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“Wrath Of The Conned”: The Divergent Nomination Outcomes Of 2016 Aren’t An Accident

Maybe we need a new cliché: It ain’t over until Carly Fiorina sings. Anyway, it really is over — definitively on the Democratic side, with high probability on the Republican side. And the results couldn’t be more different.

Think about where we were a year ago. At the time, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were widely seen as the front-runners for their parties’ nods. If there was any dissent from the commentariat, it came from those suggesting that Mr. Bush might be supplanted by a fresher, but still establishment, face, like Marco Rubio.

And now here we are. But why did Mrs. Clinton, despite the most negative media coverage of any candidate in this cycle — yes, worse than Donald Trump’s — go the distance, while the G.O.P. establishment went down to humiliating defeat?

Personalities surely played a role; say what you like (or dislike) about Mrs. Clinton, but she’s resilient under pressure, a character trait notably lacking on the other side. But basically it comes down to fundamental differences between the parties and how they serve their supporters.

Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.

First, about the Democrats: Their party defines itself as the protector of the poor and the middle class, and especially of nonwhite voters. Does it fall short of fulfilling this mission much of the time? Are its leaders sometimes too close to big-money donors? Of course. Still, if you look at the record of the Obama years, you see real action on behalf of the party’s goals.

Above all, you have the Affordable Care Act, which has given about 20 million Americans health insurance, with the gains biggest for the poor, minorities and low-wage workers. That’s what you call delivering for the base — and it’s surely one reason nonwhite voters have overwhelmingly favored Mrs. Clinton over a challenger who sometimes seemed to dismiss that achievement.

And this was paid for largely with higher taxes on the rich, with average tax rates on very high incomes rising by about six percentage points since 2008.

Maybe you think Democrats could and should have done more, but what the party establishment says and what it does are at least roughly aligned.

Things are very different among Republicans. Their party has historically won elections by appealing to racial enmity and cultural anxiety, but its actual policy agenda is dedicated to serving the interests of the 1 percent, above all through tax cuts for the rich — which even Republican voters don’t support, while they truly loathe elite ideas like privatizing Social Security and Medicare.

What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order à la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too. Yes, his actual policy proposals still involve huge tax cuts for the rich, but his supporters don’t know that — and it’s possible that he doesn’t, either. Details aren’t his thing.

Establishment Republicans have tried to counter his appeal by shouting, with growing hysteria, that he isn’t a true conservative. And they’re right, at least as they define conservatism. But their own voters don’t care.

If there’s a puzzle here, it’s why this didn’t happen sooner. One possible explanation is the decadence of the G.O.P. establishment, which has become ingrown and lost touch. Apparatchiks who have spent their whole careers inside the bubble of right-wing think tanks and partisan media may suffer from the delusion that their ideology is actually popular with real people. And this has left them hapless in the face of a Trumpian challenge.

Probably more important, however, is the collision between demography and Obama derangement. The elite knows that the party must broaden its appeal as the electorate grows more diverse — in fact, that was the conclusion of the G.O.P.’s 2013 post-mortem. But the base, its hostility amped up to 11 after seven years of an African-American president (who the establishment has done its best to demonize) is having none of it.

The point, in any case, is that the divergent nomination outcomes of 2016 aren’t an accident. The Democratic establishment has won because it has, however imperfectly, tried to serve its supporters. The Republican establishment has been routed because it has been playing a con game on its supporters all along, and they’ve finally had enough.

And yes, Mr. Trump is playing a con game of his own, and they’ll eventually figure that out, too. But it won’t happen right away, and in any case it won’t help the party establishment. Sad!

 

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

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“For Trump, Presidential Means Being Polite”: Why Donald Trump’s Idea Of ‘Presidential’ Is Both Curious And Disturbing

Just as St. Augustine asked the Lord to grant him chastity, just not yet, Donald Trump is ready to be “presidential,” just not yet. Whenever he brings up the idea of presidential-ness, Trump always says that a personality transformation is on its way, but will have to be delayed while some more pressing campaign matters are attended to. Like so much about Trump, his conception of what it means to be presidential is both curious and disturbing.

