THE TRUMP EFFECT

It’s certain that The Donald will have an impact on the 2016 Presidency, whether he is nominated or not.  Consider what Monday brought.  The New York Times posted a long-form piece insightful of Trump’s rise at the expense of GOP Elite. It’s not a liberal hit piece.

… the story is also one of a party elite that abandoned its most faithful voters, blue-collar white Americans, who faced economic pain and uncertainty over  the past decade as the party’s donors, lawmakers and lobbyists prospered. From mobile home parks in Florida and factory towns in Michigan, to Virginia’s coal country, where as many as one in five adults live on Social Security disability payments, disenchanted Republican voters lost faith in the agenda of their party’s leaders.

Right and Far right Republicans in Ari Fleischer and Laura Ingraham both state in the piece that the Elites that directed the party leadership have to reckon with how they left behind a sizable piece of the GOP electorate.

Perhaps the mantra the Bill Clinton rode to his 1992 victory, “It’s the Economy, Stupid” evaded the elites. The lower-middle and middle-middle classes have not recovered from the free trade deals and the Great Recession of the past 20 years.  Politicians – left and right – get so far immersed in their analytics and think tanks, that sometimes they just miss the forest for the trees:

Between 2008 and 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, more lower ­income and less ­educated white voters shifted their allegiance to Republicans.
These voters had fled the Democratic Party and were angry at Mr. Obama, whom they believed did not have their interests at heart. But not all of them were deeply conservative; many did not think about politics in ideological terms at all.

The mistake the GOP made was thinking that Americans by nature were leaning more Conservative and therefore “Elites” felt their loss in 2012 was that they didn’t choose a “Conservative-enough” candidate.  The bigger mistake was made by the Democrats, who have embraced a bigger tent for diverse folks but left no room for the working class whites.  They appear no better prepared to open the tent flap.

Latch on to these two phrases from the article about these non-ideological Republican-come-lately working class folks, for it may be the un-doing of Senate control for the GOP:

They opposed free trade more than any other group in the country.

They saw illegal immigration not only as a cultural and security threat, but also as an economic one, intertwined with trade deals that had stripped away good manufacturing jobs while immigrants competed for whatever work remained.

The evidence that this concept is a strong one with voters continued today in Ohio as well, where incumbent Senator Rob Portman will have to fend off former Congressman and Governor Ted Strickland to retain his seat.  The craftily monikered Senate Majority PAC launched a TV ad against Portman late last week that sounds Trump-like in its roots.

 

Make no doubt that Ohio, despite voting for its own Governor in the GOP Primary, has a significant rust-belt, blue-collar pro-Trump demographic.  The Columbus Dispatch noted the voting record of Portman and Strickland:

…the voting records of Strickland and Portman are polar opposites. As a member of the U.S. House from 1993 through 2005, Portman voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. When he was U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush in 2005, Portman helped guide the Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress. By contrast, as a member of the House, Strickland opposed NAFTA, permanent trade relations with China and the Central American pact.

This underscores how Trump’s appeal is not GOP as much as it is demographic.  Regardless of whether or not he is the nominee, the Trump Effect with immigration and jobs is going to put a lot of GOP legislators up against the ropes. In Ohio, Senator Portman may swing for it this Fall.

  • J.

 

 

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A FRACTURED ELECTORATE

What are we to make of one party who seems split between two candidates, but ultimately will coalesce behind the one and the other which appears fractured and on the verge of competing factions?   Where the guy with the most delegates is not going to walk away as his party’s nominee?  Where a party is looking at dividing their support between two different candidates?  You assume, of course, I am talking Clinton and Sanders, Cruz and Trump.  Nope.  I’m talking Seven Score and 8 years ago.

In 1860 it would seem on the surface that the selection of candidates was all about the driving issue of the day: slavery.  But that is not the case. While the conflict between north and south was growing ever closer, the candidates represented very different demographics.

The 1860 Republicans had a candidate that led the delegate total, but the party wasn’t sold.  After two votes there was still no nominee.  William Seward, New York’s former Governor, was staunchly anti-slavery, but pro-immigration and pro-Catholic. The common mid-1800s American was distrustful of Catholics and hateful of immigrants.  Slavery wasn’t on their front burner.  While many believed slavery to be wrong, the idea of just what to do with blacks who were displaced as slaves was a deeper concern.  Most, at that time, did not feel that black and white were equal and freed slaves were likely to take jobs at a fraction of the cost that whites were being paid.  In short, Seward was the “establishment” candidate for his anti-slavery beliefs, but was not the voice of the common GOP voter.

On the Democratic side, the Dred Scot decision in 1857 (which held that a slave that had lived with his owner on free soil was still considered a slave) sharply divided Democrats along geographic lines.  Northern Democrats were not anti-Slavery as much as anti-expansion of slavery into the west.  But Southern Democrats were wed to an ecomonic model that was tied to the slavery and wanted to expand slavery to both expand their economic interests and electoral power.

