Nevada women score big election wins amid activism
By MICHELLE L. PRICE
Thursday, November 8
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A female political movement driven by backlash to President Donald Trump kicked off the year with a women’s march in Nevada. Eleven months later, that activism helped women win key races across the state, including ousting an incumbent U.S. senator, electing a female-majority federal delegation and leaving the state poised for a potential female-majority Assembly.
Nevada Democratic women running in statewide and federal races emphasized diversity and the need to protect health care, abortion rights and a social safety net. They were also helped in the battleground state by a network of female-driven political activism.
“Plenty of people had their doubts that this victory would be ours tonight, but this is the story of this election cycle: Women stepping up to lead, to take back our country and take back the agenda in Washington,” Democrat Jacky Rosen declared in her victory speech Tuesday after winning the U.S. Senate race in Nevada.
Rosen, a first-term congresswoman who ousted incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller, becomes the state’s second-ever female U.S. senator and will serve alongside Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who was elected the nation’s first Latina senator in 2016.
Rosen, a former computer programmer and synagogue president from the Las Vegas area, included female-focused messages on the campaign trail and highlighted Heller’s alliance with the president and his eventual support for GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
She also condemned Heller’s support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his characterization of the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh as “smears” and a “hiccup” in the confirmation process.
Heller held a modest lead among Nevada’s male voters, but Rosen was preferred decisively among women — 57 percent to 38 percent, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate.
California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, high-profile Democratic women and potential 2020 presidential candidates, campaigned on Rosen’s behalf, as did abortion-rights groups like NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List.
Across the country, a record number of women were elected to the U.S. House, including its first two female Muslim members. A record number of 237 women ran for the House as major-party candidates, and 16 women ran for governor.
The surge in female candidates this cycle comes almost two years after an outpouring of women marched in the nation’s capital and around the country in opposition to Trump’s inauguration.
Activists behind the Women’s March decided to move their January 2018 march to Las Vegas, saying Nevada’s role as a strategic swing state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016 made it prime proving ground for turning the activism into political change.
They pledged to register 1 million voters and elect more progressive candidates across the country. In Nevada, activists and groups involved in the march worked to build momentum for Rosen and other female candidates.
Voters in Nevada picked another female Democrat, education philanthropist Susie Lee, to replace Rosen, and incumbent Democratic Rep. Dina Titus cruised to an easy re-election, putting women in four of the state’s six seats in the U.S. House and Senate.
“Women were motivated to get the polls,” Lee told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Whether it was seeing that this Congress is so dysfunctional and broken, but more importantly, stripping away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
She also said protecting Medicare and Social Security, finding a path for young “Dreamer” migrants to stay in the U.S. permanently and finding solutions to gun violence “are all incredibly important to women, especially mothers.”
Jerry Lamb, an independent voter in Henderson, said he voted for Lee over Republican Danny Tarkanian in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District partly because he thinks it’s good to have more women in elected office.
“I think we just need more women in politics, to balance it,” the 72-year-old manager said. “They’re more reasonable, and I think they can work across party lines a little bit better. I think their egos aren’t as bad as ours.”
Nevada voters on Tuesday picked Democrat Kate Marshall for state lieutenant governor.
Women were on the path to potentially make history in the Nevada Legislature by outnumbering their male counterparts.
Two female Assembly candidates and another woman seeking a state Senate seat were competing in races that were so tight, the AP has not been able to declare a winner. Should all three win and a woman be appointed to at least one of several House and Senate seats being vacated by men, Nevada would become the first state with a female-majority legislature.
Women picked up two seats on the Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday, marking the first time in state history that women made up a majority of the state’s high court, Nevada Supreme Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer confirmed.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
#MeToo could become a national reckoning – if the new House treats it like a financial crisis
November 8, 2018
Elizabeth C. Tippett
Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Oregon
Elizabeth C. Tippett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The 2018 midterm elections represented the first electoral referendum of the #MeToo era.
More than 500 women ran in primaries for federal office, a pipeline that ultimately led to a record number of women set to take office.
Even so, it also reveals how far women are from achieving parity in politics – they are projected to hold barely more than a fifth of seats in the House and Senate. For comparison, that’s less than in Iraq, where the post-Saddam Hussein Constitution sets a 25 percent minimum for female representation in the national assembly.
