Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trump and Sanders

The news from New England:
Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont harnessed working-class fury on Tuesday to surge to commanding victories in a New Hampshire primary that drew a huge turnout across the state. . . . The two men won significant support from voters who felt betrayed by their parties and were dissatisfied or angry with the federal government. . . .

Mr. Trump also tapped into a deep well of anxiety among Republicans and independents in New Hampshire, according to exit polling data, and he ran strongest among voters who were worried about illegal immigrants, incipient economic turmoil and the threat of a terrorist attack in the United States.
I find this discouraging. Not because Trump won, or because Sanders won, but because both won. We seem to heading farther down the path of angry partisan gridlock that has dominated our politics for the past six years. Nobody is interested in compromise, or working together. Sanders' acceptance speech was all about sending a message:
Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California. And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their ‘super PACs’.
Which conveniently ignores the message from the Republican side. Trump is also making a big deal out of his independence from wealthy campaign contributors, but his policies hardly jibe well with Sanders'. There simply is no evidence that if the wealthy donors pulled out of politics Americans would suddenly all agree.

Tea Party Republicans and Sanders Democrats both believe that they can smash the establishment and govern for the people. But the sad truth is that the people are bitterly divided against themselves. The most likely result of this campaign is more gridlock and more frustration. A majority of energized voters in both parties is angry with the status quo and wants big changes, but since they mostly want opposite changes, and since the country is so evenly divided that we consider it a landslide for one presidential candidate to get even 54 percent of the vote, neither side can get what it wants.

Are there any areas where Trump supporters and Sanders supporters could be persuaded to work together? Maybe shoring up Social Security and a turn against world trade, and just possibly in fighting fewer foreign wars. But I don't get that anybody is working on this right now, because shouting about restoring power to the people from the nefarious forces that have stolen it is too much fun. Eventually, though, somebody has to govern the country, and when I look in the bottom of my tea cup the leaves just form a big ugly mess.


Shadow Flutter said...

Maybe we are just beginning to see the real effects of the 2008 crash.

" Maybe shoring up Social Security and a turn against world trade, and just possibly in fighting fewer foreign wars."

Actually, that would be more than I've seen in some time.

John said...

You may be right that it has taken some time for people to absorb that we are not bouncing back quickly and to decide that we need some big changes. If only the people fired up for Bernie now had gotten involved in the 2010 midterms, a lot of stuff might have happened.

Shadow Flutter said...

Somebody, I can't remember who, said the young first-time voters lived their formative years during the crash and its immediate aftermath. That started me thinking. They saw their parents or their neighbors or their friends lose their jobs, stay unemployed for too long, and when they finally did get a job, it wasn't always as good as the one they lost. They also saw people lose their homes. At the same time they witnessed those whose recklessness caused all this walk away with wonderful golden parachutes, and few -- very few -- paid any price.

And now their choices are Hillary, who charged exorbitant fees to speak to those who wrecked the economy, and Sanders, who speaks to this issue. This is why the young support him en mass. And this is the generation that will raise the next. Yes, something could be changing.

Of course Clinton lost more than just them. So maybe the feeling reaches beyond the young. Any way you look at it, Clinton suffered a stunning loss. The only votes she won with any authority were those from her own age group.

pootrsox said...

If Clinton loses Nevada or SC, I'd call that a "stunning loss." Neither Iowa nor NH is particularly revealing of the general trend, nor, especially in New Hampshire, did she really have much of a shot against Sanders, given the peculiar nature of the electorate in both states.

And John, I agree with what you're saying about the discouraging nature of these voters' choices.

Meanwhile, I think Shadow Flutter has made a really significant point about the first time voters (and the rank just above them) basically having lived only in the post-Great Recession world, and the effect of that world on their perceptions.

For me, the only *realistic* though not inspiring choice is Clinton.

Zachary Leven pointed out, ""the key element of Sanders’ campaign is the “millions of people” who will “rise up” and overthrow the Republican congress, replacing them with politicians who will vote for socialist legislation. Whenever Sanders is confronted with the difficulties of getting anything in his platform passed, this is always his response. The answer, he says, is “…to have millions of people rise up…”

"Note the use of the verb “have.” We’ll just have that happen. Like, “We’ll have the maid pick up an extra quart of milk.”

"We don’t need to ask just how many millions of voters would be required to make this dream a reality. We don’t need to consider what congressional districts to target. We don’t need to consult political scientists to gain a better understanding of why people vote and why people don’t vote. We don’t need to build new, or improve upon existing political infrastructures to facilitate this dramatic electoral transformation. We certainly don’t need to consult with the people in the Democratic party who have, for decades, been studying the makeup of the voting population across the nation, developing tools and strategies to reach people more effectively. Nope. None of that is necessary. All that’s necessary is for Bernie Sanders to become president. Once that happens it will be like Field of Dreams. Ghosts will wander from cornfields, ready to vote for single payer."

Shadow Flutter said...

For all the excitement inspired by Sanders, he is a one-trick pony. Clinton is the better all around candidate and, therefore, the better general election candidate, I think. But sometimes you have to lose to start something.

Trump is discouraging, and Cruse is no better. I'd like to see Kasich get nominated, but that won't happen.

The thing that should concern democrats up to this point is the huge voter turnout. It's all republican.

PS: Super delegates! How democratic.

John said...

You may recall that in 2008 there was a flurry of angst around superdelegates when it looked like Clinton might lose the popular primary vote but win with superdelegates. It became pretty clear that many of those delegates were not at all comfortable with supporting a candidate who lost the primaries, and some said they would have to switch their votes. Of course that was Obama, not Sanders. But anyway I find it hard to believe that the Democratic Party would stand for that kind of coup. To pull it off Clinton would have to be close enough to be able to somehow spin it that she really won the primaries.