Dear GOP: We Can’t Save You If You Won’t Save Yourself

Art by Chris Piascik, used via Creative Commons. Click picture for original.

And now is the part of the election cycle where the pundit class comes forward and begs the rest of the US electorate to help save the GOP from itself. In the Atlantic, Peter Beinart argues that liberals should support Marco Rubio over Trump, and over in the Washington Post, Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute is flat-out begging for people to vote for someone, anyone, but Trump. “We all have to stop him,” reads the headline to the article.

We? We? I don’t know if Michael R. Strain is up on the news, but Trump is polling at 49% nationally among Republican voters. He’s outpolling Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson combined among the people who are actually going to go to the polls to vote Republican. Likewise, Beinart’s suggestion that liberals throw in with Rubio, who aside from his pandering antediluvian positions appears to dissolve into a stammering puddle of flop sweat when people are mean to him, which is a quality I know I always look for in a potential leader of the free world, is actively insulting. Hey, liberals! Save the GOP from Trump by supporting the establishment’s hand-picked empty suit, which it will use to shore up shaky senatorial races and then push and pass a political agenda massively antithetical to everything you believe in! Yeeeeah, thanks for the hot take, there, Pete. Let me know who you buy your weed from, because that’s clearly some primo shit you’re smoking.

News flash, pundit guys: No one can save the GOP from Trump but the GOP, and its voters clearly have no intention of doing that. To repeat: Trump currently outpolls every other GOP candidate in the race, combined. What, pray tell, do you want any of the rest of us to do about that? The answer may be “vote against Trump in the primaries,” but this is where I point out that the rest of us are not GOP primary voters for a reason. Some of us may want to vote in the Democratic primaries. Some of us may be independents and have to wait to see what dumbasses the parties elect. Some of us may belong to third parties because we’re political idealists/masochists. The point is, we have other plans for the day. They are legit plans. They don’t involve keeping the GOP from setting itself on fire.

Also, you know. If I were the paranoid type, I’d look at the pundit class begging the rational portion of the electorate to save the GOP from itself as a suspicious bit of political theater orchestrated by the shadowy cabal that really runs the nation. We can’t let the GOP implode yet, we still have to pay taxes! I know! Convince the liberals to vote against their interests to save a political party whose goals oppose theirs in every relevant way! And as a bonus, that way they don’t vote for that commie Sanders! Quick! To the pundits! I’m not saying that’s what’s happening. But I’m also not not saying it, nod, wink, nod, hand signal, wink.

Even if liberals (to Beinart’s point) and everyone else (to Strain’s) decided to vote against Trump in the states that allow open primaries — or changed their registration to Republican to vote in closed primaries, because, yeah, that will happen — again, Trump has the support of half the GOP voters right now. Folks, it’s Super friggin’ Tuesday. Half the GOP delegates needed for a nomination are getting sorted out tonight (595 of the 1,237 needed, of which Trump already has 82), and it’s a fair bet that Trump is taking every state except Texas, which will go to Ted Cruz, an odious fistula that walks the earth in a human skin.

Now, most of these states as I understand it will allocate delegates proportionally, so Cruz and Rubio are likely to take some. But most are going to Trump. He’s likely going to end the night so far ahead that even the active intervention of everyone else won’t keep Trump from chugging along to Cleveland with a plush stack of pledged delegates. Neither Cruz nor Rubio is going to drop out of the race — Rubio because the establishment’s assassins will murder his future if he does, Cruz because his monomaniacal sense of manifest destiny doesn’t allow for quittin’ — and neither of them is likely to poll substantially better than the other. They’re Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum all the way down the line. You want to choose between these two embarrassments to the name of Generation X? After you.

But that’s why Beinart tells liberals to vote for Rubio! To get him ahead! Oh, you dear, sweet, precious jewel in the firmament of heaven. Yes, I’m sure that if liberals do cross the line, hold their noses and vote for Rubio in primaries, that absolutely positively won’t be used against him by either Trump or Cruz, two gentlemen who are celebrated worldwide for their probity and graciousness in all things political. Indeed, I see no way this fantastic plan of Beinart’s could ever possibly go wrong, or work to Trump’s advantage with his core constituency of angry white people who may or may not be flaming bigots, but who certainly hate friggin’ libruls.

Folks, I’m the first to admit that my political crystal ball is not exactly piercingly clear, but here’s what I believe: It’s too late to stop Trump. Probably from getting the GOP nomination, but at the very least from being a significant and possibly controlling force at the Republican convention. Is anyone under the impression that, in the case of a contested convention, Trump’s pledged delegates — or his actual supporters — are suddenly going to abandon him after the first ballot? Bless their hearts, but no one’s in love with Rubio, and no one actually likes Cruz. Trump’s people, on the other hand, are in love with him in the way that only the simple can pine for a demagogue. If you want to see what a middle-aged riot looks like, wait until the GOP tries to torpedo Trump at the convention.

But somebody needs to do something! Well, yes. Those “somebodies” should have been the GOP, but it didn’t want to, and then when it wanted to it couldn’t, because it realized too late that its entire governing strategy for the last couple of decades, but especially since Obama came to office, has been designed to foster the emergence of a populist lectern-thumper like Trump. The GOP has made its electoral bones on low-information, high-anxiety white folks for years now, but has only ever looked at the next election, and not ever further down the road, or where that road would lead too. Well, it led to Trump.

And now the GOP wants a bailout, and people like Beinart and Strain are arguing we should give it to them, because the GOP is apparently too big to fail (and yes, this means that Trump is a festering ball of subprime loans in this scenario). And, well. We bailed out the banks in ’08, but no one was punished and no one on Wall Street apparently learned anything from the experience, because why would they? No matter how hard they fucked up, someone would come along to save them, and after a couple of years of grumping about smaller bonuses, they’d be back on top, sucking up even more of the wealth of the nation while everyone else muddled along on a glide path that slowly slides them into financial insecurity.

If the rest of us somehow could bail out the GOP by saving it from Trump, what would we get out of it? The GOP establishment certainly isn’t in the mood to learn — shit, it’s shoving all its chips onto Rubio, whose arms are probably already fitted with the titanium eye screws through which they’ll loop the strings once he’s elected. There’s no percentage in saving the GOP from itself; its policies are already inimical to good governance and have been for the last several election cycles. Saving the GOP from Trump doesn’t change the fact that the GOP is by conscious and intentional design primed to create more Trumps — more populist demagogues who will leverage the anxious discontent of scared and aging white people into electoral victories. That won’t be fixed. The GOP doesn’t want it fixed. It just wants the demagogue to be someone it can control.

The good news is that there is a way for everyone else to stop Trump: It’s called voting in the general election for the candidates who are not him. At this point as a practical matter that probably means voting for Hillary Clinton. This won’t solve the GOP’s problems, but again, maybe from the point of view of everyone else, the GOP’s problems aren’t solvable. Maybe it really does need to blow up and start over. Otherwise we’ll be back here four years out. And eight years out. And twelve years out. And so on.

207 Comments on “Dear GOP: We Can’t Save You If You Won’t Save Yourself”

  1. As always with political discussions, the Mallet is out. Please play nicely with the other people on the thread.

    Also, as a practical note, this is not the thread to say “Yeah, but THE DEMOCRATS [tirade follows].” The topics under discussion are Trump, his relationship to the GOP, and whether those of use not in the GOP are obliged to ride to the GOP’s rescue. Let’s stay on topic, please. You have the whole rest of the Internet to rail against the Democrats generally. And I’m sure sooner or later I’ll have a post where it will be on topic as well.

  2. I’m not a GOP voter for, you know, reasons. Trump is the natural result of the policies and tactics of the GOP over the years. They broke it, they fix it. I’m reminded of some advice I heard from a political party- something about pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, and taking care of oneself. I forget which one said that, though.

  3. The ONLY reason we’re talking about Trump is that the mainstream press – including the same pundits you’re referring to, John – has refused to do its job. The best recent coverage of Trump has been from John Oliver, who has revealed him to be the utter sham he is, and the so-called “pundits” and “serious journalists” (many of whom have financial conflicts of interest, or work for organizations that do) should just hang their heads in shame:

    And a key reason for all of this mess is the Reagan administration’s revocation of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated equal treatment for both sides of issues. That opened the floodgates for Fox and the rest of the toxic right-wing media that’s poisoned the discourse.

  4. I don’t quite understand the GOP’s plaintive cries for help. Isn’t the core concept of the Any Rand Fetish Club that nobody gets a safeword?

  5. My brother tells me that Trump is not a bigot, he is a nationalist. That conversation ended fast. The infection is spreading. Shudder.

    BTW – we are Canadian.

  6. I’ll wade in here, carefully, to express my (naive) hope that maybe the 2016 election post-mortem will bring the clarity that the 2012 post-mortem failed to. Perhaps with a heavy enough cudgel of electoral data the voters can beat into the GOP the notion that demagoguery isn’t the answer to either actual governing or winning national elections…

    I admit to being concerned about looking at relative electability comparisons for Clinton and Sanders vs Trump, since the candidate most likely to receive the party nomination is the candidate who fare poorer in that matchup. Hopefully enough people will be able to get clear of whatever hangups they might have about Clinton and check the “anybody but Trump” box in November…

  7. John- I hope this is on track, but if it’s not I do apologize. Assume for the minute that Trump gets the nomination: to what degree do you think the GOP will fall in line behind him? It’s one thing for them to complain and try to stop him now, but if he were the nominee, I think the party will unite more than they currently protest.

  8. Having extremists as leaders rarely goes well with the voting masses. Though often does appeal to party members of either side. A few more election defeats might teach the lesson that ‘broad appeal’ is good to have. I don’t think it helps politics generally as it tends to give the other side a free ride …

  9. You know the saying about a mistake in politics being when someone accidentally tells the truth? From the Washington Post yesterday (
    > “It’s scary,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has endorsed Rubio, said on ABC’s “This Week.” She added: “I think what [Trump will] do to the Republican Party is really make us question who we are and what we’re about. And that’s something we don’t want to see happen.”

  10. @Hillary Rettig: normally I’m first in line to blame the media for basically everything, but in this case I think it didn’t really matter. The people supporting Trump absolutely don’t care what the press says about him.

  11. I’m basically terrified. “Primal, animal fear” is how I described it to friends earlier. Especially because of that Huffington Post article (which I agree with) that unless Sanders wins the primary it’s pretty much a Trump presidency because his schoolyard-bully tendencies play to Hillary’s weaknesses too well. I mean, think about it, her flip-flopping would just allow for him to never have to answer for his own lack of actual stances besides “GRRAH BROWN PEOPLE!”

    So basically, by the end of today I may well have to start applying for a work visa. I’m thinking Canada or Iceland, leaning towards Canada because of the language barrier. I had considered the UK but some friends of mine mentioned they’re having their own problems that line up with them also running away.

    Sorry if this is a bit rambly, I’m just scared.

  12. Trump is polling better than Clinton as well, btw. It looks like voting Sanders is the only way we can “save ourselves” from Trump.

  13. I’m sorry, but Marco Rubio is actually superior to Trump? Trump’s a buffoon, a boor, something with the social graces of a toilet, and a loser’s idea of a winner, but he’s actually in a very small way better than the rest of the Clown Car because we *KNOW* he’s a buffoon. He would be treated like a buffoon in this country and the world and would commit so many Constitutional infractions that he might even get impeached.

    Rubio is a bit smarter, but he’s bought and paid for by the Kochs. He could actually do a LOT more damage by appearing to be a little more innocuous, as is true of the rest of them, Cruz in particular. As I’ve said before, whenever someone like Cruz says “We need to turn this country into a theocracy to save it and make it great again,” my first thought is always along the lines of “You know, I really need to buy that flamethrower I’ve always thought about.”

    The GOP is big on Christianity? I think that the idea of “You’ve sown the wind; you’re going to reap the whirlwind” is relevant. I’m hoping the rest of us can avoid collateral damage while these bastards are eating their own.

  14. Since I rarely mince words, I’ll be brief: Trump is a fascist without portfolio. When people are alone in the voting booth come this November, they will vote for not-crazy. Hopefully.

  15. Yes. Thank you. I have no sympathy, and a lot of disgust, for conservative pundits who stood by for the last 8+ years and are now shocked — SHOCKED! — that this travesty is happening to their party. Sow, reap. Bed, lie.

  16. No, it’s not the D’s responsibility to save the Rs. However, the 24/7 news cycle could do everyone a big favor by generating real political news instead of sensationalist sound bites. I don’t care about the Donald’s spray tan or the size of his hands; I don’t care about how much Rubio sweats under pressure. If the news media would start covering the GOVERNING part of politics, rather than the Jerry Springer part, the electorate could differentiate candidates by policy, knowledge, and vision.

    We’re being force-fed chaos, and we need to stop swallowing it.

  17. If the GOP is the Bene Gesserit, then Trump is the Kwisatz Haderach come a generation too early. They laid the groundwork but can’t control him.

  18. It’s small of me, I know, but I keep thinking “as ye sow, so shall ye reap”. Trump is reaping the vile, infected crop of fear and ignorance the GOP sowed for him. If this tears the GOP apart, they’ve brought it on themselves, and I’m failing to see the downside to the country as a whole. *Is* there a downside to the USA if the republicans (nationally) fracture into multiple parties, or have to spend some years rebuilding their credibility on the national level?