In a way, it reflects the ways in which the #MeToo movement, for its many achievements, has thus far stalled at the federal level. After a year of headlines involving sexual misconduct in a variety of industries, Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation on harassment.
With Democrats poised to take over the House but not the Senate, the question is now whether Congress will finally roll up its sleeves to tackle the root causes of the #MeToo crisis.
In many ways, the #MeToo crisis is similar to the financial collapse of 2008.
That crisis was a slow-moving train wreck, the accumulation of years of morally bankrupt conduct that companies were willing to overlook in favor of what appeared to be larger business concerns.
As I argued in a recent law review article, the #MeToo crisis resulted from a similar slow buildup – companies failed to adequately respond to workplace harassment, permitting harassers to continue to rise up the ranks, while victims saw their careers sidelined.
But in both cases, it was about more than just bad people making bad choices and covering their tracks. Business decisions, like board games, are constrained by the rules of the game. If players figure out a way to “hack” the rules or decide there is more to be gained by breaking them, their behavior probably won’t change without changing the rules.
Just as brokers peddling subprime loans were enabled by bad business practices and regulatory gaps, employer indifference to harassment was made possible by out-of-date harassment laws that gave companies a free pass.
The #MeToo crisis also raises concerns about how companies handle discrimination complaints and whistleblowers – since internal processes for doing so are often the same as for harassment.
In some ways, though, the #MeToo crisis succeeded where the response to the financial crisis fell short.
Consumers who lost their homes to foreclosure never saw much in the way of justice – though a few bankers went to jail, the biggest fish did not. #MeToo, by contrast, brought the chickens home to roost for countless men with a track record of harassment.
On the other hand, the financial crisis produced more political scrutiny into the systemic factors that caused the problem. Congress held numerous hearings on its root causes. Lawmakers also created a commission. These efforts culminated in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
By contrast, the #MeToo movement has produced no federal legislation and not even a hearing – unless you count the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Current legislative proposals are mostly focused on whether employers can keep harassment secret.
It’s fair to regulate the cover-up. But eventually, we’ll need to tackle the crime.
Time for CSI Congress?
Political commentators have noted that Democratic control over the House will mean more oversight of the executive branch – and in particular, investigation of ethics violations and the president’s own conduct and financial dealings.
But committees can also hold hearings to gather information from experts and inform legislation. As hard as it may be to imagine after the explosive Kavanaugh hearings, they need not be bitterly partisan.
Here, Congress could take a cue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which reconvened its task force on workplace harassment over the summer. I testified at the meeting and was struck by the good faith efforts of all stakeholders – including businesses, a union representative and lawyers from both sides – to examine the issues in depth and assess different legislative proposals.
The task force itself also represents an admirable model of bipartisan cooperation, co-led by Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic, a Republican, and Chai Feldblum, an appointee of President Barack Obama.
In separate press conferences after the election, both President Donald Trump and potential soon-to-be-speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed some hope that they could work together on certain issues – though #MeToo does not seem to be among them.
Nevertheless, it’s worth at least trying to extract #MeToo from the culture wars and treat it like a serious policy issue. As odd as it sounds, we should treat it more like a financial crisis.
The votes have been counted, the results are (mostly) in: What’s next for health care?
November 7, 2018
Simon F. Haeder
Assistant Professor of Political Science, West Virginia University
Simon is a Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program, a national leadership development program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to equip teams of researchers and community partners in applying research to solve real community problems.
West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Ever since the legislative battle over the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health care has dominated the political landscape in the United States. First, the bruising fight to enact the Affordable Care Act. It was followed by the equally bruising battle over its implementation, which has lingered on.
Early on, it brought with it dramatic electoral losses by Democrats at both the federal and state levels, which handed Republicans control of both chambers of Congress as well as many governorships and state legislatures.
Yet after two years of full-on assaults on the health law under unified Republican control in Washington, D.C., health care was once more a dominant issue for most voters. This time around, health care appears to have helped Democrats with significant increases in the House of Representatives as well as many state races. As Republicans expand their majority in the Senate and with President Donald Trump in the White House, how will the midterm election results change anything going forward?
