Tag Archives: election

It doesn’t matter if Trump wins. 2016 is already a revolutionary election

Summary: The public, and so journalists, focus on the presidential elections as races, reasonable since the political consequences of each party’s victory are large but predictable. The 2016 election is different. Focusing on Trump’s latest outrageous sound-bite conceals the massive change made by his success to date. What if the parties’ control of political money and our political machinery no longer controls election results, and elections become a free-for-all among the power centers of America? This post explores what it means for our future.

USA Revolution: the Logo

 

Many factors produced the simultaneous insurgencies by Sanders and Trump against the Democratic and Republican establishments. Most obviously, for decades they have ignored vital concerns of their core constituencies, preferring instead to serve unpopular special interests such as Wall Street — and those of the 1% (e.g., favoring mass immigration).

A classic sign of organizations’ senescence is the increasing age of its leaders and their decreasing qualifications for high office. As seen in the candidates offered for President. In the case of John McCain in 2008, the Republicans gave us both — an erratic elderly man (would have been 73 at inauguration) with poor judgment and an unqualified VP (Sarah Palin, chosen with 21 months as Gov of AK).

Now the Boomers are turning over leadership of America, but the Democrats appeal to a new generation with two contenders: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who would be 70 and 76 at inauguration.

These events take place in a nation where the people’s confidence in their governing institutions has been eroding away for decades (see Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions polls). Which brings us to this, the key insight about 2016 (although written long ago)…

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Another smart move by Trump. Continued blindness by Democrats.

Summary:  Trump’s ascent shows the decay of the US political system. We see it in the inability of our political elites to see the forces propelling him or his smart moves, and their clumsy attempts to stop him. If he wins at the GOP convention, the Democrats will have to confront his message. They might find that difficult. Perhaps they know that, and so prefer to mock instead of engage.

Donald Trump and Palin

Our elites, their servants, and those who see the world through their eyes, all have been surprised at every success by Trump. The New York Post shows why. Palin’s endorsement of Trump boosts his support from the Right — where most of his opponents live. The votes he loses are ones he was never going to get. Amidst the mockery, a few see this obvious fact. Such as this by Timothy Stanley at CNN

“In fact, the endorsement is a smarter move than it might first appear. Sure, Palin has been near-invisible this campaign season and, sure, she is toxic to many liberal commentators and moderate voters. But Trump doesn’t need their votes right now. He needs to win Iowa. … the endorsement is God’s gift to Trump before Iowa. Elections in the Hawkeye State are swung by grass-roots activism and the enthusiasm of evangelical activists. Palin may not have exactly handed these over to Trump, but she has surely distracted them from the allure of Ted Cruz”

Showing the Left’s incisive thinking, journalist Charles Pierce at Esquire asks the key question

“There is only one question worth asking about the sudden alliance between a vulgar talking yam and Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods. … What did it cost him?”

Adam Lerner at Politico has an answer: “Donald Trump says he’d tap Sarah Palin for a Cabinet post“. But the tape shows that Tump promised nothing. On “Momma Grizzly Radio” Kevin Scholla asked Trump…

“If there is a Trump Administration, could you see maybe picking up the phone and giving the governor a call? Picking her brain on some things, or perhaps having her along in some official capacity.”

Trump’s reply was that of a competent politician. Smooth but making no promises.

“I’d love that because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening. She’s a special person. She’s really a special person. And I think people know that and she’s got a following that’s unbelievable,”

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Trump, not Sanders, is the revolutionary

Summary:  Journalists and political gurus dismiss Sanders as a wannabe revolutionary while focusing on the minutia of the GOP presidential horse-race. That’s wrong. Trump is a revolutionary, and only seeing the big picture reveals why. Even if he fails (as he probably will), others will travel the trail he blazed.

“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”
— From The Histories by Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).

Perhaps true, but not led by him

The Sanders Revolution

Trump has a long difficult road to climb to reach the White House, and his odds of success are small. But his unexpected success so far blazes a path others will follow. For he has shown the hollowness of the American political system. All the things so valued by our political engineers and columnists have proven ephemeral, even unnecessary. Even a Trump defeat shows the possibility of winning the Presidency by defying the authorities and mocking the conventions.

