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“Back To The Future, Way Back”: Trump’s Core Supporters Long For A Bygone Era

For nearly a year, Donald Trump has been pitching a vague slogan: Make America Great Again. Even if we put aside the questions about how Trump intends to do that – and how, exactly, the Republican candidate defines “great” – it’s a phrase that inevitably leads a question about when America was great, if it’s not great now.

Margot Sanger-Katz explained in the New York Times today that Trump’s followers don’t necessarily agree on an answer, but they have a few ideas.

The slogan evokes a time when America was stronger and more prosperous. But Mr. Trump doesn’t specify whether he’s expressing nostalgia for the 1950s – or 10 years ago. That vagueness is reflected by his voters, according to the results of a new survey, conducted online by the digital media and polling company Morning Consult.

When asked to select America’s greatest year, Trump supporters offered a wide range of answers, with no distinct pattern. The most popular choice was the year 2000. But 1955, 1960, 1970 and 1985 were also popular. More than 2 percent of Trump’s supporters picked 2015, when Mr. Trump’s campaign began.

The same Times article flagged a Pew Research Center report from last month in which 75% of Trump supporters said life was better 50 years ago. Most Republicans also endorsed the idea, but it was Trump backers who were the most enthusiastic about it.

I don’t imagine many will find this surprising, but it’s nevertheless a notable validation of a broader thesis. Much of Trump’s core base includes older, white men, who’ve seen generational changes with which they’re generally uncomfortable. Over the last half-century, the United States has grown more diverse; women have made great strides towards overdue equality; and the current role of African Americans and LGBT Americans in society would have been difficult for much of the public to imagine 50 years ago.

It’s hardly shocking that Trump, pushing a nativist nationalism, has supporters who’d prefer to roll back the clock.

As for what Americans in general consider their country’s greatest year, apparently 2000 “was the most popular choice, a preference that cut across political party, candidate preference, gender and age.”

In all candor, without giving it a lot of thought, 2000 was my first choice, too. The economy was booming; there was relative international peace; and the nation’s reputation abroad was sterling and unrivaled. George W. Bush had not yet taken office, which means we’re talking about a time before 9/11, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, before the Great Recession, and before the radicalization of Republican politics reached a fever pitch.

There’s plenty of reason to believe we’ve achieved greatness since – marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, etc. – and have bright days ahead, but is it really that surprising that so many would point to 2000 as the greatest year?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | America, Donald Trump, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Threatening Twitter Reprisals”: Trump Takes On ‘Corrupt System’ By Bullying Delegates

Despite ever-increasing resistance to his looney campaign, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump remains on the right path to win the Republican nomination. But in fighting what he views as a corrupt establishment, his campaign has engaged in rampant bullying to get delegates’ support.

A few days ago, Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide who is now working for the Trump campaign, went to Delaware to pressure the state’s 16 Republican delegates to support Trump, should this summer’s convention go to a second ballot and they become freed to support whomever they’d like. It turns out he may have pushed too hard. According to Politico, the delegates complained that Uddo was abrasive from his first phone call, criticizing the state party’s delegate rules and threatening Twitter reprisals from Trump.

“One of our delegates is just a little old lady,” said an anonymous source to Politico. “This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees.”

In a deeply Democratic state, Republicans have a much smaller, less professional batch of potential delegates to draw from. Delegates are often older party faithfuls with a track record of helping Republicans get elected in the state.

Despite counting as one of the smallest primary prizes of the election cycle, Trump is keen on winning over as many of Delaware’s delegates as he can. But the arm twisting employed by his campaign could result in delegates not honoring the primary results beyond the first ballot.

Uddo wasn’t the first Trump surrogate to use coercion to pressure the delegates necessary to win the nomination on a second ballot. In early April, Trump surrogate Roger Stone said he would publish the hotel room numbers of delegates who were planning on voting against Trump at the convention on a second ballot, if they had been pledged to him on the first ballot.

“We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal… I have urged Trump supporters: Come to Cleveland, march on Cleveland, join us in the Forest City,” said Stone.

