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“Sanders’s Story Provides A Comforting Fable”: What Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Understand About American Politics

At the recent Democratic town hall, moderator Chris Cuomo presented Bernie Sanders with what has been a common complaint about his presidential campaign: Sanders’s relentless focus on income inequality, in this campaign and through his career, raises the question of whether he is prepared to address the full spectrum of issues faced by a president. But there is a deeper problem with Sanders’s vision of American politics. It is not just that he has trouble talking about issues other than the redistribution of income; it’s that he has trouble conceptualizing those issues in any other terms. His rigidly economistic frame of mind prevents Sanders from seeing the world as it is.

The phrase Sanders invokes constantly, and which distinguishes him from Hillary Clinton and other Democrats not merely in degree but also in kind, is “political revolution.” The political revolution is the secret sauce. When presented with any concrete obstacles that would stand between him and his desired policy outcomes, Sanders brings up the revolution, which will transform the world he inhabits into the one he desires. One questioner at the town hall asked how Sanders proposes to pass his left-wing economic program, given “the likelihood that Republicans will win control over at least one house of Congress.” This poses a massive obstacle, given the twin facts of a map that requires Democrats to win Republican-leaning districts in order to gain a majority and polarization so deep that almost all voters now choose the same party up and down the ballot. How to get around these obstacles? Sanders again brought up (this time, without using the term) the revolution:

In my view, you have a Congress today that is much more worried about protecting the interest of the wealthy and the powerful and making sure they get campaign contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.

If we are serious about rebuilding the American middle class, if we are serious about providing paid family and medical leave to all of our people, if we are serious about ending the disgrace of having so many of our children live in poverty, the real way to do it is to have millions of Americans finally stand up and say, enough is enough, for people to get engaged in the political process, to finally demand that Washington represent all of us, not just a handful of very wealthy people.

Note that Sanders, asked about Republican opposition to his proposals, defined that opposition as “protecting the interest of the wealthy and the powerful.” It is certainly true that fealty to the interests of the rich heavily colors Republican policy. But Sanders is not merely presenting corruption as one factor. It is the entirety of it. Likewise, Sanders has difficulty imagining any reason other than corruption to explain disagreements by fellow Democrats, which he relentlessly attributes to the nefarious influence of corporate wealth. One does not have to dismiss the political power of massed wealth to acknowledge that other things influence the conclusions drawn by Americans who don’t share Sanders’s full diagnosis.

In reality, people have organic reasons to vote Republican. Some of them care more about social issues or foreign policy than economics. Sanders would embrace many concepts — “socialism,” big government in the abstract, and middle-class tax increases — that register badly with the public. People are very reluctant to give up their health insurance, even if it is true that Sanders could give them something better.

What’s more, the interests of the wealthy do not cut as cleanly as Sanders indicates. It’s true that business and the rich tend to oppose parts of his program like higher taxes on the rich, more generous social insurance, and tougher regulation of finance. But the Obama administration’s stimulus encountered intense Republican opposition even though it did not pose a threat to any business interests. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce even endorsed the stimulus, which profited business both directly (by pumping billions into contracts for projects like infrastructure) and indirectly (by goosing public demand for its members’ products). That did not stop 100 percent of House Republicans from opposing it. Nor did the unified opposition of the business lobby dissuade Republicans from holding the debt ceiling hostage in 2011, or persuade them to pass immigration reform in 2013. Sanders currently proposes a massive infrastructure program, which would make lots of money for the construction industry. Clearly, subservience to big business only goes so far in explaining Republican behavior.

