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“How Would He Govern?”: Why Liberals Should Be Very Worried About The GOP Nominating Donald Trump

Be careful what you wish for.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait hopes his fellow liberals will cheer on the possibility of Republicans nominating Donald Trump for president. Chait’s preference will make no difference at all to the result of the GOP race. But still, Chait’s essay is important for what it tells us about how at least one smart liberal is thinking about 2016 and the stakes involved in who becomes the Republican standard-bearer.

And what it tells us isn’t good.

The GOP is an unstable (but electorally very successful) amalgam of an ethno-nationalist base with a wealthy anti-government and pro-immigration donor class. Republican presidential candidates normally work very hard to smooth over the tensions between these very different constituencies. Trump refuses to do this. Chait argues that by explicitly rejecting the outlook of the donors and siding unambiguously with the base, Trump’s campaign has already begun to make mischief within the Republican electoral coalition.

If he won the nomination, the chaos would increase enormously. And that is an appealing prospect for a liberal. As Chait puts it, “A Trump nomination might not actually cleave the GOP in two, but it could wreak havoc. If, like me, you think the Republican Party in its current incarnation needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt anew, Trump is the only one holding a match.”

Let’s leave aside the possibility that burning down the current incarnation of the GOP would also destabilize the Democratic Party’s own incoherent electoral coalition. If we could be close to certain that Republican nominee Trump would lose the general election, I could see accepting the risks and even cheering him on as a catalyst for fundamental change in the Republican Party.

But can we be so certain? Chait seems to think so. His first reason why liberals should support a Trump nomination is that the billionaire “would almost certainly lose.” I’m not so sure. Yes, it’s true that Trump is “massively — indeed, historically — unpopular, with unfavorable ratings now hovering around 60 percent.” But Trump’s most likely general election opponent — Hillary Clinton — doesn’t do much better, with an average unfavorable rating in the low 50s and two recent polls showing her as high as 55 and 56 percent. That’s not a big difference.

Chait argues that the only thing that could enable the wildly unpopular Trump to overcome this obstacle and eke out a victory would be a “landscape-altering event.” Like what? Chait names a recession. But recessions aren’t once-in-a-century catastrophes. They happen on average at least once in a decade — and the last one (the Great Recession that hit in the run-up to the 2008 election) ended nearly six years ago.

But maybe even a Trump win in November isn’t something to be overly concerned about. That is Chait’s surprising third reason why liberals should cheer him on in the GOP nomination contest: Not only would a President Trump “probably end up doing less harm to the country than a Marco Rubio or a [Ted] Cruz presidency,” but a Trump presidency “might even, possibly, do some good.”

Here I think the normally sharp and sensible Chait careens off the rails, basing his entire argument on a presumed (and fanciful) parallel with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s two terms as governor of California: The grossly unqualified non-politician with few ties to the Republican Party at first acted like an imbecile but then became a flexible and highly effective governor. Might not Trump do the same?

Never mind that Schwarzenegger left office with a 23 percent approval rating and a massive hole in the state budget. The ominous fact is that a president is exponentially (and when it comes to nuclear weapons, infinitely) more powerful than any state’s executive officeholder. Which means that the stakes in a race for the presidency are exponentially higher as well.

Though he doesn’t make the case explicitly, Chait presumably thinks that Trump would do less harm than a President Rubio or Cruz because he has distanced himself from the ideology that dominates the Republican Party — and because his wealth places him beyond the reach of manipulation by the party’s big-money donors. But that independence — the same independence that led him to blow off the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses — makes Trump more dangerous than standard-issue Republicans, not less.

A President Rubio or Cruz governing with congressional majorities would do lots of things that Chait and I think are bad for the country. But they would be quite predictable things: tax cuts for high-income earners, big increases in defense spending, massive deficits, the repeal of ObamaCare, and so on.

What would a President Trump do? Aside from rounding up and deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, building a massive wall along the southern border, (somehow) making Mexico pay for it, and forbidding Muslims from entering the country — each one of which would be quite bad — it’s impossible to say. Untethered from the constraints that traditions, parties, donors, and other establishment institutions normally impose on politicians, Trump really would be his own boss, relying solely on his own temperament and judgment to determine which policies to pursue.

Even if Trump hadn’t already demonstrated in a thousand ways that he possesses the temperament and judgment of a childish, vindictive bully, this would be an alarming prospect.

As it is, we simply have no way to know how Trump would govern. And that should be more than enough reason to stand against him with everything we’ve got.


By: Damon Linker, The Week, February 9, 2016

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, Liberals | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Don’t Men Like Schwarzenegger, John Edwards Use Condoms?

The revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a  child a decade ago with a woman who was not his wife—a disclosure that comes  just a couple of years after we learned that onetime Democratic presidential  candidate John Edwards had done the same thing—begs an important question:

Exactly what century are we in?

The issue here isn’t even why a married person would have sex outside his or  her marriage, which is not an infrequent occurrence now or at previous points  in history. It’s not even about how a public person thinks he or she could  behave that way without anyone finding out. Edwards, after all, was castigated  for doing something so reckless and foolish during a time when he was under  intense media scrutiny. But the fact that Schwarzenegger was able to keep this  a secret for the entire time he was in the governor’s mansion is astounding,  and suggests maybe Edwards wasn’t as delusional as some people thought.

But has it not occurred to these men to use a condom? Birth control is readily  available. It’s legal. It’s simple to use. And it limits the fallout from an  affair. Learning of a past sexual dalliance would understandably be very  upsetting to a spouse. Learning that a child was produced from the union is  devastating and adds a living, breathing reminder of the episode, a pain  compounded by the fact that it is not the child’s fault that he or she is a  walking symbol of marital betrayal.

But seriously, if a woman approaches  a man and says, “you are so hot,” as Rielle Hunter reportedly said to  Edwards, does it not occur to the man that she might not mind having a  permanent connection to the candidate a child would secure? And what was  Schwarzenegger thinking when he had sex with someone who actually worked for  the family? Did he not consider the possibility of pregnancy?

Perhaps the use of birth control  adds to any guilt the men might feel; if the episode is planned, it is more  difficult to convince oneself that passion was to blame. It’s sort of the  counter-argument to those who believe that providing birth control to sexually  active young people will give them ideas about sex they wouldn’t otherwise  have. More likely, they are thinking about sex, and while it may not be wise to  engage in sex at a young age because of the emotional implications, the  physical consequences of sex without birth control are far more serious. One  would think adult men would know that by now.

By: Susan Milligan, U.S. News and World Report, May 18, 2011

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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