Monday, March 07, 2016

Who made Trump the frontrunner?

There seems to be an emerging agreement that America's Leftist hegemony did.  Obama and the Democrats did -- along with their sycophants in the media, the bureaucracy and the education system.  They have foisted on America so many weird forms of correctness that the ordinary American has been left completely out of it:

Homosexuals are glorious; Men who feel they are women should be allowed to use women's restrooms; Fighting global warming is the main job of the armed forces;  Only Muslims are allowed to pray in public; Christians must betray their faith in the service of homosexuals; little kids must be given lessons about sex; Women should be put into frontline combat as Marines; you must not say anything negative about Muslims or illegal immigrants or blacks etc etc.

All of these positions go against the grain for normal people but it is they who are told they are wrong, not the Leftist establishment.  And if you express your honest opinion you run the risk of losing your job.

And the GOP have been no help.  They just fall in line behind the Democrats on most issues. They agree that you must not say anything negative about Muslims or illegal immigrants or blacks etc etc.  The GOP have been bullied into submission by Leftist shrillness.

Whether Trump has good policies or bad on various things hardly matters compared to the chance he gives of escaping from the Leftist mental straitjacket. His "incorrectness" is his main appeal

And note that his degree is in economics so he is unlikely to do anything foolish with the economy, which would be a welcome change -- JR


A British commentary on the rise of The Donald

Trump’s gains come after he has gone out of his way to alienate the Republican establishment – he has insulted them, pilloried their most recent president (George W Bush), and overturned their orthodoxies on a range of issues. His wins have also overcome extraordinary opposition from the elites of the party. In recent weeks, Trump has been called a racist demagogue and been attacked for not distancing himself from former Klansman David Duke. More and more Republican politicians have announced they won’t vote for him in November, if he is the nominee.

Of course, the contest is not over. Trump’s rivals  did well enough to stay in the race. But Trump is clearly the frontrunner now.

If this was any other candidate, the Republican leadership would say now is the time to unite behind him. And any candidate that excited so many to vote – turnout for the Republican primaries on Super Tuesday was up to 8.3million, versus five million in 2008 – would be hailed as the leader of a movement, like Obama was eight years ago. But instead, the Republican establishment for the most part is recoiling in horror – and appears clueless as to how to stop him. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a last-minute and chaotic attempt to block Trump’s rise. This will become more panicked and desperate.

The GOP leadership’s strategy of coalescing around a single candidate who could go head-to-head with Trump looks very unlikely. Republican rivals to Trump remained divided, and it’s hard to see how Cruz, Rubio or Kasich have any kind of path to become that clear favourite. The party hierarchy now seems set to adopt their version of Hail Mary: try, somehow, to just scrape together enough votes to stop Trump from obtaining a majority before the party convention in Cleveland in July. Then, at the convention, hope that they can cobble together support for a non-Trump candidate (or maybe a combined ticket of say Cruz and Rubio).

Let’s leave aside how, if such a cunning plan ever came to pass, it would mean denying the nomination to the candidate with the highest vote total. The most striking thing is how the establishment’s contingency plans all lack a key component: leaders who can make it happen. We now hear party donors and other elites saying they want to rally around Rubio, their favoured son, in Florida. But while there may be a Republican establishment in name in Florida and elsewhere, it’s in name only. In reality, there is not a coherent group with wide influence in that state, nor do the senior party people there have any loyalty to Rubio, even though he has served as senator for the state.

Likewise, you hear talk of stopping Trump at a ‘brokered’ convention. But the convention cannot be brokered without brokers – party elders or fixers who can knock heads together and force compromise. The ‘party bosses’ no longer exist.

The ineffectiveness of the Republican establishment – or indeed the absence of a true establishment - has been a major part of this contest. As a recent investigation by the New York Times found, ‘The party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair’.

From the start, the Republican leadership underestimated Trump – because they overestimated the strength of their own candidates, and the popularity of their own messages. They assumed that, if they found Trump beyond the pale, then certainly their party’s voters must feel the same. They couldn’t imagine that a populist, anti-establishment campaign – a campaign against them – could succeed. Time and again, the party elites have proved to be out of touch. One reporter in New Hampshire interviewed GOP officials and found that they didn’t personally know anyone who supported Trump. ‘I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. I don’t hear it, and I spend part of every day with Republican voters’, said a leading Republican. And yet Trump won big in New Hampshire.

To the extent that the Republican establishment has cohered, it has shown poor judgement in selecting candidates to get behind. First the big money flocked to Jeb Bush (or Jeb!), who was as exciting as a wet noodle. More recently they have moved to support Marco Rubio, who is supposed to be the future of the party. After mis-steps, including a disastrous debate performance, Rubio took the advice of the party’s so-called thinkers and decided to throw insults at Trump. Rubio insinuated that Trump urinated on himself at the last debate, and joked about Trump’s penis size. That’s what the Republicans’ best and brightest has to offer.

The Republican establishment’s ineptitude has proved wrong the view that a big money cabal secretly pulls the strings in American politics (a view popularised by Bernie Sanders, among others). Money hasn’t won the day (ask Jeb Bush), nor have endorsements from prominent politicians mattered very much. The party officials and activists, conservative media (including Fox News) and Republican think tanks – all have been shown to have no power.  