The depiction of conservatism as a mere cover for greed is a habit Sanders indulges over and over. Donald Trump’s appeal, in Sanders’s telling, has nothing to do with xenophobia or nationalism: “They’re angry because they’re working longer hours for lower wages, they’re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China or other low-wage countries, they’re angry because they can’t afford to send their kids to college so they can’t retire with dignity.” Sanders does not explain why this economic security has manifested itself almost entirely among white voters when minorities are suffering the same conditions. He simply assumes Trump has converted economic frustration into a series of pseudo-concerns, and rather than deal with those beliefs, Sanders proposes instead to convert them back into their original form: “I think for his working-class and middle-class supporters, I think we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about … we need policies that bring us together that take on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of corporate America, and create a middle class that works for all of us rather than an economy that works just for a few.”

It is not only Republican voters whose ideas Sanders refuses to grapple with. Here he is in the previous debate explaining Republican climate-science denial: “It is amazing to me, and I think we’ll have agreement on this up here, that we have a major party, called the Republican Party, that is so owned by the fossil-fuel industry and their campaign contributions that they don’t even have the courage, the decency to listen to the scientists.” It is surely true that fossil-fuel contributions have encouraged the spread of climate-science denial. But the doctrine also appeals philosophically to conservatives. It expresses their disdain for liberal elites, and, more important, it justifies opposition to government action. Psychologists and social scientists have poured years of study into identifying the causes of climate-science denial. One does not need to harbor even the slightest whiff of sympathy for climate-science denial to grasp that its causes run deeper than a cash transaction with Big Oil. Figures like George Will and Charles Krauthammer dismiss climate science because it is a way to maintain order within their mental world. Many other conservatives have social or professional reasons to believe, or at least to say, that Will and Krauthammer are serious intellectuals rather than loons spouting transparently preposterous conspiracy theories. There are deep tribal influences at work that cannot be reduced to economic self-interest.

Sanders’s story provides a comforting fable for his party. Not only are Democrats not hemmed in by the Republican hold on Congress, but they don’t even need to do the laborious work of persuading the political center to come to their side. They need only to rise up and break the grip of moneyed interests on the political system.

There are many reasons to doubt Sanders’s promise that he can transform American politics. Perhaps the most fundamental is that he does not actually understand how it works.


By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 27, 2016

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Congress, Economic Inequality, House Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Frightening, Loathsome Candidate”: Holy Sh*t! The World Really Hates Donald Trump

No doubt Donald Trump will be thrilled that the entire world is mesmerized as he steamrolls over his Republican rivals for the presidential nomination.

He probably doesn’t care that most of the international publicity is bad publicity—but even the master of ill-tempered putdowns and Twitter vitriol will struggle to keep up with the sheer number of attacks and jibes pouring in from every corner of the globe.

He does have a select band of fans—more on those later—but they are being drowned out by an incredulity that stretches from Europe’s capitals to post-conflict Afghanistan; from the African deltas to Asia’s tiger economies.

With the Iowa caucuses just days away, people simply cannot understand how a man like Donald Trump could run a successful presidential campaign in the world’s most powerful nation.

“People are in disbelief; they think he is borderline crazy,” Magnús Sveinn Helgason, an Icelandic historian who worked on the national inquiry into Iceland’s financial crash, told The Daily Beast. “People are kind of scared about what it would be like to live in a world where he is one of the most powerful leaders.”

The interest and hostility toward Trump peaked after his remarks about banning Muslims from the country. A correspondent in Nigeria, a nation of more than 70 million Muslims, says: “Trump was trending on social media and believe me, he was the one man on earth Nigerians hated the most. He still is.”

Leaders from France, Egypt, Canada, the United Nations, and Saudi Arabia were among those to publicly criticize Trump for his proposed ban on entry to America on religious grounds.

In London, politicians held an unprecedented debate in Parliament about whether to introduce a tit-for-tat ban that would prevent Trump from traveling to Britain. The debate was tabled by Labour’s Paul Flynn after more than half a million members of the public signed a petition backing a ban.

“He does seem to be reckless, arrogant, impulsive—and those are his best qualities,” Flynn told The Daily Beast. “He doesn’t fit the mold of anyone’s idea of a statesman because of his rash statements, his flying off the handle to abuse friend and foe. There are few politicians that have been so obviously reckless in modern times, there were people like that before the last war, of course.”

