Everything we know about midterm voters — including that there will be less of them and they’ll hail more from the parties’ bases than in a presidential cycle — means that the Trump factor will be on their minds at the polls.

“Both of these sides have been waiting for this moment since January 2017,” professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University (and CNN contributor) Julian Zelizer told me about this year’s midterm voters.

“These are people who have been encouraged or most aggravated by what’s happening in the news.” 

Because of that, for campaigns this year (and increasingly over the last few cycles) it’s less about how to win voters over, but how to get the ones you want to the polls. Case in point: Trump’s hard pivot to the immigration issue in the last week of the election in an attempt to rile up Republican voters.

“It’s clear he’s trying to activate his base,” UNI political science professor Chris Larimer told me this week.

But will that strategy activate his base, or encourage those who dislike him? 

At least nationally, we have a picture of just how polarized voters are on Trump, thanks to polling from CNN and SSRS earlier this month. Among Democrats, 92% disapprove of Trump — while 87% of Republicans approve of the President.

In key states like Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia on Election Day, the difference will ultimately come down to which side is bigger — and who makes it to the polls.

Written by Bukola Adebayo, CNN

The world’s largest producer of green stones has unearthed a 5,655-carat emerald crystal at its mines in Zambia.

The stone, which weighs more than 1.1 kg (almost 2.5 lbs), was found at the Gemfield mines in Kagem, the company said in a statement Monday.

The emerald is being called “Inkalamu,” which means “lion” in the local Zambia Bemba language. It will be cut into smaller pieces and auctioned in Singapore in November.

It has “remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue,” the statement said.

The 5,655-carat Lion Emerald

The 5,655-carat Lion Emerald Credit: Gemfields

The stone was found in an open mine on October 2, by geologist Debapriya Rakshit and emerald miner Richard Kapeta.

Emeralds are rare and more valuable than diamonds, driving their demand in the market. Most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Zambia, Colombia, and Brazil.

Elena Basaglia, Gemfields’ gemologist, said there’s been increasing interest in Zambia’s emeralds, particularly from dealers in Europe.

How do art auctions really work?

“We are experiencing strikingly increased demand for high-quality Zambian emeralds from the major brands, particularly in Europe, all of whom admire the rich color and unique transparency of our gems — qualities that make them unique among emeralds,” Basaglia said.

The gem is not the largest emerald stone to have been found in the company’s mines. In 2010, miners at the Zambia-based operation found a 6,225-carat emerald they named the “elephant” due to its massive size.

(CNN) — Mention Panama and most people will probably think about its eponymous canal. Maybe they’ll be reminded of 1980s dictator Manuel Noriega. Perhaps the more recent scandal of the Panama Papers leak of financial documents.

Or even wide-brimmed Panama straw hats (even though they originate from Ecuador).

But the southernmost Central American country’s true identity is largely centered on its location. And, according to those who live there, on the chaos and exploitation that defined its past.

Being “used” is key to Panama’s history, says filmmaker Abner Benaim, whose documentaries have explored the complex DNA of the country’s capital, Panama City.

“Panama is a country that’s been used by everyone,” Benaim tells CNN. “It does have its own identity, but that identity is made of chaos.

“It’s made up of people from all over the world who came here for different reasons. This is all to do with our location on the map. We’re that span that’s very easy to point out.”

The Isthmus of Panama is a bridge that connects North and South America as well as the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

As a result, Panama, which covers an area of roughly 75,000 square kilometers, is right in the middle.

It’s become the hub of the Americas in terms of connectivity, with principal airport Tocumen International offering nonstop flights to 81 different cities.

A former colony of Spain, Panama became a part of the Republic of Columbia in 1821.

It separated from Colombia in 1903, but was infamously invaded by the United States in 1989 in an attempt to overthrow Noriega.

Today, Panamanian culture is a blend of indigenous (native Panamanians make up around 12.3% of the overall population,) European and African cultures, with the United States also proving a significant influence.

“What makes Panama interesting, to me at least, is that mix. The mix of history, coming from the north and the south,” adds Benaim. “If you ask people here about Latin American culture, they’ll probably know more about US culture.”

Modern wonder

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is used by more than 15,000 vessels each year.


The Panama Canal, labeled one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers, has played a huge role in Panama’s evolution.

Before it existed, ships were forced to navigate around Cape Horn, a hazardous journey near the tip of South America.

Although France began the building process back in the late 1800s, the canal was eventually completed in 1914 by the United States, which had been granted control of the 10-mile-wide Canal Zone in exchange for $10 million, as well as annual payments.

The project wasn’t without its costs, both human and financial.

More than $375 million, equivalent to about $8.6 billion today, was spent by the United States to finish it. The bigger price was the five thousand lives lost as a result of diseases or accidents during the US construction period.

With the canal subsequently owned and operated by America for 70 years, it wasn’t until December 1999 that Panama gained complete control of this vital waterway that split the country in half.

Today, more than 15,000 vessels travel through the 82-kilometer canal each year.

It makes a contribution of up to 40% of Panama’s economy, registering a total of $2.238 million in toll revenues during fiscal year 2017 alone.

New identity

Benaim believes that Panama experienced a rebirth when it was granted free control of the canal.

“Historically Panama is just over a hundred years old, but it’s really only been independent since the Americans left,” he says.

Abner Benaim

Abner Benaim: “Panama is a very young country.”


“That’s the first time that Panama stood on its own. It’s a very young country in that sense. Growing up is hard. Being left alone and being independent is very hard.”