  19. I do not live in the U.S. but I hope to move there before September. This means I don’t have a say in this election but I am still going to be affected by it. From my perspective, a Trump nomination means a non-zero chance of a Trump presidency. Which scares me.

    I generally prefer the Republicans over the Democrats. GOP falling apart and reassembling to a saner party would be just fine. Right now I am trying to decide if I think the chance of that happening outweighs the risk of having to live with Trump as president.

    Oh well. It’s not like I can affect the outcome anyway.

  20. @tpp Trump’s positive support is polling better than Clinton’s; however his negatives are worse than hers and in a hypothetical general election Clinton beats Trump by 6 points. Sanders has much lower negatives but not the same degree of positives, netting out to an 8 point lead (IIRC) over the short-fingered vulgarian.

    Democrats are free to vote for the candidate they personally support; it’s the GOP that’s in trouble here.

    — Steve

  21. I understand that my lack of experience (this will only be my 3rd general election) makes me somewhat naive and ignorant on these matters, but I worry about what will happen if/when the GOP implodes. What will happen then? Does it break into two separate groups: what we used to consider republicans in the 90s and 2000s and the Tea Party? Our political system is not built for a 3 party system. Eventually, probably after one general election, the now 2 GOP parties will become one again, and given how much support Trump has, I can easily see it being this hyper-aggressive Tea Party that Trump now represents.

    This isn’t to say that it’s the Democrats job to fix it but I’m still worried. These people who want to vote for Trump and the anger they feel is real, that’s not going to just go away. What can anyone do when a large group of people are supporting a man who wants to evict all muslim-americans, hesitates to denounce the KKK, claims he’s going to force Mexico to pay for a giant Trump wall to keep all immigrants out, rewrite the libel and slander laws so essentially freedom of expression isn’t a thing anymore, amongst so many other stances? Never before have I felt so depressed and cynical regarding our country and the views large portions of it holds. Maybe this is just my mid-twenties wake up call and everyone goes through it, but I really thought our country was better than this.

  22. It may be worth noting that Donald Trump apparently became a Republican precisely because the early-21st-century GOP is fertile ground for a campaign such as the one he’s running, while the early-21st-century Democratic party, for all its flaws, is most decidedly not.

    And obliquely, the example of the Chernobyl disaster also comes to mind, in that in order to achieve a certain result (testing an emergency procedure at Chernobyl, securing GOP power in the United States by any means necessary), safeguard after safeguard was withdrawn, until something unexpected happened and the whole structure blew sky-high. Well, maybe the GOP hasn’t exactly exploded yet, but it seems to be right on the edge of going prompt-critical, to stretch the metaphor…

  23. While Trump may be the most explicitly embarrassing, I suspect I am not the only Republican that is embarrassed by all the Republican presidential candidates. I know I’m not a Democrat, but if candidates like Trump, Cruz, or Rubio represent what a Republican is, I worry that I’m not really a Republican anymore either. If significant numbers of alienated, and consequently uninvolved, Republicans like me exist, I do not see any way that anyone can or will ride to the GOP’s rescue for the foreseeable future. I plan to watch the inevitable train wreck with sadness.

  24. When you spend the last forty years telling people that the problem with government is, well, government, you get a bunch of elected officials who are against government working at all, which createst frustration, which leads to Trump-like candidates. You don’t even need the particular brand of low-information anxiety that the GOP has fostered, but that just makes things worse.

  25. I just saw a Republican on CNN answer the question “What if you don’t give Trump any candidates, telling the people who voted for him that they don’t count?”

    He (didn’t get his name, I was in the back of the waiting room) said “It would likely hasten the breakdown of the party, but that’s what we need to do.”

    That made me feel better for them. If they finally recognize that their whole party is broken and needs to be burned down & rebuilt, it shows a level of awareness that they haven’t had in decades. Good for you, nameless white dude.

  26. John,

    You’re dead right as always. And I fear your predictions about Clinton/Sanders will be played out.

    The interesting thing about this will be (assuming the likely scenario ends up happening that Trump wins most of the super Tuesday delegates) what the true fiscal conservatives in the GOP do or say. The people that call themselves the Goldwater Republicans. Who are *actually* for less government. I don’t really have a real person of that stripe that I can talk to; my father-in-law was probably the closest and he died last year.

    30 years ago those people were the core of the GOP, but perhaps what’s happening now is that they’re rapidly discovering that they’re no longer in control. Reagan did some bad stuff, but he was relatively sane. When the GOP brought in the southern evangelical vote, and other more reactionary groups to put together a huge majority to elect Reagan in a landslide, I presume they just didn’t know (or at least the voters mostly didn’t know) that the endpoint would be what started to be a real problem with Palin and now is coming to roost with Trump. That the thing that was sort of a marketing strategy of the party is now suddenly going to be the main driving principle (ignorance, hate, xenophobia, strategic bombing as conflict-resolution strategy #1).

    I suspect that there are going to be an awful lot of sane, reasonable, kind, loving, even fairly compassionate Republicans that are going to be holding their head in their hands in July (or whenever the primary is) and saying “holy shit, we didn’t expect THAT to happen!”

    I wonder what the party will do.

    And of course, there’s the other interplaying issue of what the GOP is going to do about the SCOTUS vacancy. I live in KY; I’m pretty sure that McConnell is unassailable in his Senate position. However, I wonder how much he’s actually willing to lawndart the GOP on that issue.

  27. I respectfully disagree. I don’t care about saving the GOP from itself, but I do care about Trump not becoming President. I had the chance to vote for a candidate who was not him today, so I did.

  28. The problem here is that if Secretary Clinton is elected, it means 4 (or 8) years of even more frothy populist buildup from the farther right reaches of the political spectrum. The GOP as a party can’t control this faction much longer (as if it could now) and it’s only a matter of time until it finally splits the party. This is either good news or bad news for everybody else. It could mean that moderation will prevail and the frothier faction disappears into oblivion (which doesn’t seem very likely). Or it could mean the moderate faction disappears and the frothies take over as a major party. Either way, the GOP as we know it is dead.

    “What about the Democrats?” you ask. This party can’t get organized around a single thought in the last 30 years. Why would they start now? “We’re not that other guy!” and “Honest, this is really good for everybody, why won’t you listen?” are not strategies, they’re just whining and nobody likes whiner.

    I personally blame Mainstream Media (if that’s a thing) for getting us here by pandering to the lowest common denominator in an effort to get the most eyeballs and advertising revenue. It’s resulted in a general dumbing-down of the populace who gets their learnin’ from 30-second sound bytes and click-bait articles. Thinking is hard. Where’s my latte?

  29. Lolotehe says:

    “If the GOP is the Bene Gesserit, then Trump is the Kwisatz Haderach come a generation too early. They laid the groundwork but can’t control him.”

    This may be the best succinct description of Donal Trump I have ever read. Kudos.

  30. What worries me (other than the nontrivial prospect of a Trump administration) is that the Democrats win a solid victory and then do what they seem to always do: go to sleep for the off-year and midterm elections, allowing the Republicans to mount huge Tea Party-esque victories, which would be enough to convince them that they’re still doing just fine. I don’t see the Republicans mounting any kind of serious move back toward sanity absent a serious, extended period in the wilderness.

  31. “And a key reason for all of this mess is the Reagan administration’s revocation of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated equal treatment for both sides of issues. That opened the floodgates for Fox and the rest of the toxic right-wing media that’s poisoned the discourse.”

    The Fairness Doctrine only applied to broadcast channels, since it was justified by spectrum scarcity. Fox News Channel isn’t a broadcast channel (cable, rather than Reagan, was what really empowered it). Most of the other places that people get their news or opinions from nowadays aren’t broadcast channels either.

    Fox News Channel is terrible, as are lots of other media outlets, but I’d much rather live in a country that has both good and terrible outlets to choose from than only those that are required to be “fair”. Partisan, slanted media has been with us from the start of the republic; it just it used to come in the form of slanted newspapers instead of slanted TV channels and websites. It’s up to us to support and recommend better media, and to ensure that a wide variety of media outlets have the ability to reach the public.

  32. OK this is only a single data point.. But I have a friend who *was* a Trump supporter. Last time I talked with him ~ 1 week ago, he said he was now just disgusted with Trump. So I’m going out on a limb and predicting that Trump won’t do as well as expected today. (But I am a glass half full sort of person.)

  33. Hell NO I ain’t gonna help save the GOP from itself. I’ll be passing out garlic coated wooden stakes to the howling mobs looking to pierce its evil black hole of a heart.

    Living in SC, I could have gone to the Republican primary a couple of weeks ago and voted for anyone but Trump, but the sad fact is there wasn’t anyone in the clown car with chance of winning + “teh smartz” know how to use the brake pedal.

    Being from SC I’ve never cared for Lindsey Graham, but I actually had to agree with him this weekend when he said “… my party has gone batshit crazy”. Then laid out a case for getting away with killing Cruz on the Senate floor if the deed was judged by the Senate, Secret Service’s prime job to keep Rubio hydrated, and that Trump was basically a sad commentary on the state of our politics.

    No, I won’t save the buffoons from themselves. After the last time they had their ass handed to them and they asked people why the wouldn’t vote Republican. They got lots of answers ranging for it was only for the old bigoted rich straight white Christian males amongst us to their refusal to address immigration reform and their incessant need to shut down the government because things didn’t go their way and they had a hissy fit.

    The GOP promised to do better, rectify their mistakes and make the party more inclusive. Instead they doubled down on all the stuff they had gotten wrong and this election year they’ve fielded as fine a collection of striped hyenas as you’re likely to see outside of Africa. LET THEM EAT THEIR OWN! I’ll bring the barbecue sauce.

  34. …an odious fistula that walks the earth in a human skin.

    These are the gems that keep me coming back again and again.

    Anyway, I don’t believe Trump believes anything he’s saying. The guy is a carnival barker and he is simply playing to a crowd. If you eliminate all the “stigginit to the ‘libs” psuedo-policy, he is in reality the least frightening candidate out there. He hasn’t threatened social security or medicare (as that would upset the angry white old people) and the crazier portions of his schtick (bannin the Mooslems and Mexico building the SuperWall) have absolutely 0% of ever, ever being enacted. And he knows that. He also knows the rubes in his crowd don’t know that, and really like to hear it.

    I’d much rather have this guy out there than any of the whispering clowns left on that panel with him.

    In the end, it ain’t gonna matter much, as at the end of the day, it’s a Bernie or Hilldog presidency.

  35. I can see a case for liberals to cross party lines to vote for Kasich, him being the least insane Republican in the field. (“Least insane Republican in the field” is no honor. It’s like “least dirty needle in the shooting gallery”.) But Rubio?!

  36. John,

    I have one not so minor correction on delegate math. There are 2472 Republican delegates, so somewhat less than a quarter are being assigned today. So for those trying to stop Trump, things are not quite so dire as you make it sound.

    Personally, I am still much more afraid of a President Cruz, and somewhat more afraid of a President Rubio than a President Trump. Trump is essentially a party of one, so a President Trump would have difficult time working with a Republican Congress, leading to some hope of gridlock and/or compromise with Democrats. Governor Jesse Ventura in Minnesota is a good comparison. Ventura, like Trump, is a narcissistic goofball, but not devoid of humanity. Cruz does not suffer from that weakness.

  37. The GOP got on board the Tea Party tiger back in 2008 and lost the White House. They stayed on it in 2012 and lost it again. Problem is, it got them Congress and numerous governorships and state legislatures. There are some who would even argue a Democrat in the White House is better for the Republicans because it gives them someone to hurl stones at rather than having one of their own held accountable.

  38. Conservative operatives at the states’ level have made it more difficult for minorities and immigrants to vote, and I think that’s another factor that’ll come into play in this election. It’s likely most of those disenfranchised voters would not vote for Trump. We’ll probably never know how effective they could have been at keeping him out of the White House if the worst happens. Perhaps at least some conservatives now see that voter suppression really is a bad idea even if they don’t acknowledge it for the right reasons. I doubt, though, that any of them are that self-aware or capable of any self-reflection.

    They’ve screwed up this country so badly, I wonder if I’ll see it recover in my lifetime.

  39. Anne, March 1, 2016 at 11:45 am: “My brother tells me that Trump is not a bigot, he is a nationalist. That conversation ended fast. The infection is spreading. Shudder.”

    A major component of nationalism is a bias against anyone ‘not our own’ or ‘not us’. Oy.

    In the event of party meltdown, with the situation much as it is now, who’s keeping the Republican name? Will it be the free-traders & economic voters? Or the currently proto-nationalists, ideologically flexible but unified around the idea they should kick the ass of anyone challenging America?

  40. I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but be careful about blaming “the GOP” for Trump since as Nate Cohn put it a few months ago, “[he] holds a dominant position in national polls in the Republican race in no small part because he is extremely strong among people on the periphery of the G.O.P. coalition. He is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats.” (

    Trump’s appeal is populist and nationalist, not partisanly political. (Hell, it’s hard to tell what his politics actually are beyond “Vote Trump.”) He’s an electoral parasite coopting the Republican Party to rise to power, just as Bernie Sanders is attempting to do with the Democratic Party. Both are standard-bearers of convenience, expressly rejecting the “Party” line and winning as a result. While this may tell us a lot about the value and long-term prospects of both parties, it seems less than helpful to assign philosophical blame to those same parties for the support those candidates are receiving.