As near as one can surmise, for Trump, to be presidential means to be polite. When he’s criticizing his opponents, he isn’t being presidential. So he says that when his daughter Ivanka begged him to be more presidential, he replied that he had to knock off the other Republican candidates first. “Let me be unpresidential just for a little while longer, and maybe I’ll be a little bit unpresidential as I beat Hillary.” He’ll often add, “At some point, I’m going to be so presidential that you people will be so bored.”

But he promises that at the right time, he will bring the presidential-ness, and bring it hard. “If I want to be, I can be more presidential than anybody. You know, when I have 16 people coming at me from 16 different angles, you don’t want to be so presidential. You have to win, you have to beat them back, right?” But he will be “more presidential than anybody other than the great Abe Lincoln. He was very presidential, right?”

Well, yes. But Lincoln was happy to make his disagreements with other people clear; his presidential qualities did not consist in turning the other cheek. So what does “presidential” mean to the rest of us? At the simplest level it suggests a combination of dignity and command, someone who holds enormous power and demonstrates him or herself worthy of it. But for most people, “presidential” is less about behavior than about identity: A person doesn’t act presidential, a person is presidential.

And until recently, that meant a certain kind of person: a tall, handsome white man, in late middle age, but aging well, strong of jaw and grey of temple, with a firm handshake and a steely gaze. Basically, Mitt Romney. Which is why back when he ran for president, so many people said Romney looked “straight out of Central Casting.”

But it may be more accurate to say that Mitt Romney is what used to be considered “presidential.” In 2016, that’s no longer the case, though it was just a short time ago. When the film Deep Impact was released in 1998, the fact that Morgan Freeman — a black man! — portrayed the president of the United States was seen as somewhere between notable and shocking. Since then, however, Hollywood has given us a whole spate of non-Romneyesque presidents of varying ethnicities and genders. Even 24, in many ways the prototypical right-wing drama of the George W. Bush era, had not one but two black men serve as president, followed by a woman.

Hollywood, of course, is always trying to cram its liberal values down the throats of good old-fashioned heartland Americans. But Barack Obama may have changed forever what we think of when we think of someone being presidential. The default face of a president may still be that of a white man, but the idea is no longer exclusively and necessarily white and male. And now it’s entirely possible, perhaps likely, that the nation’s first black president will be followed by the nation’s first woman president.

That thought makes some people very displeased; as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said last year when considering Clinton’s run for the White House, “I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically significant president is enough.” And many of them happen to be the people Donald Trump is appealing most directly to: those who feel that in a changing country, they’ve lost something as others have gained. With women and African-Americans and Latinos and Asian-Americans all demanding respect and consideration, with popular culture embracing polyglot sounds and challenging ideas, they feel diminished, ignored, passed by, and passed over. They want their country back, and Trump promises to give it to them.

There are many qualities we might associate with being presidential, like maturity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, or compassion. But Donald Trump obviously isn’t thinking of that when he talks about being presidential; he seems to think it just means not making up schoolyard nicknames for people or talking about the size of your hands. He may not realize it, but just by being a 69-year-old rich white guy, in the eyes of his supporters he’s as presidential as could be. But in 2016, people who see that as the beginning and end of being presidential are probably in the minority. Just like people who support Donald Trump.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, April 29, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Presidential Candidates, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Barking Up The Wrong Tree”: Ted Cruz Keeps Talking About ‘Wages’ — But He Won’t Support Raising Them

“Washington” is keeping wages down and impoverishing the American middle class, at least according to Ted Cruz, who has adopted economic populism as a line of attack against the political establishment as a routine part of his stump speech in recent months.

The Texas senator has tried to link rival Donald Trump to Democratic frontrunner and perennial enemy of the American right, Hillary Clinton. But the argument that the federal government, and by extension the Obama administration, was responsible for the decline in wages of American workers, was yet another baseless charged levied against a rhetorically-convenient “Washington establishment.”