Trump is the revolutionary in the true sense — of achieving power by unorthodox methods, unauthorized by those holding the levers of power. That he does advocate revolution is commonplace, as revolutionaries often promise to purify the political region (or society) and restore old values. Since that is seldom possible, more often they lead to a new future (for good or ill).

Can Trump win?

To see the potentially revolutionary nature of Trump’s campaign see the P2016 website for Democracy in Action. They have data for the national and local campaign organizations for each major candidate. Compare the organization pages for Trump and Jeb Bush. One describes a professional-designed and lavishly funded political machine. The other is an outline or skeleton of a machine. Yet Bush has 5% in the polls vs. 34% for Trump.

Despite the hundreds of full-time professional journalists covering the Republican race, we know little about it. They file hundreds of almost identical stories, a demonstration of the gross overcapacity in the American news media (made worse by American’s disinterest in paying for news).

Perhaps the best guides to assess the grassroots action are the State polls, few though they are. The most recent scores show Trump running strong as the clock runs down to the first contests.

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Next phase of the Trump revolution: rise of the new populism

Summary: Slowly our leaders and political gurus realize that Trump represents powerful currents in American society. It is a new populism, unlike the faux populism of the Left. While their initial expectations of a Trump flame-out have proven false, they still underestimate him. Further surprises await us as we journey down this dark path.

GOP presidential poll, 17 December 2015

On August 6 Nate Silver published “Donald Trump’s Six Stages Of Doom” (the same week I wrote The Donald Trump revolution, dismissed as all revolts are in the beginning). Here is the core of Silver’s analysis, with his 6 steps (slightly paraphrased).

“If you want absurd specificity, I recently estimated Trump’s chance of becoming the GOP nominee at 2 percent. …History’s lesson isn’t necessarily that Trump’s candidacy will go bust tomorrow, however. …The lesson, rather, is that Trump’s campaign will fail by one means or another. …{to get 2%} assume he has a 50% chance of surviving each subsequent stage of the gantlet.”

  1. Free-for-all. This is the stage we’re in now.
  2. Heightened scrutiny in mid-November or thereabouts, as voters up their level of attention to the campaign. Potential threat to Trump if polling support doesn’t translate to support from more-informed voters.
  3. Iowa and New Hampshire: February 1 and 9. Potential threat to Trump if he performs poorly in one or both, either in an absolute sense or relative to polls.
  4. Winnowing in mid-February through mid-March. Potential threat to Trump if other leaders gathering support as candidates drop out.
  5. Delegate accumulation in mid-March through June. Potential threats to Trump if he builds weak State and local organizations and gains little support from superdelegates.
  6. Endgame from June through Republican National Convention in July. Potential threat to Trump if the Republican Party’s leaders work to deny him the nomination.

The first hope of GOP leaders and political gurus was that Trump would self-destruct. However his outrageous statements appear to win him as much support as they lose (see the reason below).

Their second hope was that Trump would fail to build the necessary organization to get on the 50 state ballots — and win. Trump might disappoint them again. He was the first to file in the GOP New Hampshire primary. He was the first in either party to file in Virginia, despite it having some of the most difficult requirements in the nation. He has appointed leadership teams in Virginia (here and here), North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Illinois, Florida and Texas, more about Texas, and Massachusetts and Mississippi.

Building an organization like those of his rivals is necessary for Trump’s success — but not the key to it. He employs the new tools of mass media far better than any of his competitors. Dave Helling at the Kansas City Star explains: “Donald Trump builds lead without the tools of traditional campaigns” — Excerpt…

“GOP presidential front-runner relies on media coverage and social outreach instead of ads and phone banks. Experts wonder if he can win the nomination with this low-cost approach. Other Republicans have relied on traditional strategies, with mixed results.”

Follow the money

Trump has built a commanding lead among Republicans while spending far less than his rivals. As of the Sept 30, the last filing, Trump had raised $5.5 million: 12th largest in the GOP race, behind Jeb Bush at $133 million), 72% of which was from small donations (vs. 88% for Sanders). See the NYT for details. Oddly, Trump’s “donations to his campaign go to him, personally.”