There is a widespread fear among Trump supporters that anything beyond a first ballot contest would spell the end of his campaign, effectively stealing the nomination from him, they say. In Wyoming, Ted Cruz secured all 14 delegates up for grabs at the state’s Republican convention. The Texas senator had previously won the state’s popular vote, receiving 9 of 12 delegates.

The troubled, and potentially short-lived Kasich-Cruz coordination effort is another attempt by #NeverTrump Republicans to stop him from securing the nomination.

This war, between Trump supporters and the so-called Republican establishment, has been brewing for months, the latter clearly alarmed by the rise of the former. Polls have repeatedly shown the party would lose in a landslide with a Trump ticket. The divide has been further exacerbated by Trump’s accusations of corruption in the political process, which he has tied to his outsider status.

“You’re basically buying these people,” he said. “You’re basically saying, ‘Delegate, listen, we’re going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you’re going to use the spa, you’re going to this, you’re going to that, we want your vote.’ That’s a corrupt system.”

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Presidential Nominee | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Simple Answer Is Donald Trump”: Why Republicans Couldn’t Make 2016 Their Version of 2008

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, wave as they wait in an airplane hangar in Hagerstown, Maryland, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Parties exist in large part to bring order and stability to politics. When you go into the voting booth in November, you’ll be confronted with a bunch of races you know nothing about, but the party affiliations of the candidates will tell you almost everything you need to know in order to make reasonable choices. You can predict much of what a candidate for county council will do just by knowing which party she represents—and that goes for president, too.

Yet every four or eight years, the parties have to offer the country something entirely new for the office of the presidency, something that will be untainted by the party’s past mistakes and perfectly positioned to take advantage of the other party’s more recent ones. And only when timing and individual ambition come together can a party give the country exactly what it’s looking for.

Republicans had hoped that they could achieve that this year, that it could be for them what 2008 was for the Democrats: an election they’d always remember, when they rid themselves of a president they hated and swept into the White House someone they were truly excited about, who carried their dreams with him and brought a majority of the nation around to their way of seeing things. But it won’t happen.

Why not? The simple answer is “Donald Trump,” but it’s more complicated than that.

To understand why, let’s recall what 2008 was like—though you could make a similar comparison to 2000, 1992, 1980, or 1976. In all those elections, one party offered a candidate who seemed to embody everything the president whom voters were rejecting had failed to be. And critically, that candidate was both what his party wanted and what the country was ready for.

In 2008, Barack Obama really did represent Democrats in a multitude of ways. He was African-American, from the party’s largest and most loyal constituency group. He was from one of America’s largest cities, in a party that finds its greatest strength in growing urban areas. And perhaps most of all, he was the kind of person so many Democrats would like to see themselves as: thoughtful, intellectual, urbane and cosmopolitan, the kind of guy who can talk literature with Marilynne Robinson, croon the opening of “Let’s Stay Together,” and help Steph Curry work on his jump shot.

And the nation as a whole was open to the kind of change he represented. So could Republicans have found someone to do the same thing this year? On the simplest level, it’s a much greater challenge now than it was then. In 2008, the most important change Democrats wanted—getting rid of George W. Bush—was the same change the country was looking for. That’s not the case with Republicans today. Barack Obama’s approval rating is right around 50 percent, which in this severely polarized era is somewhere between solid and excellent. At this time eight years ago, on the other hand, Gallup measured Bush’s approval at an abysmal 28 percent.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of dissatisfaction out there waiting to be activated. But it’s worthy of note that even in previous elections where candidates succeeded by portraying themselves as anti-establishment figures ready to shake up the status quo—Bush did it in 2000, Bill Clinton did it in 1992, Jimmy Carter did it in 1976—those candidates never used anti-Washington rhetoric that was as angry and bitter as what we’ve heard from Republicans this year. Instead, they said they’d transcend partisanship and bring a new spirit of conciliation and integrity.

