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Posts published in “Day: October 29, 2016”

Close splits


If Idaho does not vote for Donald Trump in the general election days from now, that would mean the Democratic sweep would be so massive only Oklahoma and West Virginia, maybe, would stay Republican red.

That’s not likely to happen, of course – as this is written a national win by Hillary Clinton for president looks probable but not that sweeping. And yet there is more to say about the Idaho presidential, owing in large part to Evan McMullin.

McMullin, who is on the ballot of only about a dozen states, was hardly known outside his family and co-workers only a few months ago, but now he has upended politics in Utah, and in part – not all – of Idaho. His professional career has run in national security (CIA), financial (he was an investment banker) and to a limited degree political (he was a House Republican staffer) mostly in the Washington, D.C. area. But what’s also critical to know is that he was born in Provo, Utah and has sterling Utah/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint connections. If you liked Mitt Romney, you can listen to Evan McMullin and like what you hear from him too.

In this time of Trump, when many Mormons are appalled by the Republican nominee, McMullin has some real appeal.

He is the center of ferocious arguments among other Republicans, though, recognizing that conservative votes may be split between McMullin and Trump. Recent polls have showed Utah voters almost evenly split between Trump, McMullin and Clinton – raising the astonishing possibility that Clinton could win Utah with no larger share of the vote than she normally would get (which isn’t much).

Pundit Sean Hannity has gone apoplectic (“All this garbage from you Never Trumper jerks out there,” he shouted on one radio show. “November 9th, I have a lot to say about all of you.” And Fox’s Lou Dobbs said in a tweet, “Look Deeper, He’s [McMullin] nothing but a globalist, Romney and Mormon Mafia Tool.” That probably won’t go over very well back in Utah, the one state where McMullin may be on the cusp of winning.

But it could impact Idaho as well. Touring around southern Idaho this week I heard the phrase “the I-15 strategy” in reference to McMullin’s game plan, and it’s understandable and in concert with what he’s been doing so far. Many of the population centers where the LDS population is most concentrated are close by I-15, from St. George in the south to St. Anthony in the north, and McMullin stands to make a splash by working it hard.

Political people I talked to last week thought he probably will not pick up a big percentage in northern Idaho, and no more than sizable chunk from the Magic Valley on west. That means Idaho overall is not likely to tip away from the Trump column.

Polling last week that differentiated between the first congressional district (toward west) and the second (to the east) made exactly the same point, underlining it with this: In the second district, by itself, the vote for president could look a lot like Utah’s – with the possibility that either McMullin or even Clinton could win there. (Only, that is, in the second district, not in the whole state.)

If so, that could mean some important fractures surviving after the election in Republican politics in Idaho, fractures unlike anything the state’s party has seen before.

Trump 11: Abortion imprisonment


Abortion is one of the most intractable of issues: While there are many shades of opinion, people broadly on one side or the other tend to stay there. But one of the areas of general agreement, on the "life" and "choice" sides both, is this: Imprisonment ought not to be a part of the picture.

This is not universal, of course, just a view widely held in this country. The irony is that diminishing abortion services around the country may be generating more cases in which, under current law, women are thrown into prison. There is the Indiana case of Purvi Patel who apparently had a deeply troubled pregnancy and then had either a miscarriage (her version) or a late-term abortion (the version of police) and was charged and convicted of a criminal offense which led to a sentence for her of 20 years in prison.

Much about that case, including many of the key facts, are unclear or in dispute. But, as an MSNBC report noted, "In the contemporary reality of illegal abortion, the woman and the provider are often one and the same. According to public health experts, a hundred thousand women have covertly tried to ended their pregnancies themselves in Texas alone, and legal abortion clinics closing across the country may make matters worse."

Donald Trump has personal history of being pro-choice on the subject of abortion, but that has been thrown overboard during this campaign. (Will the pro-life position be in turn thrown overboard? We'd have to wait and see.)

In March, he said that if abortion is made illegal, “there has to be some form of punishment” for the woman involved. That led to protests from the pro-life side, where the argument was that only "providers" should be prosecuted. And later, Trump revised his stance to say, “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”

But again, in a time when availability of abortion is so contricted across so much of the country, the provider now as often as not will be the mother. So what then? Should an illegal act be rendered legal based on who provides it?

A Trump presidency could lead to some very uncomfortable ideas, and practices, along these lines. - rs