Talking politics | KBIA

Talking politics

Commentary: The Angry Voter

Aug 7, 2019

When I attended the Midwest Political Science Association meeting in April I sat in on a number of good panels and brought back much good content for my classes at Columbia College and for these commentaries.  In a panel on the 2020 election one author made the case that the traditional metrics used to predict presidential elections may not apply in 2020, just as many of them failed in 2016.


In 1932 and 1933 Joseph Stalin deliberately starved between three and ten million residents of Ukraine – no one knows the number for sure – and he tried to keep it secret.  When a later official Soviet census showed a multi-million person decline in Ukraine’s population, Stalin did the only thing he could do.  He had the top officials of the census executed.

So the pollsters recently fired by President Trump because internal polling showed Trump was behind in several battleground states should consider themselves lucky.  But Trump has a point.  People: IT IS A YEAR AND A HALF UNTIL THE ELECTION.  


On today’s episode of Talking Politics, Terry Smith, a political science professor at Columbia College, joins us to discuss the shift in the way candidates participate in presidential primaries. You can read his full commentary below. Also on today’s episdoe, KBIA’s Will Robinson gives us a look at Cowboys at the Capitol, a day when members of the Missouri Cattleman’s Association walk the Capitol halls to advocate for agriculture-related issues.

Terry Smith's Commentary:

Seth Bodine / KBIA

In Marthasville, Missouri, the fire department is made up entirely of volunteers. Between its three stations, the department is responsible for covering 168 square miles including surrounding towns like Treloar and Hopewell.

Volunteer fire departments are common in rural communities. In fact, The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 65 percent of the nation’s fire departments are made up of volunteers.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

On today's episode of Talking Politics, KBIA's Sidney Steele visits Mexico, Missouri to get to know Mayor Ayanna Shivers. Shivers is the first African-American woman to be mayor of Mexico. She discusses her concerns and goals for the community. You can see the full story here.

When I was a teenager growing up in St. Louis, professional wrestling was a big deal. Old smoke-filled Kiel Auditorium would be packed on Saturday nights and designated heroes and villains would duke it out in the ring, strutting, taunting and cheating. Even as kids we knew it was fake and a show, but that didn’t matter. It was pure primal entertainment. For an actual sporting event, we would go to old Sportsman’s Park to watch the Cardinals.

Sam Mosher/KBIA

By 2100, temperatures in Columbia are projected to rise by about 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a city report, and carbon emissions will be largely responsible. But the city has a plan to reduce its carbon emissions and prevent such a drastic rise in temperature.

The Columbia Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will take Columbia to 100 percent carbon reduction by 2060. The plan outlines steps to meet goals involving energy, transportation, building construction, food, water and waste.

Jamie Hobbs / KBIA

Dr. Andrea Benjamin is a political science professor at The University of Missouri whose research focuses on local elections and how community organizations can influence them. She joined us in-studio to analyze last week’s municipal election. She says Columbia is unique because of the level of civil engagement promoted by its citizens and public officials.

You can view the full interview below:

Missouri has long been a conservative state in its outlook, no matter the party in charge. So in January, when legislative leaders celebrated the 100th General Assembly and the 100th anniversary of the Assembly meeting at the Capitol building in Jefferson City, there were no fireworks over the Missouri River or a grand gala.

Instead, there was a special joint session of the General Assembly and a reception with a “massive” cake in the rotunda.

Jamie Hobbs / KBIA

Recently, I conducted a poll with my students at Columbia College. I asked 43 mostly-traditional age undergraduates four questions. The first three were:

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and places of public accommodations based on certain protected classes including race, color, religion and disability.

A Roe v. Wade challenge could be coming. Will it come to Missouri?

Feb 25, 2019
Aviva Okeson-Haberman/KBIA

With multiple abortion-related bills on the table for the 2019 session, some are raising questions about the possibility of a future legal challenge or an eventual Supreme Court hearing.

“In order to get Roe versus Wade changed, we need to push it further than we’ve pushed it in the past,” Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said.

Commentary: The 2020 Presidential Race

Feb 18, 2019

President Trump gave his State of the Trump Administration speech recently. As usual, I only listened so as to avoid the visual distractions. Evidently, I missed some cool stuff: Speaker Pelosi’s walrus clap and the female Democratic representatives decked out in white. The optics are the show but the words are the content, and President Trump’s words were the opener to his 2020 reelection campaign.

A bill that critics say would allow most government records in Missouri to remain closed to the public passed the House Thursday and now heads to the Missouri Senate. It reverses some of the transparency laws ushered in by voters in November.  It’s raising red flags among transparency groups, the press, and some citizen groups.

A refresher in civics:  why public records are important

Commentary: The Media and Politics

Jan 29, 2019

Earlier this month an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Who Will Win the Internet?” caught my eye.  The author, Kara Swisher, did not begin by making the question a multiple choice quiz, and it’s a good thing, because in her column she left out the obvious correct answer: Russia.  She restricted the competition to domestic contestants and argued that the two primary combatants are President Trump and his followers and freshman Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her followers.  

Commentary: The Realities of Clean Missouri

Jan 9, 2019

Missouri voters used to be in the news because we were the bellwether state for presidential elections.  For 100 years with one exception Missouri voted for the winner – until 2008.

Now we are in the news because we are a trending red state that votes for progressive ballot initiatives.  Republicans have super majorities in both houses of the state legislature, control all but one statewide office, including both Senate seats, and six of eight congressional seats.  Yet in 2018 voters defeated right-to-work, approved a state minimum wage, approved medical marijuana and passed the “Clean Missouri” amendment, strengthening ethics laws and changing the way state legislative districts are drawn.

