Tag: Election 2016

End Game

Last night came very close to ending the Presidential primaries. Trump won all five primaries by decisive margins, outpacing Cruz and Kasich combined by over 300,000 votes and taking, according to one analysis, 110 of the 118 delegates. Barring a complete collapse in Indiana and California, he is likely not only to have a plurality of delegates but a majority. The hopes of a contested convention would appear dashed.

This was obvious to me a while ago when Paul Ryan took himself out of the running for a contested convention. It would have been political suicide for him to offer himself as a candidate if Trump won. I think that Ryan, being one of the smartest people in politics, saw the writing on the wall and wanted no part of that. I also think this is why Christie and others have been flocking to Trump since this election season has shown that a) endorsements don’t ultimately make a difference in the outcome; b) endorsements do make a difference in cozying up to the nominee. And, the more I think about it, the more I think Cruz and Kasich saw this as well. The last few weeks, it has seemed more like they are running for 2020 than 2016.

So this is it. Trump 2016. Despite a media insistence that it wouldn’t happen, despite an onslaught of opposition, despite constant “gaffes”. I think we can finally retire the notion that media elites know what they’re talking about.

I don’t expect this will go well. Trump might win. His opponent is Hillary, after all. But the possibility of an electoral massacre looms large. Trump is trying to pivot to the center but I don’t see that working for two reasons: Trump can’t keep his damned mouth shut; Trump is already well-known. This isn’t like Romney where he could rebuild his image to a public that hadn’t been paying attention.

There will be a lot of post mortems and I’m sure the media will find a way to blame it on Southerners or something. But make no mistake: Trump won almost everyone in the GOP tent. He won the supposedly more intelligent and urbane East Coast elites by massive margins. The only people who opposed him were midwesterners and Mormons, the latter of whom overwhelmingly rejected him. So I don’t want to hear any more crap about the supposed intellectual deficiencies of people in flyover country or the supposed craziness of Mormons. They were the only ones who kept their wits about them.

Clinton won four of five states, increasing her delegate lead to the point of being insurmountable. I’m sure there will be a lot of post mortems of the Sanders campaign, too. My take? Well, Sanders did way better than anyone expected, mostly because people don’t like Hillary Clinton. But, in the end, Clinton had too many advantages: heavy support among blacks, backing of the party elites, support from unions and special interests, name recognition. Moreover, as the campaign went on, Sanders was exposed as a guy who was long on rhetoric and short on policy detail. His foreign policy credentials didn’t exist. His plan to pay for all his new spending didn’t work. His answers to detailed questions got increasingly evasive. You can only go so far with huge glittering promises of free shit.

So here we are: the contest no one wanted. Clinton v. Trump in the contest to see who the voters dislike more. If the Libertarian Party can’t get a significant part of the vote this year …

Super Tuesday Thread

So far, so bad. Right now, CNN projects:

Trump to win Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

Clinton to win Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.

Sanders to win Vermont and Oklahoma.

Cruz to win Texas and possibly Oklahoma.

Rubio has yet to win a state and is doing poorer than hoped.

With tonight’s wins, Clinton has basically won the nomination. But Sanders is pulling enough support that she will probably continue to move left.

We’ll see what the delegate counts look like in the morning, but Trump will clearly have a plurality, possibly enough, given his national polling numbers, to end this thing over the next two weeks as “winner-take-all” states vote.

So, yeah, we’re staring down an election between a Washington insider leaning as far Left a she can and the insider “businessman” who has supported her for years.

Update: Tomorrow I will be taking the Betas to Disney World for a week. This political season has been intense and it’s barely March. So unless Donald Trump reveals himself to be a lizard person, I will not be blogging for the next week. I need the time away. Hopefully, my co-bloggers will have plenty to say.

