The Republican Dilemma

Candidate trumps party in a presidential system.

Trump And GOP Elephant

What’s in a party label?  Does the party make the candidate, or the candidate the party?  In some democratic systems, parties have a great deal of control over who gets to use their label.  Such parties tend, therefore, to require some level (sometime substantial levels) of adherence to party platforms to use the label.  This is controlled primarily by how candidates are nominated to run for office.  The US party system falls into this latter category.  Parties (i.e., the organizational party, or part leadership) have very little control over who calls themselves Democrat or Republican.*  Indeed, if a person wishes to run as a Democrat or Republican in the general election all they have to do is win that party’s primary election.  The barriers to entry in the primary contest are minimal and certainly do not include any kind of test of party principles.

So, what makes a party in the United States?  Is it the principles or the candidates?**  In answering this question one has to remember that since primary electorates select candidates they, therefore, have a substantial level of popular support by the time the general election campaign starts.  Additionally, since we have a rigid two party system,*** choices in the general election are binary, which makes choices fairly stark for voters.

The simple answer is that candidate trumps party (pun partially intended).

The complex answer is that there are thousands of candidates and office-holders who adhere to a given party across the country at various levels of office and the sum total of all of those candidates and office-holders help create the overall party ethos for a given moment in time.  However, not all candidates are created equal.   Candidates for governor are more important than candidates for county commission.  And, of course, presidential candidates (and presidents) are the most important of all.

If one is a Republican supporting Donald Trump one is at a bit of crossroads.  Many such persons are supporting Trump specifically, if not exclusively, because he is the Republican nominee.  Indeed, a multitude of ideological and philosophical sins are being ignored or rationalized away because, well, he the Republican nominee, and in a basically binary choice between the Democrat and the Republican, self-identified Republican voters almost always choose the Republican on the ballot.

Now, yes, a large number of voters are embracing Trump’s white nationalist rhetoric and, likewise, find his intemperate know-nothingism appealing.  But there is a chunk of voters who are doing their darnedest to ignore the xenophobia and say things like “SCOTUS” and “he’s not Hillary” as justifications for supporting Trump.  They are banking that the “R” by his name makes him a Republican

But, here’s the dilemma:  with Trump now pretty much at war with substantial elements of the Republican Party, including the highest elected Republican official, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the question is raised:  what faction of the Republican Party is one going to adhere to? To stick with Trump is to admit that all his ideological and philosophical problems aren’t problems at all, and one has decided that Trump is the Republican Party.  This is not, by the way, unusual.  It is a feature of presidential systems that the presidency (and, therefore, candidates for the presidency) sets the tone for the party. This is as opposed to parliamentary systems where the executive is elected by the legislature (i.e., a Prime Minister) and the tone is set more by the party.

Basically I am struck by the logic trap that many Republicans are now in:  they support Trump because he is the GOP nominee, but now he is largely rejecting the current mainline party, so if they continue to support him they have to acknowledge that they really aren’t supporting the party as much as they really just supporting Trump.  Trump is the Republican Party at the same time he is fighting large chunks of it.  He is putting himself outside and above the party in way that could have long-standing effects on the GOP.

At a minimum this underscores something I have been noting for some time: anyone who thinks Trump is going to be guided, controlled, or corralled as President by advisers, party insiders, etc. is fooling themselves.  This includes those who are buying into the idea that Trump would appoint Justices to the Court that would be of conservatives’ liking.

To vote for Trump is to vote for trumpismo as the foundation of the Republican Party for the next four years.  It is not a generic vote for a generic Republican.

And yes, many will note in the comments that Trump is just a manifestation of various forces that have existed in the GOP prior to his ascension.  I understand that point, and I don’t disagree with it in many ways.  The Tea Party’s nihilistic approach to governance is but one example.  However, the issue of how the party got to where it is and the potential election of Trump are, while related, two different discussions.  I would still maintain that there is are important and substantial differences between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.

If one wants evidence that presidential candidate matters for party behavior, note the following from WaPoRepublican politicians fall back in line behind Trump after defecting:

Many Republican elected officials are personally outraged and ashamed by something their party’s nominee says or does. So they distance themselves. But as soon as they face a whiff of blowback from some in the party, they cave and fall back in line.

Certainly by no means have all of the un-endorsers re-endorsed.  However, the fact that some feel the need to do so underscores the importance and power of being the presidential nominee.  As much as many in the party want to disown him, they really can’t without quitting the party.  As long as they are unwilling to go that far they are going to have to come to terms with the fact that Trump is the current leader of the GOP.

All of this is to say three things:

  1.  This situation clearly underscores a key fact of party politics in a presidential system:  the President/candidate for President dominates the party, not the other way around.  (If you are interested in some political science on this, I recommend Samuels and Shugart, Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers: How the Separation of Powers Affects Party Organization and Behavior).
  2. For elected members of the party/candidates for office, the only way to truly break with Trump is to break with the party.  Quitting, however, is hard, especially in a two party context.  Where does one go?  Even fracturing of the GOP is a problem because in single seat districts with plurality winners for most offices, splitting the GOP into trumpismo and NeverTrump means handing wins to the Democrats.  That calculation alone means it is unlikely to happen.
  3. Voters need to be honest with themselves as to what they are voting for:  one may wish to assert that Trump really isn’t a Republican, but actually yes, yes he is in the most significant way one can be:  he is the national standard-bearer.  And there are long term implications for the party depending how well, or how poorly, he does in the election.

*For example:  Reince Preibus is the RNC Chair.  Do you think he wanted Trump as the nominee?  And yet how is he now forced to behave if he wants to keep his job?

**This is further complicated by the fact that large parties actually are motivated by a wide array of principles.

***Yes, there are third parties.  And yes, there are fantastical scenarios wherein they could win the presidency, but the reality is that the system creates viable pathways for two parties and voters and candidates behave accordingly.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    I have been genuinely surprised how well Trump has done, to be honest. Republicans largely fell in line behind him after a fractured and divisive primary – and I didn’t see that coming.

    Most voters are very binary and trust the system to produce a couple of equally qualified (or bad) candidates to choose from. The frequency I see “both candidates are awful” is disheartening, as one is clearly far more awful than the other.

  2. barbintheboonies says:

    Maybe party`s just evolve over time. New candidates tweak things to fit their agenda, then the people like what they hear and ask to tweak something else. Before you know it the party looks nothing like it did in the beginning. There`s is good and bad in this. We need more compromise.

  3. Andrew says:

    As a country we really should stop settling for “At least they are not…” as a measuring stick for our elected leaders.

    The bar has been lowered far too much in this election. How we proceed in moving it higher, that is what I am trying to figure out.