Commentary: Missouri's Confused Political Culture

Aug 21, 2018

I am about to conclude that the reason we are called the Show Me State is because we Missourians are confused about our identity and need someone to show us who we are.  I’ve lived in Missouri most of my life and am as curious as anyone.

Commentary: Trump and the Communications Revolution

Jul 11, 2018

Two of the marvels of the modern age have directly impacted the developing world.  One is the Green Revolution, using artificial fertilizer to dramatically increase crop yields and keep billions of people from starving.  The earth is severely overpopulated, but mass starvation is not currently a problem.

The second marvel is how cellphone technology emerged at a moment that kept the developing world from having to spend billions and billions of dollars to build telephone landlines and other infrastructure.  In Africa, Asia and South America cell towers and phones are making landlines redundant, if not obsolete.

This communication revolution made me wonder if another communication revolution that is the spawn of cell technology is an explanation for the Trump Phenomenon.  Before Barack Obama, presidents communicated with their publics through traditional media: televised speeches, news conferences, press releases – all of it mediated by professional journalists.  Obama was the first president to use social media, and he used it most effectively in his two election campaigns. 


Commentary: Greitens and Trump

Jun 19, 2018

In early 2016 I watched the presidential and Missouri gubernatorial campaigns with great curiosity.  After the April GOP debate in Columbia not only did I believe that Eric Greitens would not be the nominee, I was fairly sure the most traditional candidate, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, would be.  During the spring GOP presidential candidate debates I did not know who the nominee would be, but I was fairly sure it would not be Donald Trump.  Silly me.  Silly lots of us.

Commentary: Permanent Interests

May 18, 2018

At Columbia College I teach and study American domestic politics.  I know only enough about foreign policy and international relations to be dangerous.  That said I willingly acknowledge that foreign and domestic policy are inseparably intertwined.  President Trump is betting that foreign policy successes will benefit him politically at home.  More about this in a minute.

Talking Politics: Boone County Reviews Bids for New Inmate Phone System

Oct 25, 2017
Di Pan / KBIA

Boone County began reviewing bids this week for a new contract for its inmate phone system in the county jail. The county is looking to overhaul its current system after critiques of the high costs to detainees and their families making calls.

County jails across the state contract with private companies to provide phone services for inmates, in return the jail gets a cut of the phone charges.

Commentary: Trump is Not a Republican

Sep 5, 2017

These commentaries are a team effort. I can’t thank KBIA staff enough for their production support: Ryan, Sarah, Nathan, Beatriz and Kyle by name. If you enjoyed the recent Beatles commentary, thank Kyle Felling.

 

Commentary: Wendy Noren Did Her Job the Right Way

Jun 20, 2017

In the last six months Boone County has seen two exemplary public servants step down.  In January Karen Miller left the Southern District County Commission seat she had held for 24 years.  Last week Wendy Noren resigned from her position as Boone County Clerk after 35 years.

Commentary: Two Wacky Weeks

May 19, 2017

Remember Pope Benedict the Sixteenth?  I’ll return to him in a moment.

The news is so dynamic just now.  It’s like waiting for the next shoe to drop from a centipede – not when but how many?  The humorist Dorothy Parker had an appropriate phrase: “What fresh Hell is this?”  

Commentary: GOP Prospects

May 9, 2017

In the wake of the House passage of Obamacare repeal and replace legislation and all the premature triumphalist rhetoric coming from some Republicans I want to explore where the Republican Party is heading.

Commentary: Democratic Dilemmas

Apr 18, 2017

Here are three things Democrats should not do if they want to regain the majority.

They should not be like Donald Trump and use profanity in public.  Last week it was reported that the Democratic National Chairman said in public one of the words you can’t say on TV, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said one of the other ones, in its gerund form.  Lots of Millennials talk this way and for some reason Trump can get away with talking this way.  But “I am authentic because I am vulgar” is not a winning strategy for Democrats.

Commentary: The Fragility of the Trump Rebellion

Mar 30, 2017

During the 1991 Gulf War military commanders kept talking about a “target-rich environment” in Iraq and Kuwait.  And indeed it was.  And so is American politics in 2017.  There is no shortage of subjects for analysis.

So forgive me for returning to the same one repeatedly: President Trump.  My shorthand for explaining Trump – or at least describing him – I’m not sure anyone can explain him – still works.  In seven words: won’t change, doesn’t care, not a Republican.  Interestingly, this shorthand is also beginning to describe Trump supporters. 

Commentary: "A Proper Funeral"

Feb 14, 2017

An important part of the research I do for these commentaries is to listen – to my students and coworkers at Columbia College, at my church, over my dinner table.  Last summer and fall I was hearing.  But I wasn’t listening.  Had I actually been listening I would not have had Hillary Clinton all elected and inaugurated.  It was an embarrassing and humbling experience.  Here is – hopefully – a reset.

Poor white people have been in the news a lot lately.  Most obviously they are a target voting group and natural constituency for Donald Trump.  But they are also the subject of some interesting recent non-fiction books.  One memoir entitled Hillbilly Elegy by a guy who grew up in rural Kentucky is actually a best seller, and a couple of others have had a real impact on how people think about this very large group of Americans.

Have you noticed one of the side effects of reality TV?  I guess people actually watch “Naked and Afraid” and “My 600-pound Self”.  I only know about these shows because I surf past them on the way to professional cage fighting and Real Housewives of Las Vegas.  Just kidding about cage fighting.  But seriously, this programming makes voyeurs out of normal people, but more importantly, causes them to think differently about their social and political worlds.

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