TIME indonesia

Indonesians Outraged by the Scrapping of Elections for Mayors and Governors

INDONESIA-POLITICS-ELECTION
Indonesian activists and students chant during a protest against a new bill on local elections outside the parliament building in Jakarta on Sept. 25, 2014 Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

The move by an outgoing parliament is seen as a blow to democracy and a bid to undermine President-elect Joko Widodo

The Indonesian parliament voted to scrap direct elections for regional office-bearers early Friday — a decision that critics say is a step backward for democracy in the world’s fourth most populous nation and biggest Muslim-majority country.

When Indonesians woke up to the news, many reacted with anger and fury. “A Democratic Betrayal,” read the Jakarta Globe headline on Friday.

It was former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s Gerindra Party, and his Red-White Coalition partners, that pushed to have district chiefs, mayors and governors indirectly voted in by local parliaments, as they were in 2005. Under the new legislation, governors from Prabowo’s coalition, which controls 31 out of 34 provincial legislatures, are expected to dominate the country.

The bill was passed just days before the current lawmakers end their term on Sept. 30, and weeks before Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is inaugurated as President on Oct. 20.

Supporters of the move say direct elections are expensive and rife with fraud — a point dismissed by opponents, including Corruption Eradication Commission officials, who say indirect elections invite even more corruption.

The initiative is seen not only as an attempt by Prabowo — who lost the July election to Jokowi but has yet to congratulate him — to undermine his rival even before he resumes office, but also as a bid by the widely distrusted political elite, of which Prabowo is a leading figure, to wrest power from ordinary people.

“Society will need to be prepared for leaders who are going to obey local parliaments more than they serve the people,” says Titi Anggraini, executive director of Perludem, an NGO focusing on elections-related advocacy.

Much of the anger is directed at outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, widely known by his initials SBY. He and his Democratic Party, which controls nearly a third of the parliamentary seats, said they would support direct elections. But, in the end, many Democrat lawmakers absented themselves from the voting when their demands for revisions were not meant, dealing a blow to Jokowi’s coalition and allowing the bill to pass.

The hashtag #ShameOnYouSBY was the top trending topic in Indonesia, and worldwide, on Friday. “Congratulations Pak @SBYudhoyono – now you have a legacy as the President who let democracy move backwards,” said Ima Abdulrahim, executive director of the Jakarta-based think tank the Habibie Center, on Twitter.

“Two generals have killed our democracy: Prabowo and SBY,” tweeted Luthfi Assyaukanie, of the Freedom Institute think tank, referring to the fact that both men are former military officers.

Yudhoyono later told journalists in Washington, D.C., where he is on a state visit, that he was “disappointed with the process and the result.”

Direct elections have been credited with the emergence of popular and untainted regional leaders who are not party oligarchs. It has given rise to humble politicians like Jokowi, who began his career as the mayor of the Javanese city of Solo; his deputy governor, Basuki T. Purnama; Ridwan Kamil, mayor of the nation’s third largest city, Bandung; Ganjar Pranowo, governor of Central Java; and Tri Rismaharini, mayor of Indonesia’s second city, Surabaya. All of them have opposed indirect elections, with Basuki even quitting Prabowo’s Gerindra Party over the issue.

“Do you know that with indirect elections, all of the regional leaders are practically under the instruction of the political elite in Jakarta?” tweeted Ridwan. He and other regional heads vow to challenge the legislation in the Constitutional Court. Perludem has promised the same.

TIME Midterms

A Virtual Cycle

Joe Klein Road Trip Thom Tillis and Mark Walker
US Senate candidate Thom Tillis, right in blue shirt, greets and speaks to rally attendees at the Guildford County Republican Party headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. on Sept. 20, 2014. Jeremy M. Lange for TIME