However, Panama has been carving out an identity of its own in the nearly two decades since then.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Panama City, which is home to around half of the country’s residents and the only capital city in the world that holds a rainforest within its city limits.

While its old town has been lovingly restored, a gleaming skyline of tower blocks and skyscrapers has emerged victoriously.

The latter has become a defining point of Panama City.

Panamanian real estate developer Octavio Vallarino played a significant role in modernizing the city and has five buildings under construction.

“Even though I’m a Panamanian, it impresses me to see the skyline,” says Vallarino. “I think it’s a reflection of prosperity, a reflection of confidence.”

The capital city is also home to Central America’s first urban rail system — the Panama Metro — which launched in 2014.

Happy place

Vallarino is extremely proud of the progress Panama has made, but holds a somewhat controversial viewpoint on the reasons behind this.

“The invasion by the US gave Panama a good housekeeping seal that makes us one of the safest places in the world,” he says. “If the Americans had not been here, Panama would not be what it is today.

“It’s why we have a lot of foreigners that come to live here and do business. Some of them become residents, some become citizens of Panama.

Roberto Durán

Roberto Durán: Panama is “more beautiful” than ever.


“Somehow there’s a magic here that means people don’t want to leave.”

Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán, who’s a four-weight world champion as well as a national treasure, has also felt the shift.

“In the last 15 years, Panama has grown a lot,” he tells CNN.

“There’s been a lot of investment in hotels, in buildings — they have made Panama more beautiful than it was before.”

These developments are doing wonders for the spirits of Panamanians — if the Happy Place index is anything to go by.

The annual list, which measures how well nations are doing at achieving “long, happy, sustainable lives,” ranked Panama as the sixth-happiest place in the world in 2017.

It also came in sixth place on International Living magazine’s 2018 list of the top 10 places to retire abroad.

So what’s next for this “young” country?

“The picture is being drawn at the moment,” declares Benaim. “History with a capital ‘H’ hasn’t really been written here yet. Now people are understanding that we have to take responsibility. We have do things on our own — and make it good.”

CNN’s Holly Brown contributed to this story

An Amazon executive on Saturday took a swipe at a Washington Post report that said the e-commerce giant was in advanced talks about opening its second headquarters, nicknamed HQ2, in Crystal City, Virginia. The report in the Jeff Bezos-owned Post, which cited “people close to the process,” said the Washington DC suburb is a frontrunner for the complex, which is expected to create 50,000 jobs and cost $5 billion.
“Memo to the genius leaking info about Crystal City, VA as #HQ2 selection. You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favors. And stop treating the NDA you signed like a used napkin,” tweeted Mike Grella, Amazon’s Director of Economic Development.
Amazon (AMZN) declined comment to CNN Business about the Washington Post report.
Seattle-based Amazon has been searching for its second home for more than a year, whipping up a frenzy of speculation about its decision-making process. But it’s been tight-lipped about which locations might have the advantage. Bezos, Amazon’s founder and president, has said the announcement will be made late this year.
The company received 238 proposals and selected 20 finalists in January. The shortlist includes Austin, Atlanta, New York City, Dallas, Columbus, Ohio, Miami, Nashville and Northern Virginia.
Officials in Austin said on Saturday they “have nothing new to share regarding Amazon’s HQ2 search.” Other cities on the shortlist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Analysts following the hunt have said the company could be leaning toward larger cities with international airports that would be attractive places to live for young professionals. The company is also likely to look at the perks being offered, such as tax incentives.
When asked about the search this week during an interview with historian Walter Isaacson, Bezos said the final selection will be based as much on intuition as information.
“Ultimately the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data — for a decision like that, as far as I know, the best way to make it is you collect as much data as you can, you immerse yourself in that data but then you make the decision with your heart,” Bezos said.


WWE fans might be better off pretending Crown Jewel got canceled.

The event went on as planned in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and those fans with low expectations entering the event likely walked out of it surprised—and not in a good way.

Where to even start? How about at the top, with Hulk Hogan making his return to WWE after being banned for several years. He hadn’t been with the company since 2015 after making racially charged comments, though over the summer, he was reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame.

“Why not?” seemed to be the flavor of the day. With so much negative attention around the pay-per-view going into it, why not get the long-awaited Hogan return over with? Not that Hogan did much. He walked out, cut a brief promo and left, which was something to be thankful for at least.

And as for the World Cup Tournament, well, it’s only fitting the final had two Cleveland boys in the ring and both came out losers somehow.

No, it’s not a prank making the rounds online. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz ended up in the final. The latter suffered an “injury,” so SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon inserted himself into the match and won. He won. No, really:

So for those keeping track, Shane McMahon now has the “best in the world” status. A non-wrestler in jeans won the World Cup, marking a weird end to a tournament supposedly meant to find WWE’s best wrestler.

What stings most about this one is how many directions it could have gone in to tell a meaningful story. Maybe The Miz comes back and finds a way to help get Shane fired. Maybe Shane calls out an unexpected name from the back. Heck, maybe Shane makes a snap decision and brings out Drew McIntyre. We all know the split with Ziggler is coming. We all know he’s getting a universal title push.

Instead, nothing. WWE will try to use this as a way to build for Survivor Series. Sure, but that’s something better reserved for Raw and SmackDown and completely unnecessary—for starters, look how much hype the Ronda Rousey-Becky Lynch match is already getting without shenanigans that ruin it for other talents.

