Anecdotal evidence is coming in that turnout in Minnesota is massive. Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs Eagan and Edina are both reporting severe traffic jams heading into the DFL caucus sites, and Robin Marty of Minnesota Monitor is reporting that turnout at her caucus site is three times normal.
Donald Trump secured enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination this week, and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton sounded off on GOP-imposed voting restrictions.
Associated Press Declares Trump the Republican Nominee
Trump has won enough delegates to become the nominee for the Republican Party, according to a Thursday count by the Associated Press (AP).
Trump’s victory comes as little surprise given that he was only ten delegates away from the nomination after winning Tuesday’s primary contest in Washington state. According to AP, a count including unbound delegates was enough to put the presumptive nominee over the edge:
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The New York businessman sealed the majority by claiming a small number of the party’s unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the national convention in July. Among them was Oklahoma GOP chairwoman Pam Pollard.
“I think he has touched a part of our electorate that doesn’t like where our country is,” Pollard said. “I have no problem supporting Mr. Trump.”
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. Trump has reached 1,239 and will easily pad his total in primary elections on June 7.
The billionaire’s win marks the end of a heated primary season. However, the departure of Trump’s rivals from the race doesn’t mean the end of their influence on the election. Former challengers Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) both control their delegates, “potentially giving them influence over the direction of the party’s platform at the Republican convention July 18-21 in Cleveland,” according to the New York Times.
Abortion rights have been a key issue among GOP candidates battling to showcase their extremism on the subject throughout the race, and may play a large role at the convention. Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in April that he would “absolutely” look to change the party’s platform on abortion to include exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment—much to the dismay of conservatives and anti-choice activists.
Cruz backers and other influential Republicans have reportedly moved to block “language that could be added to the platform or watered down in the existing party roadmap on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage,” according to CNN.
Clinton Pitches Expansion of Voting Rights in Wisconsin Op-Ed
Clinton pushed her plans to expand voting rights in an op-ed published Wednesday in Wisconsin’s Journal Sentinel.
Clinton used Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which may have disenfranchised as many as 300,000 voters in April’s presidential primary, to discuss barriers to voting and the communities they impact. “When Walker’s Republican allies sat down to write this voter ID law, they knew full well it would unfairly target communities of color and prevent 300,000 mostly poor, elderly and student Wisconsinites from voting,” Clinton wrote. “In fact, that was the whole idea.”
The former secretary of state noted that laws suppressing voter turnout are popping up in states with GOP-majority legislatures. “From Alabama to South Carolina, to Texas, state legislatures are working hard to limit access to the voting booth,” Clinton wrote. “And since it’s clear we now have to be vigilant everywhere, as president, I would push for taking several additional actions at the national level.”
Over the course of the 2016 election season, 17 states will experience new voting restrictions—including voter ID laws and registration restrictions—for the first time, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Clinton detailed the specifics of her platform to expand voting access. Her four-pronged approach included urging Congress to act on restoring the protections in the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013; implementing reforms to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration pertaining to early and absentee voting; creating a “a new national standard of 20 days of early in-person voting everywhere”; and instituting universal voter registration for all Americans when they turn 18.
Clinton on the campaign trail has repeatedly addressed voting rights and Republican efforts to suppress votes. The Democratic presidential candidate outlined a similar plan to improve access to the polls in a June 2015 speech in Houston, Texas.
“We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country,” Clinton said at the time, according to MSNBC. “What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.”
What Else We’re Reading
Of Trump’s 70 paid campaign staff members, 52 of them—or roughly 75 percent—are men, reports Laura Basset for the Huffington Post. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign also has some troubling gender demographics: none of the ten highest paid employees on staff are women.
Meanwhile, those over at New York Magazine’s The Cut wonder “who are the women who make up 25 percent of Trump’s campaign staff and are they okay?”
The Atlantic details Hillary Clinton’s “Medicare for More” health-care platform.
The [Trump] campaign probably won’t choose “a woman or a member of a minority group” for Trump’s running mate, adviser Paul Manafort told the Huffington Post in an interview published Wednesday. “In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think,” Manafort said.
Vox’s Dara Lind explains the problem with Manafort’s admission: “The assumption: The only reason someone might pick a woman or person of color for a job would be because they’re a woman or person of color.”
Trump’s proposals for colleges and universities have at least one thing in common with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), but “could lock poor students out of college,” Donald Heller, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of San Francisco, writes for the New Republic.
More bad news for the Republican presidential candidate: Many white women living in the suburbs of swing states whose votes are needed for Trump to win the general election just aren’t feeling him. Sad!
“There are more examples of shark attacks in the United States and exploding toilets than there was of voter fraud,” Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) said this week, referring to a conservative myth that leads to legislation perpetuating voter suppression. Larsen is a part of the newly-formed Voting Rights Caucus, which was created to “educate the public about their rights as voters, advance legislation that blocks current and future suppression tactics, and brainstorm creative ways to bring our election process into the 21st Century.”
An Ohio court ruled that former Republican presidential candidate Kasich’s efforts to cut early voting days are “unconstitutional and … accordingly unenforceable.” The state of Ohio has filed an appeal to the decision.
