Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the Triumph of Entertainment

PoliticsOfCrazy_YLW2Listen carefully as enthusiasts describe the appeal of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump and a disturbing pattern emerges. You won’t hear much about policy proposals. You won’t hear much about competence or qualifications for the job. Nobody in either camp seems to care a great deal about what their candidate might do if the dog actually catches the car.

What you will hear are complaints. Other candidates “aren’t listening.” “The system” is dominated by money. My candidate is the only one with the courage to tell the truth. A few complaints might relate to policy in some distant way. Supporters may mention inequality or immigration or some other headline concern. However, deconstruct comments from the two candidates’ supporters and they all revolve around the same core of abstract grievances.

All the energy in our early 2016 campaign season is being generated by candidates at either end of the spectrum who are promising the same singular achievement – breaking our political system. Sanders and Trump use different rhetoric and branding to describe exactly the same product. Neither candidate is a credible national leadership figure. Neither candidate’s enthusiasts articulate any credible political program. Both candidates are offering voters a chance to address a single, pressing grievance – our political system is failing to respond to my needs. Forget the policy platforms, or lack of one, both candidates are offering a political program that replaces the citizen with the consumer.

Those on both sides who emphasize the differences between the two candidates are talking past each other. Yes, Sanders has held elective office. He has been a gadfly, Socialist Senator from Baja Canada. He is not a member of the party whose nomination he seeks. He has never played a meaningful role in any major legislation. As a career politician in a tiny state, he won all of his offices with fewer votes than it takes to become mayor of a large city.

Meanwhile Trump is a reality TV star and political tourist who seems to hold no political views beyond noisy racism and a firm belief in his own fantasticness. By contrast, Sanders is a nice, humble, earnest guy – just like Ron Paul, who has issued detailed position-statements on a wide variety of issues. Their differences are as relevant to the office they seek as their respective hairstyles.

Sanders does not attract crowds because of his leadership credentials or policies. Few who have actually looked at them (anyone?) seriously expects that he could implement those policies. No one seriously believes that he is more capable of serving as the lead administrator of a $4tr government than his Democratic rival. Just like Trump, Sanders’ appeal is fundamentally negative. Both candidates are running against politics rather than for any elected position. They are expressions of frustration, not aspiration.

Both of these candidates embody the tension between our duties as citizens and our desires as consumers. They represent our frustration with a political culture premised on collective duties next to an economic culture premised on atomized, instantaneous, individual satisfaction.

Commentators all over the spectrum are consistently describing this phenomenon as a failure of our political system. “The system” no longer “hears” ordinary people. This critique usually centers around the influence of money in our politics, but this is a strange scapegoat.

Money matters, but it has never in our history mattered less than it does now. In our grandparents’ childhood you could still literally buy a Senate seat in a scene on state house floors that very nearly resembled an auction. Before Nixon there were no enforceable campaign finance laws at the Federal level.

This is not about money. It is not about a failure of “politicians” or “government.” We own this government collectively in a truer sense than any human beings have ever owned their government. We own its failures absolutely. Sanders and Trump are emblematic of our own collective failure to adapt to a changing world.

Blaming the system is a lazy escape. We are increasingly unwilling to invest the time and energy required to operate and adapt our political system. There has never been a point in our history when our government has been more keenly and assiduously responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens. When people talk about the failure of government to represent their needs they aren’t comparing the present to the past, they are comparing citizenship to consumption. Consumers make lousy citizens.

A political system that capably and responsibly addresses the public needs of 350 million highly diverse people is not going to “listen to me.” Politics is not Burger King. You cannot have it your way. There is one gateway to healthy expression in an electoral democracy – participate personally in small-scale grassroots organizations with a presence in your local community. Research indicates that about 1% of American voters consistently do this. Few people do it because it has become the most costly thing in the world to do. In an economic environment this free, nothing is more expensive than my time and attention.

Two hundred years of progressively more democratic representative government taught us to be citizens. Global capitalism has, over the course of a few decades, taught us to be consumers.

Capitalism assigned value based on the results of individual transactions, at a moment in time, in which neither of the parties has any duties to each other beyond the exchange. Capitalism places enormous social and economic power in the hands of consumers.

Citizenship is dull and demanding, fraught with compromise. As citizens, our individual desires are constantly tempered by the needs of our neighbors, the consequences of our choices, and constraints imposed by basic human compassion.

Consumption is exciting and fast. As a consumer there are no interests in play beyond my own. I have no obligations to my vendors beyond a contract premised on money. As a consumer, whatever fails to accommodate my personal needs and feelings in any particular moment can be discarded without a thought.

Citizenship is premised on a network of shared duties extending over time, even beyond my own lifespan. Consumption is premised on my personal needs as they may be expressed in a momentary transaction.

Politics is just the tip of this melting iceberg. What sits beneath the decay of our political institutions is a wider social phenomenon born of global capitalism and consumer ideology. As Robert Putnam has so capably documented in his work, beginning with Bowling Alone, our personal engagement in social institutions, often referred to as social capital, has entered a phase of steep decline.

From Boy Scouts, to youth sports, to PTAs and churches, almost any institution that demands an investment of time, energy and compromise collectively with those around us is experiencing a steep decline in engagement. Churches that required a personal investment of effort and attention are being swept aside by churches that treat attendees like customers. Fewer people than ever have time for PTAs or school board meetings, but yoga studios are booming.

Global capitalism has been a massive force for human wellbeing, more potent and beneficial than Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa and Oprah all rolled together. No transformation that powerful can occur without placing enormous evolutionary demands on our social structures. We are not adapting. At this stage, as liberal democracy and market economics just completed their triumph, they are already being battered to shreds by forces we barely attempt to understand.

The book, The Politics of Crazy: How America Lost Its Mind and What We Can Do About It, describes this phenomenon and offers a set of recommendations for how we can adapt. It would be a mistake to try to shut down the growth of global capitalism. Its negatives are vastly outweighed by its benefits. Successful adaptation requires recognizing new demands and building institutions that can flourish under these changing conditions. We can do this, but throwing support behind grievance candidates incapable of governing is not going to get us there.

In the meantime, the energy we spend on entertainers like Sanders and Trump is an investment in self-destruction. They are selling the same product using different theme music. One may be bombastic while the other is grandfatherly, but neither makes a credible claim to competence as a national executive leader. Representative politics can survive under global capitalism, but only if we have the intelligence and maturity know the difference between citizenship and consumption. If we insist that politics be entertainment, we will forever be led by clowns.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2016, Politics of Crazy
225 comments on “Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the Triumph of Entertainment
  1. […] suffer their own Politics of Crazy-style disaster. In 2016 Democrats came very close to nominating the left’s version of Ron Paul. Based on that 2016 close call, 2020 could be rocky. Larger social, economic, and political forces […]

  2. […] Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the Triumph of Entertainment […]

  3. 1mime says:

    Donald Trump just signed his “GOP Pledge of Allegiance” with Reince Priebus, heralded in a 30 minute press conference well attended by networks. (The man knows how to work the system.) He took a wide range of questions and responded forcefully. The unimaginable may be happening…Trump, not only leading the Republican gang of Presidential aspirants by double digits, exhibits no sign of slowing down, and may have actually decided he wants to become the Republican nominee for President. In the process of answering questions, he managed to trash China, Japan, President Obama, illegal immigration, the Affordable Care Act, Hillary Clinton, and a slew of his fellow presidential candidates, with no hesitation or apology. It would be interesting to know what world leaders are thinking of an America led by a Donald Trump.

    Caveat emptor, my friends.

    • Griffin says:

      It’s worth noting the “GOP Pledge of Allegiance” is not legall binding. Trump could very easily worm out of it by saying they treated him unfairly and therefor the agreement no longer works. Either way it looks like Trump will max out at around a third of the GOP electorate so the only way he would win is if he stays the frontrunner and enough candidates stay in the race to split up the “anti-Trump” vote.

      Also I’m not sure Lifer reads the comments on his older blog posts, unless he has a system in place that notifies him when they are made.

  4. 1mime says:

    Oh, this is gonna be fun! The LA Times reports today that the FDA has approved “pink” viagra (for the weemen)….I know it’s OT, but curious how this new sex drug will be perceived by the Religious Right. Wouldn’t it make a great GOP debate question, properly phrased, of course. Will those claiming religious exception refuse or embrace coverage of this new drug for their female employees? If they cover male viagra, how could they not cover the female equivalent? Someone needs to do a salacious satire on this. Borowitz? Doonesbury?

    http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fda-female-viagra-flibanserin-20150818-story.html

  5. “There has never been a point in our history when our government has been more keenly and assiduously responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens.”

    ROFL! Good one, Chris! 😉

    A quick, er, more likely a pack-a-lunch, all day jaunt over to our local IRS directorate (8701 S.Gessner Rd.) will quickly dispel one of that notion. Heck, if you’re a vet, waiting for treatment at a VA hospital might well cost you your all.

    The simple truth of the matter is that government is not responsive because it doesn’t have to *be* responsive. We cede to government a monopoly on the legitimate use of force; government doesn’t have to *please* you when it can instead just *coerce* you. In a world where our expectation of service is predicated by our experience at Amazon.com, it’s only natural to develop a certain sense of dissatisfaction with *any* service provided by government.

    We have a “$4tr government” encrusting the hull of our $18tr economy like a giant barnacle. Said government has its fingers in far too many pies, to the point that it is incapable of providing adequate service on traditional social commitments, and is apparently unable or unwilling to perform even its most basic functions, such as federal law enforcement, border security, and national defense. Well, here’s what you get when government is the be all and end all of public life:

    No wonder the sheep at both ends of the political spectrum are antsy. To borrow a phrase from a former president (whom the current president loves to compare himself favorably to), “Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

    • texan5142 says:

      “A quick, er, more likely a pack-a-lunch, all day jaunt over to our local IRS directorate (8701 S.Gessner Rd.) will quickly dispel one of that notion.”

      Follow the tax laws and you would not have to go there. There are millions in this country who never have a problem with the IRS. Maybe the problem is not the IRS itself, maybe the problem is the tax cheat.

      • Actually, Tex, it was a matter of the IRS not providing adequate identity protection for filers, enabling someone to falsely file a return under my 80 year old stepfather’s name. Of course, there was no way to resolve this by phone or web, necessitating a visit to said office that included multiple hours of waiting in multiple queues, with facilities in no way designed to accommodate a old man hobbling about with a walker. It was an absolute, unmitigated nightmare. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2015/08/17/irs-says-illegal-account-access-worse-than-originally-thought-220000-more-taxpayers-affected/

      • texan5142 says:

        My apologies I jumped the gun, I am sorry. I hope all the best for you and yours.

        Sincerely
        Dennis

      • texan5142 says:

        I feel like two inches tall, and I am 6’3″.

      • Re the IRS
        The reason that your visit was a nightmare is not the “The IRS is evil”
        The reason is that the IRS is dramatically underfunded
        It’s not the IRS that writes the tax code – But it is the IRS that has to collect the taxes

        IMHO the best way to set the funding level for the IRS is to increase the funding until a further increase does not lead to a net increase in takings

        At the moment the IRS gets over $5 in extra tax income for every dollar spent in investigating/fixing tax evasion

        I would rather spend extra money on honest hard working civil servants than have it retained by tax cheats

      • johngalt says:

        Identity theft is a PIA regardless of where it occurs. A friend ended up with shot credit and thousands of dollars in legal fees thanks to a fraudulent credit card application. These problems are not unique to the IRS.

        People hate the IRS because it represents the government that takes a hefty chunk of everyone’s paycheck. It could be staffed entirely with agents as cheerful as Flo from the Geico commercials and give out free beer in their offices and you’d still hate them (see Glandu’s comment about the French version below). It is the nature of the beast. That does not mean it should not exist.

    • johngalt says:

      And a great campaign quote that was, though he did not govern even remotely on that principle.

      And if the IRS is bad, what should we do? Starve government of revenue knowing full well our obligations to spend money are not going away? Or simplify the tax code?

      • Let’s do both! 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        It is so easy to criticize government, after all, it’s not like corporations, who are”people” you know. I’m sorry your experience with government and life has colored your impression of government in such a negative way. I haven’t had your poor experience and am grateful that America has a government, flawed and wonderful as it is. I would suggest to anyone who criticizes government that they spend some time shadowing those who work there. And, yes, not in a que, but actually observing how much work these people do for all of us. I am more familiar with the problems faced by the IRS due to good, close friends (both tax attorneys, btw) who had careers there. If your personal business had to operate with the antiquated equipment and inadequate staffing afforded by the budget Congress approves for this important division, you doubtless would have enjoyed a less successful career. It is pathetic.

        So, I get a little peeved with all the criticism. Congress hears too many people dissing government and piles on with the power they have through the budget process. I do not agree with your assessment even though I am sorry about your step father’s problem. Good for you for helping him through a long, difficult process.

      • texan5142 says:

        People try to cheat the system, get caught, then complain about how bad the IRS is. Simplify the tax code in a way that guarantees that Warren Buffet pays the same percentage in tax that I do. Some will say that he already pays more than I ever will in a lifetime. In actual dollars, yes, but as a percentage, no.

      • 1mime says:

        The problem with tax fraud/cheating has grown exponentially with the development and expansion of technology. This has impacted the IRS and other governmental divisions (defense most recently), as well as businesses (Target, Home Depot, etc). This is a huge, global problem, whether it’s stealing valuable business or personal information. Government is not immune.

      • johngalt says:

        The IRS is bad because its political masters have given it a task of impossible complexity. I am sure that it could do a better job at lower cost, but there needs to be some mechanism for administration and enforcement of tax laws, no matter how simple they might be.

        Starving the government of revenue without addressing spending is not fiscally conservative. Tell us what we should spend less money on, but if you’re going to prattle on about waste or the Dept. of Energy, then don’t bother. Real changes are not possible without addressing the 9-figure programs of Medicare, Social Security, Defense and Medicaid/welfare spending.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, JG, but it’s the “who”, the “how” and the “what” that worries me. I would like to have more confidence in the purity of the parties involved and their objectives. It goes without saying that the federal budget needs to be re-worked but it would be very interesting to know if the people of America got to vote on budget priorities for such an endeavor, how they would match up with those who actually get to crunch the numbers and vote. No. Trust.

      • texan5142 says:

        What a predicament! Let’s see who gets the reference. Oh, and I agree.

      • Doug says:

        “If your personal business had to operate with the antiquated equipment and inadequate staffing afforded by the budget Congress approves…”

        It is not completely, or even primarily, a budget problem. It is the nature of government, which runs on different rules and different incentives than business. If you have an afternoon to kill, read about the billions wasted in failed IT projects dating back to the 70’s. It’s fascinating, in a bloody car crash sort of way.

      • 1mime says:

        Read about the failures…always negative, Doug. How about reading about the positives? Space exploration and the many, many products developed therein, Defense, and the development of the internet, the federal interstate highway system, Drug and Food safety, and so many more.

        By its very nature, government is cumbersome, and there will always be improvements. Have you tried shipping a package with UPS/FEDEX and compared the price to the USPS? Privitization is a good thing but not in all areas. All I ask is that there be a respect for the role and people in government and the service they provide to all of us. I couldn’t help but note in this morning’s comments by Jim Kramer that those businesses who have “invested” aka “spent” money to improve their businesses during the turbulent years following the recession, have endured and prospered. Critics of government don’t seem to be able to transfer this same concept of investing in public infrastructure as positive. Think of the criticism that the stimulus incurred which is exactly what businesses have been doing to strengthen their company’s bottom line….It is called survival and investment. You also never stop improving the model and that also applies to government, but there are differences between business and government, as Glandu pointed out, that don’t easily, profitably transfer. Kramer went on to state that the companies he watches who pay its people living wages were doing the best.

        My glass is half full, not half empty. There is a difference between constructive criticism and criticism just to denigrate. I’m tired of all the petty negativism.

