(By Deutsche Welle) With Donald Trump now the presumptive Republican nominee, attention is shifting to the Democratic race. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is more about the party’s values than about the nomination.
Even if Senator Bernie Sanders loses the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, he could well win the fight for the party’s future and have a major influence on the direction of US politics.
When Sanders launched his campaign last year, he was something of a political curiosity: an independent senator from the small state of Vermont and a self-identified democratic socialist.
Socialist is normally an insult in US political parlance.
But Sanders has proven to be a major political force since voting began in February. He has won 18 states and is about 300 pledged delegates shy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lead.
The senator has mobilized a grassroots movement of predominantly young and working-class people. Since the start of his campaign, he has raised $182 million (160 million euros) from millions of individual small donors.
John Nichols, a reporter for The Nation magazine, has covered Sanders for 25 years. He said the senator would likely have enough delegates to contest the convention and pressure the center-left party to adopt a more progressive agenda.
“Some of the most interesting contested conventions have not been fights for the nomination,” Nichols told DW. “They have been fights to define the platform, values and program of a political party.”
The Nation, a progressive publication, has endorsed Sanders in the Democratic race. Continue reading
(Deutsche Welle) It was a substantive debate focusing on income inequality. Bernie Sanders has pushed the Democrats’ presidential nomination debate to the left, but Hillary Clinton showed that she won’t be relinquishing her lead soon.
It was a strange moment in American politics. Five presidential candidates were asked during a nationally televised debate on Tuesday whether they were capitalists. The answer is normally taken for granted in the United States.
Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has shaken up the Democratic primary and rattled American political conventions. The self-declared democratic socialist has made significant gains against Hillary Clinton in early primary states and in the third quarter raised nearly as much money without the support big donors – $25 million (21.9 million euros) compared to Clinton’s $28 million.
“There is a mood this year in the electorate of a rejection of standard political discourse and standard political candidates,” Alan Schroeder, author of “Presidential Debates: 50 years of High Risk TV,” told DW. “Bernie Sanders has this message that’s resonating with a lot of people.”
His message is about income inequality and the system that produces it. Sanders has railed against the “billionaire class” and calls the campaign finance system “corrupt.” The senator points to Scandinavian countries, with their generous social welfare states, as role models for the United States.
While it might be the year of the political outsider, the establishment will only move so far: “We are not Denmark,” Clinton said during an exchange with Sanders over the merits of capitalism. “We are the United States of America.”
But Sanders has succeeded in pushing the debate to the left. Clinton agreed that something has gone wrong in America’s economic system, that capitalism has “run amok” and created inequities. According to Clinton, the next president must “save capitalism from itself.”
(Deutsche Welle) In Texas, a 14-year-old Muslim student was briefly arrested at his school after he plugged in a ticking box he later described as a clock. Muslim rights activists say this is part of a series of discriminatory events.
An audience member at a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire had a serious question for the leading Republican presidential candidate.
“We’ve got a problem in this country,” the middle-aged man said. “It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American. We have training camps growing where they want to kill us…when can we get rid of the them?”
Trump’s response: “We’re going to be looking at that and a lot of different things.”
The man’s comment – and Trump’s failure to confront it – was only the latest in a string of anti-Islamic incidents that have taken place across the United States in recent days.
Arrested for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, Kim Davis is now being championed by the Republican candidates as a hero. Her imprisonment signals the end of Christian privilege in the US. Spencer Kimball reports.
A gay couple, surrounded by media, stands at the counter in the county clerk’s office and asks to be served. They would like a marriage license. Two months earlier, the highest court in the United States had legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
But in this small county in the state of Kentucky, the clerk obeys laws different than those weighed by the Supreme Court. Kim Davis, an evangelical Christian, refuses to issue the marriage license. When asked by the couple under what authority, she responds: “God’s authority.”
Davis was ultimately found in contempt of court and arrested. Though now in jail, she’s still officially the county clerk in Rowan County. As an elected official, Davis can only be removed from office by the state legislature. She receives a salary of $80,000 (72,000 euros) a year from the taxpayer.
Bill Leonard is a Baptist minister and an expert on American religious life at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. According to Leonard, if Davis can’t fulfill the oath she took as county clerk to execute the laws of the land, she should resign.
“It’s fine for her to oppose this on the basis of liberty of conscience, a lot of people do that,” Leonard told DW. “But she’s contradicting the oath she took. She can’t have it both ways. She can’t keep making $80,000 a year and not fulfill her oath.”
King Salman is visiting Washington for the first time since ascending the Saudi throne. DW‘s US correspondent Spencer Kimball reports that the US faces a kingdom that has become very assertive in its foreign policy.
For decades, a simple quid-pro-quo formed the basis of US-Saudi relations. Riyadh provided the oil, Washington provided the security.
“It’s become infinitely more complicated than that,” James B. Smith, the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009-2013, told DW.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama welcomes Saudi King Salman to Washington for the first time. Salman, 79, ascended the throne last January after his half-brother Abdullah passed away.
When the two leaders meet, President Obama will represent a nation that’s become increasingly self-reliant in energy production, while King Salman will represent a nation that’s become increasingly self-assertive in its foreign policy.
Last March, Riyadh launched a military intervention in neighboring Yemen after Houthi rebels drove the US-Saudi backed government from power. Though the US has provided intelligence and logistical support, Washington is largely on the sidelines, according to Smith. For the first time, Saudi Arabia is clearly in the driver’s seat.
“Traditionally they’ve operated in the shadows, using money or influence,” Smith, now president of C&M International, said of the Saudis. “The Yemen campaign indicates a much more muscular foreign policy. I don’t know if this is an aberration or a trend, it’s too early to tell.”
(Deutsche Welle) The White House has secured enough support in the Senate to successfully veto a resolution that would “disapprove” of the Iran nuclear deal. But it’s a hollow victory. A presidential veto could damage US credibility.
The votes have been tallied. At least 34 US Senators will support the Iran nuclear deal and back President Barack Obama’s anticipated veto of a resolution that disapproves of the agreement. To put it simply, those in Congress who oppose the nuclear deal have been defeated – for now.
There’s a good chance that Congress will pass the disapproval resolution. After all, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by the Republican Party, which is bitterly opposed to the nuclear agreement. At least two leading Democrats, Senators Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer, are also opposed. They have until September 17 to vote on the resolution.
Should the disapproval resolution pass, President Obama would issue a veto. In order to override a presidential veto, opponents of the deal would then need two-thirds support in the House and the Senate. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s decision on Wednesday to support the nuclear agreement ensures that opponents will not have the 67 votes needed in the Senate to override the president’s veto.
According to Jeffrey Peake, many opponents of the Iran nuclear deal knew from the beginning that they would probably lose the showdown with the president. But the impending vote gives them the opportunity to state their opposition to the historic agreement on the record.
“They knew the writing was on the wall,” Peake, an expert on the role of Congress in American diplomacy, told DW. “It was pretty to clear to everyone involved that the veto would be sustained.”
“It allows them a vote where they can go home to their constituents and say, ‘I voted to oppose this deal. It’s on the record,'” Peake said. “They have capitulated basically, but it’s so convoluted and complicated that most observers and constituents aren’t going to see that.”