Mazie Hirono’s journey from poor immigrant to U.S. senator

A review of "Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story" (M. Hirono, 2021)
Review as published in the Washington Post on May 21, 2021

“Heart of Fire” traces Mazie Hirono’s journey from poor immigrant to U.S. senator. When Hirono writes about her childhood, her mother and family, their arrival in Hawaii from Japan, and the poverty, hardship, fear and struggle they faced, “Heart of Fire” is a revelatory, evocative, deeply moving book.

Measuring the authoritarian mind-set of Trump’s followers

A review of "Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers" (J. Dean and B. Altemeyer, 2020)
Review as published in the Washington Post on October 2, 2020

Some of the biggest questions about President Trump involve his followers. Who are they, what do they want, and why do they support him no matter what? “Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers,” co-authored by John W. Dean and Bob Altemeyer, is an effort to answer those questions. Without his supporters, “Donald Trump would be nothing but a Twitter troll,” they assert.

A White House correspondent confronts Trump’s tantrums and untruths

A review of "Front Row at the Trump Show" (J.Karl, Dutton, 2020)
Review as published in the Washington Post on April 24, 2020

Jonathan Karl is one of President Trump’s least favorite reporters, or so it would seem from recent White House briefings. In the past few weeks Trump has told Karl not to be a “cutie pie” or a “wise guy,” and called him “a third-rate reporter” who would “never make it” because Karl was asking about the availability of coronavirus testing and ventilators for hospitals. Trump’s mini-tantrums and name calling are not restricted to Karl. They have become common in the briefing room since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the advent of the president’s daily marathon briefings. Many people have argued that the television networks and cable news channels should stop carrying the briefings live because they are short on useful information and extremely long on Trump promotion. Since lockdowns have prevented the president from holding rallies, the briefings have become “The Trump Show” — which is also the title of Karl’s new book: “Front Row at the Trump Show.”

An Obama adviser summons a volunteer army to defeat President Trump

A review of "A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump" (D. Plouffe, Viking, 2020)
Review as published in the Washington Post on April 3, 2020

By any measure, Barack Obama and his team ran one of the best political campaigns in modern history in 2008.... David Plouffe, the campaign’s manager in both the primary and the general elections, whom Obama has largely credited for the win, has already written the detailed story of that campaign. “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory,” published in 2009, revealed campaign anecdotes and tactics and provided behind-the-scenes color. “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump” is a very different book. The title pretty much says it all. This is a guidebook with step-by-step instructions for people who want to get involved in the Democratic campaign.

Ambitious, flawed Ben Franklin on a path to greatness

A review of "Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity" (N. Bunker, Knopf, 2018)
Review as published in the Washington Post on November 29, 2018

Ingenuity is the central theme of Nick Bunker’s book about the first half of Franklin’s life. “Ingenuity” was Franklin’s favorite word, and in the 18th century it meant a combination of intellect, imagination, practical skills, wit and sociability — all traits Franklin possessed in abundance. In “Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity,” Bunker offers ample evidence to illustrate how Franklin developed ingenuity and how it influenced the rest of his life. Franklin’s origins, character and background, Bunker writes, serve to explain the man he would become.

Anyone interested in Franklin and early America should find this book fascinating. It offers important insight into the internal struggles Franklin wrestled with as a youth and the questions he strove to answer.

Trump's subpoena stonewall is his most dangerous outrage yet. Why even have a Congress?

Published in USA Today on April 29, 2019

There are fresh affronts to democracy daily with Donald Trump in the White House. But with the news that he and members of his administration plan to flout all congressional subpoenas no matter what the subject, Trump’s disrespect for the rule of law and constitutional norms has hit a new high (or low).

Linda Killian on NPR

Published on November 24, 2018

Linda Killian was a guest on NPR, talking about Nancy Pelosi's bid to become the next Speaker of the House.

Please click on the player on the right to listen.

Time for a Nancy Pelosi Farewell Victory Tour and new House leaders for Democrats

Published in USA Today on August 13, 2018

It isn't on Rolling Stone's list of 2018's biggest farewell tours, but it's time. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn should announce that for the next three months, they are going to travel the country and campaign like heck, raise lots of money and make sure Democrats win a majority of House seats in November — and that after the election, all of them will step down from their positions to make room for a new generation of Democratic leaders.

Paul Ryan is third casualty of GOP dysfunction in 20 years. Is major change afoot?

