Opinion & Analysis

The Democratic field is trying to win over black voters. Cory Booker already knows how
But there are only so many barber shops a bald man can visit in South Carolina before the voting begins

Presidential candidate Cory Booker waves as he marches in the Boulder City Damboree Celebration in Nevada on July 4. Many of those who meet him are invariably won over, Murphy writes, but with 24 candidates in the race, how do you scale that kind of in-person connection? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Any presidential candidate who wants half a chance of winning the South Carolina primary in 2020 knew to show up to Rep. James E. Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry in Columbia last month. In fact, 22 of them did. But only one — Sen. Cory Booker — also knew to go see Clyburn’s barber, Herbert Toliver, the next morning.

At Toliver’s Mane Event on Columbia’s North Main Street, Booker showed up with a broad smile and a dad joke — the best way, it turns out, for a bald New Jersey politician to break the ice in a South Carolina hair cuttery. “Do you have anything to GROW hair?” he asked, to the roar of 20 or so men already at Toliver’s for their Saturday cut. And with that, the senator dove into an hourlong give-and-take with a collection of dads, police deputies, postal workers and Toliver’s regulars, executing his campaign’s early state strategy to win over voters over one by one.

Capitol Ink | Afghanistandard Response

Why big yellow buses are the big red herring of 2020
Buses were never the problem, and Biden and Harris know it

When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris clashed over the history of busing, it was hailed as a pivotal moment in the Democratic race — but all it revealed was their reluctance to talk about the present, Curtis writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

OPINION — Ed Sanders was both unique and ordinary. He became, in his own way, a hero just for doing his job.

When Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools integrated in North Carolina, if you can call it that, by allowing a handful of African American students to attend schools formerly reserved for whites only in September 1957, Sanders was principal of Central High. He had to smooth the way for Gus Roberts, its first black student, in a city still segregated in everything from housing to swimming pools to bathrooms.

Capitol Ink | The Tortoise and the F/A 18

Capitol Ink | Top Traffic Cop

Unlike Joe Biden, I was a pro-busing Democrat in 1972
And the issue upended my bid for Congress that year

It’s worth reminding Joe Biden’s critics that the angry days of the 1970s seemed far different at the time than they do now when viewed through a distant historical lens, Shapiro writes. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — A long time ago — in fact, the same year that Joe Biden ran for the Senate as a precocious 29-year-old — I sought a Michigan congressional seat as an even more precocious 25-year-old.

The cause that propelled me into a Democratic primary and a quest to become the youngest member of Congress was my fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. But the issue that upended my congressional race is one that unexpectedly has contemporary relevance — federal court-ordered busing.

Biden still leads the pack despite a bruising debate performance. Thank African American voters
It’s a lone bright spot in a bleak month for the former vice president

Former Vice President Joe Biden came under attack in last month’s debate over his civil rights credentials, but post-debate polls show he still maintains an edge among African American voters, Winston writes. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Round One of the great Democratic primary debates is over. The consensus delivered by the political class seems to be that former Vice President Joe Biden underperformed, generally failing to meet expectations. So did Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had a good night, albeit only sparring with the second tier for the most part with her main competition for the far left vote, Sanders, not onstage.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg held his own. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro had a good night, while the rest of the field tried but failed to gain traction. But if polls taken since the debate are right, it was California Sen. Kamala Harris who emerged as the big winner with her surgical strike at Biden’s civil rights history and credentials.

Why Kelly Craft is the right person for UN ambassador
There’s nothing partisan about her commitment to human rights and diplomacy

Democrats should be able to get behind Kelly Craft’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations given her commitment to diplomacy and defending human rights around the world, Greenwood writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It was Eleanor Roosevelt, an icon of my Democratic Party, who summoned the energy and conscience that inspired a young United Nations to produce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights out of the rubble of World War II. The declaration built on the U.N.’s founding promise to promote and encourage “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms,” ideals that sadly, 70 years on, are being casually violated, from the reeducation camps of Xinjiang to the gulag-like jails of Moscow and Cairo.

So at a time when leaders who should be Roosevelt’s spiritual heirs are mostly missing in action, it was heartening to hear a member of the Trump administration publicly pledge to “reinforce the values, our values, that were central to the U.N.’s founding.” That’s what Kelly Craft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month during her confirmation hearing to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She promised to do the job with “an unwavering commitment to universal human rights and freedom” and vowed to “tackle human rights abuses every day.”

Capitol Ink | Ol' Civility Joe

Are we in this American experiment together? A July Fourth question to contemplate
Backlash from Harris’ debate performance shows the country still has a long way to go

Reactions to California Sen. Kamala Harris’ performance in last week’s Democratic debate have exposed the divide between those Americans allowed to express and feel pain and those expected to grin and bear it, Curtis writes. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Who doesn’t love Cary Grant, the debonair British-born, American acting legend, who wooed leading ladies, including the Hepburns, Katharine and Audrey, as well as generations of moviegoers? 

But he was not so charming when his submarine commander character in 1943’s “Destination Tokyo” said: “The Japs don’t understand the love we have for our women. They don’t even have a word for it in their language.”

Americans have been shortchanged. House Democrats want to change that
House’s fiscal 2020 spending bills are an important step to make up for lost ground

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey writes that Democrats in the chamber are charting a new course with their For the People agenda. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Former Speaker Sam Rayburn once said that “a jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one.” For too long, Congress hasn’t been the carpenter in this analogy.

But things are changing — at least in the House, with our Democratic majority’s ambitious agenda For the People. The Appropriations Committee, which I am proud to chair, is leading this charge to give every American a better chance at a better life.

This election, black voters will not lie low and take one for the team
Democrats take their most loyal constituency for granted. Not anymore

African Americans are used to being the scapegoat no matter what the facts are. Now they’re asking Democrats tough questions, Curtis writes. Above, Joe Biden shares the stage with Poor People’s Campaign co-leader William J. Barber II on June 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — Republicans often say that the Democratic Party takes black voters for granted. They are right.

Of course, the GOP then does nothing to appeal to those voters. In fact, with the actions and words of its leaders on everything from gerrymandered districts (see North Carolina) to fair-housing enforcement (or the lack of it), the Republican Party, which once claimed broad support as the party of Lincoln, takes deliberate action to repel them.

As the Democratic debaters chase their base, Trump has a prime opening
Miami debates are more likely to resemble a bad morality play than an intelligent discussion of issues

When the 2020 Democratic hopefuls debate in Miami, their conundrum of connecting with the party’s anti-Trump base while not alienating middle-of-the-road voters will be on full display, Winston writes. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Hardball presidential politics, a little like Mother Nature, has an unforgiving way of winnowing a field and this go-round there is more to winnow than usual with 24 Democrats vying for their party’s nomination.

In the wild, it’s called survival of the fittest and that seems an apt description for today’s presidential primary process, regardless of party.

Capitol Ink | The One Percent

Capitol Ink | Wayward Drone