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Republican Insiders Still Don’t Know How To Stop Trump

Elephants Fighting

Once again, top conservatives and Republican insiders are talking about finding a way to stop Donald Trump, and once again it seems likely that it’s going to be too little, too late:

A secretive group of Republican operatives and conservative leaders convened Thursday morning for more than three hours to discuss ways to unite the right against Donald Trump, with a presentation about the feasibility of mounting a third-party challenge as well as extensive deliberations about whether a coalition of anti-Trump forces could prevent the billionaire mogul from securing the party’s presidential nomination at the July convention in Cleveland.

“It’s certainly not too late,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said as he left the session. “You could get another party on the ballot. A candidate could be picked as late as August. … It would have to be a movement conservative.””

“I was there to listen,” Franks, a supporter of Trump rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), added. “I am worried about the kind of damage that Trump could cause to our party. … As a conservative, I can’t trust Donald Trump to do the right thing. However, I can trust Mrs. Clinton to do the exact wrong thing. Therefore, if it comes down to a one-on-one contest, I would vote for Trump.”

Franks repeatedly declined to name who was floated as a potential standard-bearer for a third-party conservative bid.

A second attendee, requesting anonymity to discuss private conversations, said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was one name mentioned as a possible late-entry contender who conservatives could rally around.

A spokesman for Sasse said he did not send a representative to the meeting.

In a statement, the senator said he would not run: ”Absolutely not. I’ve got three little kids and the only callings that I want: raising them and serving Nebraskans. No way.”

Instead, a bloc of participants argued that the best option may be working in upcoming primaries to boost Cruz and prevent Trump from securing a majority of delegates. A convention standoff would be the culmination of those efforts, the people said.

“I support Ted Cruz,” said Mike Farris, an influential Virginia conservative, as he stepped onto 17th Street NW shortly before noon Thursday, waving off questions from reporters.

The meeting, a breakfast of more than two dozen people held at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, was hosted by longtime conservative activists Bill Wichterman and Bob Fischer. Popular right-wing radio host Erick Erickson, another organizer of the gathering, did not attend due to illness but participated by phone, as did many other conservatives from around the country.

Later in the day, we learned that one of the latest ideas being touted was a so-called “unity ticket”:

More than 1,000 miles away in Florida, leaders and financiers of the multimillion dollar anti-Trump ad campaign that ran ahead of March 15 were also gathering on Thursday to plot their path forward.

Hillyer said the focus of the D.C. meeting remained beating Trump within the Republican Party apparatus, not mounting an independent bid.

“The consensus was that we need a unity ticket of some sort and we’ll let the candidates work out who the unity ticket is,” he said. “Obviously, more conservatives seem to prefer Cruz to Kasich, and Cruz has more delegates right now, so if you do the math, it’s probably more likely to be Cruz-Kasich.”

But he went on to say that the unity ticket possibilities, and support for that ticket, should include both current and former candidates.

Trump said on Wednesday that “riots” might break out if he arrives at the Republican convention in Cleveland with the most delegates but is denied the nomination.

The group Thursday embraced the possibility of a convention floor fight. “We recognize that it took Abraham Lincoln three ballots at the Republican convention in 1860 to become the party’s nominee and if it is good enough for Lincoln, that process should be good enough for all the candidates without threats of riots,” their statement said.

While the group did discuss a third-party challenge, Hillyer said, “We did not come to any — even come close to settling on some third-party candidate.”

“That would be down the line,” he added.

Time is ticking, as the signature-gathering period to get on the ballot in some key states, including Texas, is already underway. There were discussions of both the logistical challenge of getting on the ballot, and the high costs to do so.

Now, there’s talk about a “100 day plan” to stop Trump from getting the majority of delegates he’d need to win the nomination outright:

Republican leaders adamantly opposed to Donald J. Trump’s candidacy are preparing a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.

Recognizing that Mr. Trump has seized a formidable advantage in the race, they say that an effort to block him would rely on an array of desperation measures, the political equivalent of guerrilla fighting.

There is no longer room for error or delay, the anti-Trump forces say, and without a flawlessly executed plan of attack, he could well become unstoppable.

But should that effort falter, leading conservatives are prepared to field an independent candidate in the general election, to defend Republican principles and offer traditional conservatives an alternative to Mr. Trump’s hard-edged populism. They described their plans in interviews after Mr. Trump’s victories last Tuesday in Florida and three other states.

The names of a few well-known conservatives have been offered up in recent days as potential third-party standard-bearers, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, has circulated a memo to a small number of conservative allies detailing the process by which an independent candidate could get on general-election ballots across the country.

Among the recruits under discussion are Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator who has told associates that he would be open to running, and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who was suggested as a possible third-party candidate at a meeting of conservative activists on Thursday in Washington.