  4. Pch101 says:

    Basically I am struck by the logic trap that many Republicans are now in: they support Trump because he is the GOP nominee, but now he is largely rejecting the current mainline party, so if they continue to support him they have to acknowledge that they really aren’t supporting the party as much as they really just supporting Trump.

    Except for his anti-trade populism, a surprising absence of homophobia and his seeming lack of interest in fighting for low tax rates for the wealthy or the anti-abortion movement, Trump’s positions are straight out of the modern Republican playbook.

    Let’s remember that the GOP has had Pat Buchanan as a leading figure for decades, and he has been lauding various forms of white supremacy for quite some time. I don’t remember any Republicans being particularly upset about that.

    In addition to the trade/tax issue, what offends the Republican establishment is that Trump did not work his way up the party ladder and engage in relationship building. Trump’s penchant for throwing Republicans under the bus marks him as untrustworthy — he doesn’t care about party loyalty, so they have cause to be wary of him.

    So it is understandable that the GOP leadership wants him gone, but it isn’t because of some deeply held principles. If Trump was exactly what he is now but was a free trader who was willing to work with the party, then they would be advising him behind the scenes to tone it down as they vigorously supported him in public.

    As for the voters, some people are starting to realize that the guy is a jerk. The NBC video is damaging because it causes Trump to fail the “I would like to have a beer with him” test. A fair number of women don’t like the fact that he’s a predator, while some men are repelled by a guy who would prey on their girlfriends and wives — what kind of self-respecting straight man would support a candidate who would cuckold him if he had the chance?

  5. Laura Koerber says:

    A couple points: there’s lots of evidence that people vote for party labels without having any idea what policies are attached to the label. Does anyone think your average Republican voters wants to privatize Social Security, cut taxes for rich people, turn Medicare into a voucher system and rewrite the Clean Air Act to allow more pollution? Republican voters have a fantasy about what their party does in Congress. Heck they have a fantasy about what their party does at the state level. People vote for he fantasy. When reality intrudes, they just refuse to connect reality to their party. When Bush and the Iraq war proved to be a disaser, that didnlt translate into an exodus from the Republican party. It didn;t even translate into a recognition that Republicans suck at defense. Republican voters just decided that Bush was an anomoly and then rewrote history to make vevery thing the falut of weakkneed Obama.

    Second point: obviously since Repubican voters have not been voting for Repubican policies, they have been voting for Republican something else. And what have Republican politicians, Faux nes commentators and Republican radio personalities and Republican blog writers been saing all these years? Hate. Hate bums on welfare. Hate democrats. Hate immigrants. Hate gay people. Hate Hate Hate. Now that message includes hate women. and along wiht that is the subrest” Republicans are the nly real Americans, the only ones deserving of government services, the only one who are patriotic .

    That’s Trump’s message and its been the massage of the Republican party fo decades

    I know my tyoing sucks and I apologize. I have a vision problem and can;t see the letters very well..

  6. barbintheboonies says:

    It is hard to figure out people sometimes. There are women who choose to get into relationships with prisoners, some of the most horrific criminals of all time. So many kids get into gangs that they know could be potentially fatal. It is the same way with voters, you never know.

  7. JKB says:

    This is as opposed to parliamentary systems where the executive is elected by the legislature (i.e., a Prime Minister) and the tone is set more by the party.

    Of course, you skip over the looming difference in the systems. In the parliamentary system, it is the legislature that is sovereign, not the people, who are granted a voice by leave only and otherwise can, in the British, “fuck off”.

    As Mises pointed out, all modern political parties are parties of special interests. In the American system, the special interests maneuver inside the parties and can elect factional members at the House and, even, Senate levels, while the parliamentary system permits those special interests to have the illusion of some say in the actual sovereign body.

    And if to the Mother Country is due the invention of the Constitution as a bulwark of the people against the Executive, to our forefathers belongs the glory of protecting the people against the Legislative as well; and against the usurpations of any Government or law, even of their own making, on that irreducible minimum which time has shown to be necessary to the English-American people for freedom as they understand it.

    –THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE’S LIBERTIES, F. J. STIMSON. (1907)

    A warning can be found in

    The citizen must not be so narrowly circumscribed in his activities that, if he thinks differently from those in power, his only choice is either to perish or to destroy the machinery of state.

    Mises, Ludwig von (1927). Liberalism (p. 59).

  8. Slugger says:

    Who owns the Republican party? How is it structured? Is there a corporate board, and whom do they represent? I can figure this out for for-profit corporations and for most not-for-profits. Mr. Priebus is the head of the RNC, but I don’t know who the ‘C’ in RNC is and how they get there. Somewhere along the way they decided to replace Michael Steele, but I don’t know the process. The same is true of the Democrats.
    If lots of commentors know the answers, I’ll accept the fact that I’m ignorant. If my lacunae are common, maybe one of the political science guys would write up a blurb to educate us.

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    So, what makes a party in the United States? Is it the principles or the candidates?

    The aggregate group of voters who consider themselves to be “in” that party. The dilemma then is not actually a Republican dilemma, but rather people who don’t consider themselves to fit in with either the Republican group nor the Democratic group.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Sorta OT, but I’d like to link to this article about how the British government is handling Brexit.

    Everyone keeps asking “but what is May doing?” My own opinion is that the woman is as cunning as a fox. (She was anti-Brexit, after all.) She’s going to rub Tory and UKIP faces in as to EXACTLY what happens when all their wild “anti-European” policies actually get implemented: loss of England’s science and technology base, half of their medical personnel, the dwindling of the LSE’s reputation….

    It’s exactly the same thing as letting a whiny little child who keeps wanting to touch a hot burner go ahead and get burnt. At some point stupidity should be allowed to have its reign, even if there’s damage to the other individual. That’s the only way that some people learn. And May’s calculation is that she can inflict enough pain-of-stupidity on the Tory party before they have to really get serious at formally Brexiting. (UKIP is probably too crazy to learn, but she’s probably hoping to drop the number of their supporters.) “You want to be independent of Europe? FINE! See what it’s going to be like!”

    Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone willing to impose a similar learning experience within the Republican Party here in the US….

  11. MarkedMan says:

    I think the Dems have it just about right: super delegates mixed with regular delegates. If the Republicans had super delegates they could have stopped Trump. I also think that voters should have to register with a party before the primary, maybe 6 mos or a year before. Why should people who’ve never paid the least bit of attention to a party or put in any work on its infrastructure get to decide who its leaders are? The voters who only come in for presidential election have no interest in the 95% or more of the work the party regulars do: organize and support candidates for every local office, set up town halls with the elected officials even when an election is far off, etc.

    That’s why its so difficult to get a third party started in the US: all they care about is the presidency. I haven’t seen a single one of them organize or accomplish anything on a local level.