Rubio and Cruz Go After Trump

So last night’s debate was … something else. Rubio and Cruz both came out swinging, hitting Donald Trump at every turn on his support for Democrats, his lack of policy detail, his shady business dealings and his refusal to release his tax returns. Trump got the most flustered I’ve ever seen him and hit back, but futilely. His attempt to hit Rubio on the latter’s meltdown at a previous debate backfired when Rubio pointed out that Trump repeats himself all the time. It was like watching a WWE match with Trump playing the heel and Cruz and Rubio taking turns whacking him with folding chairs. For someone who despises Trump, it was beautiful.

(Although the line of the night went to Ben Carson. Carson, even more than Kasich, was sidelined by the Rubio-Cruz-Trump show, going something like half an hour between speaking. Blitzer lost control of the debate, letting the three front-runners constantly demand a chance to respond to attacks. This promoted Carson to quip, “Can someone please attack me?”)

This is what the candidates should have been doing for months. It’s what the Democrats will do should Trump be the nominee. It may be too little, too late. It probably won’t peel voters off of Trump, who seem immune to any failing on his part. But at least if Rubio and Cruz go out, they went out on their shields.

It Might Be Trump

So Donald Trump won the Nevada caucuses last night and seems on ihs way to wins on Super Tuesday. I’ve made no bones about my feelings about Trump. Here’s Bill James, putting it succinctly:

Of all of the people who are running for President or have now dropped out of the race, Donald Trump is absolutely the last one that I would vote for. I could summarize the reasons for this in five bullet points:

(1) I believe that Trump is more interested in what is good for Donald Trump than in what is good for America, not that the same could not be said about many of the other candidates, but it seems to me that this has to be more of a concern in the case of a man who has spent 30 years plastering his name to everything he could put his name on

(2) I don’t think Trump’s background in business prepares him for the challenges of the Presidency

(3) I think Trump’s hard-ass approach to problems, in the Presidency, would be very dangerous for our nation, and might have terrible consequences for all of us

(4) I dislike self-promotion. I intensely dislike self-promotion. Donald Trump is the nation’s most notorious self-promoter—and was, before he decided to run for President.

(5) I don’t believe that Trump is sincere in 99% of what he says. I think almost everything he says is either an outright lie, or something he is merely saying because it is convenient for him at the moment

I’ve heard versions of that from a lot of Republicans. Hell, National Review ran an entire issue on the subject. And yet, Trump continues to win. Why is that?

Well, first, I think he is capitalizing on a general dissatisfaction with the party. A lot of people see the GOP as feckless and constantly caving into Democrats. Trump gives them a hope of a GOP that stands for something.

I understand this impulse. I’ve been frustrated with the GOP as well and left the party in 2004 (although that had less to do “fecklessness” and more with their very feckful decisions to turn to the Religious Right, support torture and spend like Democrats on a bender). But I think people massively underestimate what establishment conservatism has accomplished. Charles Cooke:

Not only have the vast majority of the stands that have been taken against Obama been futile from the outset (the president really isn’t going to sign a repeal of his major achievements, and the public really isn’t going to force him to do so at the point of a shutdown), but to focus on their failure is rather to miss the point, which is that the Right’s consistent willingness to block progressive change before it can be put into law has kept a parade of horribles from ever intruding upon the scene. Had the conservative movement not held the line since 2008, Americans would have seen the quick death of the Bush tax cuts; the introduction of a growth-stifling cap-and-trade regime on carbon dioxide emissions; sweeping gun control, including both an “assault weapons” ban and a federal firearms registry; the provision of a “public option” within Obamacare, if not a move toward full-blown single-payer; the false promise of “free” college; union “card check”; an unabashed de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants; wildly increased legal-immigration levels, with an emphasis on importing the unskilled; a host of religious-liberty violations, with no Religious Freedom Restoration Act to counteract them; and overall spending levels that would make today’s look modest.