Mr. Coburn, who left the Senate early last year to receive treatment for cancer, said in an interview that Mr. Trump “needs to be stopped” and that he expected to back an independent candidate against him. He said he had little appetite for a campaign of his own, but did not flatly rule one out.

“I’m going to support that person,” Mr. Coburn said, “and I don’t expect that person to be me.”

Trump opponents convened a series of war councils last week to pinpoint his biggest vulnerabilities and consider whether to endorse one of his two remaining opponents, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

Mr. Trump has a delegate lead of about 250 over Mr. Cruz, the second-place candidate, but he has repeatedly acted in ways that push party leaders farther from his camp. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan sternly admonished him for saying his supporters would riot if Republicans nominated someone else, the latest in a series of remarks Mr. Trump has made that seemed to encourage or condone violence.

David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth, which has spent millions on ads attacking Mr. Trump, said his group met on Wednesday and concluded it was still possible to avert Mr. Trump’s nomination. The group plans a comprehensive study of Trump supporters to sharpen a message aimed at driving them away from him.

“This is still a winnable race for a free-market conservative that’s not Donald Trump,” Mr. McIntosh said, adding, “It’s not a layup, but there’s a clear path to victory.”

What’s clear about all these anti-Trump efforts at this point is that there doesn’t even seem to be unity about how to stop him, even assuming that it were possible to do so at this point. As far as I’ve been able to count, in fact, there seem to be at least five distinct plans being pitched by different elements of the anti-Trump “coalition.” One plan appears to involve finding a way to deny Trump the majority of the delegates prior to the convention and somehow ensure that Ted Cruz gets that majority instead. Given the fact that, with the current delegate count, Trump would need to win less than 55% of the remaining delegates to get to a majority, while Cruz would need to win more than 80%, this seems a next to impossible goal to achieve. This is where the “unity ticket” plan comes into play, with Cruz and Kasich apparently joining forces to deny Trump a majority of delegates, but agreements like that are difficult to make and impossible to keep together, as the current actions of both Cruz and Kasich indicates. That leads to the next plan, which is to deny Trump the majority he needs to win on the first ballot and then manipulate the rules of the convention in such as way that another candidate would end up with a majority on a subsequent ballot. Depending on how the primaries go between now and California in June, it’s certainly a possibility that Trump could fall short of the 1,237 delegate majority he needs, but if he does he’s still likely to be close to that number, quite probably within 100 delegates of a majority and controlling far more delegates than any of his rivals. Denying him the nomination in that circumstance would seem guaranteed to backfire on the party and tear the GOP apart right on the verge of a national election, hardly an ideal situation. A fourth plan seems to involve directly lobbying convention delegates, including those pledged to Trump, in an effort to persuade them to abandon him if not on the first ballot then on any subsequent ballots. Finally, after all of those plans are discussed, there’s the idea about mounting a third-party or Independent bid for the Presidency, a plan that becomes less realistic as each day passes and which would seem to do do nothing more than guarantee that Hillary Clinton would be elected President in a landslide and that, perhaps, several vulnerable Republican Senators would suffer defeat as well.

The fact that there are so many plans to stop Trump being talked about at the same time, and that they would seem to be contradictory in both their goals and their methods, is a strong indication that, after nine months Republican insiders and mainstream conservatives still don’t know how to deal with Donald Trump. At this point, all they are really doing is pulling tricks out of a magicians hat in the hope that something, anything, will save their party from the fate of nominating a man who seems to embody all of the worst aspects of American politics and all of the worst aspects of the mindless, Know Nothing inspired, populism and xenophobia that they spent the better part of the last decade encouraging and exploiting. Instead of coming up with workable plans, or finding a way to counteract the poison of Trumpism, though, all they seem able to do is come up with gimmicks and tricks that seem unlikely to work, will likely cause rifts in the Republican Party that will be very hard to heal, and which will do nothing to address the fact that Donald Trump has succeeded because he says things that a significant portion of the Republican Party agrees with. Given all of this, the idea that these last minute efforts will actually succeed in “stopping” Trump seems silly when its examined for even a minute. For better or worse, we are at a point where Donald Trump has won more states than another candidate, leads in the delegate count and the popular vote, and is the person most likely win the nomination.

For nine months, there were those of us who warned about the dangers that Trump posed, both to the GOP specifically and to the nation. For the most part, Republican leaders and insiders ignored those warnings under the mistaken belief that Trump would burn himself out. Now, reality has settled in and they don’t know how to deal with it. It’s nobody’s fault but their own.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    Had a long ride with a Trumpista yesterday. What it came down to was
    1. I hate Hillary
    2. All politicians are crooks
    3. Trump might not be a crook.
    Had real problems arguing with 1 and 2. I think he’s wrong on 3, but that leaves you with no alternative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  2. CSK says:

    Occasionally I read the comments at pro-Trump websites, an activity that’s sometimes hilarious, but more often depressing. One comment I’ve seen repeated, in one form or another, is this:

    “I know Trump isn’t a conservative. I don’t agree with many of his positions. But he’s the only one who’ll burn it all down.

