Monday, May 04, 2015

Predicting Character: Who's On First? I Don't Know. THIRD BASE...

(update: Hello Crooks and Liars readers, thank you for following the Mike's Blog Round Up link here!  Thanks again to Batocchio for the linking.  P.S. Here's hoping the UK elections turn up for Labour...)

All I gots is a rehash of an Abbott and Costello routine.

This weekend had three separate announcements for Presidential candidates.  Two on the Republican side and one on the Democrats.

The Republican announcements were unsurprising and uninspiring.

Carly Fiorina announced Monday morning:

Fiorina, 60, pitched herself as an outsider who can bring a business mentality and global contacts to the White House -- and who is not afraid to attack the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Fiorina's minute-long video opens with her watching Clinton's announcement video and snapping it off, saying:  “Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class. They believed that citizens and leaders needed to step forward."

Ben Carson announced either Saturday or Sunday, I'm not sure which:

The announcement is the latest stop on a sudden journey to conservative superstardom. Carson, 63, burst onto the political scene in 2013 when, addressing the typically nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast, he spoke about the dangers of political correctness, put forward the idea of a flat tax, and criticized President Obama’s health-care law. What made it stand out: He did it right beside a steely faced Obama.

We kinda knew they were coming as they had appeared earlier at an Iowa suck-up gathering, alongside a set of other potential GOP candidates.

The reason I'm not too excited - or terrified - of either candidate is that both of them have major drawbacks.  Let me copy-paste what I wrote about both candidates from that earlier report:

Ben Carson - Surgeon, maybe Maryland (I am not certain which state he will represent) (note: he's making his official announcement from his birthplace of Detroit)
Positives: Among Republicans, he's viewed as a credible anti-Obamacare critic, best-selling Christian spiritual author, anti-gay spokesperson.
Negatives: Has no elected or governing experience to speak of.  While the Constitution doesn't require such experience, any previous elective campaigning would at least provide the needed mindset and endurance to handle a rigorous national campaign.
Chances: His popularity among the Tea Party base is pretty strong...  He's the "Outsider" candidate who can claim he's not corrupt as the "Insider" candidates on the list.  It all depends on if he can find enough financial deep pockets and how he handles himself in debates.
Character Chart: He's the most difficult to pin down as he doesn't have a track record in office to measure his style.  His world-view is akin to a Far Right religious conservative, and his anti-ACA positions show a hatred for government health-care controls.  He presents himself as a Passive-Positive (he may even harbor Passive-Negative habits) but his statements and actions lean Active-Negative.

For Carson, the reasons he's even remotely viewed as a candidate is that he's a fervent Obamacare critic... and because he's Black so he can give a Republican Party that's done a piss-poor job marketing itself to minorities an excuse to pretend they're "diverse".  There's nothing else - no political resume, no track record on any number of other major policy issues - that defines himself as his own man.  As a result he's going to campaign on the base GOP platform... only further Right in order to keep the extremist wingnuts happy.  If he's got any value, he'll draw away votes from the other extremist panderer Ted Cruz...

And now Fiorina:

Carly Fiorina - CEO, California
Positives: One of a handful of women candidates who can broaden the "appeal" of the Republican platform.  Can claim executive experience as a business leader.  She's not as batsh-t crazy as the other prominent woman candidate(s) on the GOP ticket...
Negatives: No elective office or political experience.  She ran a poorly managed Senatorial campaign that ended in a bad loss.  Her track record as CEO - the only real thing she's got - isn't good (was forced out at Hewlett-Packard).
Chances: Slim.  She might run on a platform of "we need a CEO as President", but Romney tried that and didn't win over voters.
Character Chart: There's little on her political resume to confirm a style or world-view, but previous experience with CEO Presidents - Hoover, Bush the Lesser - points to either a person with uncompromising (Hoover) habits or a hands-off administrative style (Bush II).  Considering Fiorina's more aggressive management styles, she leans towards Hoover.  That puts her in the Active-Negative camp.