    Side note: The crazy religious fundamentalists that take over school boards are the closest I’ve seen to nationwide interests organizing at the local level, but they aren’t a party. They just want to make sure that satanic things like Harry Potter and sex education aren’t taught in their schools. Anyone who has dealt with them knows they are not interested in solving problems, only creating them. If School 147 needs a new furnace and the budget is shot for the year, their eyes glaze over. But if some teacher wants to use the bible to teach geometry they’ll vote to spend a million dollars of taxpayer money on a lawsuit they have no chance of winning.

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @grumpy realist: I truly don’t know what it the learning experience even ever could be. The largest block of GOP voters are who have been demonstrating since the days of slavery that they will be willing to endure almost any personal hardship or set back so long as they believe that The Other has it worse than they do, or is getting some benefit they don’t “deserve.”

  13. DrDaveT says:

    Steven, I think you are overlooking (or underestimating) the impact of the FOX News disinformation campaign on people who typically vote Republican. These people have been told, repeatedly and for decades now, that Hillary Clinton eats live babies when she isn’t tracking down freedom-loving Republicans to torture in her secret Fortress of Solitude.

    These people know that a vote against Trump is a vote for Hillary — that binary choice you cited. We’ve seen, even in the relatively calm waters of OTB, multiple commenters assert that Hillary is a worse choice — more dangerous, more contemptible, almost certainly worse for America — than Trump.

    That’s an insane opinion, but it’s out there. Whether the commenters here are sincere or not, that message has permeated right-wing infotainment all along, and has been absorbed. I think you’re seeing people who have a very good idea what Trump is really like, and yet cannot bring themselves to NOT vote for him because they genuinely believe that Clinton is evil incarnate.

    If I’m right, the challenge for America going forward is how to recover collaborative governance of the nation in the face of relentless and effective disinformation from one faction.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Laura Koerber:

    I know my tyoing sucks and I apologize.

    But what you type makes sense. Please continue to comment here.

  15. MBunge says:

    It seems there are a few obvious points that people are going out of their way to ignore.

    1. Who were the GOP alternatives to Trump? The brother of the guy who led this country into a disastrous war and the greatest economic crisis since The Great Depression. A callow youth who proved himself to be completely out of his depth. A blowhard bully who was already implicated in a massive scandal. Someone so personally loathsome that virtually every elected Republican actually found Trump more acceptable. And Jon Kasich, who was never really better than everyone’s fifth choice after the other four.

    2. The Democrats nominated a candidate so terrible that, EVEN NOW, there’s a non-zero chance she could lose to Trump.

    3. The concept that people in American political parties should all agree with each other is only a recent preoccupation. And it’s the destruction of political, racial and geographic diversity in the service of ideology that paradoxically opened the door for Trump.

    Mike

  16. MBunge says:

    @DrDaveT: yet cannot bring themselves to NOT vote for him because they genuinely believe that Clinton is evil incarnate.

    Yes, it’s almost as bad as a political party inviting an accused rapist to speak at its last five national conventions.

    Mike

  17. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @MBunge: Accused. Not convicted.

    Ken Starr spent millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours trying to find enough actionable evidence to pursue a conviction for *something.*

    At some point, you have find a way to move past your CDS. The amount of bile you must be swallowing on a daily basis is alarming.

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes, it’s almost as bad as a political party inviting an accused rapist […]

    Thank you for illustrating my point so succinctly.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If I’m right, the challenge for America going forward is how to recover collaborative governance of the nation in the face of relentless and effective disinformation from one faction.

    That. They are not voting against Hillary, they are voting against some weird parody of Hillary, and of Obama and Democrats generally, that exists only in the alternate universe of the Conservative Echo Chamber. There’s a whole world of websites out there that are way crazier than FOX. I don’t know how we climb back out of this.

    And it is not helpful when the supposedly “good” Republican, Ryan, says things like:

    You see, when Hillary Clinton says we are ‘stronger together,’ what she means is we are stronger if we are all subject to the state. What she means is we are stronger if we give up our ties of responsibility to one another and hand all of that over to government,

    A parody of Clinton, and of Dems. Just said in a reasonable tone of voice. That’s what “moderate” GOPs are, and want.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    The ratio of things people claim to believe to things they actually believe is about 100 to1. For the most part people are not capable of anything beyond prejudice, assumption and inertia. And the number of people who a) truly believe something and are b) willing to stand up for it is thousands to one.

    So, no, I am not shocked to discover that Republicans don’t really believe in anything aside from money and white, male power.

  21. charon says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Another idea that is very widespread among rightie koolaid drinkers is that electing HRC will inevitably bring about some great catastrophic economic and/or social upheaval.

    As my rightie brother put it too me (he is sitting out the presidential line, lives in a solid blue state anyway) it is not Hobson’s Choice, it’s Sophie’s Choice. These people are hopelessly out of touch with objective reality.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @gVOR08: @charon:

    These people are hopelessly out of touch with objective reality.

    I just came across these quotes from Ryan. They make my point better than the quote I used above.
    He warned of an America with “a gloom and grayness to things” if Democrats take over. “They rig the system,” he told the crowd, and want a “government for the elites.” “Instead of this fear and uncertainty,” he added, the country should choose a leader who would “secure our borders” and “confront radical Islamic extremism once and for all.”

    “In the America they want … government is taken away from the people, and we are ruled by our betters, by a cold and unfeeling bureaucracy that replaces original thinking,” Ryan told an auditorium of just under 200 students. “It is a place where the government twists the law — and the Constitution itself — to suit its purposes. A place where liberty is always under assault, where passion — the very stuff of life — is extinguished.”

    Ryan talks about talking about policy all the time, but this is what we get from him. And the GOP base believe this apocalyptic nonsense. A friend of my wife’s, an educated, easily 10%, capable woman, went to a Trump rally and commented that it was good to be among true patriots. Gawd. How can democracy survive this stuff?

  23. Terrye Cravens says:

    @MBunge: I left the GOP because of Trump.If they believe half the crazy stuff they say about the Clintons they should have nominated someone who has a reasonable chance of beating Hillary Clinton, but instead they nominated a lying scum bag like Trump. I am done with them.

  24. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    You could look through the comments threads at TAC or other rightie blogs to see how widespread the notion is that HRC as president equates to some horrific country destroying calamity.

  25. Davebo says:

    @MBunge:

    Good Grief! Can you show me on the doll where Bernie touched you?

  26. @MarkedMan:

    If the Republicans had super delegates they could have stopped Trump.

    Actually, I don’t think so. Trump won more than enough delegates that even had the GOP had a similar system, it would not have mattered.

    Now if the GOP would allocate delegates at the state level in a proportional way, that might have precluded Trump.

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @gVOR08:

    How can democracy survive this stuff?