Nobody wins when voters only experience politics second hand

Peter Tennis is an endangered species. He’s 72, lives in Marietta, Ga., and still works in commercial real estate. He’s a devout Episcopalian who insists we begin our breakfast at the OK Cafe with a prayer. He reads the newspaper every day and clips out the stories he finds interesting. A few years ago, he saw an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a 15-year-old black kid who had been sent to adult prison for participating in an armed robbery. He started corresponding with the young man, then visited him in prison and led a group to pray for him at St. David’s Episcopal Church. He found this work so rewarding that he began contacting other prisoners he read about, visiting them in prison, helping them where he could; he corresponds regularly with “three prisoners at a time” in Georgia. There isn’t a dramatic climax to Pete’s prison work. He just does it. His wife Margot is similarly involved, teaching English to Latino adults. “I once knew a guy named Railroad Bob, pretty down and out,” Pete says. “But he said something I’ll never forget: ‘We teach best what we desperately need to learn.'”

I mention Peter and Margot Tennis because they reached out to me when they heard I was going on another of my annual road trips–this time through the South. Pete offered to organize a meeting of his friends and co-workers to talk politics with me in Marietta. That’s how these road trips work; TIME readers provide the itinerary. But a certain sort of TIME reader: Dr. Richard Merwarth, 76, in Pittsboro, N.C.–who organized a meeting for me with 200 or so senior citizens at the Galloway Ridge retirement community–is another. What Pete and Dick have in common is that they are active citizens–not activists, just people who think part of their job as Americans is to be involved in stuff. It’s probably not an accident that they’re both in their 70s: they are among a dwindling but vital minority in the country. They grew up believing that public life, including politics, was a group activity, something you share with your neighbors. That isn’t true anymore. Politics is now a virtual activity. It happens, mostly via ads, on television and the radio. That makes it a lot easier for most people: nothing is expected of them but a vote. “We just don’t do many events anymore,” a campaign manager in Georgia told me. The candidates’ time is better spent dialing for dollars. That’s nothing new, but gradually politics–and political reporting–has become an arid exercise, the tabulation of money raised and ads promulgated (and invisible phone banks microtargeting voters, which is something journalists can’t quantify). It’s hard to imagine that the Founding Fathers–who staged raucous rallies complete with beer, barbecue and juicy speeches–would recognize the process.

A politically eclectic group gathered in a bland room at the East Cobb, Ga., county offices, 25 people, mostly friends and real estate colleagues of Peter Tennis. They were mostly conservative, though not angry Tea Party sorts. There were a handful of moderate liberals, too, who weren’t as forceful as the conservatives. “Politicians just want to throw money at things,” said Jeff Marshall, 54, a recent Connecticut transplant. “I’m just not convinced that government can do all that very effectively.”

This is not an uncommon sentiment, of course. But a small-business owner named Charles Bonds, 41, put some flesh on it, regaling the group with the troubles his company, with 51 employees, was having with the Affordable Care Act. He wanted to provide health coverage and was required to under the law. But his private insurer had raised premiums 57.8%, and while the rates in the local Obamacare exchange were better for his employees individually, the law said that companies with more than 50 employees had to provide the insurance. The obvious answer was to fire two people, hire some temps and subsidize his employees to get their insurance through Obamacare. “And even if we did that, the feds require us to report which of our employees haven’t gotten health coverage–which is sort of like snitching on them.”

Eric Flamm, 58, a computer consultant, said he thought the whole idea of mandated health care was “flagrantly unconstitutional,” and he was “pessimistic about ever getting the federal government to shrink.”

The other big issue was a surprising amalgam of immigration and terrorism. Bob Wood, 72, said he was worried that the southern border was porous, that ISIS terrorists were crossing over, that the country was riddled with sleeper cells. “They’re all over the place,” he said. Several others said they were fearful of ISIS and immigrants–no accident, it turned out, since the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, a businessman named David Perdue, had just launched an ad accusing his opponent, Michelle Nunn, of supporting “amnesty” and an immigration bill that wouldn’t seal the southern border and might allow ISIS terrorists in. (The bill, which was passed with the support of 14 Republican Senators, provides “legal status” but not citizenship for undocumented workers and also would spend an additional $38 billion on increased border security.)