Where to start. It’s unclear whether or not Cruz believes in a minimum wage. He has argued against a minimum wage, saying it leads to job losses among American minority groups. “Every time we raise the minimum wage, predictably what happens is a significant number of people lose their jobs, and they’re almost always low-income, they’re often teenagers, African Americans and Hispanics,” he said, voicing concern for demographic groups that are unlikely to vote for him anyhow, and for whom his policies don’t reflect the concern of his talking points.

In Cruz’s mind, the minimum wage is best left to the states. While he assails the loss of American jobs, sounding much like a vague, rehearsed mashup of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in their criticism of outsourcing, his policies have a different end in mind: employment above all else.

“I think it’s bad policy,” said Cruz on CNBC, criticizing the existence of a minimum wage. “And you know, one observation I make to folks is next time you go to a fast food restaurant and you start ordering on an iPad, you’re seeing the minimum wage.”

During a Senate hearing in 2014, Cruz spoke out against President Barack Obama’s proposed federal wage increase to $10.10. He said:

The undeniable reality, the undeniable truth, is if the President succeeded in raising the minimum wage it would cost jobs for the most vulnerable. The people who have been hurt by this Obama economy would be hurt worse with the minimum wage proposal before this body. In 2013 the President in his State of the Union address proposed raising the minimum wage to $9.00. Now a year later the request has magically changed to $10.10. The only reason (there’s no economic justification) the only reason is politics. And I suppose if the approval ratings of democratic members of this body continue to fall in another month we’ll see a proposal for $15.00 an hour and then maybe $20.00 or $25.00 an hour. But I think the American people are tired of empty political show votes. The nonpartisan congressional budget office says that raising the minimum wage could cost a loss of 500,000 to 1 million jobs.

Cruz is barking up the wrong tree. It is not the $7.25 an hour minimum wage that made companies like Carrier, whose managers were infamously recorded laying off 1,400 at its Indianapolis plant earlier this year, outsource those jobs to Mexico. As the Economic Policy Institute pointed out in a 2003 report, NAFTA resulted in a period of job growth in the U.S. between 1994 and 2000. But starting in 2001, jobs started disappearing. “Job losses have been primarily concentrated in the manufacturing sector, which has experienced a total decline of 2.4 million jobs since March 2001,” read the institute’s report. “As job growth has dried up in the economy, the underlying problems caused by U.S. trade deficits have become much more apparent, especially in manufacturing.” It pointed to systemic turmoil in internationalized labor markets, the result of free trade agreements, which allow companies to move to where living costs (and thus labor) are cheapest.

But for Cruz, the problem has always been the minimum wage, despite evidence to the contrary: Another EPI report released in 2013 outlining the benefits of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 concluded, “Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 would lift incomes for millions of American workers and provide a modest boost to U.S. GDP.”

Despite the doomsday predictions from Cruz and the rest of the 2016 Republican field, the report also predicted large increases in employment. By increasing the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10, low wage earners would experience a recovery of real income the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades.

However, the federal minimum wage has not budged by even a penny, leaving wage increases largely to states or large American cities, exactly the sort of decentralized political process Cruz would be expected to support: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle have all instituted $15 per hour minimum wages following concerted efforts by local organizations that stemmed partly from frustration over partisan gridlock in Washington. Both California and New York’s governors signed bills this year approving wage increases to the $15 an hour benchmark over a period of time. A total of 29 states, and Washington, D.C., have instituted their own minimum wages exceeding the federal minimum wage, as a result of slow progress on the federal level.

Since the minimum was last raised to $7.25 in 2009, it has lost 8.1 percent of its purchasing power as a result of inflation, according to Pew Research. The OECD has described the American minimum wage as an outlier amongst wealthy, industrialized nations — it should really be around $12, if we were to use GDP per capita as a guide. American workers are in desperate need of a minimum wage increase, not just poorly paid employment.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The  National Memo, April 29, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Jobs, Minimum Wage, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump And The Power Of Denial”: Wake Up GOP, The National Leader Of Your Party Is Donald Trump

I hate Donald Trump and much of what he represents. But do you know what I hate even more?

