On CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, Hiram College professor Jason Johnson and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato discuss Hillary Clinton’s comments on universal voter registration, voter ID and voter disenfranchisement.
There are plenty of things that President Obama has had to worry about since being re-elected president in 2012 — a continuing malaise about the economy, world crises that pop up with wack-a-mole frequency, and a lower house that makes even the minimal level of government functioning almost impossible. What he doesn’t have to worry about, however, is whether or not the United States will split apart, because red-state bile notwithstanding, most folks would rather hold their nose through the second Obama administration than jump ship altogether. Unfortunately, British Prime Minister David Cameron isn’t so lucky. He’s facing a riled up Scottish population on Thursday that is itching for the opportunity to ditch the U.K. (and him) and go the independence route. Economically and culturally that’d be like the U.S. losing Texas. Which begs the question, what would Texas secession actually look like? How would Americans fare under losing Texas compared to the British losing the Scots? The idea of a Texas secession may seem less likely than the Scots leaving the U.K., but the vote might be a lot closer than anyone in the U.S. would like.
Central Government Control
The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with about a million other territories and principalities still falling under U.K. control after a few hundred years of being the world’s biggest empire. For the last 30 years various U.K. Prime Ministers (Tony Blair in particular) has been pushing for a “devolved government” meaning that Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have more and more independence from the central government in London. This is, of course, in stark contrast to the United States, whereby all accounts the federal government has expanded its power, control and influence over individual states with increasing taxes, federal subsidies and intervention. Apparently a taste of freedom just excited the Scots more and they began the legal process to have a referendum on leaving the U.K. that will happen on Thursday, September 18. In the United States, despite the historically inaccurate trolling of Rick Perry, Texas actually doesn’t have the constitutional right to leave the United States, and given the loss of federal funds, support and military they probably wouldn’t.
The Scottish independence movement has argued pretty consistently that an independence Scotland would fare better economically than the current member of the U.K. Why? Because relative to the size of Scotland, they actually send more money down to London in taxes to subsidize other parts of the country than they receive back. This is a bit a simplification however. For example, a low tax state like Texas is in many ways subsidized by high tax blue states like California and New York but that doesn’t mean if the Longhorn state jumped from the union suddenly blue state America would have more change in their pockets. National economics is also about negotiations, exchanges and relationships. An independent Scotland would have to develop it’s own independent trade offices all over the world, and would no longer be able to rely on the U.K. infrastructure, EU exemptions and clout in trade wars across the world. Imagine if Governor turned (president? King? Supreme Ruler?) Rick Perry had to negotiate everything from cattle sales to satellite rates for the Longhorn Network with individual states, cable operators and ESPN. We all know he’d have a little trouble keeping track of more than three trade partners.
Foreign policy is probably the biggest difference in Texas two-step away from America and the Scots leaving London in “Old Europe”. The Scots don’t have particularly large foreign threats to concern themselves with, and what few terror threats they may have can be handled relatively easily. Further, since Scottish ship-building for the United Kingdom is so important they could easily negotiate some sort of boats for protection deal with the now Scot free but Scot dependent United Kingdom. Travel back and forth between the nations could be complicated, but in the interest of both sides, an onerous passport system to drive from Glasgow to London would be unlikely. The same can’t be said of an independent Texas and the United States. Texas has enough trouble protecting their borders from illegal immigrants and without federal funding for border patrols the United States would likely make border crossing between Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and other states extremely difficult. Not to mention what the contentious negotiations would be between the Republic of Texas and the United States as to whether over 30 U.S. military installations would stay in the state and at what cost.
President Obama is pretty unpopular in Texas, he’s never earned more than 45 percent of the vote in either of his presidential elections and in some counties his job approval ratings are in the single digits. In fact, most of the secessionist cries from Texas (over 1,000,000 signatures actually) came after he was re-elected in 2012. However, Obama’s got nothing on David Cameron in the unpopularity department. When he took office in 2010, David Cameron was the first British prime minister in 30 years to have to cobble together a coalition government because his Conservative Tory Party wasn’t popular enough to secure an absolute majority. Teamed with the perpetual third wheel Liberal Democrat party Camerons’ continued his downward slide, and it’s taking a toll on the Scottish independence vote. “Better Together” the Scottish movement to stay in the U.K., has repeatedly, politely, asked that the Prime Minister stay out of Scotland during the independence referendum. Cameron’s last minute desperate campaign trips to help the “No” vote are actually hurting the cause, say activists. He’s so unpopular that polls show 54% of Scotts would rather be an independent nation than remain under Cameron’s leadership if he’s re-elected in 2015.
In the end, the result of the Scottish independence vote will have a lasting impact on British Politics, because whether the Scots stay or go, the vote itself is a shock to the U.K. economy that doesn’t bode well for incumbents. Here on the other side of the Atlantic we shouldn’t be too worried. Chances are pretty low that Texas could try to pull off the same stunt as the Scots, and even if they did failure is almost guaranteed. Now all those Longhorn fans can rest easy, and Obama can keep worrying about holding his fractured party together more than a fractured country.
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
On Friday, February 3rd, Dr. Jason Johnson, Professor of Political Science at Hiram College, Chief Correspondent for Politic365 and Politics Editor for The Source magazine discussed the changes to the GOP race prior to the crucial Nevada Caucus. He also discussed key strategies and how these will affect the race for the nomination.