Like Carson, Fiorina doesn't have any electoral experience.  She's tried but lost, hard.  And like Carson, she doesn't have anything genuine to offer to the electorate other than being a woman candidate in a man-dominated party.  A party that may well run against a strong woman candidate in Hillary.

So to the Republican announcements, I say meh.

What do I say to the Democratic announcement this weekend involving Senator Bernie Sanders?

Avoiding the fanfare that several Republicans have chosen so far when announcing their candidacies, Mr. Sanders issued a statement to supporters that laid out his goals for reducing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics...
...Mr. Sanders’s bid is considered a long shot, but his unflinching commitment to stances popular with the left — such as opposing foreign military interventions and reining in big banks — could force Mrs. Clinton to address these issues more deeply.

Technically he's not a full party member: Sanders stands as an independent of sorts as a Socialist Democrat... and yes, Sanders openly takes to calling himself that.  He doesn't view 'Socialist' as an insult.

Sanders has been on the national stage a long time, a figure known early on as separate from other more left-leaning politicians - usually Democrats - for pushing a progressive platform fully opposed to the pro-business centrism that the Clintons represent.

Which is part of his appeal as well as a detraction.  Sanders leans far to the Left in a way (too many) Republicans lean too far Right.  In terms of his platform he pursues a blatantly socialist agenda that may sell in Europe (which is habitually socialist as a culture) but honestly doesn't go very far in America... and it's not because America is dominated by an army of Randian Objectivists.  The nation's simply not prepared for some of the agenda, such as a single-payer universal healthcare system: for God's sake, only this month after 4 years of Obamacare has that health-care reform program inched into the "favorable" polling numbers.

Sanders does appeal on specific arguments: he is openly hostile to the income inequality we've been suffering in the U.S. over the last thirty years, a popular issue among Americans; he supports a massive infrastructure program that would generate more jobs; he supports better wages for workers; he is basically the one candidate that would stir the passions of a dispirited progressive Left into paying attention to the Democratic primaries.  Per the New Yorker:

But, for all the challenges Sanders faces, his presence in the Democratic primary field is surely a plus. As I pointed out a few months ago, when he released his Economic Agenda for America, he’s a genuine economic populist, and many of his policy proposals—such as spending a trillion dollars on infrastructure investment, introducing a carbon tax, and replacing private health insurance with Medicare for all—are eminently defensible, if politically unrealistic. Most of all, he will provide a voice to those Democrats who agree with him that the U.S. political system has been bought, lock, stock, and barrel. In the televised debates and elsewhere, he will demand that the other candidates, Clinton included, respond to this indictment and say what they intend to do about it.
That alone is sufficient reason to welcome Sanders to the race. If, in addition, he manages to expand the range of policy options that can be openly discussed and forces Clinton to move from generalities to specifics, he will have performed a real public service.

I would need more research on Sanders' biography to develop the World-View background that Professor Barber would insist making a Character review, but for now I'd have to draw up Sanders' entry like this:

Bernie Sanders - Senator, Vermont
Positives: Has electoral experience for decades serving as a congressman and then Senator.  Has a political agenda that pushes hard Left after decades that most agendas pushed hard Right (the Age of Reagan), meaning a decent chance to shift the goal-posts of the national dialog back to the center.
Negatives: As much as the Far Far Right candidates like Cruz, Rand Paul, and Huckabee (announcing very soon) are poison to the general voting electorate, Sanders is too Far Far Left.  Half of his platform will reek too much of a Socialist agenda too many Americans still despise.  Comes from a small-population state that will not help as a base of voter support.   There is a question that as an independent (not really in the party) that he may not qualify on enough state ballots to count (his campaign is going to have to work overtime to make those ballots).
Chances: Slim.  He's determined, and has a reason to run this thing as far as possible.  But the Democratic Establishment types would be horrified if he gets the nomination: the Wall Street forces will rally like mad for the pro-business candidates like Hillary and could well swamp Sanders' campaign with too much money/power (which ironically will prove Sanders correct about the corruption of campaign money). And he may not appeal across the individual states - especially the more centrist, Red/Purple states in the South and West - he'll need to win primaries.
Character Chart: Sanders' socialist agenda is aggressively behind using the powers of the federal government to the fullest extent of the law, and that government can be used to improve the economy, improve jobs and wages, and uphold broad civil liberties.  On that, Sanders has the look of an Active-Positive (views government as an effective means of change).  However, Sanders displays many of the Active-Negative traits of being Idealistic and Uncompromising: he will not bend on the issues.  The only thing I can be certain of: he will be an Active President if elected.

