Primary for local Congressional seat might not be uninteresting + Uncomfortable with Weekly's endorsement | A Pragmatist's Take | Douglas Moran | Palo Alto Online |

Local Blogs

A Pragmatist's Take

By Douglas Moran

E-mail Douglas Moran

About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

View all posts from Douglas Moran

Primary for local Congressional seat might not be uninteresting + Uncomfortable with Weekly's endorsement

Uploaded: May 28, 2022
Anna Eshoo has been the Congresswoman for this area since 1993 and has won primary and general elections by margins in the range of 20-40% of the vote. In 2020, that dropped from over 70% of the vote in the previous elections to 62-63%. She is now 79 and for several years, there has been speculation about when she would retire and there had been strong speculation that she wouldn't run this year. Consequently, there have been multiple prominent politicians positioning themselves for when that happens. It is likely that these politicians and their supporters will vigorously support Eshoo -- if another Democrat were to win, they would then be running against an incumbent in 2024 instead of running for an open seat.

As of 2022-03-31 -- the end of the most recent reporting period -- Eshoo has 5.7 times the donations/contributions/receipts of the next candidate, and 2.3 times the total of all the other candidates. Ah, the power of incumbency.(1)

Note: Following redistricting, this area's district' boundaries were changed and its number changed from the 18th to the 16th.

One interesting factor in this primary is whether President Biden's disapproval rate will cause any significant shift in the voting patterns: between candidates in the same party, between parties, increased non-voting, ...(2)

I hadn't expected to blog about the primary candidates for the US Congressional seat, and many have likely already returned their ballots. This blog was prompted by the Palo Alto Weekly's ^Editorial: Our election recommendations^. The endorsement of incumbent Anna Eshoo was expected, if not inevitable. However, the endorsement of Ajwang Rading was not warranted, not because I think that that endorsement should have gone to another candidate -- I don't -- but because he doesn't pass my threshold for consideration of an endorsement. Congress shouldn't be an entry-level position -- I expect that the candidate should have at least non-trivial experience as an elected official. Rading resume is often vague about dates and about what he did -- big red flags when filtering job applications, especially since both violate basic advice everyone gets on resume writing. If you were to tell me that Rading's experience in politics was multiple internships or the equivalent -- and only one for an official -- nothing in that resume would enable me to contradict that. Many candidates have similar problems.

Again, I offer no candidate recommendations: I am still undecided on my vote, and none of the candidates rise above my threshold. But what wavering motivation I had to write this came from the lack of range of perspectives once you excluded the "non-viable" candidates.

My notes on the LWV Forum and on a meet-and-greet (aka coffee) for Rading are in a second document -- a PDF -- because I couldn't figure how an adequate presentation within the limits of the blogging language here. Its link, which will be repeated at the end of this blog, is ^^

----Voting as Hiring the Candidate as if They Were Going to Represent You----

I learned early on that a candidate's position on prominent issues should not be more than secondary in making my choice, if not largely irrelevant. (see section "Cynicism ..." below). My first filter is whether they are capable of doing the job: aptitude, training, and experience.

My second filter asks if the resume shows a trajectory toward the job. If not, the applicant may have an agenda different from mine: hiring a well-qualified, motivated person.

My third filter is whether they are interested in doing the actual job. My experience was that many resumes don't give any sense of this. For example, a major part of Congress members' time involves constituent services, that is, helping people and local businesses -- and big-dollar contributors -- in dealings with the federal government. House members have reported that it is the largest. Yes, their staff handles much of this, but a recalcitrant bureaucrat can become motivated when contacted by a person who votes on his agency's budget.
Aside: Political fundraising may take more of their time, but it is not an official duty.

----Cynicism on whether and when members of Congress represent their constituents----

I grew up in an area that consistently elected "Moderate Republicans" (aka "Rockefeller Republicans"). This was in the 1960s when the Goldwater/Reagan conservatives were taking over the Republican Party. What I quickly noticed was that our Congress member voted his stated positions when his vote didn't matter, and voted with the Party when it did. At this time, the Democratic Party was still the one described by ^Will Rogers^ -- political and social commentator/wit of the 1920s and early 1930s:
"I'm not a member of any organized political party... I'm a Democrat."
"Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they'd be Republicans."
That's currently flipped.

