Category Archives: elections

Story of An Election

It’s a contentious election year. The Republican party is deeply divided. An insurgent conservative is trying desperately to become the Republican nominee for President, but the odds are long against him. In a late, some say desperate move, and at any rate an unusual one, he’s named his preferred Vice Presidential running mate before he has secured the nomination. His opponent’s point man on stopping that insurgent campaign is Kremlin stooge and career criminal Paul Manafort. Does this all sound familiar?

I am, in fact, describing 1976.

If I were the sort of religious man who didn’t believe in coincidences, I’d be one hundred percent convinced that if this isn’t Ted Cruz’s year, then in 2020, he will be elected President of the United States, just as Reagan was four years after narrowly losing the nomination to Gerald Ford. The circumstances are all strikingly similar. Indeed, I wonder if Cruz is evoking the circumstances of 1976 on purpose, since he is I think the sort of guy less inclined than I am to believe in coincidences.

As it stands, I am not yet ready to write this election year off. I still hope that Hillary Clinton isn’t elected President of the United States, and I especially hope that she is not elected President of the United States in July, by just under thirteen hundred Republicans. But on the unlikely chance Donald Trump, the likely nominee, somehow defeats Clinton, he will do so without my help or my vote. Or indeed the votes of any of my immediate family members. The Republican party is not entitled to my vote, and I will never be brow-beaten into voting for an unacceptable nominee again. I hated Mitt Romney and John McCain, but they were at least Republicans. It was often hard to understand why but they were, of a sort anyway. Donald Trump defies ideological description, indeed he has contempt for the idea of having ideas-that’s not what “winners” do you see. Winners “make deals.” More over, he has clearly signaled that he will not work with conservatives. He will however work with the Mitch McConnells of the world to continue screwing over the American people. But that’s mostly moot. Donald Trump will not be President, and you should probably bet money on that, to anyone who will take you up on the offer.

I do, however, feel that even when we are ready to write this election off, we should not abandon all hope. Reagan’s comeback after 1976 just for years later provides a useful model for the potential future of the conservative movement. Twelve straight years of bad left wing policies will inevitably produce disastrous results. But what really finished Carter in 1980 was a combination of a weakening economy and the Iranian hostage crisis. That Hillary Clinton will continue the sort of feckless interventionism in foreign policy of Obama, that has all the negatives of both adventurism-neoconservatism and none of the countervailing positives of actual direction and purpose and, you know, that quaint notion of American interest, is basically beyond doubt. That style of foreign policy was invented by the Clinton administration. So that she will likely have equivalent problems to the hostage crisis tp deal with, is fairly easy to see. An increasingly isolationist American public may find arguments from a Rand Paul type Republican more amenable on those issues, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that less libertarian Republicans can credibly attack her on those issues in 2020. More importantly, there are good reasons to think Hillary Clinton may contend with a bad recession in the middle of her Presidency, and she will certainly not pursue policies that will actually be helpful in alleviating it. Even if she did, getting reelected in the near immediate aftermath of a bad recession, without the ability to credibly blame the economic crisis on the opposition, is a tall order. If there is a recession in 2018 or there abouts, I expect 2020 to be a Republican year.

For many of you, this message that we must remain in the political wilderness a bit longer, will be a bitter pill to swallow. But during that time, we may begin to regard this as strong, hopeful medicine.

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Donald Trump Is The Republican Obama

I remarked to my mother a few weeks (a month or so?) ago, that Donald Trump is “The Republican Candidate for the Low Information Voter.” In retrospect I believe I’ve underestimated him. Trump is something even more insidious than that. Donald Trump represents, I now believe, two distinct phenomena in the modern Republican Party, neither of which seem like good developments no matter how you look at it-at least, assuming you come at it from a perspective that cares even a bit about either the Republican Party or the Lockean political tradition in America (I care increasingly more about the latter than the former). The first, I do not wish to dwell on here, except to make a quip of it: Donald Trump is, for some on the American Right, their “Then Let Me Be Evil” moment. The second is more interesting, and disturbing. Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams, who seems to be a bit of Trump fan, has highlighted what I want to note specifically:

Now review Trump’s empty sentence: We need to take America back.

From whom? Notice the intentional lack of detail? In this case, the lack of detail is the powerful part of the sentence.

The media’s political filter automatically goes to immigration, and that interpretation is probably somewhat right. The problem is that it is only 10% of the explanation. The other 90% is what is happening in voters’ heads when they get an open-ended suggestion that someone has somehow stolen the country.

Who did this awful thing???

Is it the top one-percenters who stole all the country’s money?

Is it the liberals?

Is it the politically-correct people?

Is it the immigrants who are taking jobs?

Is it the wrong-headed people in general?

Is it the minorities? The women?

Is it just our reputation in the world that we lost?

Was it our former greatness we lost?

