The End of the American Experiment?

After the stunning results of the election on November 8, I was slowly coming to terms with Donald Trump as President of the United States and trying to figure out how best to resist the tide.  But things kept happening.  First, there was news of the Jill Stein recount and the remote possibility that Hillary Clinton could win three more states and thus the election.  Then, there are the so-called Hamilton Electors.  Finally we have the CIA confirming that Russian operatives interfered in the election to make Trump President.

I can understand the Stein recount; I can’t understand why Trump is so opposed.  I thought he was alleging massive voter fraud, especially in Pennsylvania one of the states being recounted so maybe this fraud will be uncovered.  I don’t have a lot of hope that all three states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania will flip, but even one would eat at his margin in the Electoral College.

Which brings us to the Hamilton Electors.  I heard someone talking about them and had to look up what/who they were.  According to Matthew Rozsa in Salon

With just days to go until the real election of 2016 — the Electoral College — the rogue faction known as the Hamilton Electors is making one last-ditch effort to save America from Donald Trump by denying him the 270 votes he’ll need to be officially named president.

But can the Hamilton Electors convince enough of their fellows in the Electoral College to view Gov. John Kasich of Ohio as our era’s George Washington?

Their leaders, who named their group after Federalist Paper No. 68, say it’s still possible that they’ll succeed.

These so-called Hamilton Electors are, interestingly, led by Democrats.

Remember way back before the Democratic National Convention when the chair of the party was Debbie Wasserman Schultz?  Remember that she was removed after her email showing that she was a Clinton partisan and not neutral as a party chair should have been was leaked.  In a long article in Esquire published in October, Thomas Rid wrote

According to Reuters, the FBI first contacted the DNC in the fall of 2015, obliquely warning the Democrats to examine their network. It wasn’t until May, however, that the DNC asked for help from a cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike, which had experience identifying digital espionage operations by nation-states. CrowdStrike immediately discovered two sophisticated groups of spies that were stealing documents from the Democrats by the thousands.

CrowdStrike was soon able to reconstruct the hacks and identify the hackers. One of the groups, known to the firm as Cozy Bear, had been rummaging around the DNC since the previous summer. The other, known as Fancy Bear, had broken in not long before Putin’s appearance at the St. Petersburg forum. Surprisingly, given that security researchers had long suspected that both groups were directed by the Russian government, each of the attackers seemed unaware of what the other was doing.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

So while Trump and his advisors may be right in saying they have no reason to believe the CIA, the group that told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a lot of people have known for a long time that Russia was hacking the DNC.  Plus it is now suspected that the Republicans were also hacked but the results never leaked.

Will the revelation of the Russian interference make more electors consider becoming Hamilton electors?  Would this be a good thing?  My long-time friend, Garrett Epps, doesn’t think so.  In his recent column for the Atlantic, he writes

As far as I am concerned, a system in which electors pretend to support one candidate and then go shopping their votes after the fact is dangerous. If you doubt that, consider the frank admission by former Republican vice-presidential nominee Bob Dole that, had the 1976 election been slightly closer, his party was “shopping—not shopping, excuse me. Looking around for electors … We needed to pick up three or four after Ohio.” Turning the post-election pre-vote period into a bidding war would be the one thing most calculated to make the electoral-vote system more of a disaster than it is.

On the other hand, there’s also nothing wrong with saying that on December 19, the electors chosen in November will be responsible for choosing the next president.  Not the voters of their states, not the leaders of their parties.

They themselves. Their individual votes will determine the result.

And each of them must make his or her own choice.

The electors for New Hampshire for example who are all Democrats and all voting for Clinton, have asked for an intelligence briefing before they vote.  Would an intelligence briefing for electors change some Republican minds?  (If you are a Democrat, you really don’t want to be voting for John Kasich, do you?)  I don’t know.  Maybe.

So, as Garrett urges, think about what you would do if you were an elector.

Imagine you were an elector. Imagine you had promised to support a candidate whose platform was American greatness. And imagine before your vote—the vote that would count for history, the vote that could never be recounted or taken back—you received evidence suggesting that the candidate was unfit for the office that he seeks?