Elsewhere — where no national veto is possible — things would have been dramatically different, too. At the state level, there would have been no marches toward right-to-work or liberalized concealed carry; no progress on school choice or eminent domain; no restrictions on late-term abortion or state-constitution amendments defining marriage; and none of the regulatory and fiscal reforms that are coaxing Americans out of the blue states and onto the red horizon. Despite voting unanimously against the bill, Republicans could not stop Obamacare. But they have managed to prevent Medicaid from being expanded universally, and they have mostly forced the federal government to own its messy system of insurance exchanges. That was no walk in the park. And in the courts? Well, without the two judges that George W. Bush appointed to the Supreme Court, we would have had no Heller, no McDonald, no Citizens United, no Harris, no McCullen, and no Hobby Lobby. Moreover, we would have read only two disgusted dissents in both Windsor and Obergefell, and, backed by a 7–2 cushion, the ruling justices might have been able to establish a more sweeping set of precedents than they did.

Cooke does admit that there are reasons to be unhappy with the GOP: the 2015 budget is a particular thorny point with me. But the “burn the whole thing down” crowd seem to miss what has been accomplished and what has been prevented by the GOP. How soon we have forgotten how bad things were when it was Obama and a Democratic Congress.

Another reason for Trump’s surge is a pushback against political correctness. Bill James again:

Also, Donald Trump is advocating real democracy in a way that the other candidates are not, and in a way that is too subtle for most of the Talking Head class to understand. We have in this great nation, blessed by God but not uniquely blessed by God, and not chosen by God to stand ahead of other nations. . . .we have a class of professional do-gooders who have made a lot of rules for the rest of us, and who have, with the knowing co-operation of the media, forced the rest of us to comply with their rules. These rules were never voted upon, and were never agreed to by most of us. Some of these rules are good and proper, and some of them are useless and counter-productive. I will explain a little better what rules I mean in just a moment, but first my main point.

Donald Trump is saying “screw you” to the professionally self-righteous, and he is saying “screw you” to those people who are trying to force him to obey these rules that the nation has never really agreed to, but has been forced to accept by leaders who lacked the courage to stand up to the professionally self-righteous.

It’s one thing to get people to stop hurling racial slurs or sexist remarks. But the media has turned us into a nation of thin-skinned lunatics. You can’t use the phrase “illegal immigrants” to describe … foreigners who are in this country in violation of the law. Students erupt in protest because a dorm supervisor treats them like adults who can deal with mild racism on their own. And God forbid we should act on the international stage without making sure France thinks its OK.

There is a backlash against this and people are eager for politician who disdains political correctness. The problem is 1) “saying it like it is” makes you feel good but can burn political bridges that you need; 2) the Trumpers are more than happy to get all offended when someone says something they don’t like; 3) people are mistaking Trump’s rudeness for a principled stance against political correctness rather than just Trump being an asshole.

The biggest factor in Trump’s rise, however, has been the divided GOP field. When we started out, there were 17 candidates, the largest field ever. Pundits praised the field’s depth, saying it reflected GOP strength. It didn’t. It represented weakness because with so many candidates, it was hard for any particular candidate to stand out.

Trump was able to stand out. He simply said outrageous things and let the media do his work for him. He would bash Mexicans, bash McCain, make sexist remarks … and the media would go into their politically correct outrage cycle. But the public didn’t care. The media were the boy who cried wolf. They had spent so long describing Republicans as racist for even mentioning illegal immigration than when a Republican said racist things, the public shrugged.

And so the cycle began — Trump says something crazy, the media have a frenzy, the attention brings him a surge in the polls. A huge amount of Trump’s rise is because of the perpetual media outrage machine that has surrounded him, giving him free publicity, making him stand out of the crowded GOP field. People who favored abortion restrictions or tax cuts or a strong defense had a variety of choices to pick from. Their vote was divided. But the anti-establishment, anti-PC crowd? They had their guy. And with every CNN fainting spell, every spittle-flecked 2000-word Vox article, every hand-wringing Slate pitch, he became more their guy.