Bloomberg describes one way he has done so: “How Trump Has Neutralized Super-PAC Cash” — “The Republican front-runner has dominated his rivals in terms of free media coverage.”

My prediction is that Trump will have to raise large sums to win the nomination, even larger sums in the general campaign — and will do so easily. Americans love a winner. Our plutocrats are as susceptible to the bandwagon effect as the rest of us. Many or most donate in expectation of future benefits (hence so many donate to both parties). When Trump needs the money, he will have the money.

The populist revival

Trump has tapped the deep stratum of American populism: resentful, nativist, racist, egalitarian (within nativist and racial lines), anti-authoritarian, and anti-intellectual. The major parties absorbed and suppressed populists (the most recent outbreak was George Wallace’s run in 1968), much as they absorbed and suppressed populism (the most recent outbreak was John Anderson’s run in 1980).

Reform in America usually becomes possible only when they combine. The 1% win today because these two currents are sundered. The people in these two kinds of movements seldom not like each other, and so find it difficult to combine except under great stress.

Arnold discovered our weakness and folly

In these turbulent times outsiders can gain high office in America without relevant experience or party sponsorship, even when running for frivolous motives. In 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger showed the weakness of today’s parties and the fecklessness of American voters, as Michael Lewis’ interview with him in Vanity Fair reminds us…

If there had not been a popular movement to remove sitting governor Gray Davis and the chance to run for governor without having to endure a party primary, he {Arnold Schwarzenegger} never would have bothered. “The recall happens and people are asking me, ‘What are you going to do?’  … I thought about it but decided I wasn’t going to do it. I told Maria I wasn’t running. I told everyone I wasn’t running. I wasn’t running.”

Then, in the middle of the recall madness, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” opened. As the movie’s leading machine, he was expected to appear on “The Tonight Show” to promote it. En route he experienced a familiar impulse — the impulse to do something out of the ordinary.

“I just thought, This will freak everyone out … it’ll be so funny. I’ll announce that I am running. I told Leno I was running. And two months later I was governor. … What the f*** is that? …All these people are asking me, ‘What’s your plan? Who’s on your staff?’ I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a staff. I wasn’t running until I went on Jay Leno.”

This is not how great nations run themselves. We can find competent leadership. Otherwise I believe America will have hard times in the 21st century.

Other posts about the new populism

  1. From August: The Donald Trump revolution, dismissed as all revolts are in the beginning.
  2. Background: Scary lessons for America from pre-revolutionary France.
  3. Donald Trump leads us back to the future, to the dark days of US history.
  4. A New America arises, perhaps with Trump as its first leader.
  5. Two scary graphs about the rise of Donald. Fear fascism. Act now.
  6. Look to the Left to see the force powering Trump and Carson.
  7. The numbers about immigration that fuel Trump’s campaign.
  8. New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump.
  9. Good news: we begin to see that we are sliding towards fascism.
  10. Next phase of the Trump revolution: rise of the new populism.
  11. Important: Trump’s hope: a recession might put him in the White House.
  12. The four keys to a possible Trump victory.

For More Information

A rare mention (quickly dropped) in the major media that Trump is a populist candidate: “The Great Republican Revolt” by David Frum in The Atlantic — “The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?”

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Stratfor: France’s National Front Defeated, For Now

Summary: Support for the far-Right National Front grows in France, part of a tide sweeping through the developed nations. Here Stratfor looks at the results of the recent election, where the two major parties cooperated to suppress the NF, despite its 40% vote in the first round. While successful in the short-term, it is a tactic likely to increase alienation from the Fifth Republic. Will they use the time bought by their win to address its problems? Let’s watch. We might get ideas to help deal with our resurgent Right-wing.

Stratfor

France’s National Front Defeated, For Now

Stratfor, 14 December 2015

The right-wing National Front party will not control any regions in France. Despite its strong showing in the first round of elections, in which it earned more than 40% of the vote in the densely populated regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardy in the north and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur in the south, the nationalist party failed to win any districts in the second round of voting Dec. 13. However, the party led by Marine Le Pen will continue to be a key political player in the months ahead of the 2017 French presidential election.