Back in Chicago, where the GOP convention was held, a third ballot suddenly swung the vote in favor of a more moderate candidate.  This candidate had previously — and famously —  spoken out against slavery but had moderated his views.  Just a few years later this moderate would suggest doing anything with slaves as long as it kept the country together.  What swung the convention in his favor?  Offering the third candidate from a populated state anything he wanted in the nominee’s Cabinet.  And with that, the GOP selected Abraham Lincoln as their nominee.

1860_largeBut the nation was hopelessly fractured.  Voters felt there was no candidate that met their ideals. Consequently, four individuals ultimately ran for the Presidency: three Democrats and a Republicans.  And the results showed this fracture.  Technically, John Bell ran as a Constitutional Unionist instead of a Democrat and picked up three times the Electoral College votes that the Stephen A. Douglas picked up (39 to 12) despite Douglas scoring nearly a million more votes (out of nearly 4.5 million cast).  Bell carried Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee while Douglas managed to win only Missouri and New Jersy. John Breckenridge, the Southern Democrat, score a million fewer votes than Lincoln, but managed runner-up in the Electoral College with 72 votes while sweeping the cotton belt south.  Lincoln’s victory had more to do with geography than his views.  It just happened that the most populated states were northern states.

While the History books tell you that Lincoln’s election directly led to the secession of South Carolina, then other southern states, the initial call to arms for Union soldiers had nothing to do with freeing the slave.  The issues of 1860 were dominated by slavery but far from the only topic on the plate of the common voter.  Unlike some previous elections where enthusiasm and hope carried the freshly elected nominee into the White House, consternation among the electorate followed Lincoln into office.

Jump in the DeLorean and come back to the future.

Today’s Democratic party is split between a candidate that has tremendous generational support and another who is distrusted by a significant faction of its own party.  It is conceivable that the Clinton Camp will offer the right carrots, as did Lincoln’s team, to sway Sanders block of enthusiastic supporters to join the cause even if Clinton outright wins the primary.

The Republicans appear headed for a brokered convention but what comes from it is anyone’s guess.  The “establishment” neither likes Trump nor Cruz, with their favored candidate, Marco Rubio, long out of contention even before suspending his campaign. But the common voter does not like the “establishment” of the GOP.

Yes, a GOP brokered convention is probable. Will the GOP select a pro-freedom candidate like Lincoln or another big government master like Romney or McCain? History awaits our decision.  Again, history has placed America in a time of great conflict. The Democrats big government masters are battling the Republican pro-freedom patriots. Politically, not much has changed in the last 156 years.

While the partisan Blaze wants its readers to believe a “pro-freedom patriot” will emerge from the GOP convention, it is nearly guaranteed it will not be a unified GOP.

Should Trump not be nominated and choose to run an independent campaign, he will lure a significant faction of voters — both GOP and Democrat Blue Collar America is voting for him.  And by some stretch of the imagination, should Trump not be the nominee and quietly step aside, his block of voters will not enthusiastically vote for the GOP’s choice and likely will seek a third party vote or no vote at all.

It leaves the nation, like 156 years ago, headed towards an election where there is much angst with the possible candidates and uneasiness that one candidate can win the majority of the popular vote.  And one has to wonder that whomever the winner ends up, how successful will his or her governing be in such a climate?

No party appears to know how to reach its stakeholders, as the two primary leaders, Clinton and Trump, have little crossover appeal outside of their “base”of voters — and that base does not represent the majority fo their own party.

– J.

PRESERVING DIGITAL HISTORY

I found this article compelling as a History Teacher. How will we archive and then share digital media for future generations?

Space Invaders was the arcade video game of my youth. How exactly should the National Museum of American History preserve and display the game?  Obtaining code only serves true programming nerds.

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Displaying the iconic table you sat down at, or the stand up arcade shell? Not the same thing.  A video of the game? It defeats the experience of putting your quarter on the console declaring next game.

And so it continues… How will Call of Duty be archived and shared?  A video of the game is just a high tech cartoon.  Will the kids of 2056 understand gamer chairs and mic’d headsets if left in a static display?

Pac-Man is a particularly good example. In 2012, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired Pac-Man and 13 other video games, design curators wrestled with the exact challenge Reside describes. “It’s very different from when you acquire a poster or a chair, when what you see is what you get, and what you acquire is what you put in the gallery,” the curatorial assistant Kate Carmody told me at the time. “What exactly are you collecting? Are you collecting the software? Because then you need the hardware to collect it. Are you collecting the interaction? Because maybe a film of someone playing is the best way. Do you display the code?”
Kate Carmondy, in the Atlantic

When you walk through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame you see vinyl records and hear them… the connection isn’t a far reach.  The same us true with early instruments. But as the article points out, how to preserve and display the lighting of a Broadway show or a Prince Concert event.  Video shows us the result, but not the process. And that has been evolutionary and game changing.

It is a challenge for the next generation to bite into because Grandpa can chat you up Pacman but one day we will be ghosts fleeing around the screen.

– J.

WHY IS WHERE I DROP A DEUCE SO IMPORTANT TO NORTH CAROLINA?