Another element of my cynicism originates in listening to politicians' *prepared* statements on what they claim to be their key issues, but which instead demonstrate a total lack of interest -- other than as a partisan check-box issue. For example, if the politician makes major mistakes in basic terminology, that not only implies that he hasn't engaged in serious discussions, but even worse, that he hasn't hired staff that could provide basic copy editing on these statements.

When a State budget crisis erupted, the State Assemblymember for our district was on an overseas trip. Unlike many other California legislators, he didn't rush back to Sacramento. When questioned by journalists, he made a horrible gaffe: "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth -- some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say." He told them that there was no point in him returning until the Big 5 -- the governor and the two party leaders in both the Senate and Assembly -- were ready to tell legislators how to vote.

Some members of Congress seem to focus on racking up "participation trophies" instead of meaningful work. A recent prominent example is Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). He spent multiple years trying to get lynching explicitly outlawed and finally succeeded. "Wait!" you might say and ask "Are lynchings still occurring? What are the recent ones?" The most "recent" example I could find was the 1964 murders in Mississippi of three Civil Rights workers, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner (1 Black, 2 Whites).

He also garnered a participation trophy to show to his supporter by pushing through a budget item -- aid restricted to Black farmers -- despite being told it was unconstitutional, and which was quickly declared to be such. Aside: After working for Senator Booker, Rading worked on "Community Remembrance Project, researching and collecting soil at sites of forgotten violence throughout the American South as part of a campaign to memorialize the victims of lynching." ("^Meet Ajwang^"), potentially with the encouragement of Booker.

----Background on Primaries----

While I am not hearing any real expectation that Eshoo might lose this time, the number of primary candidates has increased: from 2 to 4 Democrats and 4 others. Candidates who expect to lose will run for multiple reasons, including:
• To increase their visibility to the electorate and the powerful,
• To improve/practice their ability to campaign and to demonstrate that they are ready and worthy of support from the powerful,
• To publicize their own and/or their party's positions to increase support for those ideas and to see whether there is enough support to warrant a full-fledged campaign either by them or someone more prominent -- minor parties do this by attempting to get a major party to pick up one or two of their ideas, and
• To have a chance of winning: "90% of success is showing up" (Woody Allen).
Looking at the vote totals of the also-rans gives hints of how the electorate is shifting. For example, in 2020, Rishi Kumar was the only Democrat challenging Eshoo. In the primary, ^the vote^ was 62% Eshoo, 16% Kumar, but in the general, it was 63% Eshoo, 37% Kumar -- virtually all the non-Eshoo votes in the primary shifted to Kumar in the general election.

I also learned about the strength and persistence of voter's party loyalty, which was very strong at that time: I could tell simply by listening to the voting machines while I was standing in line.(3)

The invisible primaries before the official/public primary: In areas with partisan primaries and a dominant political party, the primary is the de facto election: Whoever wins that party's primary is virtually assured of winning the general election. The "invisible primaries" is the term used for what happens before the official primary and can make the primary's winner a foregone conclusion. The first primary is for the experienced and skilled people for the core campaign team -- someone who belatedly declares his candidacy may find that all/most of the people who would staff his campaign are already committed to other candidates. Without a good team, the candidate is not credible to potential early supporters: Financial donors ("Early Money Is Like Yeast"), prominent endorsers, and the supporters who fill the next layer of the campaign team. Candidates who fail to do well in these invisible primaries should withdraw before the official primary. However, some stay in the race and do limited campaigning. The Republican Party in this area shows no signs of having these invisible primaries, probably because they are so fatalistic about their chances.

California has a top-2 primary which creates some variations on the above.
Aside: This mechanism was voted in by the electorate despite the opposition of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. The continuing disdain of the political class can be seen in their referring to this as a "jungle primary".