Gawping at Trump has become a national pastime in Britain, a nation that usually pays little attention to international politics. The window in one barbershop in St. Paul’s, in central London, reads: “If Trump becomes President, there will be hell toupee.”

Flynn said the public had turned against Trump not just over his harsh words toward Muslims but for a number of offensive statements. “His remarks about women, and against the disabled journalist came pretty high up on the levels of revulsion against politicians. There are very few countries in the world where mockery of women and the disabled is acceptable.”

In Muslim Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered a stinging critique of Trump’s political acumen. “A successful politician would not make such statement,” he said. Erdogan, who has been either prime minister or president of Turkey since 2003, said Trump would face an embarrassing situation if he ever got to the White House. “I don’t know whether or not he’ll win, but let’s suppose he won. What will happen? Will he set aside all relationships with Muslim countries? A politician shouldn’t talk like this.”

He hasn’t only got flak from the government but also his business partners, suggesting his fiery political rhetoric could have financial implications. Bulent Kural, manager of a shopping mall at the Istanbul Trump Towers, a twin high-rise commercial and residential building, condemned what he said. “Such statements bear no value and are products of a mind that does not understand Islam, a peace religion, at all,” Kural said. The Trump Tower complex in Istanbul was developed by Turkish billionaire Aydin Dogan, who pays Trump for the name. His global brand could clearly suffer.

In China, his business reputation is already compromised, despite repeated bragging that he “knows China.” Over there, he is compared to the nutty Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao, who once tried to buy The New York Times.

It is well-known that in the ’80s and ’90s, he went to Hong Kong to look for investors who could help bail him out of a tight spot. Some local tycoons invited him to play golf for $1 million a hole, Trump realized he was being outmuscled and declined. The investors did eventually buy up part of Trump’s mortgage, for $82 million. When they cashed out for $1.8 billion a decade later, Trump was so furious that he sued them.

The average Chinese man on the street may not be following the American election, but the Global Times, an uber-nationalistic state-run media outlet warned readers Thursday: “If you plan to visit New York sometime this year, take my advice: Try to stay away from Fifth Avenue because Donald Trump may be lurking there with a gun.”

Indeed, Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and Daily Beast contributor, said Beijing was paying close attention. “China is obsessed with Trump, just as Trump is obsessed with China,” he said. “State media takes his candidacy as proof that American democracy is flawed, comparing him to a ‘celebrity potato,’ for instance. Chinese netizens generally denigrate him as well, but in a country where Communist Party leaders are highly scripted, you can be sure they secretly admire someone who speaks his mind.”

On the other side of China’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, government officials in Kabul were equally unimpressed.

Zardasht Shams, the deputy minister of information, said they were still waiting to hear a real policy on how Trump would deal with the U.S. drawdown and post-conflict resolution. “Sorry, I’m not well updated on this fool’s policy or stand on Afghanistan,” he told The Daily Beast. “In general, Afghanistan, being a conservative and radical Muslim society, would hate and extremely dislike [Trump becoming president] and feel uncomfortable because of his anti-Muslim statements.”

The hostility toward Muslims has gone down better with some in Israel, where the statements have resonated with a growing far-right movement, which has called upon Israeli politicians to revoke Israeli Arabs’ citizenship and residency rights as a form of collective punishment.

These extremists see Muslims and Arabs as a barbaric enemy that understand only power and with whom the enlightened “Western” world cannot negotiate, and some see parallels here in Trump’s own worldview.

Within that far-right movement, a lot of Israelis see Trump’s brash racism as a refreshing dose of truth. While Trump scares many in the Israeli left, he has won credit among even the mainstream right for saying that the world should recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital and Israel’s need for a separation wall, both of which President Obama and the international community have criticized.

