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This Week: The GOP Primary Sideshow. PLUS: After 'Citizens United' | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: The GOP Primary Sideshow. PLUS: After 'Citizens United'

THE GOP PRIMARY SIDESHOW. The spectacular twists and turns of the 2012 GOP primary race have thus far made for great entertainment. But in all the antics lie serious implications for the direction and future of our country. As I explained in the Washington Post this week, whether it’s Romney’s “vulture capitalism” or Newt Gingrich’s dog-whistle racism, the Republican platform personifies the corruptions and failed policies that brought us to where we are. On ABC’s This Week, I explained how the schizophrenic GOP primary results are reflective of old patterns that have re-emerged as both Romney and Gingrich threaten to take the country into a poisonous abyss of old grievances at a time when we desperately need new solutions. On NPR’s On Point, I told host Tom Ashbrook we have a rare opportunity to discuss two dramatically different visions for the future of the country, channeling the momentum of the movement that began in Wisconsin, occupied Wall Street and spread across the country.

On the eve of the Florida primary, this week’s episode of Nation Conversations with contributing writer Ben Adler looks at the diverse Florida electorate—cultural conservatives in the north, Latinos in the south, and retirees from across the country. Adler explains the state’s wealthier conservatives may lean more toward Romney, while less wealthy conservatives may be drawn to Gingrich’s culture-wars rhetoric. Listen to that here.

And stay tuned for continued campaign coverage from The Nation’s 2012 team of writers and reporters. DC correspondent John Nichols (@NicholsUprising), contributing writer Ben Adler (@badler), DC reporter George Zornick (@gzornick), contributing writer Ari Berman (@AriBerman), correspondent Ari Melber (@AriMelber), veteran national affairs correspondent William Greider, and contributing editor Robert Dreyfuss.

ABRAMOFF ON LOBBYING AND NEWT GINGRICH. Former Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff stopped by The Nation’s offices this week to offer some insights into the pervasive grip of money and influence in Washington. He knows well of what he speaks. As a self-proclaimed “killer lobbyist,” Abramoff made a lot of powerful friends during his days peddling influence in DC—from Ralph Reed to Grover Norquist. He witnessed firsthand the dubious lines of what was and wasn’t legal. Having served over three years in federal prison, Abramoff admittedly had a lot of time to think. He offered some bold ideas for reform, including ending Washington’s revolving door by revising the definition of “lobbyist” and banning them from political contributions. In another installment of Nation Conversations, Abramoff argues that reforming the lobbying world will certainly be difficult, but it will also be essential because the system he exploited for so long is not “a system that, whether one’s on the right or the left, one can look at and say, ‘This is good for the country.’ ” He also shares his intimate knowledge of Newt Gingrich, a “lobbyist,” plain and simple, and offers examples of Gingrich’s very unique style of legislating. Be sure to read contributing writer Ben Adler’s account of that discussion, here.

AFTER CITIZENS UNITED. Abramoff’s visit couldn’t have come at a better time—on the heels of the second-anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disasterous decision in Citizens United, at a time when Washington remains saturated in corporate money and influence, and a 2012 primary campaign awash with Super PACs. In our recent issue, DC correspondent John Nichols and Robert McChesney examine the rise of this toxic offspring born of the Citizens United decision and the avalanche of scorched-earth negative campaign ads that now dominate our political campaigns. As our lead editorial in that issue explains, a court case in Montana sets up the first direct challenge to Citizens United; the time is ripe for a constitutional amendment to stem the flood of corporate money that’s poisoning our democracy. In this video, I share ways you can help take back government so it remains one of the people, by the people and for the people.

THIS WEEK IN POVERTY. Each week, Nation contributor Greg Kaufmann offers key statistics that are too often ignored; provides updates on legislative efforts at the national, state, and local levels; reports on the battles activists are fighting in their communities; summarizes cutting-edge ideas, studies and proposals offered by anti-poverty experts and organizations; finds opportunities for action, highlights programs that are working, busts myths and much more. This week, Kaufmann looks ahead to Florida’s GOP primary and offers up a compelling look at what’s happening on the ground: from troubling poverty statistics to a new “wage theft” ordinance that is gaining momentum in the state, as well ways grassroots efforts to protect Florida’s beleaguered farmworkers. Be sure to read that here.

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