The Perdue ad is almost hilariously despicable. It also accuses Nunn–the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn–of “funding organizations linked to terrorists.” This allegedly occurred while she was the president of George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation. The real story is TCFP: too complicated for politics. Users of eBay were offered a list of charities to support via Points of Light. In the end, they chose to give $13,500 to a federally approved organization called Islamic Relief USA, which has “ties” to an international organization of the same name, which allegedly has “ties” to Hamas. Said Neil Bush, the chairman of Points of Light: “To attack an organization founded by my father … to smear our organization for political gains, is in my opinion shameful.” (Bush the Elder has endorsed Perdue.)

In North Carolina, a few days earlier, I attended an actual political rally. It was staged by Republicans in Greensboro and featured their U.S. Senate candidate, Thom Tillis, who wasn’t carrying a pitchfork; and neither did Mark Walker, a local minister running for Congress. “It’s sad,” Tillis said, “that we have to be this disappointed in this President.” He criticized his Democratic opponent Kay Hagan–for supporting the Affordable Care Act, diplomacy with Iran, the Senate immigration bill–with a call-and-respond line: “Is that a Senator from North Carolina?” He told his own up-by-his-bootstraps story. (Tillis started on a loading dock and didn’t get his college degree until he turned 36, but he’s been successful in business and is now the speaker of the state legislature.) “I’m optimistic about our country,” he said, running against the right-wing radio trope that the country is in the midst of an Old Testament slide toward damnation.

It sounded to me, at first, like the Republicans had wised up in 2014. They were serving up smoked brisket, not red meat. There was a rationale for this: white women are likely to be the swing group in the North Carolina and Georgia elections. Women tend not to respond to rhetorical violence. Walker, the minister running for Congress, mentioned neither gay rights nor abortion. It was, I thought, grounds for optimism about the growing climate threat of political overheating. But after I saw the Perdue ad in Georgia, I realized that I–like the lovely folks who set up my road-trip meetings–was living in a community-oriented past, where speeches and rallies meant something. Nowadays, a candidate can be all smiles and more-in-sadness-than-in-anger on the stump, and run ads that are sicker than swamp gas on television, where it really counts.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

TIME politics

People Died So I Could Vote

Singing The 1965 Voting Rights Act
President Lyndon B. Johnson presents one of the pens used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) James L. Farmer Jr, Washington DC, August 6, 1965. PhotoQuest—Getty Images

Jocelyn Y. Stewart is a journalist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles

It’s hard not to go to the polls when a generation of African-Americans risked—and sometimes lost—their lives to get you there

When we were growing up in South Los Angeles, my siblings and I often heard my dad’s impromptu sermons about matters of importance: the value of education, the perils of purchasing on credit, the virtue of hard work, and the dire necessity of voting.

“People died so we could vote,” he’d say.

As a very young kid, I imagined the dying as a scene from a Western movie: good guys vs. bad guys and bodies strewn across a grassy battlefield. In the end the good guys walked away, alive and free to vote. My imaginary battle scene was historically inaccurate, but I came to learn the element of peril was real. And we weren’t talking about faraway countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, but the U.S.A., in the not very distant past.

I came to learn how perilous it had been for black people to vote in the South, especially in the era prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. People of color didn’t return from the poll wearing a splashy red, white and blue “I voted” sticker the way we might now. People of color often weren’t allowed to vote, and if they persisted, and tried organizing others to exercise their rights as Americans, they were often beaten, sometimes killed, for their efforts.

Hence my dad’s “you gotta vote” speeches. At the core of my dad’s fidelity to the ballot was an appreciation for the sacrifices made by everyday people that allowed African Americans—and other people of color—to obtain it.

In the 1950s, when my parents were kids, the NAACP began an effort to register voters in the small rural Louisiana town where they lived. Local African-American residents, like my mother’s father and the father of her friend Curtis Spears Jr., became members and participated in the effort.

One day Curtis’s father returned from town beaten and bloodied. The assault had come at the hands of the town marshal, who later explained it as a case of “mistaken identity.” Not long afterward, the loan on the family’s farm was recalled by the local lending institution. The family was forced to become sharecroppers—a plummet in status and fortune—all because of their desire to vote.

My mother remembers her mother and others memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution and various historical facts before heading to the polls to face questions from a poll worker. But preparation didn’t always help, my dad added.