    Personally, I don’t think that Trump tells us that Republicans are fascists any more than Sanders tells us Democrats are socialists. What it does tell me is that both parties have become so focused on winning rather than on principles that they’ve lost their philosophical immune systems that should have rejected these parasites long ago.

  41. Crumley:

    “There are 2472 Republican delegates, so somewhat less than a quarter are being assigned today.”

    Right, but only half+1 are needed to cinch the nomination, so (just under) half of those needed to cinch a nomination are up for grabs tonight. We’re neither wrong, although I’ll back up and make sure I’m clear. Thanks —

  42. Sorry, Scalzi – I really admire you, but like I tell my NeoLib friends, “Hillary is part of the problem, not the solution.”

    The Republicans wouldn’t be an issue if the Center-Right Corporate Dems weren’t running as, essentially, less liberal versions of Nixon Republicans – and Hillary? Is One of the most Obvious Examples of where that gets you.

  43. This problem dates to the 1964/1968 election cycles. In the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the seven states of the deep south voted for a republican for the first time in history. It did not prevent Goldwater’s humiliating defeat (extremism in the defense of liberty IS a vice). Unfortunately, the GOP, in the person of Richard Nixon, realized that combining the racists of the old Confederacy with the republican core base of the conservative west and midwest would give him enough votes to win. Enter Spiro Agnew and the veiled racism of ‘law and order’. It is this deal with the devil which is bearing Trump fruit today.

  44. Trump is a hilarious repudiation of the GOP’s beliefs that their voters shared their core values of low top marginal tax rates, and trickle down economics. He’s a populist with a bucket of xenophobia piled on for taste.

    I think democrats should be scared pants-less by Trump, and not for the obvious reasons. I think that sonofabitch could actually win. During the last debate, he was the only candidate saying “If people are sick, we are not going to leave them in the streets to die.” and also defending planned parenthood, and doubling down when pressed on the issue. I think for a lot of people he’s going to seem crazy in the ways they like, and shruggingly reasonable on everything else. I almost wonder how much daylight there would be between him and Bernie Sanders if it wasn’t for the incredible racism, misogyny, etc…

    I think it’s far from clear what the outcome of a Clinton vs Trump election will be.

  45. For those supporting the return of the Fairness Doctrine, keep in mind that it comes into conflict with the First Amendment. Print media were never held accountable to it. And, as noted above, it would only apply to broadcast outlets and not cable.

    Also keep in mind that if you would want to use the Fairness Doctrine as a stick to hit Trump and his supporters with, they could also use it to hit back. I don’t think anyone would gain in the long run.

  46. For the folks who assume a President Trump’s foreign policy would be blocked by Congress…

    1. Even if Trump can’t ban Muslims or build a wall to prevent undocumented workers from Latin America making the border crossing, he can still promote some shitty immigration and foreign policy, both as an executive and to sign off on a Republican Congress’s ideas. Granted, I think none of the candidates (except maybe Sanders*) has decent foreign policy.

    2. Watching the Trump rallies often displays of naked bigotry, and the way that Republicans (and Trump himself) seem to be perfectly fine with this, makes me worry that we’re normalizing open bigotry against people of color. While it might be a chicken-and-egg problem, having a solid majority say ‘hell, no, you can’t DO that and be voted president’ would at least force the bigots to go back to the idea that open racism or xenophobia is a bad thing or at least unpopular and not something you advertise in public.

    * Though I don’t know much about Sanders’ foreign policy, besides him promoting that he voted against Iraq. And that he doesn’t appear to think much about it, because it’s not related to income inequality in the US. Which is another problem.

  47. I’m a lifetime Dem voter who moved from the Chicago area to TX in August 2014. So this is my first chance to participate in a Super Tuesday.

    Today I’ll take a GOP ballot and cheerfully cast my vote for Donald Trump. After all, that’s what roughly half of self-proclaimed “conservatives” want, right? ?I’ll help you with that. Plus, I’ll do my part to send that Odious Fistula back to private life.

    In the general election, I won’t vote for Trump. But today? Oh yeah….

  48. As for Trump? Heh – I’m just waiting for him to Blow Up Real Good, and take the Republican Tea Party WITH him!

    He’s got a lot of sizzle but no steak – and his ego’s such that the first time he get really rebuffed? He’ll take his ball and go home, same as his Goodbuddy Hillary did with her “healthcare reform” plan during Bill’s first term (remember that?).

    I’m making popcorn – you take yours with or without butter?

  49. John, I really appreciate that you seem to be picking up my brain waves and are able to articulate what I am thinking on the current political system. I still have not decided whether or not to call on my friends in Canada in the event Trump should be elected President. Fellow Democrats are making similar threats and plans, although at least one has sworn to stay and fight.

    I do wonder, though, why it is common to refer to “Hillary” and “Bernie” while the GOP candidates are “Trump”, “Cruz” and “Rubio.” I’m wondering if there is some underlying psychology that causes us to refer to preferred politicians by their first name, while those we would distance from us are referred to by their last names. Perhaps there are more subtle thoughts at work. I have certainly heard Secretary Clinton (as referred to by one of the other commentators, thank you for the reminder) referred to as “Hillary” in derogatory terms, which makes me think that some individuals use the first name referent to try to belittle the individual. It’s something that I have been thinking about and will be paying attention to during the election.

  50. John Hedtke: “He would be treated like a buffoon in this country and the world and would commit so many Constitutional infractions that he might even get impeached.”

    I wouldn’t count on that. The House of Representatives is the only group that can pass articles of impeachment, and the Senate is the only group that can try an impeachment. I suppose it’s possible that Trump could win the presidency but the Democrats win majorities in both houses of Congress, but I’m having trouble thinking of the scenario that would produce that outcome.

    Could a GOP-controlled Congress hold their noses and vote to impeach (a hopefully hypothetical) President Trump? They might want to, but Trump’s already proved he’s a skilled bully and he’ll have more options available if he’s sitting in the Oval Office.

  51. @John N.: always better not to admit to voter fraud. It is usually the case that when you take a certain ballot, you are affirming that you will vote for that candidate in the primary as well. At least that is the case in my state.

  52. John,

    Agreed on the math, it was the line: “Half the GOP delegates are getting sorted out tonight” that seemed off to me. Make that “needed GOP delegates”, and it wouldn’t have thrown my pedantic flag.

  53. Whatever happens, this election marks a surge of populism. I think plenty of people feel like they aren’t really being represented by anyone, and that Sanders and Trump are both benefiting from this. It may well turn out to be battle of the populist all-stars in 2020, including a primary challenge to the sitting president if he or she isn’t Sanders or Trump.

    Reason Magazine pointed out recently that neither Sanders or Trump are likely to be able to shepherd a domestic agenda through Congress, so the real significance would be on foreign policy and court appointments.

    I am a bit surprised by Trump’s success. Several of the early GOP front runners had colorful, short-lived surges early on in 2008, but faded away. I thought Trump would fade like Carson, and I was certainly wrong about that. At this point I’m almost expecting President Trump to grow another head and steal an experimental space ship.

  54. I am not a Trump support (God forbid) but I don’t get utter angst people have when it comes to him. Clearly he’s an ass and 12 kinds of racist. While I don’t think he’ll be good for the country, i don’t think he’d be effective enough to be truly horrible.

    We have an open primary where I live (CA) but it’s in June and is usually all over before we get our chance to vote.

  55. One thought being pushed in the “Need to find somebody to blame for Trump” game is the idea that Obama is the cause. No, really, there are people saying that. Ross Douthat, a fairly respected and, in my experience even tempered conservative editorial writer for the NY Times recently published an op-ed on how Obama caused Trump. Evidently by Obama being sooooo far out left and making himself King, it made 50% of the republican voters lose their minds. Or Something.

    I believe the GOP has lost sight of some pretty basic stuff:
    1) Your primary voters vote. And they vote for who they like.
    2) If one of your preferred guys isn’t winning, it is probably because they don’t like him as much as some other guy. And at some point you can’t spend your way out of that. (This is actually somewhat heartening that even with unlimited dark money, the GOP can’t buy their way out of this.)

    Nobody has mind control over your voters. They vote for who they believe in at that moment. It has kind of worked that way for a really long time. To say 50% your voters are just plain wrong is, well, wrong. It’s sort of missing the point of voting.

    And in the blame game, where is the RW media blame? Fox News has been priming the GOP die hard voters for 8+ years to respond to somebody who acts like one of their talking heads. Fox is where Trump did some of his training. As a regular guest on Fox, I’m sure Trump saw the inner workings of how to drive outrage, and it probably linked in nicely with his reality TV background. And, here is the part the GOP doesn’t get, Fox News DOESN’T CARE if it hurts the GOP. The Fox News corporation has no skin in this game. Oh, sure, a Hillary presidency might bum some Fox people out personally, but Fox News itself will be just fine. Driving 4-8 more years of outrage will be a cakewalk with the Hill in the House.

  56. @Kilroy: “t is usually the case that when you take a certain ballot, you are affirming that you will vote for that candidate in the primary as well.”

    (Assume you mean the general election.

    I never knew that to be the case, and don’t believe it is. That would mean there’s no reason for a GE at all, we could just tally up primary votes.

    I’m pretty sure you’re wrong here, even about rules in your own state. Are you saying that no voter is permitted to change his/her mind between a primary and general election date?

    Either way: TEXAS AUTHORITIES: today I intend to vote for Donald Drumpf, and in November I will vote for whoever opposes him. Now, come and find me if you can.

  57. @kilroy

    It is usually the case that when you take a certain ballot, you are affirming that you will vote for that candidate in the primary as well. At least that is the case in my state.

    That is as untrue a statement as can be made. There is not one thing in it that is correct.

  58. @Kilroy Voting for someone in the primary that you don’t intend to vote for in the general is not voter fraud. At all.

  59. aiede:

    “[Trump]’s an electoral parasite coopting the Republican Party to rise to power, just as Bernie Sanders is attempting to do with the Democratic Party. Both are standard-bearers of convenience, expressly rejecting the “Party” line and winning as a result.”

    Err… I don’t know where you’re getting your news, but Sanders is only “winning” in the same sense Marco Rubio is: by coming consistently in second place. Sure, he made a bigger splash than anyone thought he could. But the odds of a Sanders nomination are a lot lower than those of a Trump nomination. And if Super Tuesday goes the way outfits like FiveThirtyEight are predicting, then a Trump nomination is pretty much a done-deal, and a Sanders nomination is not going to happen.

  60. John N.

    Are you saying that no voter is permitted to change his/her mind between a primary and general election date?

    I think it’s more intent. There’s a difference between honestly changing your mind between now and November because you learned something new or reconsidered your position, and admitting you are doing this to mess with the opposition.

    (Even registering Republican in an effort to steer the Republican party in your direction, while you’d be more likely to vote Democrat or third party in the general, strikes me as different, because you’re still saying ‘I prefer this candidate over the rest of your crowd, but I still like Sanders and Clinton better’.)

    This is sort of an ethical feeling for me: I don’t mind a bit of playing the system, but I want the intent of an election to correspond to what the voter wants in an elected official, even if it isn’t a direct first choice, not trying to sabotage the opposition or the process.

  61. @Kitty J, my thought is that Hillary and Bernie are referred to by their first names partially because that’s how they brand themselves. Bernie’s logo is basically just his first name. Hillary is probably also rooted in clarity, since just “Clinton” can be unclear in certain contexts. There’s probably some interesting psychology behind deciding how to refer to yourself; to my ear a first name seems more causal and thus might make you feel like you have a more personal relationship with a candidate.

  62. The more and more I see of trump the more I think of Jesse (the body/the gov/the conspiracy nut). Same kinds of reasons for voting for him. He got in, flailed because he couldn’t politic, threw lots of fits, gave up and got a tv show. I think there is a chance he’ll get elected. It will be four years of him flailing because beauracracy and politics of the getting things done variety requires talking and listening and compromise. Then let’s see what everyone puts forward. Basically I’m ready for the 2020 election.

  63. Some state parties (mainly on the GOP side) in open primary states try to force you to sign a “loyalty pledge”. But this is non-binding and is mainly to intimidate people from crossing over party lines to try to game the nominee. I.E. voting for Drumpf even though you don’t support him because you think Clinton or Sanders can beat him.

  64. @Becca: “…I want the intent of an election to correspond to what the voter wants in an elected official,…”

    Fair enough. For me, my intention in this primary is to help the GOP nominate the person that half of GOP voters want. My intention in the general election is to elect a Dem president.

    So there, I’ve declared my intentions, and except in any unusual case, my intentions won’t change between now and November.

  65. Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine in any form would be horribly short-sighted on the part of the Democratic Party. A subsequent Republican administration could and absolutely would then use it against them in novel ways. Do you want half of your Twitter feed filled with tweets from people you oppose? Follow our host and get automatically subscribed to (unblockable) Vox Day? Absolutely possible. In the current age, the Fairness Doctrine is the Nuclear Option, and the very exemplar of a horrible idea.

