Posted on April 22, 2016 in Countdown

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We're Back!

We’ve got 193 days until the General Election on November 8th – and we’ll be dishing out the Countdown treatment from now until then. We took a short break as we do each year to celebrate and advocate with Arab American leaders from across the country at our annual Kahlil Gibran Gala and Arab American Leadership Days. In case you need a break from the Super Tuesday redux, you can read all about AAI’s big week on our website here.

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A Republican Bad Romance & A Route

The nasty, brutish, and short (term) alliance between the Kasich and Cruz campaigns is not off to a good start judging by the results of the five primaries that happened this week. The eccentric, bigoted businessman outperformed media prognostications and embarrassed his rivals. Going into the next set of primaries – in Oregon, New Mexico, and the important state of Indiana – the Cruz/Kasich “deal” which voters likely don’t know about or understand will have to defy the forecast of just how many delegates they can pry away from Trump, who has declared himself the “presumptive nominee” and the race “over.” There is of course still hope (and fear) of a contested convention, but it likely hinges on if the Kasich/Cruz deal can get it’s game plan straight – and if voters will even care.

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The Finish Line Nears for the Democrats

This week’s primary results were a tough blow to the insurgent, inspiring, and downright exciting Bernie Sanders campaign -- but a huge win for the Democratic establishment’s pick of candidates, Hillary Clinton’s name being at the top of that list. The Clinton victories will only accelerate the major pivot her campaign made following the crucial New York primary, a pivot to the General election, a pivot away from Bernie, and a pivot towards taking down her likely Republican challenger Trump. But while Clinton is busy vetting Vice Presidential picks and beginning the dirty job of undermining Trump, Sanders is continuing to surprise the pundits. The Sanders campaign has taken heat earlier this year for being bad, hypothetically, for critically strategic down-ballot races for the Democrats. But we’re seeing now how Bernie is operationalizing his inexorable money raising machine to support the very same down ballot races that Party leaders said he’d be bad for. So it does look like both candidates are moving closer to the finish line, but it might not be the same finish line.

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The Reason for the Yelling

The media cycle and fired up advocates might not have been entirely fair to President Obama’s remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement in London; but then again, President Obama wasn’t entirely fair to the protestors. The President gave a seemingly exasperated civics lesson when speaking about the tactics of BLM activists, saying, “Once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention and shined a spotlight, and elected officials or people who are in a position to start bringing about change are ready to sit down with you, then you can’t just keep on yelling at them.” Of course, the last bit of the clip is what got shared virally and has inspired even more yelling. There are real reasons for disappointment with President Obama’s approach and determination to right key civil rights issues ranging from mass incarceration to the war on drugs and racial profiling laws. At the end of the day, the President’s right to explain that yelling isn’t effective advocacy, but those who are yelling have a whole lot to keep yelling about.

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Historic Moments & Holy Grievances

On the heels of Senator Sanders’s historic comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Democratic debate in Brooklyn, his fellow Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz brought us right back down to earth. While Bernie sought to humanize Palestinians and moderate the American role in seeking justice, Senator Cruz took every opportunity to do the opposite, including giving his resounding endorsement to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s pompous declaration that “after 50 years…the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty permanently.” Ted Cruz might be a constitutional lawyer, but he sure isn’t an international law expert – because the status of the Golan is identical to the status of the West Bank under international law. The UN Security Council offer a not so subtle reminder to Ted – and the world – that the Golan is in fact, not Israel’s sovereign territory.