      • 1mime says:

        One more thing, Doug, all those “failed” IT projects from the 70s forward? It’s a damn good thing positive thinkers didn’t quit, isn’t it? Where would the world be today without technology? Those garage inventors suffered through a string of failures before their prototypes emerged, and then they kept improving it. A great WSJ full page ad about 25 years ago stated this thought: “If it ain’t broke; break it.” This was from a fortune 500 company and their message, of course, was not to fear failure, not to be complacent, but to continuously evolve. This is true in all successful businesses and to a more limited, but valid degree, to government.

        My comment about the antiquated computers available to the IRS is meant to jar one’s thinking. You want a smaller government agency? Give it better technological equipment to do the job it’s assigned. You want to replace the IRS? You can bet your buns that the job will not be able to be done as efficiently unless adequate capitalization is there to function. The example of UPS & FEDEX carving out the profitable areas of package/mail delivery and leaving the rest on the cutting floor is a prime example. Sure – they do a great job, but only, only because they picked and chose the services that would make them money and left the rest for the good old USPS.

      • duncancairncross says:

        read about the billions wasted in failed IT projects dating back to the 70’s

        Is true!

        But what about the tens of billions in failed IT projects in the private sector?

        In a five year period Cummins Inc wasted 200 Million on failed IT projects and that is just one medium sized company

        Every company that I have worked for or with has had cock-ups that have cost huge sums of money
        I used to think that it was related to the size of the company and that smaller companies didn’t have the cock-ups
        I know believe that they all have cock-ups just that larger companies have bigger ones

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      I feel for you and your stepfather. I agree with all the comments about tax law being crazy complex. And the government, not only the IRS, unable to keep up with growing sophistication of hackers.

      But here is a scary thought for you. How about we privatize the IRS? Contract out the auditing and collection of taxes? Maybe give them 50 percent of anything collected above what was filed? Whooo hooo! Deficit lowering revenue poring in with lower government spending.

      Appreciation of government agencies would improve very quickly, I think. We would long for an underfunded IRS.

      • Glandu says:

        Strange. Replace “IRS” by “le fisc”(its french counterpart), and you can have exactly the same debate, word for word.

        And one of the things that fueled the french revolution was the “ferme générale”, i.e. the centralized but private company of tax collection in French XVIIIth century. Most “fermiers généraux” were beheaded while incredibly rich in 1794.

        Another thing that the french revolution teaches us, is that complex bureaucracy brakes everything…including dictatorship. The french king had some power, but there was a lot of counterweight to its power, with local nobles, burgher power, guilds, etc… Even Louis the XIVth didn’t have the kind of power that Napoleon did enjoy. Once the revolution had destroyed the power of the church, of the guilds, of the nobles, anyone reaching power could be the ultimate dictator.

        In other words, while very annoying and anti-efficiency, the bureaucracy has its qualities. We probably have too much here in France, as well as you in the USA. And note that the same happenned in Eastern Europe in the late 1940s : the communist did systematically eliminate any old bureaucracy, and did create only things under the will of the big boss. Of course, the dictatorship following was horrible. My wife grew up there, and she never speaks about those times, because of the trauma.

        Beware of what you wish, because it could happen.

      • 1mime says:

        We have witnessed a great deal of privatization in the prison industry. Whether one thinks this is a good idea, or not, (I don’t mainly because I do not believe incarceration should have a profit incentive), it does offer an example of the privatization of a government function. Other areas in which there have been private contractors, aka “mercenaries” hired have been to fight our wars….the stories of exorbitant cost are well known. There were other benefits. Was it worth it to an administration who wanted to depress negative publicity of the number of Americans in the war effort and provide a less public level of scrutiny of employees whose activities may have been a little less compliant under our Constitutional combat guidelines? Private education is another. While there are certainly examples of private schools that educate students less expensively than public schools, that is the exception rather than the rule. Key, of course, in this particular domain, is if the increased cost results in a higher quality of education. That debate is well articulated so I won’t explore it, but here’s a good piece on prison privatization for those who are interested in this kind of topic.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/25/are-private-prisons-better-or-worse-than-public-prisons/

        I suppose one could take every agency of government and compare it with a privatized alternative. Since government does not have a “profit” motive, there will always be that key difference. Ironically, conservatives who have fought to kill the EX-IM Bank authorization have destroyed a division that was profitable – which profits were returned to the U.S. Treasury. It is interesting to see who the major financial contributors are of those leading the charge to kill this bank. Follow the money.

    • 1mime says:

      Just so we all have a better understanding of what budget cuts mean in a country with increasingly complex tax regulations AND a growing population to serve, all with less money and fewer people.

      http://fortune.com/2015/04/15/irs-budget-cuts/

      • A better question to ask is, why do we need such a huge and ungainly IRS in the first place? Could it be that our tax code might be just a tad too complex and ambiguous? Hmm.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree about our tax code, but let’s place blame for our impossible tax laws where it belongs – Congress. The IRS doesn’t make tax law; but they have legally charge with enforcing it. The WaPo piece was well researched and clearly illustrates the problem the agency faces in enforcing incredibly complex laws, assisting taxpayers, processing returns, dealing with fraud (such as your stepfather experienced), pursuing taxes owed, complying with RFI from Congress, etc etc. You don’t send a platoon to fight a war that requires an army, or, in “Tracey” vernacular, you don’t pack a pistol when an AK47 is indicated (-:

      • 1mime, Congress doesn’t write the CFR or the Federal Register; executive branch bureaucrats do that. I prefer to think of Congress as merely the great enablers – after all, if Dodd-Frank and PPACA aren’t a license for bureaucrats to run amok, I don’t know what is.

      • 1mime says:

        And, Tracy, if there were no taxes passed by Congress, there wouldn’t be a need for the CFR or the Federal Register….Unless……Congress wrote the regs (-: (-: (-: Wouldn’t that be a hoot!! Might provide a disincentive to passing more taxes if the bill +
        sponsors had to write the rules!

        Nah, not gonna yield on this one either, Tracy. You’re shootin the messenger….the problem rests with those who draft the budget, and that would be the House of Representatives.

      • 1mime says:

        Forgot to mention that I would like the U.S. to return to Glass-Steagal as Republicans have neutered Dodd-Frank. Republicans have had plenty of opportunity to either: pass their own health plan, or work with Dems to improve the PPACA. 67 repeal attempts does not qualify for either option.

    • Not that I’m a big fan, but she nailed it:

      “Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.” – Mary McCarthy

      The overriding impulse of any bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself; whatever other purpose the bureaucracy might serve is subservient to its own survival. Those who serve that need rise to top in a bureaucracy. Unlike a private concern, the bureaucracy’s survival is not dependent the quality of service it renders to its clients, nor the profits it generates, but rather on the extent to which it furthers the political ends of its political masters. The primary goal of those political masters is the accumulation and consolidation of political power; all else is subsidiary. Therefore, inevitably, in the end bureaucracy does not serve, it dictates.

      The tyranny of bureaucracy is unavoidable because it is a simple product of human nature. Thus we end up with Lois Lerners and John Koskinens at the IRS, a healthcare.gov website that falls on its face, a VA that kills its patients, a CFR with 230+ volumes comprising 175,000+ pages, and a tax code of 74,000+ pages. There are ways to counter the tyranny of the bureaucracy, but they are difficult to enact because few organisms have better evolved defense mechanisms than an entrenched bureaucracy. But here’s a clue: the next time somebody utters the phrase, ‘flat tax,’ or ‘fair tax,’ or even ‘voucher,’ pay attention. Those who object are not your friend.

      • 1mime says:

        We disagree.

      • duncancairncross says:

        The tyranny of bureaucracy is unavoidable
        And how do you think a large company is run – hint it starts with a B

        If you compare “Government Bureaucracy’s” with “Business Bureaucracy’s” what do you find?

        Well one major difference is less waste and sheer horribleness in the “Government Bureaucracy”

        The reason is simply “Human Nature” people join businesses to get on and those that concentrate on themselves do best in the promotion race and end up in charge

        You get the same in Government except that a much larger percentage actually join the Government as a civic duty
        These people are a bit less rapacious than those that end up in charge of businesses

        So you end up with less waste and basically nicer people

      • Duncan, one hardly knows where to start. Yes, big business is subject to bureaucracy. The primary difference is that a business that fails to please its customers is generally not around for very long, whereas government bureaucracies are forever. Chew on that for bit, and ponder the reasons why.

        BTW, cool go-kart in your avatar pic! What is that obviously ridiculously fun thing?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Tracey
        Not as sure as you are about the respective “lifetimes” of Government Departments and Companies
        A lot of companies seem to last forever despite poor service
        And it would only be in comparison to a “more efficient” company that they would lose customers
        If they are all crap….
        Or all have equivalent bureaucracies

        The “Go Kart” is “Duncan’s Dubius Device” (That’s what it’s called on the log book) my home made electric car – it’s road legal and a blast to drive but voltage limited
        Takes off like a scalded cat but runs out of steam at 100kph
        Now I just need more voltage – got to sneak some more batteries past the wife
        She insists that I finish the Kitchen before I’m allowed to do any more to my car

      • 1mime says:

        In terms of longevity in government service (loosely used term here), I think that there are several members of Congress that would be in a dead heat with some of our agency employees, and have much less to show for their time at the trough.

      • 1mime says:

        Your little lady won’t let you have one of those Tesla batteries? Since I share your wife’s passion for a fine kitchen and all that ensues, I would have to agree: mutton tastes much better than battery acid (-: Stick with your woman, Duncan!

  6. 1mime says:

    Remember the Black woman et al with BLM who disrupted the Sanders rally? The principle was Dominique Hazzard and she was asked many times why the BLM group decided on hitting the Sanders event as he was someone who understood their concerns. She answered this question on her FB page as reported in the Weekly Sift. Black people are getting tired of being ignored, so they’re trying something different. Smart.

    “People are always wanting to know- why are black people rioting? Why are twoc of interrupting the president? Why are those black women disrupting the Netroots panel? Why are they shutting down Bernie’s campaign stop? Why are the coloreds doing things that *i* consider to be unstrategic?

    I’ll tell you why. It’s because nobody listens to black people until we fuck their shit up. That’s what works. And we are trying to survive, so that’s what we do.

    In later post, she addresses the “Why Bernie?” question:

    IF YOU WANT TO BE STRATEGIC, you target the people with power who are in your sphere of influence, and who can actually be persuaded to give you what you want. A lot of the time (not all of the time, but often), those people are your allies- allies who are close to getting it right but not quite there.
    (Bernie Bern is not ‘there’ yet. Last time he got interrupted, it was disruptors wanting to talk about the criminalization of black women. He centered his answer on unemployment… mere days after Sandra Bland died *on her way to a new job*)

    Disrupting a Huckabee rally would be a worse idea, because not only would he not listen, but

    your action might backfire, causing Mike Huckabee to double down and racists to respect him even more, rewarding him with more votes.”

    http://weeklysift.com/2015/08/17/why-blm-protesters-cant-behave/

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Not to pat myself on the back (ok, maybe a LITTLE) bit that’s pretty much what I figured.

      What’s the point of crashing Trump/Cruz/Huckster or even Jeb?

      It’s not going to make a difference. May as well target someone who is likely to share your concerns.

      She explained herself pretty well. I admit to being a bit angry at first, as in “why target Sanders of all ppl?”

      I think us liberals tend to assume black ppl are necessarily on “our side” and are perplexed when they seem to fight us.

      But really tho, tough to blame them. It’s 2015 and systemic racism is still a real problem. Obviously somethings not working.

      • Griffin says:

        I still think it was an awful strategy. They used a ton of political capital to do what, exactly? Make Bernie Sanders write down views he already held? And they tore into him for not being more like Martin O’Malley, they guy who helped make the Baltimore police force more militaristic and harsh. And they disrupted not a Sanders rally but a meeting in favor of social security even though the expansion of social security is favored by blacks by a 9-to-1 ratio (http://thesouthlawn.org/2015/08/10/black-lives-matter-and-the-failure-to-build-a-movement/).

        I hope I’m wrong and that they accomplished something, I really do, but I’m cynical. They need specific legislation and to have each Democrat (and some Republicans) agree to support said legislation in office but at the moment they don’t seem to have long term goals or a strategy that will be effective for very long.

      • 1mime says:

        You know, Griffin, I wish the BLM group had been more respectful of Sanders as well, but these people have had it with trying to work through the system – even though that is the best long-term approach. Why is it that we hold these Black people to such a high standard and the a-holas that surveiled Jade Helm and went armed into the streets of Ferguson on the anniversary of the Brown death are barely mentioned?

      • Griffin says:

        @1mime You’re right of course that white militia fanatics have a much easier time than frustrated blacks (who are often called racist slurs such as “thugs” and so on), just see all the right-wing pundits who got off the hook with supporting Cliven Bundy (in contrast of a left-wing pundit supported a communist revolutionary group here in the US that would be the end of their career everywhere but on the fringes). And they are right to be angry that the system is not meeting their needs.

        But I’m just worried that they’ll make a lot of noise and then get nothing done, then we’re right back where we started with a militarized police being ignored by the media. They need to be more effecive for no other reason than pragmatism or they’ll be another footnote in failed social movements.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct, of course. MLK understood this and worked within the system but there was also actual physical demonstration which through the relatively new medium of television , shamed a nation for the reprehensible treatment of human beings who were peacefully protesting. It didn’t hurt that Malcolm X was a contemporary and took a lot of the negative heat through his more militant approach.

        Still, I submit that if Democrats – my party – won’t help minorities (Blacks, etc), why should they expect their support? Someone has to reach out and help these people. Police brutality, horrible incarceration rates, racist commentary, vote suppression – who will step up to help them? They don’t feel like anyone in the white community (of either party) truly is reaching out to them. I agree that you can antagonize people through tactics like the BLM used, but they feel no one is really listening to them. I have read a great deal about suffrage and the criticism and contempt that women faced when they actively, publicly pursued the right to vote. That seems so “yesterday”, but there are conditions that others are dealing with that are “today”. I don’t have a solution but I certainly have empathy for their frustration.

  7. Rob Ambrose says:

    Dunno if anyone watches the Newsroom (HBO series) but this clip from the premiere is a pretty biting critique of American Exceptionlism.

    The most honest 3 minutes on television.

    • 1mime says:

      TX, I loved this series and was disappointed when Sorkin decided not to continue it. (In a Studio One interview (Sunday mornings – Bloomberg), he said he was working on something else that he wanted to devote his full efforts to and would not write an episode four.) It was perceived by many critics as too sanctimonious, which it was, but incredibly engaging, as Sorkin does so well. If you like Sorkin’s style and wit/dialogue, you will enjoy the series. I did. This scene on American Exceptionalism was the opener for the first episode and it is powerful. The one on the Tea Party is equally good.

    • 1mime says:

      Sorry, Rob, credited Tx with my reply below. Those interested in viewing this will have to go to youtube directly and put in The Newsroom, Episode 1, Season 1. It’s worth the effort.

  8. Stephen says:

    “He has never played a meaningful role in any major legislation.”

    Except for these 354 bills.

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/browse?sponsor=400357

    • 1mime says:

      Good work, Stephen. I noted that although many were introduced, not many were enrolled, which, of course, doesn’t mean Sanders’ bills were flawed but he evidently didn’t get enough support to pass them out of committee. Legislation effectiveness is more important than sheer number of bills filed, but it is a partisan process which does impact what passes. For example, (this is a quick perusal), Sanders “Veterans Access to Care…”, which he proposed but his bill died in committee while a Republican bill for the same purpose was passed and enacted. A deeper analysis would be needed to assess Sanders’ legislative effectiveness. That he was active is proven by the number of bills he filed – the man works! – but you have to have support to get bills through the process. That isn’t the only factor, but it’s a pretty big one.