Another potential friend is lounging on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. Silvio Berlusconi, now 79, has had a low profile in Italy since being banned from public office in 2013 for tax fraud. He recently said his party still needs him, so he is claiming that his ousting was unconstitutional, and friendly words from Trump have been warmly welcomed. “I love Italy,” Trump said. “Berlusconi? He’s a great guy. I like him.”

Berlusconi seems to think this will help him back into power. He has always maintained close personal ties with Vladimir Putin and one might envision the three of them in a sort of club of global misfits if Trump is elected and Berlusconi is back in power.

In the rest of Western Europe, mainstream politicians and the media have been largely critical of the American property tycoon. In Germany, Der Spiegel published an article explaining “Trump’s World.” They concluded: “You can laugh about it, get angry about it—this man lives on his own planet.”

The Dutch magazine Elsevier tried harder to explain Trumps’ popularity in the polls. “Trump chooses Fort America… he’s obsessed with national identity. It is a mistake to dismiss him as a clown without ideology. He certainly has a nationalist ideology, which is in tune with the international Zeitgeist.”

Deeyah Khan, a filmmaker born in Norway, said there had been a real effect on Europe’s Muslim population, especially after Muslim and Sikh citizens were thrown out of Trump events.

“The Trump phenomenon shows us how much fear of Muslims there is out there, and how easily it can be exploited,” she told The Daily Beast. “The reaction of his followers to Rose Hamid and Arish Sing is deeply scary.”

When he announced his presidential run last summer, Le Monde described him in its headline, flatly but correctly, as an “eccentric billionaire.”

Since then, people in France and Belgium have learned that he casts his insults far and wide. At the beginning of the week, in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, she asked Trump about his plans to stop Muslims from entering the United States. He cited Paris and Brussels as places where Muslims were out of control and unassimilated: “You go to Brussels —I was in Brussels a long time ago, 20 years ago, so beautiful, everything is so beautiful—it’s like living in a hellhole right now.”

When the Belgian press translated hellhole idiomatically, it came out as “trou à rats,” or, literally, rat hole.

Brussels alderman Philippe Close, responsible for the city’s tourism, called Trump “a totally vulgar clown.” And people started posting beautiful images of the city with the ironic hashtag #hellhole.

One showed a beautiful shot of La Grand Place, the square at the heart of Brussels, alongside Trump shouting: “WHERE is the #hellhole @realDonaldTrump? Brussels or your mouth???”

Someone else proposed a novel way to shut Trump up—and blocked up his mouth on Photoshop with a huge Belgian waffle.


By: Nico Hines, The Daily Beast, January 29, 2016

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Global Economic Community, INternational Politics, London Parliament | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“May Have Peaked Too Early In Iowa”: Ted Cruz Is Losing His Mojo At The Worst Possible Moment

When Ted Cruz became the first Republican presidential aspirant to formally announce his candidacy in a March 2015 speech at Liberty University, he was generally considered a very long shot (oddsmakers initially rated him the sixth-most-likely nomination winner, with 16-1 odds). He was too young and too inexperienced (with the same Senate tenure as Barack Obama had in 2008, which Republicans had never stopped citing as disqualifying), had made too many enemies among his colleagues, and was pursuing too narrow a constituency in a very crowded field. He was mostly bumping along in the single digits in polls of his primary target, Evangelical-rich Iowa, until well into the fall of last year. And he had to overcome a very formidable assortment of rivals for Evangelical and movement-conservative votes.