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” — H. L. Mencken

  28. @JKB:

    Of course, you skip over the looming difference in the systems. In the parliamentary system, it is the legislature that is sovereign, not the people, who are granted a voice by leave only and otherwise can, in the British, “fuck off”.

    Well, no.

    Indeed, I am not sure why you think this, or even what your are asserting in that last sentence.

    First, while the UK has a parliamentary system, it is not true that all you need to know about parliamentary systems can be learned from the UK.

    Second, yes, the people are just as sovereign in parliamentary systems as they are in presidential systems. Indeed, I cannot fathom how one could assert otherwise.

    Third, it is actually the case that parliamentary systems tend to do a better job of representing popular preferences than do presidential systems.

    As Mises pointed out, all modern political parties are parties of special interests. In the American system, the special interests maneuver inside the parties and can elect factional members at the House and, even, Senate levels, while the parliamentary system permits those special interests to have the illusion of some say in the actual sovereign body.

    I am not sure what you are trying to get at here.

    And your MIses quote appears very narrowly focused on a US-UK comparison in way that, again, underscore that you could use a broader perspective in making these claims.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Now if the GOP would allocate delegates at the state level in a proportional way, that might have precluded Trump.

    Good point

  30. @DrDaveT:

    Steven, I think you are overlooking (or underestimating) the impact of the FOX News disinformation campaign on people who typically vote Republican. These people have been told, repeatedly and for decades now, that Hillary Clinton eats live babies when she isn’t tracking down freedom-loving Republicans to torture in her secret Fortress of Solitude.

    I do think that the Conservative Entertainment Complex is part of the problem. However, I cannot look at the actual viewership number for FNC and blame them as much as I would like.

  31. BTW: I am not trying to explain how we got where we are. I am trying to point out how the nomination of Trump really underscores the importance of the nominee (and the problems it can cause a party–it creates strategic choices for voters, candidates, and office-holders).

  32. @MBunge:

    Who were the GOP alternatives to Trump?

    A list of better candidates than Trump. I was not especially fond, personally, of any of them, but there were any number of better alternatives. Trump is an abhorrent candidate.

  33. @MBunge:

    The Democrats nominated a candidate so terrible that, EVEN NOW, there’s a non-zero chance she could lose to Trump.

    Given the exigencies of human behavior and the nature of our electoral system, the most popular president of all time would have a non-zero chance of losing to the worst candidate of all time.

    The odds right now are close to 90-10, so I really don’t know what your point is.

  34. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    However, I cannot look at the actual viewership number for FNC and blame them as much as I would like.

    I see your point, but my personal impression has been that the memes that originate on FNC quickly disseminate and are adopted by a much broader segment — including many who have no idea that the ‘facts’ they are getting came from FNC. Social media are a big enabler here; Facebook and Twitter reach far more people than FNC does directly.

    BTW: I am not trying to explain how we got where we are.

    Noted. Apologies for the digression.

  35. @DrDaveT:

    Social media are a big enabler here; Facebook and Twitter reach far more people than FNC does directly.

    I think that there is something to this. There are clearly sources of certain talking points. Talk radio plays a big role as well.

    Noted. Apologies for the digression.

    No need to apologize and it is less a digression than a very relevant tangent. I just noted that several comments above were aimed at explaining how we got here, and that’s all well and good–I just wanted to note that that was not what I was trying to examine here.

  36. Andy says:

    Steven,

    Excellent post which gets, IMO, the causal chain correct.

    One example is frequent popular assertion that the GoP should not have engaged in the “Southern Strategy” and should have left the “white racists” in the South in the political desert. Of course that is not possible in an actual democracy for the reasons you describe in your post.

    What’s interesting about the state of the GoP is that it’s a test of the limits of partisanship. As an independent who has never been a member of either party, I was surprised to find that those limits are much further than I suspected and I was surprised by the level of Trump’s support even after the Access Hollywood tapes.

    But then I read this from Cracked.com – don’t laugh – I think it’s one of the best pieces of political analysis this year which explains the durability of Trump’s support among certain demographics.

  37. dxq says:

    @gVOR08: I actually have been thinking of those remarks all day. The media portrays Ryan as a sensible wonk. It’s a fiction. Literally every “budget plan” he’s ever released has been a transparent scam.

    “When Hillary Clinton says we are ‘stronger together,’ what she means is we are stronger if we are all subject to the state,” Ryan said. “What she means is we are stronger if we give up our ties of responsibility to one another and hand all of that over to government.”

    Ryan referred repeatedly to “liberal progressivism” as a failed philosophy that “demands conformity and sameness” and has produced fewer jobs, unabated poverty, excessive regulations and an oversized government.

    “They want an America that is ordinary. There’s kind of a gloom and a grayness to things,” he said.

    He said that liberals don’t only want “a continuation of the last eight years. They do not just seek to further the liberal progressive experiment. They intend to make it into a reality — an arrogant, condescending and paternalistic reality.”

    essentially the same message as trump–government is the devil, government is for losers, government always bad, regulations always bad. Stupid, counterproductive message, sold to angry losers, that always produces horrible shit.

    How do you fix your party when you’ve propagandized your voting base into insanity?

  38. dxq says:

    I recently moved 3,000 miles from florida to washington state, mostly to get away from the Republican Base. Angry, miseducated bigot idiots. It’s toxic. I can tell you stories of people who asked me, with genuine confusion and crumpled brow, how I could not think that Barack Obama was trying to destroy the country from within. I can tell you stories of blue collar people in their 50s with preexisting conditions who can only get health care now because of Obamacare, who explicitly vote against it because “Obama has bankrupted the country, we can’t afford his out-of-control spending.” etc.

  39. dxq says:

    Ivory-tower intellectual conservative types should see up close and personal how sick the GOP base is, how twisted they’ve gotten. It’s toxic, and it’s making it impossible to solve problems we could otherwise solve.

  40. Pch101 says:

    @Andy:

    It’s a fun link, but it’s not quite right.

    It does a good job of explaining the mood of white voters in failing areas of the Rust Belt.

    It ignores the fact that minorities in failing areas of the Rust Belt haven’t jumped on the Trump bandwagon, while white folks in more successful areas in the Southeast have.

    It isn’t just about hopelessness. It’s resentment.

  41. dxq says:

    Ivory-tower intellectual conservative types

    was not aimed at anyone here, but rather George Will / David Brooks-type idiots.

  42. JR says:

    @dxq: Yup. For years, they have brushed aside any criticism of the base as Democrats fear mongering or being arrogant. No, we were just right about the GOP base and it was obvious what they were truly all about the minute Obama took office in January 2009.

  43. @Pch101: I agree. While there is something to the rural/urban divide the racial component cannot be ignored.

    Plus, there are a fair number of urban folks who have talked themselves into voting Trump.