      Still, if one looks over the titles of the bills, Sanders is definitely an “everyman’s” Senator, meaning, the issues he tackles are ones that are important to regular people. In that respect, he is consistent in both his work in Congress and his Presidential platform.

    • goplifer says:

      Change the search filter to “enacted” then watch what happens. 25 years in Washington and he’s named 2 post offices and passed a COLA adjustment for veterans. He’s in rare territory here, right down there with Ron Paul.

      • Stephen says:

        Or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio (one enacted bill each), Lindsey Graham (two) or Rand Paul (none). But hey, by this metric, Rick Santorum is more than twice as qualified as Sanders with a whole seven bills signed into law. I’m just saying maybe this isn’t the best metric to use.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer can correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that those who have very little legislative activity seem to be the ones who are always giving speeches. I know Cruz has been cited for his many absences in committee, which diminishes his claim to Senatorial experience….I mean, if you ain’t there, you ain’t learning how to work with colleagues or about the issues being heard in committee. Cruz seems to focus his time and attention on shooting things down instead of accomplishing anything substantive. Being effective means getting your legislation passed….but you’ve got to draft it first, and that takes work….(on someone’s part – lobbyists, ALEC, staff, etc.), then you have to develop support from your collegues. It’s called: doing the job.

      • Shiro17 says:

        Not that I ever want to defend Ted Cruz, but rarely are Congressional hearings anything but the most highly calculated political theater. For the majority of hearings, only the chairperson and the ranking member are there. Everyone else maybe shows up for two seconds to get some documents or questions on record then leaves. The real action is done in the backrooms, office luncheons and the G-Chat rooms. I have to laugh myself silly whenever attack ads mention committee attendance records.

      • 1mime says:

        Shiro, I can’t confirm or deny the validity of your statement that committee hearings are theater, but I do watch C-SPAN from time to time and I have watched some substantive committee meetings. I understand that staff and backroom meetings among interested parties are part of the pricess, but on significant legislation, committee meetings are important. I don’t know your experience, but I hope yours is an overly broad observation. Correct me if I am wrong.

      • Shiro17 says:

        1mime: You correctly limited your observations to substantive committee meetings. On really hot button issues, or issues where significant guests are brought in, you may get close to a full house. Even then, the majority of committee hearings go something like this: Congressperson “There’s a problem, and we’re angry about it!” Sympathetic private person “Here is my story about how I was affected by this problem!” Agency person “Well, you didn’t give us enough funding to handle this problem!” Law enforcement “We’re trying our best, but we have a lot of priorities besides just this.” Private entities “The law is too vague/too loophole-ridden or there isn’t a law!” Congressperson: “Well, everybody try harder!” Again, this is different depending on the issue. Most likely, you’ve only seen congressional hearings that are substantive since those are the ones that anybody actually wants to watch.

      • 1mime says:

        Shiro, I”ve served in government and I can tell you that some meetings are simple; others more complex. It’s the way things go. I admit that I have never been to a committee meeting in D.C. (Congress – only via c-span), but I have been to many committee meetings at the state and county level. Some are more substantive than others, as you suggest. I’d be interested to know if your opinions are based in actual on-site observation and participation or distanced observation.

      • N says:

        Hillary Clinton has named a road, also a post office, and made Kate Mullany’s house a historic place.

  9. 1mime says:

    I would like to note the death of a great man, Julian Bond. Many know his work in Civil Rights, but do not realize that he spent his life championing civil rights for all people. He was a pioneer in this movement and spent the latter part of his life working with the Southern Poverty Law Center. His contributions were many and he will be missed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/us/julian-bond-former-naacp-chairman-and-civil-rights-leader-dies-at-75.html?_r=0

  10. rightonrush says:

    Not that anybody gives a shit but this is another reason I left the Republican Party. Yes, “I” left it, it did not leave me. https://www.yahoo.com/politics/huckabee-on-abortion-10-year-old-rape-victim-126844580291.html

    • 1mime says:

      I’m right with ya, RR. Huckabee is a sick fake. And, for all the criticism of the Democratic candidate, especially Bernie, compare his genuineness to this pitiful excuse for a human being who calls himself “preacher”. Gives a right bad name to religion, that man does.

    • BigWilly says:

      I can live with the three exceptions that have been discussed here before. Kasich (which spell check suggests is Chickasaw) has correctly opened up the discussion to include other woman/child friendly GOP policies such as better prenatal care etc.

      You’re only hearing the guys that shout the loudest at the moment. Over time, hopefully, quieter calmer voices will be heard. For now it’s the din. How much of that is created by the constant stream of attacks from the left media and how much of that is what the candidates are creating without any assistance is hard to say.

      I don’t expect anyone who writes here to change their stripes, but listen to Kasich (Chickasaw) he’s closest to the center and also a Northern Gov with a long and successful record as a politician.

      By the way Silicon Valley is a pretty good show. Mike Judge usually produces good, thought provoking, entertainment.

      • 1mime says:

        BW, let there be no doubt – Kasich is trying to change the subject on abortion. He wants to cultivate the “more moderate” Republican candidate in the field and is doing a pretty good job of it. His prior stances quote him as saying he supports abortion in the event of rape or incest. It is silent on the life of the woman. His acknowledgement of other needs of women is commendable but I want details. I respect him for expanding Medicaid in his state at a time when the vast majority of Republican governors didn’t. He is experienced but I am intrigued that Lifer thinks he’s a wuss. He seems much more balanced than many of the group so will continue watching him in coming weeks. Still, I will be voting Democrat so interested only from the standpoint of him as a potential opponent to the Democratic nominee. My money is still on Bush with Kasich as VP – a pretty good gig in and of itself.

        Haven’t seen Silicon Valley…but it looked interesting when I googled it. Thanks for tip. I have enjoyed Madame Secretary well scripted and pretty realistic – to me, anyway (-:

      • rightonrush says:

        BW, I’ve heard plenty from John Kasich.
        “Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed stringent abortion restrictions into law as part of his state’s budget Sunday night, just days after Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis thrilled abortion rights groups nationwide with her successful filibuster against proposed anti-abortion regulations in her home state.

        The provisions in Ohio will make it more difficult for family planning groups to receive funding for preventive care; require ultrasounds for anyone seeking an abortion; and limit abortion providers’ ability to get transfer agreements with public hospitals”
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/07/01/ohio-gov-john-kasich-signs-new-abortion-restrictions-into-law.

  11. Rob Ambrose says:

    I must admit, I find Trumps honesty about his war mongering refreshing.

    A little surprising, politically though. Even Bush and Cheney knew flat out stating invading Iraq was first and foremost about oil was a political loser. They had to dress it up in “WMD’S!!” and “FREEDOM FROM TYRANTS!!” in order to sell it (even though we all knew better).

    Trump is flat out saying he’s going to drag America into another middle east war. And he’s telling us why: It’s the oil, stupid!

    “ISIS is taking over a lot of the oil and certain areas of Iraq. And I said you take away their wealth, that you go and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over the oil, which we should have done in the first place,” Trump said, adding he could support using U.S. ground troops in Iraq to secure the oil fields for revenue.
    “We’re going to have so much money,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/trump-hails-womens-health-issues-details-abortion-exemptions-121401.html#ixzz3izFbO9Gh

    • johngalt says:

      Sure, he’s saying that we’re going to steal the oil from the people who stole it from the rightful owners, which are the Iraqi people. Let us know how that works out in the long run.

      The Brookings Institute estimated that the U.S. spent $400 million per day on the Iraq war in 2008 (think about that staggering sum). Iraq currently produces (a near record high) 3.2 million barrels per day of oil which, at current prices, is about $175 million. You’d think a businessman as successful as Trump would be able to crunch those numbers.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        JG, that’s also leaving out the cost of pumping, transporting, and selling the oil.

        I don’t know what Iraqi oil costs to pump, but I know Saudi oil is the cheapest in the world at $20/bbl. I have to imagine Iraqi is quite a bit more then that due to security costs.

        All told, I’d be shocked if you could get Iraqi oil to American refineries for less then $40/bbl. At current prices of just over $50n Mr. Capitalist prob needs to go over those numbers again.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Not to mention, that’s also completely glossing over the completely unethical (and likely illegal) aspect of going to another country and simply sucking the resources out of the land for transport and sale to America.

        I see no difference between that and someone breaking into your house and helping them self to your tv, money, and wife’s jewelery.

        Donald is running on a platform of America being the “thugs” of the world.

      • 1mime says:

        The “Don” running as a thug on the Middle East? At least he’s being consistent! Never forget, that this is all about spin. Trump is punching all the right buttons for all the stupid people TX describes – the same people whose vote offsets our own.

        It boils down to this for me: America should be RACING towards alternative energy sources so that not only would oil imports become unnecessary, but so would any justification for involvement in the Middle East relative to our need for their oil. Notice: “their” oil. Rob is right on this. Saudi Arabia is making a huge investment in alternative energy because they’ve done the math: their vast reserves are insufficient for the long term needs of their country, as is Germany and many other major industrialized nations. There will be a transition period from fossil fuel, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid investing in the development of alternative energy sources. Pres. Obama deserves credit for understanding this and doing what he can to incentivize investment in this area. America needs to do more and more aggressively.

        Just last week, America began exporting oil to Mexico. There are many who favor increasing oil exports at the same time that the Don is championing charging into the Middle East to get their oil…oil that those nations need for their own needs to become economically stable. The man or woman who will have the box with the red button next to their bed need to do all within their power to avert war. The GOP es recommending the sale of some of our oil reserves to fund 3 years of the federal Highway Transportation budget -(note – funding for the last 3 of the proposed 6-year extension are TBD…amazing for a party who prides itself on fiscal responsibility.) Our vast and important transportation infrastructure should be a top funding priority, not political football.

        America has other serious domestic problems and issues it needs to address. We deserve to hear each candidate’s positions and policies on them in order to make our choice for the most important position in our government. This is a time for media to step up and ask the tough questions. That is their job so we can do our job as voters.

      • flypusher says:

        “The Brookings Institute estimated that the U.S. spent $400 million per day on the Iraq war in 2008 (think about that staggering sum). Iraq currently produces (a near record high) 3.2 million barrels per day of oil which, at current prices, is about $175 million. You’d think a businessman as successful as Trump would be able to crunch those numbers.”

        He’s got plenty of bankruptcy experience.

      • johngalt says:

        I doubt that the ethical considerations of “liberating” Iraqi oil is at the top of the Donald’s list of things to worry about.

      • 1mime says:

        Policies? You want policies from the Don?

        https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/immigration-reform

    • vikinghou says:

      During yesterday’s Meet The Press with Chuck Todd, I have to say that I was shocked when Trump said that he receives foreign policy advice from John Bolton. Oh my God!

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, these bad pennies keep turning up….they never die. Could not believe Paul Wolfowitz was named to Jeb’s advisory circle….They are “out there”.

  12. BigWilly says:

    Welly, well, well, well, well, look what turns up on the other side of the pond. The Scandinavians are good students of Mike Judge.

    http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=34061

    • Griffin says:

      “Eugenics is a dirty word because the Third Reich practiced eugenics, and it led to the mass extermination of millions of Jews and other “undesirables,” so the story goes.”

      Holy Jesus. They also missed the point of the movie, it’s supposed to be a parody of modern entertainment and the increasing need for constant stimulus (a theme that works well here), not a serious proposal that stupid people will outbreed smart ones.

  13. texan5142 says:

    I, as a liberal socialist democrat am willing to compromise on some of Huntsman positions. Compromise is a sign of weakness in the republican party when it is supposed to be a sign of governing. How do we get around the ideology driven impulses to vote in our own self interest, instead of the pragmatic solutions that benefits society as a whole. So many questions to ponder….time for a steak on the grill and a beer.

    Stop by for a cold one and something grilled.

  14. johngalt says:

    A stats-heavy, but worthwhile reality check. Turns out that Trump’s current lead is a death knell.
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/candidates-in-donald-trumps-position-have-a-terrible-track-record/

  15. From the outside one of the biggest mysteries about the US political system is how long your politicians last
    You seem to keep bringing the same faces forwards
    There are 300+ million Americans you must have a lot of people who could be politicians
    Instead you keep recycling the old ones

    Everywhere else people seem to get one chance
    They screw up they are gone
    And they DON’T come back

    In the USA it’s as if politicians are in limited supply so you have to keep re-using the old ones

    • johngalt says:

      Contrary to worldwide perception, Duncan, most Americans are way too smart to subject themselves to the ridiculousness of our political system. Someday, when things get bad enough, we’ll figure out how to change that system. As Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

  16. BigWilly says:

    Huntsman-on the issues.

    Abortion-“I do support a right to life amendment,” replied Huntsman.

    Gay marriage-Huntsman, as Utah governor, favored civil unions for gays and lesbians, but stood against gay marriage. “I believe in traditional marriage,” he said while running for the GOP presidential primary. “I don’t think you can redefine marriage from the traditional sense.”

    2nd Amendment-“I would not veto an assault weapons ban,” said Huntsman.
    After the interview, Huntsman’s campaign said the former governor “would absolutely” veto a weapons ban, and Huntsman immediately issued a statement to affirm it:
    “Hugh, I clearly misunderstood your question regarding the assault weapons ban,” Huntsman wrote in an email to Hewitt. “I would absolutely veto the ban. I have always stood firmly for 2nd Amendment rights, and my record in Utah reflects it. With a name like ‘Huntsman’ it really goes without saying.”

    Evolution and Global Warming-“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,”

    Tax and Budget priorities-“… In terms of the stimulus you talked about, it was failed. And let me tell you what I talked about with respect to the stimulus. I talked about the need for more tax cuts in the stimulus… We had done historic tax cuts. We created a flat tax in the state of Utah, exactly what needs to happen in this country. We got the economy moving. We became the number-one job creator in this nation and the best managed state. That’s exactly what needs to happen in this nation. I am running on my record, and I am proud to run on my record.”

    In spite of his apostasy regarding the literal 144 hour creation (is rest included?) he still appeared to be a fairly conservative Republican. I don’t see anything in his statements that indicates he’s a crypto-liberal.

    I don’t think anyone left of center would find much appealing about Jon Huntsman. If I understand how liberals really view him I think he’s probably just the most polite a-hola of the bunch.

    Is Kasich the Huntsman of 2016? Do you really think Jeb! is interested in the Presidency, or is he involved to blunt the influence of the TEA Party? Is Trump on a mission from Clinton to destroy the party? Will the Pope drop any bombs when he addresses Congress? Why is the Pope addressing Congress?

    Get the Pope the hell outta there. I’d rather Pat Robertson address the Congress than the guy with the swell looking outfit.

    References, if you need them.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/2012/Jon_Huntsman_Gun_Control.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Huntsman_presidential_campaign,_2012

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61656.html#ixzz3ipPJ5hgL

    • flypusher says:

      “I don’t think anyone left of center would find much appealing about Jon Huntsman. If I understand how liberals really view him I think he’s probably just the most polite a-hola of the bunch.”

      The fact that he has positioned himself firmly against the anti-science crowd means that he is the “pick o’ the litter” when considering the GOP possibilities, from my veiwpoint. That would get him my vote in a primary, but not necessarily the general election.

    • Griffin says:

      By today’s standards believing in global warming and evolution makes him look moderate in comparison to most Republicans, and he’s something of a foreign policy wonk who’s not afraid to work with Obama. That’s a pretty low bar but in many ways the GOP going off the crazy cliff has essentially lowered the standards for Republicans (something they could take advantage of if they were aware of it) so it takes much less effort from a Republican to seem “reasonable”/moderate than for a Democrat to do the same so to liberals he’s a breath of fresh air despite being somewhat to the right of Reagan. Also Huntsman is at least capable of governing a state reasonably well, I can’t say the same for guys like Walker.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        It’s the catch 22 they’ve backed themselves in to.

        Can’t win the general of you’re too conservative. Can’t win the primary if you’re not conservative enough.

