Feeling a little bit funny about that Trump out-liar candidacy yet?
Ever since he entered the presidential race, Donald Trump has been upsetting assumptions. And now the overarching question is whether his approach to landing the nomination will work as well for him in the general election. There’s little point in studying the maps of past electoral college results, in particular that of Obama in 2012, and trying to project from there—an exercise that suggests a likely victory for Hillary Clinton. For one thing, this isn’t 2012 and, quite obviously, Donald Trump isn’t Mitt Romney. (Nor is Hillary Clinton Barack Obama.) Trump’s remarkable triumph in all but officially winning the Republican nomination stems largely from the fact that he has refused to play by the traditional rules. He did it his way, and in doing so mowed down sixteen Republican opponents.
Consideration of the long arc of Trump’s thinking makes it less surprising that the reality television star and wealthy businessman is a nominee for the presidency. The same characteristics that have made Trump a celebrity—the outsized personality, the ability to read and play to the public’s mood—made him a successful candidate for the nomination. On his long-running television show, The Apprentice, the hero was a decisive man (“You’re fired!”) who brooked no nonsense. Millions of people believe those traits could produce an effective president.
Trump understands the importance of size (“Little Marco”), and his own build—6 feet, 3 inches and bulky—causes him to come across as an imposing figure. (It’s long been said that tall men are the most successful in presidential politics, and while there have been exceptions—Harry Truman, for one, but he started out by inheriting the job—that may not be a myth.) Trump was larger than the other Republican candidates in various ways: he was shrewder, funnier, and more unpredictable. The magnitude of his outrageousness has been a draw: the public waits with some frisson to see what he’ll do next.
In a way, Trump’s fearless: he’s taken chances others wouldn’t have dared to—and several that weren’t to his credit. Observers have already noted that one of the Clinton campaign’s greatest challenges will be that it’s never clear what Trump will spring, and when: he doesn’t telegraph his punches, nor does he warm up. He goes all in; there’s nothing hesitant or nuanced or predictable about him.
But there’s something else, something more elusive, that suggests Trump could be a formidable candidate in the general election. On the night of the Indiana primary on May 3, in which Trump clobbered Ted Cruz 53-37, with John Kasich winning 7.5 percent of the vote, Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, not a Trump man, observed that the challenge for Clinton is whether she can meet Trump’s populist appeal and show empathy, “that sense of being a part of the everyman and woman.” This came naturally to her husband when he ran in the 1992 election, but it doesn’t to her. And then Steele got to another aspect of Trump’s appeal: “that intangible side of him—his personality, his mannerisms, his message that resonates with voters day in and day out.” This side of Trump, Steele said, is “what’s going to make this a very competitive race.”
Because Trump upsets assumptions and makes his own rules, because of those intangibles, he defies conventional political analysis. The thing is, Trump’s a lot smarter than he pretends to be when he identifies with your average Joe who’s been out of work or underpaid or sick of immigrants or simply pissed off at having to be “politically correct.” The rejection of PC has been one of Trump’s cannier moves: it liberates his audience but it also liberates him. That same average Joe (who puts the actual Joe the Plumber, of fleeting fame in 2008, in the shade as a campaign symbol) doesn’t want to have to compete with minorities or immigrants, and he doesn’t want to have to be polite about it. The shocking claim in Trump’s announcement speech last June that Mexico “sends us” rapists and murderers was in fact a considered and critical element of the campaign he was about to wage.
Trump’s anti-immigration talk, coupled with the fantastical wall with Mexico that he apparently has millions believing he’ll build, with Mexico paying for it, are examples of how adept he’s been at sussing out the grievances of his core constituency. Like Bernie Sanders, he understands that trade agreements have destroyed jobs and caused considerable anger. Like several Republican candidates before him, he’s played not entirely subtly to racial hatred. Trump’s pre-candidacy “birther” obsession—his tall tales about “investigators” he’d sent to Hawaii to dig up the real story of Barack Obama’s birthplace and the “absolutely unbelievable” material they’d turned up (but he never revealed)—was about race. Trump plays a plutocratic Archie Bunker.
What the great majority of people didn’t understand when Trump rode down that escalator and announced he was running, and in the early weeks of his candidacy, when some dismissed him as “a buffoon,” is how long-sighted he is. New York has a number of very wealthy builders, but none of the others are celebrities. In fact, it was when his business was stumbling in the first part of the early 1990s that Trump switched his focus from building to making himself a brand and selling that. People in numerous states have been excited by the spectacle of his plane (with gold seat buckles), his name emblazoned on the fuselage, whooshing in for a landing. Whatever degree of narcissism lies behind it, Trump’s pasting his name on everything he can get his hands on has had a long-term political as well as economic purpose. Trump is the first brand to run for president.