See how the open-ended suggestion works? Every voter is free to fill in the topic of their own greatest fear. Your brain is a movie that creates your personal history, and when the movie finds a gap, your imagination fills it in. It happens automatically and bypasses rational thought. As with the salesperson who has already made the sale, Trump says nothing you can dislike while giving you the freedom to fill in the blanks in the way that influences you the most.

Frighteningly true. But doesn’t this pattern sound eerily familiar? It should. This was the exact implicit strategy behind the “Hope and Change” campaign of Obama in 2008. Adams doesn’t point this out, and I’m not sure he’s even realized it (probably hasn’t?) but the Obama strategy was pretty much exactly to say things that allowed people to impute to Obama all their own grievances and preferred solutions, to imagine that what he meant by change was changing the things they felt needed changing. To fill in the blanks in the way that influences them the most while saying nothing they can dislike.

As it turns out the average Republican voter has nothing to be smug about over the libtards and low-fo voters after all. Trump is the Republican Obama, and Republicans are as effectively duped as everyone else. Doubt me? There’s some disturbing proof.

As noted by Hotair’s Allahpundit, polling proves that the mere imprimatur of Trump is all that it would take to turn a sizeable portion of the Republican electorate on to the non-existent merits of socialist medical care-among rather a lot else. In this respect Trump is like Obama in yet another way. For Trump’s supporters, his positions and policies, what he is actually after are unimportant, in much the same way it isn’t important what Indiana Jones is after in Raiders or Temple of Doom. For Trump’s supporters he is the protagonist, the hero of the great epic of our time, and it’s more important that he’s fighting the “bad guys” and winning than it is what he’s actually fighting for. To criticize Trump, even from the perspective of one who disdains “The Establishment” is to be, in the eyes of his supporters, part and parcel thereof. And why, exactly? Well, because The Establishment is also against Trump. Well I suspect the Republican Establishment-The “Washington Cartel” to borrow the phraseology of Senator Ted Cruz-is opposed to many people. That the enemy of thine enemy is ipso facto thy friend is in fact a very dangerous fallacy.

I want to say something else, though, too. There is something to be said for having this effective of a political entrepreneur on the Right. Donald Trump is not on the Right, but nevermind that. If Donald Trump is the only person who has learned anything from the Obama strategy, then the shame is on the rest of us, not on him. Sure he’s a clownish buffoon, and worse than that, a Leftist, but rather than play “ain’t it awful” about the stupidity of the American electorate imagine what other Republicans might have accomplished if they’d realized what he has-how to manipulate people. Oh, sure I can hear some of you thinking, it’s morally wrong to manipulate people. And I agree. But morality is not a suicide pact. Some on the Right should at least consider the idea rather than ride the moral high ground straight to abysmal depths-if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor. And here’s the problem I have with some of the smartest observers on the Right: they have either been taken in by Trump completely (See Ann Coulter, who, in 2011, seemed to recognize Trump as, at least, a political non-starter on par with Newt Gingrich) or they reserve for him such a degree of vitriol-combined unfortunately with an understandable singlemindedness that nevertheless recalls Churchill’s definition of a fanatic-as one scarcely sees from even them for all but the most contemptible of Democrats (See, for example, in an otherwise good column by Jonah Goldberg, the er, colorful suggestive that Trump has a reversed digestive tract, almost anything written lately by Kevin D Williamson (even though again, these are usually quite good), or George Will’s virtual paean to open borders which makes essentially zero effort to disguise basically calling Trump a Nazi-a piece of essentially no redeeming value whatsoever, from the Elder Statesman of Libertarian Conservatism no less). To me this seems the entirely wrong approach to dealing with the Trump phenomenon, but I sadly admit to not knowing the right way. The more unhinged Trump’s opponents on the Right sound, the more desperately the flail to bring their friends and fellow travelers back to sanity, the more they raise suspicion in the eyes of Trump supporters, and the less they listen. Again, the right way to deal with this I do not know.

On an un-Trump related note, kind of, but giving you more reason to be pessimistic: I don’t think the Republicans are going to win this next election. Not just that there’s an out-sized chance they won’t deserve to (though there is, since if ever there was someone who deserves to join the esteemed ranks of failed Presidential Candidates it is Jeb Bush) but that the prediction markets seem to be fairly confident that the odds favor the Democrats at this point, and they have been confident and consistent on the degree to which this is true for some time. Why exactly? If I had to guess it looks like the markets believe the Republicans are more likely to nominate a candidate with poor chances of winning than they are someone with good chances of winning. I say that because there are candidates individually that the markets think could, if nominated, win (unfortunately, Jeb Bush is, in fact, one of them, which suggests a good mantra for the Republican Establishment: vote for the least conservative candidate who can win-but on the other hand, Rand Paul’s odds of winning on the slim chance he is nominated are also better than not, which suggests he is, in fact, the Most Conservative Candidate Who Can Win). What candidate who can’t win might they think the Republicans likely to nominate?

