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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Why ‘Woman’ Isn’t Hillary Clinton’s Trump Card

At a recent rally on Roosevelt Island in New York City, Hillary Clinton remarked that she wanted the United States to be a place “where a father can tell his daughter yes, you can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States.”

According to some polls, parents can already tell their daughters that people will vote for a female president, and gender should not factor into Secretary Clinton’s candidacy for the highest office in this country. While America has not ever had a woman president, polls have documented that the majority of Americans have been ready to vote for a woman for president for several decades.

That wasn’t always the case. In 1937, 17 years after women obtained the vote, only 33 percent of those polled responded positively to George Gallup’s question: “If your party nominated a woman for president, would you vote for her if she were qualified for the job?”

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, support gradually grew, crossing 50 percent near the end of the 1960s. The population that openly disagreed with such a statement fell into single digits by 1999. In 2012, 95 percent of the public said they...

America's Rejection of the Politics of Barack Obama

The 2016 presidential race represents a vivid rejection of the Obama style. This is easy to miss: His approval ratings are climbing, and Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary by running as his successor. But the two most dramatic and portentous campaigns of the year, Donald Trump’s vertiginous win and Bernie Sanders’s astonishing insurgency, both flew in the face of the Obama era’s premises.

The Obama style had two pillars. He brought to apotheosis the American political tradition of redemptive constitutionalism. This is the creed of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s nationally televised speech on the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, in which he promised, “we shall overcome.” Redemptive constitutionalism holds that democracy and equal freedom really are the nation’s foundations, that slavery and Jim Crow were terrible deviations from these principles, and that, if we manage to take them seriously, to live by them, Americans will finally be free together.

In one respect, Obama’s victory and inauguration unavoidably embodied a version of this idea: a black man speaking the constitutionally prescribed oath, as Lincoln had done...

The Democrat That Republicans Really Fear Most

CLEVELAND—It was a question no Republican here wanted to contemplate.

The query alone elicited winces, scoffs, and more than a couple threats of suicide. “I would choose to shoot myself,” one delegate from Texas replied. “You want cancer or a heart attack?” cracked another from North Carolina. 

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each been objects of near histrionic derision from Republicans for years (decades in Clinton’s case), but never more so than during the four days of the GOP’s national convention. Republicans onstage at Quicken Loans Arena and in the dozens of accompanying events have accused President Obama of literally destroying the country in his eight years in the White House. Speakers and delegates subjected Clinton to even harsher rhetoric, charging her with complicity in death and mayhem and then repeatedly chanting, “Lock her up!” from the convention floor.

But what if Republicans were forced to pick between them? What if the choice on the ballot this fall were not Clinton or Donald Trump but a Clinton presidency or four more years of Obama? Which would they choose?

My informal, completely unscientific survey of more than two dozen delegates and guests in Cleveland found that Republicans...

Why Democrats and Republicans Speak Different Languages

On Thursday night, Donald Trump and other speakers at the Republican National Convention talked about “radical Islamic terrorism,” “illegal aliens,” and “Crooked Hillary.” In a few weeks, at the Democratic National Convention, you likely won’t hear any of these terms. The Obama administration refuses to associate terrorism with Islam, for fear of legitimizing it. Democrats are far more likely to talk about “immigrants” and “undocumented workers” than aliens. And it will be quite shocking, at a level far beyond Ted Cruz’s speech on Wednesday night, if a keynote speaker addresses Hillary Clinton with her nom de Trump.

For several decades now, Republicans and Democrats have become more polarized. There are plenty of reasons for that, including the demise of the Southern Dixiecrats and the geographic sorting of the country into ideologically homogenous neighborhoods. But the two major parties are now divided by a common language: Democrats discuss “comprehensive health reform,” “estate taxes,” “undocumented workers,” and “tax breaks for the wealthy,” while Republicans insist on a “Washington takeover of health care,” “death taxes,” “illegal aliens,” and “tax reform.” When did the two major political parties create their own vocabularies?

Around 1990. That’s according to a fascinating new paper...

The Five Most Likely Contenders to Be Hillary Clinton's Vice President

Former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to name her running mate for the 2016 general election any day now. Until recently, that list was somewhat long—it included secretary of housing and urban development Julián Castro, former governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, secretary of labor Tom Perez, former governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer, California congressman Xavier Becerra, and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

There were many that speculated that Clinton might select Warren in order to shore up the further-left reaches of the Democratic party, voters that united around Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’s primary challenge. Others said she would select Castro, Perez, or Becerra to appeal to Latino voters.

These ideas may well have been part of the strategy to date; but Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate was a game changer. Given Spence’s establishment bona fides, Clinton aides feel their candidate is now free to choose a more run-of-the-mill running mate, someone that might appeal to the bloc of white, male voters that are overwhelmingly suspicious of, if not outright opposed to, a Clinton presidency.

Today’s shortlist reportedly includes Virginia senator Tim Kaine, agriculture...

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