  66. Tactical voting only ever ends in tears anyway, there are just too many unintended consequences that come from trying to beat the odds (if you don’t know what that means, ask your bookie’s goons) vote for who your heart tells you. Deal with the fall out of that like an adult, Left or Right.

    As for Republicans. Well they’ve been riding the ‘increase the polarization of the electorate and hope for low turnout on the left’ pony for so long that I suspect they don’t know how to get off it. It is now just reaching the natural consequence of that tactic, and they are finding that having riled up the mob it is not as controllable as they thought. I gotta say though, as a non-American, I’d rather you had Trump than Cruz. The latter scares the pants off me in a way that Trump just doesn’t, I don’t know why.

  67. I don’t think we owe it to the GOP to save the from themselves. Trump is pretty much the candidate they’ve been working for for the past 20 years. I worry if we should save the COUNTRY from them, but as you point out, that’s what the general election is for. Instead, I’ll just repost a comment I made on a friend’s Facebook:

    “I will shed no tears if the GOP tears itself apart and goes away.

    Back in the day, the GOP had people like Lowell Weicker, Jacob Javits, Christine Todd Whitman, Dwight D. Eisenhower. None of them could get elected in today’s Republican party.

    And now? Now you have a party where *John Boehner* was considered insufficiently far enough to the right, where Ted Cruz and Trump are your frontrunners. You have a party, once considered the party of engineers, where science and expertise is mocked and dismissed by the very people who should be acting on it. You have a party where scorched earth tactics are considered not only necessary but *preferable*

    Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

  68. I have a friend who is very vehemently pro-Trump, and the one reason she gives that I cannot disagree with is that the GOP establishment doesn’t control him.

    I suspect that is part of the appeal for a large portion of his supporters who are otherwise rather pleasant, rational human beings. If their ideals make the Democratic candidates unacceptable under any circumstances, and they’re disgusted with the GOP establishment, who else can they vote for? Trump.

  69. Dang, lot of heaping on… In Indiana, IC 3-10-1 identifies who may vote in primary elections. The options are 1) the party that you voted for the most in the last general election, and 2) the party for whom you intend to vote for the most in the next general election. By taking a ballot that violates this requirement, would be voting fraud in Indiana. I don’t know about Illinois or how open that primary is.

  70. I’m just going to watch the GOP Super Tuesday results with a bottle of Leinenkugel beer and a nice slice of schadenfreude pie.

  71. From March 15 onward, most Republican primaries will award delegates on a winner-take-all basis. So if Trump keeps getting votes from a plurality of Republican voters, even if he never gets an absolute majority (e.g., Trump/Cruz/Rubio at 40%/35%/25%), he will get a lock on the nomination.

  72. Becca Stareyes writes:

    This is sort of an ethical feeling for me: I don’t mind a bit of playing the system, but I want the intent of an election to correspond to what the voter wants in an elected official, even if it isn’t a direct first choice, not trying to sabotage the opposition or the process.

    I agree that voting for someone in the primary who you consider to be a bad choice, in hopes that people will realize that he is a bad choice during the general is a poor idea. What if part A works, and part B backfires and you get the bad choice elected?

    I’ve lived in places where the outcome of a the general election is so uncontested that if you want to have any influence at all over who gets the job, you have to vote in the primary of a particular party. My parents routinely voted cross party in primaries, but they did it in hopes of picking the most acceptable opposition candidate rather than in hopes of sabotaging the opposition.

    Of course, if you do that, you are hoping that others in your party will choose a more preferable opposing candidate. In college I barely knew a guy who was tapped to be the minority party’s sacrificial lamb in a local race, and he seemed to be unaware that he was chosen so that the party wouldn’t have to chalk up a loss to one of their up-and-coming candidates.

  73. Every country – therefore, presumably, every party – gets the politicians it deserves, or so the saying goes. It’s a grim prospect though, as is evident from your very clear analysis. Personally – as a worried spectator from across the pond – I am looking forward to seeing The Economist’s analysis of the situation after Super Tuesday.

  74. I’m not an American. However, I don’t want to live on a planet where Trump is President of the U.S, and I am completely baffled by the posts complaining about Clinton.

    Frankly, from my perspective, you have to be batshit crazy to be complaining about Clinton when the alternative is Trump, though I suppose in a country which regards Trump as a viable candidate then batshit crazy is the default setting…

  75. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that even if the unthinkable occurred (i.e. The Trumpeteer winning the election) that the US would still be around and reasonably intact in 2020. It terms of political apocalypses, it pales besides such things as the Civil War, the Great Depression, WW II, and the Vietnam War. This is low-scale doom. To be sure, it won’t be a slice of heaven, but I think the Social Security checks would keep coming, there would be more Star Wars movies, and a few more versions of the iPhone.

    As we’ve seen with President Obama, there’s a baked-in-stone structural resistance to change. And the GOP in Congress mostly hate Turmp’s guts. So a Trump administration would consist mainly of “Look what that idiot said now”, and there would be no wall built and the press would still be at their keyboards.

  76. I don’t follow political news, and this is one of only two places that I’ll participate in political commentary, because people here are generally so reasonable (thanks to that Mallet!). What I’m wondering is … has anyone polled the military about a potential President Trump?

    As some people have mentioned above, there’s a strong possibility, maybe even a likelihood, that if Trump wins the presidency he will be so ineffective as a chief executive – because of opposition from Congress and (probably) midterm turnover – that the ill effects will be nullified. The only *real* danger I can see is if he swings to the overtly militaristic, and has the military establishment on his side, and has a 100% compliant Congress.

    I mean yes, a Trump presidency would be deeply embarrassing for the nation. But embarrassment =/= apocalypse. It would also be costly, as our tourism numbers would almost certainly go down, the stock market would probably decline, unemployment would increase as corporations hoarded money, and we would have a less easy time selling Treasury securities, because foreign investors would be less confident in the ultimate stability of the nation. But recession also =/= apocalypse.

    I think there’s a tendency to look at U.S. politics as if they are somehow impotent and can’t possibly lead to actual civil war. But, you know, we’ve already done that once. And if you look at historical cycles an argument could be made that we are due for another one. So if I had the time and inclination, I might be looking into “where are the societal and political brakes that could and would be applied if a president all of a sudden had the Congressional and military backing to tear up the Constitution.”

    Because as also pointed out above, a lot of the Trumpery bloviation is explicitly unconstitutional. If he actually believes that BS and is not just playing to the cheap seats (which I think is possible, he’s horrible and mendacious but not completely stupid and also not completely delusional) then the presidency would provide his opportunity but he still has to secure the means to act on his motive.

  77. @Kilroy Not an issue outside of Indiana- and their are challenges to how constitutional the Indian law is. But, even then, it still isn’t fraud to participate in the primary. It only breaks any kind of law if the voter is challenged by officials at the polls and signs an affidavit that the officials then take to court and can prove perjury.

    Fraud would be impersonating someone using a false name to vote.

  78. Kitty J:

    I certainly agree that people are using Clinton’s and Sanders’s first names to be belittling; but I think those people would find a way to make hay with “Clinton” and “Sanders” if the candidates were putting those names on their posters.

    Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have made their first names part of their campaign. We have Hillary’s “H” logo and Bernie’s “Feel the Bern” tagline. (So groanworthy!) The use of first names for them is clearly part of their campaign strategies.

    I suspect Hillary, at least, uses her first name to avoid the “Clinton dynasty” accusations. (The last dynastic president has not held his reputation well, and it may have contributed to the sinking of his brother’s campaign.) And Bernie is likely to be favoring his first name–a shortened, nickname version of it!–because he is a “just like you” populist.

    Trump at one point in his life went by “The Donald,” back before he was in politics and appeared to be simply an egotistical rich dude with too much personality, rather than a bigoted blowhard. But he made his name (so to speak) on the brand of “Trump.” He can’t give that up now.

    As for Rubio and Cruz, I think they both want to play up their Hispanic roots even as they rail against immigration of Latinos. (To be fair, Rubio didn’t rail against immigration until it was demonstrated to be a winning strategy. I think he was honestly trying to be The Latino Hero of the GOP, but then sold out. Empty suit indeed.)

    Cruz may not have wanted “Ted” and “Jeb” in the same place, contributing to confusion (and his voters are clearly confused). And tbh, “Cruz” sounds much more dramatic and memorable than “Ted.” Better branding, as it were.

    Branding is important these days. That’s part of what’s helped Trump: a base of people who knew who he was long before he entered the race.

  79. I’m a registered Democrat in an open primary state. This morning I chose to vote in the Republican primary, casting my vote for Rubio. Why? Because I wanted my vote to at least have a chance of counting toward something I believed in.

    Like our host, I don’t have much of a dog in the fight when it comes to the Democratic primaries. I think either Clinton or Sanders will be a fine candidate and a fine President. Sure, there are things I like more or less about both candidates, but overall I’m fine either way.

    What I do care about–passionately–is the health of our republic, and Trump anywhere near the White House is a threat to that. Trump spending the next nine months furthering the idea that his hateful, violent rhetoric is an acceptable form of legitimate public discourse is a threat to that. Hell, his campaign’s policy is to have his supporters literally shout down any dissenting voices.

    What I care about is having an election where serious candidates with serious (though differing) opinions engage the country in a legitimate debate over the future direction of affairs. Yeah, we haven’t really seen it in a couple years, but I still like to hold out hope. Maybe Trump will still decide to run as an independent–and as a Democratic supporter, I’m all for that!–and any chance of intelligent debate in this election will be gone. But maybe, too, there’s a chance that in the general debates, people will see two reasonably intelligent people trying to actually talk while an annoying brat jumps up and down and shouts meaningless platitudes.

    So no, I don’t like Rubio, and I don’t want him to be President. I don’t particularly want him to even be a candidate, but out of the remaining field that still has any chance I dislike him the least. I don’t expect my vote to make a difference. But at least I’ll know that I used my Constitutionally-given power to stand up and say “enough, this is not the America I want.”

  80. @Alice: Any fraudulent voting is voter fraud. You missed our Charlie White case, former Indiana Secretary of State convicted of voter fraud for voting in the wrong district by pretending to live with his ex-wife. Indiana can’t be the only state with such requirements. But we are now getting a little/lot off topic. moving on.

  81. I have the opportunity to go to a caucus tonight and vote for someone. I left the GOP decades ago because they made it clear that they didn’t want my kind (liberal Republicans) around any more, and none of their candidates make me want to put up with them begging me for money. Plus, the rules in my state are similar to Indiana’s. I’ll let the Republicans sort out the mess they’ve made, if they can. I’m still struggling with whether to vote for Sanders even though I think he’s even less likely to be achieve his campaign promises than Obama was.

  82. Dear GOP,
    This is the result of 30-40 years of effort on the part of significant members of your party.
    Tough tootsies, boys. Deal.

    Also, so much good stuff above.

    I am particulary fond of Our Host’s “odious fistula” description. Anton P. Nym’s comment “But ethically we can’t bail them out; it’d only set up a cycle of dependancy…” sums things up quite nicely, too. WRT Hillary Rettig’s comment on the failure of the media to do their jobs, I agree. I think allowing consolidation was the big mistake, though. When anything becomes Big Business, it trends conservative (or Right Wing), no matter the individual views of the employees, who want to keep their jobs, and in our case, we’ve also acquired a lovely crop of RW loons controlling our news.

  83. @Kilroy: Claiming to live in another district is far easier to prove than the voter’s intent to vote for primarily a given party in the upcoming election unless you are currently actively campaigning for members of the other party. My guess, though is that thousands of voters in these primaries “switch parties” all the time because the likelihood of prosecution is non-existent. In my state, when there is a primary, the only rule is that your ballot is void if you vote for candidates from more than party.

  84. Jason writes:

    I’m a registered Democrat in an open primary state.

    What does that mean? Why does one register if it doesn’t affect which primary you vote in?

    I find primaries to be confusing in general. Political parties are private organizations and yet states have publicly funded primaries and grant established party candidates ballot access more easily than independent candidates.

  85. No disagreement, but I just obliged Beinart’s request this morning. Not for the sake of the GOP, but because Trump’s main character flaw is that he fires anyone who tells him anything he doesn’t care to hear. That’s why he behaves like an overgrown fifth grader in front of the characters. There is not a single person on his payroll who will tell him it’s disgusting.

    For all their other flaws, no other candidate has that one. And a man who will shoot messengers like Trump, as president of the United States, terrifies me like nothing else.

  86. @Mike: Party registration is optional here, and doesn’t really affect much beyond what kind of junk mail you get during election season. They may use it for statistical and demographic purposes, too. So yeah, there’s not much reason (as far as I can see) to actually registering your party affiliation here.

    In my case, I was mostly using “registered Democrat” as a shorthand for “person who generally votes Democrat and sees his personal values as mainly in line with those promoted by the Democratic Party.” But that would have been a really long description and would have just distracted from my real point. :)

  87. The constitutionality of loyalty pledges has been disputed (see, for instance, the argument made here in 2015: ) but a judge upheld a loyalty pledge the Virginia Republicans pledge drew up earlier this year. However, the Republicans themselves then decided to scrap it; see )

    As far as I know, most states do *not* have primaries with loyalty voting pledges. Indiana is one that does, as Kilroy noted. (If challenged, you need to sign a paper saying either that you plan to vote for a majority of the candidates running under your party, or that you did vote that way in the last general election. If not challenged, you don’t have to sign anything.) Ohio has a somewhat vaguer requirement that primary voters can be challenged to sign a paper saying the voter “desires to be affiliated with and supports the principles of the political party whose ballot the person desires to vote”. But “party principles” are pretty diffuse.