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: This is the problem–people can now ensconce themselves in their little news cocoons that tell them exactly what they want to hear and never have to deal with reality (until it slams into their faces.)

    And the trouble is that after (cross fingers) Trump goes down to defeat, his followers will be oh-so-totally not-listened-to because of their crazy behavior. Which makes perfect sense–I’m not too interested myself in listening to the complaints of a bunch of people who have shown they’re more members of a cult willing to attack anyone who criticizes Dear Leader rather than people who can stand up against the crazy. But we’re going to have to find a way to address their problems without rewarding them for their stupidity.

  45. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m not too interested myself in listening to the complaints of a bunch of people who have shown they’re more members of a cult willing to attack anyone who criticizes Dear Leader rather than people who can stand up against the crazy.

    Joe the Plumber would probably agree with you. He dared criticize Dear Leader, and Dear Leader’s acolytes set out to destroy him for his impertinence.

  46. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m not too interested myself in listening to the complaints of a bunch of people who have shown they’re more members of a cult willing to attack anyone who criticizes Dear Leader rather than people who can stand up against the crazy.

    Ken Bone would also probably agree with you, too. He dared question Dear Leader, and Dear Leader’s acolytes set out to destroy him for his impertinence.

  47. Dumb Brit says:

    @grumpy realist: Grumps wrt Mrs May I hope that you are correct (though I am yet to be fully convinced). On the other hand wrt the GOP, I sincerely hope that you are wrong and that someone of note within the party can grow a backbone & hit the Trumpista element back to where they belong.

  48. Senyordave says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Sorry, the Ken Bone reference just doesn’t cut it. He got his 15 minutes of fame, and some little tidbits were discovered. IMO the biggest one was he committed a felony in the form of insurance fraud. He admitted to this. It was his fault, nobody framed him, the DNC didn’t do it, Hillary’s cronies didn’t do it. He actually admitted it! The other stuff in his internet journey, who cares?

    In modern society, when someone becomes an overnight sensation, a large part of the internet looks that person up, and if you are less than squeaky clean, it might not go well for that person.

  49. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @Senyordave: In modern society, when someone becomes an overnight sensation, a large part of the internet looks that person up, and if you are less than squeaky clean, it might not go well for that person.

    And that “large part of the internet” has some decidedly selective standards. Let’s look at, say, Michelle Obama.

    She’s often described as “accomplished.” Just what has she accomplished? Her last job was a high-paying, do-nothing job she got because she was Mrs. Barack Obama. It was so critical that after she left it, they didn’t bother to replace her.

    She says she’s appalled at Trump’s remarks about women. She routinely hosts rappers and hip-hop artists who make money off saying much the same things.

    She says that Beyonce is a great role model for her daughters. Well, that might explain the video of Malia twerking and toking at Lollapalooza.

    So, where’s all this digging into The First Lady by these people?

    The point of that scrutiny is to keep anyone who is not “squeaky clean” from daring to participate in public affairs. And by focusing on those who fall on one side of the political divide, it’s to keep those on that side from participating. Because no one is “squeaky clean.”

    Alinsky’s Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Go after the people, not the institutions or the policies or the positions. They are easier to discredit and silence. All it requires is enough belief in your cause to muffle your conscience.

  50. dxq says:

    in other words, a random person from the crowd was distinctly more criminal than hillary.

    Sounds correct.

  51. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    Let’s remember that the GOP has had Pat Buchanan as a leading figure for decades, and he has been lauding various forms of white supremacy for quite some time. I don’t remember any Republicans being particularly upset about that.

    Limbaugh in fact made a fairly high-profile attack on Buchanan in the mid-’90s, calling him basically a fake conservative–not because of his white supremacy but because of his anti-trade views. The attack apparently offended a significant chunk of Limbaugh’s audience, many of whom liked Buchanan. I remember a cartoon from around the time in which someone calls into Limbaugh’s show and shouts “RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT!!!!!” Limbaugh asks “Is this Al Franken?” Then the cartoon cuts to the caller, a guy in cowboy gear.

    The weird thing is that from the beginning of this election cycle Limbaugh has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders. It’s weird because Trump has not only attacked free trade just as much as Buchanan has, but his entire agenda is basically straight out of Buchanan’s playbook, minus the religious culture war stuff. But Limbaugh doesn’t seem to mind, and he hardly uttered a word of protest even during the primaries when there were several Republican candidates preaching the orthodox conservative line.

    My running theory (and I welcome info from people who have paid more attention to Limbaugh’s program over the years than I have) is that Limbaugh sees in Trump a fellow traveler in a way he never saw in Buchanan. Whatever else can be said about him, Buchanan has always struck me as a basically sincere person who says what he believes–and what he believes just happens to be extremist reactionary racism. Trump on the other hand is a media troll who thrives on drawing attention to himself by acting more outrageous than the next guy. In other words, he’s cut straight from the Limbaugh and talk radio model. He’s the candidate the dittoheads have dreamed about for decades, and Limbaugh this time is willing to overlook a little economic heresy to cheer him on.

  52. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:
  53. An Interested Party says:

    Alinsky’s Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Go after the people, not the institutions or the policies or the positions. They are easier to discredit and silence. All it requires is enough belief in your cause to muffle your conscience.

    It’s amazing that the only people who quote this evil liberal Alinsky are conservatives…you never hear liberals talking about him…oh wait, it’s all a conspiracy on the part of the evil liberals…nevermind…

  54. Davebo says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable: Destroy him?

    Hilarious! Joe’s situation was vastly improved!

    Sure, his frivolous lawsuit against the state was shot down not once but twice but by then he’d already fleeced the pre-Trumpets of some serious scratch.

    Is that you Joe?

  55. Neil Hudelson says:
  56. Andy says:

    @Pch101:

    It does a good job of explaining the mood of white voters in failing areas of the Rust Belt.

    Did you actually read the entire op-ed? It had nothing to do with the Rust belt, which is primarily composed of urban areas in a handful of states in the mid-west and northeast.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While there is something to the rural/urban divide the racial component cannot be ignored.

    Well, it’s hard to ignore the racial component since we are constantly reminded of it. There is more than “something” to the rural/urban divide, but unlike what you term the racial component, that divide is rarely discussed or addressed by policy proposals from the beltway and think tank policy wonks to say nothing of the national media. Go look at the statistics for yourself – Trump would not be the nominee without the overwhelming support he receives from rural areas, which comprise 20% of the US population. Ignore those people at your peril. The fact that the overwhelming majority of #nevertrump Republicans are urban elites is not a coincidence.

  57. @An Interested Party: The Alinsky obsession by some is combination of hilarious and pathetic and a sure sign of someone not to take seriously.

    Moreover, I am not even sure how the cited Rule #12 applies in this case.