    The phrase “burn it all down” is very popular with Trumpkins, along with “destroy it all.” One guy even said he wanted “blood running in the streets.”

    It seems these people have been carried by their rage into nihilism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  3. Barry says:

    “@CSK: “It seems these people have been carried by their rage into nihilism.”

    The GOP establishment has been stoking that sort of nihilistic rage since 1964; they just finally found that controlling it might be difficult.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  4. @CSK:

    There’s just as much “now is the time for our glorious revolution!” talk on the left. It’s not really a political thing, but a side effect of a population that’s spent their entire life in a relatively safe, prosperous society and whose only exposure to unrest and upheaval is action movies.

    They begin to confuse fiction with reality and begin to imagine that societal collapse would be fun.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 5

  5. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Indeed; some of the rhetoric reminds me of sixties and early seventies radicals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. gVOR08 says:

    …the mindless, Know Nothing inspired, populism and xenophobia that they spent the better part of the last decade encouraging and exploiting.

    Kudos for recognizing that. The mainstream GOP pundits I’ve read seem to feel Trump just fell out of the sky and hijacked their blameless and perfectly reasonable party.

    But as @Barry: points out, it’s been way more than a decade. The xenophobia goes back at least to ’68 with Nixon and the Southern Strategy. The exploitation of religion goes back at least to ’79 with Falwell and the Moral Majority (sic) And the Movement Conservative elevation of ideology over evidence at least to ’64 and Goldwater (along with a pretty good dose of racism).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  7. Argon says:

    Sorry, but Trumpism feeds off the denigration by establishment types. I think it’s a toss up whether this stop-Trump push helps or hinders the candidate.

    I’m not sure whether the ‘establishment’ GOP is against Trump for his policies or his apparent disregard to being controlled by them. What’s telling is the number of GOP leaders who admit they will support Trump if he wins. It seems strange to see the party willing to go to full extremes to prevent the nomination of a candidate and yet claim that this completely unacceptable person is better than Hillary, who could reasonably be viewed as a moderate Republican of yesteryear. To me this again demonstrates the death of moderation in the GOP and the lack of willingness to govern. The center is now solidly owned by Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  8. grumpy realist says:

    And yet these are the same people who say that if Trump is elected as candidate they’ll fall in line and support him, because Hillary is Eviler.

    Make up your mind, guys. Either Trump is the worst thing to come down the pipe EVAH and you’re justified in carrying out all these attempts at sabotage and rigging the vote system and you will NOT support him and will continue working against him (i.e., vote for Hillary) in order to take him out, or….he’s a candidate who if he obtains a relative majority of the votes should be put forth as the party candidate and you’ll vote for him.

    But this Most Evil Warlord but I’ll support him anyway doesn’t convince anyone of your integrity.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  9. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: “Nihilists! ..F— me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. Gustopher says:

    I’ve really been enjoying reading redstate.com lately, just to bask in their misery and suffering.

    They act as if Trump came from nowhere, and claim that he is a Liberal Democrat running as a Republican, presumably because there is nothing worse than a Liberal Democrat, so it is just a handy label to put on anything bad.

    What they seem incapable of realizing is this: Trump is a far leftist’s idea of what the Republicans are. Unprincipled (see Cleek’s Law, “Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily”), racist, a bully, and woefully ignorant. The fact that the Republicans are on the verge of nominating him really suggests that this stereotype isn’t that far from the truth.

    It would be like the Democrats nominating a welfare queen who drives a Cadillac bought with food stamps.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  11. MBunge says:

    The challenge to stopping Trump is his support is based on a lot of different things. There’s the white grievance politics but that is propped up by entirely legitimate policy concerns on trade and immigration. There’s the appeal of the anti-politician but that’s buttressed by the genuflecting before the graven image of the business man that both Dems and the GOP have done over the last 24 years. The anger at political correctness exists alongside Trump’s non-ideological nature attracting the scattered remnants of moderate and liberal Republicans. Trump has the power of celebrity but he may also be the most new media-savvy candidate ever.

    Where does an anti-Trump effort begin?

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    Where does an anti-Trump effort begin?

    The reason it’s so difficult is Trump has built a kind of cult of personality, and those can be well-nigh impossible to counter (as so many victims of such cults could attest, were they not so dead).