They media has yet to cotton onto this. Every time Trump’s poll numbers stall, he says something vile. And every single God damn time, they take the God damn bait and give him hour after God damn hour of free publicity. They think, because they are so wise and erudite, that the American public shares their outrage. And some do. But there are many who are gleeful about it — who see the intelligentsia’s outrage as amusing and deserved. How many times have we hoped for a GOP candidate who would tell the media to pee up a rope?

And this is what has allowed him to surge. With 17 candidates, anyone who stood out for any reason was going to surge to the front of the pack. Not only would they build a base of support, the other candidates would divide what was left into a dozen pieces. Ask yourself, who has this primary season been about? Can you even name all the GOP candidates we started with? It’s been Trump and Not-Trump.

The GOP’s response has been too little too late. At first, they didn’t take him seriously. And then they avoided him. Non-Trump candidates spent the debates attacking each other. What we needed at the debates was, as Jesse Walker Matt Welch put it, a Murder on the Orient Express situation where they all stabbed him instead of waiting for someone else to do it. They all needed to call him a liar, a charlatan and a liberal (and he is all three). But they didn’t want to do that. They were so concerned with being the consensus candidate when Trump fell that they didn’t actually bother to make sure Trump fell. Instead, they tore each other down.

Trump does have a ceiling. His negatives among the GOP are very high. Usually, a candidate who had won three of the first four primaries would be running away from the field by now. If you look at past elections, Bush, McCain and Romney all began to take off at this point. Romney was in the lead at the end of February and took off by April. McCain had exploded at the polls by this point, surging past the field to become the clear winner by Super Tuesday. Trump has not taken off like that. He may yet. But he hasn’t so far. I think that reflects a deep distrust of him.

Unfortunately, Trump’s advantages still remain. He still dominates the news cycle because our stupid media still hasn’t caught on to his game. And the field is still divided. Rubio is surging but unless Kasich and Cruz drop out (and most of their supporters go to Rubio), he’s not going to catch Trump. And neither has indicated that he will drop out. Trump is in an unprecedented position — he could win the nomination while never having more than about a third of the party behind him.

(Carson hasn’t dropped out, but he’s not really relevant to this. Carson’s supporters would probably either drop out or split relatively evenly between Rubio and Trump).

For many years, my Aussie wife has disparaged the primary system. She sees it as destructive because the candidates spend time bashing each other instead of concentrating on building the party behind a candidate, like they do in a parliamentary system. She has a point. But I think we’ve now seen another problem. For a long time, I’ve been saying the GOP wouldn’t nominate Trump because they don’t nominate crazy. They will flirt with crazy. They will fool around in the back of a car with crazy. But, in the end, they will go with a sensible candidate like Romney. But now we’re seeing that the primary system can cough up a crazy person given the right circumstances.

The way I see it, we’re looking at three possible scenarios, all of them bad for the GOP. I rank them by how likely I see them.

1. Trump Wins a Plurality but Not a Majority of Delegates. Brokered Convention. The rules of delegate assignment are rather opaque and difficult to project. Nevertheless, it looks like Trump could keep winning primaries but split the delegates enough to not get a majority. The result would be a brokered convention where the candidates try to form alliances to build a majority.

Trump could still win in that scenario, since he’d control the largest block of delegates. But even if he didn’t, it could be a disaster for the GOP. If Trump wins a plurality of the delegates but a Rubio-Cruz ticket takes the nomination, the Trumpers might tear the party apart. It might make 1968 look like a picnic. And Trump would cite it as justification to break his promise and run as an independent, splitting the vote and putting Clinton into the White House.

2. Trump Wins the Nomination Outright. This would be almost as bad. It would tie the GOP to Trump for a generation, shattering any progress they’ve made building the party toward minorities and women. It would also, as Dan McLaughlin pointed on Twitter last night, undo everything conservatives have been building for 40 years. The GOP would nominate a supporter of Obamcare and an advocate of trade war, an obnoxious big-government hypocrite who has, in the past, supported massive taxes, gun control, wealth confiscation and single-payer healthcare. In combination with a Clinton win — or even with a Trump win in the general, it would be the inverse of the Reagan Revolution, turning this country back to big government in a way none of us have seen since Carter was in the White House.

