Friday, January 22, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Letting The Con Man Play

Read an interesting article from Infidel753 today about the tasty burger that is the Republican Party meltdown over the Trump.

He asks right there in the headline "Should We Root for Trump?"  We being the non-crazy Americans - Liberal, Independent, Moderate, Progressive, even the small-c conservative who honestly aren't evil, however we label ourselves - who absolutely refuse to vote for a racist, ignorant demagogue con artist... who nonetheless are intrigued by the idea that a candidate Trump can sink the Republican Party under the weight of its decades-long sins:

How should we react to this?  Some liberals are rooting for Trump on the grounds that he would be the easiest candidate for our own nominee to defeat.  It's the Akin scenario on a national scale -- we should want the Republican to be outrageously offensive because it guarantees that the Democrat will win.
As Infidel notes, it's not Trump alone who should worry the sane voters: the entire Republican field of choices is full of scary ideologues (Cruz, Huckabee), bullies (Christie), frauds (Jeb, Rubio), fools (Jeb, Carson), and con artists (Carly, Kasich). As he puts it "Yes, Trump would be worse than the others, but any Republican as President would be an intolerable disaster.  We must stay focused on preventing it.  Ebola is worse than smallpox, but the point is, you don't want to get either one."

It's just that Trump brings to this election cycle an extreme amount of schadenfreude - especially this this ex-Republican apostate - that makes it impossible to argue in favor for a saner choice (Which would be a candidate with enough brain cells - Kasich, maybe Christie - to recognize some value in a functioning federal government). In this case, I want - a good number of non-wingnuts want - to see what happens when the Republican Far Right base gets exactly the candidate they want in Trump... and watch him derail/implode in the biggest electoral disaster since Walter Mondale.

Trump may be in the lead for now - and can well win all the Primaries he wants - but there is a big difference between the campaign within the Republican ranks vs. whomever he faces in the general election (Hillary). Pandering to the extremist base in the Primary season is a must: When it gets to be time to win over the Moderate/Independent Middle, you can't be an extremist candidate because those 40-50 percent of Primary voters you got drop down to 30-35 percent of overall voters when you increase the population for the general election.

And Trump has campaigned so far to the Right Wing on key issues - anti-immigration, bullying our allies and enemies alike, a laughable budget plan, an overall rejection of civic virtues - that it's insane to think he can switch to more Moderate stances in September/October (not without alienating the Far Right that brought him to the dance). There's a reason why experienced elected officials never went straight to the Hater Agenda the way Trump did: the extremist base may never have liked watching their candidates "wimp out" by easing back on the throttle after the Primaries end, but it worked every so often for the candidates (Bill Clinton in 1992, Dubya in 2000, Obama in 2008) who could pull that trick off. The candidates who stayed extremist (Goldwater in 1964, McGovern in 1972, Mondale in 1984) tended to crash and burn (although to be fair to McGovern, Nixon cheated in 1972).

What's happening to the Republicans this election cycle is an angry voting base that's tired of backing candidates the Establishment leaders kept propping up only to get knocked down. There's that belief that McCain in 2008 just wasn't "pure" enough (despite the fact the GOP brand was poison after the Bush the Lesser debacles: even Reagan couldn't have won in 2008 with that angry electorate). There's near certainty among the base that Mitt Romney in 2012 wasn't "pure" enough a Conservative to win. All the while the base was told how their opponent Obama was "weak" and "a failure" and doomed to lose, and yet there he was winning both elections. The extremist base doesn't want a compromising "safe" candidate to go three-for-three (we call that a strikeout around these parts): This time, they'll choose the candidate who's clearly standing for their hard-core principles to confirm once and for all their "perfect" Conservative ideology wins with the right standard-bearer.

So that's the best reason to let Trump become the Republican nominee. Give that Far Right base the candidate and platform they desire... and then watch that crash and burn worse than any result McCain or Mitt got. Does the Far Right base believe True Conservatism can never fail? Give them the "truest" candidate they think they got in Trump pushing his Hater agenda... and here's hoping 45 states go for Hillary with 60 percent of the popular vote. It would be one hell of a slap across the collective face of the Far Right to fall that low.

Infidel does bring up one troubling problem with this: It's nice to think in that situation Hillary - or any Democratic nominee, including O'Malley - mops up the floor with Trump and the Republican wingnuts. Thing is, there are no guarantees.

If Trump does win the Republican nomination he's got at best a 50-50 shot of becoming President (at which point the whole world is screwed, and that scenario needs discussing another day). Anything can happen: After all, George W. Bush "won" in 2000 thanks to a close election and bad ballots and a rigged Supreme Court. Truman won against an overconfident Republican flank in 1948. For all we know, Bernie Sanders could flip out in October by going mad and swimming off to the South Pole to be a penguin and leave the Democrats in the lurch. Crazier things have happened (I think).

Trump may be one of the most unliked candidates of all time, but he's still got enough supporters to get past the finish line for Cleveland... and if push comes to shove the Republican faithful - even the ones who didn't vote for him in the Primaries - will still vote the party line (See Rude Pundit's take on the 2014 Midterm results). As a final horrifying thought, never underestimate a con artist like Trump to still find a way to sweet-talk himself into a deal.

As Infidel notes, this is a high-risk yet high-reward scenario: Trump runs the slight chance of becoming President Trump (GAAAAHHhh), but Trump also runs the likelier chance of dragging the entire Republican Party into a black hole.