    • 1mime says:

      BW, I was with ya until you wanted to swap the Pope with Pat Robertson….the same Pat Robertson who said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of cleansing all the sinners from New Orleans? That Pat Robertson? Come on, BW.

      I was interested in your research regarding Huntsman. You missed the 2014 Larry King interview where Huntsman was asked his opinion of Hillary Clinton. His response: “I have to say I haven’t been around too many people as professional, as well briefed, as good with people at all levels of life, whether a head of state or the person holding open the door. I think that’s the measure of a leader.”

      If that’s the polite hola you’re talking about, I still like him. And, no, Kasich is not the new Huntsman, although he is more qualified than many of his competitors.

  17. goplifer says:

    A look back at Obama’s tenure and qualifications might provide a helpful contrast. Obama was not highly experienced, compared to perhaps Clinton or Christie. On the other hand, he was also not a protest candidate like Sanders or Ron Paul. He attracted a lot of the same people that are excited about Sanders, but he was always a much more credible leadership figure.

    First, how are Obama’s qualifications more credible than Sanders? Obama, like Bush II and Kennedy, took the job pretty young with relatively little government experience. He was far less qualified than Clinton and entirely more qualified than Sanders. That lack of experience has had an impact on his Administration, but it’s nothing compared Sanders’ lack of experience.

    The most important thing to understand about my perspective on Sanders’ experience is that he has spent his entire long career in politics engaged in a sort of extended protest. Hence the comparison to Ron Paul. For thirty years he has done nothing much more significant than marching around wearing a sandwich board inside Congress. And that’s all he’s doing in his disorganized mess of a Presidential campaign.

    Compare that to Obama, who spent all of his adult career enmeshed in Chicago politics. As a national leader he was very green when he ran for the nomination, but he had very deep experience getting things done in an extremely difficult atmosphere. He knew how to throw an elbow. He wasn’t running just to make a point.

    Yes, the left loved him, but he was never a protest candidate. He wasn’t just stirring up rage, but building a platform on which one could credibly have governed.

    Even then, the job swallowed him. He took office with the largest legislative majority in generations. He used it to do one thing, and then pissed it away. He clutzed his way through his first term, stumbling over almost everything.

    His Day 1 committment to close Guantanamo is still dangling, a sort of tribute to his early naivete. Were Republicans out to get him? Of course they were, just like they were out to get Bill Clinton. When Obama got his ass handed to him by Democrats over the Pacific Trade Pact, it became clear that his problems with Congress were about more than Republican racism.

    Over the past year or so we’ve seen Obama kind of learn the job, much like George Bush in the final 18mos of his eight years at President school. Yes, it’s a big job and no one is entirely ready for it, but do you think Hillary will fumble as much as Obama did? Would Chris Christie?

    Has Obama been a historic success? Er…no. Obama is the first guy in sixteen years to combine basic, minimal competence with honesty and integrity. So, he seems like a breath of fresh air. His greatest success is that he hasn’t done anything venal or stupid. And that’s a refreshing departure from recent history. It was enough to earn my vote in ’12.

    Do you honestly think that Bernie Sanders could find the White House bathroom in his first year on the job? A Sanders Adminstration would be an epic train wreck.

    • Griffin says:

      That’s a very apt reply to many people’s complaints about the comparison. I think you have to take into account that the average voter doesn’t take “administrative qualities” into consideration nor do they actually understand much abut policy regardless of who they vote for, they just want to know if their political positions are closer to their own (or, more scarily, if they seem like a “cool guy”).

      However while I was thinking of why this comparison bothered me so much I figured it out. You think that, like Trump, Sanders is getting support DESPITE his political positions, when Sanders is getting support mainly BECAUSE of his policy positions. Yes populism figures into it as well but unlike Trump who’s getting his support (sorry to sound elitist here) from the lowest of the low information voters Sanders is getting his support among well-educated progressive type areas that expects more red meat in their politics. These people actually do want to raise the cap on Social Security, expand medicare for all, raise capital gains, have a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, tax financial transactions, regulate banking, etc. If you think those host of policy positions are best for the country than you would probably genuinly think Sanders is a better president than Clinton and because those issues have been ignored for so long progressives are willing to overlook his comparitave lack of administrative experience and hope that he’s been a long enough observer of politics to know the basics.

      As for the Ron Paul comparison there is one key difference (well a few); one of these guys is an admirer of a political and economic system that is very successful in other modern developed countries (regarldess of whether you think it’s right for this country) while the other is essentially trying to recreate the Articles of Confederation alongside the gold standard and have an economic system that exists NOWHERE in the world… except Somalia. And yes Sanders has come under attack for being willing to compromise (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bernie-sanders-says-hes-a-socialist-his-old-socialist-buddies-say-not-so-much/2015/07/25/a3948256-3145-11e5-97ae-30a30cca95d7_story.html).

      • goplifer says:

        All solid arguments.

      • Shiro17 says:

        Actually, from what little I’ve spoken to Trump supporters, they also do seem to like Trump BECAUSE of his positions, and his brash attitude is an amusing sideshow. Opposition to immigration runs deep in certain segments of this country, and they feel that Trump is just voicing what they were all thinking. To them, securing the border is that important that they’re willing to invest in a candidate that they know will not win because that candidate expresses their views.

      • 1mime says:

        The Don released his immigration policy today (see link above), and true to his real estate credentials, it involves the wall dividing the U.S. from Mexico. He proposes that America make Mexico pay for the wall! Brilliant!!! Of course, he’s not planning on picking up any Mexican-American votes, so guess he could care less what they think.

      • Griffin says:

        @Shiro That’s a good point but that’s literally ONE position. That’s it. And it’s one that’s easy enough to attack because as it turns out building a giant wall across the Southern border is neither a practical nor effective way of stopping illegal immigration. I’m sure there are nativists/white populists who genuinly think he would be best for this country (my grandma is one of said people) but it’s such a laughable easy position to attack that anyone with half a brain could do it.

        You can attack Sanders positions (the key here being posiTIONS instead of positTION) as well but it at least requires some knowledge of economics/government to do so and he has the backing of actual experts such as Dean Baker, Brad Delong, The Krug, Robert Reich, (insert any remotely left-leaning economist here). For instance in order for Lifer to lay out his opposition to social democracy in the US it required a decently long post with detailed information and well-thought out positions. By contrast I’m willing to bet that Lifer could dismantle Trump’s entire immigration stance with a single paragraph if he wanted to and it wouldn’t even take ten minutes to do so. Literally the only reason not to is because it’s such an obviously insane position it’s a waste of pretty much everyone’s time to actually go into it.

        Also alot of the people supporting Sanders think that unlike Trump he has an actual chance to win, if only because the GOP is imploding on national television (even many of Sanders supporters will concede that if the GOP was functional Sanders wouldn’t have a chance).

      • RightonRush says:

        I’m supporting Sander and I assure you it’s not a “protest vote”. I’ve always like Sander’s independence especially his pledge not to accept super PAC support.

      • 1mime says:

        RR, who do you like as a back up candidate to Sanders?

      • rightonrush says:

        Mime, hope this turns up in the right thread. As a back up candidate my wife and I will vote Clinton. That is of right now. If another candidate enters the race (like Biden) we will take a closer look at our second choices. We both supported Huntsman when he ran but lets face it, the GOP doesn’t have anything that even resembles a Huntsman.

      • 1mime says:

        Solid back up candidate, RR (-;

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Solid post Lifer (almost had me convinced ) amd then a very nice rebuttal.

      • 1mime says:

        Griffin, I think we’re gonna have to wait for Warren for that progressive list. (Please add pay equality and full Medicaid expansion and I will be a happy camper.) Bernie won’t be the candidate and Hillary can’t win with that agenda at this time, but Bernie will force her to have a discussion about these proposals. Think Warren in 2020.

      • Griffin says:

        @1mime The reason Sanders is getting so much support is because if (and probably when) Clinton gets the nomination they’ll have to wait at least eight years, not four, to get those proposals. By then Warren will be a year older than Sanders will be in 2016, making it unlikely she’ll run. A lot of the built up anger from progressives is from mainly two causes:

        1) Obama turning out not to be all that progressive. Yes this is sometimes exaggerated but after running as more-or-less a left liberal he turned around and self-identified as a New Democrat and expressed annoyance with the left-wing of the party, did far less spending in his stimulus than liberal economists wanted him to do, supports the TPP, extended the Patriot Act, etc.. Would he have done more if he maintained majorities in Congress? Probably yes but he’s even on record as a Third Way advocate not a left-winger. This may extend to the Democratic Party in general, especially those in the Senate, not being progressive enough.

        2) Obama and The Democratic Party in general not being aggressive enough. Just look at the candidates who ran in the mid-terms (especially in the South), most of them basically accepted the right’s worldview and tried to be “republican lite” and Obama had tried to compromise with Republicans and lobbyists more than they feel he should have (he mostly failed because of the recent radicalization of the Republican Party).

        Most progressives believe that if the Democratic Party and Obama had been more aggressive they could have kept the GOP out of Congress by denying them the populist vote and getting more Democrats to turn out to vote. This idea has become more popular because of how obstructionist the GOP has become, now for progressives (and everyone really) the only way to get anything done is for one of the parties to take both the White House and Congress. Clinton is a better candidate but Sanders is a better campaigner, and the ability of the Democratic nominee to maintain majorities (or limit GOP influence in the House) may decide more than even administrative skills might since said skills can only go so far if the party controlling one of the legislative bodies are too batshit crazy to work with you or in the rare cases where they do your legislation is so watered down as to be almost meaningless.

        I don’t think it will be difficult for the GOP to stir up populist outrage at Clinton in which case they have at least one more good midterm election left in them. I wish Warren ran as well but for progressives Sanders is the next best thing because while being an outsider definetely has disadvantages he will still have advisors and he is not a stupid man, he’s seen the Obama presidency up close and truly wants to get his legislation done by encouraging higher voter turnout to push out the GOP while making the Democrats more progressive. He comes across as being, in retrospect, correct in most of this policy positions (from a progressive point of view at least).

        Normally the “all or nothing” approach wouldn’t be so popular but it’s pretty much the only position to take since 2010, otherwise we’re stuck with a barely functioning government that refuses to raise the debt ceiling until the last second because… politics. (PS I hope Lifer isn’t getting annoyed with my long as hell comments taking up so much space on his site haha)

      • 1mime says:

        Griffen, your thoughts reinforce Lifer’s assessment of the Obama Presidency, especially as it relates to his lack of managerial ability and “missed” opportunities. The GOP was the 900# gorilla in the room and they employed every means possible to destroy Obama. They damn near succeeded. I don’t think Hillary will be as vulnerable. She’s got lots of experience watching and playing hard-ball politics. Right now, she has to survive the email challenge which will give us some idea as to how she will deal with the Republicans if elected. Sanders would be in a far worse position to manage the GOP onslaught that Obama faced or Hillary would experience. I do like most of Sander’s platform, but if you think of America as a huge, complex corporation, you need an executive that has vision, experience, leadership skills, temperament, common sense and problem-solving ability.experience and managerial skill.

        Warren may be too old at 72. Trump may be too young at 70. Sanders is 75. Reagan was 73. Biden is 74. Candidates for President are getting younger. I don’t know that that is necessarily a good thing as I stated above in the list I offered for a top tier executive of a major corporation. (most of whom, btw, would not make it in the political world) The job is incredibly demanding.

    • flypusher says:

      A question for you Chris- if you had the power to persuade any one person (regardless of party) who you thought could do the job, to enter this race (or even the next race, if you consider 2016 too FUBAR’ed), who would you want?

      • goplifer says:

        That’s a very good question. I have to think about that.

      • texan5142 says:

        Huntsman.

      • 1mime says:

        TX, I have always thought Huntsman would make a fine President. I would definitely consider voting for him. (Caveat: I would have to see who the Dem opponent would be but like Huntsman, a lot.) Huntsman is only 55 years old, so he’s young enough to try again, if America ever grows up and can figure out how to vote for a nice and capable presidential candidate.

      • Griffin says:

        Warren vs Huntsman would be an awesome election, and an actual choice for sane people. The only thing that makes me uneasy about Huntsman is his support of a flat tax and privitizing medicare but he’s still definitely sane.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think America missed out when Colin Powell never ran against Clinton in 1992.

        Or any time after that, for that matter. I think he would have been (and would still be) a very smart and unifying President.

      • 1mime says:

        Colin Powell. I agree, only problem is, the General wouldn’t have had a Mrs. Powell by his side. She reputedly told him NO WAY would she support his candidacy for President. He made his choice and never looked back, I’m sure.

        More seriously, I was incredibly disappointed with Powell for sticking to the bogus weapons of mass destruction story at the U.N. I guess we’ll never really know what he was told to support him taking that stand, but it was so sad. A man of such principle and character. Cheney, Wolferitz, Rumsfeld, et al really must have really pressed him on this. And, most of these yo yos are advising Jeb! Another one of the things that I don’t like about Jeb. He hasn’t learned from the experience of W. What is that Einstein said? Stupidity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different response.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yikes that isn’t how that ending was supposed to come out (having a beer while watching my beloved Blue Jays be good for the first time since 93).

        I meant, he IS very smart and woukd have been an excellent president and America is worse off for what might have been.

      • texan5142 says:

        I think it was Powell that said, anybody smart enough to do the job, is smart enough not to take the job,or something like that.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yeah, it’s unfortunate bevause I think Jeb has it in him to be a decent president. He seems infinitely more capable then W (not that that’s an overly high standard).

        It’s just the utter scumbags he’s surrounding himself with that are the scariest part. And that’s where the power is in any Bush presidency.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s important to know the policy positions of a candidate, but equally important are the people he/she chooses to advise them during the campaign and later, if elected – the “inner circle”. When I read that Jeb included 17 of the 21 foreign affairs advisors that W had surrounded himself with – especially Paul Wolfowitz – it nailed Jeb’s coffin shut for me. Then Jeb was quoted as saying his brother would be one of his closest advisors. Huh?

        I have to say I never cared for Rahm Emmanuel, either, but I understood their Chicago alliance. His style was too bombastic. Poor judgment on O’s part. Robert Gates, Tim Geithner, and Hillary Clinton were strong choices, and served him well. This is a critical element of governance ….surrounding yourself with quality people.

      • flypusher says:

        “Yeah, it’s unfortunate bevause I think Jeb has it in him to be a decent president. He seems infinitely more capable then W (not that that’s an overly high standard).

        It’s just the utter scumbags he’s surrounding himself with that are the scariest part. And that’s where the power is in any Bush presidency.”

        Absolutely agree on that one. W’s people so totally FUBAR’ed on Iraq, that they ought to be radioactive political poison. Rehiring that crowd is a no-go for me.

      • goplifer says:

        Been thinking about it. Short answer, there isn’t anyone who might realistically be expected to emerge in 2016 who I could support. I am on the express train to Miserytown. By all indications I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016. My fingers will bleed on the touchscreen.

        It is also pretty unlikely that anyone credible could appear in 2020. My next realistic hope is 2024. Who will that be?

        There are two pieces to this puzzle, the person and the party. There are already people in prominent positions who I could probably support, but the party is demanding that they assume policy positions which are too outrageous to tolerate. In this environment you either get delusional whackjobs like Carson or Cruz, spineless panderers like Walker and Rubio, or guys who try to thread the needle between those positions – and fail, like Romney and Jeb!.

        The only credible contenders are outsiders, but being an outsider comes with baggage if and when you ever get a chance to govern (see long string about Bernie Sanders).

        That’s why I expect that the next Republican President will either be a business figure or a Northern state Governor. Both positions provide enough prominence to support a campaign, enough experience to build credible leadership capabilities, while allowing someone to develop those assets outside the party establishment.

        Bruce Rauner and Charlie Baker in IL and MA are both interesting. Not sure if either of them are inclined that way. Christie might have been that guy, but he decided to become a panderer in the Romney style. We need somebody as brash and unapologetic as Trump who isn’t a Fascist. Unfortunately it isn’t easy to get one of those traits without the other.