Maybe nobody believes that kind of thing anymore, no matter what their party. But if Obama embodied Democrats in 2008 (and still does), who embodies today’s Republicans? It certainly wasn’t someone like Marco Rubio, whom everyone seemed to agree was the most palatable candidate to the general electorate. He was supposed to be the new face of the GOP, and he opened his presidential campaign by saying that “The time has come for our generation to lead the way toward a new American century,” and that “yesterday is over, and we are never going back.”

But that’s not what Republicans turned out to want—in fact, going back to yesterday is exactly what they’re after. They’re looking not just for someone who isn’t Barack Obama, but a wholesale reversion to the past, to a time when hierarchies of home and community were clear, when the nation’s culture was their culture, before “diversity” became something people were supposed to value. So it’s no accident that their favored candidate is a 69-year-old white man who tells them he can “Make America Great Again” by tossing out immigrants, keeping out Muslims, and building enormous walls.

Donald Trump is the opposite of Barack Obama, and not just because he’s old and white. Impulsive, shallow, ignorant, prone to emotional outbursts and consumed with every petty slight, Trump couldn’t be more different from “no drama” Obama. That’s what Republicans wanted, at least a plurality of them. The problem is that the broader voting public doesn’t yet seem to be demanding the opposite of Obama, at least if Trump is what that means.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, April 25, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Lobbyist-Of-Choice”: How Trump’s Paul Manafort Became Expert On “Crooked” Washington

Will veteran GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort bring a measure of respectability to Donald Trump and his disreputable campaign apparatus? The Republican lobbyist isn’t likely to engage in the thuggish antics made infamous by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

But when I saw Manafort yapping about “Crooked Hillary” — while assuring other insiders that Trump is merely “playing a part” on the stump — I recalled certain aspects of his resume that deserve fresh scrutiny now.

Manafort first drew public attention during the Reagan era, when he and his lobbying partners represented Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a world-class kleptocrat whose theft of enormous amounts from his country’s treasury I helped to expose in The Village Voice more than 30 years ago (with my esteemed colleague William Bastone, who later created The Smoking Gun website). Few official criminals in the 20th century were as audacious and greedy as Marcos and his shoe-fetishist wife Imelda, but when their image cratered after our investigation, Manafort gladly took nearly a million dollars to apply lipstick to those pigs.

Not content with the tainted Marcos lucre, Manafort and company also advocated on behalf of international gangsters such as Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic dictator known as the “King of Zaire”; Jonas Savimbi, the reputed cannibal and blood-diamond purveyor who tried to seize power in Angola; Said Barre, the authoritarian crook who left the failed state of Somalia to pirates and jihadis; and Ukrainian overlord Victor Yanukovych, the corrupt, Kremlin-backed autocrat thrown out by massive street protests two years ago for fixing a national election.

How did Manafort become the lobbyist-of-choice for these odoriferous characters? His reputation as a powerful Washington insider was elevated by one of the Reagan administration’s worst scandals – the looting of Housing and Urban Development funds by well-connected Republicans like Manafort, who quietly stuffed their pockets with federal funds while bemoaning “big government.” In Congressional testimony, Manafort admitted to successfully peddling influence for big money – which impressed Mobutu so much that he hired the firm. The result was that taxpayers got fleeced for hundreds of millions of dollars, over and over again, ripped off in perfectly legal fashion by Manafort and his clients. Unlike several Republicans implicated in the scandal, Manafort not only escaped indictment but actually prospered as a result of his notoriety.

But don’t worry: Trump is going to clean up Washington corruption and waste. You can tell by the company he keeps.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo,  April 25, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Lobbyists, Paul Manafort | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Sorry, Teabaggers”: America Really Loves These Liberal Policies

I keep hearing Joe Scarborough go off on how the great unwritten story of this election season is how far left the Democratic Party has moved—a drum he’s been beating for months now. The idea, I suppose, is that this will be the Democratic Achilles’ heel this fall; that the whole topic is one huge Drudge siren that no one has bothered to look or listen for because everyone is so fixated on the Republican chaos.

Nonsense. To the extent that the Democratic Party has moved left, it’s mostly as a consequence of following, not leading, public opinion. So if the Democratic Party is left wing, then the American people are too.

