Tag Archives: Donald Trump

While many Democrats are eager to deny that Trump is drawing support from their party, the data show a different story. That data also reveals the falsity of the pretense that Republican party leaders could somehow have prevented their party from being largely captured by an ugly populist contingent.

It’s important to remember that both parties have traditionally had their reactionary factions. While the GOP had the John Birchers, the Democrats had their boll weevils—socially conservative and racist southern Democrats, but who often supported populist initiatives, such as rural electrification. Not only did the Democrats have that group, that group was the foundational core of the Democratic Party, with its Jeffersonian origins in anti-nationalism and defense of a racially stratified society.

The boll weevils are mostly forgotten now, but not wholly gone. The South has shifted from being overwhelmingly Democratic to being highly contested territory where Republicans win regularly. In 1960, 100% of the U.S. Senate seats from the Confederate states were held by Democrats. In 1980 they still held 55% of those seats. Today, the Democrats only hold 18%. But Democrats are often more successful on the local level, where politics is more personal and party label less significant…and where people can know that Candidate Smith isn’t a liberal, but an old time Democrat. Many of these voters still identify as Democrat, even as they vote Republican at the state and national levels. Think, for example, of Kim Davis, the Tennessee County Clerk who refused to give out marriage licenses to same sex couple—a Democrat, not a Republican.

And those folks are often Trump supporters. Other than his home state of New York, Trump’s best states are in a bundle of the old South states plus West Virginia, another state where the old southern Dems long dominated. Out west in the intermountain states, which have always been predominantly Republican, )his support fades.

OK, one might say, they’re not real Democrats (although they are what Democrats predominantly once were), because they’re really conservatives. But as reported by RealClearPolitics, 20% of the Trumpenproletariate identify as liberal. True, a strong majority of 65% describe themselves as conservatives, but only 13% say they are very conservative, and less than 1/3 say they are Tea Partiers. Trump’s supporters are not the radical right-wing revanchists liberals claim are taking over the Republican Party.

All of this helps explain why over 2/3 of Trump’s supporters say they would vote for him if he left the GOP. A lot of them aren’t strongly committed to the party—they are in fact not the mythical Republican base.

Liberal and establishment Democrats don’t want to admit that many of these people are still Democrats. But many of them are, or they are about as much Democrats as they are Republican, willing to vote for either party depending on the candidate.

And this is the reason it’s ridiculous to talk about how the GOP establishment should have kept these people from taking over the party. First, they haven’t; that’s largely a different group of people. Second, parties don’t choose their supporters as much as supporters choose the party. If we think in spatial terms, on a left to right continuum, many of these people find themselves to the right of the median Democrat, so they’re going to take a look at the party that’s also to the right of the median Democrat. If they find that they’re also to the right of the median Republican, they’ll be more attracted to the Republican Party, not necessarily because it is welcoming to their extremist views, but because it’s median is less far away from their views than the Democratic median. Those folks will pull the party away from its establishment, but there’s precious little the establishment can do to stop that.

But those aren’t the Trumpa Loompahs (hattip Steve Horwitz). Those folks tend to support Cruz or Rubio, because they recognize the liberal elements in Trump’s message.

So suck it up, Dems. Trump’s your party’s phenomenon, too.

Category: Statehouse

The GOP candidates who are signing onto the letter to the networks objecting to the debate formats are making a mistake. This can make them look weak and whiny, unable to handle the rough and tumble of politics. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with trying to change the formats, but the public complaining and public letter are the wrong way to do it. This calls for quiet negotiation.

I think that in part they’re trying to whip up the base, but that base doesn’t need to be whipped up now over an issue that will fade. I think the greater part of their reaction is primarily a combination of their natural uneasiness at being asked uncomfortable questions and their in-built distrust of the so-called liberal media. Through that lens any uncomfortable question naturally is read as a liberal attack. Add on to that the fact that some of the questions in the debate were ridiculously unsubstantive (journalists generally not being as smart as they think they are), and their frustration is anything but surprising.

But what matters when you’re frustrated is how you respond. And I think Obama spoke for many voters when he emphasized the weakness the candidates were demonstrating.

“Have you noticed that everyone of these candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out,'” Obama said…

“Then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you,”

Fiorina, Christie, and Kasich have chosen the smarter, more presidential path, declining to sign the letter, and Christie at least going out of his way to urge his fellow party members to stop complaining. Whether they are sincere or calculating really doesn’t matter–this is one of those cases where pure political calculation and acting like a grownup lead to the same action.

But that action may be trumped, as the Donald has announced that he’ll negotiate with the networks on his own. I think his action is evidence of his narcissism, and I’d like to see the networks flatly refuse to negotiate one-on-one with candidates and generously offer to let him register his protest by not appearing at future debates. But looked at impersonally, Trump is signalling that he’s his own man, not dependent on anyone else and not subservient to his own party establishment. He’s taking the action of a leader, trying to set the agenda that everyone else will have to follow. And that’s what large numbers of voters want in a president, a kick-ass guy who takes no prisoners, shoots first, and doesn’t bother with questions later because by-god he already knows.

If the networks refuse to negotiate one-on-one there’s no cost to Trump. He spins that as evidence that the establishment fears him. It’s a small story that dies in a couple news cycles, but it’s not a damaging story. If he wins, he is the man who took on the political establishment and the liberal media elites and won. And that makes him appear strong and in-charge–in other words, presidential.

Category: Theater