  58. @Andy:

    Well, it’s hard to ignore the racial component since we are constantly reminded of it.

    What I mean is that if the urban/rural variable was the master variable then we would see it with blacks as well, but we don’t.

    The divide you are describing isn’t just urban/rural, it is urban white v. rural white.

    Ignore those people at your peril.

    Who said anything about ignoring them? I agree it is very important. I am just not convinced it tells us all we need to know. One variable rarely does.

  59. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Run the numbers for yourself and see if Trump would be the nominee without overwhelming rural support. The rural population happens to be much more white than the urban population and, by extension, the average US population, so the effect on Trump’s support is larger. We’re talking close to 20 million people. “Master variable?” No idea what that means, but I agree there isn’t one ring to rule them all in American politics unless, maybe, you’re talking about Israel. However, if you want an explanation for Trump’s resiliency despite all his yuuge shortcomings, then it’s hard to ignore rural white America as explained the op-ed I linked to.

  60. gVOR08 says:

    @Andy: @Pch101:
    Dylan Matthews has a good piece at VOX. He distinguishes between the primary and the general. In the general people are voting for Trump because they’re Republicans and he’s the nominee.

    In the primary he hits your point that economically stressed minorities aren’t supporting Trump and that Trump supporters had higher incomes than Cruz supporters. He makes a very good case that in the primaries it was race, end of story.

  61. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kylopod:

    The weird thing is that from the beginning of this election cycle Limbaugh has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders.

    Limbaugh isn’t actually conservative. He just plays one on Radio for money. And during the W administration he realized his job is way easier during a Democrat administration than during a Republican administration.

    Ever since, he’s been actively undermining the Republicans by backing ridiculous candidates to make sure they don’t win.

  62. Bob@Youngstown says:
  63. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    She’s often described as “accomplished.” Just what has she accomplished?

    Um…a fvck load more than you ever will, cretin-boy. That’s fer damn sure.
    Now call up to your mommy, from your basement room, and have her get you some more Cheetos.

  64. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    She’s often described as “accomplished.” Just what has she accomplished?

    More in the past day than you ever will, cretin-boy.
    You are an admitted free-loader in the health care system…and you are whining about anyone else???
    What a maroon.
    Crawl back into your mommies basement.

  65. D Trump says:

    Slimey Stephan has been treating me very badly. Very, very badly. It’s all lies, believe me. He’s a phony person. He’s very unfair. And the border guards support me. Where is the press. Look at Wikileaks. They’re so crooked. Crooked Hillary and Slimey Stephan.

  66. Steve V says:

    @Stormy Dragon: my theory has been that Limbaugh and Hannity made a bet that they could get their audience to support an obvious buffoon, as the culmination of their efforts over the last 20 years. I think they’re pushing Trump just to prove that they can push anything they want on their audience.

  67. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    destroy him

    As far as I can tell, “Joe the Plumber” was a guy who spent most of his time sitting at home spinning fantasies about deals he was never going to make. No wonder you relate.

  68. Mr. Bluster says:

    This is London Calling: Your Republican Presidential candidate is a real cock up.*

    US Election 2016: Trump challenges Clinton to drug test before debate
    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has accused rival Hillary Clinton of being “pumped up” during their last debate, saying they should both be tested for drugs before the next one.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37667924

    *‘Cock up’ – a British slang term that is far from the lewdness its name suggests. A ‘cock up’ is a mistake, a failure of large or epic proportions.
    For example, ‘The papers sent out to the students were all in the wrong language – it’s a real cock up.’ Also, ‘I cocked up the orders for table number four.’
    http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/30-awesome-british-slang-terms-you-should-start-using-immediately.html

  69. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Steve V:

    From what I’ve read, Limbaugh is just in it for the money, but Hannity is a true believer.

  70. Barry says:

    @Pch101: “Except for his anti-trade populism, a surprising absence of homophobia and his seeming lack of interest in fighting for low tax rates for the wealthy or the anti-abortion movement, Trump’s positions are straight out of the modern Republican playbook.”

    His tax plan calls for massive tax cuts for the rich, and bupkis for everybody else; he’s stated that Americans need to have a pay cut.

    On that issue, he’s 100% in line with GOP orthodoxy.

  71. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Limbaugh isn’t actually conservative. He just plays one on Radio for money.

    That was part of my point. As I said, “Trump…is a media troll who thrives on drawing attention to himself by acting more outrageous than the next guy. In other words, he’s cut straight from the Limbaugh and talk radio model.”

    Trump isn’t a conservative any more than Limbaugh is (though the evidence indicates he’s always been a racist). They both do what they do for personal advancement, nothing more. But Limbaugh did at one time preach ideological conservatism–he played a big role in selling Reaganomics to the rank-and-file–and he was willing to criticize even right-wing candidates he felt deviated from this orthodoxy, from Buchanan to Huckabee, at the risk of alienating parts of his audience. His near unconditional support for Trump (not just when he became the nominee–Limbaugh was essentially backing him even during the primaries) is an indication of how much he’s let the veil slip.

  72. @Andy:

    Run the numbers for yourself and see if Trump would be the nominee without overwhelming rural support.

    The problem is, no Republican who could win the White House without overwhelming support from rural America. As such, the rural/urban is not as helpful for explaining Trump as you are asserting. Put another way: there is nothing new about observing that the country is vast seas of red with blue islands.

    Also: the red/blue dichotomy has the effect of making it seem like all rural folks vote one way and all urban folks the other.

    However, if you want an explanation for Trump’s resiliency despite all his yuuge shortcomings, then it’s hard to ignore rural white America as explained the op-ed I linked to.

    First (and again): I said nothing about ignoring this issue. Perhaps it is the problem with text-based communication, but you seem rather touchy about this.

    Second, YES: “rural white“–since rural black voters are experiencing the same city/country issue noted in that Cracked piece, it raises questions as to why they too aren’t going for Trump or aren’t more amenable to a Trump-like figure. As such, that alone shows that there is more going on here than just the city v. the country.

    Again: I agree that the rural/urban divide is very important. I work in a county with a population of 33K which is surrounded by very poor, rural counties. I am aware of the issues raised in this discussion.

  73. Also: yes, we need policies to address the effects of free trade and other economic shifts on rural America. The sad thing is that that the party least likely to support such policies (and indeed to actively block them) is the Republican Party.

  74. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: Heck, I suspect we’ll see Limbaugh/Coulter/all the other alt-right infotainment figures gleefully lead the Trumpenproletariat right off the cliff, just as long as they can make money while doing so.

    The fact that they are doing serious damage to the body Republic will be totally ignored by them.

    The American experiment, brought down by a bunch of irresponsible idiots “for the lulz!”