    The Republicans put a lot of effort into making this bed, and now they must lie in it, and deal with the bites of the bedbugs. Were there not an attendant risk to the nation as a whole, I’d be more than happy to stand at the bedside and laugh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  13. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    There’s the white grievance politics but that is propped up by entirely legitimate policy concerns on trade and immigration.

    What about Trump’s trade and immigration concerns are “entirely legitimate?” Immigration from Mexico, rapists and abuellas and anchor babies, all have essentially gone negative, mostly due to Obama’s enforcement efforts. (Efforts the right will not credit at all, by the way.)

    On trade, Trump wants to start a trade war with one of our biggest trading partners. Where’s the “legitimate concern” there?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  14. C. Clavin says:

    The way to beat Trump is to show what the real Trump is.
    Make the bully whine. Show that he’s not that tough. That he’s all bluster.
    Show that he’s not the bright of a business man. He’s a con man. Expose the pyramid scheme.
    Show that Mr. Tell it like it is is nothing but a liar.
    And by hammering away at that you will bring out the hot-head. Which you then mock mercilessly.
    Trump and his supporters are a cancer on the nation and have to be treated aggressively.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  15. David M says:

    @James Pearce:

    I thinks it should be “entirely legitimate concerns over stagnant wage growth”, but the anger is completely misdirected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. James Pearce says:

    @David M:

    I thinks it should be “entirely legitimate concerns over stagnant wage growth”

    Didn’t Trump say that wages are too high though? How is that an “entirely legitimate concern?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Hal_10000 says:

    Donald Trump has succeeded because he says things that a significant portion of the Republican Party agrees with.

    This is an important thing to remember. There are not two traditions in American politics, but four — liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism and populism. The latter is defined by fiscal liberalism and social conservatism. That’s Trump: don’t cut spending (except “waste”), don’t reform entitlements, stop free trade, force American businesses to come back to this country, get rid of immigrants, defund Planned Parenthood, ban Muslims.

    For a long time, the GOP has been able to ignore those elements in the party. And had they united behind a conservative candidate, they might have been able to continue to do so. But with 17 candidates, Trump stood out as the big populist and garnered immediate and substantial support. The Republicans ignored it because they had forgotten that the party is a coalition, not a united front of “true” conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  18. An Interested Party says:

    It’s pretty sad that those who don’t like Trump are pinning their hopes on Cruz…what a choice…it’s like choosing whether to be shot in the head or poisoned with arsenic…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. stonetools says:

    The Republican Party can’t stop Trump because the Republican Party built the Trump phenomenon.

    1. Start with Nixon and the Southern strategy, fanning white resentment that flared in the South and elsewhere after the Democrats abandoned white supremacy and committed to civil rights.
    2. Continue with Reagan adding “Government is the problem” rhetoric on top of the “Southern strategy” and instituting a “tax reform ” strategy that shoveled billions towards the rich and pennies to to the rest.
    3. Follow that with more tax cuts for rich from GWB, a BS war, and sheer regulatory incompetence leading to a Great Depression type financial crisis.
    4. Finish with fomenting a racist backlash against a black liberal President and fanning resentment of a white working class that was lied to and then ignored by Republicans who took care of the their donor class and no one else.

    Result? You’ve got a base who doesn’t give a d@mn about what the Republican establishment says and that is willing to believe a demagogue with simple tales of good and evil and simple enemies to fight against.
    The Republican can’t defeat Trump because Trump is what the Republican base has been built for. He is who the base has been waiting for, and they are going to nominate and, possibly, elect him .Let’s hope the Democrats can stop him because the Republicans certainly cannot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  20. MBunge says:

    @James Pearce: What about Trump’s trade and immigration concerns are “entirely legitimate?”

    Seriously? I believe there’s actually been a net loss of immigrants, legal and otherwise, over the last seven years or so, probably due to a combination of economic factors, increased enforcement efforts and anti-immigrant sentiment. The 25 years or so before that, however, saw an utterly broken immigration system that allowed millions of people to enter the country illegally. So many people in fact that it has literally changed the demographic make up of the population.

    None of that happened because of public debate. There was no vote taken. No official government policy was advocated and adopted. Our elites simply allowed it to happened no matter how much the citizenry complained.

    A nation has the right to control its own borders. The citizens of that nation have the right to decide who gets to enter and live in their country. There is absolutely nothing racist or xenophobic about that. No other nation on Earth has or would allow the same thing to happen to them. Mexico has done more to control its southern border than the US has its.

    And before anyone even tries to cry “racism,” please explain the fairness in a system that sharply limits immigration from Africa, Asia and Europe but tacitly allows nearly unlimited immigration from Mexico.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  21. MBunge says:

    @James Pearce:
    On trade, Trump wants to start a trade war with one of our biggest trading partners. Where’s the “legitimate concern” there?