In retrospect, Cruz’s accomplishment in getting to the eve of the caucuses as the putative second-place — or possibly first-place — finisher has been pretty remarkable. Two rivals for the Evangelical vote had deep roots and a record of victory in Iowa: 2008 winner Mike Huckabee and 2012 winner Rick Santorum. Cruz outorganized both of them and snagged the Christian-right endorsements that helped them forge their winning coalitions. The longtime governor of his own state, Rick Perry, had major Christian-right street cred of his own, and experience in Iowa. Cruz outlasted Perry, who later endorsed him. Scott Walker was an early favorite to win Iowa, in part because of an alleged deep affinity with Evangelicals. Cruz outlasted him, too, and also outlasted Bobby Jindal, the smartest guy in every room, who made Evangelicals his obsessive target. And Cruz endured a brief but massive boom of Evangelical support, in Iowa and nationally, for Dr. Ben Carson. He’s also become the de facto second choice of libertarian-leaning Republicans pending the likely early demise of Rand Paul’s once-promising campaign. Like every other candidate, Cruz has been intermittently challenged and marginalized by Donald Trump, but through most of the invisible primary Cruz has handled that better than anyone else.

The Cruz campaign is in fine financial shape and has a very clear path to the nomination with the big breakthrough planned for the so-called “SEC primary” on March 1.

But it’s possible he’s losing his mojo at the worst possible moment.

Even before Thursday night’s Fox News debate, there was talk that Cruz might have “peaked too early” in Iowa. Cruz narrowly led the Donald in the typically very accurate and influential Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released on January 13. But since then the polling has shown slippage for Cruz, generally attributed to a combo attack from Trump on Cruz’s Canadian birth and from the Branstad family (Terry, the six-term governor, and son Eric, the ethanol lobbyist) on his opposition to special treatment of the corn-based alternative fuel by the federal government. Even more ominously, third-place candidate Marco Rubio, the favorite of both the Republican Establishment and of many conservative Evangelical leaders, was beginning to creep up on Cruz in Iowa polls amid a major spending spree on TV ads by the Floridian.

Then came Thursday night’s debates, where Cruz was almost universally deemed the worst performer and perhaps (depending on your assessment of the impact of Trump’s absence) the big loser. Two particularly damaging moments were his trapped look when confronted with videos of his past statements seeming to support legalization of undocumented immigrants, and a shot of Terry Branstad chortling as Cruz struggled to explain his position on ethanol. And it didn’t help the nerves of Team Cruz that Frank Luntz’s post-debate focus-group report for Fox News was practically a Rubio rally.

If the debate does move caucusgoers, it may not be reflected in late polls (e.g., the final RegisterBloomberg poll that will be released Saturday night) that were in the field before the event. More likely, the caucuses will remain a test of the turnout strategies of Trump, with his effort to expand participation deep into marginal voting segments, and Cruz, with his state-of-the-art organization focused on the most likely caucusgoers.

If Cruz wins, the debate stumble will be forgotten instantly. If he finishes second, and particularly a weak second, chins will be stroked and lost opportunities will be weighed. And if he somehow finishes behind Rubio, his candidacy is in very big trouble. Any way you look at it, it’s been a long, strange trip for a freshman U.S. senator who would finish dead last in a poll of his colleagues.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 29, 2016

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Iowa Caucuses, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Plutocrats And Prejudice”: The Base Isn’t Taking Guidance The Way It Used To

Every time you think that our political discourse can’t get any worse, it does. The Republican primary fight has devolved into a race to the bottom, achieving something you might have thought impossible: making George W. Bush look like a beacon of tolerance and statesmanship. But where is all the nastiness coming from?

Well, there’s debate about that — and it’s a debate that is at the heart of the Democratic contest.

Like many people, I’ve described the competition between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as an argument between competing theories of change, which it is. But underlying that argument is a deeper dispute about what’s wrong with America, what brought us to the state we’re in.

To oversimplify a bit — but only, I think, a bit — the Sanders view is that money is the root of all evil. Or more specifically, the corrupting influence of big money, of the 1 percent and the corporate elite, is the overarching source of the political ugliness we see all around us.

The Clinton view, on the other hand, seems to be that money is the root of some evil, maybe a lot of evil, but it isn’t the whole story. Instead, racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice are powerful forces in their own right. This may not seem like a very big difference — both candidates oppose prejudice, both want to reduce economic inequality. But it matters for political strategy.