Published in USA Today on April 12, 2018

For the first 200 years of this nation’s history, only three House speakers resigned from office, all because they were accepting other political appointments.

But in just the past 20 years, an equal number of House speakers, all of them Republicans, have decided to depart under very different circumstances.

Democracy on the Line

Published in US News on October 4, 2017

American democracy itself was on trial Tuesday at the Supreme Court. At least that's what Paul M. Smith, the Washington attorney representing challengers to Wisconsin's extremely gerrymandered legislative redistricting plan, was arguing.

From Washington to Lee to Trump

Published in US News on August 17, 2017

When President Donald Trump likened Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee to slave holders and Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and asked if we should pull down memorials to those two men along with statues of Lee and other Confederates, he perhaps inadvertently raised an important and extremely difficult question about American history.

Politics Has Become a Blood Sport

Published in US News on May 25, 2017

I have never been physically assaulted by a politician. I have however been verbally threatened on more than one occasion by politicians who didn't like the questions I was asking or the stories I was writing. What happened in Montana Wednesday when congressional candidate Greg Gianforte threw reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian to the ground and punched him is unconscionable. Gianforte belongs in jail, not in the House of Representatives.

Ideological purity comes back to bite the GOP

Published in USA Today on March 31, 2017

Amid the postmortem over everything that went wrong with the Republican health reform effort, we shouldn’t overlook the role of the system that elects members of Congress.

It not only contributed to the massive failure, it is also predictive of what we will see from the Republican Congress moving forward.

The New Old Hickory

Published in US News on February 13, 2017

Donald Trump has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president, next to his desk in the Oval Office and members of his staff are touting the idea that the two men have a lot in common. Vice President Mike Pence has boasted of Trump's victory, "There hasn't been anything like this since Andrew Jackson." That may actually be true. There are already signs of similarities between the two men and it's a cause for significant concern.

DeVos vote bodes ill for bipartisanship

Published in USA Today on February 8, 2017

We didn’t need more evidence that this country is in for a very rough couple of years, but we got some anyway with the squeaker Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos, who married into the Amway fortune, has given $200 million to Republican candidates and causes over the years. She has long been a strong advocate for school choice, including vouchers and unregulated for-profit charter schools. She has demonstrated both unfamiliarity and hostility toward public education, even calling public schools a "dead end."

Trump's focus on forgotten men masks billionaire agenda

Published in USA Today on January 20, 2017

President Trump’s short inaugural address sounded the same themes he repeated throughout his divisive campaign. While it almost certainly resonated with his supporters, it is unlikely to have reassured many of the 65.8 million voters who did not cast a ballot for him. The overall tone of the speech seemed almost angry and grim — with Trump announcing that he is taking on Capitol Hill and all of the political leaders who have preceded him as well as much of the rest of the world.

Don't Repeat the Mandate Mistake

Published in US News on November 12, 2016

The biggest myth that needs to be dispelled about this election is that Donald Trump and the Republican victory was "huge" and overwhelming. Trump did win rural areas by a commanding margin but in the swing districts and states which secured his victory the margins were not massive but actually razor thin. The Republicans do not have an overwhelming mandate to push through a far-right agenda even though early indications are that they intend to govern this way.

The House won't go blue anytime soon

Published in USA Today on November 6, 2016

The moment when Democrat Hillary Clinton could expect a landslide victory seems to have passed. But even a huge margin would not improve the odds of her party taking control of the House. That’s because the self-dealing system used by most states, in which politicians draw their own gerrymandered districts to achieve maximum political and personal advantage, really is “rigged” and violates the principle of democratic representation.

Right message, horribly wrong messenger

Published in USA Today on October 26, 2016

Donald Trump’s assertions that the election might be rigged and that he will only accept the result if he wins (a supposedly facetious remark) have roiled the news media and political waters. But his overall campaign message that the entire political system is rigged against average Americans is the reason he is still in this race despite his horrible personal behavior and outrageous statements. Even though he is a deeply flawed messenger and not up to the job of being president, his message has resonated with millions of Americans who will still be angry and seeking change after Election Day.

More Independents Than Democrats or Republicans

Published in The Wall Street Journal on April 9, 2015

A Pew Research Center survey based on more than 25,000 interviews confirms a trend years in the making: More people consider themselves politically independent than identify with the Republican or Democratic parties.

Will the Supreme Court Tell Us Our Vote Doesn’t Really Matter?