Oh yeah.

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Filed under Conservatism, elections, Republicans

Let’s Teach Michael Barone How To Rig A Majority Vote

I tried to read this article, I really did, but I couldn’t make it past this huge non sequitur:

Why do Republicans have so many candidates and Democrats so few? That’s directly contrary to the conventional wisdom that Republicans nominate the next guy in line, while Democrats tend to have multi-candidate brawls.
Mr. Barone seems to be under the impression that a field with a large number of candidates is somehow more difficult for the Republican Party Establishment to rig in favor of the one guy they want to win, and will get to win. Let’s teach him how to rig a majority vote.
Imagine for a moment that I have two friends. Let’s call them my Establishment Friend and my Low Information Friend. We’ve decided we want to all pitch in to pay for dinner for the three of us. We all agree to hold a series of votes between each of our preferences in pairs. But my Establishment friend is devious and clever: for some reason, I’ve given him the power to decide in what order we vote on our options. Moreover, he knows that I most prefer Hamburgers, but prefer Pizza to Tacos, but my low information friend prefers Pizza, but prefers Tacos to Hamburgers. Here’s how he insures that Tacos wins: First of all, the rule will be that we will vote on two pairs of options, and the loser of each vote drops out-notice that this is more or less how the primary process works. So he says we’ll vote on Hamburgers versus Pizza first. He votes with me and Hamburgers wins out over Pizza, so Pizza drops out of the race. Next we vote on Hamburgers versus Tacos. This time, my establishment friend votes against Hamburgers in favor of Tacos, knowing that this is my low information friend’s preference if he can’t have Pizza, who has already dropped out of the race. So, naturally Tacos wins. This is called the Condorcet Paradox, but the important thing that Michael Barone needs to know about the Condorcet Paradox is this: The Minimum Necessary Number Of Candidates For This To Occur Is Three. In other words, a greater number of candidates increases the ability of the savvy vote order setter to rig the outcome, because no candidate has a clear majority of support as anyone’s top preference.
If irrefutable mathematics and logic is a little too abstract for Mr Barone, however, perhaps I can lay out a highly probable real life scenario: suppose that in the first several primaries, Donald Trump runs away with the Low Information Republican vote, and gradually the better conservative alternatives drop out of the race, having divided their support. The Establishment simply tells their preferred candidate to hang in there, make solid showings in these early states but they don’t really need to win them. Once all the better alternatives have dropped out, the Republican party is faced with a choice: Donald Trump, or the Establishment candidate. The vast majority of Republicans can’t stand Trump, the predictable result will be that the Establishment candidate defeats Trump and secures the nomination. Gosh, does that sound a little plausible? More than a little really.
Mr. Barone: The notion that Republicans simply nominate the Next Guy In Line is based on strong observational evidence and historical precedent. It’s based on actually examining the outcomes of the primary processes! You are evidently very impressed with the sideshow of the process itself. When the Establishment nominates it’s preferred candidate, however, you will deny that your mental model of how the primary process works (“We had a lot of options! The system works!”) has been proven wrong, using the same arguments you’re making now. You’ve already decided the process isn’t rigged and will be impervious to evidence, since you clearly are already. But sadly, you’re just wrong. The primary election process is nothing but elaborate legerdemain, and it always has been.

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Filed under Debates, elections, Republicans

Party Reform

The Republican Party should adopt some simple rules restricting the primary process to ensure the selection of good candidates:

1. Candidates for the nomination for President of the United States on the Republican ticket shall not have held public office or resided within in the last ten years, any of the following: Any state which in the past two election cycles had a majority of it’s votes go to a non-Republican candidate for President both times, or if they are not already on that list, any of the following: Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii, or (in the interest of fairness) any state of the Old Confederacy.

2. Candidates for the nomination for President of the United States on the Republican ticket shall not have sought the nomination in any previous election cycle, and failed, nor shall any candidate who succeeded in securing the nomination be allowed to run again, unless they succeeded in the General Election.

I think these are sensible rules, they aren’t unfair or skewed. Any RINOs whining that the first rule is target at them should explain why the rule excludes Republicans from the Old Confederacy, not known to be a hotbed of moderates. Any losers whining about the second rule should get over it, they are losers.

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A Teeming Horde Of Socialists

-Or, the Capitalist Suicide Pact.

Is it the case that the restraint of free movement of people across international boundaries is, in essence, of the nature of the error of the protectionist? Is, it not the case that imposition on such free movement represents violation of the natural right of man by the State?