As long ago as 2000, in an interview with Bob Guccione Jr., Trump applauded the fact that figures from celebrity culture—athletes, movie stars, and businessmen—are considered for public office. He attacked “the hypocrites [who] argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women…shouldn’t become a national leader.” He said then that he believed that a citizen politician “is smart enough and gifted enough to lead this great country,” and he concluded, “If things go well, I’ll have a chance to demonstrate that fact.”
Trump has also been successful at branding his opponents. He knows how to do that: pick a perceived weakness, give it a name, and repeat, repeat, repeat, ad infinitum. Toward the end of the primaries he had his audiences cheerfully chanting “Lyin’ Ted,” and soon enough they’ll be saying “Crooked Hillary.” (Trump toyed with “Incompetent Hillary” for a while, but then alighted on the sharper and more damaging appellation.) To my knowledge, no previous presidential candidate has done this.
The slogan of the Trump campaign, “Make America Great Again,” was born of the mind of a great salesman; he affixed it not to baseball hats but to truckers’ caps. Can anyone say what Hillary Clinton’s slogan is? Clinton sees the complexities of the world; hers isn’t a bumper-sticker mind. Trump is a master simplifier, which is very useful in politics. (JFK, who also understood complexities, ran in 1960 on “Get This Country Moving Again.”) Trump’s message is more sophisticated than it appears: it gets at the sense of his followers that America has slid—economically, militarily. He says, “We can’t defeat ISIS;” he asserts that other countries “don’t respect us.” Many Republicans paint Obama as both power mad and a wimp.
The admitted formerly licentious figure presents himself as a settled family man and his closeness to his children can’t be faked. Trump neither drinks nor smokes and doesn’t do drugs, and he brought up his kids not to do these things, either. He’s oddly prissy—he just had to talk about Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break during a debate but he found the concept “horrible”—a word he also uses frequently, pronouncing it “harroble.” Trump’s a noted germaphobe.
Then there’s his handling of religion. Early on Trump cultivated Jerry Falwell Jr., and spoke at Liberty University: “Two Corinthians, 3:17. That’s the whole ballgame.” For a while he brandished the family Bible. The populace Trump appealed to had heard the warnings of Falwell and Fox News that Christianity was under attack. And thus Trump repeated on the night of his victory in Indiana—a state with a substantial Evangelical community—what he’d said earlier in the campaign: “We’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” Liberals may wonder, Why is he saying a silly thing like that? But Trump understands that many of his would-be followers have been drilled with the thought that Christmas is truly in danger: after all, there have been all those court battles about whether a crèche can be displayed on government property.
So, are all Bernie Sanders' peoples' victories meaningless against the out-liars?
Bernie Sanders greets supporters at the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion. (photo: SeattlePi)
By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News
11 May 16
A British general once said to Gandhi, “You don’t think we’re just going to walk out of India!”Gandhi replied, “Yes. In the end, you will walk out. Because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate.”
he progressive political battle was never for the White House. It was, is, and always has been for mobilization. The battle against plutocracy and fascism has always, in reality, been a battle against apathy.
Bernie Sanders, with this remarkable campaign, has taken the issue of American political corruption out of the shadows and placed it center stage.
While that sounds like a simple thing, it is a thing that all progressive leaders have tried and failed to do for as long as there has been an American political process. The movement is mobilized, and not a moment too soon.
Winning the Presidency
The Oval Office would more aptly at this point be called The Office of the Empire Manager. The notion that any work of social good can be achieved from the Oval Office is, at this juncture, sadly far-fetched at best.
From that perspective, Hillary Clinton is actually well suited for the office, if you want your empire managed efficiently. If you want the logic of empire challenged at its core, then you’ll appreciate the scope of Bernie Sanders’ achievement.
So will Bernie win the “battle” to be the democratic nominee for president? In truth, it seems like a long shot. Will he win the “war” against apathy? He already has, in extraordinary fashion.
What makes defeating apathy so important? Apathy is where corruption grows. Apathy is so valuable to the corrupt that they manufacture it and control the production of it. This is where infotainment and mass broadcasting play such an important role. The trick is to keep the population huddled beneath their security blankets, rather than pounding on doors and demanding justice.