And hiding behind “this is a house show” doesn’t work, either. It’s not. It was the central focus of both weekly shows for weeks. It’s a big-money overseas event broadcast live on the WWE Network and had meaningful main-roster things going down.

Like the squashing of Braun Strowman.

Maybe Strowman’s demise at the hands of Brock Lesnar and failure to secure his long-awaited crowning as universal champ wasn’t the worst part of the event. But it was outright ridiculous in its execution.

To pull the whole “keep him looking strong in a loss” strategy, Strowman got hit in the back of the head with the belt by acting Raw GM Baron Corbin. The match started, Strowman took three F5s, another sent him out of the ring, he got back in, threw a kick and took another F5 for the loss.

Laughable. This guy got hit by a car. He got thrown in a trash compactor. He had the set itself fall on him. But that title to the back of the head was too much. He couldn’t possibly recover enough in time to get some offense in against a Lesnar who was visibly 20 or 30 pounds lighter than he was during his most recent appearance in a match that had to check in around the 10-minute mark at best?

[embedded content]

Like the silly Shane win, this isn’t setting up anything exciting. If Strowman is the top guy while Roman Reigns is out, he doesn’t work in an underdog chasing role. And with the way WWE botched Reigns’ triumph over Lesnar, failing to pull the trigger at the right times, this one doesn’t figure to be any better.

And the fact that Lesnar needed an assist from someone like Corbin in the first place doesn’t exactly make him look great. A monster like Strowman chasing a beast like Lesnar just doesn’t work.

And hey, a rematch between A.J. Styles and Lesnar is great! But go figure. WWE puts the top title back on a part-time talent and then makes his next match a—wait for it—non-title match. And maybe don’t go into that one expecting another instant classic because it will take place even closer to Lesnar’s next UFC fight, meaning he isn’t going to do anything too risky. Expect some sort of outside interference so Styles gets his win back. Yikes.

Don’t think we forgot about the main event.

Four part-timers with a combined age of 206 clambered into the ring and threw down what could have been a fun nostalgia match were it not for ring rust and Father Time.

It doesn’t even need flowery language or a big explanation. Kane‘s mask and wig fell off. Michaels busted his face on the floor. Triple H tore his pec and couldn’t properly go for half the match (so much for a match with Batista soon). Kane, surprisingly, looked lost and took what might be the worst Pedigree of all time to end the match.

Kudos to Triple H for gritting through the match with an injury. And Michaels looked so-so at best. He would probably make for an interesting match against someone like Seth Rollins to carry him along now that he’s ruined the perfect retirement, but the mind can’t help but go back to the botched backflip onto the ground outside the ring.

It was a fitting end for a pay-per-view if there ever were one. Everyone involved in the main event had heart and did what they could, which is admirable, but that doesn’t mean it should have happened.

[embedded content]

Somehow, WWE managed to put on a miserable show with one of the best rosters it has ever had while grappling with the constraints of nostalgia. Giving the show a big “no thanks,” as John Cena and Daniel Bryan did, isn’t something every wrestler on the roster can afford to do. But they look like geniuses for flexing the leverage they hold.

After all the drama surrounding the show, the guy with a theme song that chants “here comes the money” took home the title of “best in the world” at an event that almost got canceled but didn’t because it would hurt the bottom line. And because of that bottom line, part-time talents, a former banished legend and a longtime retiree all made appearances.

WWE leaves Saudi Arabia worse off in more ways than one. Its top belt is back on a part-timer. A key part-time talent willing to still go is on the shelf with an injury. A supposed World Cup sacrificed the SmackDown roster for a silly Survivor Series storyline that will take a back seat to better matches on an already-stacked card. And the champion of that blue brand, Styles, doesn’t have any serious competition.

Most figured Evolution would rip Crown Jewel to shreds in terms of quality. But Friday’s event did more harm than anticipated, and fans aren’t going to forget it as WWE tries to write itself out of self-inflicted wounds.

James Polite, 26, was charged with four counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree as a hate crime and making graffiti.
Graffiti was found on four floors of the Union Temple on Thursday night, some of which said “Hitler,” “Jews better be ready” and “Die Jew rats we are here,” the New York Police Department reported.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio attended Shabbat services at the temple Friday night as a show of solidarity.
After the service, he told journalists the incident was a horrible act of hate and “deeply disturbing to all New Yorkers.”
“But it is particularly painful for members of the Jewish community who feel very vulnerable right now, who feel under attack,” de Blasio said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was directing the state’s hate crime unit to investigate.
“The disgusting rhetoric and heinous violence in this nation has reached a fever pitch and is ripping at the fabric of America, and it must stop,” he said. “In New York, we have forged community through chords of commonality and we will always stand together against hate and discrimination.”