As you might guess, I’m on the many-evils side of this debate. Oligarchy is a very real issue, and I was writing about the damaging rise of the 1 percent back when many of today’s Sanders supporters were in elementary school. But it’s important to understand how America’s oligarchs got so powerful.

For they didn’t get there just by buying influence (which is not to deny that there’s a lot of influence-buying out there). Crucially, the rise of the American hard right was the rise of a coalition, an alliance between an elite seeking low taxes and deregulation and a base of voters motivated by fears of social change and, above all, by hostility toward you-know-who.

Yes, there was a concerted, successful effort by billionaires to push America to the right. That’s not conspiracy theorizing; it’s just history, documented at length in Jane Mayer’s eye-opening new book “Dark Money.” But that effort wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as it has without the political aftermath of the Civil Rights Act, and the resulting flip of Southern white voters to the G.O.P.

Until recently you could argue that whatever the motivations of conservative voters, the oligarchs remained firmly in control. Racial dog whistles, demagogy on abortion and so on would be rolled out during election years, then put back into storage while the Republican Party focused on its real business of enabling shadow banking and cutting top tax rates.

But in this age of Trump, not so much. The 1 percent has no problems with immigration that brings in cheap labor; it doesn’t want a confrontation over Planned Parenthood; but the base isn’t taking guidance the way it used to.

In any case, however, the question for progressives is what all of this says about political strategy.

If the ugliness in American politics is all, or almost all, about the influence of big money, then working-class voters who support the right are victims of false consciousness. And it might — might — be possible for a candidate preaching economic populism to break through this false consciousness, thereby achieving a revolutionary restructuring of the political landscape, by making a sufficiently strong case that he’s on their side. Some activists go further and call on Democrats to stop talking about social issues other than income inequality, although Mr. Sanders hasn’t gone there.

On the other hand, if the divisions in American politics aren’t just about money, if they reflect deep-seated prejudices that progressives simply can’t appease, such visions of radical change are naïve. And I believe that they are.

That doesn’t say that movement toward progressive goals is impossible — America is becoming both more diverse and more tolerant over time. Look, for example, at how quickly opposition to gay marriage has gone from a reliable vote-getter for the right to a Republican liability.

But there’s still a lot of real prejudice out there, and probably enough so that political revolution from the left is off the table. Instead, it’s going to be a hard slog at best.

Is this an unacceptably downbeat vision? Not to my eyes. After all, one reason the right has gone so berserk is that the Obama years have in fact been marked by significant if incomplete progressive victories, on health policy, taxes, financial reform and the environment. And isn’t there something noble, even inspiring, about fighting the good fight, year after year, and gradually making things better?


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January 29, 2016

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Election 2016, Plutocrats, Prejudice | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Long Slog Or A Quick Knockout?”: All The Ways The 2016 Primaries Could Go Once Voters Start Casting Ballots

I wanted to write this before any votes were cast.

I am not sure that predictions and prognostications do much more than make fools out of a lot of us these days. Lord knows, I have done enough of that in this space. But those of us in politics can’t resist. So here goes.

On the Republican side, polls and reason would dictate that Donald Trump triumphs in Iowa and probably New Hampshire. The angry vote is angrier than ever and folks don’t care much what he says, just how he says it.

This leads many Republicans to the first phase of their hopeful plan: vanquish Ted Cruz. Get him off the stage and out of the race as quickly as possible. We see many senior statesman and wise counselors seeing Trump as the candidate who can initially rid the Republican Party of a dangerous force. Former Sen. Bob Dole has endorsed Jeb Bush but supports Trump right now as the most likely candidate to “repeal and replace” a Cruz candidacy. The hope of many Republicans is that in the course of these early primaries and caucuses, up through March 1 and March 15, we will see a reasonable Republican rise to challenge Trump.

Possible. But let’s look at the likely outcomes.

Out of all these early Trump wins, I see three basic scenarios.

