Tag Archives: presidential election

Why the Outer Party hates Trump & will waste this opportunity for reform

Summary: The reaction of our upper classes to the rise of Trump reveals much about 21st century America — a society divided by class, with blinkered elites, and an opportunity to unify and make reforms (which we’ll almost certainly squander). 2016 will be a big year for America, a bad one if we do not try to understand what is happening.

Trump as Hitler

We can only guess at the reaction to Trump by the bourgeois (who own America) and the Inner Party (their senior executives, having less power but are social similar). My guess: they’re probably unhappy that Trump is defeating their apparatchiks and co-opting their political machines. However, Trump is one of them — and a deal-maker. In the unlikely event Trump wins, I suspect they expect to ally with him.

More interesting is the reaction of those in the Outer Party, America’s professionals and managers. They are spitting with rage, so vituperative that discussions about Trump quickly veer from analytical to irrational. Trump has aroused them to an extent I’ve seldom seen — and with good reason.

Our elites are distant to the America people, images on TV and stories in the tabloids. But the Outer Party administers America’s bureaucratic regime, which has been losing legitimacy for decades (e.g., see Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions poll). The rise of Trump shows that this has brought forth a populist revolt (i.e., an attempt to change political authority). It’s a rebellion against them, the faces of the US political regime.

They respond with their most powerful tool: delegimization. People and movements have been destroyed as they use their institutions — the news media, academia, think tanks, etc. — to label reformers and rebels as “Communists”, “racists”, “sexists”, “deniers”, “he’s like Hitler” (applied to both Bush Jr. and Obama), etc. Plus they fire barrages of mockery and funny pictures.

But the regime’s loss of legitimacy renders these ineffective. Much of America no longer considers the upper classes to be our moral arbiters. Worse, to many Americans the upper classes’ hatred of Trump identifies him as their friend. “By their enemies you shall know them”.

The “chattering classes”, especially journalists and academics, are especially hostile to Trump (senior journalists and tenured university professors are of the upper class to the minimum wage – no benefit – no security workers who are so much of America). These are among the least popular of major American institutions. Gallup shows that only 24% of Americans have confidence in newspapers and 21% in TV news. Gallup does not ask about the public’s confidence in professors and universities, but they we have a clue — populist politicians often use them as targets of applause-lines…

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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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The four keys to a possible Trump victory

Summary: What might be the consequences of wins by Trump in early GOP primaries? How will journalists and other opinion-makers react? What will our ruling elites do? What might he do in the White House? I believe the conventional wisdom is wrong about all of these questions. Here are better answers, showing the four keys to a Trump victory.

Trump: Make America Great Again

How will opinion-makers react should Trump win GOP primaries?

Events make opinions, as seen by looking at extreme examples from the past. In 1815 Napoleon broke his exile on Elba and marched to Paris. See the headlines in Le Moniteur Universel reporting his progress.

  • The cannibal has left his lair. — March 9.
  • The Corsican ogre has just landed at the Juan Gulf. — March 10.
  • The tiger has arrived at Gap. — March 11.
  • The monster slept at Grenoble. — March 12.
  • The tyrant has crossed Lyons. — March 13.
  • The usurper was seen sixty leagues from the capital. — March 18.
  • Bonaparte has advanced with great strides, but he will never enter Paris. — March 19.
  • Tomorrow, Napoleon will be under our ramparts. — March 20.
  • The Emperor has arrived at Fontainbleau. — March 21.
  • His Imperial and Royal Majesty entered his palace at the Tuileries last night in the midst of his faithful subjects. — March 22.

This is what I expect to see if Trump wins in the early primaries. Americans love a winner (doubly so for our journalists and other opinion-makers). Trump the outcast will become Trump the star.

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Trump’s hope: a recession might put him in the White House

Summary: The great and wise believed that Trump was a sideshow fool. Now that he decisively leads in the Republican race, they believe he might get the GOP nomination, but has no chance against Clinton. A simple example shows why that is not correct. If the polls are even roughly accurate, an easily imaginable event could put Trump in the White House.

Trump and motto

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Contents

  1. The GOP contest: Trump on top.
  2. Hillary vs. Trump: it’s close.
  3. Trump’s hope: a recession.
  4. Conclusions.
  5. More about the Trump revolution.
  6. For More Information.

 

(1)  The GOP contest: Trump on top

Trump’s ratings have risen despite opposition of the news media and the GOP leadership. Now he has to translate that into votes in the primaries. Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm, has published detailed demographic data about Trump’s supporters. It is quite broad, showing that he has the necessary base. His ability to build the necessary organization remains unknown.

The message of the polls is clear. See the timely and comprehensive data at RealClearPolitics.

GOP presidential poll, 1 Jan 2015

(2)  Hillary vs. Trump

Hillary’s lead over Trump is only slightly larger than these polls’ typical 3 percentage point margin of error with a 95% level of confidence. The most recent three polls show Clinton’s lead as +7%, +2%, and then +1%. This makes the confidence of the great and wise in Hillary’s victory seem exaggerated. The election could be close if Trump builds a campaign machine and just maintains his current strength in the polls. But he might need a lucky break to win…

rump vs. Hillary match-up poll, 1 Jan 2016

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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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