Other cities have seen anti-Semitic acts this week

Swastikas have appeared in at least a handful of US cities since a massacre in Pittsburgh in which 11 worshipers were killed.
On Wednesday morning, a New York City resident posted pictures of swastikas that had been scrawled on homes in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.
Anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60% in 2017

The Nazi symbols also appeared on Navy property this week in Bucks County, near Philadelphia. Warminster Township Manager Gregg Schuster posted online that local officials have been in contact with the Navy to get the symbols removed.
“The use of the swastika is a cowardly act,” he said. “In light of what our neighbors in Pittsburgh recently went through, I hope we can refrain from using these symbols of hate. There is no place in Warminster for this disgusting act and I know our community will never accept this behavior.”
A swastika also was found scrawled on a piece of paper in an elevator Monday at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, according to CNN affiliate WHAM.
Also this week, authorities said a synagogue in Irvine, California, had been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Someone spray-painted “F*** Jews” early Wednesday on the wall of Beth Jacob Congregation in Irvine, police said.
Anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in the US in the last few years, according to the Anti-Defamation League
The Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of conservative rabbis, said last weekend’s shooting is a reminder that anti-Semitism “is on the rise in America at a rate unprecedented in decades.”
Myers said he delivered that message personally to President Donald Trump when he and first lady Melania Trump visited Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha, the site of the shooting, on Tuesday.
“I said to him, ‘Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary, where seven of my congregants were slaughtered. I witnessed it with my eyes.”
According police, the man accused of the attack yelled that he wanted to “kill Jews,” in part because Jewish groups have been helping refugees settle in the United States.
Wearing a rainbow-colored prayer shawl and a Pittsburgh-themed yarmulke, the rabbi made his distaste for Washington clear but also said he does not “foist blame” on the President or “any one person” for the attack.
Myers also addressed criticism he has received from fellow Jews irked that he met with Trump, who has been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and hateful rhetoric. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations, noting that his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish.
“The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated and cannot be allowed to continue,” Trump said last week.
But after meeting with Trump, Myers said Saturday, some Jews accused the rabbi of “going to the dark side.” One even suggested that he get “un-circumcised.”
“I said, ‘OK, you go first,'” Myers said, drawing laughter from the congregation. More seriously, Myers said he drew on lessons from Jewish tradition in welcoming the President.
More than 600 people filled Congregation Beth Shalom for the Shabbat service, including members of the congregations attacked last week a little more than a mile away at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Members of all three congregations took turns reading the portions of the Torah, which encompasses the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Earlier on Saturday, members of Pittsburgh’s grieving Jewish community observed a minute and 11 seconds of silence, commemorating the 11 souls who were slain October 27.
“God did not have anything to do with this. That is not our theology. Humans are given free will. We have a choice between good and evil. Some people chose to do evil. Our job is to make sure that those who do evil don’t have access to assault rifles,” writer Beth Kissileff, wife of the rabbi at New Light Congregation, said to applause.
The evening before, with police tape marking the barriers of their makeshift congregation, members of the Jewish community welcomed the Sabbath on Friday evening outside of the Tree of Life synagogue.
About 50 men locked arms and swayed, harmonizing in Hebrew under darkening skies, while police looked on and pilgrims laid stones and flowers at memorials for the 11 congregants who were slain. The building is still closed while police process the crime scene.
Many of the women sang, too, though they stood off to the side. Children ran back and forth playing between their parents’ legs. A father gently wiped tears from his teenage son’s cheeks, consoling him softly as the congregation prayed.
At one point, the service was stopped to thank a member of the FBI who had helped the Chevrah Kadisha, the Jewish organization that helps prepare bodies for burial. Afterward, the congregation broke into “Al Hanisim,” a Hanukkah song that commemorates Jews’ perseverance in the face of violent oppression. Though not normally a part of Shabbat services, no one had to ask why the song was appropriate to sing on this night.
“The Jewish people know from our history that, no matter how bad things seem, we can always pull together, we will always persevere,” said Rabbi Sam Weinberg, principal of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, whose students helped organize the Shabbat service through text messages Friday.
“Six days after, right here,” he continued, pointing at the Tree of Life synagogue that loomed nearby, “the most horrible and terrible thing happened, we can still come together as a people and recover a little bit of the peace of Shabbat.”
The service capped an emotional day in Pittsburgh as the city’s Jewish community buried the last of their dead. As night fell, it seemed as if half of Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s historically Jewish neighborhood, was walking home from Sabbath services, huddling together against the cold.

‘A circle no one wants to be a part of’

The last funeral for the 11 Jews killed a week ago was held Friday. Rose Mallinger, 97, was remembered for her strong will and commitment to Tree of Life.
Under the soaring vaults of Rodef Shalom’s sanctuary, Mallinger’s family and friends praised her zest for life.
“She was 97, but she was not done,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who led Mallinger’s congregation at Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha. “She had spunk.”
Later in the service, Myers said that “an angel” had visited him Friday morning, just as his spiritual strength was waning. That angel, he said, was the Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, where a gunman killed nine members in 2015.
Congregants of various faiths gather Friday with the Rodef Shalom congregation in Pittsburgh.

Wearing a button commemorating the Charleston massacre, Manning said he traveled to Pittsburgh on Friday to offer moral sustenance, show solidarity and to “pay it forward,” after so many Americans stepped up to support his church.
At Mallinger’s memorial service, the pastor read Psalm 23 and told the congregation that his church “mourns with you, is here with you and will always be here with you.”
After the service, a long line of mourners waited to speak with Manning, hugging him and tearfully thanking him for coming to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s Jews and his Charleston community share a common and tragic bond, Manning said in a brief interview afterward.
“We are part of a circle that no one wants to be a part of,” he said. “What we have to do, today, and every day, is to make sure that that circle doesn’t get any bigger.”
Manning was just one of many people across the world moved by last week’s anti-Semitic attack.
Myers said he received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. After a brief discussion about what language to converse in (Myers said they chose Hebrew, their “mother tongue”) Netanyahu told him that all of Israel mourns with Pittsburgh, Myers said.
Outside Tree of Life, pilgrims gathered to place flowers and signs at the memorials for the 11 Jews killed by the gunman.
Among them was Jody Yoken and her 9-year-old son, Ryder, who were in town from Toronto for a hockey tournament. Yoken said her son, who attends a Hebrew school, has asked difficult questions in the aftermath of the attack: Are we safe? Why don’t people like us?
“I tell him that some people have difficulty accepting differences,” Yoken said, “and that’s why we have to try to be as accepting of other people as we can be.”

