Smart Ideas: The Banks of the Mississippi

Plus: Why the death penalty is dying.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announces she is entering the presidential race Feb. 10 at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.
AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Feb. 21, 2019, 8 p.m.

Can Klobuchar recapture the Mississippi?

Aaron Booth, writing for Decision Desk HQ

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who announced her presidential campaign on the banks of the Mississippi River, is relying on her strength as a regional candidate to help flip areas in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois that went hard to the right in 2016. An examination of the counties bordering the river since 1976 show a trend that “hasn’t exactly been linear.” “Carter narrowly carried these river counties in his 1980 loss to Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s dominating reelection made him the most recent Republican to sweep the region in 1984,” while Bill Clinton romped based on his strength in the South. Hillary Clinton won them by 5 points but relied on New Orleans, St. Louis, and the Twin Cities while losing almost all of the rural counties that aren’t majority African-American. At least in Minnesota, Klobuchar “has been able to hold onto a considerable swath of territory filled with a large bloc of voters that ran particularly hard towards Trump.” However, the “primaries along the River...are dispersed throughout election season,” making it hard to build momentum on this front.

The death penalty is dying out

Matt Ford, writing for The New Republic

Western states seem to be hastening the end the death penalty. In several places, even those dominated by conservatives, the logistical costs of execution are becoming too great to bear. “Capital punishment is expensive, increasingly complicated, and already moribund, so why not finish it off?” Not only is there now less violent crime to warrant the death penalty, but it’s harder to enact, since “U.S. and European drug manufacturers stopped selling lethal-injection drugs to the states over the last decade.” Some states have not performed an execution in a decade, even with prisoners on death row. With "growing outrage over its racially disproportionate application, a more succinct rationale seems to be resonating beyond the political Left: It’s just not worth the hassle.”

Trump should focus on human rights In North Korea

Victor D. Cha, writing for Bloomberg Opinion

If Trump wants a win when he meets Kim Jong Un next week, he should focus on North Korea’s human-rights abuses. “For one thing, stopping North Korea’s bomb-making activities means blocking the hard currency flows that finance them. Much of that money comes from the regime’s slave-labor exports and other abusive business activities.” For another, history shows that a focus on human rights is more likely to have an effect. “Over the past three decades, North Korea has barely cracked a yawn when Washington has condemned its nuclear activities. But, when the international community began shining a spotlight on Pyongyang’s human-rights abuses in 2014, the reclusive regime, feeling vulnerable, quickly dispatched diplomats abroad to lobby against punitive resolutions at the U.N.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un AP Photo/Kin Cheung

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