Janell Ross examines “the race-infused history” behind the disenfranchisement of those who have been convicted of felonies.
Periodically, I take some time in this space to take the temperature of the anti-choice movement and, sadly, most of the time I’m forced to conclude that they are getting bolder all the time, moving further and further away from bad faith arguments about “life” and speaking more freely and aggressively about their true motivations: To control and punish people, particularly women, who engage in non-procreative sex. Unsurprisingly, a major Supreme Court victory against access to contraception has been emboldening on this front, but even just a couple of years of contentious debate about contraceptive coverage has, it seems, made the hardline anti-choicers feel that the public is ready to embrace their more draconian anti-sex arguments.
Take this response from Rebecca Taylor to the Hobby Lobby case posted at LifeNews a couple weeks ago titled, “Dear Hobby Lobby Haters: Birth Control is Not Medicine.” The title really says it all, but as you can imagine, the text is just delightful. Taylor is trying to deny that religious exemptions to insurance plans covering contraception will not lead to similar exemptions for religions that object to vaccinations and blood transfusions because those things are medicine, but “birth control is not medicine nor is it therapeutic.”
Of course, her reasoning for that is religious in nature, since actual medical authorities disagree, making her reasoning purely circular: Birth control is not medicine because she says so. But her reasons, unsurprisingly, come back to pushing an agenda about your sex life. “Really birth control is something that allows people to engage in baby-making behavior without making babies,” defining sex strictly as a procreative behavior despite the mountains of anthropological and biological evidence that suggests humans have evolved so that sex is mostly a social interaction that primarily serves to make us feel good and bond with partners. Taylor treats contraception as some kind of wild kink, therefore, calling it a “lifestyle choice” and denying that the ACA covers barrier methods tied to individual sex acts. (False, nearly all are. Condoms aren’t covered, but that’s because they aren’t offered by prescription and are not hard to get for free or on the cheap.) The pearl-clutching prudery is becoming less subtext and more text all the time.
That’s definitely on display with Lila Rose’s latest string of so-called “exposés” of Planned Parenthood where her investigators pretend to be teenagers asking sex advice and—gasp!—they get honest answers to their pointed questions from people whose job it is to give just such honest, non-judgmental answers. They try to add to the shock factor by mentioning the light erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey and asking about bondage and S&M, but that doesn’t really change the most salient fact about these videos, which is Lila Rose has dropped the pretense about “life” completely. Nothing about these videos has anything to do with “life,” but it’s all about trying to get people riled up about sex practices that Rose clearly thinks are kinky and weird, though tying up and spanking are practically vanilla these days.
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The videos only work if you believe that there’s something wrong with sexually active people—either teenagers or people of any age—being honest and upfront about having sex because it’s fun and feels good. The reason people engage in bondage, as the educators calmly explain, is that it’s fun. (And they also convey that you shouldn’t do it if it’s not fun for you.) While Rose and her audience may be appalled at the idea that anyone would mention, much less to teenagers, that sex is supposed to be fun, that’s actually a very important message for young people to get. Knowing that sex is supposed to be pleasurable is, especially for girls, an important part of learning how to set boundaries and respect other people’s boundaries. Don’t do it or feel you have to do if unless everyone is having fun is a critical part of learning what sexual consent is and what it looks like. (Fun. It looks like fun.) Pleasure is a good thing in itself, but understanding it is an important weapon in the war against actual sexual assault. If your teenager is sexually active, you better hope they know that it’s supposed to be fun, because not knowing that opens the door for all sorts of pain and heartache.
Robin Marty, writing for Cosmo, shows how this increasingly bold and blatant anti-sex message is looking when it comes to anti-choice street protesters. A new Planned Parenthood in Richfield, Minnesota—a suburb of Minneapolis—has opened and is expected to help many residents who need affordable family planning services, especially since it’s available by public transit. The clinic does not offer abortion. Repeat: The clinic does not offer abortion.
But Pro-Life Action Ministries, which is apparently determined to erase any lingering hope that “pro-life” has anything to do with life and not sex, is throwing a major fit. “Two weeks after that, anti-abortion activists claim to have hung nearly 14,000 leaflets on doors throughout the neighborhood, urging residents to avoid the new Planned Parenthood, which they say offers ‘dangerous contraception,’ ‘promotes and encourages sex without limits,’ and is ‘destroying families,’” Marty writes. They ask people instead to go to a church center called the Sagrada Familia Services that explicitly opposes contraception with the usual anti-choice blather about how sex is only for marriage and sex should only happen if you’re “open to new life.”
As Marty notes, there have been anti-contraception protests and actions against clinics, but, “However, the multi-tactic, multi-level daily campaign being waged against just one clinic such as PLAM is doing is a new and unusual escalation.” Groups like the American Life League, however, have started to encourage more anti-contraception actions. Sometimes they offer disingenuous arguments equating contraception and abortion, but more and more often we’re just seeing them admit what should be screamingly obvious: They oppose contraception—and have always opposed abortion—because they object to people having sex for fun. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, from just basic prudery to hostility to women’s growing independence to plain old misery-loves-company sniping. But that this is about sex is getting harder to deny by the day.