The big winner: Medicaid (and Medicare)
In a night with mixed results, Medicaid came out a winner in a number of ways. For one, without control of the House of Representatives, efforts to undo the expansion under the Affordable Care Act, capping spending on the program by block granting it, or implementing a statutory provision for work requirements are off the table.
At the state level, changes are also profound. In three red states, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho, voters told their legislators to expand the program, potentially adding insurance coverage to more than 300,000. Moreover, Democratic gubernatorial wins in Wisconsin, Kansas and Maine could move those states toward expansion.
Yet, Medicaid could have done even better. A ballot initiative to fund the state’s Medicaid expansion via tobacco taxes failed in Montana under heavy assault by tobacco companies. If the legislature does not provide continued funding, Montana may be the first state to undo the Medicaid expansion. Republican wins in Alaska could also undo the expansion there.
Moreover, initiatives in Nebraska and Idaho did not include a funding mechanism, which may delay expansion there. Perhaps most crucially, millions more could have moved closer to insurance coverage with Democratic wins in Georgia and Florida.
The elections also brought mixed prospects for the future of work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries. Newly elected Democratic governors in states like Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan may seek to weaken or undo them, while newly elected Republican governors in Ohio and Florida may seek to strengthen and expand them.
Finally, loss of the House of Representatives also means that Republicans will be stymied in their attempts to curtail and privatize Medicare, the insurance program for America’s seniors.
Close second: Medical marijuana
Despite continued federal opposition, the country seems to move decisively towards the legalization of marijuana. For one, while a measure was defeated in North Dakota, Michigan followed its neighbor to the north and became the 10th U.S. state to allow recreational marijuana use. Two other states, Missouri and Utah, moved to become the 31st and 32nd states to allow medical marijuana. Giving the growing evidence that marijuana may help counter the devastating opioid epidemic, these developments may prove quite positive from a health care perspective.
Too early to tell: The Affordable Care Act
As with Medicaid, the Democratic takeover of the House brings some relief for the Affordable Care Act. The effects on the Medicaid expansion have been discussed above, but more generally, Democrats in Congress can now hold up any major statutory effort to undo or undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Yet despite Democratic gains across the nations, three major factors that could substantively affect the Affordable Care Act remain largely out of their control.
For one, with a Republican in the White House and in control of the executive branch, regulatory powers, such as the implementation of statutory decisions, remain staunchly in Republican hands. While largely out of the public’s eye, regulatory decisions account for the vast majority of lawmaking today, with broad implications. The future of the Affordable Care Act as well as Medicaid will continue to be impacted by this, as exemplified by the recent decision by the Trump administration on short-term, limited duration and association health plans.
Second, Republican control of the Senate expanded, and health care moderates Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are no longer pivotal to many Republican efforts. This is particularly important for judicial confirmations as judges across the ideological spectrum continue to shape policymaking on important decisions.
Finally, the future of the Affordable Care Act itself hangs in the balance as it is under threat by a lawsuit sitting before a federal judge in Texas. At stake are particularly protections for pre-existing conditions, but the judge may declare the law in its entirety unconstitutional. This would likely lead to a protracted legal struggle all the way to the Supreme Court, with uncertain outcomes.
The big loser: Americans in deep red states
The midterm election results continued the nation’s path toward a country where one’s place of residence has tremendous implications for one’s ability to access crucial social services and health care, with significant implications for socio-economic and health outcomes.
In places like California, Oregon and New York, Democratic legislatures and governors will likely move full speed ahead in expanding access to coverage and care by protecting the Affordable Care Act and by designing and implementing creative approaches to solving important health care issues. However, they will face impediments in their quest by an unsupportive executive branch in Washington, D.C., which will limit their ability to be fully successful.
Yet in other places, states will take the opposite path. States like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Georgia will likely continue their fight against support programs like Medicaid by adding administrative burdens including premiums, frequent recertification and work requirements. Ironically, in red states with popular initiatives and referendums voters themselves have counteracted some of these acts by their legislatures by, for example, expanding Medicaid. Yet, most states that have yet to expand Medicaid do not allow for popular votes on the issue.
Overall, these developments will further widen the chasm between states in a country facing a deep and lasting partisan divide. In some places, support programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will help those in poverty lead healthier and more productive lives, while those in others places will lack such support.
