Monday, November 16, 2015

The Art of the Put-On

I'm going to consider some reasons that Trumpkins give for supporting his candidacy. 

1. Not beholden to anyone

Sometimes the claim is more specific: he's not beholden to the "GOP establishment," or big donors, or "special interest groups."

i) Problem is, that's just an empty, simple-minded slogan. Political parties are coalitions of voting blocks, and voting blocks are special interest groups. 

For instance, I want a candidate who's beholden to the voters who elected him. A problem with candidates like Jeb, Kasich, and Christie is how they don't feel beholden to the base. They show disdain for the base. 

In a sense, it's admirable that Kasich doesn't pander to the audience. He says what he thinks. But what he thinks is dead wrong. One of Jeb's weaknesses is that he doesn't think he has to pay attention to the concerns of the base. Take his position on Common Core. Again, I don't want a candidate who's independent in that sense. I want a candidate who's responsive to the concerns of the base. I want a candidate who represents my values. 

ii) But suppose we define it more narrowly:

Interest group, also called special interest group or pressure group, any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes.
It's true that I don't want a candidate who's beholden to NOW, NEA, GLAAD, CAIR, La Raza, Greenpeace, &c. 
But what about conservative special interest groups that oppose abortion and euthanasia, or support parental rights, the Bill of Rights, and school choice? I want a candidate who's beholden to special interest groups like that
iii) There's also what is meant by the "Republican establishment." That's a fairly amorphous designation. Does that include conservative media? Conservative think-tanks (The Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, The American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution), talk radio hosts (e.g. Albert Mohler, Michael L. Brown, Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewett), websites (e.g. NRO, The Federalist, Weekly Standard, Townhall)?

Although that's a mixed bag, there's a lot of good that comes from that source. 

iv) To get elected, Trump would need some support from the "GOP establishment." For instance, it's hard to win the presidency without the cooperation of governors who help coordinate the ground game. 

Likewise, do Trump supporters seriously think he's going to fund a president campaign out of pocket? If not, he will be beholden to big donors. 

2. Anti-establishment

This is another simplistic, brainless slogan. 

i) It's true that Trump is not a member of the GOP establishment. That's because he's a member of the liberal establishment. Has a lifetime membership. Likewise, he epitomizes crony capitalism. An incestuous union of business and gov't. 

ii) What makes Trump the anti-establishment candidate rather than Huckabee or Cruz or Carson or Rand or Carly? The establishment candidates are Jeb, Christie, and Kasich.

Is Bobby Jindal a member of the GOP establishment? He's arguably a member of the LA Republican establishment. Does that automatically disqualify him from consideration? Does that make Trump better than Jindal? 

3. Prolife candidates make no difference

I've read the suggestion that because electing prolife candidates has failed to reverse Roe v. Wade, we might as well vote for a candidate who's not a social conservative. 

i) To begin with, there's more at stake than abortion. For instance, euthanasia is a looming threat. 

ii) In addition, the rationale is circular and self-defeating. When Congress and the White House oscillate between Democrat and Republican control, it's hard to make steady progress on the prolife front. But that's a reason to be more consistent, not less consistent. If you want to lose the culture wars, not voting for social conservatives when electable social conservative candidates are available is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

4. Immigration hawk

To begin with, in just 4 years, Trump reversed himself on what has become the signature issue of his compaign:


He was caught red-handed in a lie about his position on H1B visas. It became clear that Trump has not even read his immigration plan – or that if he did, he didn’t know it well enough for a debate.

So he simply paid some anonymous staffer to write a tough-on-immigration white paper, but he doesn't know what's in it. He's not serious. 

5. Businessman

i) From what I can tell, that impression is based almost entirely on the carefully groomed and tightly controlled image he projects on The Apprentice. Of course, that's an artificial image. One long commercial for Trump. 

ii) Trump isn't the kind of mogul who started from scratch. He inherited a fortune. If you have that kind of venture capital handed to you on a silver plate, then it's easy to make more money. His business ventures have made billions and lost billions. A very spotty track record. 

iii) How good is Trump on economic policy, anyway? For instance:

6. He's not a career politician

That's true. And that's because he's a career conman and a career crony capitalist. 

7. Destroy Republican establishment

Even assuming that's a good thing, how will Trump pull that off? Even if he gets the nomination, how does he win the general election without Florida? I don't see how he'd win Florida. He's alienated the Latino vote. And I don't see the snowbirds flocking to him either. 

If he doesn't carry Florida, what states must he peel from the blue column to make up for the lost electoral votes? 

If Trump loses the general election, how will that destroy the Republican establishment? If he got the nomination despite opposition from the GOP establishment, then lost the general election, the establishment would feel vindicated. "We told you so!"

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