And imagine that he wouldn’t do anything to dispel suspicion or refute the evidence.

Don’t look at the popular-vote tracker. Don’t look at the “Founding Fathers.” This is a new problem, and the only place to look is your own conscience.

This is a real crisis for American Democracy:  One candidate won the popular vote by almost three million votes; the other got to the magic 270 in the Electoral College.  Should enough electors decide that in good conscience they can’t vote for Donald Trump because of foreign interference in the election in addition to a growing realization that perhaps he is unfit for the office, what happens next?

Photograph of Putin:  Getty



Reflections Post-Election Day Two

I’ve calmed down a little but the numbness hasn’t gone away yet.  I’m not sure what Trump really believes since he really doesn’t have any policy positions.  Plus, he was a Democrat until pretty recently.  Either he will implement policies that are contrary to almost everything I believe or he will be disappointing his voters.  But that is in the future.  For now, I’d like to analyze my own party.

Bernie Sanders speaks near Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders speaks near Hillary Clinton

Bottom line:  I think they should have nominated Bernie.

This will annoy all my women (and some men) who supported Hillary Clinton from the beginning and who were really invested in seeing a women be elected President.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’d love to live long enough to see a woman elected, but I was never sure Clinton was the right candidate.  OK.  Maybe this is sour grapes, but I’m not the only one who thinks that Bernie could have won.  The best analysis I’ve seen so far is by Fredrik deBoer in the Washington Post.

Donald Trump’s stunning victory is less surprising when we remember a simple fact: Hillary Clinton is a deeply unpopular politician. She won a hotly contested primary victory against a uniquely popular candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders. In her place, could he have beaten Trump?

That Clinton has unusually high unfavorables has been true for decades. Indeed, it has been a steady fact of her political life. She has annually ranked among the least-liked politicians on the national stage since she was the first lady. In recent years, her low favorability rating was matched only by that of her opponent, animated hate Muppet Donald Trump. In contrast, Sanders enjoys very high popularity, ranking as the most popular senator for two years in a row. Nationally, his favorability rating is more than 10 points higher than Clinton’s, and his unfavorability rating is more than 15 points lower. This popularity would have been a real asset on the campaign trail.

deBoer points out that Bernie’s big primary wins were in the Rust Belt, most notably Michigan.

But turnout matters in a close election, and here she suffered significantly compared with President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan, the heart of Detroit’s black voting bloc, Clinton won 55 percent of the vote — compared with 69 percent for Obama in 2012. Meanwhile, it was in Michigan that Sanders won his most shocking primary victory, probably through the same forces that hurt Clinton on Election Day: Her agenda did not seem to offer much hope to those hurt by deindustrialization and outsourcing. We can only guess how much better he might have performed there, or in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (which he also won in a surprising primary upset) had he been the nominee. But there is little doubt now that his success in the Rust Belt was a canary in the coal mine for the Clinton campaign, a now-obvious sign that she was in trouble.

deBoer goes on to analyze image, something I had never thought of doing.  It is true that Bill and Hillary Clinton are very tied to the Eastern elite – or if you are on the West Coast, the Hollywood elite – at least in the minds of many voters.

If Clinton’s campaign seemed bizarrely pitched toward the interests of those who were always going to vote for her anyway, Sanders was uniquely positioned to reach voters with a different sensibility. In contrast to the millionaire polish of the Clinton camp, Sanders has a somewhat shambolic, grandfatherly presence that conveys an unpretentious and approachable character. Clinton struggled to use Trump’s wealth against him, in large measure because she herself is an immensely wealthy woman. (In fact, she frequently suggested that Trump wasn’t really all that richa ludicrous line of attack from a primary in which Sanders’s play for Nordic-style egalitarian policies won him favor in battleground states such as Pennsylvania.) Sanders would have been able to contrast Trump’s ostentatious wealth with his own shabby aesthetic. The message writes itself: Trump talks a good game about economic anxiety, but why would you trust this New York billionaire to put your interests first?

Bernie also had crossover voters which she did not.  Turnout was also an issue.

