist, and other social conservatives was to forsake “big tent Republicanism” and the swing voter. Instead of an earlier emphasis on “compassion” or the “Latino vote”, they made politics a battle for social and cultural values – “American values” – that would raise the stakes and engage those who leaned furthest to the right, particularly evangelicals and the religiously observant. Rove’s ambition was to create a permanent Republican majority, and he saw “moral” issues such as opposition to gay marriage as the most powerful force in politics. Indeed, he used them to galvanise enough support to get Bush re-elected in November 2004.

But the culture war ignited by Rove is a fire that requires ever more toxic fuel – it only works by raising fears of the moral and social Armageddon that would follow a Democratic victory.

The Republicans have, of course, won big numbers of seats at state level and in off-year elections in the past decade. However, their conservative supporters, motivated by moral purpose, are now angry that Republican leaders have failed to stop Obama, particularly as the country, as they see it, tips into global and economic oblivion.

On the other hand, this intensifying battle for values has also left the Republicans with the oldest, most rural, most religiously observant, and most likely to be married white voters in the country. These trends have pushed states with large, growing metropolitan centres, such as Florida, Virginia and Colorado, over the blue Democratic wall, creating formidable odds against Republicans winning the electoral college majority needed to win the presidency.

Encamped in the 20 states of the south, the Appalachian valley, parts of the plains states and Mountain West, conservatives have waged their culture wars to great effect. But those states account for only 25% of the voters. Success here turns Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz into plausible candidates – but not plausible presidents in a country that is past the new electoral tipping point. America will get to send that message 12 months from now.

 Stanley Greenberg is the author of America Ascendant: A Revolutionary Nation’s Path to Addressing Its Deepest Problems and Leading the 21st Century

 This article was amended on 12 November 2015. An earlier version referred to the right, rather a rite, of passage.

 

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Who Turned My Blue State Red?: Why poor areas vote for politicians who want to slash the safety net.

IT is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.

In his successful bid for the Senate in 2010, the libertarian Rand Paul railed against “intergenerational welfare” and said that “the culture of dependency on government destroys people’s spirits,” yet racked up winning margins in eastern Kentucky, a former Democratic stronghold that is heavily dependent on public benefits. Last year, Paul R. LePage, the fiercely anti-welfare Republican governor of Maine, was re-elected despite a highly erratic first term — with strong support in struggling towns where many rely on public assistance. And earlier this month, Kentucky elected as governor a conservative Republican who had vowed to largely undo the Medicaid expansion that had given the state the country’s largest decrease in the uninsured under Obamacare, with roughly one in 10 residents gaining coverage.

It’s enough to give Democrats the willies as they contemplate a map where the red keeps seeping outward, confining them to ever narrower redoubts of blue. The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that’s taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party’s growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what’s going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers have detected alarming trends in their mortality rates.

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.


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The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

These are voters like Pamela Dougherty, a 43-year-old nurse I encountered at a restaurant across from a Walmart in Marshalltown, Iowa, where she’d come to hear Rick Santorum, the conservative former Pennsylvania senator with a working-class pitch, just before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. In a lengthy conversation, Ms. Dougherty talked candidly about how she had benefited from government support. After having her first child as a teenager, marrying young and divorcing, Ms. Dougherty had faced bleak prospects. But she had gotten safety-net support — most crucially, taxpayer-funded tuition breaks to attend community college, where she’d earned her nursing degree.

She landed a steady job at a nearby dialysis center and remarried. But this didn’t make her a lasting supporter of safety-net programs like those that helped her. Instead, Ms. Dougherty had become a staunch opponent of them. She was reacting, she said, against the sense of entitlement she saw on display at the dialysis center. The federal government has for years covered kidney dialysis treatment in outpatient centers through Medicare, regardless of patients’ age, partly on the logic that treatment allows people with kidney disease to remain productive. But, Ms. Dougherty said, only a small fraction of the 54 people getting dialysis at her center had regular jobs.

“People waltz in when they want to,” she said, explaining that, in her opinion, there was too little asked of patients. There was nothing that said “‘You’re getting a great benefit here, why not put in a little bit yourself.’ ” At least when she got her tuition help, she said, she had to keep up her grades. “When you’re getting assistance, there should be hoops to jump through so that you’re paying a price for your behavior,” she said. “What’s wrong with that?”

who-turned-my-blue-state-redYes, citizens like Ms. Dougherty are at one level voting against their own economic self-interest, to the extent that the Republican approach on taxes is slanted more to the wealthy than that of the Democrats. This was the thesis of Thomas Frank’s 2004 best seller, “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” which argued that these voters had been distracted by social issues like guns and abortion. But on another level, these voters are consciously opting against a Democratic economic agenda that they see as bad for them and good for other people — specifically, those undeserving benefit-recipients who live nearby.