Resolved that these propositions are, so the citizen of the Capitalist World, fear hypocrisy, deigns it that the artificial construction of a border ought not restrain migration, and he welcomes with open arms as a brother the worker, the talent, the human resource, (for he does not make the error of the population alarmist, that more people is bad) into the nation he calls home, but which, thinking on it, he holds in no special regard, except in so far as it may be an exemplar of his capitalist ideal-and that it is not, so much the more reason to hold it in contempt.

And, being that he may occasionally dislike the results of elections, but thinking the results of human events must inevitably favor liberty in the end, he excepts democracy, perhaps hesitantly. He thinks not for a moment that, in the regions from which his new brothers come, in choosing their own governments freely they have chosen despotism, tyranny, socialism. He is, after all, not racist, to think that ideology could be genetic. He thinks, such is the product of their institutions, but our institutions favor the market-One supposes he forgets that this is not so often, his patriotism is oddly restored from his-deserved-early contempt. And more importantly, he reasons, these are Christians, and we all know how Christians vote. Oh sure, he thinks, my wife or lover may not be able to get an abortion the next time she gets pregnant, but trade will be reasonably unrestrained. He is, unaware? Perhaps, of the evidence the prevailing opinions of these folks, on the contrary, are much the opposite of the typical evangelical Christian. He attributes, instead, all the evidence of every passing election, of evidence of purposeful thought by a block of voters seeking to righteously punish the truculent. And, he says, surely if we do away with the truculent, these people will, so long as we may make the issue ours, vote more in line with their religious beliefs. Religion, not biology, determines ideology, all human history not withstanding.

And lo, political victory! He achieves his goal, and across the nullified national boundary comes the teeming horde. Wonder, glory, at the production from this labor! Huzzah, a victory for mankind, for the future! And thus, on the surface, it seems.

But things are not as they appear. Look upon those things our Capitalist Citizen holds, rightly, in contempt: government largesse swells, and strains to be supported by a tax structure that burdens exclusively the upper income earners; for now, the state of Social Security and Medicare improve, at the expense of Medicaid and welfare programs.

Never fear! The election is here! Finally in good conscience, Capitalist Citizen can support Republicanism again, having defeated the bigots and reclaimed it’s name for the Truly Righteous. And, he expects-contrary to recent evidence-that the people are generally intelligent enough to realize that socialism isn’t working. He is enthusiastic. And so election day arrives.

Disaster! Calamity! Well, on the bright side, your wife can get that abortion. It is the first electoral college unanimous election since George Washington.

Republican Crass Crusty is defeated by Democrat Hugo Vladimir Gonzalez in a landslide. The election is attributed by pundits to the Hispanic vote.

Well, an election is just an election, there will be another one. So he waits, and in the mean time the Democrats further transform the country into something he does not recognize as remotely Capitalist. They win the next election, too, and the next one.

After an entire generation of ruin, Citizen Capitalist is in despair. In his squalid, rent controlled apartment, Citizen Capitalist commits suicide, not able to face the world anymore, it’s future so dim.

Of course, in reality, he committed political suicide a generation ago.

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Filed under Common Sense, Dumbasses, Economics, elections, Freedom, General, humor, Republicans

Like a Root Canal

CNN’s Republican “Debate” is excruciating as usual. Part interrogation part mockery. The brightest spots are when the candidates don’t just put up with BS from the  “moderators”. More thoughts later.

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Filed under Conservatism, Debates, Dumbasses, Election 2012, elections, General, Liberals, Mainstream Media, Republicans

Eaten Lunch

(Not to be confused with the W S Burroughs novel)

The Southern Bell has put it unusually well:

“When it’s all going to be said and done, Harry Reid has eaten our lunch…This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn’t have passed in the new Congress.”

How poignant. A rather nice way of saying that the GOP has utterly and completely dropped the ball during the lame duck session. The reinforcements don’t arrive until January, but we had to count on the GOP to hold the line until then. It seems to me that they have failed to do so in almost every way. DADT should have been extended to forbidden open straightness instead of eliminated-which would be both fair and would prevent sexuality from become a distraction from the mission. The Republicans utterly failed to stop it and now Barney Frank doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with gays in the same showers as straights, even though he apparently does see that men and women shouldn’t shower together (HOW IS THAT NOT THE SAME THING??????) no serious, he actually has said that. The START treaty actually got a bunch of Republicans on board, even though it is blatantly going to be unilateral disarmament, even though the “verification regime” that Obama says it is needed to create IS A COMPLETE FICTION and even though the Russians have made it quite clear that they believe it limits our ability to develop missile defense. And why did Republicans unnecessarily capitulate on the “tax deal”? It should have been simple. Their mission was nothing but stall until reinforcements arrived. They failed. Some of them seemed to fail on purpose. The establishment GOP doesn’t want to stick it’s neck out and say they hope Obama fails, maybe because what they really want to say is “I hope we fail.” These mistakes won’t be possible to undo for two more years! Sigh…

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