    The legitimate concern is that American trade policy for a couple of generations now has been run by people who don’t care about making the best trade deals for America and Americans. They care about how closely trade deals adhere to a globalist, free trade ideology that even Paul Krugman now calls a scam.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  22. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: Four years ago I wrote a piece to Andrew Sullivan’s site (oh how I miss his blogging days!) expressing bewilderment that Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals seemed so reluctant to attack him on what would have seemed to be one of his greatest vulnerabilities: his having passed the blueprint for Obamacare while he was governor of Massachusetts. After watching one of the debates, it suddenly occurred to me that one of the reasons for their hesitancy was that getting too specific about their criticisms of the law risked undermining their whole case against it. As I explained:

    So when Romney talks about how his plan used only private insurance companies, his rivals can’t say “But so does Obamacare!” because that would be letting the cat out of the bag. They try to contradict his claim that it’s market-based – as in Santorum’s description of the plan as a “top-down government-run program” – but they know they can’t get too specific, because it would expose their lie that either program is government-run.

    I think a similar thing is going on now with the GOP’s attacks on Trump. They would like to depict him as a dangerous demagogue and fascist without giving away how many of his ideas have been endorsed by more mainstream Republicans. Hence Max Boot attacks Trump’s support for torture while neglecting to mention that the candidate he backs, Rubio, also supports torture. This is such a tricky tightrope act, it’s no wonder a lot of the anti-Trumps are reduced to arguing that he’s a “liberal.”

    Of course it’s true that Trump’s commitment to conservatism is highly questionable, yet most of the positions of his that people find most alarming are clearly stuff that has been part of the GOP coalition for decades; it isn’t attacks on free trade that invite Hitler comparisons.

    The GOP can never make an effective attack on him when his worst views consist of things they’ve been tolerating if not downright promoting for decades.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  23. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    The 25 years or so before that, however, saw an utterly broken immigration system that allowed millions of people to enter the country illegally. So many people in fact that it has literally changed the demographic make up of the population.

    Trump is not going to reach back in time and change history, Mike. What’s done is done.

    Vast areas of the United States were part of a Hispanic culture long before the first English-speaker showed up, and two of them, TX and CA, are some of our most populous states. Demographics change. Consider: There were more people in the Four Corners region in 700 AD than there are now, and now we have air conditioning and the first amendment.

    Zoom out a bit. It’s not so bad.

    And before anyone even tries to cry “racism,” please explain the fairness in a system that sharply limits immigration from Africa, Asia and Europe but tacitly allows nearly unlimited immigration from Mexico.

    Let me try. As explained above, we are actually rather culturally intertwined with Mexico and they are literally just over the fence. Why should we prefer immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Europe over our next door neighbors?

    Wouldn’t immigrants from Mexico be better able to “assimilate” (whatever the F that means…) than immigrants from Asia or Africa, or hell, even Europe? Me, I think we don’t need to be so discriminatory.

    You mention a country’s right to control their border. I agree. I’m not arguing the contrary. I’m actually arguing that it’s our right to be more amenable to our neighbors, to have an immigration policy that respects that culturally intertwined relationship, that seeks to improve not just the United States of America, but also, the United Mexican States.

    And hell, let’s throw in the rest of the world too.

    Also:

    closely trade deals adhere to a globalist, free trade ideology

    While it’s true that the globalist, free trade ideology that predominates in political affairs doesn’t always result in the “best deal,” I also think that a protectionist ideology creates inefficiencies, and thereby opportunities for graft or violence. See: The Middle East.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  24. Ratufa says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump’s trade are immigration concerns are popular with some voters not so much for the specific content of his proposals (which are moronic, as is typical for him), but because he’s the only candidate who spends much time talking about the downsides of immigration and free trade.

    As to why some people have reasons to be concerned about those things: blue-collar workers were particularly hit hard by the recession, and many of them believe that the immigration of blue-collar workers into the US increases competition for the jobs blue-collar American workers are qualified for, and also lowers wages for those jobs. An elaboration of that view is at:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/113651/liberal-opposes-immigration-reform

    With regards to trade deals, free trade produces winners, and also some big losers. A recent example of some of the free-trade losers are the blue-collar workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis. One may argue that free trade is, on the whole, a very good thing, but that provides little comfort to people who are worried about losing their jobs.

    Trump’s popularity is fueled by the GOP political establishment’s near total failure to even acknowledge those concerns, which have been simmering for many years. This isn’t to say that the usual explanations for Trump’s popularity, such as racism, xenophobia, etc, don’t have a good deal of truth to them. But, the root of that popularity is that a large chunk of the Republican coalition is fed up with being ignored, and is enraged that their Party is promoting things that they believe is not in their interests. Edwin Edwards once said, “With me, the people know the butter might be rancid, but it’s going to be spread on their side of the bread.” Trump Republicans believe that, with the current Republican Party, the butter isn’t just rancid, it’s now spread on somebody else’s side of the bread, where the “somebody else” doesn’t just include the groups that GOP coalition members usually blame (foreigners, minorities, liberals, etc), but also big business and other moneyed interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: I don’t think integrity is at work here. I think they’re admitting that they are okay with the country being burned to the ground as long as they are in charge of the ashes and rubble. Think more of the Kim Dynasty and you’ll be closer to what these guys are about.

