Thursday, May 12, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: Both parties need to clearly see how Trump won the nomination

Some Republicans are making their peace with Donald Trump as the party's standard-bearer. Others… well, not so much. They are thinking about third party candidates, vowing not to go to the Convention, and muttering about lost causes.

Meanwhile, Democrats seem to think they have this thing all sewn up, and are making inquiries about positions in the next Clinton administration.

I don't understand either group. Were they watching the primaries we just went through?

First of all, Trump was not a fluke. He faced a large and talented crowd of 16 primary opponents that included successful governors, accomplished senators, scions of business and medicine, and also Ted Cruz. Look, there were some fascinating people in that group; I was on record that I thought it was a deep bench. But Trump beat them all. Republican voters in primaries and caucuses liked him best. So how is it a tragedy that he won?  Were 11 million Republican voters wrong?

The Republicans who are announcing their disgust at this outcome are distancing themselves from that plurality of Republican voters, a group that is mad. And they are mad in part because Republicans convinced them to be mad-- at Obama, at the economy, at government. So, yeah, now they are mad. And Trump went right to that. Yes, he made xenophobic appeals and overstated the threat of immigration-- but that has been a characteristic of many Republican candidates (and some Democrats) for decades. In fact, the need to address that tendency within the Republican Party was part of the conclusion in the RNC's "post-mortem" in the wake of the 2012 loss to Obama.  It's like the Frankenstein monster-- they are scared of what they have created.

And as for the Democrats…

A year ago, no one except Donald J. Trump thought Trump could win the nomination. They were all wrong. Isn't that a pretty good warning not to think this thing is in the bag?

Here is what can go wrong for the over-confident Democrats (aside from an indictment of Hillary Clinton, which I think is a possibility):

First of all, those mad Republicans have a lot in common with the mad Democrats who have supported Bernie Sanders in droves. At base, mad Democrats AND mad Republicans throng to someone who blames someone else (immigrants/banks) for their problems. In the general election there will be one candidate-- Trump-- who will speak to them and for them.  That's a problem for Clinton.

Moreover, both Sanders and Trump talked about about a concrete, very real issue in the same way: foreign trade. They both argued that deals like NAFTA took away American jobs. (Economists say they are right, too, though such trade deals are just one of many factors).  That plays well in states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida-- key swing states. In some very important ways, Clinton/Jeb Bush/wealthy donors on both sides vs. Trump/Sanders/working class America is a cleavage point.

There is a lot left to happen, and a lot on the line.

You are so right. The general discontent with both the Democratic and Republican Party Establishments makes anything possible and Trump has positioned himself well for this. The Democratic Party also misunderstands the life circumstances of it's base. I know this because I live in "Appalachia".
Where I Stand. I will never publicly or privately support or endorse Donald Trump for president. Trump is the nadir of our long and tumultuous experiment with self government whose nomination (much less election) wholly debases the American presidency. No further evidence on this subject is necessary. Trump is awful. Those who gave us Trump are on their own. And they need to accept that the people they so blithely alienated along the way are under no obligation to suddenly adopt the party line.

Of course, on the other hand, I can never vote for Hillary. I don't think it will matter in Texas, but, if it does, I will vote for Trump over Hillary because he will do less damage to the country than Hillary and her gang (I would expect a Trump presidency to be historically inept and inconsequential, which beats the heck out of fundamentally transformative).

Moreover, I will NOT lend my name to any effort that is likely to increase Hillary's chances of becoming president. I hear some GOP folks thrashing around with alternatives that seem designed mostly to discipline the revolt of the masses with a punishing general election defeat at the hands of the Democrats. I actually prefer to punish the Trumpsters with the election of Trump.

After that, I make no promises. I know I cannot stay in communion with most of the people who gave us Trump. I do not believe I can continue to share a party with evangelicals and evangelical leaders who decided moral probity and a basic understanding of grace and atonement were no longer a deciding factor in picking a national leader (this headline said it best: "We Owe Bill Clinton an Apology"). I know I can no longer share a party with pseudo-conservative hucksters who gleefully "abandoned their resistance for a pocket full of mumbles such are Donald Trump's incoherent promises." I know I am not interested in sharing a party with my fellow disciples of conservatism whose forty years of studying Burke, Kirk, Buckley, and Reagan, when it counted most, rendered a noxious brew of Hannityism, Coulterism, and Trumpism. No, once this is all over, it is going to be very hard for me to let bygones be bygones.

Having said that, the Trump voters are not wrong in their diagnosis. We have a great country and a proud history but also a failing political system and failing national education system and a lethal cancer at the heart of our centers of cultural power, and all that is going in the wrong direction.

Trump the man is an abomination. Trumpism is an unsophisticated cry of pain and frustration. As I stated above, a Trump presidency is not likely to have much positive impact on our problems. But, best-case scenario, it might give us a moment to catch our breath and regroup outside of the vicious cycle and endless loop of hyper-partisan dysfuntionality. Maybe. That may be just the unrelenting optimists in me talking.
And, for the record, let me restate my admission that I have been wrong on Trump (and most other things) early, often, consistently, and right down to the bitter end. As I often say (you might even call it my mantra): Nobody knows anything--and that goes double for me. And Mostly I repeat this repeatedly to remind myself--because nobody who follows my ravings needs reminding.
WF: What if there had been Bloomberg candidacy? Would that have been worth considering?

These are strange days we are living in. Neither party should be particularly proud; those who were ignored, unjustly, have brought this to a head.
The Perfesser airs it out a little here in the service of describing things pretty accurately. This is shaping up to be the "Gee, we didn't see THAT coming" election. I am a host of a political club called Drinking Liberally (with which Mark has a passing familiarity) that meets in a bar and music club in northeast Minneapolis. Especially in the early evening, the bar is frequented by a lot of working class neighbors and millennials attracted from a wider area. Most of my political research happens here. Well, okay, it's anecdotal, but never mind.

A lot of the people who come to the club like Bernie Sanders, and the young people seem to prefer him almost exclusively to Hillary Clinton. Many of the regulars know who I am (a more-or-less unreconstructed liberal), but some of them have admitted to me, in a confidential, almost apologetic, moment, that their second choice is Donald Trump.

I think this says more about Hillary Clinton than either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

Or maybe it says that Bernie and Donald understand the zeitgeist and Hillary does not, cannot, or is not permitted to.
"May you live in interesting times..."

It's wild to see how uncertain this election is. For every naysayer of Trump, three supporters seem to pop up. For every article or poll I've read about HRC sweeping the election, there are more about Bernie and/or Trump doing the same - all from fairly credible sources. There isn't even a hint of consensus on where things are heading.

I think for as unpolished and in some cases reprehensible Trump's speech is, I think he's the necessary evil in the room. I hope he's elected to reach that proverbial rock bottom for American politics where we can step back and go, "Wait a second... there are options!" and move us away from the cronyistic two-party system we've let fester.
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Lee-- THAT would be an interesting four years!
What no one is talking about is how OLD both Clinton and Trump are. And Sanders is even older. I doubt there has ever been an election with the leading candidates all well past 65 years old.

So picking a running mate is going to be incredibly important for all of them.

The right wing crazies like to float theories about Hillary (and Bill's) health. But what if they're right?

And although Trump doesn't drink or smoke, he does not seem to have the healthiest of diets.

He doesn't drink Trump brand wine????
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