Isaiah Webster

Tag: featured

Gay power couple draws national attention after play for Congressional seat in New York

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POLITICO has a fabulous, and juicy, profile of Sean Eldridge — the husband of Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes. Eldridge (pictured left) is running for Congress, and Hughes is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic. Eldridge is 27, and Hughes is 30; and with a net worth of more than $700 million, the couple is quite the gay power duo.

Apparently, Eldridge wants to buy his way into Congress. Having just moved into New York’s 19th Congressional District in 2013, he now wants to become its representative. He’s matching contributions dollar for dollar. He also actively avoids the press.

Two high-profile gay men making waves in the national press about a Congressional power grab? Yes ma’am, this is some good stuff!

New York’s 19th is an evenly divided district, and it’s currently represented by a liberal Republican named Chris Gibson, a war veteran of middle-class means. Can you see the vivid storyline developing here?

Though POLITCO took a somewhat adversarial approach to its profile, most of it comes off very matter-of-fact:

Both were making serious moves in Democratic politics. In 2009, Eldridge withdrew from Columbia Law School to join a gay marriage advocacy group. In 2012, Hughes bought The New Republic, where he currently is publisher and editor-in-chief.

Friends say the two are very different personalities. Eldridge is an extrovert and social animal, Hughes is more reserved. Hughes — who did not appear in Eldridge’s introductory campaign video — does not participate in day-to-day campaign conversations or strategy sessions, instead providing moral support to the candidate.

“If you see the two of them at an event, Chris is the unassuming one. Sean is the one who will get up and ask you, ‘How is your day?’” said a person who knows the couple well.

Chris-Hughes-Eldridge-AdvocateUp to this point, Eldridge and Hughes have been covered by mainly the gay press. The couple appeared on the cover of The Advocate as part of its “Forty under 40” series, which profiles influential gay people under the age of 40. POLITICO is the trendsetter among Washington’s echo chamber, so it will be interesting to see how many other national publications pick up on this story.

Rich people try to buy Congressional seats all the time, but it’s a new thing to see a young gay couple try it. It adds a completely new dimension to political gawking. Ultimately, the citizens of New York’s 19th Congressional District will decide if Eldridge is sufficient to be their Congressman. But in a broader sense, that’s the boring part. It will be far more entertaining to see how the media reacts to this young couple — and the precedents set for how powerful gay political couples are covered. This is going to be good.

The 1-Term, 6-Year Presidency

Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell, both of whom have worked for Democratic presidents, wrote recently in The Washington Post that President Obama should forgo seeking a second term and focus on being a brilliant one-term president. They made an excellent point, and it got me to thinking, why not create a one-term, six-year presidency for America?

Granted, such a change would require amending the Constitution, but it would also lead to better presidencies and a stronger union.

Every human being who acquires great power will eventually become consumed with keeping it. This explains why it’s a forgone conclusion that American presidents seek a second term. From the moment that Barack Obama became president-elect in November 2008, every decision he made was to protect his chances to earn a second term in 2012. This is not to suggest that Obama does not put the interests of America first; however, politics and governing simply don’t mix. In today’s political world the presidential campaign is a near two-year process, so if the incumbant wants a second term, he must plan for another campaign almost immediately.

But no matter when the re-election campaign is set to begin, the underlying problem remains the same — the president makes decisions based on how it will play in “swing” states. Indeed, since American presidencies are only deemed successful if they are extended by the voters, the president is forced to devote time thinking and politicking towards the re-election effort. This process and mind-set makes for poor decision-making; and it has not served the republic well.

In their op-ed, Schoen and Caddell suggested that Obama could win re-election, but that the campaign itself would require such divisiveness that the president would no longer be able to do the one big thing he has always wanted — unite the country beyond its current red state, blue state factions. They argue that by not seeking a second term, President Obama would be able to forge consensus and that the Republicans would be forced to play nice because the president would have seized the high road.

Even though Schoen and Caddell make valid points, it is safe to assume that the president and his advisers dismissed this idea out-of-hand. That’s assuming they spent even enough time thinking about the idea to deem it ridiculous.  The fact is that before the administration achieved anything at all, the decision to seek another term was already made. And that’s the whole problem.

We should eliminate the current system of two, 4-year presidential terms and establish a one-term, 6-year presidency with no option for additional terms.

Four years is really not sufficient time to really change anything, so we should give the president more time to bring about his or her vision for America. This would give the chief executive time to truly grow into the presidency, and it would be lead to fewer presidential elections. Since presidential elections cost more and more each cycle, and since the media is obsessed with presidential politics, fewer presidential elections is not a bad thing.

Since the president would be barred from seeking additional terms under this new system, he or she would be free to govern without constantly thinking about how decisions will play in the next election.

Critics of this proposal may charge that there is value in placing the president before the voters for a re-election, to prevent the chief executive from making long-term decisions that are not in alignment with the public. The counter point is that our current system only partially addresses this anyway. Assuming a president decides against re-election early in his or her term, the chief executive would still be free to make any decision with no fear of facing voters again.

In the end, voters should not be the check and balance on their president; that role must be played by the Congress. The legislative branch has broad powers to keep the president in check: Congress controls the budget; the Senate must confirm judges and treaties; the House has the power to declare war or impeach the president.

The majority of Congress is up for election every two years, so during a 6-year presidency, voters would have two opportunities to voice their wishes to the president. Voters would simply throw the president’s party out of Congress if they didn’t like the direction of the country, as they currently do now in the “mid-year” election of the 4-year presidency.

Our current system for electing and re-electing presidents is flawed, but there is a better way forward. A one-term, 6-year presidency would be in the best interests of the people and the republic. It’s time for a public debate about the length and term of the American presidency.

Joseph Ratzinger up to his old tricks

File this under misguided.

Did you know that the availability of condoms actually makes the AIDS epidemic worse? You’re not alone — I didn’t either.

According to Joseph A. Ratzinger aka Pope Benedict XVI, “you can’t resolve (AIDS) with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

What else would we expect from a man who has allegedly never had sex?

The pontiff made these outrageous comments before leaving Rome for a tour of Africa, where the AIDS pandemic is crippling the population.

Prior to his election as pope, Ratzinger led the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he further defined the church’s policies to exclude and pass judgment on “homosexuality” even more than it had previously. While no pope is a fan of the gays, Ratzinger has gone out of his way to make his disgust known.

The Roman Catholic Church has long held that artificial contraception is against its teachings. But how can the pope, of all people, not see the greater good in promoting condoms in a third-world country where people are suffering and dying? The preservation of life should outweigh the church’s teachings about procreation.

Sex within the confines of marriage and only for the purposes of producing offspring is ridiculously dated; even the pope must acknowledge this. And even if he does not agree with the use of condoms, it is just silly for him to suggest that using them would make the spread of HIV worse. Aside from being foolish, that’s just factually inaccurate.