A global outpouring

People of faith greet each other at Temple Sinai before Friday evening Shabbat services.

People of faith greet each other at Temple Sinai before Friday evening Shabbat services.

The Twitter hashtag #ShowupforShabbat has been trending all week, with communities in the United States urging people to attend synagogues and show their support in the aftermath of the attack.
In Britain, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote on Twitter that he would attend synagogue Saturday to stand “shoulder to shoulder with Jewish Londoners for their Shabbat service to show solidarity to the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting last weekend.”
The UK Jewish community was also rallying to show solidarity, with leaders urging people to attend services.
CNN Opinion asked thinkers to weigh in on 2018 as a Year of the Woman. The views expressed here are solely theirs.

Laura Coates: The only thing coming to save us is a ballot in shining armor

Laura Coates

One can be heard without being listened to. Women voters have long felt the impact of this nuance, and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing exemplified it. Both sides of the political aisle preached that women, particularly women alleging sexual misconduct, should be heard. Cries for due process, notice of the charges against someone accused and meaningful opportunity to be heard echoed throughout both chambers of Congress and reverberated throughout the nation. The actual mechanisms to facilitate sound were provided: a microphone, a camera, and a platform. The intangible mechanisms of listening, however, were regrettably absent. Women noticed.
Hearing is passive and non-purposeful. Listening is an action. Women voters should and are demanding more than patronizing passivity. As was the case in the year following Anita Hill’s testimony more than a quarter century ago, women are keenly aware (perhaps now more than ever) that they cannot afford to wait for receptive ears. Women are prepared and capable of voting for (or being elected by) those whose policies in practice reflect our collective values, strengths, empathy, intellect, and power.
The Venus symbol for women is thought to represent a bronze mirror atop a handle. For at least the past two years, women have held a mirror up to America and recoiled at its reflection. The democratic fairy tale doesn’t exist. The only thing coming to save us is a ballot in shining armor. When we raise our voices on Election Day to ask the proverbial “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the right candidate to listen to us all?” – – a woman will respond.
Laura Coates is a CNN legal analyst. She is a former assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia and trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. She is the host of “The Laura Coates Show” on SiriusXM. Follow her @thelauracoates.

Helen Alvaré : A ‘Year of the Woman’ won’t be enough

Helen Alvaré

Helen Alvaré

It’s more than a little difficult to get excited about this so-called “Year of the Woman” in politics. While I would love to believe that a larger female share of federal lawmakers will mean a better life for US women, I don’t have the evidence to support this, especially considering women’s record since the last year of the woman, 1992.
I think this is because a lot of female politicians — like a lot of male politicians — mistake legalized abortion or free contraception for the sum of “feminism,” while failing to solve the problems women suffer most.
Women are pro-life and pro-choice, while indisputably in serious need of other kinds of laws and policies. Women suffer more poverty than men and need state action prioritizing the poor. Women practice religion more than men, being more likely to pray daily, attend services weekly, and report that God is very important in their lives. Women are more likely than men to report that they would like to have more flexible work arrangements and paid family leave to care for loved ones.
To date, however, both female and male politicians spend most of their time attending to middle-class and wealthier Americans. And I can’t point to sustained, bold action on the part of female representatives on religious freedom or paid or flexible leave.
I haven’t given up hope that elected women will bring women’s needs to the table more forcefully. I am only saying that their sex doesn’t guarantee it, and that female citizens will not be absolved of their duty to agitate for what women need most.
Helen Alvaré is a professor of law at George Mason University who has published widely on issues of marriage, family, parenting and First Amendment religion clauses. Her recent book with Cambridge University Press is about putting children’s interests first in US family law.

Karine Jean-Pierre: If 1992 was Year of the Woman, 2018 must be Year of Accountability

The year 1992 was the first election year to be proclaimed the “Year of the Woman.” It was the year after the Anita Hill hearings — and the year when an unprecedented number of women ran for office. Illinois’ Carol Moseley-Braun won her race, becoming the first black woman ever elected to the Senate. Along with her, a wave of women took political office.
Now, in 2018, it’s been 26 years since the “Year of the Woman” — and yet, we still live in a country where women are treated as lesser, where medicine is designed often without women in mind, where maternal mortality rates are far higher than those of our peer countries. And where a man credibly accused of sexual assault and harassment can still be confirmed to the US Supreme Court.
In 2018, another “Year of the Woman” won’t be enough. It isn’t enough to elect women — though we urgently should do that. And it isn’t enough to believe women like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford if you still choose to confirm her alleged attacker to the Supreme Court.
So if 1992 was the “Year of the Woman”, then 2018 must be the “Year of Accountability.” And in the “Year of Accountability”, we must demand accountability from everyone who fails to support women and our needs, no matter their race, gender, or political party.
We will demand accountability from the 45 men who voted for Brett Kavanaugh, as well as Susan Collins and the four other Republican women in the Senate who joined her.
We will demand accountability from the 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump.
We will demand accountability from every member of Congress and local government who fails to adequately address the maternal health crisis that disproportionately affects black women.
In 1992, the “Year of the Woman” was an important and consequential feat, bringing our country’s electoral representation closer to our demographics. But we’ve learned from time and experience, and from our greatest teachers, that simply supporting women isn’t enough. In 2018, women need more than just support and votes. We need full accountability.
Karine Jean-Pierre is the senior adviser and national spokeswoman for MoveOn. She is also a lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Sally Kohn: Win or lose, women are changing politics, permanently