I just don't see it happening for him.  It would be interesting if he makes it far into the primaries.  But if he becomes the Democratic candidate that will throw the 2016 election into pure chaos, and make the election against the Republican candidate more a campaign over -Isms as philosophical differences and less a campaign over actual effective government.  That could drive moderate voters away from a candidate like Sanders and towards an Establishment-type candidate like Jeb Bush or Scott Walker.

I'd like to think a majority of Americans are ready - after decades of the corrupt anti-tax anti-jobs anti-people self-interest agenda pushed by the Republicans - for a shift back towards the New Deal agenda of the mid-20th Century that sent America forward into a modern, working world.  But I know I don't see eye-to-eye with majority of Americans (dear God, I still can't comprehend how enough Floridians bought the snake-oil that is Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott), so I can't make an honest claim that we are ready.


Christopher Rathburn said...

I have yet to hear Senator Sanders utter a single thing I don't agree with. Call me a Social Democrat and I will accept the compliment. Maybe I lived in Europe (Germany) too long or on too many occasions (3). I saw the Social Democratic Party there ensure that the working poor remain an American designation. Check the happiness index in European countries compared to the US. A reporter asked Bernie if he wanted to turn the US into Sweden last week. Unlike most politicians Bernie spoke his mind with a quick retort of "Why not?!" Europeans work to live. Americans live to work. Even if he doesn't have much of a chance he does have my vote and my parents as well, not to mention a few friends. Sick of dynastic, nepotistic rule. No to another Clinton and a most definate, resounding no to a Sonofabush!

Christopher Rathburn said...

Meant: "yet another Sonofabush!" I and my fellow educators in FL back in 2006 suffered under Jeb's governance or lack thereof. Rick Scott finally pushed my wife and I out of social work. I can't believe I was a registered republican in 88. Voted for GW's daddy. Then I went and got my BA at USF and grew a brain. Or as many conservative folks think was brainwashed by the "pinko professors". I won't dignify that slight against the wonderful International Relations and History departments at USF.

Christopher Rathburn said...

Meant: "yet another Sonofabush!" I and my fellow educators in FL back in 2006 suffered under Jeb's governance or lack thereof. Rick Scott finally pushed my wife and I out of social work. I can't believe I was a registered republican in 88. Voted for GW's daddy. Then I went and got my BA at USF and grew a brain. Or as many conservative folks think was brainwashed by the "pinko professors". I won't dignify that slight against the wonderful International Relations and History departments at USF.

dinthebeast said...

I agree with Bernie Sanders, and I like him, but fear that he's probably not enough of an asshole to make an effective president. As far as I can tell, it's in the job description. I would, however, relish the looks on Republican faces if they woke up one morning and found an ACTUAL socialist in the White House instead of a centrist whose policies would have been standard Republican fare 50 years ago...

-Doug in Oakland

I fought the lawn. And the lawn won. said...

Sanders has little chance of winning the nomination, but I'm supporting him.

Why? Because as long as he's around, the media and the other candidates are forced to respond to the issues that he raises.

This has the effect of forcing the Overton Window to the left.

glenn bell said...

Have hope. As a Canadian I will tell times they is a changing.
We just hand provincial election here, sorta like a state, that after 55 years or so of our version of right wing rule, elected a a NDP goverment. The NDP is a socialist party, workers rights, enviroment, that type of stuff. Before this election they held no seat in the legislature and know hold the majority.

Good luck in 2016