“They’d ask you: ‘How many bubbles in a bar of soap?” he said.

Any answer was wrong if the poll worker wanted it to be and the bid to vote ended there. Today my parents are avid voters, going to the polls for races that feature only city councilmembers and candidates for sheriff, in addition to the ones for president. They vote with a sense of duty and commitment that might be hard for non-voters to understand.

History explains it.

Our democracy demanded a double portion of faith from older African Americans. It required them to believe in the rights accorded to citizens of this nation, even as the nation denied these same rights to people of color. It required them to march, sit-in, stand up, face police dogs and water hoses until America was forced to do as Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

The true price of the ballot was reinforced many years later, in the mid 1990s, when I met my friend Frank Godden.

At his home near USC, where he was mostly housebound and later blind, Frank, then in his 80s, loved talking about all he’d witnessed in his almost a century of living. He had the longest political memory of anyone I’d ever met. He was a World War II veteran, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and a businessman who’d helped develop a resort community in northern Los Angeles County open to African Americans during segregation when other places of recreation were closed to them.

As a small boy growing up in Live Oak, Florida, he remembered his father telling him: “When you finish school I want you to leave Live Oak, leave the South. You spend too much time trying to be accepted as a citizen.”

The admonition to leave the South baffled him. Frank had eight brothers and sisters, a dog named Scout, a horse named Fannie, and plenty of friends. Life was good, as far as he could see—until the issue of black people voting arose in the early 1920s.

The voting efforts in Live Oak were part of a larger campaign by African Americans in Florida to use the ballot as a means of defeating Jim Crow laws that segregated nearly every part of Southern life, I later learned by reading Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920. This was a time when black men were beaten, black women arrested, and white supporters threatened — all to thwart black voting.

In Live Oak, the town’s black leaders decided to run a candidate for office. They gathered on the porch of the Godden home one Sunday and nominated Frank’s father to run for postmaster. The family was well-known in the Live Oak community — Frank’s father was a livestock farmer and a minister; his mother was a principal at the town’s colored elementary school and a music teacher.

Rev. Godden was elected and, the way Frank remembered it, that vote on the porch was the beginning of the end.

Frank’s father received threats, including a letter that he carried in his wallet. Then one night a carload full of men drove to the Godden house. A man jumped out and lobbed a firebomb that landed on the porch of the home and exploded, leaving a crater that extended into the living room of the home.

Anxious about the possibility of violence, Frank’s parents had sent the children to their grandparents’ house for the evening. So thankfully, nobody was hurt.

As a very old man, Frank still remembered the fear his 11-year-old self felt upon returning home and staring into the hole left by the bomb. That day, the family packed up their lives and left Live Oak forever, on a train headed to New Orleans.

“We couldn’t let anybody know we were leaving,” Frank recalled. “We couldn’t even say goodbye to our friends.”

To be American is to appreciate and acknowledge those who died so we could vote, who faced bombs and beatings, and lost farms—and voted anyway. They are owed a debt, payable in the currency of participation in the democratic process.

When I turned 18, my father walked with me, a newly minted voter, to the polling place at the school down the street from our house. My first vote was important enough he felt he had to share it with me. Like my parents, I now consider myself a regular voter. This is not to say that I never miss; I have. But I believe, like they do, that my vote matters.

I’ve heard my father’s words flowing from my mouth when I talk to younger people about voting: people died so we could vote. Now they are my words. Now I understand the battlefield and the soldiers.

In 2000, I traveled to Greenwood, Mississippi, with Endesha Ida Mae Holland, a foot soldier in the Civil Rights movement who had just published a memoir about her life in the Mississippi Delta. She had received an invitation to speak at a literary conference at the University of Mississippi at Oxford (better known by its nickname Ole Miss). This was a place black people could only dream of attending when she was growing up. I accompanied Holland, who had since become a professor at USC and a Pulitzer-prize-nominated playwright, to write a Los Angeles Times magazine profile.