Splitting the vote: From my opening paragraph on the 2020 election, Democrat Kumar more than doubled his percentage of the vote between the primary and general elections. Where did those votes come from? In the primary, 20% of the vote was split between two Republicans and 2% were for a Libertarian. If there had been only one Republican, he would have received more votes than Kumar's 16% and would have been facing Eshoo in the general election, and losing badly. Similarly, the party powerbrokers may try to block a candidate by recruiting and promoting a candidate with the intent of him siphoning off votes from the candidate they opposed. For example, if the powerbrokers' candidate has high disapproval ratings, this splits the vote of those who will be voting against him. In the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primaries, the party establishment was concerned that Bernie Sanders would become the nominee. Led by Obama, they decided that Biden was their best choice and persuaded all the other candidates to drop out, except for Elizabeth Warren who was expected to take votes from Sanders.

Link to my notes on the Forum and small gathering for Rading: ^^

----End Notes----
1. Campaign financing as of the most recent required report period:
Source: ^Ballotpedia for CA-16^.
• Eshoo (D): $1,298K = 100%
• Kumar (D): $225K = 17%
• Rading (D): $173K = 13%
• Tanaka (D): $95K = 7%
• Ohtaki (R): $32K = 2%
• Solomon (R): $4K = 0.3%
• Fox (R): $3K = 0.2%
• Fredrich (independent = NPP): $0
• All candidates except Eshoo: $533K = 41%

2. Biden's disapproval/approval rating:
^CIVIQS poll^, I have it configured to open on the page for California:
It asks registered voters the question "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president?"
This online poll was conducted from 2022-01-20 to 2022-05-17 with 203K responses and has graphs showing changes during this interval. I did not find a value for margin-of-error.
Note: I have listed Disapprove before Approve -- the reverse of default practice -- because most voters who switched from their normal pattern are likely in this category.
• All California voters: 45% disapprove; 42% approve; -3 difference Approve to Disapprove.
• Independents: 68% to 20%; -48% diff.
• Democrats: 14% to 70%; +56% diff (effectively unchanged).
Note: 47% of registered voters are Democrats; 24% Republicans; 23% independent (technically "No Part Preference", formerly "Decline to State" and not the "Independent Party").
Aside: For comparison, there were only four states where Approve was higher than Disapprove:
• Hawaii: 39% disapprove; 50% approve; +11% difference
• Vermont: 38% to 47%; +9% diff
• Massachusetts: 41% to 46%; +5% diff
• Maryland: 43% to 44%; +1% diff
• All states: 54% to 34%; -20% margin

3. Party loyalty and listening to voting machines:
The voting machines of that time were built with mechanical switches and to facility "party-line" voting, there would be one switch that you could pull to set all the switches to that party's candidates. Pulling this switch made a very different sound than the big lever that recorded your vote and opened the curtain. You probably could tell which party's switch was being pulled: The one time I tested this, I couldn't hear any difference (I'm an engineer/scientist: Put a switch within reach and I will want to see what it does).
This greatly benefited the "down-ballot" candidates -- if voters were forced to (laboriously) pull each switch -- most would stop after the top offices. It also benefited the dominant party(ies): The presence of minor parties would push the top rows up beyond the reach of short people -- the parties were rank-ordered, with the one with the largest support being on top. Of course, there were stools, but you could see under the curtain whether the voter moved the stool.
Of course, the story was that the party-line switch was to benefit the voters: Having to pull a switch of each office could be beyond the physical endurance of some (older) voters and those with problems with grip (for example, arthritis).

An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on May 28, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

As far as I can tell, all online polls are non-scientific, and thus don't reveal anything of substance.

Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 29, 2022 at 2:31 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Don't automatically write off online polling. As with other polling media, it depends upon how they are conducted.

From listening to certain pollsters describe the result of their work and explaining why it is so different from other pollsters':
-- Their big problem is getting representative samples of the population, but often there are some demographics that are under-represented. One thing they can do is delay the results while they do an additional round of polling for those groups, with the hope that those responses taken at a later time won't be biased by that short-time difference. Another thing is to manipulate the results in a way that they hope will fix the problem. The third method is to just bill the client -- many polls are intended to be used to influence public perception and not to inform.