In many ways, the results of the Dec. 13 elections are not surprising. France’s electoral system is explicitly designed to prevent extremist parties from accessing power, and it was this that prevented the National Front from winning regions in the runoff vote. In this case, France’s ruling Socialist party decided not to participate in the runoff vote in those regions where it did not have a serious chance of winning, hoping that voters would choose the center-right The Republicans party over the National Front. This is exactly what happened, and the National Front saw only a small increase in popular support between the first and the second round.

As Stratfor wrote after the first round, many voters who supported moderate forces in the first round will probably support other parties to keep the National Front from winning again.

In other words, most people who wanted to vote for the National Front did so in the first round, but only a small number of additional voters supported the party in the second round. In addition, there was a higher voter turnout in the second round, which suggests that many voters who did not participate in the first round made the conscious decision to vote in the second to prevent the National Front from winning.

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New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump

Summary;  Slowly Americans begin to see the rise of Right’s new populists — such as Trump, Rubio, and Cruz — is more than a flash-in-the-pan revolt before the conservatives accept their designated leaders (as the Democrats have accepted the elderly Hillary). A few on the Left have begun to realize that the Left has some responsibility for this. They deserve attention amidst the pointless chatter about the 2016 races. Such as those asking about the Dems’ often bad (sometimes horrifically so) management of the cities and States they control.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

NY Post: NY corruption on the front page

Excerpt from “What’s the Matter With New York?

By Zephyr Teachout (Assoc Prof of Law, Fordham)

“The state with one of the richest progressive traditions has the highest inequality and the most segregated schools, not to mention a tax code that allows hedge funders to get away with murder.”

In his extraordinary book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Tom Frank asked why blue-collar workers in his home state repeatedly voted against their own economic interest, casting ballots in favor of Republican policies that favored the rich and powerful.

You could as easily ask, “What’s the Matter with New York?” But here it’s a different mystery, although with just as devastating consequences. In the state with one of the richest progressive traditions, we have the highest inequality and the most segregated schools, and the tax code allows hedge funders to get away with murder, extracting cash from the poor and middle class New Yorkers because they can.

Because of the extraordinary amount of money involved, the political pathologies of the country are all exaggerated in New York State. In an accelerating, out of control, downward spiral, the income inequality here begets political inequality (which also leads to lower voter turnout), which begets further income inequality which begets more political inequality and on and on.

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Stratfor: will France hand power to a far right government (again)?

Summary: With the polls looking good for the National Front, Stratfor examines the rise of the far Right in France — part of the right-flowing tide sweeping through the developed nations. Memories have faded in Europe; hopes rise that this far right movement differs from the last. The implications are massive for economic policy, for France’s immigration policy, its treatment of its ethnic minorities, and perhaps most important — for its role in the European Union. Did anyone guess that having survived the centrifugal forces of the 2008-09 and 2010-2015 economic crises, Europe would immediately face another and perhaps more difficult one?

Stratfor

In France, Discontent Favors the National Front

Stratfor, 5 December 2015

Summary

France is preparing to hold regional elections, and the country’s ruling party is bracing itself for the fallout. At a time of high unemployment levels and sluggish economic growth, French voters will likely look to punish the Socialist Party by backing its center-right and far-right rivals instead. The National Front, which opposes immigration and wants France to leave the eurozone, is already expected to win in at least two of the country’s biggest regions. The Dec. 6 elections will be the last vote held before France’s presidential election in 2017, and every indicator suggests they will mark yet another victory for the Euroskeptic forces gaining strength across Europe.

Analysis

On Dec. 6, French voters will head to the polls to select the councils of France’s 13 metropolitan regions, as well as some of its overseas territories. In regions where no party manages to garner 50% of the vote, a second electoral round will be held Dec. 13.

The elections will be an important test of popularity for France’s main parties, and they will set the stage for the country’s upcoming presidential vote. The Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris gave a slight boost to French President Francois Hollande’s approval ratings, but his Socialist Party will probably put on a weak performance in the polls nonetheless. Because the Socialists currently control most of France’s regions, they have the most to lose. By comparison, their two main rivals, the center-right Republican Party and the right-wing National Front, will likely see significant gains.

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