She showed me where she’d once seen the battered body of Emmett Till, an African-American teen who had been killed for reportedly flirting with a white woman, and where she had marched. She showed me where the house she grew up used to be. It had been firebombed because she joined civil rights workers in registering people to vote. Holland’s mother had been afraid that her daughter was stirring up trouble and was opposed to her civil rights activity; she didn’t want to vote. When the house was bombed, Holland’s disabled mother was seriously injured. In our conversations, Holland told me how, at the hospital, not long before she died, her mother whispered to her: “Tote me to vote, gal.”

Voting stories have been to me like family heirlooms; they make it impossible for me to take voting lightly. For Frank, the bombing robbed him of the world as he knew it. It might have stripped him too of his faith in democracy. Instead, Frank became fervent about voting, community involvement, collective action—from the neighborhood block club, to the college alumni association, to his political party. He remained a believer in the democratic process. He followed politics like others follow sports.

In 2008, at the age of 97, Frank did something his parents never did: he casted a vote for an African American to hold the nation’s highest office, then he’d witnessed Barack Obama’s election. Listening to the inauguration, Frank cried tears that carried the weight of generations.

Jocelyn Y. Stewart originally wrote this piece for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Protesters Storm State TV Station as Fresh Clashes Erupt

PAKISTAN-UNREST-POLITICS
Pakistani supporters of politician-cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri and cricket turned politician Imran Khan shout antigovernment slogans after storming the headquarters of the state-owned Pakistani Television in Islamabad on Sept. 1, 2014 Aamir Qureshi—AFP/Getty Images

The attack comes just hours after the military calls for a peaceful solution to the political stalemate

Protesters stormed the headquarters of Pakistani Television (PTV) in Islamabad on Monday, taking it off air and beating up the station’s journalists, according to Reuters. The attack follows a bloody weekend in the Pakistani capital.

“They have stormed the PTV office,” an anchor said just before the transmission abruptly ended, Reuters reported. “PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up.”

Paramilitary forces and soldiers later secured the station, which resumed broadcasting. Protesters left peacefully.

The storming of PTV came as fresh clashes erupted between stick-wielding protesters and police on Monday morning, just hours after the nation’s powerful military called for a peaceful solution to the political stalemate, according to Agence France-Presse.

Demonstrations against the government have been led for weeks by cricket icon turned opposition politician Imran Khan and outspoken politician-cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, in a bid to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power.

Khan insists that Sharif’s government finagled its way into office through rigged elections last year, and insists that the Prime Minister must resign, and fresh elections set, before the protests end.

The demonstrations that commenced in normally sleepy Islamabad on Aug. 15 have increasingly turned violent.

At least three people were reportedly killed over the weekend as protesters attempted to move deeper into the so-called red zone, where Parliament and executive offices, along with the Prime Minister’s residence and several embassies, are located.

On Monday, Khan urged his supporters to refrain from further violence in the wake of the recent bloodshed, according to Reuters.

“I call upon my workers to remain peaceful,” said Khan, addressing crowds from the top of a shipping container serving as a makeshift stage. “Do not carry out any acts of violence. God has given us victory.”

Domestic news outlet Dawn reports that the embattled Prime Minister and Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif are meeting in Islamabad to discuss the crisis.

TIME Hong Kong

China: No Open Nominations for Hong Kong Leader

Activists Take To The Streets As China Votes On Hong Kong Election Process
Protesters take part in a rally during the beginning of the Occupy Central movement outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on Aug. 31, 2014. Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

China's legislature on Sunday ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub

Updated: Aug. 31, 2014, 8:40 a.m. E.T.

(BEIJING) — China’s legislature on Sunday ruled out allowing open nominations in inaugural elections for Hong Kong’s leader, saying they would create a “chaotic society.” Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city “will definitely happen.”

The legislature’s powerful Standing Committee said all candidates should be approved by more than half of a special nominating body in order to go before voters. That’s at odds with demands from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which staged a massive protest in July to press for genuine democracy in the Chinese territory over fears candidates would continue to be screened to assess their loyalty to Beijing.

Following the committee’s widely expected decision, pro-democracy supporters rallied in a park in front of Hong Kong government headquarters.