Indeed, turnout overall was a major problem for the Clinton campaign; though not all votes are yet counted, it’s clear that Clinton received millions fewer votes than Obama in several states, while Trump frequently received more than Mitt Romney did in 2012. Nor did Clinton enjoy the benefits of party crossovers. There was much talk of “Clinton Republicans” who would, in the spirit of the Reagan Democrats, cross party lines to oppose Trump. But according to the exit polling of the New York Times, more Democrats crossed over and voted for Trump than Republicans crossed over and voted for Clinton. Sanders, notably, never had trouble drawing crowds, and in the Democratic primary campaign, turnoutrebounded from 2012 lows. Whether that rebound was a result of voters’ enthusiasm for Sanders or the opposite is hard to say; what’s clear is that Clinton wasn’t able to get out the vote herself and that she lost both Democrats and independents to Trump, while Sanders had notorious luckwith independent voters.

Neither deBoer or I discount the sexist attacks that have dogged her since she was first lady of Arkansas, but if we want to elect a woman, I think we need to find one with less baggage.  None of the many investigations have resulted in any findings or prosecutions, but the sheer number of them led many to think “where there is smoke, there must be fire.”

Of course, we don’t know if Bernie could have actually pulled it off, but given what happened Tuesday and given his primary record, it seems clear he probably would have had a better chance.

There will be years of recriminations in our future. Many Democrats will, as is their habit, conclude that the fault lies with the left wing of the party — that progressive party activists did not sufficiently support the candidate or that leftward attacks weakened Clinton. But that notion hides a simple fact: In an election of immense importance, Democratic leadership and voters rejected a hugely popular candidate in favor of a deeply unpopular one and are now paying the price. Some of us will be asking why for years to come.

Photograph:  Melina Mara/The Washington Post

So what the hell happened?

Everyone was wrong except Donald Trump.  How could that have happened?  I didn’t blog at all during the campaign season because everyone seemed to be writing what I would write, but this post is meant to be therapeutic.

First, let me make it clear that my heart was with Bernie Sanders.  He is my Senator; I like his politics.  But when I voted yesterday I thought it was a vote for the first woman president, Hillary Clinton and that was exciting, but I did wear my pin that said “My heart’s with Bernie, but I’m voting for Hillary”.  So what happened?

I haven’t read any of the papers or clicked on any email or looked at my Facebook feed this morning so this is all my own take:  The Democrats screwed up.  We all knew the country was divided and the election would hinge on turnout, but the Democratic party, as it turns out, did not have a deep bench.  I believe that in nominating a candidate with a lot of baggage, (most of which was not true, but no one could ever convince people of that) we set ourselves up for what happened.  She just couldn’t excite enough people.  Yes, she had a ground game and, yes, she got people out to vote but she lost too many people who got discouraged by various voter suppression rumors and didn’t vote, decided they didn’t like Trump, but didn’t like her either, as well as a fair chunk of Bernie supporters.

Bernie did his best for her, but it just wasn’t enough.  I await the analysis, but based on what I saw last night around midnight, Johnson and Stein took just enough votes for Trump to win in some close races.

I have many friends who were Trump voters, some reluctantly, and to them I say, “have fun trying to actually govern.”  To those who voted third party:  This is why Bernie told you not to do it.

It should be an interesting next few years and I’m back to blogging.

My take on Tim Kaine

In the days leading up to the Democratic VP pick, almost all my Virginia friends were posting on Facebook and hoping Hillary Clinton would pick Tim Kaine.  And after the pick, and particularly after his first speech, we went crazy with sharing our personal stories of our work with Tim over the years.

Tim Kaine

I honestly can’t remember when I first met him.  I think that probably my mother introduced us.  She was very active in the peace and justice community in Richmond for many years as was Tim.  But I really got to know Tim when he was on the board of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME).  He was also our attorney.  I was working at HOME as the, I think my title was, Enforcement  Coordinator.  My job was to take complaints of housing discrimination and to investigate and try to resolve them.  During my time there I worked on several lawsuits with Tim including one against the largest apartment complex owners.  When I left, HOME was working on cases dealing with mortgage and insurance company redlining.  Working with Tim was wonderful experience.  He prepared meticulously and so we did also.  A few years later, I got the job as the Civil Rights Monitor with the Boston Housing Authority in no small part because of Tim Kaine’s recommendation.  So thank you, Tim.