And it would very likely come with a Clinton win. As big as Trump’s negatives are among conservatives, they are even higher in the general public. In the Bill James essay, he argues that Trump could win the nomination but get slaughtered in the general because you can get 1/6th of the country to act like idiots and nominate Trump. But getting the half the country to do it is much harder. And while it’s true that there are lot of idiots out there, many vote Democrat.

(On a side note, I am certain that many of the conservative pundits currently attacking Trump will fall in line should he be the nominee. The fell in line behind RINOs McCain and Romney and, faced with another Clinton presidency, I’m sure they will fall in line this time. Allahpundit thinks so too. In fact, I’m already seeing pieces on conservative websites that are basically, “Well, actually …”. Almost all of the the pundits will support him if he’s the nominee.)

3. Rubio surges and takes the nomination. This is what I’m hoping for. Regardless of whether I support the GOP or not — and I could this year — I want each party to have the best nominee possible. I’ve always despised Democrats voting in Republican primaries to nominate the worst Republican or vice versa. Because you never know what’s going to happen. I’m sure there are a lot of Democrats who would love Trump to be the nominee because they think it would make it easier for Clinton to win. But even though they are right that Trump would be an easier opponent, they are thrice-damned fools. Because Hillary Clinton could have a stroke tomorrow. Or she could just … not win. And the next you know, Donald Trump is in the White House.

You always want the least bad option to be on the table, whether you’re Democrat, Republican or The Rent Is Too Damned High. And Marco Rubio is a lot better than the least bad option. I could actually vote for him.

But … I think a Rubio win is very unlikely at this point. We keep getting told that Rubio can win this. And we keep waiting for him to actually win anything. Cruz and Kasich draw off enough support that it will be hard for him to catch Trump. And it would be unprecedented for someone to win three of the first four primaries and not win the nomination.

Even if Rubio did surge, the path to the White House would still be fraught with peril. Trump has shown that he is a sore loser. He might cry foul and either wreck the convention or run as a third party candidate.

The more I turn this over, the more I think this ends with Hillary Clinton in the White House. And I hate the thought of Hillary Clinton in the White House. Not because she’s a woman but because she’s a petty spiteful woman who has shown very little skill in either foreign or domestic policy. She’s the author of our disastrous Libya intervention, supported the collapsing Obamacare and has proposed ever more spending. She would nominate Scalia’s replacement (assuming the GOP sticks to their guns with Obama) and likely replace two retiring liberal justices with two younger ones, cementing a liberal majority on the Court.

And … I have to wonder if maybe that’s the entire point of Trumps’ candidacy.

More Election Results

So, we had some more voting last night.

In Nevada, Clinton barely edged Bernie Sanders in a state she once led by forty points. Naturally, this was spun by the pro-Hillary media as a huge victory for her. And naturally, they mindlessly repeated baseless claims that Sanders supporters were chanting, “English only!” at Spanish speakers.

The latter is good illustration of why the likelihood of another Clinton presidency makes me ill. When Bill was President, this stuff went on all the time. They were constantly sliming their opponents: making hay out of Alma Powell’s depression, spreading false rumors about Newt Gingrich divorcing his wife while she was in a hospital bed, leaking info from Linda Tripp’s confidential FBI file. Just this month we’ve seen baseless accusations of racism and sexism, wild inaccurate claims about “Bernie Bros”, their allies claiming Sanders wasn’t involved in the Civil Rights movement and now this. And all eagerly lapped up by the media.

This is what the Clintons do. This is who they are. And with Hillary in charge, it will be worse than it was under Bill. Is this what you really want, Democrats? Apparently it is.

On the Republican side, Trump won South Carolina with about a third of the vote, with Rubio and Cruz finishing in a virtual tie for second. Afterward, Jeb dropped out, giving a classy speech that was a reminder that the Bush Family, whatever their political failings, are basically decent people. Carson and Kasich seem ready to stay in, but neither really has a chance. It’s not even clear that Kasich can take his home state, let alone anywhere else.