Hong Kong has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since returning from British to Chinese rule in 1997, when China’s communist leaders pledged to allow the city’s leader, known as the chief executive, to be eventually elected through “universal suffrage” rather than by the current committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons. But China’s growing influence in the city’s affairs has sparked fears that Beijing won’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, told a news conference that openly nominating candidates would create a “chaotic society.”

“These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky,” he said. “Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate.”

Hong Kong’s most high-profile democracy group, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, immediately announced that a plan to “occupy” the city’s Central business district would go ahead, without specifying a date.

“OCLP has considered occupying Central only as the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice,” the group said in a statement. “We are very sorry to say that today all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and the occupation of Central will definitely happen.”

Occupy Central has vowed to rally at least 10,000 people for the massive sit-in, which could still be months away because Hong Kong’s government must hold more consultations on Beijing’s guidelines and then formulate a bill to be passed by the city’s legislature. The group urged legislators to vote against it and “start the constitutional reform process all over again.”

Making clear that Chinese leaders intend to tightly control politics in Hong Kong, Li reiterated that candidates for chief executive should be loyal to China’s ruling Communist Party.

“He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government,” Li said. “If Hong Kong’s chief executive doesn’t love the country and love the party, then that can’t work in one country.”

Under Sunday’s guidelines, Hong Kong’s 5 million eligible voters will be able to vote in 2017 for two to three candidates selected by the 1,200-member nominating committee. Then, the chief executive-elect “will have to be appointed by the Central People’s Government,” the Standing Committee said.

“Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner,” it said.

Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the requirement that a candidate is supported by more than half of the nomination committee “will rule out a pan-democratic candidate.”

“Only if it’s lowered to 20 percent can a pan-democratic candidate get in,” as there could be enough political diversity in the committee to back a more democratically minded person, Lam said.

Beijing’s announcement comes after a summer of protests and counter-protests that have gripped Hong Kong, including a rally two weeks ago by pro-Beijing activists to denounce Occupy Central as threatening the city’s stability.

Political tensions spiked in June when Chinese officials released a policy “white paper” declaring that Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy … comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership.”

Many read the policy paper as asserting Beijing’s dominance of Hong Kong’s affairs and hit the streets and the Internet in protest. Occupy Central drew Beijing’s rebuke by organizing an online referendum that received nearly 800,000 votes on how to pick the city’s chief executive.

On Sunday, organizers of a similar referendum in the neighboring Chinese-controlled city of Macau said 95 percent of 8,688 people had voted in favor of its leader being elected by universal suffrage in 2019. Macau’s incumbent leader, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee on Sunday.

___

Associated Press writer Louise Watt contributed to this report.

TIME republicans

Women Find GOP ‘Intolerant,’ Report Says

The Republican Party's elephant symbol is seen on display on October 24, 2000 at the Republican campaign headquarters in El Paso, Texas.
The Republican Party's elephant symbol is seen on display on October 24, 2000 at the Republican campaign headquarters in El Paso, Texas. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

A gender gap persists

Female voters have sharply negative views of the Republican Party, according to a new report of internal polling done by major GOP groups, the latest sign of the gender gap facing the party as it tries to recapture the White House in 2016.

Politico, which obtained a copy of the Republican polling, reports it found that many women consider the GOP “intolerant” and “stuck in the past.” The Republican groups that commissioned the polling, the Karl Rove-led Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network, hosted eight focus groups over the summer and survey about 800 registered women voters. Pollsters found that 49% of women have an unfavorable view of Republicans, while just 39% feel the same about Democrats, Politico reports. The establishment-friendly GOP groups are warning that Republican elected officials “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” They’re advising officials to champion equal pay policies, and suggesting Republicans change the way they handle the issue of abortion: “Deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues,” the report says.

Republicans are expected to easily keep their majority in the House and may even recapture the majority in the Senate during the coming midterm elections. But the gender gap will be more troublesome in the 2016 presidential election, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

[Politico]

TIME 2016 Election

Pro-Clinton Group Touts Her Record on Women

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - July 30, 2014
Hillary Clinton is seen arriving at The Carlyle Hotel on July 30, 2014 in New York City. Alessio Botticelli—GC Images/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s shadow campaign emphasizes her empowerment of women

A group dedicated to defending and promoting Hillary Clinton’s record ahead of a possible 2016 presidential bid used Women’s Equality Day to tout her record of promoting women Tuesday.