    As I say to students sometimes (in jest): Well at least I’ll be happy and isn’t that what’s really important?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. James Pearce says:

    @Ratufa:

    he’s the only candidate who spends much time talking about the downsides of immigration and free trade.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to “downsides” I think we’re talking about things like, “There’s too many Mexicans in this country” or “My company is run by assholes.”

    The first is subjective. Who is to say just how many Mexicans are “too many Mexicans?” Would it make a difference if they were from Guatemala? I don’t know. That’s a question that can’t be answered.

    The second is unfortunate, but some companies are just run by assholes. These asshole companies can be very successful, spreading the assholery like a cancer. (Ahem….Trump!) But it’s not the only way to do business.

    And picking at free trade isn’t going to fix that problem. Closing down borders and putting up protectionist measures actually make it easier for the asshole companies to flourish.

    We have to leave some room to breath, to let other better run companies out-compete them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. MBunge says:

    @James Pearce: Trump is not going to reach back in time and change history, Mike. What’s done is done.

    I’m going to put this in as inflamatory terms as I can to try and get through your willful obtuseness.

    That’s like telling a rape victim “Sorry you got raped but we can’t go back and change that, can we? And the person who raped you, he’s got a family and friends and trying to prosecute him would just cause more misery for more people. So can you just, you know, get over it?”

    And you do realize, Mr. Pearce, that in casually dispensing with things like “the rule of law” and “the democratic process,” you are putting yourself on the same side as authoritarians like Donald Trump. You just prefer the boot heel to be on someone else’s throat…oh, and for someone else to be wearing the boot because you couldn’t lower yourself to that level.

    A whole bunch of upper-middle class folks have been insulated from the significant and often undemocratic changes that have happened to the U.S. That makes it easy for them to dismiss the fears and hardship of the working class as just the whining of stupid, racist white trash. But Artificial Intelligence is supposed to be on its way and more than a few people think it could devastate the middle and upper-middle classes the way our trade and immigration policy has the working class. AI is going to be able to do a whole bunch of office/intellectual jobs and do them faster and cheaper. It will take away the livelihoods of white collar workers. It will take away the future of their children.

    And if that happens, I will sit back and laugh my butt off when the cries and complaints and protests of those upper-middle class, white collar professionals are ignored by the rich folks above them who will be insulated from the effects of AI, and will look down on the upper-middle class as a bunch of lazy, stupid Neanderthals who just have to accept there’s no longer any place for them in the world.

    Mike

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge: AI has been twenty years away for the last fifty years.

    We have the start of self-driving cars, and computers can beat chess masters, but that’s less about new advances in AI than about a lot more capacity to brute force things. its still a threat to some jobs, but not to the upper-middle class jobs.

    Good robotic hands are also a ways off. At least hands cheap enough to be practical for plumbing and picking delicate fruit.

    The first line of medicine could be automated — sinus infections, flus, etc. But the first line of medicine is just telling people to rest and stop doing what is hurting for a few days, and people will be annoyed by robots telling them that. Radiology will be decimated, but physical therapists are fine.

    I don’t know with all the rest of the people, but the engineers, electricians, plumbers and blackberry pickers will all have jobs.

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  29. Andre Kenji says:

    Free trade and immigration per se are not the problem per se. The issue is that the rest of the world has become more economically more competitive. The world where the United States and Europe were the ONLY large industrialized economies don´t exist anymore.

    You can´t compete with China and India if you are paying large amounts of money for people to do unqualified work.

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  30. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    Wouldn’t immigrants from Mexico be better able to “assimilate” (whatever the F that means…) than immigrants from Asia or Africa, or hell, Europe

    “assimilate” means “be white”. Europeans are best at that. Asians do a surprisingly good job at it — better than lots of white folks on the cultural and values issues, actually. Model immigrants.

    And then there are the Canadians who walk among us, entirely unnoticed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  31. JAnderson says:

    @Gustopher: Computers are already replacing people in the legal profession. Ever hear of e-discovery and predictive coding? What used to be done by a whole group of lawyers can now be done by a handful. And they don’t even have to be in the US.

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    I’m going to put this in as inflamatory terms as I can to try and get through your willful obtuseness.

    My willful obtuseness?