  75. MBunge says:

    New ABC/Washington Post poll has Hillary 4 points up on Trump, up from a 2 point lead in their last poll in September. That fits with other evidence that Trump has been hurt by this October non-surprise, but not quite as badly as everyone wants to believe.

    But by all means, go right on masturbatorially focusing on “What’s wrong with Republicans” and ignoring how Democrats wound up nominating someone who, EVEN NOW, still might lose to Trump.

    Mike

  76. Kylopod says:

    @MBunge:

    New ABC/Washington Post poll has Hillary 4 points up on Trump, up from a 2 point lead in their last poll in September. That fits with other evidence that Trump has been hurt by this October non-surprise, but not quite as badly as everyone wants to believe.

    It’s best not to get carried away by individual polls, but to pay closer attention to the averages and aggregating sites. Here is the current breakdown according to the leading sites:

    RCP: Clinton +5.5
    HuffPost: Clinton +7.6
    FiveThirtyEight: Clinton +6.3
    Sam Wang: Clinton +4.7

    I’m not sure what you mean by “not quite as badly as everyone wants to believe.” There are people who exaggerate how badly Trump is doing (I’m tired of hearing the Johnson-Goldwater comparisons; no, Clinton is not going to win anything close to 44 states and 61.1% of the popular vote), but most people who are paying attention have a fairly solid grasp of where the race stands, and it is not delusional to point out that the recent stuff has crippled Trump’s campaign. Even a shift of 2 percentage points in Clinton’s direction at this stage is a really big deal.

  77. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    That’s a fair point and agrees in effect with my sense that Democrats only look healthy because the Republicans are so ill.

    Our best argument for Hillary is, “Well, she’s mostly competent and won’t start a nuclear war.” The argument is (or should be) 100% effective, but it’s a fundamentally weak position.

  78. Pch101 says:

    @Andy:

    The rural population happens to be much more white than the urban population

    So you think that arguing that areas that are dominated by white conservatives showing support for Trump is proof that it isn’t motivated by race. Do you not understand how just contradicted yourself as you argue that areas dominated by white traditionalists are supporting Trump?

    Meanwhile, small towns that are majority black or Hispanic aren’t supporting Trump. How does that possibly support your author’s viewpoint? It’s not as blacks in the Mississippi Delta are supporting Trump (and if you want to see rural poverty, you’ll find plenty of it there.)

    The guy who wrote your article is from a small town in Illinois. He’s projecting his personal experience upon the whole of America without realizing that not every small town is like his. You don’t seem to know that, either.

  79. gVOR08 says:

    Dr. Taylor is certainly right that candidate trumps party. In each prez election, the candidate’s role is to pull together a coalition that can provide a majority of voters and that coalition is, de facto, the Party. However, are there not at least two coalitions, a coalition of voters and a coalition of funders?

    In the hypothetical (please God) case of President Trump, I think this becomes critical. I see no reason to think Trump would be an active President. I expect he’d spend his time preening in front of crowds and monetizing the office. Pence would handle administrative routine and Ryan (or his replacement) and McConnell would handle legislation.

    They would face obstruction from a number of Freedom (sic) Caucus types brought in on Trump’s coattails, but their agenda would be the agenda of their donors and lobbyists. Their agenda would still be globalist and corporatist. They’d pursue free trade agreements and loose immigration. They’d just have to talk about tough, America First, trade deals and allowing in only the best people. They would, however, jump on board Trump’s tax plan.

    (A question. After TPP who’ll be left that we don’t have trade deals with?)

  80. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It wasn’t my intent to appear touchy – I think we’re mostly on the same page and I appreciate your comments original post.

  81. Pch101 says:

    @Barry:

    Trump in August 2015:

    “I would take carried interest out, and I would let people making hundreds of millions of dollars-a-year pay some tax, because right now they are paying very little tax and I think it’s outrageous…You know the middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys, but I know people in hedge funds that pay almost nothing and it’s ridiculous, OK?”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-08-26/donald-trump-says-he-wants-to-raise-taxes-on-himself

    Because of remarks like that, the establishment does not trust Trump when it comes to taxes. In essence, Trump is rejecting a critical feature of supply-side economics — the need for perpetual tax cuts for the wealthy — which is sacred in establishment GOP circles. Any form of tax increase will simply not do, and they don’t believe him when he subsequently modifies his positions.

  82. dxq says:

    Trump is rejecting a critical feature of supply-side economics — the need for perpetual tax cuts for the wealthy — which is sacred in establishment GOP circles.

    Sheer greed, masquerading as an insane ideology, masquerading as an intelligent position.

  83. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: To judge by some of the posts from my friends, there is a significant proportion of the GOP which believes that the election of Abraham Lincoln was a bad thing for the country.

  84. An Interested Party says:

    To judge by some of the posts from my friends, there is a significant proportion of the GOP which believes that the election of Abraham Lincoln was a bad thing for the country.

    Exactly…of course class issues play a role our politics, but race is the issue that still has not been fully dealt with…it is no coincidence that the election of the first black president sent a lot of white people batshit insane…just as the election of the first woman president will send a lot of men batshit insane…

  85. @Andy: Thanks–tone in text is sometimes difficult to discern. I appreciate the note.

  86. @MBunge:

    But by all means, go right on masturbatorially focusing on “What’s wrong with Republicans” and ignoring how Democrats wound up nominating someone who, EVEN NOW, still might lose to Trump.

    You seem to be missing the point that in a polarized, rigid two-party system that it is highly difficult for a presidential contest not to be competitive to some degree.

    An automatic ~40% is going to vote Republican (and Democratic) no matter who is nominated (indeed, this election rather proves it). Further, the electoral college fuels this dynamic by capturing voting blocs into districts (i.e, states) and awarding electors via plurality.

    This is not to say that the Democratic Party doesn’t need work (all parties always do). But you assertions that there is a chance Trump can win is not because the Dems nominated HRC. It is because of a polarized, rigid two-party system + the EC.

  87. @SC_Birdflyte: Indeed.

  88. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What is your opinion of the articles I’ve seen floating around where Johnson gets a state or two and denies either major party candidate 270 electoral votes? Seems like a very low probability to me, but then again so much this election cycle appeared low probability but happened anyway.

  89. dxq says:

    Jamelle Bouie argues in Slate that with Trump doing to Hispanics and Asians what the GOP had already done to black republicans (who were numerous before the Southern Strategy), there is nothing left within the party to oppose ethnonationalism, and for the time being, this is their future.

  90. @Andy: My honest opinion is that those a pieces written mostly to amuse the writers, get clicks, and/or to fill the time between now and Nov 8.

    There is zero chance that Johnson will win a state. There is a slight chance that McMullins could win Utah (but I think that rather unlikely as well).

    I think the more likely scenario is a pretty big HRC EC win. A less probable, but possible outcome is a more narrow Trump EC win. I can see no realistic scenario that puts this in the House.