The group Correct the Record released a two-page document entitled “Breaking Glass: Women’s Economic Empowerment.” The document, given exclusively to TIME, looks at Clinton’s work to promote women’s and girls’ issues as Secretary of State. The issue was Clinton’s top policy priority. The push came after her failed 2008 presidential bid, during which she didn’t highlight the historic nature of her candidacy until the end of the campaign, famously saying only in her concession speech that her bid to be the first female president represented “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” for the 18 million votes she’d received in the primaries.

Many Clinton advisers who’d worked on the campaign have said in retrospect that they wished they’d emphasized the historic opportunity she had to be the first female president earlier. Clinton lost the women’s vote in 16 state and territorial primaries to Barack Obama. Already this time, Ready for Hillary, another arm of Clinton’s shadow campaign, has focused on outreach to female voters as a priority.

Correct the Record’s promotion of Clinton’s record also speaks to that push, highlighting the work that she’s done to further women and children globally. The group notes that Clinton created the office of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and raised women’s issues at all international economic forums. She launched the Equal Futures Partnership to advance women in politics and the private sector. Along with Asian Partners she pushed through the San Francisco Declaration, an agreement to realize women’s economic potential. With help from Middle Eastern countries she launched the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, which brought together and empowered activists in the region to work on women’s economic and political. In Latin America and the Caribbean she launched WEAmericas to help women grow small businesses. In Africa, she created the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to help train women qualify for the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade agreement that gives privileged trade status to certain African countries and businesses. And she directed the Invest for the Future program in Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia to focus on women’s entrepreneurship.

“Hillary Clinton championed such unprecedented and impassioned work at the State Department to advance women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment that it would take an entire book to fully chronicle her efforts,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the group. “Correct The Record put together this ‘Breaking Glass’ record analysis to highlight Clinton’s many successes, including several multilateral partnerships and programs which raised the profile of women’s issues and resulted in greater economic engagement of women around the world.”

TIME justice

Students Challenge Texas Voter ID Law in Court

A voter completes her ballot on November 6, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.
A voter completes her ballot on November 6, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. Tom Pennington—Getty Images

Trial set for September

Students in Texas have a question for their state lawmakers: Why us? In September, they’ll get to pose that question in court.

Over the last year, laws that advocates say place unnecessary burdens on voters have advanced across the country. But a law in Texas is causing a particular stir due to its potential to place the harshest burdens on the youngest voters. A lawsuit challenging it that was filed last year goes to trial Sept. 2.

“We work to engage people—young people—in this process,” said Christina Sanders, state director of the Texas League of Young Voters, which is among the plaintiffs in an upcoming voter identification case in the state. “The hurdles these laws create makes it more difficult for us to engage.”

“More than cases of apathy, it becomes a case of disenfranchisement,” she added.

For Sanders and the Texas League of Young Voters, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision—which nullified key portions of the landmark Voting Rights Act—has given them a case of judicial déjà vu. The group’s first action after its founding in 2010 was joining in the initial challenge to the law that restricts the type of identification voters can use at Texas polls, a lawsuit that prevented the measure from taking effect in 2012. But because of the Supreme Court’s decision that invalidated the portion of the Voting Rights Act used to block the law, it was able to take hold almost immediately after the high court’s ruling. The NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of the League, joined the Department of Justice lawsuit last year in an effort to once again seek refuge from the law in the courts.

The state has said the ID requirement is an effort to prevent in-person voter fraud. In a 2013 editorial, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said requiring voters to present government issued IDs is “the first step in the process is to ensure that only those that are legally allowed to vote actually vote.” He called the efforts to block the law misguided, noting that some 83% of adults and 84% of registered voters support voter ID laws, according to a 2013 McClatchy-Marist poll.