        Who will be the next Republican Presidential candidate I support? Probably somebody we’ve never heard of. There are a few state reps and senators here in IL that I’d love to see graduate up. Silicon Valley might produce someone. We’ll see.

        I think a lot about T. Roosevelt these days. He had a lot of Trump’s defiance, but with a brilliant mind and relatively centrist politics for the time. First President to invite a black man (Booker T. Washington) to dinner in the White House.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, you didn’t mention Kasich. Is he closer to your Northern governor model?

      • 1mime says:

        Teddy Roosevelt’s political life has been chronicled extensively, most recently by Doris K. Goodwin, in the “Bully Pulpit”. Another interesting, not as well known book, “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey”, by Candice Millard, details TR’s disastrous journey in 1914 down an unexplored tributary of the Amazon, the “river of doubt, re-named, Rio Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s ego is in full display, and his poor judgment and planning risked the lives of all on the venture, notably, his own. He and his son almost died. It’s a great read and a very different view of this great man with many flaws.

      • goplifer says:

        Kasich is kind of a goofball. He’s getting lots of credit as a “moderate” because he had the courage to say he’d attend a gay wedding. He’s an abortion extremist and fundamentalist Catholic who once pressured Blockbuster to drop the movie Fargo because of how “obscene” it was. He just seems credible because he’s relatively quiet.

      • 1mime says:

        Kasich did expand Medicaid, so there is that. Haven’t heard much about Rauner lately…Is that a good thing or a bad thing? He had hit a bumpy path for a bit…hope things are smoothing out for him.

    • 1mime says:

      Thanks, Lifer. I see more accomplishments by Obama than you do, but certainly agree that he lacked the political skills (and managerial experience) to fight a GOP that have been riding his back from day one…..Comes with the territory and all that, but I think he had it as tough or more than Bill Clinton. I won’t quibble the point, however. As for Guantanamo, this should be a goal of any American President. It is ridiculous that the Republicans have fought him (successfully) on this, but not that he shouldn’t have tried. Guantanamo should be closed.

      I appreciate you responding to this even as I recognize that its relevance to the 2016 election is limited. 2016 is a critical election year for the nation, more important than 2012. Although I didn’t want Romney to win, it wouldn’t have been catastrophic if he had. I would have been unhappy but the country would have survived. I shudder to think what could happen with a Ted Cruz at the helm, or a Bernie Sanders, or a Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, or Rick Perry. Sure seems like the scales tip more crazy on the right, doesn’t it?

      Somehow America has always suffered through the fools who call themselves leaders, usually because Americans then elected real leaders who could clean up the mess the others left. I don’t want that to happen in ’16. I want America to work – and I think this is where most of America wants as well….regardless who the President is from whatever party.

      http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/march_april_2012/features/obamas_top_50_accomplishments035755.php?page=all

    • 1mime says:

      The smartest thing W did in his last 18 months was to change the locks to the oval office and not give Cheney a key.

    • flypusher says:

      I had big reservations about Obama’s experience back in ’08. One of my history major friends pointed out to me that there really is no other job you could do that totally compares and would completely prepare you (I think being Veep or the Guv of a large state with a constitutionally strong executive branch might give you the most partial prep). I think there is merit in that, but there are still different degrees of deficit in relevant experience among candidates. I speculate that Obama realized that all the politcal stars were aligning most favorably for him in ’08, so that’s when he jumped in.

    • Tom says:

      Now I see your point, and it’s generally describing why I support Clinton and not Sanders: regardless of whether Sanders is “more liberal” (whatever your definition is), Clinton would be far more likely to actually be able to implement her agenda as President.

    • Brent Uzzell says:

      Just an FYI..Sanders said at the Iowa Wing-Ding that his run is not about who wins and who losses. no President, alone, will be able to change the system. He is running to create a grass-roots movement. It was the first time I have heard him say it and something about it makes sense. I for one hope he is successful. Perhaps Trump/Sanders proves Chris Hedges point and makes Nick Hanauer sound prophetic; perhaps it is a revolution.

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/our_invisible_revolution_20131028

      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html#.Vc63sbWbRec

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Brent – I’ve long considered democracy to act as a sort of societal pressure relief valve in amy society.

        Think of a air compression tank with a relief valve pre set to 200 PSI. The pressure could be anywhere from 14.7 PSI (sea level) to 199 PSI and nothing will really happen. But as soon as it goes above, the valve kicks in and any pressure AB9VE 200 psi will be expelled, thus preventing the the tank from exploding.

        In a society, there are varying amounts of “presure” at different times. In this analogy, I think we can imagine in America today, the “pressure” is in the high 190’s (if we define ‘pressure’ to mean overall discontent among the majority ).

        In societies WITHOUT democracy (i.e. without a way for people to make their voice heard, i.e. without a pressure release) such as just before the French Revolution, the pressure builds and builds until it just explodes. In a revolution.

        For all the corrupting influence if money in today’s politics (and it’s a serious problem) the elections are not “rigged” in the traditional sense in America. In other words, sure money can be used to convince ppl of things that may or may not be true. But nobody is literally stuffing the ballot. My vote is just as equal as the Koch Bros vote (in the ballot box).

        So I think as long as you have strong institutions and a solid voting system, change will inevitably come by releasing pressure at the ballot box, and I think thats what you’re seeing right now.

        Or, put another way, think of a society as any other force with stored energy, such as water, or electricity. Both of these things will always take the path of least resistance. The same is true for human dynamics. In a society which does not allow citizens to vote, and thus, “release pressure” sometimes the ONLY choice is revolution. But revolutions are very costly both in terms of resources and energy. It is illogical to assume that a society would, en masse, start a revolution when a much easier path with much less resistance (the blot box) is available to them.

        I.e. nobody is going to go STRAIGHT to revolution without even bothering to vote. Anybidy woth that much political ferver is going to also be heavily involved in political activities first, and thwyll cwrtainly be voting. No point in climbing to the top of the tree if you havent yet picked all the low hanging fruit. It’s only when disenfranchised that revolution becomes a realistic option.

        And in a society where votes still matter,if you had enough strength in numbers on you side to start a revolution, you’ll certainly have enough numbers to dictate your will at the ballot box.

        So to that end, as long as we protect the democracy and the voting process, I think America will be, in effect, “revolution proof”. I think what you’re seeing now is the pressure relief valve starting to be engaged.

        And I think thats scaring the hell out of the elites. And just like last time the pressure relief valve was about to be triggered (on the 1930’s, the last time wealth inequality was this high) I think we’ll see the 1% do a huge abkut face on many issues and make some consessions. A bit of socialism to save the capitalism, if you will.

        In the 30’s, the problem was remedied (for the time being) by the New Deal, and some massive redistribution programs (some that remain very popular today) came into effect in a few short years.

        I think we’re going to see New Deal 2.0 in the next few years. Its already started with the ACA actually. Obamacare is the largest redistribution of wealth since the New Deal. I expect the average minimum wage in the US to be significantly higher within a few years as well, that seems to be the next New Deal 2.0 battleground.

        Should be a fascinating couple of years.

      • 1mime says:

        Interesting analogy, Rob, but one point to consider: Blacks are being disenfranchised. In all sorts of ways, but for the purpose of this blog, their right to vote is being repressed. This same group lacks a the ability to organize….or, they have – maybe that is what will change. BLM is possibly a hint of things to come. More young Blacks are better educated and therefore understand more deeply what has to be done. The challenge is, engaging them into smart political action. (Last year’s effort in GA, the “New Georgia Project”, is a case study on this point. Google it if you’re interested.)

        I loved your comment about the 1% using a “little socialism to save capitalism”! It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that demand is limited by means….and, ultimately, it is in the best interest of the 1% to pay labor sufficiently to make them contributors to the economy – thus reducing welfare, and participants in the economy. If one is living at a subsistence level, there is no ability to purchase goods beyond the most basic. Sooner or later, capitalists will understand that they NEED the working class for more than their labor. And, that realization will avert a major social upheaval.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That politico article is actually exactly what I’m talking about.

        To have a billionaire say things like that is pretty unprecedented. Another article in the same vein worth a read:

        http://www.salon.com/2015/08/11/why_conservatives_billionaires_have_started_talking_like_bernie_sanders_we_are_creating_a_caste_system_from_which_its_almost_impossible_to_escape/

        When you hear even the 1% saying things like this, you know things are bad. But the optimist in me thinks it’s a good thing when these hrs core capitalists are seriously talking a out thing like inequality.

        The link above also specifically references the New Deal, and how that situation was similar to the one we find ourselves in now.

      • goplifer says:

        Along those lines, this is what I wrote about Ron Paul four years ago.

        http://www.frumforum.com/how-ron-paul-assimilated-the-gop/

      • 1mime says:

        Brent, I think you’ll find this rebuttal of Hanauer’s piece interesting. (Forbes, Tim Worstall) Don’t just read the Worstall rebuttal, read the reader comments/rebuttals. They are super, esp. the ones by Chang and Robinson. Smart, on point, and skewers Worstall’s critique. It certainly broadens one’s understanding of an issue when there are intelligent counterpoints.

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/06/30/nick-hanauers-latest-near-insane-economic-plan/

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        That was a pretty weak rebuttal there Mime. Fortunately, as you say, the comments expertly dissected it.

      • Brent Uzzell says:

        Thanks for the feedback everyone. I knew using the word “revolution” was dangerous. I am aware of its emotional overtones but I would remind you that revolutions don’t always mean barricades. Besides anyone advocating a ’76 style revolution in today’s disparity of populace and military would be dangerously mentally ill.

        While I agree that freedom of the press, speech and assembly combined with an open political process and voting contribute to societal stability they do not preclude sudden and dramatic (revolutionary vs evolutionary) changes to the prevailing governing paradigm. I think we may be on the verge of just such a lurch. Consider the UK Labour party being taken over by Corbin, Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, the Arab spring and the hot mess in Ukraine that started as a populus protest against corruption..There are increasingly strident voices arising against neo-liberalism globally, including here. I see Trump and Sanders as symptomatic of the same frustrations here and saying many of the same things actually. Listen to trump talk about the “puppets being owned” and the fraud of super-pacs.

        We are seeing an increase in political activism unlike anything in history, it is global, shares a broad range of issues and is beginning to unite around prescriptions for change. Our wired world has enabled these groups to collaborate in ways previously unthinkable. Even the elder statesmen of systemic challenge – the Green peace crowd and the Anarchist are assimilating into and sharing learning with the new political movements and they are all growing even here.

        Thomas Piketty laid it out well = the multinationals are now extra-national and beyond both the control of any nation-state and caring about any nation-state.(except for the use of our military). National sovereignty itself has been steadily eroded by numerous trade deals and the WTO.

        I found the feedback to the Forbes article interesting. The commenters were expressing the view bubbling up that the Neo-liberal “new capitalism narrative is no longer viable, too many see the emperor has no clothes. When this happens the revolution is upon us and it will not be televised, it will be tweeted.

    • “It was enough to earn my vote in ’12.”

      GOPLifer… except in the voting booth. Tell me, is it just Chicago *GOP precinct committeemen* who vote Democrat, or should we expect that from GOP functionaries in general? Hmm.

  18. lomamonster says:

    We in Texas just can’t seem to be able to project anything but political embarrassment, and that its not going to change anytime soon. It is becoming more apparent that Jeb Bush is even more of a buffoon than his bro and totally unprepared to make policy statements or make decisions that would prove him otherwise. And we don’t even need to mention our totally burned out ex-governor do we? Or the clowns in the House and Senate?

    This nation would be well advised to avoid the Texas Reality Show like the plague!

    • 1mime says:

      Elizabeth took Warren away. She’s not ready. I look for the penultimate ideological Presidential matchup in 2020 between Warren and Ryan. THAT will be the Presidential campaign of the century!

      And, yes, I realize it’s early, and Hillary is pacing herself. She has to reserve revenue since she’s dramatically underfunded (pak) as compared to Jeb – despite Lifer’s prediction that $$ doesn’t win races. We’ll see. Hillary has to create some excitement in her campaign since her personality (unlike Barack’s and hothead Cruz) is steady and rational. That could come in the VP candidate she chooses (Julian Castro?) The other thing to think about is who will be voting. There are the fringe constituencies (and they vote!) and then everyone else. Let us hope and pray that somehow good judgment will prevail and we will elect a President who doesn’t live in “red button” hyperbole mode. I guess I have to add Cruz to my list of most objectionable people in politics (the others being Dick Cheney and Grover Norquist). SO self absorbed.

      Bernie will flare out. Trump will get tired of the work involved. It will come down to Jeb, Kasich, Cruz, or Rubio for the red team, and standing alone on the left, Hillary. It will be interesting to see if Biden does make a bid (which I don’t think he will) who Obama would endorse. What a tough call. Hope it doesn’t come to that.

    • 1mime says:

      I don’t think it is accurate to state that Jeb Bush is more of a buffoon than W. Jeb is not showing the spine he will have to have to be the winner nor as a strong President, but he has achieved more than W. W is in a class by himself – a good man, but a very weak, ineffective President. And, that’s the nicest thing I can say about W. Jeb is playing it coy – delaying taking positions or making statements that create attack points. He needs to take some lessons from Elizabeth Warren on “telling it like it is”. Like her or not, you know EXACTLY where she stands, and she can back it up. Smart lady. See her in 2020 (-:

  19. flypusher says:

    Speaking of getting some more substance into campaign 2016, I wonder if there is some tipping point that would get someone like Joe Biden and/ or Elizabeth Warren to toss their hats into the ring.

    http://theweek.com/articles/571567/hillary-clinton-democratic-partys-ticking-time-bomb

    My gut feeling is that there isn’t going to be any real security breaches in those e-mail, but I’m far from the only one who is just put off by Hillary’s responses to this, and of course her decision to be doing gov’t business with her own private server ITFP (that’s now been banned, hasn’t it?). The race is still hers to lose, but she sure seems to be doing her damnedest to pull off that epic choke (in the sorry tradition of the old Houston Oilers in the playoffs in the 90’s!). Were I a DNC functionary, I’d be having myself a few nightmares.

    And if Bill really does have a new sex scandal, KA-BOOM!!!!! I know it’s all innuendo and rumor right now, but dude has a track record, so you can’t just dismiss it.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Elizabeth Warren would be a beauty as the representitive. Incredibly smart, serious, seems to be very princepled, and without any of the kind of goofy, wild hair, non presidential Larry David lookalike thing Bernie has going on.

    • Shiro17 says:

      Hillary so far has yet to really start campaigning. It is unsurprising that she seems to be on a downward spiral since EVERYBODY is attacking her right now from the left and the right. Once she starts in full force, things will probably seem different. It’s early. Then again, there’s always the possibility of a Martha Coakley redux.

      Congress needs as many reasonably competent people of all ideologies as it can. Don’t take Warren away.

      • flypusher says:

        I can understand why she wouldn’t run. She definitely has power and the chance to use it in her current position, without all the grief that comes with running for/ being President. Were I in her shoes I’d probably opt to stick with the Senate gig too. But I think the notion of having a backup candidate who could actually win and govern is wise.

  20. johngalt says:

    “This vehicle makes right turns only” – Ted Cruz 2016. This bumper sticker, I kid you not, is a real item on sale at his web site. The image of someone traveling in ever-narrower circles is an apt analogy for his campaign in specific and American politics in general.

    https://store.tedcruz.org/product/right-turns-only-bumper-sticker/

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      And that it’s considered a badge of honor, is telling IMO.

    • texan5142 says:

      “This vehicle makes right turns only”

      That might piss off his NASCAR base.

