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“Nothing To Do With The Office He’s Seeking”: Trump’s Scottish Trip Is A Bigger Mistake Than He Realizes

There’s a fair amount of precedent for presidential candidates traveling abroad ahead of the election. In July 2008, for example, then-Sen. Barack Obama wowed international audiences with a historic visit to Berlin. Almost exactly four years later, in July 2012, Mitt Romney took an overseas trip of his own. (It really didn’t go well for the Republican.)

So when Donald Trump’s campaign said the presumptive GOP nominee would travel to Scotland ahead of the Republican convention, it was only natural to assume Trump was headed abroad to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

But as the New York Times reported, the truth is a little more complicated.

His campaign is desperately short of cash. He has struggled to hire staff. Influential Republicans are demanding that he demonstrate he can run a serious general election campaign.

But, for reasons that emphasize just how unusual a candidate he is, Donald J. Trump is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday to travel to Scotland to promote a golf course his company purchased on the country’s southwestern coast.

This may sound like some sort of joke, but it’s quite real. This isn’t a situation in which an American presidential hopeful has scheduled meetings with foreign officials, and he’s checking in on his business interests while he’s there; it’s largely the opposite. Trump’s Scottish sojourn appears to have practically nothing to do with the office he’s seeking.

The Times report added that Trump’s business interests “still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.” The Republican’s itinerary “reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation,” complete with “a ceremonial ribbon cutting.”

Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, added, “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”

Wait, it’s even more amazing than that.

If the Scottish golf course were a wildly successful venture, Trump could at least point to this as evidence of his prowess as an international businessman.

Indeed, Trump has made exactly such an effort. In a Scottish newspaper, he recently wrote an op-ed with a headline that read, “How Scotland will help me become president.” In the piece, the Republican candidate wrote, “When I first arrived on the scene in Aberdeen, the people of Scotland were testing me to see just how serious I was – just like the citizens in the United States have done about my race for the White House…. I had to win them over – I had to convince them that I meant business and that I had their best interests in mind. Well, Scotland has already been won – and so will the United States.”

The problem, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, is that the entire venture has been a bit of a disaster.

[T]o many people in Scotland, his course here has been a failure. Over the past decade, Trump has battled with homeowners, elbowed his way through the planning process, shattered relationships with elected leaders and sued the Scottish government. On top of that, he has yet to fulfill the lofty promises he made.

Trump has also reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project – even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

In early May, Trump, in an entirely serious way, pointed to his role in the Miss Universe beauty pageant as evidence of his international experience. Unfortunately for the GOP candidate, his Scottish golf course is his other piece of evidence, and it’s a failure.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 23, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Fracturing Democracies”: The Dominant Tendency Now Is toward ‘Disaggregation’

The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties.

There is a decline of trust in traditional political parties but also a rise in partisanship. A broad desire for governments to reduce the levels of economic insecurity and expand opportunity is constrained by a loss of confidence in the capacity of government to succeed. Intense demands for change are accompanied by fears that much of the change that is occurring will make life worse for individuals and families.

These crosscurrents are undercutting political leaders and decimating political parties with long histories. In Europe, movements on the far right and left (along with new regional parties) gain traction with disaffected citizens. Concerns about immigration reflect uneasiness among some over the social and cultural tremors in their nations. At the same time, discontent about the economic decline that afflicts regions not sharing in the global economy’s bounty calls forth protest against the privileged and the well-connected. In both cases, anger is the dominant emotion.

The convergence of these forces is especially powerful in Britain, which holds a national election on May 7 and where neither of the long-dominant Conservative and Labour Parties is likely to win a parliamentary majority. In 1951, the two parties together secured 96.8 percent of all the votes cast. This year, they are struggling to reach a combined 70 percent.

In Scotland, long a Labour stronghold, the pro-independence Scottish National Party could take as many as 50 of the region’s 59 seats, which would block British Labour leader Ed Miliband from securing a majority. But Miliband, who has run a better campaign than his foes expected, could still end up in power, partly because Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives are hemorrhaging votes to the UK Independence Party, which is critical of both immigration and the European Union.

In Greece, the traditional social democratic Pasok party was nearly destroyed after the country’s economic collapse. The left-wing Syriza party took power this year because of deep frustration with economic austerity and anger over the terms being set by the European Union for a financial rescue. Far-right parties have gained ground in France and even in usually moderate Scandinavia.

In the United States, partisan splits have rarely been so deep and acrimony across party lines so intense. But these feelings don’t come from wildly positive views about the parties voters embrace. In a widely discussed paper released earlier this month, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, Emory University political scientists, noted that “one of the most important trends in American politics over the past several decades has been the rise of negative partisanship in the electorate.”

It occurs, they write, when “supporters of each party perceive supporters of the opposing party as very different from themselves in terms of their social characteristics and fundamental values.” Yes, our current form of partisanship leads us to dislike not only the other side’s politicians but even each other.

And the frustrations voters feel provide each camp with ideological rocks to throw at their adversaries. In a PRRI/Brookings survey I was involved with in 2013, two findings locked horns: 63 percent of Americans said government should be doing more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, but 59 percent also believed government had grown bigger because it had become involved in things people should do for themselves. We want government to do more about injustice, but we also seem to want it smaller.

Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, argues in the current issue of The American Prospect that this tension is partly explained by a widespread view that “special interests” have too much of a hold on government. He argues that voters “are ready for government to help — if the stables are cleaned.”

This makes good sense, but in the United States, as elsewhere, little of what’s happening in politics is reweaving frayed social bonds. The title of Princeton University historian Daniel T. Rodgers’ revelatory 2011 book, Age of Fracture, captured what’s happening to us. In our era, he wrote, “Identities become fluid and elective,” and if the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were a time of political and social “consolidation,” the dominant tendency now is toward “disaggregation.”

This is a big problem for self-government, since aggregating sustainable majorities is the first task of politicians in democratic countries. They are not doing a very good job, and the unfolding 2016 campaign doesn’t inspire much confidence that they’ll do better.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 26, 2015

April 28, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Partisanship, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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