“To those that oppose voter ID laws, how about instead of trying to incite racial violence and protests, you walk the walk and help those you believe to be poor or disenfranchised without photo ID to acquire a photo ID,” Abbott said.

Under the law, seven forms of identification are accepted at Texas polling stations, among them state drivers’ licenses and identification cards, election identification certificates, military IDs, passports, citizenship documents with photos, and concealed handgun licenses. And noticeably absent from that list: student identification cards.

In Texas, voter turnout for youth was among the lowest in 2012 at 29.6%, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. But voting rights advocates worry these laws will only further discourage young people from voting in the state. Between 600,000 and 800,000 voters may be ineligible to vote under the Texas law, many of whom may be students given the fact that nationally only about 65% of 18 year-olds have licenses, according to a 2011 University of Michigan study.

Ryan Haygood, director for the Legal Defense Fund’s political participation group, said student IDs were specifically left off the list because they fail to prove whether a student is a citizen or a resident, though he said there have been no instances of student non-citizens attempting to vote in person.

“There are two ways you can win an election, get more people to participate or get less of your opponents potential voters to participate,” Haygood said. “These laws prey on groups that have been historically marginalized.”

About 45% of eligible 18 to 29 year-olds voted during the 2012 presidential election, casting over 20 million votes, according to CIRCLE. That rate was a bit below the 51% mark from from 2008 but an overall boost compared to the 15 million cast in 2000.

Sanders said preventing students from using their state college IDs to vote causes “an extra hurdle,” and one many advocates don’t understand.

“We haven’t heard really good rationale for it,” said Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project. While states have argued that because student IDs often do not have addresses they can’t verify residence, voter ID laws, Ho said, are justified not as a means of confirming residence, but a way to confirm identity.

“It doesn’t make any sense to exclude student IDs on the basis of an address,” he says. “It leads us to think the only reason why they’re excluding student IDs is that they don’t want students to vote.” Younger voters tend to vote disproportionately Democratic, and laws passed in Texas and elsewhere increasing restrictions on student IDs have been pushed by Republicans.

And the Lone Star state isn’t the only state where the student vote may be at risk. As the New York Times reported in July, students in North Carolina have filed a lawsuit saying the state’s restrictive voting measures, which also prohibit the use of state university IDs at the polls, violate the 26th Amendment—the one that says the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any sate on account of age.”

TIME Congress

Sen. John Walsh Plagiarized Final Paper for Master’s Degree

John Walsh
Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., speaks during an event in the Capitol Visitor Center on the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, July 23, 2014. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

A Walsh campaign spokeswoman says the plagiarism was a "mistake"

Montana Democratic Senator John Walsh plagiarized portions of a final paper required for his Army War College master’s degree, which he earned in 2007 at the age of 46, his campaign confirmed Wednesday. The charges endanger the Democrats’ control of the Senate as the Republican Party is attempting to pick up a net six seats this fall.

As first reported by The New York Times, Walsh passed off passages of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” as his own, without proper attribution to Harvard University and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace documents. Walsh told Jonathan Martin, a Times reporter, that he did not plagiarize, but an aide did not contest the charge, according to the Times article.

Lauren Passalacqua, a Walsh campaign spokeswoman, told TIME in a statement that the plagiarism was a “mistake.”

“This was unintentional and it was a mistake,” wrote Passalacqua. “There were areas that should have been cited differently but it was completely unintentional. Senator Walsh released every single evaluation that he received during his 33-year military career, which shows an honorable and stellar record of service to protecting Montana and serving this country in Iraq.”

Walsh served in the Montana National Guard for over 30 years before winning Montana’s lieutenant governor race in 2012. Earlier this year, after President Barack Obama nominated Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to be the next ambassador to China, Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh to the Senate. Walsh is currently running for another term in the Senate against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.

Outside election experts have given the edge to Daines. The Charlie Cook Report ranked the race as “lean Republican” in June, and Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, recently wrote that the seat was one of the three best Republican pickup opportunities in the Senate. Walsh has been gaining on Daines, however — a recent poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling showed that Walsh had trimmed an early 17-point Daines advantage down to seven points.

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