      JEFF DUNHAM: POINTLESSNESS OF NASCAR

      Sweet Daddy Dee: NASCAR, that?s another dumbass, cracker sport. Jeff Dunham: NASCAR is a very popular — Sweet Daddy Dee: I know that. I just don?t get it. What, a grown, white man going 500 miles in a circle? What the hell? What kind of three and a half hours is this? Look, they?re making a left turn! Oh, they?re making another left turn! Oh, they?re making another left turn! I wonder what?s gonna happen next!

      • johngalt says:

        The attraction of NASCAR, like football and hockey, is the constant danger of violence. Though they may not admit it, people are hoping to see things crash into each other at 200 mph.

      • 1mime says:

        People like to see things crashing into one another……….sounds just like politics, to me (-:

    • flypusher says:

      “The image of someone traveling in ever-narrower circles is an apt analogy for his campaign in specific and American politics in general.”

      That is brilliant, and I’ll be stealing it should any family member declare for Cruz!

  21. neko says:

    “Listen carefully as enthusiasts describe the appeal of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump and a disturbing pattern emerges. You won’t hear much about policy proposals. You won’t hear much about competence or qualifications for the job. Nobody in either camp seems to care a great deal about what their candidate might do if the dog actually catches the car.”

    Chris, I have a lot of respect for you and what you’ve done through the history of the blog. Your pieces are well researched, well reasoned, and well written, and in that process it’s set the standard and the expectations exceptionally high.

    This is why you can’t make extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence. If you want to compare Bernie to Trump or talk about policy proposal, competence or qualification, you cannot conveniently ignore 30 years of senate voting records. You can talk at lengths about why you disagree with his positions on those issues and why they are wrong for ‘merica in your estimation, but you can’t erase a man’s record just so he falls into place nicely with your “politics of crazy” theory. It’s debatable whether being elected multiple times in a small state is meaningful as a measure of the viability/appeal/national relevance of the candidate; it’s not debatable that once elected, the words and actions of that candidate matters. The Senate was explicitly set up to give equal representation to states regardless of size for some reason, and so we should give due consideration to the worth of 1/100 of that power. In practice not every vote is equal, but I know for certain it’s not “nothing”

    I’m sure 30 years will yield a rich vein of material for you to mock, ridicule, deride, etc. But at least he was in the building and on the record. Can you say the same for 30 years of Trump?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Yeah, I’m with you (and it appears many here). There are SOME similarities between Sanders and Trump. Both are long shots to get elected. Both are seen as anti establishment protest votes. Both lie far from the center.

      There are some very real and significant differences though, some very important ones. Sanders is a serious politician, for one. He has the conviction of his opinions. Most importantly, Sanders has concrete policies and goals.

      Sanders is for taxing millionaires and billionaires to pay for free university education, funding public works programs, strengthening Medicare, granting 12 weeks of paid parental leave, two weeks of paid vacation and single payer healthcare (policies that would, by the way, look unremarkable or like cutbacks for most Europeans). He also said he was against starting a war with Iran and that he supports unions, raising the federal minimum wage and providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

      Whether you agree or disagree, these are absolutely real policy goals, and with Sanders there is no doubt whatsoever that he truly believes them. He’s been walking the walk for 30 years. Trump has been talking the talk for a few months, even though many of his “new” policies are at odds with things hes directly stated in the past (support for single payer, or more gun control, or pro abortion).

      Contrast that with Trump, who says absolutely nothing that has any substance, and simply throws out adjectives in hopes that his audience doesn’t realize he’s not actually saying anything. To wit, when asked about Obamacare the other day:

      He said he would “repeal and replace is with something terrific.” But lest you think he’s just a typical Republican who couldn’t care less for the poor, he’s got something in there for them too: ““At the lower end, where people have no money, I want to try and help those people,” he said, adding that he would “work out some sort of a really smart deal with hospitals across the country”

      So, we know he’s against Obamacare (natch). His main “policy” though is repealing it and replacing it with “something terrific”. What baout all the poor people who will lose their coverage though? Not a problem; he’ll “work out some sort of really smart deal” with the the hospitals.

      Sounds legit.

      For the Bernie-Trump comparison to hold water, Sanders policies would have to be something like:

      – Tax the billionaires…..and spend the money on something awesome!
      – Get rid of all the income inequality stuff!
      – Fix racism!
      – Help parents bond with their children!
      – Do something about all of these guns!

      In short, Trump is a clown whose taking advantage of the lowest common denominator of the electorate, whose “policies” change depending on which way the wind blows, based only on what he thinks will make him more popular. Sanders is a serious politician whose been who he is for decades, has the voting record to prove it, and HIS popularity is because the things he DOES stand for, happen to be vvery popular with the voting public.

      • goplifer says:

        This is f’g depressing.

        “There are some very real and significant differences though, some very important ones. Sanders is a serious politician, for one. He has the conviction of his opinions. Most importantly, Sanders has concrete policies and goals.”

        Replace ‘Sanders’ with ‘Ron Paul’ in that paragraph. Then read the whole thing again and tell me you don’t see my point.

        You are doing exactly the same thing my good conservative friends back Texas have been doing for the past two decades, with a different template of positions and a (slightly) different cast of characters.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        ok, I guess 30 years of voting doesn’t PROVE that Sanders has specific policies, but it shouldn’t be held against him either.

        Fine then, even if we ignore that, how about the specifically stated policy goals he’s regularly mentioned? Has he laid out, line by line, EXACTLY what the legislation will look like? No. But nobody does that.

        He’s at least as “concrete” in his policies as any candidate ever is until they actually win the election.

        Yes, both Trump and Sanders have a sort of populist appeal. Both are effectively saying “Something is wrong here”. That’s where Trump stops though. He doesn’t go on to say “and here’s how we’re going to fix it”. Sanders does, and that makes all the difference in the world. Anybody can yell and scream and incite fear. The tough part is coming up with solutions. And whether you agree with Sanders solutions or not, he at least is proposing some.

      • goplifer says:

        I get your meaning and yes, Sanders has an actual, credible policy template while Trump does not. Further, Sanders’ policies are not ‘crazy,’ not fantasy-based, catastrophic, etc, like Ron Paul’s. I disagree with them almost universally, but almost the entire template has been implemented in other countries without bizarre or miserable outcomes.

        With that out of the way, let’s get back to the point.

        Someone is actually going to WIN this election. The winner will not be a ‘policy template,’ but a human being. This is not a referendum.

        That human being will have actual governing responsibilities. Those responsibilities are complex, arcane and in fact only distantly related to the policy goals that our politicians discuss in election campaigns.

        One cannot do that job, or any other job of significant responsibility in government, and remain carefully aligned with a policy template. Serving the needs of 350m people, all of whom will have to live under the same government, does not allow ideological purity. Real government figures who get actual concrete things accomplished in real world conditions have to be fluid, cagey, clever and never quite candid.

        Bernie Sanders, like Ron Paul, has never participated in government. He has won some elections. He has voted on some stuff. He never sponsored or completed major legislation of consequence because that’s not what he was in Washington to do. The role he chose for himself was agitator. No matter what happens in any election, even if he wins it all, Bernie Sanders is never going to govern anything. He can’t. He doesn’t show the slightest awareness of how to do that.

        We lived under a disastrously unqualified President for eight years, but even that guy had some responsible experience as Governor of Texas. Want to find out how things could be even worse? Elect an attractive ‘policy template.’

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer: “Serving the needs of 350m people, all of whom will have to live under the same government, does not allow ideological purity.”

        And, “ideological purity” is what the GOP continues to offer. At least they’re consistent.

        “…government figures who get actual concrete things accomplished in real world conditions have to be fluid, cagey, clever and never quite candid.”

        Probably true but disappointing, never the less. My “fear” for this election is that Cruz will split the GOP delegates and capture the nomination, as you suggested could happen, lo these many blog posts ago. No matter how bad you think Sanders would be at governing, Cruz would be devastatingly for America. In this regard, I would hope Bush/Kasich are the GOP nominees – at least there would be a sane governing approach even if I didn’t like their, uh hum, policies (more on that later, lifer). We’ll see. Another “fear” I have is that the GOP will successfully tarnish Hillary and flatten the morale of her base. Many, like myself, will vote anyway. Others will stay home. Democrats do not drive in automatic transmission; they drive standard shift….up, down, up down….It is always hard to GOTV in Democratic circles unless they are fired up. Hillary needs a strong dose of Vitamin B to kick her campaign into high gear and stay there.

        Politics – always interesting. Thanks to everyone for some thoughtful posts. This is the great thing about Lifer’s blog – its commentators and the great blog posts by Lifer. Agree or not, it offers a wonderful forum to present and challenge ideas. Critical thinking is alive and well on GOPlifer.com!

      • Tom says:

        So Chris, would you say comparing Sanders to Cruz is a fair comparison? Both have some minimal credibility attached to being elected to the Senate. Neither would make an effective President. Sanders isn’t openly reviled by Democratic regulars the way Cruz is by Republicans, but I doubt many Democrats in Congress would want to go along on his legislative agenda.

      • 1mime says:

        Tom, Cruz is reviled by his Senate colleagues, but you can bet that if Cruz becomes the Republican nominee, they will ALL vote for him…holding their noses all the way to the voting booth. And, though Cruz lacks governing experience, he does know how to campaign. Don’t discount him. The H. Chronicle article (sorry link didn’t populate properly…don’t know what I did wrong) lays bare his strategy in the South, which will be his strongest base. He’s already figured out which southern states will give him sufficient delegates to win, especially if there are other candidates splitting the caucus. Stupid he ain’t. Reprehensible (to me), yes.

    • goplifer says:

      Here’s the mantra that makes the Politics of Crazy such a frustrating phenomenon:

      “MY unqualified fringe candidate is expressing sincere grievances ignored by ‘establishment politicians’ while YOUR unqualified fringe candidate is a dangerous kook.”

      Bernie Sanders is campaigning for the opportunity to lead the wealthiest, most powerful, most complex state not only in the world, but in the history of the world. His chief qualification for that job, and please correct me if I have missed something, is that he tells voters on the far left things that they like to hear.

      Now, let’s get something out in the open. Sanders seems like an all-around better human being in every conceivable sense than Donald Trump. Don’t be distracted by that detail. Ask people what they like about Bernie Sanders and the material in that first paragraph is what you’ll get. And that’s pretty much the same case for Donald Trump with a different set of positions (although interestingly, they both kind of converge around immigration).

      Is Sanders qualified in any credible way for the job he is supposedly serious about performing? You can’t be serious.

      Yes, he has been in the Senate, but he has never been involved in governing. At least Donald Trump has had to operate something at an executive level with some kind of consequences. It’s a shame in a way that his parallel figure on the right this season is Donald Trump, because a better foil was available last time. Bernie Sanders is the Ron Paul of the left.

      Just like Ron Paul, Sanders isn’t really part of the party he’s loosely associated with. Paul had to represent almost as many voters in his Congressional district as Sanders does in Vermont. In other words, they are both playing to a highly specialized niche.

      Just like Paul, Sanders has been in government for decades without ever governing. Just like Paul, he’s never (not since he was a mayor, anyway), had to carry the real weight of outcomes the way leadership figures like Clinton and Bush and Christie and O’Malley have been forced to do. And as a consequence, he’s been able to maintain a sort of fairy-land ideological purity that sells well in front of a crowd and collapses under the weight of leadership responsibilities. He is about as capable, prepared, and vetted for national leadership as you or I. Or for that matter Donald Trump or Ben f’g Carson.

      I am aware that Sen. Sanders has some positions on some issues. So what? I’ve read his positions. They are slightly more strident than what’s in most state Democratic platforms. That’s not what a President does. It’s not even in the neighborhood of what a President does.

      His appeal is novelty. And novelty is entertainment. Just like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders is an entertainer. At least Trump knows it.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Good points. But how important, really, is “executive experience”? Obama had none, and would probably win in a landslide in 2016 if he could run. I personally think he’ll go down as the best president since JFK.

        Not saying the experience isn’t important, but it isn’t a be all end all. It could also be a negative, whereby a president makes the wrong decision against advice based on his experience in a different circumstance. More then just “experience” I would actually prefer someone who surrounds himself with the smartest people he can find, and leans heavily on them for advice.

        I don’t know if Sanders is that kind of person, although his support for CC at least implies to me that he has the proper respect and deference to science. That’s a start.

        I still submit that it’s almost impossible (and probably even undesirable) for Bernie to actually win the presidency. But he will perform a massive service to the country if he can continue to generate buzz and draw large crowds and give Hillary a serious scare. Hill’s very pragmatic. If she sees Bernie creeping up on her because of specific policies that are more to the left then she would normally like to go, I don’t doubt she’ll adopt those policies. And that would probably be best case scenario: Hill as prez, but being forced to adopt crucial policies such as raising the min wage, taxing the rich, and investing back into the country in the form of education and infrastructure.

      • neko says:

        Good post! I may not agree with all of your conclusions, but there’s a lot to chew on here!

        Off the top of my head, I might say something like “no experience prepares you for the office of POTUS. Even state governorship is like a kid’s sandbox by comparison. Which is why stated position matters even in inconsequential or insignificant positions such as Senator of a small state, because it gives you insight into their thought process, and at least a model of how they might approach future problems. On the flipside, I would argue that running a business for profit and where you can fire people is irrelevant experience, because a country is not for profit and you can’t just dump just whoever YOU consider to be deadweight. Plenty of successful Presidents were Senators so we know it is at least possible.”

        Can you please please please talk about on which issues exactly do you disagree with him? Write a long post! Really dissect the issues and give us YOUR position and reasoning! Many of us will learn a lot and benefit greatly from this exercise.

        And, with two terms of presidency almost done, wouldn’t it be relevant, and the timing appropriate, for you to dissect the record of once first-term senator Barrack Obama?

      • 1mime says:

        I second the requests you make, Neko. I hope Lifer will consider both. And, I understand exactly what Lifer is saying about governing. It is hard. The fact that Sanders had no security detail at his huge events is telling about his organizational structure and planning ability. ONe only has to look at the wasted first two years of O’s Presidency to see how more governing experience could have benefitted him and America (and the Democratic Party (-: ).

        How about it, Lifer? When you have time?

      • Glandu says:

        So the logical conclusion is : begin to do like them, tell the voters what they want to hear… and once elected, do what you have to do.

        Later, once new elections approach, take a few measures to be popular, tell once again what voters want to hear, get elected…. rince and repeat.

        The infamous Georges Frêche, a prominent french politician between 1974 & 2010, did theorize this. He was elected mayor(or president of the region, or whatever), and, the first 2 years, did what had to be done, the invisible, important job, like repairing the dams, cleaning the sewers, costly actions that voters don’t see the benefit. Then, he was hiding the next 2 years. The 2 final years, he ws doing electoral actions : brand new roads, flowers everywhere, big celebrations, etc…

        The two times he didn’t act like that, he lost.

        The bottom line is : what had to be done was done. It was just limited to the first 2 years of a 6 years mandate.

        (horribly cynical? he also said : “I’m elected by idiots, and here is why : there are 6% intelligent people, half vote for me, half against me.”)

        Link in french(http://archives-lepost.huffingtonpost.fr/article/2009/03/14/1456933_georges-freche-j-ai-toujours-ete-elu-par-une-majorite-de-cons.html) – Google translate does no make justice to his vocabulary, and beware, there are a few racist comments. But what he said is horribly true, and perfectly fits your – much more civilized – tribune.

      • 1mime says:

        That very lack of artifice is precisely why many people are responding to Sanders. And, Lifer is correct when he says it’s not enough. Like it or not, America is a big, complex, globally connected place. It is a political environment. If you do not have the skills and fortitude to manage the challenges inherent in the job, you will be unsuccessful and America will suffer. America has suffered enough and we need competent leadership to right the ship, as it were. That may take boring, but will experience and competency. I’m good for that while still respecting the energy and honesty of a Sanders campaign. Watching sausage get made is not appealing, but I sure like the finished product!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Mime – One way I think really energizes and “GOTV” for Hill is serious, credible opposition in the primaries. I think it’s bad for Hill if she cruises through the primaries with an aura of inevitability.