-- Each technology has had its limitations that need to be compensated for. For example, using phone calling results in over-sampling groups that are working at home, while under-sampling groups that can't answer their cell phone at work or take the time to take the poll.

-- One pollster said he had given up on having people do the interview/questioning because his experiments found that robocalling was just as effective and much cheaper.

-- I remember that some acknowledged they were doing more online polling, using words like "challenging", but weren't giving details (competitive advantage??).

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 29, 2022 at 6:40 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Something to bear in mind is that the second place finisher, regardless of party, gets from June to November to make the case for why voters should chose them instead of the first place finisher in the general Eelection. I think a campaign between Eshoo and Rading would be very interesting if they do finish one and two in the primary. Anna Eshoo is has done a good job of representing her district for many years. Whether voters feel she is still the best choice when they can't just vote based on party affiliation will depend on how well the candidates make their case throughout the campaign on the issues that come up.

Posted by Paly Grad, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on May 29, 2022 at 10:09 pm

Paly Grad is a registered user.

Anna Eshoo's Telephone Town Hall meetings have been very informative and offer constituents a chance to ask questions and receive answers directly from Anna Eshoo and also from physicians with expertise in infectious diseases who have provided informed answers to questions about Covid and vaccines and other timely issues.

Posted by HopefulThinker, a resident of University South,
on May 31, 2022 at 12:53 pm

HopefulThinker is a registered user.

This is odd to characterize Rading's experience as internships or equivalent -- seems really disingenuous. Have you read his biography? An attorney at Wilson Sonsini? As a long-time Eshoo supporter (for over 20 years), after meeting Ajwang, I was blown away by how much he knows and am now supporting him; I even have one of his yard signs! While he doesn't say it explicitly, I have a feeling his personal story is what gives him that maturity, heart, and intellect. Let's not forget, Bill Clinton ran for the House of Representatives at the age of 27 immediately after law school. Was he too young? He then ran for Attorney General of Arkansas at the age of 29!

Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on May 31, 2022 at 3:03 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Readers: I realize that the commenter is a highly partisan advocate, but the past decade has forcefully illustrated that one should let such statements stand. One needs to address them so that people know that they should be challenged and have some ammunition to initiate such a challenge.

> "This is odd to characterize Rading's experience as internships or equivalent -- seems really disingenuous. Have you read his biography? An attorney at Wilson Sonsini?"

Did you actually read the paragraph containing the statement that you are upset about??
The previous sentence establishes context that excludes Wilson Sonsini:
"Rading's experience in politics was multiple internships or the equivalent" (emphasis added)

How could I not have read his biography when I cited details such as the troubling lack of dates and descriptions of accomplishment. Or have three questions about specifics of his policies from his website?? Questions where the responses were not answers.

> "I was blown away by how much he knows"
The opposite for me. I was blown away by how little he knows about the issues he would be voting. Especially economics. While I realize that in the current Congress, economic ignorance rules, should we be exacerbating the problem?

> "Let's not forget, Bill Clinton ran for the House of Representatives at the age of 27 immediately after law school. Was he too young?"
And he lost. That was 1974. Your argument seems to be that because Arkansas voters rejected Clinton's candidacy almost 50 years ago, voters here should be voting for Rading. Seems like a non sequitur.

Posted by Ronnie Jackson, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jul 12, 2022 at 9:07 am

Ronnie Jackson is a registered user.

Age is relative & everyone has to start somewhere regardless of how old they are. Why not raise one's aspirations & roll the dice?

Are you suggesting that an aspiring political candidate begin his/her political career at the lowest possible rung of the ladder (i.e PACC member) prior to moving forward?

Herschel Walker is running for U.S. Senator in Georgia and has no prior political experience as did Colorado Congress member and tavern owner Lauren Boebert who is currently running for re-election.

There are countless duly elected members in Congress who have no prior legislative experience including U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Back in the 1960s, I recall former Hollywood hoofer George Murphy being elected to the U.S. Senate from California.

Having inexperienced representatives in Congress can't be any worse than the incumbents.

Posted by Regina Miller, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 12, 2022 at 11:48 am

Regina Miller is a registered user.