Denial.

The right has been deep in denial for years. Honed under the last Republican president into a sure-fire method of inspiring confident resolve in the face of adversity, denial of reality has by now become almost second nature to many party apparatchiks and their intellectual compatriots in the right-wing media. Of course we’ll find weapons of mass destruction! The occupation is going just fine! It’s not Bush’s fault that New Orleans got caught with a bull’s eye on its back when Hurricane Katrina blew by! You can’t expect the president who’s been in office for seven and a half years to take responsibility for the worst financial crisis in seven decades!

Coulda happened to anyone.

And now, after seven more years of denial — this time about Barack Obama’s popularity, the Affordable Care Act, and much else — the instinct to close eyes and cover ears in the face of what most people would consider very bad news has settled into the slow-motion car wreck of the GOP primaries.

Donald Trump has now won 26 states. (His nearest competitor for the nomination, Ted Cruz, has won 11.) Trump prevailed in all five northeastern states that voted on Tuesday, all five of them with over 50 percent of the vote, and some with over 60 percent. (Cruz appears to have finished in third place in four of the five states.) Trump is now on track to reach or come extremely close to the magic number of 1,237 delegates by the end of primary season. (Cruz will be nearly 400 delegates behind him after Tuesday’s totals are sorted out.) If Trump falls a little short — because, say, his 17-point lead in California shrinks a bit — he is extremely likely to lock up the remaining delegates in the weeks between the last primaries on June 7 and the start of the Republican convention on July 18.

Barring some unforeseen event that completely upends the race over the next six weeks, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2016.

How do I know this? Because it’s been painfully obvious for a long time now that the Republican electorate prefers Trump to any of the alternatives running for the White House.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Was it obvious from the start of the primary season? No. But it was a lot less impossible to imagine than a dismayingly large number of conservative pundits seemed to think. Trump bounded to the front of the pack very quickly after announcing his candidacy last summer, and his polling lead has never seriously wavered in the intervening 10 months. While columnists and commentators spent the fall gaming out the caucuses and primaries to come, convincing themselves that Rubio or Bush or Christie was the real frontrunner, Trump stayed firmly in the polling lead.

And you know what? That meant Trump was winning.

Of course I realize that no votes had yet been cast. And that no modern party has ever elected a candidate like Trump. But the numbers weren’t lying. We learned that for sure once the voting began and it became clear that people weren’t simply threatening to vote for the man: They were actually going through with it. That meant the polls were measuring something real.

And that something hasn’t gone away.

It was there when Trump faced a dozen opponents. It was still there when he was competing against six. And it’s been there since the field narrowed to three.

It was there when Marco Rubio tried to strike a deal with Cruz and Kasich to deny Trump wins in Florida, Ohio, and Missouri, and Trump ended up winning all of them except Ohio (which, of course, was won by the sitting governor of the state — a candidate incapable of winning anywhere else).

And it’s there now, with Cruz and Kasich working desperately to find some way, somehow to keep Trump from reaching 1,237 delegates.

Oh, have I mentioned that on Tuesday morning Trump reached 50 percent for the first time in NBC News’ national weekly tracking poll? (Cruz languishes at 26 percent.)

I get the importance of resolution in practical endeavors. I understand the psychological necessity of driving doubts from one’s mind in order to lift morale and keep focused on achieving a goal. If you’re a committed Republican or movement conservative who hates the thought of the party nominating Trump, you may find it necessary (or at least helpful) to convince yourself that he’s bound to lose, that someone else can surely prevail against him, even if it requires banishing evidence to the contrary from your mind. In such a situation, the belief that victory is possible can make victory far more likely.

But there comes a time when all the pep talks and desperate rationalizations (like calling Trump’s wins a “hostile takeover” of the party) start to sound ridiculous. That’s when even those who’ve become addicted to denial should be able to recognize that it’s doing far more harm than good.

That time has now arrived.