    I’m not aware of any other state that currently has a loyalty requirement for voting in a party primary. (Pennsylvania and Connecticut, the two states I’ve voted in to date, have not.) Many states do have time restrictions on when you can register or switch parties, though, which tends to cut down on tactical party-hopping somewhat. (In PA, for instance, you have to register with a particular party at least 30 days in advance of its primary.)

  88. Virginia Republicans keep flirting with one, and actually had one in place till the end of January till they backed down for the umpteenth time. So anyone who voted the first two weeks absentee voting was open actually was asked to sign one.

  89. Long ago, in a galaxy that is now far away the mainstream GOP also freaked. They freaked because an actor tossed his hat into the ring and rode his soapbox horsie all the way to the Big House, I mean the White House. His name was Ronnie Raygun. He did some really screwy things but ended up alright. Now several almost candidates have held him up like he didn’t have clay feet.

    Perhaps Trump will be the best thing for this country. Maybe it will make both the House and Senate realize how trivial the crap they fight over really is. The economy would be so much better if those we elected said “This is the base of our budget for the next five years. This money over here is for Bacon Bit. Get to work.”

    Maybe this is the year of the big implosion. Pressure has been building since the Libertarians who were disguised as the Tea Part took over and fought off all comers as the Freedom Coalition (sounds like the WWE from here). Maybe it is something that has to be but I only have one vote and it ain’t going there.

  90. Trump as the Kwisatz Haderach was brilliant.

    Problem we have is that if Bernie doesn’t pull out his anti-establishment coup of the Dems, it’ll be Trump/Hillary.
    I don’t know if the GOP’s dislike of Trump will overpower their ABSOLUTE JIHADLIKE HATRED of Hillary. They’ll turn out to stop Hillary much more than we’ll turn out to stop Trump.

  91. @zemadmax: Sanders is “winning” insofar as he’s won an actual primary as well as the votes of hundreds of thousands of Democrat voters. Even if he doesn’t win the nomination, having somebody who wasn’t even a Democrat before 2015 with 40 percent of the awarded delegates at this point is sufficient to uphold my “electoral parasite” analogy, whether or not he reaches electoral maturity.

  92. P.S… the GOP made this bed when no real adults ran for president this year. Other than MAYBE Bush who forgot he was a pariah, or never realized it until a couple weeks ago.

  93. From 1984 to 1990 I was involved in the spear-carrier level of GOP politics and wondered how long this pandering to the culturally angry without any real pay-off was going to work; the answer is that it worked a lot better for a lot longer than I thought it would. The blowback is blasting thru at hurricane force now though. Here’s the thing, as obnoxious as I find The Donald to be he’s still less obnoxious than Rubio and Cruz with their messianic Christianism. Shine perishing republic.

  94. I am actually for Trump among the GOP candidates. Yes, I agree Trump would be scary as president, but he does not scare me quite so much as Rubio and Cruz do. I agree that the real defense is to turn out to vote in November. But it is even more important to turn out again in 2018.

  95. On the loyalty pledge sub-thread: what we’ve got here in AL (open primary) is that voting in a primary run-off can be restricted based on participation in the initial primary. The Democrats instituted this back when AL was reliably Dem-voting, to prevent Republicans from crossing over to spoil the run-off — but it’s either “you must have voted in the Democrat primary” or “you must not have voted in the Republican primary” to vote in the Dem run-off (can’t remember which specific case offhand). The Republicans have considered adding the same to their primary now that they’re the dominant party in the state.

    But for the primary proper? Vote for whichever party you like. Then vote how you like in the general. As the state is heavily partisan, I treat the primary as the de facto general election for state and local offices, and select my ballot accordingly.

  96. @Steve C: what a remarkable thing, to state that a Trump presidency wouldn’t be terrible because “the Social Security checks would keep coming, there would be more Star Wars movies, and a few more versions of the iPhone.” Well then! As long as we have our toys, our mass entertainment, and the old folks get their checks on time, who cares if the poor are ground down further, law enforcement winks at beating up the media, the national parks are sold to the highest bidder, and agencies charged with enforcement of workplace safety and clean air give a collective Randian shrug about doing their jobs?

  97. I’m a registered Democrat in DC, where the Primary is June 14, far too late to affect any outcome. I’ll be voting for Sanders, who hasn’t a chance in hell of winning. But in fact, he’s won already, in the sense that his candidacy has forced Clinton to run further to her left than her Republican-Lite inclinations would naturally pull her.

  98. @mythago Exactly. Who cares if disabled people keep getting shafted by the system? Who cares if access to healthcare and especially the right to choose keep getting gutted? Who cares if people like me (queer and disabled) get our rights rolled back? Old folks keep getting paid, that’s all that matters /snark

    That said, Trump scares me less than Cruz. Cruz is a theocrat, and the more someone talks about God in politics, the less I trust him. The guy is a fanatic. No thanks. On the Dem side of things, CA’s primary is in June so my vote won’t matter as much, but I’m still pulling for Sanders.

  99. So, I posted the “Ted Cruz, an odious fistula that walks the earth in human skin,” line on Facebook, because it was too good not to, and a friend commented, “It even scans!” (which may tell you all you need to know about the kinds of friends I have). Anyway, it inspired the limerickist limericist limerick writer in me to compose the following, which I hope you enjoy:

    I don’t have to try to resist you; a
    Lifetime would pass ere I missed you. Ah,
    My feeling’s unclear?
    Let me sum it up here:
    Mr. Cruz, you’re an odious fistula.

  100. Echoing a couple of others above, Trump is actually less scary than Cruz or Rubio – he’s not a religious nutjob, just a regular one. He’s also less likely to completely destroy the country with tinkle-down economics like the other two. Plus not much of his agenda will get passed, it’s better than one of the other two getting in and their evil agenda being passed by Congress.

    I’m not a fan of Hillary but she’s light years better than the abortion banning, warmongering, Randian Cruz or Rubio – having someone who goes to pieces under pressure so fast that people get hit by shrapnel is not ideal as President.

  101. Mythago, do you have any facts to support your thesis that “the poor are ground down further, law enforcement winks at beating up the media, the national parks are sold to the highest bidder, and agencies charged with enforcement of workplace safety and clean air give a collective Randian shrug about doing their jobs?” would actually happen under a Trump administration? One, I give very little likelihood of Trump setting his pale hairy ass in the Oval Office, and two, even if by chance he did, the idea that he can willy-nilly run the country by his whims is extremely unlikely. If President Obama can’t even get a public option on a health care bill, or even by executive order, get deferred action on undocumented workers, what chance is there really that Trump can build a fricking wall? Or any of his other pie-in-the-sky ideas?

    Just because Trump gets the GOP nod from a dysfunctional party doesn’t mean he’s invincible. Getting elected president takes a machine and Hillary has that nailed. And if by chance, someone runs as an independent, that’s going to guarantee a Democratic win.

  102. Hickory dickory
    Odious fistula
    Senator Rafael
    Cruz, known as “Ted”,

    Runs on a platform of
    Christian theocracy;
    Still, Trump’s ahead.

  103. Steve C – if goddamn Bloomberg runs, that guarantees a Trump presidency.

  104. @Craig Ronald Reagan had run for the Republican nomination twice before he got it in 1980. He was by then, an experienced politician- not some actor who had never before been associated with the Republican Party whom people were freaking out about. Not to mention he’d been elected governor of California. Twice.

    His canonization by the GOP is ridiculous, but comparing Trump to Reagan and saying “See, it’ll all work out OK” is also ridiculous.

  105. Awesome post, John. I have two comments. One: in response to concern that the military could somehow be subverted by President Trump: the folks I know in the military are totally, completely loyal to the principle of civilian control, and equally loyal to the Constitution. It’s not data, I know, but while Trump’s nationalism, racism, and malignant narcissism terrify me, I don’t think he can subvert our armed forces. Two: Clinton and Sanders, on their worst days, are a gazillion times better than Trump, Cruz (shudder) or Rubio on their best days. Those of us who don’t want Trump to be President are not going to vote for Cruz (shudder) or Rubio. We are going to vote for the Democrat. As Charles P. Pierce has pointed out, we have no more fcks to give.

  106. Ted Cruz, an odious fistula that walks the earth in a human skin–Pure D poetry

  107. @Steve C, please don’t play the game of “my assertions are deemed true, but your disagreement requires proof”. That aside, the executive has enormous power beyond proposing bills to the Congress; for example, to make appointments to the judiciary (not just SCOTUS) and executive branches, to set policy on how regulatory agencies will do their jobs, and how much oversight the federal government will exercise over the States. Mitch McConnell can’t do much to keep the SEC from aggressively investigating insider trading, or to stop the DOJ from suing the city of Ferguson.

    And that’s just domestic policy.

    So even with an unfriendly Congress, the President has enormous power to shape how government conducts businesses, what policies and laws will be a priority, and which ideologically like-minded groups are favored or disfavored.

  108. I just want to say that I’m going to link my fellow readers of the liberal blog “driftglass” to this post. As DG is an SF fan, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it. With that, I yield the balance of my comment to the ambassador from the Vorlon Empire:

    “the avalanche has already started
    it is too late for the pebbles to vote”

  109. Per the Fairness Doctrine: anyone else remember the furor when the guy running against Gerge Takei basically forced local stations to take ‘Star Trek’ off the air, unless they gave him the same amount of time on air for free? I think George was elected anyway, at least in part due to backlash… Iirc of course

  110. @Andrew Ah, really? Well even without that I think we just made it obvious I have a lot to learn past “incredible literary history.” I’d still want to learn the language as a courtesy. It is their country I would be fleeing to after all and I’d rather be a nice guest than exactly the stereotype I’d be fleeing from.

  111. @mythago

    “McConnell can’t do much to keep the SEC from aggressively investigating insider trading”

    The next time the SEC aggressive investigate anything will be the first time they’ve aggressively investigated anything – it’s a toothless senile incontinent sheepdog, which the wolves of Wall Street ignore. Or agree to a tiny (relative to their profits) settlement, promise not to do it again (whilst crossing their fingers behind their back) and carry on as normal. How else do you explain that Jamie Dimon is not serving 1,000 years to life?

  112. Theophylact, that is brilliant! And Lizzy, h/t for the shoutout to Pierce – his descriptors for the candidates rival that of our gracious host. I particularly enjoy “the vulgar talking yam”.

  113. I am registered non-partisan in a closed primary state, and I’ve been voting mostly Democrat since 1998. If I were going to register as a Republican at this point, it would be specifically to cast a ballot for Trump as a troll vote, so that he can lose in the general much like Christine O’Donnell did. *cackles maliciously*

    Seriously, these guys have been asking for this since at least the 1960s when they picked up all those racist white voters who were alienated by LBJ and Kennedy, and definitely since 2009 and the rise of the Tea Party. One wonders why all this is so surprising to them.

  114. I still have to wonder if Trump himself really wants to win the presidency. This is a guy who inherited a boatload of money and has made and lost more than most people will in their lifetimes. A man who pretty much does what he wants when he wants it and has been his whole life and is applying for a job that is a 24/ 7, 365 day a year job with the day scheduled out in 10 to 15 minute increments. A job with so many constraints that I suspect even those that get the job are rather surprised at what they can’t do without help from one or both other branches of government. Living under a microscope is less revealing than the presidency.
    I just don’t see it happening, kind of like the dog that catches the car; What does he do now that he has it. Mind you I don’t personally see him getting that far, getting the republican nomination yes. But winning the general election?

  115. @mythago – that’s just Skadden complaining that the SEC won’t look the other way, and may at some point conceivably possibly think about maybe eventually maybe holding someone responsible who isn’t a low level peon.

    I won’t hold my breath. The norm is the JPMorgan thing where they paid $920M and didn’t admit anything – despite Dimon signing the SOX documentation that said the controls worked, when clearly they didn’t, over the London issues.

  116. “As we’ve seen with President Obama, there’s a baked-in-stone structural resistance to change. And the GOP in Congress mostly hate Turmp’s guts. So a Trump administration would consist mainly of “Look what that idiot said now”, and there would be no wall built and the press would still be at their keyboards.”

    See how you feel if Trump happens to appoint 3 SCJ who are on the bench for the next quarter century

    “…and two, even if by chance he did, the idea that he can willy-nilly run the country by his whims is extremely unlikely. If President Obama can’t even get a public option on a health care bill, or even by executive order, get deferred action on undocumented workers, what chance is there really that Trump can build a fricking wall? Or any of his other pie-in-the-sky ideas?”

    .Specifically, you think the Republicans would buy in one hundred percent to selling off government lands and removing regulation from businesses? Cause if you do, I’ve got a lovely bridge here.

  117. Hilarious watching Mitt Romney getting all hoity-toity about Trump’s awfulness. He didn’t feel that way in 2012 when he accepted Trump’s endorsement.

    The GOP can choke on it. I’ll enjoy the spectacle enormously.