Older people (aka elders over 65 years of age) should not be allowed to run for public office because most of them are out of touch with modern day realities.

Term limits should also be implemented for Supreme Court justices.

Biden, Trump, Pelosi, McConnell, Feinstein, and Grassley should all retire gracefully from national politics as their marbles are slipping away.

We are not a nation of Native American Indians where tribal elders are held in high esteem for their wisdom.

We are a nation being governed by senility.

Posted by Exodus, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 12, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Exodus is a registered user.

Older people should be enjoying their twilight years by partaking in nature hikes, cruise ships, and mah-jong, not governing the country.

Most professional athletes know when it's time to retire from their chosen professions.

Politics and the judicial bench should be no different.

Strom Thurmond (R-SC) served as a U.S. Senator until he was 100 and Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia until he was 96... way past their time and prime.

Posted by Stephen Pryor, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 12, 2022 at 3:10 pm

Stephen Pryor is a registered user.

Having past experience and pertinent political skills are always important but you have to start somewhere.

AOC's 'Gang of Four' in Congress have minimal political experience and an inexperienced candidate Ro Khanna easily defeated longtime Congressman Mike Honda a few years back.

Life is too short to start off at the bottom.

Just grab the brass ring on the merry-go-round and go for it.

Or as another poster succinctly noted, you can always opt to begin your political journey at the minor PACC level.

Posted by Jesse Martin, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 13, 2022 at 4:32 pm

Jesse Martin is a registered user.

The only specified qualifications for congressperson, senator, and president are age and U. S. citizenship.

Anyone can run and prior political experience is immaterial as some will win and others will lose their respective elections.

The late Sonny Bono (of Sonny & Cher) served in the House of Representatives and deposed U.S. Senator Al Franken was a former SNL cast member.

If Brad Pitt decided to run for Congress, chances are he would be easily elected.

Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 13, 2022 at 6:40 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

> "Congress shouldn't be an entry-level position -- I expect that the candidate should have at least non-trivial experience as an elected official."

The focus of my blog was to provide voters with information that might help them choose who to vote for. The question of who was legally qualified to be a candidate was decided many months before.

Prior political experience is very important in my decision. What a candidate will do is better predicted by what he has done than by that what he is saying (to get elected).

Yet more explanation/Too much info
If presented with politically inexperienced candidates where one was CEO of a large corporation and the other was a major entertainer, I would initially favor the latter if it were for a legislative office, but if for an executive office (governor or president), I would be very reluctant about both. Of course, this is not a dichotomy. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger was both a successful entertainer (actor) and businessman.

The entertainer's experience is one of constant "negotiations" with public tastes and business negotiations with venues, distributors, and suppliers. They exist within a large web of players.

Coming from a hierarchical organization, the CEO's experience is heavily weighted to decision-making and expecting those decisions to be carried out. CEOs have a poor track record as both candidates and office-holders because they lack the necessary persuasion and negotiation skills for an environment with many competing interest groups. For example, Bill Clinton's presidency was sabotaged in its earliest days because one of those interest groups demanded to be his top priority and ran a very public campaign against him. Jimmy Carter was forced to include in his administration many elements of the Democratic coalition that had strongly opposed him in the primaries. The powerful Kennedy coalition actively sabotaged him, presumably so that Ted Kennedy could replace him in 1980 -- instead, they got Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump had an administration full of political enemies, both Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans.

Posted by John Presley, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 14, 2022 at 10:01 am

John Presley is a registered user.

Should ministers and priests be disallowed to run for federal offices based on separation of church and state?

Though they are selected by the President and subject to Senate confirmation, we are currently experiencing religious bias in the SCOTUS.

Posted by Stephen Caine, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jul 14, 2022 at 11:19 am

Stephen Caine is a registered user.

[[This comment was flagged by an (anonymous) reader as "Objectionable Content". Although it violates the guidelines, I decided against deleting it because it is unlikely to provoke the type of back-and-forth that the guidelines seek to avoid. -- The blogger, who is a moderator for this blog]]

Donald Trump made a devil's deal with evangelical Christians by promising to appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn Roe vs Wade.