Earlier this week North Carolina addressed the economic worries, educational needs, taxation structure, cultural panic of some of its citizens by legislating what bathroom you should use.  The party that champions individual liberties… who controls the legislature and executive branches wants to be sure you use the right potty?

In signing this bill, North Carolina’s Governor decided it was more important to side with culture warriors than big business and to further confuse Conservatives as to the real ideology of the GOP.

Snark aside, the law is more than bathroom monitoring, as it prevents local governments from passing their own non-discrimination laws.  But it underscores the growing schism within the GOP. True conservatism doesn’t like top down legislation that inhibits rights and interferes with business.  Which is what this does. This move is pure Cultural Conservatism, legislating a moral position at the expense of individual rights. Why not let  individual counties and communities chart their own course?

Already big businesses are lining up in opposition, including major players like Disney and Time Warner Cable. The list is impressive. It would be completely within their right to halt business practices inside the state. Even the NBA has stepped in, threatening to move next year’s all star game out of Charlotte.

I wonder if the North Carolina legislators considered combining this with the Voter ID law? Before you pee, you have to show ID…

I wonder what the Vegas odds are for how long this goes until repeal? Negative media is one thing, but big business Republicans are not going to be okay with the corporate backlash that’s only just begun.

-J.

TRUMP’s “REGULAR” PEOPLE PROBLEM

A Facebook friend posted a pro Trump piece that attempted to build a case where “regular” people are all behind Trump for a variety of reasons.  At first blush, the reasons are sound and genuine and reflect why there is such an emotional following to Trump.  I do not discount nor diminish these feelings.

But re-read the piece again… this time remove the word “regular” people with “white working class.”  I’ll wait.

Let’s look at the analytics of who is voting for Trump.  March 16th exit polls show that 44% of non-Trump supporters aren’t going to vote for him should he win.  That’s pretty massive, considering the other March 16th candidates topped out at 30%.  Trump does have crossover power — but of a white, working class America.  He’s not going to win the Black vote.  Nor the Hispanic.  In swing state Florida, only 48% of those voting in the Democratic primary were registered as “white” voters.  He’s not winning the educated vote, proudly stating how much he loves the uneducated.

But what the “regular” folks who love Trump posting states that shows a lack of understanding is when it says:

The establishment republican party hates him and has actually been actively trying to take down their own front runner. The establishment democrat party hates him because they know he will crush Hillary in the election, and the establishment media hates him because he totally controls the news cycle and they cannot control him. Even the donor class hates him because he cannot be bought. If all these people who I cannot stand hate him, that only makes me love him more.

Any political party “establishment” understands one key principle. In order to govern, you must first win.  The establishment is not Anti-Trump because he cannot be controlled.  The establishment is terrified that Trump will not only lose, but be a down-ticket drag and flip the Senate in to Democratic control and — in a nightmare scenario that is becoming less implausible — losing the House too.  That the “establishment” may be out of touch with their base is a different issue — and certainly one worth discussing.

Rewind the tape and look at 2012, where had Mitt Romney won even slightly more non-white voters, he win the White House.  Can you reasonably expect Trump to win enough “regular” people to overcome everyone else?  Seems impossible… but this is why you have elections.

  • J.

FOR EVERY OUTRAGE! CIVILITY DIES A LITTLE MORE

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Outrage! How dare he! Wait… who we talking about here?  The left and right spend so much wasted energy ramping up the followers in their echo chambers that civility is the loser.   So President Obama spoke in a location that was radical, so have other world leaders. It’s what you do when you are a world leader.

We could continue to wring our hands and lash put senselessly… or we could sit down and reach compromise within our principles.

One gets ratings, the other gets results. In which are you interested?

Photo credit: mediamatters.org

WAGING A MINIMUM WAR FOR MAXIMUM PROFITS

McDonald’s just learned a lesson that Costco learned long ago and Walmart has yet to learn.  Look at your business from a wholistic standpoint.  Costco pays its workers at wages that far exceed industry standards.  Their workers are generally happy, productive and loyal while the company makes a nice profit.  Costco looks at the entire picture of their business entreprise, not just pure profit.  Walmart, by contrast, tends to look at pure profit and their workers are among the lowest paid, such that many are on government assistance — which aids Walmart’s bottom line at taxpayer expense.  In a sense, we are subsidizing Walmart workers.

This brings about the concept of a minimum wage, one where some states are raising rates and others, like Alabama, are passing laws that do NOT allow local government from raising their pay at the community level.  Truthfully, no minimum wage law would be necessary if companies would do what McDonald’s just did.  They looked at their business wholistically and saw rapid employee turnover.  By raising their wages $1 an hour, soon to be $2, their retention rated increased and empolee satisfaction is higher — and that results in better customer interaction.  This does appear as if it will hurt their bottom line, and in reality, may increase their profits.

A minimum wage should exist at a point where a worker is not in need of government assistance for working a full work week. Walmarts of the world that strategically set wages and employee hours so they must utilize government assistance in order to live are abusing the taxpayers while lining their own pockets with tremendous profits.

  • J.