Published in The Daily Beast on March 3, 2015

If you’re angry about the polarization of American politics, then a case heard by the Supreme Court on Monday matters to you. Because if the justices decide to declare independent redistricting commissions unconstitutional, things are going to get much worse.

When Will We See a #Millennial Congress?

Published in The Daily Beast on December 26, 2014

Whether it is entertainment, consumer goods, or almost anything else that can be purchased, viewed, or clicked on, millennials are the most coveted demographic. There are about 80 million Americans between the ages of 18-34 and next year they are expected to spend $2.45 trillion. But when it comes to politics and national policy, they have relatively little clout because most of them don’t reliably vote and aren’t major political contributors. These young adults have voluntarily checked out of a political system they consider corrupt and dysfunctional.

Yes, Independent Swing Voters Are Real. And May Decide Who Wins Elections

Published in The Daily Beast on November 3, 2014

This midterm election has been pretty terrible measured by the metrics that independent/swing voters care about. Instead, there’s been a record $4 billion spent mostly on vacuous television attack ads, little substantive discussion about important issues or a clear argument for how Republicans or Democrats would lead the nation, and the feeling that nothing will really change in Washington no matter which party wins control of the Senate. That’s why a lot of voters could stay home November 4th. But in the closest races around the country—the 10 Senate races that are within five percentage points, including those in Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Iowa, at least half a dozen gubernatorial contests, and a handful of House races—the swing voters who do show up could determine the outcomes.

The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November

Published in The Daily Beast on October 13, 2014

Anyone who has been talking to voters around the country and watching public opinion polls knows that American voters are angry, tired of both political parties, and ready for a change. Until very recently, though, that frustration has had almost no outlet, as independent candidates for office in the past were rarely competitive and almost always dismissed by the national media as a sideshow. Not this year.

Five myths about independent voters

Published in The Washington Post on May 17, 2012

Perhaps the biggest myth about independents is that they are closet partisans or “leaners” who are independent in name only but regularly vote with one party. True, about half of independents do fit into this category, but the rest are truly independent; their allegiance swings from election to election. They are persuadable, not polarized partisans.

Meet the One Numbers-Cruncher Who Foresees Democrats Holding the Senate

Published in The Daily Beast on September 16, 2014

If the race for the Senate is as close as predictions indicate Independents could be the kingmakers and determine who is in control.

Candidates in Maine, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., Challenge Republicans and Democrats Alike

Published in The Daily Beast on July 5, 2014

Meet the non-partisan candidates changing American politics.

Innovate. Disrupt. Solve problems.

This mantra of the hi-tech revolution has brought fundamental change to virtually every area of American life except one—politics. America’s polarized politics are mired in a dysfunctional and increasingly unpopular two-party system that has failed to address this nation’s major challenges and threatens its future.

The approval rating for Congress—which just had its least productive year since at least the early 1990s—is at a historical low of roughly 13 percent. Less than a third of Americans have confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership and voters have an even dimmer view of his Republican opponents. More than 40 percent of Americans now identify as political independents, a larger number than either Republicans or Democrats.

And this anti-partisan trend has not gone unnoticed by aspiring office holders.

Linda Killian on MSNBC with Melissa Harris-Perry

Published on January 11, 2014


The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November

Published in The Daily Beast on October 13, 2014

Anyone who has been talking to voters around the country and watching public opinion polls knows that American voters are angry, tired of both political parties, and ready for a change. Until very recently, though, that frustration has had almost no outlet, as independent candidates for office in the past were rarely competitive and almost always dismissed by the national media as a sideshow. Not this year.

Linda Killian with Jeffrey Brown on the PBS NewsHour

Published on November 7, 2012


It’s Disenfranchisement When Independents Can’t Vote in Primaries

Published in The Daily Beast on April 3, 2014

District of Columbia voters went to the polls Tuesday, a few of them anyway, to vote in mayoral and city council primary elections. Unfortunately, although I am a Washington resident, I was not one of them. My non-participation wasn’t due to a lack of interest but because I am an Independent voter.

Linda Killian on MSNBC's "The Cycle"

September, 2012


The Senate’s New Taxman Won’t Be Controlled By His Own Party

Published in The Daily Beast on February 18, 2014

For two years, Senators Ron Wyden and Judd Gregg met almost every week to talk about taxes. The exuberant, indefatigable Democrat from Oregon and the dour, taciturn Republican from New Hampshire made an odd couple. But they shared a singular, nerdy passion for wanting to overhaul the tax code and their lengthy negotiations ultimately resulted in the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act they introduced in 2010.