Though Trump is biblically illiterate, overly zealous religious individuals should not be serving in any significant government role as legislators and justices because our government was founded on the separation of church and state.

Save the pulpit bleating for Sunday services.

Posted by Julia Moss, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:25 pm

Julia Moss is a registered user.

[[This comment was flagged by an (anonymous) reader as "Objectionable Content". Although it violates the guidelines, I decided against deleting it because it is unlikely to provoke the type of back-and-forth that the guidelines seek to avoid. -- The blogger, who is a moderator for this blog]]

"Should ministers and priests be disallowed to run for federal offices based on separation of church and state?"

^ Yes. There is no place for religion in governance.

"Donald Trump made a devil's deal with evangelical Christians by promising to appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn Roe vs Wade."

^ Countless evangelical Christians cannot see the forest through the trees

Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jul 14, 2022 at 6:05 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Stephen Caine: RE: SCoTUS nominees

Trump did not make a deal with Evangelicals. During the 2016 primaries, it was Ted Cruz who was the preferred candidate of the Evangelical leadership. Trump won the nomination in spite of that.

On the choice of SCOTUS nominees, Trump deferred to Mitch McConnell -- Senate Republican Leader -- and the Federalist Society, and consequently, the choices were corporatists. During the selection process, leaders of the populist wing of the Republican Party lobbied against the corporatists, but failed.

@John Presley & @Julia Moss RE: Separation of Church and State

"Separation of church and state" misses some of the details of the "Establishment clause" of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
There is a long legal history of this meaning that the government should neither advantage nor disadvantage religions.

Context: Recognize that this clause was written when European religious institutions were part of the aristocracies and supported their rule. Kings derived their legitimacy from the Catholic Church, but this was a double-edged sword because the Church could also declare the King to be illegitimate (by ex-communication) and several times did (eg "Walk to Canossa"). "Divine Right of Kings" said that legitimacy came directly from God.

Optional Details: The Protestant Reformation involved the northern European aristocracies backing religions that would be friendly to them rather than loyal to Rome and its dictates. Individuals outside the established religions were subject to criminal punishments, including death. There were also religion-based massacres that were part of power struggles within the aristocracy, with the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre being the most famous.
After Henry VIII of England established the Church of England, members of other Protestant groups were typically tolerated as long as they paid their "dues" to the Church of England. Sometimes this was only finance payments; sometimes attendance at CoE events was required. Persecution of Catholics is commonly regarded as religion-based, but it was heavily motivated by politics: Catholicism was used as the motivation for attempted coups and assassinations against the government.

@Stephen Caine: RE: SCoTUS religious bias
The religious balance of the Supreme Court has shifted repeatedly with religion having little apparent effect.
Until the 1960 Presidential campaign, there was widespread concern among the electorate about whether candidates who were Catholics would defer to the Church. John Kennedy addressed this strongly and repeatedly that although he might be a Catholic personally, as the President, his obligations were to the American people.
While the Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly tried to influence politicians by sanctioning them (eg excluding them from Communion), it has been unsuccessful.

Additional details: Until Ketanji Brown Jackson, there had been no Protestants on the Court since 2010 (Souter), although two had shifted between Catholicism and Protestantism (Clarance Thomas, Neil Gorsuch). See "Demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States : Religion"

For me, the troubling bias is that of law schools: 4 are from Harvard Law and 4 from Yale Law, with Amy Coney Barrett being the lone exception (Notre Dame). This discomfort is both with the teachings, culture, and social connections of those two schools and with the sources of their students.

@John Presley & @Julia Moss on religious officials prohibited from holding elective office.

While I agree that "wearing two hats" is undesirable, I oppose any such prohibition.
First, I would be more concerned about a religious leader being co-opted by the government than elected religious leaders distorted government decision making.
Second, elected officials have very little power in government today -- most of the power resides in the "professional staff" (the bureaucracy) that is able to use their "interpretations" of laws to effectively re-write it. Also in their decisions about whether or not to enforce specific aspects of the law.

Question: What makes a religious official more of a risk than members of that religion? For example, in 2015 the county clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples based on her religious beliefs.