Sally Kohn

Sally Kohn

No matter what happens on Tuesday, the record number of women running for election this year is undoubtedly going to change politics permanently, for the better. But what’s also significant is that many of the women running aren’t conventional candidates. These aren’t elite career politicians making their run at the next rung of politics. They’re single moms and school teachers and public interest lawyers who want to make a difference for their communities and their countries.
Take Kara Eastman, a Democrat running in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Raised by a single mom, Eastman started the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance to ensure that children have access to homes free of lead and other environmental hazards. And she was on the board of her region’s community college. She’s running against an incumbent Republican who has vowed to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Labor.
Or consider Katie Porter, a Democrat running for California’s 45th Congressional District. Porter has spent her career as a consumer protection attorney going after big banks financial institutions that cheat consumers. She teaches consumer law and was appointed a few years ago by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris to be the state’s watchdog against big banks. Porter is running against a Republican incumbent who was an investment banker until entering politics 22 years ago.
A community-based environmental activist challenging an anti-EPA climate-change denier and a banking consumer watchdog challenging a big-bank friendly career politician. These challengers aren’t just changing politics because they’re women. They’re changing the game with their range of expertise and experience they bring to the table as candidates who represent real people and their concerns, not just special interest elites. Politics will hopefully never be the same.
Sally Kohn is a CNN political commentator and author of the book, “The Opposite of Hate.”

Van Jones: Women of color are starting to get the respect that they deserve

Van Jones-Profile-Image

Van Jones-Profile-Image

A scandal-tarred, extremist Republican. Accusations of sexual misconduct. A southern state where Democrats rarely compete. Attempts to suppress the black vote. A multi-racial, populist coalition putting in the work.
That was the scene in December 2017, when Doug Jones upset Roy Moore in a special election for Alabama’s Senate seat.
Now, with 2018 tagged as a successor to 1992’s “Year of the woman,” that Alabama contest deserves a second look. In the wake of Jones’ surprise victory, it quickly became clear who was responsible for it: black women. Black women put in the long hard volunteer hours. Black women got their families, friends, neighbors and churches to the polls. Black women voted 98% for Doug Jones.
It is really no surprise. Black women have been the backbone of the Democratic Party for decades. All that has changed is that women of color are starting to get the credit they deserve.
They are also in leadership roles. That is an overdue and welcome development. From Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts to Ilhan Omar in Minnesota to Stacey Abrams’ historic bid for governor in Georgia, black women are not just singing in the choir but preaching from the pulpit.
That fact is even more true when you pull back the lens and look at the waves of all women of color — Native American, Palestinian, Latina, more than I can mention — determined to make history in November. In the GOP stronghold of Idaho, a young Democrat named Paulette Jordan could become the first-ever Native American governor.
With all the attention on the new “Year of the woman,” I hope we do not lose sight of the beautiful rainbow of women of color who are leading the charge and organizing behind the scenes. Whether or not a blue wave materializes, their voices and concerns deserve to be at the center of conversation in 2019 and beyond.
Van Jones is the host of the “The Van Jones Show” and a CNN political commentator. He is the co-founder of #cut50, a national, bipartisan criminal justice initiative of the Dream Corps.

Carrie Sheffield: Painting Republicans as anti-woman is backfiring

Carrie Sheffield

Carrie Sheffield

Women are the backbone of American democracy. We made up 55% (far greater than men’s 45%) of the 2016 electorate, and we are an undeniable force for social change. Women are running for office in record numbers this year, and when the Election Day dust settles, I’d wager we’ll be positioned for historic impact on Capitol Hill and legislatures nationwide.
In 2014, when Democrats tried to project a phony “War On Women” mantra against Republicans, accusing them of holding women back, I found it ironic that on Election Night 2014, it was the first female combat veteran to be elected to the Senate — Republican Joni Ernst — whose victory tipped the balance of the Senate into Republican hands. Ernst is a fighter for women — and for all people, both at home and overseas.
We’re seeing Democrats reaching for this familiar but tired tactic in 2018, and I believe we’ll see a similar outcome to 2014. America’s women are smarter than to fall for a manufactured “anti-woman” narrative against Republicans, who are economically empowering America’s middle class, both men and women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, annualized, median weekly take-home pay was just $43,368 at Q3 in 2016, compared to $46,436 at Q3 in 2018. This is an increase of $3,068, which is a substantial raise of 7%. The weekly pay increase was roughly the same for women and men.
The polling is mixed among GOP women about Judge Kavanaugh in the wake of the Christine Blasey Ford hearings, but I personally was incredibly motivated to speak out about the unfair way that Democrats exploited the #MeToo movement for political points. I know many other conservative women who feel the same way. Democrats’ rejection of due process for Kavanaugh is backfiring — it’s motivating conservatives to turn any Blue Wave into a Blue Trickle.
Carrie Sheffield, a conservative commentator, is National Editor for Accuracy in Media, a citizens’ media watchdog whose mission is to promote accuracy, fairness and balance in news reporting.