  22. Griffin says:

    This may seem off topic but have you ever read about Ordoliberalism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordoliberalism#cite_note-Gerken2000-5)? It seems almost identical to the ideas you advocate and looks like a very pragmatic way to run an economy? Perhaps when a party faction of sane citizens has a backlash to the current order ideas such as these can have a chance to be heard.

  23. Brent Uzzell says:

    A couple of questions if I may.

    1. Could it be that the rules of the game have changed. I thought that Fox was rewriting the rules in nationalizing a primary but perhaps they were just recognizing that our digitized and hyper connected world had already changed the rules. Perhaps old style retail politics is dead and Fancy Farm type events are anachronisms?

    2. I really haven’t been made warm and fuzzy by any Trump/Sanders comparison and I do believe Sanders is a plausible leader yet might both represent a complete rejection of the political class? I haven’t seen any commentary on it but I and several academics I know frequently visit on the topic of the corruption of our elites. It seems each week there is another story of of a bridge/port authority, sex scandal, AG indictment (lots of those lately TX UT PA), political operative indictment etc. Couple this with job anxiety and financial stress and it seems we lose the social glue – trust – .

  24. Anse says:

    My feeling is that the problem has two parts: 1) mass media/the internet, and 2) urbanization. When I was growing up in my little home town, there were two pillars of social engagement: the church and the school. Almost everything in my young life revolved around those two things; even the stuff that wasn’t directly tied to them–Little League, Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, etc–had aspects that overlapped. It’s still a very common thing in small towns across this country. Going to church was not just about practicing one’s faith, it was about having a social circle of fellow citizens that counted as your extended family.

    But living in the city can be really isolating. I know half the people in my hometown; here in Houston, I can count on one hand the number of people I regularly associate with outside of work. And churches face a unique challenge; in a city as diverse as Houston (even if our neighborhoods are not necessarily so diverse), with a multitude of options to fill one’s time, the churches have to compete, and so they’ve become something akin to theaters or sports arenas. People go to Lakewood and listen to New Age-style “self help” pablum and clap and sing and dance their Sunday mornings away. It’s nothing like the Baptist church I grew up in, where quiet reverence was the standard.

    So it’s true, we really are a people constantly searching for gratification in the most immediate and superficial of ways. Even our schools are being subjected to “reforms” that are meant to turn them into little factories that compete with one another. I’ll never understand how these ‘reformers” expect to improve education this way. The number one retailer in America is Walmart. Nobody really thinks of Walmart as a company that offers a superior anything; they’re just the cheapest purveyor of cheap crap in town. The notion of school vouchers and “data-driven” assessments are going to turn out schools into the educational equivalent of Walmart.

    • Tom says:

      Not quite. Most larger cities were similar to small towns 50 years ago in the respects you mentioned, with it being more of a “neighborhood” thing than a town thing. White flight tore that apart. People are isolated in big cities because they isolate themselves.

  25. 1mime says:

    Enough! Our “reported anger” is creating anger! At least that’s what this author, Matt Bai, suggests, and it makes sense. There aren’t “more” angry voters than there were in the 70s, they’re just louder and have more media outlets.

    Bai’s advice: “Voters of America: Get hold of yourselves, please.”

    “The more we portray the angriest and least flexible elements of both parties as in charge and indicative of the national mood, the more the broader, disaffected swath of American voters turns away from the process altogether, seeing nothing in it that makes them anything other than depressed…most voters, conservatives included, have real anxiety about the ability of government to meet the moment, and they just want it to work better than it does.

    They get frustrated at the futility of it all — and then they change the channel.”

    I’m just sayin’…………..

    https://www.yahoo.com/politics/the-myth-of-trumps-angry-legions-trumpmania-may-126536356526.html

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Mime, that’s what I’ve been trying to say all along. I recommend a total media fast, or at least getting the heck off the internet and turning off the TV and going someplace more “quiet,” like the print versions of newspapers and magazines.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        All this blogging and posting of comments that we partake in, including this blog right here, just adds fuel to the anger.

      • 1mime says:

        At least, reading GOPlifer, it’s “informed” anger (-:

      • 1mime says:

        I heard ya, Tutta, but I’m having fun….now. When people start throwing things and getting ugly, that’s when I go read a book…..(Cadillac Desert, right now). I always appreciate your grounded, insightful comments, btw.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Nice link Mime. Keeps things in perspective.

    • lomamonster says:

      I have a feeling that if handled correctly, Joe Biden’s possible entry into the Presidential contest could invigorate those who are essentially fed up with “push me pull you” tactics of the other candidates. He is an accomplished statesman, competent on a worldly scale not rivaled by anyone else in the race, and a man who knows the importance of family and organizations that provide the support that families depend on. He has been there, done that!

      I would applaud his entry as a brilliant retort to the screaming blackbirds that we see on the media right now, and perhaps our societal needs can be met with a more comfortable and familiar step into the future.

  26. Anse says:

    I don’t agree with you on Bernie Sanders. He is only comparable to Trump in the fact that he is a longshot to win the presidency. That’s the only thing they have in common.

    I totally agree with the rest of it, though you say our institutions need to adapt. But how do they adapt to this trend? Free market gospel barkers have so idealized the virtues of the transaction that quid pro quo is the guiding principle of their entire value system. The idea of committing oneself to an idea without profit motive is reserved to military service and almost nothing else.

  27. Chris D. says:

    I don’t agree with your assessment of Sanders. Sure, his disheveled professor routine does provide a sort of populist folk art that appeals to many on the left. But, based on my anecdotal research, the primary motivator for support of Sanders is a specific policy issue. Nearly every Sanders supporter I’ve talked to is reacting in frustration to the fact that Obama never really stood up for universal health care.

    • Creigh says:

      Yes its totally vaporware, but here’s The Donald’s new plan for universal health care:
      http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/08/trump-releases-new-teaser-for-obamacare-sequel.html

      • 1mime says:

        No need to bemoan Trump’s lack of policies, here’s his “some sort of” proposal for health care (from Chris’ link above):

        … “repeal and replace [Obamacare] with something terrific,” “work out some sort of a really smart deal with hospitals across the country,” and “try and help those people […] at the lower end, where people have no money.” The Republican presidential candidate has also noted that he “may be different than other people” because he wants “to take care of everybody.”

        In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday night, he noted that in his version of health care, “you can get everything in Obamacare, but much more.”

        Uh, a little scanty on details? But Trump at least started with the familiar refrain – “repeal & replace….”, that ought to make some of the disenchanted happy, but, wait! He is proposing a bigger, better, “everything” plan than Obamacare??? Hmm, that just neutralized the R & R promise….

        You want policy? The Don has got you covered!

    • goplifer says:

      Great, so he would make a better President than Sen. Clinton?

      See where I’m going here…?

      • Griffin says:

        It depends, do you think Clinton would be able to do much of anything domestically while the GOP controls the House? Yes she can keep day-to-day operations running effectively but if we want anything done domestically the GOP has to lose the House, something that won’t be possible until 2020. I don’t think Clinton is an effective enough campaigner to keep the GOP out of the House, say what you will about Sanders but if he won he would get the Democratic vote out.

        Personally I think he would be better off losing the nomination but becoming the unofficial leader of the progressives in the Senate so that he could pressure Clinton to shift leftwards. But I’m doubtful the next four years are going to be anything unlike the last eight so long as the Republican Party controls the House of Representatives (or unless they somehow radically change by 2018), regardless of which Democrat is in the White House.

      • 1mime says:

        Everyone seems to buy into the GOP control of the House until 2020. What if the focus was winning enough House seats to bugger the GOP super-majority? Sometimes that’s all that can be done….

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Chris…Sanders surge is almost exclusively on the left and the liberal wing of the Democrat party.

      Maybe Sanders is not Trump, but he certainly is akin to Santorum or Cruz who have supporters who would say they support him for a particular stance on a policy issue (i.e., women should only have sex within the bounds of a heterosexual marriage).

      Your comment of, “Nearly every Sanders supporter I’ve talked to is reacting in frustration to the fact that Obama never really stood up for universal health care”, would almost mirror my sister and her husband saying their support of Trump is a result of frustration with the existing group of yahoos we have in DC.

      The other side would say they support Trump because of his stance against illegal immigration.

      Sanders plan for healthcare would have as much a chance to get passed as Trump’s wall across Mexico has a chance to get built.

      I like to think of Sanders as certainly more rational (or sane) than Trump, but the supporters of each group certainly do use some similarly cobbled together comments.

  28. duncancairncross says:

    “The American center of gravity is to the left of the Democratic Party?”

    There are two ways to look at this
    If asked about “where they stand”
    Then no. Most will identify to the right of the Dems

    If asked about specific policies then it goes the other way around
    The policies that Bernie is touting all have large if not massive support (from the people)

    So we have an “American People” who say they are to the right
    But support policies to the middle to far left

    • vikinghou says:

      The following link is an interesting exercise that purports to match your political beliefs with those of the current set of Presidential candidates. My views were in line with Bernie Sanders’ 89% of the time. My father, who is an avid Fox News viewer, came up with Jeb Bush as his top pick.

      http://www.isidewith.com/

      Try it and see who your best fit is.

  29. Shel Anderson says:

    I find your central thesis very interesting/upsetting. I agree with you that we seem to be changing our mode from citizen to consumer – very acute analysis. Check this out – very interesting/upsetting: http://prospect.org/article/politics-virtual-reality

    • 1mime says:

      THIS is fascinating, Shel! It’s hard to get my head around the totality of this concept – generally and specifically, where it refers to political engagement. Way out there but FB is betting big on it and Zuckerberg is no dummie. Will be interesting to track. Thanks for sharing.

    • 1mime says:

      Shel,

      I shared your link about wearable virtual reality head gear with a very smart guy (quantum physics) and friend who worked for McDonell Douglas (way back when). I thought his reply would interest you.

      ” At McDonnell Douglas we were using virtual reality simulations since the early 1970’s for high performance and transport aircraft cockpit , weapons systems, airplane control systems, and display design. Pilots were flying air to air combat years before the aircraft they were simulating really were flying. They were also flying against Russian planes and weapons. We had an entire very large building with numerous virtual reality spheres of 30 to 40 foot in diameter hooked up to the fastest, largest computers to simulate the aircraft flight and control dynamics of multiple airplanes simultaneously. The simulator pilot’s world was projected on the inside of the big sphere.

      These were fixed base simulators, means the pilots didn’t actually move or feel acceleration, or rotate. However, if you were in the ball while it was active, they actually had solid rails to hold onto because you felt like you were rotating and you could easily take a tumble.

      So what’s new….Better virtual world displays technology so you don’t need the big ball, as goggles will work great when hooked to just a laptop these days. The technical issue is the ability to accurately model the movement of things in the virtual world being presented to the subject. Airplanes are wind tunnel tested and very precise aerodynamic modes exist for them so that their sim flight characteristics are very real. A virtual world made up of buildings, cars, etc., don’t always have modeling parameters that are accurate enough to make the virtual world realistic. It can’t just be a video game.

      Interesting stuff that gets into the next generation of media products for use by the public.

  30. Tom says:

    IMO, this isn’t a fair comparison.

    Trump is a vanity candidate with no real policy proposals and whose only purpose in running for President is… I don’t know what.

    Sanders is more or less running to force Clinton to the left and to highlight some real issues (no, Mexicans sending rapists across the border is not a real issue.) He’s got as much of a shot at winning the nomination as Trump or Ted Cruz, but there’s at least some substance.

    • pbasch says:

      I agree with that. Trump wants to sell more neckties and reality shows, and has found that running for president does that. Trump is a no-issue candidate.
      Bernie is a one-issue candidate, which is completely different.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, I don’t think Trump cares about selling more neckties or reality shows, the man likes attention, and he’s getting a truckload of it. He’s having the time of his life. When things start getting hard – when he has to really start working, then we’ll see how long he lasts. That’s what Lifer’s timeline for the Trump drop out is all about. Bernie may have started out to goad Hillary to the left, but he’s working way to hard and getting a lot of positive turnout to feel like he doesn’t have a shot. Politics, ain’t it fun!

    • goplifer says:

      Don’t miss the point. Sanders is nowhere near as batty as Donald Trump. The point is that neither of them is a remotely credible national leadership figure. The only reason they are experiencing so much (momentary?) success is that they feed our desire for novelty. Bernie Sanders doesn’t have to be reality TV star like Donald Trump to be delivering the political version of reality TV.

      And like Trump, or Sarah Palin, or Pat Buchanan in the 90’s, just about the worst thing that could happen to him (and the rest of us) is victory in his campaign. Neither of these cats are doing this to become President. And for that matter, few of the other Republican contenders have any desire to see the Oval Office as anything other than a guest. They are delivering a show and we love a show.

      • Tom says:

        You’re right, and I think both are tapping into similar frustrations on both the left and right.

        To further your point, I think spatial disconnect between liberals and conservatives has done a lot to erode the sense of community that you say is necessary in politics. On a macro level you have the red state/blue state phenomenon; on a micro level you have cities that vote very differently from their suburbs. You get entire communities that have large majorities of like-minded people and the result is people living in a bubble that reinforces their preconceived notions about the other side, and relatively little concern for the other side as a result. I honestly could care less what people in The Woodlands think is best for their community and at this point they’d probably say the same of Houston as the two cities become more detached from each other. Meanwhile the minority opinions in both places feel like they’re ignored in local and sometimes state/national politics. It’s probably not a cure-all but I wonder how differently our politics might function under a proportional representation system, as that allows for far left, far right and single-issue groups to just from their own parties rather than the messy two-party systems that the Westminster model produces.

      • 1mime says:

        I can speak with relevance to the precise urban/suburban scenario you describe. And, yes, I am definitely in a minority position – but, I still vote and install my bumper stickers and yard signs. Gotta stand up for your candidate, right? Interestingly, in the 2012 Pres. election, I checked voting totals by precincts (in those areas that interested me) and in the Woodlands, which you mentioned, (a WASP enclave), 25%+ of those voting, voted Democrat. That surprised me. Other Houston metropolitan burbs, Kingwood, Katy, Sugarland….Conservatives dominated. Downtown Houston was more liberal (except in the toney inner loop residential areas), and, that was in a Romney year. So, never, never, give up (if you’re a minority – regardless what party affiliation).

        It’s interesting to break out voting patterns and you can be assured there is a lot going on there running up to the 2016 election – by both partiies. There is a good article from Politico that illustrates how many changes the GOP has made to update their grassroots, technology effort – principally under Reine Priebus leadership, and their wins in ’14 in 3 states for their efforts. Democrats should be fore-warned. Fool me once…..Another interesting comment from the Daily Kos Morning Digest focused on exit polling – its importance and its need to evolve, given changes in voting patterns. Supposedly, the AP and others are working on a more accurate system. All of us who follow politics have lots of interesting people and projects to monitor.

        http://www.nationaljournal.com/2016-elections/the-ap-s-mission-to-save-the-exit-poll-20150812

  31. Martin says:

    It would be nice for the republican side to stress balance – fair and balanced. But you cannot. The right went off the deep end. There is no Tea party equivalent. There are barely any socialists left and their yelling has long been drowned out. There wasn’t any mainstream democrat who wanted to run against Hillary, and Bernie was left standing. As simple as that. You simply cannot suggest that there is balance and equal attribution for crazy politics, or you loose all credibility.

    • Griffin says:

      I also think that regardless of whether you agree with his solutions or not Sanders takes issue with the fact that wages have stagnated despite productivity increasing and it’s provable that this is because wealth has been redistributed upward through deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the Fed shifting from targeting primarily unemployment to becoming obsessed with only targeting inflation. Trump’s issue is that the Mexican government is sending rapists to America and he views trade through an 18th century mercantilist point of view that treats countries like companies.

      One concern is in reality, the other isn’t.