All this fuss about whether he is progressive enough or not is bunk to those of us who have known him for a long time.  I concede that he is not Bernie or Elizabeth Warren when it comes to banking and financial regulation, but I am willing to bet that he will do his best to make sure that those planks of the Democratic platform become law.  Other than that, I’m not really sure why Bernie Sanders can say Tim’s politics are different from his.

“Tim is an extremely bright guy, a very nice guy,” the Vermonter said on CNN. “Are his political views different than mine? Yeah, they are. But trust me, on his worst, worst, worst day Tim Kaine is 100 times better than Donald Trump will ever be.”

“Would I have preferred to see somebody like an Elizabeth Warren selected?” Sanders added on NBC. “Yes, I would have. But my job right now is to see that Donald Trump is defeated and Hillary Clinton is elected.”

The best piece I’ve seen on Tim Kaine’s credentials was in the Huffington Post.  Written by Krystal Ball, who knows Virginia and Virginia politics, it should be read by every wavering Sanders supporter.  She begins

Like a lot of Virginians, I’ve had to chuckle a bit at the way Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has been portrayed since rising to the top of Secretary Clinton’s VP short list. Apparently, the gods of conventional wisdom have decided Kaine is a “boring,” “safe,” “centrist” pick whose “DINO” positions may make him anathema to the Sanders base. Oh really? Because I can assure you as a native Virginian, this caricature doesn’t at all fit the man I’ve watched over nearly 20 years. In fact, the consistent knock on him in every election in Virginia has been that he was too liberal! This was such an issue that when Kaine was elected Lieutenant Governor under Mark Warner in 2001, Warner used their first joint press conference to distance himself from the controversial, left-leaning Kaine. So before you allow the national media topline and Kaine’s status as a white Southern man to lull you into a quick judgment, here are a few things you should know about why this Bernie broad loves Tim Kaine.

Kaine is the son of a welder who graduated from a Jesuit high school, flew through University of Missouri and then landed at Harvard Law. While his classmates were hanging out in Cambridge fielding offers from big firms, Kaine took a year off to do mission work in Honduras where he worked with young boys growing up in brutal poverty. The year abroad left him fluent in Spanish and with a deep commitment to using his Harvard law degree for the public good. After law school he made good on his commitment to service and rather than cashing in on his degree, spent much of his legal career fighting against housing discrimination. Now you just tell me, does that sound like the bio of a chamber-backed, blue dog, corporate Dem?

Ahh but perhaps Kaine abandoned all his lofty principles in a quest for political power in a conservative Southern state! If that’s your concern, perhaps you should just ask the NRA how they feel about Tim Kaine. Here’s how his elections in Virginia typically go: the NRA gives him an F rating, fear mongers about how he’s going to take everyone’s guns, spends massively against him, and then Tim goes on to win anyway. Keep in mind, the NRA is literally headquartered in Virginia.

Is Tim boring?  A bad uninspiring campaigner?  Ball says not.

But, but, but Kaine is so boring! Surely he won’t bring the energy the ticket needs to win, right? If you think so, here’s something to consider: Tim Kaine has won every single election he’s ever run in. He’s won everything from Mayor of the majority African-American city of Richmond, to governor of a conservative Southern state. In fact, Kaine was a big part of turning Virginia into the state we see today which went twice for Obama and currently has a Democrat in every single statewide office. Bernie Sanders has himself said that we’ve got to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump. Tim Kaine could be a real asset in that regard. Obviously, he’s from an important swing state but the way Kaine won in Virginia is important too. He precisely targeted and outperformed in the kind of suburban and exurban counties where Republican leaning voters may be feeling the most uncomfortable with the charlatan who has won the Republican presidential nomination.

Tim Kaine has a 100% ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and 0% from the NRA.