Last night was a big problem for Ted Cruz, who had hope of winning South Carolina as the evangelical vote coalesced behind him. It didn’t and it isn’t. A lot of evangelicals voted for the twice-divorced social liberal. And Trump maintains leads in the southern states that Cruz is hoping to win, with the exception of Texas.

Rubio has a path to the nomination. He’s done well in urban areas, is getting endorsements and is trying to broaden his appeal. But Cruz is a problem. Without the evangelicals solidly behind him, he doesn’t really have a path to the nomination but he’s not going to drop out either. So unless they both start polling better than Trump, this means Trump could keep winning primary after primary with a third of the vote and eventually take the nomination with about two-thirds of the party uncertain whether they’ll vote for him.

(It’s clear that Trump now sees Rubio as the bigger threat. This morning, he was questioning Rubio’s citizenship based on … his being Latino, I guess.)

In short, while the field is narrowing, we’ve taken another step toward a calamitous Trump-Clinton showdown.

Yeah, the worst of all possible worlds. It’s February 21 and I already hate this year.

Reich and the Tribes

I thought I’d move this above the comments section since it’s been a while since I attacked a liberal hack and I need to keep my claws sharp.

Liberal hack and diminutive Marxist Robert Reich, last seen in this space lamenting that the Republicans might use this “little known” procedure called reconciliation to do stuff, has a piece up about the collapse of the GOP. Now, never mind that this fractured warring collapsing party now holds a significant majority of states houses, governor’s mansions, the House, the Senate and, after November, possibly the White House. No, according to Reich, the Party is completely falling apart, careening toward destruction because it is being torn apart by six warring tribes.

Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.

Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.

Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.

Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism.

Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.

And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their well being are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.

Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate.

This is as opposed to the Democrats, who … want to divide the whole damned country into warring tribes: men against women, black against white, gay against straight, rich against poor. The Democrats have opposed bailouts, subsidies and special tax loopholes by … creating more of them. The Democrats opposed gay marriage until about last week. The Democrats gleefully embrace anti-GMO horse manure. And it’s not like the Democrats lack for for billionaires and rent-seekers. Those guys’ chosen candidate in Hillary Clinton.

Look, any functional political party is going to cover a broad range of political philosophies — from Rand Paul’s libertarians to Lindsey Graham’s neocons to John Kasich’s moderates. Eventually, those factions find a candidate that is acceptable to all of them. The GOP functioned this way for decades, uniting free-market libertarians, staunch anti-communists and the Religious Right. This is not weird or unusual. It takes someone of Reich’s unusual hacking skills to turn it into something sinister.

Notice that in his paradigm, none of the GOP factions is any damned good. Every single one is motivated by base desires: greed, hatred, ignorance, fear, racism. There is not a single redeeming feature in that entire list.

Even assuming he’s right about the factions (and he isn’t), why not see them the way they see themselves?

  • Evangelicals concerned about the decay of our culture and morality.
  • Libertarians opposed to the gradual encroachment of government into our civil liberties.
  • Free market types who oppose crony capitalism and worry that no one has a real chance anymore.
  • Corporate and wall street titans trying to protect their industries from regulatory destruction.
  • Billionaires tired of being demonized for being successful in life.
  • White working class people who’ve seen jobs disappear and wages crash.

What’s more, there is a lot of overlap between those groups. This can be seen when you try to peg Reich’s tribes to specific candidates. Who is the candidate of evangelicals? It might be Cruz. Or maybe Carson. But Trump draws a lot of support among evangelicals too (in fact, Trump’s support is a lot broader than most pundits want to admit). Libertarians don’t really have a candidate anymore, but Cruz and Rubio have occasionally moved toward civil liberties All the candidates are in favor of the free market and deregulation. And where do the neocons fit into that?