  118. Think of it the other way around. I’m sure Obama was happy to accept Al Sharpton’s endorsement, but if Sharpton were the candidate, should we expect Obama to endorse him?

    Endorsement is non-commutative.

  119. Mr. Beinart’s concern about the rise of the Trumpenfuhrer and the moral state of the Republican Party is touching, but not convincing.

    Despite his stated motivations, Beinart is basically calling on Democrats in certain primary states to ratfuck the Republican Party by aggravating its internal divisions.

    If successful, this would not save the GOP so much as it would benefit the election chances of the Democratic Party come November.

    Yet by calling for such an “interventionist” move against the Republicans, Beinart is perhaps betraying a certain lack of confidence in the Democratic nominee’s ultimate chances of success against Donald Trump. . .

  120. John N., I’m right behind you. I live in Texas and voted Republican (Trump) to vote against Cruz. Plus, a split GOP will be a wonderful sight…extraordinary and it’s my belief such a thing will happen if Trump wins the primary and that will put Hillary in the WH.

  121. Virginia has an (allegedly) open primary, although the Republican Party is requiring people who ask for a Republican ballot to sign a form that they are registered Republicans. Apparently it has not occurred to them that if they really want to stop Trump, it might not be a bad idea to have people who really, really don’t like him able to vote for someone else on their ballot (I would have gone with Kasich, myself). But no.

    It was interesting, too, to see that while there was a list of people who had withdrawn from the Republican race, O’Malley was still on the Democratic ballot.

    I am tired of and horrified by what passes for civic rhetoric these days. I think I’ll go watch Netflix for the next nine months. (And you know damn well if Trump loses the election, he’s going to sue somebody. So, maybe the next couple of years.) I’m less worried about who’s going to save the Republican Party and more worried about who’s going to save the country from itself.

  122. …I see from other posters that Virginia decided that the Republicans would NOT ask for a signed form. When I mentioned it to the polling folks, they said… nothing at all, letting my incorrect assumption stand.

    Oh well, I voted for the person I’ll vote for in the election anyway.

  123. The best concise explanation of Trump I’ve heard is: he’s a “California Republican” and therefore basically a liberal. However the GOP is vexed because he is inexplicably getting conservative votes (nevermind that Reagan came from where? California? Nonsense!). If logic and rational thought were deployed, this inconsistent result could lead to three major revelations for the GOP:

    1) They realize that not everyone wants the far right’s religious fundamentalism forced upon them in the land of the free, therefore they kick the far right to the curb, moderate the overall party position and gain votes from moderates at Trump’s expense.

    2) They realize that mainstream America doesn’t espouse rascism, homophobia, or general anti-intellectualism and therefore moderate their position, adopt the mantra that the scientific method, peer review and independent verification really does produce fairly good results therefore they will embrace science and the resulting technological benefits it brings. This will acquire support from moderates of all viewpoints and large amounts of the middle part of the bell curve.

    3) They realize that, in order to counteract a series of actual plans and positions put forward by the Democrats, they need to have their own concrete positions and plans which have a measurable chance of success and stop being the party of “Nuh-uh” and “We’re not those guys, so vote for us!” This will help ameliorate the constant barrage of Trump’s empty self-promotion and give Americans some idea of what they actually think they can accomplish rather than just holding judicial positions, budgets, and other important elements of the government hostage.

    I’d give any one of these about a 10% chance of happening, however, simply because the decision makers are so thoroughly in the pockets of the religious fundamentalists that they cannot consider any moderation at all. For them, it is victory or death and the writing is on the wall: it ain’t gonna be victory.

  124. I’ll double down on something trebuchetguy said:

    “Fox News DOESN’T CARE if it hurts the GOP. The Fox News corporation has no skin in this game.”

    I’ll go you one better: Fox News, and the multi-national behemoth that is News Corporation (which owns Fox) sees any and all political action as a chance to sell advertising space, and nothing more. Conflict sells, so it is in their best interests to generate political conflict. Rupert Murdoch, the man at the top of the News Corp. tree, is (at best) a sociopath who enjoys being the man behind the curtain who has real political control in at least three countries (Australia, where News.Corp controls about 70% of our media output; the UK – “It Was The Sun Wot Won It”, remember that?; and now the USA). He’s getting his jollies from this, and his position on things is very much “apres moi, le deluge” (or in other words, once he dies, the world can go up in flames for all he cares).

    As far as the mainstream media are concerned, Donald Trump is a heaven-sent opportunity to sell advertising space. He’s controversial, he’s a brilliant self-publicist, he generates outrage, and he also generates clicks, page views, and purchases.

  125. Trump’s appeal is populist and nationalist, not partisanly political. (Hell, it’s hard to tell what his politics actually are beyond “Vote Trump.”) He’s an electoral parasite coopting the Republican Party to rise to power

    He may turn out to be the sort of parasite that messes with the host’s brain – making the GOP mouse run out fearlessly and be eaten by the DemoCat.

  126. Ahahah, I’m feeling somewhat gleeful since, being Italian, I was teased a lot about Berlusconi. But if the worst comes to pass and Trump is elected President, remember that Italy did survive Berlusconi (although just barely.)

  127. @Craig says: Perhaps Trump will be the best thing for this country.

    And maybe I can teach calculus to my cat.

    “Let’s give a thin-skinned blowhard a nuclear arsenal and see what happens” seems unlikely to be the best strategy for preserving the world’s greatest democracy.

  128. Bob, re: ““Let’s give a thin-skinned blowhard a nuclear arsenal and see what happens” seems unlikely to be the best strategy for preserving the world’s greatest democracy.”

    I worry that you could remove the fragment “‘s greatest democracy” from the end of that sentence, and it would still be accurate.

  129. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are starting to shed the human suits they were wearing and say things like this:

    “Even if you’re disappointed with the way he’s [Trump’s] responding to things, even if you’re mad at him, you disagree with him, if he did it [Accept support of the KKK and David Duke] intentionally — I don’t think he did, I think he just made a mistake — even if he did, they’re still going to do a better job with him there than if you had Hillary or Bernie in his place,”

    Mike Rounds, R-SD

    There are Senate Republicans who think that someone who would stand up for the KKK is preferable to Clinton or Sanders. That should tell you all you need to know about Trump’s place in the GOP – He’s got plenty of friends there who agree with him. There’s not enough of the GOP to stop him, and I don’t care to help people who’ve made a life’s effort of dehumanizing me and mine.

  130. I’m of the opinion that when Trump is nominated, the R’s will focus 100% of their attention on the Senate/House races. They already know how much power they have when they control those bodies. And they’ll focus on the state races, because that’s where policies are implemented.

    To counter that, I hope there’s a real chance that when Trump is the nominee, there’a a chance of a Goldwater/McGovern style electoral debacle, leading to a D majority in at least the Senate. Liberal SCOTUS selections all the way down

  131. I don’t think the GOP really wants saving. Until recently I thought that the leadership and the moderate wing of the GOP was just disorganized and that sooner or later they would come together, pick a less openly racist, hateful, and insane candidate and that’d be the end of Trump’s candidacy.

    But what I realized is that all of us on the left thinking some version of that are wrong. The leadership of the party and the party as a whole want Trump as president. They all love him. The donors love him, the rank and file love him, the movers and the shakers love him.

    They like his racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. It perfectly mirrors their own. They like that it’s out in the open. Folks have held signs saying “Make America Hate Again” to protest Trump, but that’s exactly what a lot of those people want, the freedom to not be told they are wrong for being racist,s exist, homophobic, xenophobic, assholes. They like the macho posturing and the bullying and the name calling, it’s what they think a “strong” person looks like. He’s not an outsider, he’s an insider; Trump is the innermost fears and hopes of the GOP brought to life.

  132. I was just thinking that the Republican establishment has really shot themselves in the foot by allowing themselves to become known as the obstructionist (do nothing) party. If nothing else Trump is perceived as someone who will take action.

  133. Results are coming in, and a discussion thread (live blog) among the New York Magazine editorial staff includes this evident Redshirts-themed tweet from one Eric Levitz:

    “The Narrative is strong in Hugh Hewitt”

  134. crypticmirror: “Tactical voting only ever ends in tears anyway, there are just too many unintended consequences that come from trying to beat the odds … vote for who your heart tells you.”

    Two words: Fuck. and No.

    The American president is elected in a majority-vote-wins contest. That is the only rule that matters. And because of that rule, the entire two-party system has emerged trying to triangulate the largest block of voters under their umbrella that they can fit. This means the two parties are going to get the lion share of the votes, unless they somehow really screwed up their job. And historically, that’s never happened, so, pretending its a possibility, is magical thinking.

    Take a look at this image:

    It shows every presidential election result by party. It is always two large blocks and possibly small slivers for third or fourth party candidates. Slivers that are never big enough to win. Only big enough to steal votes from the two main parties that would have been your second choice, and may have actually had a chance to win had you and all your third party friends voted for one of the two main parties.

    In the American Presidential election, you HAVE to do tactical voting or you are helping your OPPONENT. If the process used instant runoff and you could score all the candidates in order, sure, vote exactly your preference in exactly the order you want to vote. But it doesn’t use an instant runoff system, SO YOU HAVE TO MENTALLY PREPARE YOUR BALLOT AS IF YOU DID THE INSTANT RUNOFF PORTION IN YOUR HEAD AND ITS DOWN TO THE TWO MOST-LIKELY-TO-WIN CANDIDATES. Well, technically, you don’t HAVE to do that, but if you don’t you are (1) wasting your vote (2) helping the main candidate you least like get elected (3) saying you’re doing this for effects that DO NOT EXIST and therefore (4) an idiot.

    I’m hoping Bernie wins the nomination. If he doesn’t, then me doing a write-in ballot for Bernie only helps Trump and is exactly the OPPPOSITE effect of what I want. If we had instant-runoff ballots, I would vote Bernie, Clinton, Republican Asshole1, Asshole2, Asshole3, and when I run out of Assholes, I would list Trump. But that’s not how the ballot works. It’s not instant runoff, so I have to do the math in my head and figure out who WOULD be the two most likely to win candidates and vote for one of those two. That’s it. THat’s the ONLY choice that has any effect I would want. Voting third party takes a vote FROM whoever is primary candidate I would prefer, and only helps the primary candidate I oppose the most.

    Every other effect of third party voting is self delusional bullshit, and I am sick and tired of hearing it.

    You are not “sending a signal”. YOu are not “voting your heart”. YOu are throwing your vote away and helping the candidate you like the least. That is the actual, real world, measurable effect. Everything else is young-earth-creationism level bullshit.

  135. Just came from lefty (Whitney Schriber’s aliens) and right wing sites (Alex Jones channel) all pretending to be fighting disinformation, devoted to exactly that and making no attempt to hide the contradiction. I no longer ask how that can be.

    Then I click on Scalzi and finally see someone describe Cruz as a walking fistula but not confining the commentary to well deserved name calling. And to think I first came across Scalzi and Stross through Instapundit who was and is a legend in the amazing right wing lie machine. Many steps above Glenn Beck, the guy who used to wear a yellow spray can halo and or gold coin on top of his crew cut celebrating his LDS conversion and Goldline (Dream mine) sponsor. I no longer ask why he wasn’t laughed out of existence except by a guest on Beck’s show named Anderson Cooper who had the nerve to point to Beck’s head and ask, “what’s that?”

  136. Theophylact: not a good comparison. Al Sharpton, assuming he made a public endorsement of Obama (which I don’t remember), did not share the podium with him at a news conference with national press. Also Sharpton endorsing Obama was pretty much a “duh – no kidding” gesture. There are several youtube videos of Trump and Romney together at their event.

  137. starkis wrote:

    In the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the seven states of the deep south voted for a republican for the first time in history.

    Check out the House elections in 1870 (which last time I checked was part of history):

    State Type Total Republican Democratic
    seats Seats Seats

    Mississippi District 5 5 0
    Alabama District 6 3 3
    Florida At-large 1 0 1
    Georgia District 7 3 4
    Louisiana District 5 5 0
    North Carolina District 7 2 5
    South Carolina District 4 4 0

    Okay: preview formats this badly. The numbers are, respectively,
    Total # of House Seats
    # of Republican House Seats
    # of Democratic House Seats

    So, e.g., Mississippi had 5 seats in the House that year, and all 5 went Republican.

    I know, I know, Reconstruction and all. But so what. The claim is … Never before…

    or, consider the 1872 presidential election:

    Total electoral GOP Dem/Lib Dem
    Alabama 10 10 – –
    Florida 4 4 – –
    Georgia 11 – 11 –
    Louisiana 8 0 – –
    Mississippi 8 8 – –
    North Carolina 10 10 – –
    South Carolina 7 7 – –

    Grant took all these states except GA and LA (“The electors of Arkansas and Louisiana were rejected due to irregularities.They were not included in the total number of electors. Both states had voted for Grant.”)

  138. Trump is the culmination of the “Prosperity Gospel” combined with the attraction of being a bully. To his followers he represents strength and power. He is showing his followers that he is so rich and powerful that he can call Mexicans rapists, or get his people to throw African Americans out of his rallies or attack members of the press and suffer no consequences for doing so.

    And he is selling them the dream that if they become his apprentices and put him in the White House they are going to be so rich and powerful that they can be assholes too.