I think that as people get to know him and his wife, Anne Holton, they will come to know what most progressive Virginians know:  Tim Kaine is the real deal.  As Ball puts it

Look, anyone who has served as long and in as many ways as Tim Kaine is going to have taken positions you don’t agree with. I’m not saying the guy is perfect. But having watched a long time and gotten to see the man up close, I can tell you he is courageous, principled, and value driven.

I lived in Virginia for over 20 years and I’m now living in Vermont so I can look at both Tim Kaine and Bernie Sanders and say they are both good men who want was is best for our country.  I believe they can take the same message to different constituencies to help win the Presidency and take back the Senate.


What is being a feminist all about?

I’ve got credentials.  I was a delegate from Virginia to the First National Women’s Conference held in Houston in 1977.  I shepherded one of the early pay equity cases – a professor at Old Dominion University who was being paid less than her colleague with similar degrees and experience – to a successful conclusion.  I worked to make marital rape a crime and to ratify  the Equal Rights Amendment in the Virginia legislature.  The first successfully, the second not.  I’m the same age as Hillary Clinton.  And I am very disappointed in how her campaign somehow feels entitled to my vote.  Some how I lose my standing as a feminist if I support Bernie Sanders.  She seems to have migrated a long way from her wonderful speech in Beijing.

Women listening to Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in New Hampshire

Women listening to Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in New Hampshire

I was trying to figure out how to write about this when I read Frank Bruni’s column this morning in the New York Times.  I think he was hit the nail on the head.  He begins

I’m 51. My health is decent. And while my mother died young, there’s longevity elsewhere in the family tree.

I could live to see an openly gay presidential candidate with a real chance of victory.

Will there be a “special place in hell” for me if I, as a gay man, don’t support him or her?

I can guess Madeleine Albright’s answer. She more or less told women that they’re damned if they’re not on Hillary Clinton’s team.

I’m still trying to get my head around that — and around Gloria Steinem’s breathtakingly demeaning assertion that young women who back Bernie Sanders are in thrall to pheromones, not ideas or idealism, and angling to score dates with the young bucks in the Sanders brigade.

I could substitute Asian American for gay and ask the same question.

There’s a weird strain of thought swirling around Clinton’s campaign: that we should vote for her because she’s a woman. Or that she’s inoculated from certain flaws or accusations by dint of gender. Or that, at the least, there’s an onus on forward-looking people who care about gender inequality to promote her candidacy.

I care about gender inequality, and I don’t buy it. It’s bad logic. It’s even worse strategy. People don’t vote out of shame. They vote out of hope.

Perhaps that was among the lessons of Clinton’s defeat in New Hampshire on Tuesday, where she lost to Sanders among all women by at least seven percentage points, according to exit polling, and among women under 30 by more than 60 points.

Somehow we got from the positive nature of a woman running for President to what must seem like a bunch of old women scolding young ones for supporting – gasp -a man instead.

Clinton’s gender indeed matters. Just as you couldn’t properly evaluate Obama’s arc without factoring in race, you can’t see her accurately without recognizing that she’s a woman of her time, with all the attendant obstacles, hurts, compromises and tenacity.

That informs — and, ideally, illuminates — her perspective. And her presidency would carry a powerful, constructive symbolism that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

But those are considerations among many, many others in taking her measure and in casting a vote. To focus only or primarily on them is more reductive than respectful, and to tell women in particular what kind of politics they should practice is the antithesis of feminism, which advocates independence and choices.

We’re all complicated people voting for complicated people. We’re not census subgroups falling in line.

I’ll go to the barricades for that imagined gay candidate if he or she has talents I trust, positions I respect and a character I admire. If not, I’ll probably go elsewhere, because being gay won’t be the sum of that person, just as womanhood isn’t where Clinton begins and ends.

I will be voting for her in November should she be the Democratic nominee, but I will never quite admire either Madeline Albright or Gloria Steinham in quite the same way as I did before.