I’ve heard variations on this theme all over the country: people railing against the guy across the street who is collecting disability payments but is well enough to go fishing, the families using their food assistance to indulge in steaks. In Pineville, W.Va., in the state’s deeply depressed southern end, I watched in 2013 as a discussion with Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, quickly turned from gun control to the area’s reliance on government benefits, its high rate of opiate addiction, and whether people on assistance should be tested for drugs. Playing to the room, Senator Manchin declared, “If you’re on a public check, you should be subjected to a random check.”

IT’S much the same across the border in eastern Kentucky, which, like southern West Virginia, has been devastated by the collapse of the area’s coal industry. Eastern Kentucky now shows up on maps as the most benefit-dependent region in the country. The welfare reforms of the 1990s have made cash assistance hard to come by, but food-stamp use in the state rose to more than 18 percent of households in 2012 from under 10 percent in 2001.

With reliance on government benefits so prevalent, it creates constant moments of friction, on very intimate terms, said Jim Cauley, a Democratic political consultant from Pike County, a former Democratic bastion in eastern Kentucky that has flipped Republican in the past decade. “There are a lot of people on the draw,” he said. Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans — think of Ronald Reagan’s notorious “welfare queen” — in places like Pike County it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families. “It’s Cousin Bobby — ‘he’s on Oxy and he’s on the draw and we’re paying for him,’ ” Mr. Cauley said. “If you need help, no one begrudges you taking the program — they’re good-hearted people. It’s when you’re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.” The political upshot is plain, Mr. Cauley added. “It’s not the people on the draw that’s voting against” the Democrats, he said. “It’s everyone else.”

This month, Pike County went 55 percent for the Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin. That’s the opposite of how the county voted a dozen years ago. In that election, Kentucky still sent a Republican to the governor’s mansion — but Pike County went for the Democratic candidate. And 30 percent fewer people voted in the county this month than did in 2003 — 11,223 voters in a county of 63,000, far below the county’s tally of food-stamp recipients, which was more than 17,000 in 2012.

In Maine, Mr. LePage was elected governor in 2010 by running on an anti-welfare platform in a state that has also grown more reliant on public programs — in 2013, the state ranked third in the nation for food-stamp use, just ahead of Kentucky. Mr. LePage, who grew up poor in a large family, has gone at safety-net programs with a vengeance. He slashed welfare rolls by more than half after imposing a five-year limitreinstituted a work requirement for food-stamp recipients and refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to cover 60,000 people. He is now seeking to bar anyone with more than $5,000 in certain assets from receiving food stamps. “I’m not going to help anybody just for the sake of helping,” the governor said in September. “I am not that compassionate.”

His crusade has resonated with many in the state, who re-elected him last year.

THAT pattern is right in line with surveys, which show a decades-long decline in support for redistributive policies and an increase in conservatism in the electorate even as inequality worsens. There has been a particularly sharp drop in support for redistribution among older Americans, who perhaps see it as a threat to their own Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, researchers such as Kathryn Edin, of Johns Hopkins University, found a tendency by many Americans in the second lowest quintile of the income ladder — the working or lower-middle class — to dissociate themselves from those at the bottom, where many once resided. “There’s this virulent social distancing — suddenly, you’re a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person,” said Professor Edin. “They’re playing to the middle fifth and saying, ‘I’m not those people.’ ”

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court. I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Mr. Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.

Republicans, of course, would argue that the shift in their direction among voters slightly higher up the ladder is the natural progression of things — people recognize that government programs are prolonging the economic doldrums and that Republicans have a better economic program.

So where does this leave Democrats and anyone seeking to expand and build lasting support for safety-net programs such as Obamacare?

For starters, it means redoubling efforts to mobilize the people who benefit from the programs. This is no easy task with the rural poor, who are much more geographically scattered than their urban counterparts. Not helping matters in this regard is the decline of local institutions like labor unions — while the United Mine Workers of America once drove turnout in coal country, today there is not a single unionized mine still operating in Kentucky.

But it also means reckoning with the other half of the dynamic — finding ways to reduce the resentment that those slightly higher on the income ladder feel toward dependency in their midst. One way to do this is to make sure the programs are as tightly administered as possible. Instances of fraud and abuse are far rarer than welfare opponents would have one believe, but it only takes a few glaring instances to create a lasting impression. Ms. Edin, the Hopkins researcher, suggests going further and making it easier for those collecting disability to do part-time work over the table, not just to make them seem less shiftless in the eyes of their neighbors, but to reduce the recipients’ own sense of social isolation.

The best way to reduce resentment, though, would be to bring about true economic growth in the areas where the use of government benefits is on the rise, the sort of improvement that is now belatedly being discussed for coal country, including on the presidential campaign trail. If fewer people need the safety net to get by, the stigma will fade, and low-income citizens will be more likely to re-engage in their communities — not least by turning out to vote.

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