The people who understand the magnitude of the transgressions and who want change have always been there. But they have always been relegated to three percent of the popular vote in presidential campaigning. Brave new world. We are united, we have numbers, and we are on the march. It’s not about the Oval Office, it’s about the country, our country. Let’s win there.
(Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.)
# 2016-05-11 13:04
The Democratic Party’s 2012 platform pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But the 2016 convention in Philadelphia will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality.
Some of the members of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, whose job is to organize the logistics and events for the convention, are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.
The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry. In October 2015, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly huddled with dozens of lobbyists to plan the convention in Philadelphia, and provided the influence peddlers involved with a menu of offerings in exchange for donations. In February, news reports revealed that the DNC had quietly lifted the Obama-era ban on federal lobbyist donations to the party and convention committee.
. . . The Host Committee’s finance chair is Daniel Hilferty. In his day job, Hilferty is CEO of Independence Blue Cross, a health insurance giant that covers nine million people. In December, Hilferty became board chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association of America, a trade group that lobbies for the insurance industry, and he serves on the board of directors of America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP), the insurance industry lobbying group that spearheaded the campaign against the Affordable Care Act. Lobby registration documents show the BCBS Association is actively supporting a number of Republican bills to roll back provisions of the ACA.
. . . David Cohen is the special advisor to the Host Committee, and serves as the executive vice president of Comcast, overseeing the company’s lobbying and regulatory strategy. In addition to being a “Hillblazer” — one of Hillary Clinton’s bundlers who has raised $100,000 or more — Cohen has been a particularly bitter and duplicitous leading opponent of the rules regarding net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally. And despite hosting fundraisers for Clinton at his home last summer, Cohen has spent heavily to help elect a Republican Congress, including recent donations to the NRCC; Sen. Toomey; Sen. Scott; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; as well as $33,400 to the NRSC, a committee for helping elect GOP members to the Senate.
The Philadelphia Host Committee chair, former Gov. Ed Rendell, headed for Wall Street as soon as he left office, and has since represented a number of controversial special interests. In 2011, as New York was debating regulations on fracking, Rendell wrote a pro-fracking opinion column in the New York Daily News, while failing to disclose that he was a paid consultant at a private equity firm that had investments in the industry.
. . . The former governor also joined the group Fix The Debt — an organization backed by private equity billionaire Pete Peterson that advocates for cutting Social Security benefits — co-chairing its activities alongside Judd Gregg.
. . . “The Democratic Party, especially the DNC, have never liked Obama’s policies to disengage lobbyists from campaign fundraising,” says Craig Holman, an expert on ethics and campaign finance with Public Citizen. “The party only went along with the restrictions because Obama was the party leader. As soon as Obama could no longer be viewed as the leader of the party, the DNC quietly repealed the lobbyist restrictions. The public learned about it only weeks later.”
“Party bosses have always preferred a Wild West when it comes to fundraising,” he adds. “If party bosses had their way, we would have no restrictions on campaign contributions to the parties and return to the days of Tammany Hall.”
One previous DNC was sponsored by the Communication Industry as a return for the gift of the Democratic Party not going after that industry for turning over all the private citizens’ communication records during the Bush era. The Democrats sold out for campaign cash by not only refusing to go after them, but they grandfathered laws to protect them and free them from liability.
Democrats and Republicans are just two sides of the same tarnished corporate coin.
In 2002, Brazil’s left-of-center Workers Party (PT) ascended to the presidency when Lula da Silva won in a landslide over the candidate of the center-right party PSDB (throughout 2002, “markets” were indignant at the mere prospect of PT’s victory). The PT remained in power when Lula, in 2006, was re-elected in another landslide against a different PSDB candidate. PT’s enemies thought they had their chance to get rid of PT in 2010, when Lula was barred by term limits from running again, but their hopes were crushed when Lula’s handpicked successor, the previously unknown Dilma Rousseff, won by 12 points over the same PSDB candidate who lost to Lula in 2002. In 2014, PT’s enemies poured huge amounts of money and resources into defeating her, believing she was vulnerable and that they had finally found a star PSDB candidate, but they lost again, this time narrowly, as Dilma was re-elected with 54 million votes.
So if you’re a plutocrat with ownership of the nation’s largest and most influential media outlets, what do you do? You dispense with democracy altogether – after all, it keeps empowering candidates and policies you dislike – by exploiting your media outlets to incite unrest and then install a candidate who could never get elected on his own, yet will faithfully serve your political agenda and ideology.