Just think about how that will happen. Trump wins most of the Primaries on a harsh anti-immigration platform that alienates Hispanic voters across the nation. Where there was 80 percent (roughly) Hispanics leaning Democrat the last two election cycles, this time they'll vote Democrat at Black voter levels of 95-98 percent. They'll have to: facing near certainty of a Trump Presidency ruining their lives, most Hispanics are going to vote against him and any Republican ally. Don't forget this: Asian voters are a smaller overall population, but they'll likely go the same way because Trump's anti-China, anti-Muslim rants will add onto worries over immigration reform as well. And despite the high number of older Whites - especially males - who would likely vote Republican this 2016, Whites in general are not a homogeneous bloc: There's a lot of White voters who are pro-immigration who also refuse to bash Muslims as a faith.

A Trump Presidency campaign will affect the entire GOP ballot, because the Presidential agenda set by the nominee becomes the party's national platform. Candidates for the lesser seats can't well campaign on their own platform with Trump blaring his harsher one across the same TV channels. In an election cycle where a lot of Republican Senator seats - 24 GOP seats compared to 10 Dem - are up for vote, the Republicans risk the chance most Toss-up Purple and Leans Blue states will switch to the Democratic party - even a Red state or three could go Dem - thanks to Trump angering/horrifying enough voters to reject the entire ticket. And while the US House is "safe" in terms of pro-Republican gerrymandering, if Trump really angers the general electorate even those "safe" seats in the House can end up for grabs if the Democrats consider challenging them.

Granted from my perspective, the Republican platform - of massive tax cuts for the rich, massive deregulation of public health and safety needs, massive expansion of overseas combat and hostile actions against "rogue" nations, and repealing a moderately successful healthcare program - is already a toxic platform regardless which candidate will sell it in November, but Trump selling it will really hurt the GOP's entire national campaign. He's not that good a snake-oil salesman when he tries selling to people who won't buy it.

An electoral result in November that gives the White House to Hillary Clinton and a 54-seat control of the Senate to the Democrats - Dems need to keep their ten seats and win five at least for 51-seat control, so guessing that the Dems will get more seats than the minimum is a healthy guess to make - and weakening the House to a barely-held GOP majority is a likely result if Trump becomes the candidate. Hillary plus the Senate gives the Democrats a four-year window to choose possible Supreme Court vacancies (there are three sitting Justices over the age of 80 right now) that can flip SCOTUS more Left by 2020 and keep it there for another 20 years.

Just to note: That scenario is not the Best-Likely one for Democrats, it's the Likeliest one if Trump becomes the Republican candidate.

Which is why the Far Right media elites in the National Review epistemic bubble went all-in this weekend with a special edition magazine that flat-out states on the cover "Against Trump" in a near-hilarious, confusing, self-defeating effort to try and rescue their Conservative dogma, as though they can attack and isolate Trump before he co-opts their identity and flushes it down the toilet.

But it's too late, isn't it? Like Jeet Heer and Driftglass and John Cole and a lot of others have been saying over the years, this is what the Far Right has become and has consumed the entire Republican Party to be this way. It's not so much that Trump is a con artist who seized control of the Republican Party, it's that he's a con artist who's able to sell his sh-t to the Republican Party and have a large segment of the ill-informed, angered-up base eat it up like chocolate.

We're talking about a voting base that's been stoked, lied to, angered up by a Conservative media campaign since the Clinton years to buy into this purist Far Right fantasy of a permanent Republican majority ruling over a Utopian landscape of God, Guns and Tax Cuts. The Republican voters could have easily rejected Trump's sales pitch towards that Utopian fantasy at any time if they truly reflected the public sentiment - or political sense - of the Republican elites. But that's the thing: they ARE reflecting the sentiment - the arrogance, the disdain for others especially the minorities and the poor - that the party has been pushing since 1994 1964. The Republican voters with Trump as their golden calf just aren't hiding it anymore.

And that is why in the end - even with the high risk of a President Trump this November - it may be necessary for Trump to be the Republican nominee this election cycle. It is the only way to get this rubbish out in the open for it to get nuked from orbit once and for all (well, for at least the rest of this century).

At least, that's MY Utopian fantasy. I know in my heart the reality of the election results are going to be messy, and that the run-up to the November election will be a nail-biter (look back to how I was panicking in 2012). I know voter turnout is going to be key, and that the Democrats (and left-leaning Independents) need to turn out in higher numbers than ever before this year.

But it's got to be done. No more hiding, no more illusions. No more of the Far Right wingnuts trying to lie to themselves that it was a candidate they didn't want - like McCain, like Mitt, like Dubya when his polling numbers tanked after 2005 - that lost for them. The Republicans have got to have the ass-kicking they deserve, and it needs to be their guy getting his ass kicked in public.

So let Trump win this June. And then stomp his lying, shilling, racist ass this November, along with the rest of a Republican Party that no longer cares about this nation's citizenry.


Infidel753 said...

I'm glad you've come to the same conclusion. This election is going to be scary as hell until the voting is actually done in November, but it will be worth it for the probable outcome.

The real danger is that some out-of-left-field factor could upend things and actually let Trump win. One possible such factor has recently surfaced with Bloomberg's threat to run a third candidacy which would almost certainly cost Hillary more votes than it would cost Trump. Still, even in that scenario, Trump would at least be more likely to lose than any of the other Republicans -- and none of them is a tolerable risk.

Paul said...

About Bloomberg: there was, there IS, no serious call for him to run as an alternative. I mean, seriously, until HE brought it up, his name was nowhere in the political opinion pieces or on Twitter or anywhere else.
He's just jumping into this because HIS circle of friends in NYC - the business elites - are utterly terrified they are going to get either a demagogue in Trump who will destroy their pro-rich Republican Party for all sane (60-65 percent of the population) people for the next decade, or else a confirmed socialist in Sanders who will push an anti-Wall Street agenda that could easily disrupt their gravy train (and inadvertently trip against an economic house of cards that would cause more damage than fix).