    For years the right’s strategy has been to undermine people’s thrust in government, and keep fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia to gain and keep their seats of power. Now it has blown in their faces. They forgot that they can dance with the Devil, but the Devil always leads.

  139. I love that when I shared this post on Facebook, it used the image of the John Harris cover of your book The End of All Things. :-D

  140. I think liberals in general misunderstand Drumpf when he seems to be advocating progressive policies. Most conservatives, it seems, would love people to not have to worry about being sick. That’s not the problem. The problem is what happens when ‘undeserving’ people become sick. Liberals either work out a way for them to pay for the basics, or say that medical care is abundant enough that it doesn’t matter. Drumpf is a little different, because his solution for the ‘undeserving’ is to have already gotten rid of them.

    Drumpf is a crypto-fascist, if not a full-blown fascist. Mussolini gave huge amounts of power to the unions, because fascism as an ideology is incoherent on questions outside its core assertion: things used to be perfect, and then The Others ruined it, and when they’re Gone things will be perfect again.

    With this in mind, splitting the Democrats by having them ‘help’ the Republicans out of their jam is the very worst possible thing to do: Hitler rose to power in part because the German left refused to unite in opposition to him. Rubio and Cruz’s voters should be getting behind the Democratic nominee (IDK NOT TRUMP THO 2016), not the other way around.

    (Also, Sanders is hardly the left’s version of Drumpf. He’s certainly outside of the Democratic party, but there’s a big overlap between his supporters and Clinton’s, and there’s a wider current of progressive dissent with neoliberalism around the world. Expect Sanders’ policies to be echoed by other candidates in the future as progressive politicians realise people aren’t buying the idea that a priority on trade makes all else possible.)

  141. Admittedly, the Democrats got the smoother candidates. But did you ever bother to compare their achievments side by side. You will see, that i.e. all the Demos were fighting the wars and whittled on civil liberties and took swings at the constitution.

    This is NOT about “Trump” himself, it is about the s p i r i t he embodies!
    The american spirit that made America great and has been under attack by the “progressives” ever since, particularly under Clinton.
    You want to see what your country looks like after another democratic government? Check out the Socialist Federation of Europe!
    Right now, Germany is nearly ripe for another Hitler, would it not be for the parlamentary barriers and complex election laws.
    In Europe, the zionists rubbing their hands in glee.

  142. Heads up to everyone: As this is the sort of thread that will sprout trolls overnight, I’ll turn off the comments right before I go to sleep, probably in the next hour. I’ll open them up again in the morning.

    Update: And the comments are off for the night. See you bright and early in the morning.

    Update: Comments back on!

  143. Ok, it’s been two decades, but I remember something quite like this from when I read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone when I was in high-school. Some crazy guy gets elected because people either agreed with his insanity or they “liked the show”, and then said crazy guy starts World War III through his cack-handed handling of international politics.

    As a non-American I have equal parts schadenfreude (when thinking about the GOP) and worry (when thinking about the rest of the world).

  144. This means the two parties are going to get the lion share of the votes, unless they somehow really screwed up their job. And historically, that’s never happened, so, pretending its a possibility, is magical thinking.

    The Whig Party begs to disagree with you.

    (That said, I agree with the rest of your comment).

    Germany is nearly ripe for another Hitler, would it not be for the parlamentary barriers and complex election laws.
    In Europe, the zionists rubbing their hands in glee

    I know the quoted comment is probably going to get Malleted, but alphachamber’s strong suit isn’t logic, is it? All those Zionists rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of another Hitler.

  145. @alphachamber, I’m curious as to exactly what you are referring to when you talk about “the american spirit that made America great”. The ability to build a brand? The ability to take your dice and go home (i.e. declare bankruptcy for a company you own) when you”re no longer winning? The expressed desire to remove an entire religious population from your country, even if they are citizens? Perhaps it’s the “any love is good love” from David Duke and his supporters? Or the “see ya, suckers” benediction to the people who “enrolled” in Trump University?

  146. I let alphachamber’s comment stand as a testament to incomprehensibility, but I will note I’ll be looking at their next comment with a twitchy hand on the Mallet.

  147. In the spirit of adding thinkey bits, here’s my latest prediction that i just put up on the Good Judgement Project regarding the Donald:

    Going up on R. (Though it pains me to do so). (Note: I’m assuming that HRC and DT are the nominees.)

    Interesting piece in the NYT from December:

    “Mr. Trump appears to hold his greatest strength among people like these — registered Democrats who identify as Republican leaners — with 43 percent of their support . . .”

    “His strength in the South is blunted only by Ted Cruz in Texas and Mike Huckabee in Arkansas . . . Mr. Trump fares well in Florida despite the political histories of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the state.”

    “Mr. Trump’s strength fades as one heads west. Nearly all of his weakest states — 16 of his worst 19 — lie west of the Mississippi.”

    So lets apply that to the electoral results. Here are the 5 closest states by vote % won by Obama in 2012, along with the number of electoral college delegates they each have:

    FL (29 EC votes)- D: 50.1% R: 49.1%
    OH (18 EC votes)- D: 50.1% R: 48.2%
    VA (13 EC votes)- D: 50.8% R: 47.8%
    CO (9 EC votes)- D: 51.2% R: 46.5%
    PA (20 EC votes)- D: 52.0% R: 46.8%

    *Romney received 206 EC votes in 2012 and Obama got 332, with 270 needed to win.
    *Looking at the figures above, all but PA were decided within a 5% margin, and PA was 5.4%.
    *All of the remaining states that went for Obama did so by significantly larger margins-at least 7%.
    *Only one Romney state was even close to a 5% margin, and that was NC (51% to 48%).

    1. First, the easy question. Is HRC likely to win NC? No. Being in the southeast and having a large number of D-registered voters that lean republican, I’m guessing that if anything the republicans increase their margin of victory in NC for 2016.

    2. Now the hard question: Can DT pick up enough EC votes to win?
    -2(a). Given his trouble in western states, I don’t think he wins CO. This means that he must win FL, because PA, OH, and VA don’t get him to 270.
    -2(b). Given his success in the south, I think he wins FL. My probability: 80% (He’s kicking Rubio’s ass there:
    -2(c). If he wins FL, can he win OH and PA? (VA, with 13 EC votes, doesn’t get him to 270 w/o CO.) Yes, I think there’s at least a 50% chance of that.

    So 80% times 50% means 40% chance of winning.


    I used to think that as a candidate in the general election Trump would be unelectable, and maybe if the President was truly elected by popular vote rather than the electoral college he would be. But as things stand I think he is likely to do better than Romney, and has a decent shot of winning. As someone who believes that trump is a bigoted facist, this is concerning.

    (Also, this opens up the possibility, however slight, that the Future of the Free World may rest in the hands of the Scalzi household. We already sent the time traveler back for Scalia, John. You have to hold Ohio.)

  148. My take is that Trump is the Paul Muad’Dib (from Frank Herbert’s Dune series) for the Republicans. He’s the eventual goal, but he’s come one cycle too early, and isn’t the empty suit they were planning to promote. The Kwisatz Haderach, but a generation too early.

  149. My take is that Trump is the Paul Muad’Dib (from Frank Herbert’s Dune series) for the Republicans. He’s the eventual goal, but he’s come one cycle too early, and isn’t the empty suit they were planning to promote. The Kwisatz Haderach, but a generation too early

    Er…you really didn’t read the rest of the comments, did you? (Comparison already made, at length).

  150. In a Trump/Clinton race, a fervent Cruz supporter is not going to vote for Clinton. The GOP may not unite comfortably behind Trump but it can unanimously agree that he’s better than Clinton. Speculation of a three person race is just pundits giving themselves something to talk about. Assuming the GOP recalls the election of 1912, it will not field a third candidate for the national election. Trump is driving record primary turnouts which, as we saw in 2008, carries through to the election. Americans are frustrated and Trump & Sanders offer a confrontational attitude. Now that Sanders is all but finished, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them go for Clinton, how many stay home, and how many vote for Trump (although some will do it in secret lest they out themselves to their liberal friends.)

    Most critical will be Trump’s VP selection. McCain picked up 15 points in 2008 (34-49) by adding Palin to the ticket, and though she has her faults, she brought in moderate women and rallied conservative women and men. If Haley hadn’t endorsed Rubio, she would’ve fit the bill nicely. It will be interesting to see who Trump picks; I think it could decide the election.

  151. Independent voter here, who left the GOP in 2006 primarily due to the stance on climate change. Everything one needs to know about Trump’s lack of veracity as a candidate is in his history and one doesn’t have to look too hard. In addition to his divisiveness, I am also concerned over his flippancy with the truth, with saying he has only been truthful 24% of the time as of year-end based on their adjudicated statements. So, it would be correct to say he has lied over 3/4 of the time, but he doesn’t seem to care not do his followers.

    With that said, as horrible and dangerous a president as he would be (these are the words of fellow Republicans), he would be better than Cruz who believes his own rhetoric. Cruz cannot be a solution as he represents the problem. He singlehandedly almost caused the US to default on its debts and it took ten female senators to tell him to get out of the pool.

    To me, the best GOP candidate is about to the leave the race in John Kasich. He actually understands climate change is a problem and has a good yes record of collaboration and financial stewardship. Unfortunately, Rubio is like the guy who walks into the party and does not know which group to join. He threw away his advantages early on and he is trying to mudwrestle with Trump, a fight he cannot win.

    Sorry to wax on, but GOP folks better get used to the tidal wave which is Trump and hopefully he can be stopped in the general election. They waited too long to correctly criticize his candidacy. Good post. Keith

  152. to jenkoudelka’s comment “Maybe this is just my mid-twenties wake up call and everyone goes through it, but I really thought our country was better than this.”

    I’m old enough to be your grandparent, and I thought the same thing. I also thought it was just plain smarter than this. Yes, even the Tea Party bats. I would have bet a house in coastal California against Drumpf ever being seen as more than a failed buffoon.

  153. McCain picked up 15 points in 2008 (34-49) by adding Palin to the ticket

    McCain’s polling average on August 28, 2008 was 44% to Obama’s 47%. On August 30, 2008, the day after he announced Palin as his pick, the average was? 44 to 47. His final average on the day before the election? 44. His actual vote in the election? 46.

    So, no.

  154. Trump supporters conflate their economic malaise with demographic diversity, although the two are orthagonal to each other.

    Their economic malaise is caused by the GOP’s long-standing strategy of giving corporate entities free rein to export jobs and import products without economic consequences. Cheap electronics and other trade goods notwithstanding, free trade across transnational borders is not for the benefit of consumers, but rather for the benefit of corporate entities who increase profits via reduction in costs due to labor arbitrage. Adam Smith’s invisible hand was conceived as existing within a national border, and not performing labor arbitrage across borders, and both free-market fundamentalists and free-trade supporters willfully misrepresent Smith’s idea to support the idea of leveraging the delta between labor costs across transnational borders.
    TL;DR = tariffs across transnational borders are good bc they act as a check on multinational corporate power.

    The demographic changes in the US are not undermining US jobs, particularly. The jobs supposedly taken by immigrants from across the southern border have traditionally been done by…..people from across the southern border or slaves. This has been going on since white americans settled in this land – slaves and cheap labor. There’s nothing at all new about cheap-labor capitalism using slaves and poorly-paid mexican immigrants to perform arduous agricultural or factory work either by threat of coercive violence or starvation wages. Once again, it’s a form of labor arbitrage – the cheaper the cost of labor, the greater the relative profit. Such thinking assumes an artificially affluent market which is demographically and socially separate from the labor market; this assumption, seldom stated, has lost cachet in recent years as it’s become clear that consumption from all sectors, including the working poor, drives the economy far more than concentrations of wealth.

    Immigrants from all parts of the world also disproportionately start businesses, which is ignored by the GOP, which paints itself as pro-business but is actually pro-business-if-it’s-run-by-the-right-kind-of-people. Immigrant-run businesses employ people – just not the people who see themselves as having first pick of jobs. And, if you listen to some of the older white people where I am (northern CA), the ignominy of working for someone who is an immigrant is taken for granted – and it’s worse in the South, which I visit on business quite a bit.

    I think that the Trump phenomena has a lot less to do with white americans losing ground to immigrants than white american resentment at not being granted primacy, the head of the line, and first fruits of the harvest based on no criteria other than their whiteness. It’s interesting how ‘meritocracy,’ long defined by the white elite as their exclusive province, becomes ‘tokenism’ when non-white people display as much or more ability than their white counterparts.

    So the stormtrumper rage stems from economic disenfranchisement by corporate entities, but via cognitive dissonance gets blamed on demographic changes. It’s probable that the heavy injection of religion and the lack of critical thinking skills among the right wing enable this kind of cognitive dissonance, too…..

    But try telling a Trump supporter that; you’ll be denounced as a ‘goddamn librul’ or worse.

  155. @Greg

    I tend to see a difference between the ‘tactical voting’ in basically voting between the top two candidates or voting for your preferred candidate in the other party’s primary because you are basically happy with your party’s options, and ‘tactical voting’ in ‘let’s see how bad of a Republican I can get the party to support’.

    Like the first two are ‘hacks’ to deal with the fact we don’t have preferential voting. The third is a lot more likely to backfire if Terrible Candidate has genuine supporters (as Trump does). All of those folks who voted for him in the primary won’t go away, and I start to think that a lot of the voters who didn’t support him won’t cross the aisle in the general, because the Republican party has spent decades demonizing Hillary Clinton in specific and socialism in general.

