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Alaska's Constitutional Convention spending spree & the first step in dumping Trump

Welcome to The Fulcrum’s daily weekday e-newsletter where insiders and outsiders to politics are informed, meet, talk, and act to repair our democracy and make it live and work in our everyday lives.


Part I: Alaska's Constitutional Convention spending spree

This is the first part in an exclusive weekly series of articles in The Fulcrum by J.H. Snider on Alaska’s 2022 periodic constitutional convention referendum divided into four parts. Part I describes the spending spree over the referendum. Part II will propose a deterrence theory to explain the extraordinary amount the no side spent. Part III describes the failure of the referendum’s marketplace for campaign finance disclosures. Part IV will provide recommended reforms to fix this broken marketplace.

In 2022, Alaska’s periodic constitutional convention referendum had blowout campaign expenditures compared to all other referendums on the ballot across all fifty U.S. states. Surprisingly, a large fraction of that spending can best be explained not as a means to defeat a specific referendum, which was handily done by a 40% margin, but to preserve convention opponents’ reputation for political invincibility, thus enabling the defeat of future convention referendums in Alaska and other states without bearing the costs of a fight.

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The first step in dumping Trump

Former President Trump has been called many things from a would be tyrant to an alleged sexual predator. In the aftermath of the 2022 elections, a new moniker may sound his death knell– a loser. He lost in 2020, as did his party. With inflation running high in a midterm election, he led his party to vastly underperform. Many Republicans are now advocating ditching him but no plan has emerged as to how to do so given Trump has a loyal base in the party.

The first step Republicans should take to distance themselves from Trump is to back the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which outlines roughly a dozen ideas to reduce the ability of future presidents to weaken democratic institutions through the abuse of power. Doing so would provide cover to Republican politicians still hesitant to publicly repudiate Trump because the act supports executive reform that would apply to all future presidents, irrespective of party.

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Podcast: McCarthy’s headaches & what rebels want

There have not been multiple ballots in a speaker election in 100 years, as Kyle Kondik wrote for the Crystal Ball earlier this week. On Thursday, January 5, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California offered new concessions to a group of conservative Republicans that have prevented him from winning the majority of votes needed to secure Speaker of the House. Mr. McCarthy has not yet been able to lock in the 218 votes he needs to win the Speakership. In the seventh, eighth, and ninth rounds of voting, held on Thursday, 20 Republicans voted for other candidates, and one voted “present.”

Listen.

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Ten Commandments

Some states are requiring public spaces include displays of the Ten Commandments.

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The danger of mandating the sacred: A Christian cleric's plea

Johnson is a United Methodist pastor, the author of "Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community" and program director for the Bridge Alliance, which houses The Fulcrum.

As an African American Christian cleric, I am deeply troubled by the recent legislative mandates from states like Oklahoma and Louisiana. New laws, passed under the guise of promoting religious freedom and moral values, require Christian biblical education and the display of the Ten Commandments in public spaces. While I believe in the power and wisdom of Scripture, I fear we are misapplying God's commandments to serve man's commands.

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Gift box with an American flag sticking out
Fernando Trabanco Fotografía/Getty Images

A birthday gift for America

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is the latest in “A Republic, if we can keep it,” a series to assist American citizens on the bumpy road ahead this election year. By highlighting components, principles and stories of the Constitution, Breslin hopes to remind us that the American political experiment remains, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, the “most interesting in the world.”

Coming together in shared purpose and mutual celebration is decidedly cheugy (meaning “uncool”… for those of us who are). Americans can hardly agree that 2+2=4 or that Taylor Swift is somewhat popular at the moment. To put it mildly, we are struggling to find common ground.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Voters should be able to take the measure of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., since he is poised to win millions of votes in November.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images

Kennedy should have been in the debate – and states need ranked voting

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

CNN’s presidential debate coincided with a fresh batch of swing-state snapshots that make one thing perfectly clear: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a longshot to be our 47th president and faces his own controversies, yet the 10 percent he’s often achieving in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and other battlegrounds could easily tilt the presidency.

Why did CNN keep him out with impossible-to-meet requirements? The performances, mistruths and misstatements by Joe Biden and Donald Trump would have shocked Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who managed to debate seven times without any discussion of golf handicaps — a subject better fit for a “Grumpy Old Men” outtake than one of the year’s two scheduled debates.

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Bar graph of shopping carts
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?

This fact brief was originally published by Wisconsin Watch. Read the original here. Fact briefs are published by newsrooms in the Gigafact network, and republished by The Fulcrum. Visit Gigafact to learn more.

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?

No.

Cumulative inflation since former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021 through May 2024 was 20.1 percent according to data from the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U.

Trump told a crowd on June 18 in Racine, Wis., that "real inflation" is more than twice that.

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