The enormous stakes of India’s election

“distilled down to its essence, the election is about one really big thing: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s democracy-threatening quest to revolutionize the Indian state.
If the polling is even close to right, he’ll win a mandate to finish what he started.”

How I went from left to center-left

“The most important issues here, to me, are the related topics of China and climate change. I used to think the engagement with China strategy made sense, and I thought the people who objected to it were mostly driven by economic ignorance about the benefits of free trade. I still think the economic arguments for free trade are sound, but the actual geopolitical situation has evolved to the point where it’s clear that commercial ties between the United States and China were not fostering world peace or the liberalization of Chinese society.
Unfortunately, a lot of what’s happened since the conventional wisdom shifted on China is just unprincipled protectionism.

I think that’s wrong. Reducing dependence on imported Chinese manufactured goods is like trying to make sure we have the capacity to produce more ammunition — it’s not an economic policy at all, it’s a national security policy that involves incurring economic costs. We should be freeing up trade with the rest of the world, especially with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. Which is just to say that the China situation has made me more supportive of ideas I would have rejected in the past, like increasing the defense budget, while continuing to feel that the new post-neoliberal ideas, on both the left and the right, are basically wrong.

But this really comes crashing into the mainstream progressive view of climate policy. Since the mid-Bush years, American carbon dioxide emissions have fallen nearly 20 percent, while global emissions have risen by over 20 percent.

Just to clarify that I am not a knuckle-dragging moron, the following standard environmentalist points are all true:

On a per capita basis, American emissions are still exceptionally high.

On a historical basis, America is still the major contributor to climate pollution.

The countries poised to suffer most from climate change are not the ones that have benefitted most from industrialization.

Those three considerations do add up, in my opinion, to a compelling moral case for American climate leadership. That said, the cold hard fact that I’ve come around to is that while it would be worth it for the United States of America to bear significant economic costs to avert climate change, it is literally not possible for us to do that. Given that the United States needs tax revenue, we can and should price the externality associated with our domestic carbon dioxide consumption. And we should fund clean energy innovation, continue to drive down the cost of batteries and solar panels, and make complementary regulatory changes to try to speed the deployment of long-range transmission lines, along with geothermal, small modular reactors, and fusion power. But China is doing a lot of that innovation and deployment right now and also building tons of coal plants, and we have no way of stopping them.

Instead of wrestling with these realities, American environmentalists are too often shopping ideas like denying poor countries financing for their own industrialization or trying to stop the United States from supplying the world with natural gas. These ideas almost certainly won’t work as environmental policy, because countries that want natural gas will just get the gas and the financing from other less friendly countries. And if they did work, the outcomes wouldn’t be desirable — trying to reduce emissions by choking off economic development in poor countries inverts the moral logic of the whole argument.”

Claudia Sheinbaum Will Be Mexico’s Next President. But Which Version of Her Will Govern?

Claudia Sheinbaum Will Be Mexico’s Next President. But Which Version of Her Will Govern?

What young voters actually care about

“Blueprint surveyed 943 registered voters between the ages of 18 and 30, recruited from an online panel from April 27 to April 29. The margin of error is 5.8 percentage points. Those participants were asked how important a variety of issues were to them, and able to choose multiple priorities.
Across every kind of young voter asked — Democratic, independent, or Republican; Black or Latino or white; college-educated or not — some variation of an economic concern was a top electoral issue. As a whole, inflation and the economy were the most frequently prioritized issues, chosen by 73 percent and 70 percent of young voters, respectively.

Health care was the only rival issue — cited frequently by Democrats, Black and white voters, women, and those making more than $75,000 a year — and chosen 71 percent of the time by all young voters as a top priority.”

“Among the lowest-priority issues in this survey are LGBTQ issues, student loans (both chosen 38 percent of the time), while climate change, Israel and Palestine, democracy, and race relations were chosen just about half the time. And they don’t necessarily want Biden to make a major change on some of these topics.”

The far right claims there’s a ‘uniparty’ in Washington. Reality suggests otherwise.

“our current political moment is arguably farther away from having anything resembling a uniparty than at any other time in modern U.S. history. Based on their voting records, Democratic and Republican members of Congress have become increasingly polarized, and both the more moderate and more conservative wings of the congressional GOP have moved to the right at similar rates. Meanwhile, polling suggests that Americans now are more likely to view the parties as distinct from one another than in the past, an indication that the public broadly doesn’t see a uniparty in Washington. Although there are areas where the parties are less divided, the broader uniparty claim is at odds with our highly polarized and divided political era.”