Photograph:   Richard Perry/The New York Times

Hillary and Bernie

I woke up this morning to pundits talking about the debate last night as if it had been a boxing match.  As a friend posted on Facebook that is not what he saw.  Me either.  What he and I saw were two smart, articulate people who both want to be President.  Yes, they each had good moments and not so good ones, but if you are a Democrat you can be proud that you have a choice between two people who can talk about issues without mudslinging and with no name calling.  As my husband pointed out, either of then could stand up to questioning during British Prime Minister Question Time without embarrassment.  Can the Republicans say the same?

Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton met for a debate at the University of New Hampshire on Thursday night.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton met for a debate at the University of New Hampshire on Thursday night.

Politico published a list of the “11 most important moments”.  I think it is good list and tells us more than the stories with headlines like “Clinton and Sanders get ugly.”  No, they didn’t.  Passionate, yes.  And don’t you want some passion from people seeking your vote?

Politico’s first moment

“A very artful smear”
In one of her most energetic salvos of the campaign, Clinton ripped Sanders for “attacks” and “insinuation” suggesting that anyone who takes campaign contributions has been “bought.”

“If you’ve got something to say, say it directly, but you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I ever received, and I have stood up and I have represented my constituents to the best of my ability,” she said, calling on Sanders to “end a very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out.”

An incredulous Sanders, shaking his head attempted to respond, but Clinton continued talking over him.

I’m waiting for someone to find an instance where Hillary changed.  If there is one, it will come from the press not from a negative Sanders super pac ad because he doesn’t have one.

One thing I like about Bernie is that he learns.  He doesn’t have to change his views very often (gun control was not discussed last night), but he is learning how to broaden his appeal.

Sanders makes pitch to African Americans on Flint
Sanders and Clinton largely agreed that urgent and overwhelming action must be taken to fix the crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich. But Sanders harnessed the issue to hone his pitch to African Americans, who have largely overlooked his candidacy and favored Clinton, despite his repeated overtures.

Sanders said he wondered whether, if Flint were “a white suburban community, what kind of response there would have been.”

“Flint, Michigan is a poor community, it is disproportionately African American and minority and what has happened there is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

Bernie is moving past his Black Lives Matter moment and past his long history of working for civil rights and learning to articulate contemporaneous connections is a more natural matter.  The upcoming debate in Flint should be interesting as Bernie is much tougher on Michigan state officials and the EPA than Clinton.

The last Politico moment I am going to cite is the discussion of the death penalty.

Debating the death penalty
It was a genuine distinction. Clinton outlined her support for the death penalty, arguing that it should be allowed in extremely rare circumstances but only if a state meets “the highest standards of evidentiary proof.” She cited the Oklahoma City bombing as an example of a crime heinous enough to warrant the death penalty.

Sanders argued that the death penalty had often been applied to innocent people, and despite “barbaric acts out there” he doesn’t believe in the death penalty. “In a world of so much violence, I just don’t believe that government itself should be part of the killing,” He said. “So when somebody commits any of these terrible crimes that we’ve seen, you lock ’em up and you toss away the key.”

My takeaways:  Hillary needs to figure out how to respond to the questions about Goldman Sachs and other contributions from financial issues.  Bernie needs to work on foreign policy since he was not Secretary of State but his answer to the question from Chuck Todd as to which of these countries is the biggest threat:  Russia, North Korea, or Iran was surprising and his rational well thought out.  Sanders picked North Korea because an isolated dictator has a nuclear weapon.

I’m voting for Bernie when Vermont has its primary on March 1 because I think someone needs to talk about the future in a big way and because I admire that he is running his campaign as a model of how one can run without big money in the age of Citizens United.  Plus he’s from Vermont.  But Democrats can be proud of their candidates regardless of which they support.  The New York Times quoted Mia Farrow “Now if they could just split the gig — Bernie would cover domestic, Hillary on foreign policy.”   I think a lot of people could agree with her.

Photograph:  Todd Heisler/The New York Times



Can there be too many candidates?

I was hoping to avoid the 2016 Presidential race for a while longer, but it is becoming too much fun.

Quick.  Can you name all the Republicans?  J. Bush, Rubio, Jindal, Cruz, R. Paul, Christie, Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee.  That’s as far as I got without looking them up.  The rest are: Santorum, Graham, Pataki, Trump (How could I have forgotten him?!), and Perry.  Walker and Kasich will be joining them soon.