Perhaps most importantly, these experiences will shape individuals’ perceptions of themselves, their country and democracy, with significant implications on efficacy and involvement in the political process.
The takeaways for 2020
In my opinion, health care will continue to play a dominant role going into the 2020 election cycle. For one, it accounts for a fifth of our economy and holds tremendous implications for personal and governmental budgets. With that much at stake, political conflict is inevitable.
Moreover, health care has traditionally been a highly ideologically driven issue in American politics. With moderate Republicans losing their races, the remaining GOP members of Congress will be more conservative. They will also likely be fully supportive of their president. Both parties have much to gain from digging in on their positions, leaving the rest of American to pay the tab. Bipartisan compromise may prove elusive.
Finally, crucial and controversial decisions remain ahead for health care, including litigation about the Affordable Care Act, work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries, the future of Medicare, and reining in medical and pharmaceutical costs. Unquestionably, these far-reaching controversies will keep health care front and center.
Llewellyn King: My Poetic Quest to Understand Artificial Intelligence
By Llewellyn King
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
I feel close to Omar Khayyam, the great 11th-century Persian poet and mathematician, not just because of his fondness for a drink but also because of his search for meaning, which took him in “The Rubaiyat” to “Doctor and Saint” and then out “by the same Door as in I went.”
I’ve been looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and I feel, like Omar, that I’m coming away from talking with leaders in the field as unenlightened as when I started this quest.
The question is simple: What will it do to us, our jobs and our freedom?
The answer isn’t clear: Even those who are enthusiastic about the progress they’re making with AI are privately alarmed about its consequences. And they worry about how far some corporations will push it too hard and too fast.
The first stages are already active, although surreptitiously. The financial technology (fintech) world has been quick to embrace AI. Up for a bank loan? Chances are you’ll be approved or turned down by a form of AI that checked your employment, credit score and some other criteria (unknown to you) and weighed your ability to repay. Some anomaly, maybe a police report, may have come into play. You’ll be told the ostensible reason for your rejection, if that’s the case, but you may never know it.
The two overriding concerns: what AI will do to our jobs and our privacy.
If jobs are the problem, governments can help by insisting that some work must be done by human beings: reserved occupations. Not a pretty concept but a possible one.
When it comes to privacy, governments are likely to be the problem. With surreptitious bio-identification surveillance, the government could know every move you make — your friends, your business associates, your lovers, your comings and goings — and then make judgments about your fitness for everything from work to liberty. No sin shall go unrecorded, as it were.
This one isn’t just a future worry, it’s nearly here. The Chinese, I’m told, have run an experiment on citizen fitness using AI.
Historically, at least in literature, we’ve been acculturated to the idea of man-made monsters out of control, whether it was Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” or Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” But the mythology probably has been around since man thought he could control life.
On jobs, the future is unclear. Until this point in time, automation has added jobs. British weaver Ned Ludd and his followers, who smashed up the looms of the Industrial Revolution, got it wrong. Nowadays cars are largely made by machines, as are many other things, and we have near full employment. Fields like health care have expanded, while adding technology at a fast pace. AI opens new vistas for treatment.
Notoriously difficult-to-diagnose diseases, like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, might be easily identified and therapies suggested.
But think of a farm being run by AI. It knows how to run the tractor and plow, plant and harvest. It can assay the acidity of the soil and apply a corrective. If it can do all that, and maybe even decide what crops will sell each year, what will it do to other employment?
In the future AI will be taught sensitivity, even compassion, with the result that in many circumstances, like customer assistance, we may have no idea whether we’re dealing with a human or AI aping one of us. It could duplicate much human endeavor, except joining the unemployment line.
I’ve visited MIT, Harvard and Brown, and I’ve just attended a conference at NASA, where I heard some of the leading AI developers and critics talk about their expectations or fears. A few are borne along by enthusiasm, some are scared, and some don’t know, but most feel — as I do, after my AI tour — that the disruption AI will bring will be extreme. Not all at once, but over time.
Like Omar, I came away not knowing much more than when I began my quest. “The Rubaiyat” (which means quatrains) is a paean to drink. At least no one suggested machines will be taking to the bottle, but I may.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.