By all means, help Cruz prevail in Indiana next Tuesday. Do what you can to keep Trump’s delegate total down. But please, Republicans, wake up from your self-induced slumber and begin to confront what reality has wrought.

The national leader of your party is Donald Trump.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, April 27, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Our Time Is Now”: We Are Waiting No More, Ladies: From Abigail to Hillary

We are ladies in waiting no more, gentlemen. Tired of traveling third class to the revolution.

Heroines Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul and Eleanor Roosevelt on the money herald the start of something big.

And by we I mean American women here now in 2016, voters from 18 to 98. Heck, count girls and babies; they inherit the new world being born and they can campaign, too. April brings Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

How sweet it is. A victory from sea to shining sea. Long time coming.

Dial back to 2008, the bittersweet spring when Clinton lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, though she was far better seasoned. But who said the world was fair? Witnessing an American president break the color barrier one wintry day at high noon was breathtaking.

To be clear, Obama’s victory over Clinton turned a page in our oldest story. The historical theme is clear. Women are often expected to wait for their rights. Wait their turn for political power.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to husband John a famous letter saying, “Remember the ladies” in the new republic. Did he listen to her? No. Though she warned, ladies might “foment a rebellion.”

In Philadelphia in 1776, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence signers in that hall completely cut us out of their revolution’s documents. “All men are created equal” means what it says. Fourscore and seven years later, Abraham Lincoln expanded the phrase to mean black men. The founding fathers didn’t remember us.

As the Broadway hit musical, “Hamilton,” puts it, we weren’t in the room where it happened. Only one man in the Revolutionary generation believed in the rights of women: the truly talented Aaron Burr, Jefferson’s vice president. The man who dueled and slew Hamilton at sunrise on July 11, 1804. If not for the tragic duel, Burr might have become president and our struggle, our story, might have been different. Nobody knows.

The “Negro’s Hour” episode, however, could not be clearer. After working for the abolition of slavery for 30 years (1833-1863) women in the anti-slavery movement also created the women’s rights movement in 1848.

The first convention was held in Seneca Fall, New York, now a national historic site. It is to women what Philadelphia in 1776 was for men. Lucretia Mott, the Philadelphia Quaker champion of rights for slaves and women, was the main speaker. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist orator and publisher, was among hundreds in the throng. He urged Mott to make the vote one of the demands.

Hillary Clinton has visited Seneca Falls, as first lady and as senator from New York. She’s pretty perfect to take the past to present and future. The sisterhood’s fight for our rights is the march she’s on — and it’s not over.

Not Mott, not Susan B. Anthony, nor Elizabeth Cady Stanton — the three depicted in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda suffrage statue — lived to see the day women won the vote.

Here is where the earth shattered: In 1865, the Civil War’s political settlement extended voting rights and citizenship to black men only, excluding women.

The cut happened after women had worked for abolition and their own rights together. Republicans told women to wait, this was the “Negro’s Hour.” (Except Lincoln, who had died.) Even great Douglass sided with that political refrain.

The vote is the passport to democracy. Trouble was, history’s major change trains run only so often, and you have to catch one if you can. Here was the chance.

Suffrage took a long time coming, from 1865 to 1920. That’s two generations. The vote was never given, but taken over years from a grudging Southerner with three daughters — Woodrow Wilson.

Spirited Alice Paul changed the game by moving it from private to public, out on the streets of Washington. In vivid vigils and parades, “go ahead, arrest us,” was the template of her nonviolent resistance — and the police did, in the public eye. So much for ladylike. Like Mott, Paul was a “birthright” Quaker. She arrested national attention and sympathy for suffrage.

Anna Quindlen, the luminous novelist and journalist, stated that since serving as secretary of state since 2008, Clinton’s vast experience puts her at the top of the class of candidates — ever.

Our time is now. Ladies, we are waiting no more. There’s a train to catch to Philadelphia in July.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, The National Memo, April 29, 2016

April 30, 2016 Posted by | American Women, Hillary Clinton, Womens Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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