Even when I was a Republican, I didn’t agree with everyone in the Republican tent. And if I ever go back to the GOP, I won’t agree with everyone. That’s OK. People vote for a party because they think it has more good points than bad, not because it’s perfect.

And let’s not imagine for one second that Robert Reich really wants a functional GOP. What Robert Reich wants is a liberal GOP and socialist Democratic Party. These “tribes” appear to be tribes to him because the ideas of religious values, free markets and secure borders are so alien to him. The Republican debates sound like the chattering of barbary apes to someone as lofty as Reich.

Where I Am Right Now, February Version

So we had two more debates over the weekend. I won’t go blow-by-blow through them. Trump continued to be obnoxious. Bush punched back. Rubio and Cruz sparred, occasionally in Spanish. Kasich tried to set himself up as the adult in the room (not always successfully). Instead of going through that, I thought I’d lay out what my current impression is of the candidates and the order in which I would vote for them. I’ve put all the candidates in the list except for Ben Carson. The reason I’ve left Carson out is because I’m not sure what I make of him and I don’t think he’ll be in this much longer. The others should last at least through Super Tuesday.

So here’s my current preference for presidential candidates. Keep in mind that these rankings are fluid and could change significantly as the race progresses.

Read more… »

Democratic Fantasies

As the Presidential debates have unfolded over the last few weeks, something has become increasingly apparent to me: the Democratic Party is currently living Fantasy World.

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t think this was the case. After all, the media are filled with stories about how crazy the Republicans are. They’re actually going to nominate Donald Trump or Ben Carson! Never mind that the Democrats have been consistently losing at the Congressional, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislature levels. It’s a new Democratic era! Just look at the demographics!

But I want you to consider where the Democratic Presidential candidates are on the issues:

  • In the Democratic Party, there is no longer a debate over whether the federal government should guarantee “free” college to everyone. The debate is over whether this free college should be made available to the children of rich people or not.
  • Free daycare and mandated maternity leave are no longer up for debate. The question among the Democrats is how much of these things we are going to get.
  • Expanding the broken Social Security system is now the mainstream view in the Democratic Party.
  • There is no longer any debate about whether there should be more gun control. It’s about whether we should consider Australia-style gun confiscation. Bernie Sanders was pilloried for having the temerity to suggest that liberal gun control wouldn’t fly in the entire country.
  • All of this, of course, will be paid for with “taxes on the rich”. Of course, even if you raised taxes on the rich, even if you confiscated all of their income, it wouldn’t pay for all of this. Bernie Sanders’ agenda would cost a cool $18 trillion over the next decade. I’m old enough to remember when the Democrat were worried about the deficit.

The thing is, these view are out of step with clear majorities of the American public. For example, most Americans oppose more gun control and, even for those who want more, this is a low-priority issue. And by a huge majority, they blame mass shootings on mental health issues, not a lack of gun control.

You may remember that, a few years ago, the media buzzword was “epistemic closure”. This was the idea that the Republicans had encased themselves in a bubble of Fox News media so that they never heard any dissenting views. And while there is some legitimacy to this, it’s peanuts compared to what’s been happening with Democrats. Between NPR, MSNBC, Vox, HuffPo and other media, they have created an echo chamber that brooks little dissent and assumes that certain issues, like gun control, have basically been agreed upon by all “reasonable” people. The result is a party where Jim Webb’s left of center views have no place anymore. The results is a party where Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is doomed not because of his extreme socialism but because of his minimal moderation on gun control.

Doubtless once the primary is done, Clinton will try to tack right and proclaim herself to be a moderate. And doubtless the press will go along with this. There’s a problem though: Clinton has 25 years of her views on the record. She’s part of an Administration that has eight years on record. She’s made actual policy proposals that represent more big government and more spending.

President Clinton the Second is not inevitable.

Democratic Debate I

I didn’t see the whole thing. Was putting kids to bed and stuff. But I did catch most of it. It was about what I expected: promises of big spending, dodges about scandals, evasion of responsibility, bashing of Republicans. To listen to the Democrats talk, you wouldn’t think Barack Obama had been President for the last seven years.