We’re witnessing a hostile takeover of the Republican party. Trump is winning with policies that are either at odds with the leadership (like on healthcare) or more extreme versions of current views (as with immigration). And he has done so by mobilising people - mainly working-class, without a college education – who in the past tended to stay home rather than vote. These are voters who have either been ignored or treated with contempt by the party’s leaders. Trump’s takeover has revealed the Republican party for the empty shell it has become.

This is not just a case of party leaders being flummoxed by an unconventional candidate. The weaknesses of the Republican party are more fundamental, and have been evident for some time. While both right and left got excited about the Tea Party, it is less recognised how small in number, and – more importantly – out of the establishment’s control, these ‘movement’ conservatives are. It is striking how the Republican party is lacking in groups and institutions that can mediate between the leaders/donors and the voters. In this respect, the Republicans are in a worse state than the Democrats, whose elites have successfully rallied around Hillary Clinton (who also advanced towards her party’s nomination on Super Tuesday). Even though few within the Democratic Party are genuinely excited about Hillary, the party does have a wide array of interest groups, like public-sector unions and Planned Parenthood, who will work for them, knock on doors, and so on.

One reason why the Republican establishment is failing is that they have not properly understood Trump’s supporters. It is not the case – as both pundits and party representatives seem to think – that Trump supporters are angry. Just look at Trump’s huge events, which are festive and joking. Labelling Trump supporters ‘angry’ is a way to dismiss them as emotional and irrational. Moreover, it’s not the case that Trump’s fans hate the Republican establishment. They are better described as indifferent towards it – they have zero loyalty, because that establishment thinks they are nothings.

For the Republican establishment, that verdict from the masses is perhaps worse than outright opposition.



An Australian commentary on the rise of The Donald

By financial journalist Robert Gottliebsen

Don’t be shocked by the fact that Donald Trump is now the front runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.

Instead, understand the forces that have led to his rise and be aware that those same forces are building up here in Australia. In a few years, those forces could well cause either of our major political parties to take a radical turn away from the conventional approach to government.

The business community needs to understand that many of the basic assumptions now being embraced, such as globalisation, free-trade agreements, migration and bad behaviour on sharemarkets (start with shorting and legal insider trading), are now being challenged.

The main force driving support for Trump is that the US middle class is being hollowed out and salaries are not rising. Even worse many are losing their jobs and are being forced to take a salary cut to earn an income. And if the middle class is struggling, it makes it even tougher for low-income people.

At the same time, the whole population is watching appalling behaviour on Wall Street and believes that technology, globalisation and free-trade agreements are pushing the profit share of the US economy higher and higher. If you let that happen in a democracy, then expect a voter backlash. In the US it was simply a question of when and whether the backlash would come from the right or the left.

I have always believed that unless the current US hollowing out of the middle class was addressed, the voter backlash would radically change the presidency in either 2020 or 2024 and could usher in an era of US isolationism.

That still might be right, but we are watching Donald Trump brilliantly handle these issues blaming free trade and migration for destroying the American dream. Trump promises to make America great again.

Remember we are talking politics not whether Trump is right or wrong, so saying Trump is wrong or can’t achieve his goals is irrelevant. This is a sales pitch.

Just as importantly, Trump has isolated another force that may be just as powerful around the world — ordinary people both in the US, Australia and many other places are sick and tired of the political correctness that has infiltrated so many of government bodies and the media. When incomes and jobs were booming it was tolerated. Trump is probably the most ‘politically incorrect’ political aspirant the world has seen since Ronald Reagan.

He has therefore become a folk hero among a lot of people. That does not mean he will win. The Democrats’ Hillary Clinton is a conventional candidate and she is hot favourite to secure the presidency. However, she is already being drawn to the Trump line on issues like the abuses on Wall Street.

Fascinatingly, the Democrats number two candidate, like Trump, has pitched his campaign to appeal to those in the American middle and lower income levels who are being hit.

But whereas Trump’s remedies come from the right, Bernie Sanders remedies come from the hard left.

In the UK, the Labour Party is being led by the hard left, while in Germany the opposition against migration is coming from the hard right. These events are a perfectly predictable response to what is happening in those communities.

In Australia, both our major parties pursue conventional policies and are united on the refugee issue, although there are internal differences within both parties.

But if by 2019 there is still an Australian income recession and the free-trade agreements have not delivered benefits to the middle- and lower-income levels, then the party that loses the 2016 election might well embrace radical polices, either to the left or right. And the Greens have an eye to the gap.

The problem for the US, Australia and all developed countries is that technology is going to replace vast swathes of middle class jobs. Much of Australia’s posterity has come from migration but if we see the current income recession drag on, then Trump- or Sanders-type policies will become popular.

The Business Council is trying to get the government to lower company tax — an incredibly dangerous political move given the income recession and the fact that Australian corporate tax rates after franking credits are not way out of line. What would have been far more sensible for the Business Council in the current environment would have been to advocate allowing companies to start new ventures that are taxed at a lower rate but not to have the benefits of franking credits for the profits of those ventures.

And we are seeing private health premiums rise, which hits the middle class, because governments are simply lazy or incompetent and will not tackle the duplication and waste in the system.

The rise of Trump is an alert to everyone.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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