    • I think that many of our organizations currently are out of balance, not having the right mix of the two basic modes of human social interaction – authoritarian hierarchy needed to get things done and distributed democracy needed to find wise solutions.

      Human communities do not function when the right mix of these two modes is not present.

      Extreme political examples of the former can be easily seen with the Tea Party movement and Trump. The latter can be seen with Occupy Wall Street and Sanders.

      One way wants to do something (almost anything) NOW while the other wants to let everyone (that means EVERYONE) have a chance to talk. One way does too many of the wrong things while the other way never does anything at all.

      We need to find a new balance for the wobbling gyroscope of society. The old mixture of hierarchy and democracy that was successful in the 20th century no longer produces wisdom – the ability to take the wisest or most appropriate action.

      Trump is all about an action, mostly bullying punches in the face, rather than solutions. Sanders has some great solutions and does seem to be trying to find a way for them to become actionable.

      Trump’s response to the wobbling gyroscope is to knock it over. Sanders’ is to attempt to find a new place of stability.

      I expect both to fail this time to win election but Sanders is helping us define a new, more useful balance of our two modes of interaction.

      I will know we are well on the way to regaining our balance with we see mainstream politicians on both the left and the right successfully probing for a better balance.

      • 1mime says:

        I believe it was your post, Richard, that mentioned that only the power group gets to sit at the table. Why is anyone surprised that our current systems are cattywampus? Is it no wonder people are tuned out? With greater participation, people feel empowered. Bernie Sanders is proving this point. Even if he is not the nominee, he is drawing big crowds and he is generating enthusiasm, which is in short supply in contemporary campaigns. I mean, really, looking at the ten men lined up on the Fox stage….was that a titillating group or what! Now, I’m into competent and boring but only AFTER you win the office!

        America has become so compartmentalized that it doesn’t understand another point of view much less care about it. Change this and engagement is possible. It’s not really complicated. Anyone who has ever participated in facilitator-led discussion groups understands the value of the process. This is why door to door campaigning is so valuable, and why grassroots organizations work so much more earnestly and effectively than commercially run campaign organizations. The very best human capital is one on one – Lifer knows that, I experienced that. It works. That’s not to negate the impact of money in campaigns nor the value of technology – (The Obama camp proved how effective targeted GOTV could be and snookered the GOP in the process.) I think they’re on it now so don’t expect that to provide such a competitive edge this time around.

        Lifer is right that candidates need policies. Voters need them as a basis of comparison, but, how many people do you really think read them? First, you’ve got to get people’s attention, then you can get them interested, then they’ll become informed. Trump and Bernie are rocking the boat and I think that’s a very good thing.

  32. Brent Uzzell says:

    I don’t know where to begin. I agree that Sanders can’t implement his policies without Congress. If Dems don’t retake the Senate then there is no hope bt to the larger question of consumer, customer and citizen and how that bears on social capital it seems you are really missing something. 2 points:

    1. Global Capitalism de-linked nation-states from economic power and has eroded their power. Global institutions like the IMF and multi-national investment don’t give a wit for geographically determined autonomy much less agency.

    2. The conservative movement created institutions to fundamentally change American understanding of government and collective responsibility (citizenship). They deliberately sought to change our idea of ourselves and it worked. (see The Road to Dominion by Sara Diamond and Invisible Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein)

    Taken together these forces have weakened every state and created a new culture of job scarcity treating every person as a commodity on the market and solely responsible for themselves.

    You are right that our most precious commodity is time. How many do you know that aren’t working 60 hours a week and scarred to death they won’t be laid off in the next round? Between work and family obligations we are over subscribed. There is no time for engagement. I contend that this is how runaway globalization works, it is a feature not a bug.

    See The Culture of the New Capitalism by Richard Sennett.

    Neo-liberalism is a thing, it dehumanizes and is demonic to the extent that it refuses to recognize that what we most value as humans can not be quantified.

    • Brent Uzzell says:

      PS – declining church membership – well as a Minister my take is that the church brought this on themselves. Historian Kevin Krause recently released his work on how neo-liberalism bought the church (he doesn’t use that label but we are talking about the same thing). Dianan Butler-Bass research and my anecdotal expereince confirm that an open, accepting church really seeking to make a difference in the lives of the people around them do OK.

      • I think you have described not only successful churches but almost any successful community or organization of people in the coming years – to survive they must all have a personal connection with the daily lives of the people they serve.

        This is very different from so many current communities and corporations where the people serve the needs of the rent-seeking organizations.

  33. Griffin says:

    “No one seriously believes that he is more capable of serving as the lead administrator of a $4tr government than his Democratic rival.”

    In terms of administrative experience I’m sure this is true. But when I look at his record on issues such as opposing the Iraq War or calling on Alan Greenspan years before the crash, both being instances where our federal government was in many ways weakened both in terms of running debts and people losing faith in the government, then why shouldn’t I think he would have better policy positions that Clinton or the GOP? Can anyone seriously tell me with a straight face that they are SURE Clinton wouldn’t be willing to go to war with Iran or deregulate the economy if there was enough pressure to do so? Yes those are unpopular ideas now but do we know what could happen three years from now that could change that? Administration is important but having bad policies can be far worse, even if they are carried out in an effective way.

    “He is not a member of the party whose nomination he seeks. He has never played a meaningful role in any major legislation.”

    Ignoring for a second that he co-authored the VA reform act he’s an old time social democrat in an age where neoliberalism won out, it would be inheriently hard for him to get legislation through that didn’t violate his beliefs. Again I can see what he opposed and why he opposed it to draw a conclusion that he’s not a random idiot in terms of policy like Donald “Build a Giant Wall Across the Entire Southern Border” Trump.

    “Neither candidate’s enthusiasts articulate any credible political program.”

    http://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/collegeforallsummary/?inline=file

    I thought you were in favor of shifting towards taxing capital instead of taxing income?

    The most credible criticism I see is that he wouldn’t be able to get much done domestically without congressional support but why the hell would Clinton be able to do that? You do see how much they hated Obama? I don’t know how much time you spend on far-right blogs/radio or Fox News but they hate Hillary Clinton a fuckload more than they hate Obama why would the GOP be more willing to work with her than Sanders?

  34. (Sorry for the long comment. I’ve followed and enjoyed your work for some time but this post overlaps a lot with what I am working on – helping organization’s transition from a successful 20th century approach that is no longer working to a 21st century one that holds out greater promise.)

    I completely agree with your general argument, especially the last few paragraphs about adapting to a new cultural environment.

    Both candidates are activating the emotional, System 1 processes of their followers (check out Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow). Action always happens faster than enacting wise solutions.

    I would suggest, though, that Trump and Sanders actually are representations of two different worlds – one that is disappearing and one that is on the horizon.

    Trump represents a reactionary view describing where we are coming from and is leading people backwards. He is trying to resurrect processes that are no longer selective in today’s complex world. He will fail because he is too late and his solutions would lead to collapse.

    Sanders represents a progressive (in the sense of progress) view of where we are going and is leading people forwards to that. He is trying to create processes that will be selective. He will fail because he is too early and his solutions are, as yet, untested.

    It is not that Sanders is right and Trump is wrong. It is not really a liberal/conservative thing. It is a human thing. A new worldview.

    Trump represents an old, faceless, mass production, impersonal approach to the world where one group pretty much ran everything (Clinton has also run such a campaign which is one reason she lost in 2008, IMHO). It was successful for most of the last century, solving some big problems. But people were consumers who are treated impersonally by power and have no voice in what is given them.

    Power in this world is a lecture from a elite person at the head of the table to a passive audience. Today, only the very rich are allowed at the head of the table..

    Sanders represents a new, decentralized, personal approach to the world where multiple, diverse groups work together creatively to solve complex problems. It will be successfu for most of this century. Here, people are customers who demand personal conections with power and expect that they will be heard.

    Power in this world is a conversation, with experienced facilitators leading an active discussion amongst peers at a round table. A much more diverse group of people will be sitting at the table.

    From a top-down authoritarian hierarchy, technology is allowing us to incorporate more distributed democracy. The cultures that find the right balance of these two processes will be more adaptive and able to deal with much more complex problems.

    I expect in a few years, our two parties (which may look very different than today as I expect there to ba a realignment soon) will generally look more like Sanders than Trump.

    But only after effective System 2, analytical thought has had its impact 😉

  35. desperado says:

    You sell Bernie short. He played a very meaningful role in legislation involving the naming of 2 post offices in Vermont. Oh. and he did march with Dr. King, and his policy positions are something, something, income inequality. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

    • texan5142 says:

      Good to see you des! I agree with your assessment, I am going with Bernie at this point looking at it like a horse race, he and Trump are in the lead now but they will be taken over by the long striders in the back stretch. Fun to watch. Place your bets!

      The sane candidate is staying out of this one….. Huntsman.

      • Craig says:

        Thanks, Texan. I’m still waiting for another option. Sanders is too pie-in-the-sky for me, Hillary is…well, Hillary, and any of the Republican hopefuls are out of the question. I was hoping for repeal of the 22nd Amendment so I could vote for Obama again, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Oh well, keep hope alive.

  36. briandrush says:

    Naturally, I’m going to disagree with a lot of this. But you knew that. 😉

    “Money matters, but it has never in our history mattered less than it does now.”

    I think you misunderstand the mechanics of how money influences politics. But then, most people do. They talk about the Koch brothers or whoever “buying elections,” but that’s not possible, which is why all savvy political investors invest in both sides. They know they can’t control who will win, so instead they make sure that whoever does will be beholden to them and not dare do anything against their wishes.

    Money doesn’t buy elections. It influences politicians after they’re elected, and exercises veto power over what issues can be raised and acted upon. It does this by making running for office very expensive, so that only the well-funded can afford to do it, and offering funding only to those candidates who don’t step on any toes.

    Outright bribery may be less common than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean money isn’t at least as powerful now as it was in the past.

    If you look at polls on economic issues, you will find that the American center of gravity is well to the left of the Democratic Party (let alone the GOP). I mean the center of the party, of course, not its progressive wing. On social issues, that’s not the case; the Democratic center is just about exactly that of the American voters. That’s a perfect testimony to the power of money in politics. Campaign donors don’t consistently care (in the same direction anyway) about social issues. A rich campaign contributor is no more likely than a randomly sampled voter to be pro-choice or pro-life, to favor or be against gun control, or to be for or against same-sex marriage. But when it comes to free trade agreements, government subsidy of (their) business, workers’ rights, minimum wage, or universal health care, big campaign donors come out consistently to the right of the American people — and so do the politicians that they influence with their donations.

    Essentially, big money sets boundaries on how far the government can go in representing the interests of the people against those of the wealthy, and at this point in time, that boundary means that the government is indeed not representing the people. Hence the appeal of Bernie Sanders. (And by the way, you’re dead wrong about him not providing specific policy positions, and a very little research could tell you that. Shame on you.)

    As for Donald Trump, he’s also representing a constituency that the government ignores. The difference is that his constituency is ignored not because the big donors are against their issues, but because most of the American people are, and the big donors don’t consistently care one way or the other. It’s not that Trump’s supporters are acting like consumers instead of citizens, it’s that they think they’re a majority and they actually aren’t.

    • goplifer says:

      I think you’ve successfully summarized the conventional wisdom. Let me suggest that there is more going on below the surface.

      1) Money exercises a veto on political scope.

      Have you ever tried to influence political outcomes with money? I’ve never personally had enough money to do this, but I’ve worked with people who do and it was enlightening. Whatever money you plan to spend, there is inevitably someone spending money on the other side. Sometimes you even face conflicts with donors ostensibly on your side. Without a grassroots organization to provide ground support it is maddeningly difficult to get a candidate to behave post-election in a manner remotely like he promised pre-election. Fifty years ago you could just literally buy a candidate. That isn’t possible anymore.

      2) The American center of gravity is to the left of the Democratic Party?

      Good luck with that. I’ve been hearing the exact inverse of that claim from folks back in Texas for thirty years. Comforting, but dubious. The American center of gravity is, for the most part, uninformed and politically detached. There is no majority ideology.

      3) Trump represents a constituency that government ignores?

      I keep hearing that commentary and it never stops making me chuckle. Aging, racist white men are now “a constituency that government ignores.” I’d love to see what happens to constituencies that government doesn’t ignore.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I disagree with you that buying a candidate doesn’t still happen. A quick and easy example is Rick Perry. His $17M pak is funded by 3 donors. 3! If you want to get technical, maybe Perry is being “borrowed” for his tenure in office…..Then there is the very real blurring of money between super paks and campaigns. You speak about the need for a grassroots organization. I agree. Been there, done that. Understand completely. Walked 18K households when I ran for office. But when you have big money setting up call centers, paying staffers to organize, buying up airtime, ad space, bumper stickers, yard signs – how can you say money isn’t a major factor? It won’t paper over a bad or poor candidate, but it sure can help a fair to middling one.

        I totally agree with your assessment that our social structures are crumbling. People are so stressed and stretched from job, family, and life that they can’t breathe. How incredibly sad is that? I wasn’t kidding when I stated in an earlier post that the value of the postal kiosk is that it gives neighbors an excuse and opportunity to visit. Air conditioning, television, computers
        (-: – personal interaction is very limited. And, yes, many of our churches have gone into the entertainment business and guess what, those plants need lots of $$ to run. What happened to the small churches? Passe?

        I think it’s unfair to lump Sanders with Trump on policy positions. He does have them. Does he have enough? Do you like the policies he has? What constitutes a policy these days? We agree that he will not be the candidate but he (and Trump) have been important, irritating gadflies in a process that has become stultifyingly boring. Our process is broken. You are right about that, but there’s no one else to fix it but us. Every election that rolls around I sign up to make phone calls, put a yard sign out, affix a bumper sticker, harass my buddies for votes, pass out leaflets – It’s all I can do and I do it gladly and will as long as I can, because it’s important. I win some and lose some but, by damn, I get my licks in!

        Passion. Energy. Dedication. Participation as one can. THESE are the things that will “fix” the political process. Bernie Sanders may be an old fool, but he is working his buns off and I respect that. He won’t get my vote but he will have my appreciation and respect for an old-fashioned, barn-stormin’ campaign. I am amazed at his energy. Anyone who posts here who has never run for office ought to try walking blocks and operating on a few hours sleep, and keeping a non-stop schedule. It’s hard. This is the part that money can’t touch. This is the human element.

        Bernie is doing exactly what you indicated is needed to change things: he’s bringing people together and making them believe they can bring about change. That is worth noting. Eat your heart out, Trump!

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, on your #2 comment, may I suggest as a resident of TX, that there is “only” the right, no left (-: (Believe me, I’ve been looking for some lefties in TX)

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, you’ll be interested in today’s Daily Kos Morning Digest report on the Dem pick up in the GA House yesterday.

        “Georgia’s 80th State House District ought to be safely Republican. Mitt Romney carried it by a 56-43 margin, and in a special election, when Democratic turnout almost always suffers, the GOP shouldn’t have had to flex a muscle to keep this seat in their hands.
        But on Tuesday night, Democrat Taylor Bennett not only won, he crushed his Republican opponent, former Brookhaven Mayor Max Davis, by a 55-45 spread—despite getting outspent 2-to-1. And not only that, Bennett rode to victory by explicitly running on his opposition to a proposed “religious freedom restoration act,” citing his mother and sister, both of whom are gay.”

        Got outspent 2-to-1….there you go, Lifer. But, as the article points out, there were other factors at play.

        More significant is this: “Bennett’s win isn’t only a victory for gay rights. Georgia Democrats are still deep in the minority in the state legislature, but now they have 61 seats in the 180-member state House, which means that Republicans can no longer achieve super-majorities on their own. As a result, the GOP should have a much harder time advancing any amendments to the state constitution.”

        Chipping away….I am still angry over the way the organizers of the “New GA Project” were treated last year. They should take courage from this win and re-double their efforts for ’16.

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