Tami Sawyer: Stacey Abrams is a game-changer for women like me

Tami Sawyer

Tami Sawyer

Stacey Abrams is on the cusp of breaking one of the tallest glass ceilings in our country. Should her campaign to be governor of Georgia prove successful on November 6, she will be the first black woman governor in the United States. The possibility of this historic moment is breathtaking for all of us, but it is a particular game-changer for women like me, who grew up under a monolithic prescription for success.
As a girl and later as a woman, I was often told to wait until I was married or to go make more money or to lose weight. When I was in high school in the late 90s, my mom used to have “the talk” with me. “Tam, you’re a black woman, you have to work extra hard, dress impeccably, and be above reproach.”
Back then, I thought success included being a certain dress size, wearing your hair straight and long, getting married and having children. When Hollywood cast black actresses as successful working women, they looked like Robin Givens. I spent a ridiculous amount of money to add bundles of hair to my head. I tried every fad diet. When I got a little older, my heart sank with every friend’s engagement and birth announcement that came my way. Even as I achieved recognition for my community and professional work, there were times that I still felt unfulfilled because I didn’t look like Gabrielle Union in “Two Can Play That Game” nor have a husband and children like Rainbow on “Blackish.”
Last fall, I was scrolling through Facebook when a video popped on my timeline. The video introduced me to Stacey Abrams: a Yale law school graduate, former deputy city attorney of Atlanta and then-Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives. I was in awe as I watched, but not because of her enormous levels of success, but because Stacey Abrams looked like me. She wore her hair in a short natural style and she had curves and cushions like many Southern girls. And also like me, she was not married, had no children, and had student debt.
At the time, I was weighing the possibility of running for office in my hometown of Memphis for a second time. Stacey Abrams was a needed affirmation that my body type, my hair, my finances nor my marital status discounted my potential to lead or make change.
Stacey Abrams empowered me to see myself and my future through a different lens. I went on to run for office with renewed confidence. I won my election for County Commissioner in August of this year and I’ve never been prouder to stand tall and lead as a black woman than I am in this moment in time because of the rise of women like Stacey. On November 6th, I hope Stacey will be victorious and that her victory is even sweeter knowing she has broken the mold of success.
Tami Sawyer is a commissioner on the Shelby County Commission in Memphis and a social justice advocate.

Kurt Bardella: Weinstein didn’t spark this movement, Donald Trump did

Kurt Bardella

Kurt Bardella

In many ways, I think the fact that Donald Trump, an accused serial sexual harasser, got away with his abhorrent conduct and rhetoric to win the presidency helped ignite the #MeToo #TimesUp movement. The power dynamics used against women were no longer restricted to the shadows. In his words and actions, Trump put this behavior front and center.
It became clear to me things would be different from now on when the Women’s March drew three times the turnout that Trump’s inauguration did. This was a turning point. Passive resistance was not an option. The visual of half-a-million Americans uniting to support the empowerment of women would inspire a higher level of participation in the political process that is unprecedented and historic.
The events of the past few weeks have only fanned the flames of the women’s movement in this country. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford facing a Senate Republican Judiciary Committee that was made up of all white men. Trump labeling multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh a “hoax.” Trump attacking Stormy Daniels by calling her “horseface.” Trump attacking multiple female journalists accusing one of “not thinking” and telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins “don’t do that” when she asked him a question.
The coming November midterms amount to a reckoning against all the men in Congress who have enabled Trump to continue degrading women and protecting those who oppress them. Make no mistake about it, this isn’t the culmination of this movement, it’s just the beginning of a process that will permanently change the political dynamics in this country.
Kurt Bardella is the former spokesperson for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and for U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) who left the Republican Party last year to join the Democratic Party. Follow him on Twitter: @kurtbardella.

Dawn Laguens: It’s not just about women candidates, it’s about the women organizers, activists, donors and voters

Dawn Laguens

Dawn Laguens

Since January 21, 2017, we knew this day was coming. More than 4 million people around the world joined the Women’s March. In the last two years, according to the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans have marched or protested. The number one issue motivating them is women’s rights. The #MeToo movement has swept our culture, bringing stories of sexual assault and harassment out of the shadows.
Women’s marches and protests have not stopped the Trump administration from following through with his threats to women’s rights. He tried (and repeatedly failed) to overturn the Affordable Care Act and block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood for care with defunding efforts. He’s since proposed a gag rule to prevent doctors and nurses who participate in the nation’s family planning program from telling patients all their options when it comes to pregnancy. And he’s appointed two blatantly anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court, one despite accusations of sexual assault and a national outcry against the nomination.
President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress have ignored women’s outrage at every turn, attacking our rights and our ability to make our own decisions about our bodies and futures.
During the last “Year of the Woman” election, the 1992 midterms, a record four women were elected to the US Senate, and a record 24 to the House. It was an important moment. But as then-Sen. Barbara Mikulski said, “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy, or a year.”
This year, with our health and lives on the line, we need more than a moment. So we’ve built a movement. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is running its largest-ever midterm effort to turn out voters who believe in reproductive health and rights. November 6, 2018 will not just usher in “The Year of the Woman.” It will mark a shift in who holds political power in this country. Not only because a record number of women are running for office, but also because the vast majority of organizers, activists, donors, and voters for progressive candidates are women. And together, these women aren’t giving up or backing down.
Dawn Laguens is the vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Jeff Yang: 2018 is the year of the women, plural