Question: What makes a belief system and morality of a religion different from other belief systems that don't involve a deity?? Why is a pastor of Unitarian Universalism unacceptable and a leader from Scientology is not??

@John Presley RE: "...we are currently experiencing religious bias in the SCOTUS."

If you are referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, why do you see this as a religiously biased decision? Of the four justices voting against overturning Roe, two were Catholics (Roberts and Sotomayor)??

Why is that a better explanation than that the decision was to take such determinations out of the hands of the Supreme Court which is unelected, unaccountable, and unrepresentative of the citizenry? Why should a mere majority -- 5 justices -- be able to preempt the Congress -- 545 members (House + Senate) -- and 50 state legislatures??

Recognize that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed similar concerns about Roe as those that voted to overturn it -- that it was ill-founded on Constitutional law.

Catholicism supposedly biases its practitioners to obedience to a centralized, hierarchical power structure. But this conflicts with the votes of the five Catholic justices that voted to overturn it.

Posted by Hal Traynor, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jul 15, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Hal Traynor is a registered user.

There is absolutely no place or reason for organized religion to have any serious input or influence in a secular-based government/society.

This brand of dogma is best reserved for Sunday church services and for those still willing to embrace blind faith and alleged miracles.

This brand of ignorance and mind control might have been acceptable during the Dark Ages and Renaissance but we are far removed from those unenlightened days as modern science and rational thought trumps tribal mandates previously written on a bunch of decayed scrolls.

In 'God We Trust' should also be stricken from all U.S. coinage/currency along with the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Organized religion is an anachronism.

Posted by Meghan Roth, a resident of Stanford,
on Jul 16, 2022 at 10:28 am

Meghan Roth is a registered user.

"Donald Trump made a devil's deal with evangelical Christians by promising to appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn Roe vs Wade.

"Trump did not make a deal with Evangelicals. During the 2016 primaries, it was Ted Cruz who was the preferred candidate of the Evangelical leadership. Trump won the nomination in spite of that."

^ Trump made promises to evangelicals that he would repeal the Johnson Act of 1954 which prohibits charitable organizations (i.e. churches) from endorsing political candidates.

Churches should not have a say in the political process. Their role is to save souls and to provide spiritual guidance for those actively seeking it.

By appointing three conservative Federalist Society members to the SCOTUS, he ostensibly fulfilled this he chose a pro-life evangelical as his running mate in 2016 to woo the evangelical vote.

It worked.

Posted by Cale Jepson, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jul 16, 2022 at 12:09 pm

Cale Jepson is a registered user.

Trump delivered the goods to evangelical Christians by nominating three conservative Christians to the Supreme Court.

And as a result...
(1) Roe vs Wade was repealed,
(2) In Carson vs Makin, the State of Maine
is now required to allow school vouchers in private religious schools,
(3) And in Kennedy vs Bremerton, football coaches are now permitted to lead Christian prayers on the 50 yard line of public high school football fields.

How can America pose as the beacon of freedom against the authoritarian darkness of religious dogma when it allows such unconstitutional practices as endorsed by the current SCOTUS?

Fortunately there are no local candidates running on a religious platform.

Posted by Jackie Prentiss, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jul 16, 2022 at 12:44 pm

Jackie Prentiss is a registered user.

"Catholicism supposedly biases its practitioners to obedience to a centralized, hierarchical power structure."

As does Scientology which clearly goes to show that none of their cult members should ever have a role in directing the government on local or national levels.

Posted by Pamela Tieg, a resident of Los Altos,
on Jul 16, 2022 at 4:17 pm

Pamela Tieg is a registered user.

We do not need another Inquisition or any political system governed by a caliphate.

History has taught us that.

Posted by Tyler Prescott, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 19, 2022 at 1:53 pm

Tyler Prescott is a registered user.

[[Deleted: Insults are not arguments.]]

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Common Ground
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 3,178 views

Analysis/paralysis: The infamous ‘Palo Alto Process’ must go
By Diana Diamond | 22 comments | 3,139 views

Planting a Fall Garden?
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,388 views