    The rape victim analogy is just sad. If American History can be compared to a rape, I don’t think you can say that English speaking white people are the victims. A little perspective, man.

    And you do realize, Mr. Pearce, that in casually dispensing with things like “the rule of law” and “the democratic process,” you are putting yourself on the same side as authoritarians like Donald Trump.

    Please… I have dispensed with neither the “rule of law” or the “democratic process.” Trump and his followers would be glad to consider anything Hispanic as intrinsically foreign, and yet…Telemundo is headquartered in Miami.

    That makes it easy for them to dismiss the fears and hardship of the working class as just the whining of stupid, racist white trash.

    You act as if the “working class” is made up entirely of white people, and that stupid, racist whining has some kind of legitimacy. In my eyes, neither is true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  33. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: And unfortunately our 24-hour media will be there with their cameras, filming all the way….

    Sometimes I think I’d be happy to see the whole thing comes down just to see all the pundits and chattering class suddenly realize that they’re not immune from the mob as well.

    Bring out the tumbrils, indeed.

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  34. Ratufa says:

    @James Pearce:

    Unfortunately, when it comes to “downsides” I think we’re talking about things like, “There’s too many Mexicans in this country” or “My company is run by assholes.”

    I gave some examples of specific, perceived downsides of the large-scale immigration of blue-collar workers into the US: increased competition for jobs and lowered wages for blue-collar workers who are already in the US. I’m not sure how that got translated into wondering, “Would it make a difference if they were from Guatemala?”

    Wrt the problem that large corporations are often run by “assholes”: Yes, that’s (very) frequently the case. That doesn’t necessarily imply that those companies are poorly run, from the perspective of shareholders, or unsuccessful in their business activities.

    And picking at free trade isn’t going to fix that problem. Closing down borders and putting up protectionist measures actually make it easier for the asshole companies to flourish.

    Corporate lobbying groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, are very much in favor of immigration and free trade. I don’t believe they are concerned that the policies they advocate will hurt “asshole companies”.

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  35. al-Ameda says:

    @CSK:

    “I know Trump isn’t a conservative. I don’t agree with many of his positions. But he’s the only one who’ll burn it all down….”

    That, in a nutshell, is the unofficial Republican Platform. Republican leadership can’t come out and say it directly, so they leave it to their bitter angry resentful base voters to say it.

    What have we put up with in the past 6 years? Republican dysfunction and nihilism – 2 government shutdowns, a threat to let America default on its debt obligations, repeated attempts to repeal ACA, and now, a shutdown of normal congressional (and constitutional) responsibility to advise and consent (or not) on the president’s nominations to the Supreme Court.

    How dumbed down are Americans these days? Enough so that they have turned over control of most of the federal government to these people – Andrew Jackson and George Wallace would be proud.

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  36. Mikey says:

    An interesting and relevant piece in today’s Washington Post.

    What Republicans did 15 years ago to help create Donald Trump today

    The 2000 vote effectively unleashed a flood of outsourcing to China, which in turn exported trillions of dollars of cheap goods back to the United States. Over the next 10 years, economists have concluded, the expanded trade with China cost the United States at least 2 million jobs. It was the strongest force in an overall manufacturing decline that cost 5 million jobs. Those workers were typically men whose education stopped after high school, a group that has seen its wages fall by 15 percent after adjusting for inflation….

    …The ripple effects of those job losses have persisted, for workers, in ways that surprised many economists. Standard economists predicted no net job losses from expanded trade with China, economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson wrote in a working paper released this year. In reality, the authors found, new jobs have not materialized quickly, as expected, to replace the jobs lost from trade.

    “Adjustment in local labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences,” they wrote. “Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @Gustopher:

    And then there are the Canadians who walk among us, entirely unnoticed.

    Oh, you can tell. Whenever I bump into someone on the street and THEY apologize to ME, I think “aha! Another damn dirty Canadian….”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. James Pearce says:

    @Ratufa:

    I’m not sure how that got translated into wondering, “Would it make a difference if they were from Guatemala?”

    I was merely pointing out that the “specific, perceived downsides” of immigration aren’t necessarily downsides.

    For instance, “increased competition for jobs” isn’t necessarily bad. It might mean we’re talking about particularly good jobs.

    That doesn’t necessarily imply that those companies are poorly run, from the perspective of shareholders, or unsuccessful in their business activities.

    Oh, I don’t know. I would argue that a company that only focuses on taking care of their shareholders is indeed a poorly run company, despite what the balance sheet says. Especially when it’s been proven time and again that if you focus on your customers and take care of your employees, the shareholders will be handsomely rewarded.

    Too many companies think they can improve shareholder value by skimping on customer service, product quality, or employee compensation. Certain individuals can get really rich that way. But from a social utility perspective….that’s pretty awful.