  91. KM says:

    @Jenos:

    So, where’s all this digging into The First Lady by these people?

    So how do you know this is someone hadn’t dug it up and reported on it? I swear to god, this is one of the dumbest standard retorts in modern politics. Unless, you were psychically present for all these things, they were: (a) noted, (b) deemed important enough by somebody to put out there into the world, (c) important enough for you to go looking and read about and (d) important enough for you to share with the group so the cycle continues. That’s research, Jenos – that’s your digging. You just did it. You’re just pissed nobody cared enough at steps (c) and (d) for it to be flooding every headline. They don’t care about what you care about – frankly, this election is proving the general public doesn’t care about what cons screaming are Very Important Scandals Like OMGWTH?! The Bush daughters were drunken nightmares in public but it got passing mention so why should the Obama daughters not get the same? NGAF then and NGAF now – ca plus change, no?

    The point of that scrutiny is to keep anyone who is not “squeaky clean” from daring to participate in public affairs. And by focusing on those who fall on one side of the political divide, it’s to keep those on that side from participating. Because no one is “squeaky clean.”

    Oh please. Nobody knew who the hell Ken Bone was before that debate. He was a literal unknown. So of course people want to know more – in our reality TV culture, we want all the deets on everything from what color shirt one wears to where they let it all hang out. Twitter loved him (why IDK) and thus wanted more. It’s not the public’s fault “more” turned out to be less then flattering to Mr. Bone. We forgot in this day and age that publicity always brings more negative attention to our lives then positive; there’s a reason people value privacy, after all.

    The man asked a damn question and is famous for his shirt. He chose to be at that debate, he chose to be on TV, he chose to be in a spot where that hideous bitch goddess Show Business happened to pick him for 15 min of fame. If he wasn’t willing to suffer the public’s attention, why did he seek out public attention? I will never be on TV for this reason. I’ve turned down many an interview solely because my life is mine and I’d rather not have the Times/Reddit/Twitter go hunting through it because I caught their fickle eye. Doesn’t stop me from participating in public affairs with my less-than-squeaky-clean self.

  92. gVOR08 says:

    @dxq: @gVOR08:
    Serendipitously Dr. Krugman hit our theme this morning in a NYT piece titled Their Dark Fantasies. He makes the same point, that Ryan is pushing a parody of Hillary. Dr. K goes on to point out that Ryan is pushing some post-apocalyptic fantasy future because, “The people Mr. Trump represents want to suppress and disenfranchise you-know-who; the big-money interests that support Ryan-style conservatism want to privatize and generally dismantle the social safety net, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.” Krugman asks, as I have,

    So why does the modern right hate America?

  93. Pch101 says:

    It doesn’t occur to poor Jenos that two decades’ worth of GOP investigations into Clinton have failed miserably because there wasn’t anything of substance to find. If it feels good to point fingers, then just do it.

  94. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    If it feels good to point fingers, then just do it.

    @Jenos The Deplorable: You’re an idiot.

    That did feel good.

  95. dxq says:

    @gVOR08: yeah, exactly:

    Mr. Ryan is, of course, a media darling. He doesn’t really command strong support from his own party’s base; his prominence comes, instead, from a press corps that decided years ago that he was the archetype of serious, honest conservatism, and clings to that story no matter how many times the obvious fraudulence and cruelty of his proposals are pointed out.

  96. dxq says:

    American news media insists on a certain Reasonable Centrists in Both Parties narrative, and they force the characters into their approved roles.

  97. gVOR08 says:

    @dxq: Yeah, exactly. I’d hoped Trump might jar them out of the both-sides-do-it silliness. But sadly, no.

  98. Moosebreath says:

    And somewhat OT:

    John McCain:“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,”

    In other words, if Hillary wins, but the Senate is in Republican hands, the Supreme Court will remain with at most 8 justices for the next 4 (or 8) years. Funny how we have gone from “the next President must appoint Scalia’s replacement” to “we will not permit the Democrats to confirm another justice”.

    But of course, both sides do it.

  99. dxq says:

    Almost immediately after news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death broke, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proclaimed that “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” And, with rare exception, this has been the Senate GOP’s message since Scalia’s seat became vacant — let the election happen first, and whoever wins that election gets to pick the next justice.
    Nevertheless, in a Monday interview with a Philadelphia radio host, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted that Republicans will continue to block anyone the next president nominates to the Supreme Court — at least if that president is Hillary Clinton.

  100. dxq says:

    If you support the republican party, you should be embarrassed.

  101. dxq says:

    FWIW, i still think it’s almost certain that Merrick Garland will be on the SCOTUS soon.

    But floating this shit is reprehensible.

  102. stonetools says:

    @dxq:

    Yup, Ryan is the Right Wing Wonk they can pose as the opponent to all those left wing wonks with their facts and figures. Shows that both sides have a point. Another problem: none of the media figures tend to be good with math, so they don’t actually understand that Ryan’s figures don’t add up. And hey, he’s relatively young and good-looking, I guess…

  103. stonetools says:

    @dxq:

    I’m not at all surprised by McCain’s position-which is why I think Garland’s nomination is doomed.
    The Republicans are never going to allow a liberal majority on the Supreme Court if they can possibly prevent it. This is a hill they intend to die on.

    Well, at least it’s out in the open. McCain’s statement should be part of every Clinton speech and ad going forward, along with calls to vote for a Democratic House and Senate.

  104. stonetools says:

    Update:

    McCain walks back comment he’d oppose any HRC Scotus nom. Per spox will “vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications”

    Question for McCain: Who is going to believe that horses#!t? McCain’s mistake here is that he said out loud what McConnell’s strategy was going to be post election.
    This means that for those who like the idea of a fully staffed and functioning Supreme Court should best vote vote for the biggest Democratic Senate majority possible, since it’s clear that the Senate Republicans plan to block Clinton’s nominee, the same way they blocked Obama’s.I hope all the “good” Republicans and “independents” are paying attention.

  105. dxq says:

    Obama’s approval ratings (52%) are almost identical to Reagan’s in August 1988 (53%) -richard wolffe

  106. DrDaveT says:

    @stonetools:

    Another problem: none of the media figures tend to be good with math

    This is a problem that has been getting worse for a long time, and is going to bite us hard in the end. (Pun intended.) It’s bad enough when the general populace is functionally innumerate; it’s another level of bad when their routine information sources are ALSO functionally innumerate.

  107. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: I’ve commented on their innumeracy, but I’m not sure it’s just that. They are so deep into the horse race, both sides do it, personalities coverage and they live in a profession where a fact is a fact because two sources corroborate it, “opinions differ on the shape of the Earth”. I sometimes think they have lost their grip on the whole concept of objective reality.