I do think they scored a few points but not enough to persuade me to vote for any of them. Frankly, sitting here just half an hour of debate, I’m having trouble remembering what they’re running on, other than Republicans Be Bad. Paid maternity leave, possibly. Criminal justice reform, maybe. More money poured into the sinkhole of higher education. Higher taxes. They are against global warming, although they don’t seem to know what to do about it. Sanders is the only one with a coherent agenda and his agenda is pretty appalling ($18 trillion in new spending).

A review of the candidates:

Jim Webb seemed out of place, a throwback to the time when the Democrats had a conservative wing. He made some good points, especially about how he’s been leading the charge on criminal justice reform. But he really doesn’t have a place in the current Democratic party.

I’m having trouble figuring out why Lincoln Chafee was even there. Technically, he’s a candidate, I guess. But my cat would probably poll better.

Martin O’Malley, or whatever android replacement they sent up there for him, reminded me of why I disliked him as mayor when he lived in Baltimore and disliked him more when he was governor. O’Malley’s record is simply terrible. He hiked taxes through the roof and left the state with a budget in shambles. He passed gun control and the city just exploded. O’Malley is the answer to every idea the Democrats have. In Maryland, he got to do everything he wanted. And the place is a wreck. And … he thinks this would make him a good President.

I kind of like Bernie Sanders. But then again, I always like people who are genuine. Sanders is the only one up there who will admit what he wants: socialized medicine, massive expansion of Social Security, vast amounts of new spending and massive tax hikes. He’s actually good on issues of drugs, civil liberties, avoiding wars and criminal justice. He was also the only one on stage talking sense about guns. I almost hope he wins the nomination. The Republicans would easily block almost everything he wants to do and he’d block the worst of what they want to do. And a Sanders candidacy would basically guarantee a Republican majority in the foreseeable future.

Hillary Clinton reminded me of why I could never vote for her. She had a very revealing comment that I’m sure the GOP will capitalize on. When asked how her Administration would be different to Obama’s, she basically said she’d be a woman. It really does come down to that for her: it’s her turn. She was denied by that uppity Obama in 2008 and that’s not happening again. She was petty, especially at the end when she was listing her enemies. She proclaimed Libya as a success. She dismissed the e-mail scandal as partisan politics (helped a lot by Kevin McCarthy shooting himself in the foot last week). Everything reminded me of why I really hope she’s not the nominee. Because it will be an ugly campaign.

Anyway, I don’t expect this will change the polls at all. O’Malley might get a little more attention, but this is still Clinton’s nomination to lose. Gun to my head, I’d probably vote for Jim Webb. But if came down to Clinton versus Sanders … well, I’ll take the honest socialist against the dishonest one.

Walker Out

With his poll numbers dipping near 1%, Scott Walker has apparently ended his Presidential campaign. This is kind of surprising. Walker was an early favorite (as attested by the numerous idiotic MSM hit pieces on him) and was the front-runner as recently as April. There are numerous post-mortems out there, many asking if he peaked “too soon”. I think it’s pretty straight-forward. He had a poorly run campaign, flip-flopped on the issues (especially immigration) and pandered too obviously. He was one of several candidates who suffered from trying to outcrazy Trump.

Walker won’t be the last to drop out. Graham, Santorum and Jindal can’t keep up this pretense for much longer. Christie, Kasich, Paul, Cruz and Huckabee are lingering, but I doubt their appeal will grow so I expect at least two of those guys to drop out by the end of the year.

Right now, Trump is still in the lead, although his support has tailed off a bit. Carson is also starting to tail off while Fiorina is rising rapidly. But I’ll stand by my earlier prediction: the nominee will probably be Bush or Rubio. As we get closer to the election, experience will begin to matter more and more to the voters. And they are the most experience and the most Presidential among the second-tier candidates.