Hiram College professor Jason Johnson was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show Connect with Mark Kelley about the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Dr. Johnson discussed the impact of negative campaigning, citing the research in his book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell.
Click here to watch Dr. Jason Johnson’s appearance on Connect with Mark Kelley. The interview begins at the 36:10 minute mark.
One of the hardest things to get used to this year is the condensed schedules of otherwise regular activities in my life. I’ve done a lot of travelling this fall so my teaching schedule was condensed to twice a week. The NBA lockout gobbled up two months of the season and now there’s basketball every night as the league tries to squeeze 66 games into just a few months.
And now, just as I’m finally processing and adjusting to the results from the Iowa Caucuses we’re really just a few days away from next Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary.
To give you context, in 1980 there were 36 days between the Iowa and New Hampshire nomination contests, this year: 7 days. Nevertheless there are a few lessons worth sharing from the Iowa Caucuses that are worth reviewing before the next debate and next Tuesday’s contests.
Lesson #1: Mitt Romney’s Got Issues
I had a pretty fascinating conversation with everyone’s favorite 90’s throwback black Republican J.C. Watts during the Caucuses a few hours before the votes came in. Watts, who was part of the Republican class of 1994 that took over the House after an absence of 40 years, made it very clear that if Romney didn’t get more than 25% of the vote in Iowa it was a victory for conservatives all throughout the party. This is not so much a values issue or Romney being stiff, but according to Watts, on a fundamental level Protestant and Christian Republicans are not comfortable with the idea of a man who believes that any other book besides the bible holds the word of God. This is no small issue to the GOP base, and the press in general has been too squeamish to really talk about it other than as a cultural issue.
Lesson #2: Republicans hate Voting Rights unless it’s Their Turn
One of the consistent stories since the Republican takeover in 2010 has been national GOP efforts to limit voting access. All across the country GOP led state legislatures are trying to force onerous requirements on voters, change voting laws and locations and basically do anything they can to harm President Obama’s base. Here’s the funny part though: The very voting initiatives that Republicans fight against on the state level are standard in their own primaries. The Republican presidential Caucus in Iowa features same day registration with easy access and few if any ID requirements. The South Carolina Primary takes place on a Saturday, increasing the ability of working class and hourly employees to get a chance to vote. I’m not sure if this counts as flip-flopping on voting rights but it certainly counts as hypocritical.
Lesson #3: The Freaks Come Out at Night
Being a part of the press during marathon elections is an experience until itself. Much of your time is spent running around one large building with other members of the press, doing television and radio appearances, writing stories and talking to experts who you didn’t meet 20 minutes ago. I spent a large chunk of the day with fellow Politic365 contributor Lenny McAllister who I will forever nickname “the Haaaardest workin’ man in Media” no slight to Tom Joyner.
Once the day drags past about 12 hours things start to get a bit loopy in the press room. Think about it: most reporters, commentators and anchors have been up since 7 a.m. By 8 p.m. if the votes aren’t counted people are getting antsy. By 9 p.m. you are fighting off sleep with as much 5 Hour Energy as you can gulp and by 11:00 p.m. or so?
Let’s just say there isn’t much difference between the press lounge and a church lock-in for a high-school youth group.
People bouncing balls off the wall, talking loud, throwing popcorn and darn near losing it on air. You have to see it to truly believe it. CNN’s anchors descended into something we are now affectionately referring to as CNN After Dark when Anderson Cooper and the rest of the anchors were so tired and punch drunk they’re singing 70’s porn tunes and making late night calls to local Republican officials just to chat them up on air. Imagine your dorm lounge at 3:00 a.m. during finals week when everyone is going nuts trying to stay awake then combine that with men and women making zillions of dollars a year to inform and entertain you on air. Yeah. It was nuts.
Lesson #4: It Always Feels Like Twitter’s Watching You
An interesting report was released a day after the Caucuses by Qorvis Communications a consulting and communications firm based in Washington D.C. about the value of Twitter during the Iowa Caucus.
“Twitter doesn’t measure votes, Twitter measures momentum,” said Wyeth Ruthven, a senior director at Qorvis Communications and author of the Twitter Valuation Analysis. “The tremendous overnight growth of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul give them a social media bounce heading into New Hampshire. It proves Twitter is a uniquely scalable medium for spreading a political message.”
|Followers at 8am||Followers at 8pm||Followers Gained||Percentage Growth|
The report goes on to show that many of the GOP candidates had been gaining Twitter followers all day, suggesting a real “surge” the likes of which we’ve never been able to assess before.
Does this mean that we can start predicting local elections and results from Twitter followers?
Not necessarily, but it does suggest, as Mr. Ruthven points out, that momentum is now measurable in ways we didn’t know before. It is rather telling that on a night that was all about him and his first major contest Mitt Romney actually gained fewer actual Twitter followers than President Obama. Where was that enthusiasm gap again?
There are of course other lessons from this first electoral contest. The Republicans might learn another lesson in electoral failure if they do not find a way to fix the fact that the top three candidates on their ticket, Romney, Paul and Santorum, all have horrible racial bugaboos. Another lesson might be that we have all learned that Rick Perry has solidified himself as the Ryan Leaf of presidential politics. But overall, there just aren’t enough days between Iowa and New Hampshire to draw too many lessons. It’s much better to just watch the weekend’s debates and see how this all plays out. Trust me: there will be bigger lessons to learn once the field is thinned even more after the next contest.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.