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  39. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: That’s the major problem I think we have at present. Companies are given free reign to act like sociopaths, just as long as they don’t hurt the shareholders.

    I’m now starting to believe that a company that decides to vamoose to Mexico for lower costs should be on the hook for finding new jobs for the employees they left behind at the same salaries they used to get. And if they can’t find the new jobs, the company should be forced to continue paying them what they were getting until the new jobs appear. Financial destruction and its fallout to a community is just as bad as dumping untreated toxic waste in the local river.

    This “privatizing the benefits, publicizing the losses” stuff needs to be heavily discouraged.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce:

    I would argue that a company that only focuses on taking care of their shareholders is indeed a poorly run company

    Corporate governance is not something I claim any expertise on. But it does seem to me that companies are not being run so much for the benefit of the shareholders, certainly not their long term benefit, but for the short term benefit of some shareholders, the top managers. Compensation has become closely tied to share prices. I recently saw an article, sorry no link, saying that until a decade or so ago, it was effectively illegal for a company to buy it’s own shares. And that now they do so routinely to bump up management compensation by temporarily inflating the share price. Financial manipulation has become the biggest game in town. A factor in this is that management compensation has become so outrageously high. A George Romney might choose to forego an additional ten thou in personal compensation to do what’s good for the company long term. A Mitt Romney looking at a multi-million dollar payout is a lot more tempted.

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  41. Andre Kenji says:

    There is the cliché that Americans see themselves as the center of the world, but these discussions about curbing immigration to protect low wage workers and about free trade seems to want to redeem these clichés.

    If you increase the cost of menial jobs in the United States, at least in the industry and agriculture, you are going to lose competitiveness against the rest of the world. You can´t pay 100 thousand dollars for people to pick fruit(And most people that whine against immigration would do a pretty crappy job doing it).

    Most corporations are global, and they were global since forever. Ford and GM had good profits from their Latin American operations since the 1950´s. Apple sells iPhones all over the world. Until it absorbed Chrysler, Fiat barely sold cars in the United States. Volkswagen managed once to become the largest carmaker in the world while selling relatively few cars in the United States.

    It´s not like that restricting trade is going to force these companies to bring the 50´s back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  42. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m now starting to believe that a company that decides to vamoose to Mexico for lower costs should be on the hook for finding new jobs for the employees they left behind at the same salaries they used to get.

    I fully support raising the costs on companies that want to off-shore jobs as a short-cut to profits. Of course, I’d prefer companies just commit themselves to shared prosperity so we wouldn’t have to do anything like that….but hey, I’m realistic.

    @gVOR08:

    But it does seem to me that companies are not being run so much for the benefit of the shareholders, certainly not their long term benefit, but for the short term benefit of some shareholders, the top managers.

    Oh, man, no kidding. I used to work for Qwest way back when, and that’s exactly what was going on. Joe Nacchio would buy companies, shed jobs, then pocket millions in stock options, which he was selling off. Luckily he went to jail and I got another job.

    Now the company I work for, if they make more money than expected, distributes it amongst the employees. We have no one on our payroll making minimum wage and everyone is way happier than they should be. It’s rather amazing.

    A commitment to shared prosperity. It’s a good thing.

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  43. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Companies are given free reign to act like sociopaths, just as long as they don’t hurt the shareholders.

    If you think that’s bad, try working for a company that’s owned by vulture…er, venture capital and that’s trying to become profitable enough for the VC owners to IPO and unload (and take their cut). I’m in that situation now and currently working on getting out of it. It’s awful–benefits cut to the bone, employees reduced to lines on a spreadsheet, work-life balance non-existent, we don’t even get a defined vacation benefit, we get “discretionary time off” and Bog help the guy who takes “too much” (which is never defined until after the fact).

    This of course leads to the best people leaving (which I will be, hopefully, soon) and the company being less able to achieve the desired financial goals…which then leads to further cuts in benefits and more layoffs…which leads to less ability…etc. etc. down the crapper we all go.

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  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: Yowza. I hope you find a great new spot soon!

    (I saw the same sort of thing happen at quite a few companies–voluntary retirement to cut costs, which means all the entrepreneurial types vamoose and you’re left with the deadwood.)

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  45. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist: A lot of us would actually have liked to stay and (hopefully) reap some benefit from helping make the place profitable, but we can only take so much being treated like crap.

    I mean, I have an MS in my field and 20 years of experience. Don’t treat me like I’m flipping fvcking burgers.

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  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: I have a friend who’s in an even worse position: 20 years working as an international radio reporter, covering all sorts of things all over the world, and then moves back to the US and discovers no one will hire him because he “doesn’t have a degree in journalism.”

    Sometimes I think HR is staffed by nothing more than the utter rejects from every other department.

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