Naming the Democrats is pretty easy:  H. Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, Chafee, and Webb.  That’s two biggies, one in the middle and two also rans – in that order.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Sanders supporter and I’m sure I will be writing about that and him as the race proceeds.  I can’t wait for the debates to begin.  I know Bernie wanted them to start earlier, but he seems to be gaining some momentum without them.

The Republicans have to figure out either how to get everyone on stage at once, how to limit the debate field, or bag debates altogether.  The Fox method of the top 10% in the polls will, unfortunately, probably mean no Christie/Trump match-up.  That would be worthy of pay-for-view.  And I’m unclear on how they will handle the Iowa caucuses.  Are there places in the precincts with enough places for each candidate to have a place to stand and caucus?  But then there will be New Hampshire.

The Sunday New York Times had an interesting story about New Hampshire today.

The likely field of 16 Republican candidates is stirring frustration, particularly among voters who say they feel more overwhelmed, even ambivalent, than ever before about their long-cherished responsibilities in holding the nation’s first primary. Some voters said they were already dreading the weeks of political fliers stuffed in their mailboxes, of campaign volunteers at their doors during the day and of television ads and automated phone calls all through the night. Others said they already had candidate fatigue.

For decades, New Hampshire has fought to keep its place at the front of the presidential nominating contests, and party leaders talk with almost religious fervor about the state’s duty to “screen” and “weed out” second-tier wannabes to save most other Americans the trouble. The state’s news outlets, political consultants, and hotel and hospitality industries also make tens of millions of dollars from the campaign operations. Politics is pastime here, but the 2016 race creates a challenge that is the opposite of a leisure pursuit: Is there such a thing for New Hampshire voters as too many presidential candidates?

“I can’t keep track of all of them. It’s ridiculous,” Laura Major, an independent voter from Milford, said as she collected candidate stickers and free candy from volunteers for Mr. Bush and other campaigns along the parade route here.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida at an Independence Day parade in Amherst, N.H., on Saturday. He was among the nine presidential candidates campaigning in the state over the holiday weekend. Credit

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida at an Independence Day parade in Amherst, N.H., on Saturday. He was among the nine presidential candidates campaigning in the state over the holiday weekend.

Still another reason to be happy to be away from Boston where the local TV stations will be saturated with advertising since they also broadcast into southern NH.  Not having been through a Presidential election season in Vermont, I’m not sure what happens here, but I don’t think we will get a lot of advertising.  We will have to see.

State Senator Jeb Bradley, the Republican majority leader, said the complications of 2016 went beyond the sheer number of candidates: Voters are also struggling because there is no clear front-runner, as there was in 2012 (Mitt Romney), 2008 (John McCain), 2004 (George W. Bush) and 2000 (Mr. McCain).

“This is the first time since 1996 when we have a wide-open contest, and there are now twice as many major candidates compared to back then,” Mr. Bradley said. As for his own preferences, they are increasing — Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mr. Christie, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — rather than shrinking.

“But look, by the time our primary rolls around in February, I just can’t imagine there will be 16 people on the Republican ballot,” Mr. Bradley said.

Others are not so sure. The emergence of “super PACs” could allow just a few wealthy supporters to finance advertising and other activities for their preferred candidates, giving many of the 2016 contenders the resources to survive poor showings in the first few nominating contests.

I love this quote.

“Every day there are two more Republicans jumping into the race, but hopefully the debates will help us sort all of this out,” said Okie Howe, a 98-year-old Democrat and Army veteran living at the Tilton retirement home. She said she wanted to find a Republican to support because she was “sick of Hillary Clinton,” but thought she would probably vote for Mrs. Clinton in the end because the Republican field “was too big to make sense out of.” (As for the 73-year-old Mr. Sanders, Ms. Howe said, “He’s a bit too old, isn’t he?” She then chided herself for “being the pot calling the kettle black.”)

Vote for Bernie, Ms. Howe.

Photograph:  Sean Proctor for The New York Times