Let’s start with some of Bernie Sanders’s positions. Sanders is in all likelihood not going to be the nominee, but a reasonably high percentage of rank-and-file Democrats support him (although not that high—remember that much of his support is from independents). So what are the main things he’s saying?

1.That the system is rigged in favor of the 1 percent. That’s not left wing, that’s just a statement of the obvious. Everyone agrees with that; not least the 1 percent themselves, who are investing billions of dollars in this election in the hope that things stay that way. Anyway, for those who need such things, here’s a poll result from this month. Is the system rigged? Saying yes, 85 percent. Saying no, 4 percent. Supporting the GOP position that the 1 percent needs more tax breaks so they can trickle it down to the rest of us? Well, they didn’t even ask that one.

2. That Citizens United is corrupt and should be overturned. Here, the Sanders position (really the Democratic Party position, since virtually the whole party holds it) doesn’t fare as well. I mean, only 78 percent of America thinks Citizens United was a bad decision; 17 percent take the Republican view that it was well decided.

3. That the minimum wage should be $15 an hour. Here’s one poll of many showing high support for that—63 percent. Also, 82 percent support indexing it to inflation. The Republican position that any increase is a job killer isn’t even asked, but based on those who “strongly” oppose an increase, it would seem to be a view held by around 10 percent of Americans.

4. Free college tuition. This one’s tighter, but even here, a poll last year showed people supporting it by 46-41 percent. That same poll showed more generally that people agreed with the idea, much more broadly reflective of the position of the Democratic Party, that no one should have to go into debt to attend a public university, by 62 to 29 percent. Radicals!

5. Free health care. This does less well, but still wins a plurality of 39-33, with the rest undecided.

Again, Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat, the Democratic Party isn’t going to be nominating him. But I use his positions because generally speaking they’re to the left of Hillary Clinton’s, and large majorities and pluralities support even them. Levels of support for Clinton’s versions of the above policies run higher. For example, she gets attacked from the left for saying the minimum wage could be $12 in rural and less expensive areas. Well, fully 75 percent support that, 12 points higher than the 63 percent who back a $15 minimum.

What about some of Clinton’s signature proposals? Paid family leave, is that radical? If so, 185 countries are left wing. Chad—Chad—gives mothers 14 weeks, paid at 100 percent! As for the polls, 79 percent of America is irresponsibly left wing on this question.

I could go on and on. I don’t want to turn the whole column into the March of the Poll Numbers. But OK, here’s one more. Marijuana legalization—maybe that’s radical? I mean, after all, it’s drugs. Nope, sorry; 58 percent support legalizing pot. The story is the same on same-sex marriage, contraceptive rights, and a whole bushelful of things.

Here’s what I’m getting at: The Democrats’ new positions look radical if you can only look at the world through a Beltway-specific, and indeed Capitol Hill-specific, lens.

Because if Congress is what you see when you see America, then you see a place where roughly half—no, more than half—of the people think that raising the minimum wage is radical, or that health care is a privilege you have to earn, or that climate change is a fantasy (or a Chinese conspiracy, as Donald Trump has been telling it), or that everyone up to and including schoolteachers ought to carry loaded guns.

Out in the real country, only crackpots think these things. As I’ve shown above, 70 percent of Americans agree with these non-left-wing, common sense positions. But the crackpot community is dramatically overrepresented in Washington and skews the way all these things are discussed and described on shows like Morning Joe.

So no, these positions aren’t radical. Or come to think of it, if they are, then it is because the American middle class has been somewhat radicalized. After the meltdown and the good-but-not-good-enough recovery, the people in the middle, making from $35,000 to $70,000 or thereabouts, said “We’ve had it.” They’ve spent 35 years treading water, watching the rich have a party while listening to politicians tell them that the money for their needs just wasn’t there. They’re sick of it. There’s a lot about Sanders I’m not crazy about, but it’s obvious why he’s struck such a nerve.

And this fall, Clinton can’t succumb to this “radical Democratic Party” frame for a second. It’s not radical to tell the 1 percent the party’s over. It’s radical—in the other, malevolent direction—not to.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Public Opinion, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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