The first is one that many Republicans clearly fear: We may have gotten rid of Cruz but Trump begins to roll through the February states, goes into March with a big wind at his back and begins to rack up delegates and put himself in a strong position to be victorious in the key winner-take-all states like Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Before any organized establishment candidate can emerge from the pack, Trump becomes nearly unbeatable by simply winning delegates. This is part of his steamroller strategy – a lot of candidates stay in, split the vote and he rolls down the tracks. Result: a fairly early wrapping up of the nomination for Trump.

The second is more complicated. A lot of attention is given to the candidate or candidates who come in right behind the front-runners in the early states – second, third, even fourth place. Close finishers matter. This is much different from previous modern races for president. This allows a candidate to emerge as the alternative to Trump – a Rubio, Kasich, Bush, even Christie. This becomes what analyst Charlie Cook calls the battle between the establishment candidate and the insurgent candidate (or candidates).

The quicker one establishment candidate emerges, the more likely he can stop Trump. Many Republicans tire of his antics, most think he can not win, and congressional Republicans and candidates out on the stump are terrified that he will cost them their elections. He is the political Barry Goldwater of 2016, not the Ronald Reagan. This likely results in a coalescing around a Republican other than Trump.

The third scenario is a bit of a version of the second but is a longer slog, with candidates staying in the race into the spring and even June. In this scenario, Trump is the leader but does not pick up enough delegate support to go over the top and does not have a majority of the delegates going into the July convention. Other candidates win states and the unpledged delegates become more of a factor. Polling begins to show Trump’s weaknesses among independents in the general election and his claims of causing a sea change in turnout begin to look unrealistic. The folks who “are mad as hell and not going to take it any more” appear to be staying home and not voting. The convention turns to a conventional candidate and Trump fades.

Who the likely establishment candidate is may be the hardest prediction of all: I still don’t completely write Bush off; Rubio is possible but my gut tells me he doesn’t have it; Kasich, despite the fact he is not the best debater, has a lot to offer the Republican party in a general election; Christie has an outsider message and a bit of the “in your face” of Trump, but one senses it is forced and his baggage is still rolling off the carousel.

At the end of the day, I think we either have a fairly quick Trump wrap-up of the nomination or a very long slog. I still can not believe the Republicans will choose a Donald Trump (or a Ted Cruz), but this primary and caucus electorate is as extreme and radical a group as I have ever seen.

Turning to the Democrats, it’s not quite as much of a circus. But a similar scenario could unfold in the sense that it could be quick or turn out to be a long slog. In my view, the same outcome prevails: a Hillary Clinton nomination. If Clinton wins Iowa, I think it is over fairly quickly. Bernie Sanders then wins New Hampshire and some states in March, but the party pulls together and she wins the bulk of the states. There’s no winner–take-all on the Democratic side, so the two split delegates. But it becomes clear that voters are coming together around Clinton. Martin O’Malley is gone by the end of February in any case. And by the end of March Clinton is pulling away.

If Clinton loses Iowa and New Hampshire, doesn’t win South Carolina by as much as pundits believe she should and Nevada is up for grabs, this will go on for a while. But Sanders has had more or less a free ride, at least up until now. His stump speech, his Internet fundraising and his organization have taken him a long way. But now he will be researched, criticized and forced to defend his views and his past actions. Socialist won’t sell despite his efforts to redefine it. Having a hero like Eugene V. Debs won’t fly – heck, I liked him too in college and Herbert Marcuse as well, but I was 20 years old. There is no one better to lead a demonstration on the mall than Sanders, but when it comes to sitting in the Oval Office, Clinton better fits that chair. His message is strong and he has made Clinton a stronger candidate, but at the end of the day as we go to March and April and May and maybe even June, it will be Clinton. She can win and she can govern.

So there you have it – and as I say every election cycle, we come out with our armchair analysis and then the voters vote and nearly every time, surprise us!


By: Peter Fenn, Democratic Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, January 29, 2016

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Democratic Presidential Primaries, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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