Jeff Yang

Jeff Yang

I think the biggest difference between this year and 1992’s “Year of the Woman” (and — as Slate’s Lila Thulin has pointed out — the many years that have been dubbed “Year of the Woman” before and since) is the breadth of diversity among the candidates. Among the female candidates running serious races with real chance of winning are out lesbians and bisexual and transgender individuals. There are an unprecedented number of female military veterans and there are disabled woman candidates.
And where race and ethnicity are concerned, the number of nonwhite women running for office — black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and Native American — has outstripped any prior electoral field. In short, while prior years might have deserved the designation “Year of the Woman,” in 2018 we are finally seeing the “Year of the Women” — a plural, inclusive and intersectional representation that’s poised to shatter our preexisting stereotypes of female leadership.
Jeff Yang is a frequent contributor to CNN Opinion, a featured writer for Quartz and other publications, and the co-host of the podcast “They Call Us Bruce.” He co-wrote Jackie Chan’s best-selling autobiography, “I Am Jackie Chan,” and is the editor of three graphic novels: “Secret Identities,” “Shattered” and the forthcoming “New Frontiers.”

Kristin Kanthak: In 2018, it’s all about millennial women

Kristin Kanthak

Kristin Kanthak

Part of the reason why incumbents in Congress nearly always win reelection is that really good candidates almost never run against them. But what if a new type of candidate started running, one who is motivated not by getting to win public office itself, but by having the opportunity to help their communities? These new candidates, according to a study in “Political Psychology,” are more likely to be women.
It’s no surprise that the GOP is on a collision course with demographics as their party ages. Millennials prefer the Democratic Party by nearly 60%, but as the youngest generation in the electorate, they are also the least likely to vote. Importantly, though, the question of how long the Republicans are safe remains almost entirely up to one group: Millennial women, 70% of whom identify most closely with the Democratic Party and who are most enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming midterm elections.
Indeed, millennial women have likely already changed the political landscape with the record-breaking surge of women candidates running for office, not only because they are a different gender of candidate, but they may be a different type of candidate altogether.
Democrat Joe Crowley is perhaps the best-known of the 2018 class of heretofore-entrenched incumbents. He became a Congressman when his boss, the previous incumbent, hand-picked him in 1998. With a loss being inevitable, no high-quality candidates stepped forward until Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political activist who had previously not considered running for office, decided “on a lark” to run because she wanted to affect change. She did not wait for the most strategic time to run. She just ran. And she defeated him soundly.
Republicans may also be robbing future turnout to pay for current turnout. Older women are much more supportive of #metoo than are older men, but no such gender gap exists for younger people. Being on the “wrong” side of #metoo may hurt the Republicans not only with women in the future, but with men, too.
The only question is how long it will take for millennials to start making their political mark. If some projections are correct and millennials vote in record numbers in this election, the future is already here.
Kristin Kanthak is an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s political science department. She is co-editor of the State Politics and Policy Quarterly, a political science journal focusing on state politics.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: The patriarchy fought back this year, but we’re still strong

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

2018 has been a year when more women have recognized how intertwined gender, economic, and racial justice are — that one doesn’t happen without the others, so we must unite to rise together. It’s also been a year of tremendous backlash.
From Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, to rolling back protections for women’s healthcare provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and even to a man on a plane groping a woman and trying to excuse his behavior to officers with, “the president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts”; the backlash has been strong and ubiquitous.
To say the “patriarchy” has fought back from a place of fear is an understatement.
Ironically, the strength of that backlash is one of the best measures of the power of these intersecting concerns can have when women of different racial, regional, and economic backgrounds — and their allies — unite to rise together. That backlash only strengthens our resolve. Women are not giving up. 2018 is the year that the “Decade of Women” begins.
In our last midterm election, only 36% of eligible voters bothered to vote. This year, it’s time to use the election as a launching point into a new era when having this many women on the ballot and winning primaries and elections is commonplace, not cause to deem it a “Year of the Woman.” That starts by making sure all our friends, family, and neighbors vote along with us, next Tuesday and in every election.
Women hold the hope, the dreams, the joy, and also the rage, as well as the will and the strength to build a nation where everyone can thrive. We are half our population and we brought the other half into the world. Together we are the loud, visible, and necessary force our nation needs right now.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is executive director and co-founder of MomsRising.org, a nonprofit national organization that supports policies to improve family economic security. She is the author of the recently released book, “Keep Marching: How Every Woman Can Take Action and Change Our World.”

Everything we know about midterm voters — including that there will be less of them and they’ll hail more from the parties’ bases than in a presidential cycle — means that the Trump factor will be on their minds at the polls.

“Both of these sides have been waiting for this moment since January 2017,” professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University (and CNN contributor) Julian Zelizer told me about this year’s midterm voters.

“These are people who have been encouraged or most aggravated by what’s happening in the news.” 

Because of that, for campaigns this year (and increasingly over the last few cycles) it’s less about how to win voters over, but how to get the ones you want to the polls. Case in point: Trump’s hard pivot to the immigration issue in the last week of the election in an attempt to rile up Republican voters.

“It’s clear he’s trying to activate his base,” UNI political science professor Chris Larimer told me this week.

But will that strategy activate his base, or encourage those who dislike him? 

At least nationally, we have a picture of just how polarized voters are on Trump, thanks to polling from CNN and SSRS earlier this month. Among Democrats, 92% disapprove of Trump — while 87% of Republicans approve of the President.

In key states like Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia on Election Day, the difference will ultimately come down to which side is bigger — and who makes it to the polls.