Why Johnson is stuck with threats to end his speakership

“Speaker Mike Johnson will likely escape Marjorie Taylor Greene’s first attempt to fire him. The threat of an ouster vote will still haunt him all year long.
Despite near-universal consensus in the House that allowing any one member to force a snap vote on booting a speaker is a recipe for chaos, lawmakers in both parties are increasingly acknowledging that they have almost no chance of changing that rule before January.

It’s not for a lack of interest — in fact, the idea was brought up in GOP meetings as recently as this week. But Johnson is boxed in from both sides. He can’t change the rules with only Republican votes because of the rebels on his right flank, who insisted that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy empower them by allowing a single lawmaker to force a vote of no confidence.

And Democrats, while they’re ready to save him from Greene’s (R-Ga.) first ejection attempt next week, are clear that their mercy won’t necessarily be permanent if the Georgia firebrand, or someone else, tries again. They also have little political incentive to give Johnson more permanent protection, unless he opens up broader negotiations about potential power sharing in the House. That price is too steep for the speaker to pay.”

Don’t sneer at white rural voters — or delude yourself about their politics

“Trump is the fundamental threat to American democracy today. All political violence is lamentable, but individual militants cannot undermine the independence of federal law enforcement, the integrity of the electoral process, or the peaceful transfer of power; an insurrectionary president plausibly can.
And there is no question that white voters from low-density areas support Trump by much larger margins than their counterparts in high-density places.

In the 2020 election, rural white voters backed Trump over Biden by 42 points, while suburban white voters favored him by just 7, according to the Democratic data firm Catalist. Urban white voters, meanwhile, supported Biden over Trump by a 32-point margin.

If rural white Americans voted the same way that suburban white Americans do, then Trump would never have been elected president and his brand of authoritarianism would not be competitive in national elections. If all white Americans voted like those who live in cities, meanwhile, then Trump’s party would have negligible influence over the federal government.

What’s more, Harper acknowledges that rural white Americans are “overrepresented” among those who support restoring Trump to power by force.

Given these facts, it’s silly to argue that urban and suburban white people are doing more to imperil American democracy than their rural counterparts. Harper’s only real counter is that more supporters of January 6 live in cities than in rural areas. But this is a trivial point: Roughly 80 percent of Americans live in non-rural areas. Name any ideological group under the sun and you’re almost certain to find that a majority of that group lives in high-population municipalities, rather than in places that, by definition, have few people.”

“All this said, rural white voters are not a monolith. In fact, such voters were an indispensable part of Biden’s 2020 coalition.

Yes, the president won only 28 percent of that voting bloc, but that adds up to more than 9 million votes. In 2020, Biden won nationally by roughly 7 million ballots and took many swing states by tiny margins. Subtract all rural white Democrats from Biden’s column and Trump almost certainly would have won reelection.”

The dangerous resurgence of Germany’s far right, explained

“A relatively young political party, the AfD was born in 2013 after the financial crisis as a group that protested Germany’s efforts to economically bail out southern countries in the European Union.
Yet while its platform initially focused more on the economy, it seized on the issue of immigration following the 2015 refugee crisis, when Germany took in more than one million refugees from places including Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. This was a roughly 1.2 percent increase to Germany’s population of 81 million people at the time — but it marked a stark jump in the number of refugees than the country had welcomed before.

In recent years, the party has both driven and capitalized on rising backlash toward refugees and immigration.

Since 2016, the federal government has established new centers to house and welcome asylum seekers across Germany, including in states in east Germany that have historically had less diversity. High inflation and energy costs have also exacerbated economic struggles that people have experienced in these regions, spurring some to blame immigrants for their problems even though they have nothing to do with them.

Tensions with newcomers, which flared in 2015, received new attention in 2022 and 2023 when Germany took in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who fled the war, and when migrants from other regions increased as well.

“What do you think as a German, if you need an apartment and then hear, there would be an apartment free but that is kept free for Ukrainians?” Mario asked. “Then I say to myself, thank you, Germany. I pay taxes but I don’t get an apartment.”

As part of its answer to addressing the rise in immigration, the AfD has increasingly embraced a xenophobic and anti-Muslim platform — due to the Middle Eastern origins of many earlier refugees — with the purported goal of preserving German identity and nationalism. “Islam does not belong to Germany,” reads the party’s 2016 manifesto. “Burkas? We’re more into bikinis,” read one AfD tagline from 2017. “Unser Land zuerst,” which translates to “Our country first!” adorned AFD campaign banners in 2022.

“The party has radicalized a lot since 2013,” Jakob Guhl, a researcher focused on the far right at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in Germany, told Vox. As it did, the party grew its base in the more socially conservative regions in eastern Germany, which has typically lagged other parts of the country economically as well.”