  156. Candidate Trump now looks probable. President Trump is still a long shot.

    Jason Gilbert asks the right question: Which states could Trump win in the general election? But I disagree with his conclusions.

    Trump’s polling in the Florida Republican primary is irrelevant, because registered Republicans make up only 38% of the Florida electorate. If Trump wins 50% of the primary vote, that’s very nice for him, but it translates to only 19% in the general.

    To win the presidency, Trump would need to reach out beyond his core supporters in the ignorant-white-male demographic. It is highly doubtful he can do so. He would need to win multiple states which Obama won twice; and Obama was up against a united GOP, relatively moderate opponents, and a Republican Hate Machine set to maximum.

    Trump has been so grossly offensive to Latino voters that it may put Texas and Arizona in play for the Democrats. Moreover, he’s divisive among Republicans. For every one who thinks “Trump, hell yeah!”, another will be disgusted enough to stay home or even vote for Clinton.

    Of course the Democrats should not be complacent, but if they run a competent campaign, Clinton should be able to destroy Trump.

  157. John, I love you man; but speaking as a black American I see this:

    The Republicans invited disaffected segregationists into their party post ’64; their saint, Ron Reagan, launched his bid for President in Neshoba County Mississippi on a platform of “states rights”– and won.

    Now those neo-Confederates (because that’s truly what they were and still are) have taken control of the Republican Party.

    The simple definitions are these:

    The Democrat Party is the party of minorities.

    The Republican Party is the party of the white man.

    The majority of white Americans will vote Republican because they’re white, and the majority of those voters are fully vested in preserving white supremacy.

    Drumpf is succeeding simply by making that explicit.

  158. “I think that the Trump phenomena has a lot less to do with white americans losing ground to immigrants than white american resentment at not being granted primacy, the head of the line, and first fruits of the harvest based on no criteria other than their whiteness. It’s interesting how ‘meritocracy,’ long defined by the white elite as their exclusive province, becomes ‘tokenism’ when non-white people display as much or more ability than their white counterparts.” –Meh

    Dude, you got that exactly right.

  159. As a Canadian, I’ve always hated the expression you used, ‘Leader of the Free world’. Leader of the largest military, sure. Incredibly influential in world politics and economy, yup. But not my leader, and not the leader of the many free countries around the globe. Also, Trump is a horrific personification of all that is wrong with American politics.

  160. Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative has an interesting point: this is what a working class revolution looks like in relatively slow motion (I’m paraphrasing). Reagan Democrats 30 years later watching all their gains disappearing, their kids’ futures dissipating, the world situation in general looking scary (according to Fox News). And blaming others for the problem rather than rewarding realistic thinking.

    Trump is tapping into that impatience with the complications of the world. He’s going to just pound the table and make other countries do what we want – somehow. Or he’ll threaten them because we’re a superpower and therefore super powerful. And if the immigrants would just go away then all the jobs would reappear – but let’s not look too closely at the effects of automation on the disappearance of working class jobs from 30 years ago. And black people should just shut up already, there are more important issues to deal with.

    It’s a fired-up voter base looking for someone to hurt as badly as it sees itself as being hurt. And if Trump is lucky, he’ll lose. Because if he becomes President, and when (not “if”) he can’t deliver, then we could see some isolated but intense outbreaks of violence. These people do not handle the concept of abstract forces well; for them, there is always someone to blame because they’re traitorous or evil or whatever.

  161. Everyone is talking about how Trump is the chickens coming home to roost for the party that exploited demagoguery for so long. It’s also however a case of them not putting together an alternative platform. What’s Rubio got besides deregulation and unfunded tax cuts? Oh he hates obamacare but has no replacement.

    Clinton is able to go toe to toe with Sanders in a fight because she stands for something. The entire democratic party has an agenda and a set of ideals they are trying to advance. So Sanders and Clinton supports can have an honest disagreement between his ideals and her conventional agenda but both of them are selling something.

    The republicans on the other hand dont have anything to sell. They want people to vote for Rubio because he isn’t Trump and he isn’t a democrat. There’s no pitch. They say Trump isn’t a substantive candidate but they haven’t put a substantive candidate up.

  162. I’d go one further by saying “Ted Cruz, is an odious fistula that walks the earth in (loose fitting) human skin.”

  163. @marcel proust: Thank you for the correction. As a bit of a Civil War nerd (that’s American Civil War for all you Brits out there), I’m completely embarrassed and chagrined to have completely forgotten the Reconstruction Era. Maybe I’m a closet Rebel sympathizer.

  164. Bonus points for using “bless their hearts” in the correct Southern manner. :)

  165. Honestly, a lot of us on the left don’t have any real preference about the GOP’s eventual nominee.

    Except maybe “none of the above”.

    And the fact is, after all the years and years of bullshit disseminated by big time bullshitters like Limbaugh, Beck and O’Reilly, you guys having a big time bullshitter as your nominee seems like a very good fit.

  166. Becca, I agree those two types of tactical voting are different. I was specifically targetting the notion that “Tactical voting only ever ends in tears anyway”.

    That is saying one should always vote for your one favorite candidate, even if it is a write in for a presidential election. That is someone trying to justify a temper tantrum, if I cant have exactly what I want, then voting for any thing else is indistinguishable from voting for pure evil so fuck you all.

    It is the same attitude behind the meme that says “teenagers, cant stand your parents? Move outx get a job, and pay your bills while you still know everything.” Except now we are talking to people old enough to vote but dumb enough to be incapable of math.

  167. @David + John Scalzi

    I wrote, that the present system is surely preventing a new fascist dictatorship. The rightists screaming to stop immigration i.e. provides a desired big opportunity for another push of the much wider spread politically correct. That is WHY “the zionists are rubbing their hands in glee”. If this seems illogical, then only because politics IS illogical.


    If you read my comment carefully, you notice that I wrote about the “american spirit which m a d e this nation great.”, not “which is making this nation great”. Do you spot the difference?
    In the same comment, I made the case that this greatness is being whittled down by the postwar progressives.
    (Mr.Scalzi’s “waving of the mallet” is a tiny little prove of the symptomes).

  168. Welcome back to solid ground, John–I’m glad you and your family had a nice vacacation!

    I have voted Democrat in every national and most local elections since 1986—until yesterday, when I voted for Trump in the open Virginia primary. Do I want him to be President? Heck no!!!

    The DNC is almost as messed up as the RNC. Personally, I really like Hillary–A LOT! I think she will be a fine President, if she gets the opportunity. But as someone earlier in the thread pointed out, Hillary’s “Unfavorable” ratings are even higher than Donald Trumps “Unfavorable” ratings among non-supporters.

    I voted “Trump” because I didn’t feel a vote for Hillary OR Bernie would have much impact–I could have stayed home and watched Hillary win Virginia. I feel Trump is the candidate Hillary can most likely beat–though I am only moderately confident/hopeful of that outcome. I think either Cruz or Rubio would have a better chance at rallying Republican Establishment support and beating Hillary–and I absolutely can’t stand either of those guys!!! At least Trump is entertaining. And he actually is a very smart man, even if he is a total jerk. Hopefully if he wins, he won’t damage national security by doing something really stupid. He is a largely unknown entity–maybe he won’t be so bad–but Cruz and Rubio ARE known entities–and I firmly believe either would do a lotta damage to our country if given the opportunity!!

    Side note–Rubio did pretty well here in Virginia. Local news in Northern Virginia reported that lots of Democrat voters were voting for Rubio against Trump–I think that was a mistake, we gave him a strong 2nd place finish and some delegates–alas. Dems ARE SCARED around here–and voted not because they wanted to “save the RNC” but because we’re afraid Hillary may be a long shot, and Rubio seemed the lesser of the three Republican evils.

    I agree the RNC has been broken a long time–but seriously, what are the Dems thinking to put up Hillary as our most likely candidate? Come on, Sanders can not be a serious candidate. Seems like a nice guy, but around the Washington Beltway, “Liberal” remains a shameful, dirty epithet. This is an affluent, well-educated populace, mind you. We may not be a enlightened as folks in Boulder CO, California, Massachusetts, or Vermont, but we are generally more “progressive” in our thinking than most of the country. If “liberal” is a dirty word–what is real, true-blue “Socialist”? Come on, did anyone in the DNC think we could slide an actual Socialist into the election and no one would notice? Hello?!

    Incidentally, I am half Swedish and half Jewish–if anyone should be a Bernie supporter, it’s me. But putting Bernie out as frontman just gives conservatives the most ridiculous target to shoot at.

    But Hillary? Just as bad (even though I like her). I’ve been forced to listen to conspiracy theories (Vince Foster, Whitewater, Travelgate, crazy lesbian sex and drug orgies, Benghazi cover ups, classified email b.s., etc) for 20 years. Is all this stupid, unfair, mostly unsubstantiated slander and libel against her absolutely unfair and misogynist? YES IT IS. But I’m telling you–the average “conservatives”, even the ones with college degrees and more than 3 brain cells email these “stories” about her back and forth to each other. They LOVE Hillary bashing. They have BRAINWASHED themselves into believing these conspiracy myths. They HATE her. I mean, HATE her. Like they get red in the face, hyperventilate, and suddenly look like they’ve contracted rabies when her name comes up. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s the situation on the ground as I see it.

    There are a lot of Americans who HATE Hillary as much or more than you HATE the three Republican Stooges.

    I expect some response that the Right would feel or respond that way to ANY Dem candidate, but no–they would not. They have been honing their Hillary Hatred for two decades. The Hatred is real, even if there is no true substance behind it.

    It is unfair. But Hillary should have “taken one for the team” and sat it out. She is almost unelectable in my opinion.

    But with such horrible choices on the right, this should have been the EASIEST election for Dems to win, EVER!! Practically “a gimme”. Couldn’t we get a more viable candidate to run than Hillary or the registered Socialist? Is our party so messed up we couldn’t find a single viable candidate? What the heck!!

    In case you are wondering, I am female. And proud to be feminist. And I will be going door to door and working phonebanks for Hillary just like I did for Obama come general election time. But I am very discouraged that my party has chosen it’s nominations so poorly. Maybe we’re not MORALLY or ETHICALLY broken in the same sense the Republicans are, but something is very wrong with my party nonetheless when we couldn’t find just one sharp, clean, presentable, non-socialist candidate to represent us in the national elections.

  169. @Magda: how is this a working-class revolution? Trump is not advocating for the interests of the working class in any way. It’s a show of anger by people who feel disenfranchised, which certainly includes a lot of poor and working-class people who see a Trump vote as sticking it to the Man. But a spite vote does nothing to help the working class.

  170. Because it’s so clearly race based. It’s only a working class revolution if it’s NOT restricted to working class whites.

  171. I’m amused at the implication that there’s some kind of checklist of signs that something is or isn’t a bona fide WCR.

  172. Magda, you’re amused that specific words have specific meanings and people expect you to follow those meanings? Trump is not leading a working class revolution. From wikipedia: A proletarian revolution is a social revolution in which the working class attempts to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

    Trump is the bourgeoisie. He’s obnoxious, rich, thinks he’s entitled to everything, think’s he’s better than everyone, and is entirely inept but keeps his influence because he had family money to fall back on. Trump is leading his followers to Oligarchy, almost the exact opposite of a worker’s revolution.

  173. I think that overthrowing the internal Republican bourgeoisie is just what a lot of Trump followers want. McCarthy’s theme is that these are the remnants of the Reagan Democrats, blue-collar Reagan supporters who saw the Democrats as representing only the “other” in politics in the 1980’s. And this is what an American WCR would look like: personalizing the situation by blaming “others” for their problems rather than impersonal economic trends; demanding sweeping actions that will produce instant change (deport all illegal immigrants right now!) without thinking who’s hiring illegal immigrants in the first place; and – most important – looking to another rich guy to solve everything because they know he identifies with them since he’s telling it like it is.

    What amuses me is the suggestion that there is a WCR checklist that is immutable from one country and one century to another. In other western countries the working class went socialist/social democratic/communist in its political histories; here the working class went Republican. We do things differently here.

  174. When I went looking to see if the working class actually votes Republican, I found a lot of conflicting information. Some people are using a college degree, rather than income or job type, as the standard for class identification. Some people are saying “working class” in the headline, but then refining this to “lower middle class” votes Republican in the body of the text. And of course all people are restricting these analyses to white working class voters.

    One thing people do agree on is the really, real poor, white or black, support Democrats, though they tend to have depressed voting turnout for any number of reasons.

    Magda, on the one hand I agree with you that a working class revolution can push right rather than left. On the other hand, the history of the American working class is variable as is the history in other western countries. I doubt that the BNP or UKIP are considered all that posh in Britain. Ditto for other nations.

  175. “Hillary’s “Unfavorable” ratings are even higher than Donald Trumps “Unfavorable” ratings among non-supporters”
    Recent poll showed the opposite is true.

  176. I’m at work and no longer have time to deal with this. Daniel McCarthy made some good observations about what’s motivating a good portion of Trump’s supporters – total panic over their economic situation in free-fall since the 1980’s – who are in typical American fashion lashing out at the “others” who are responsible for it all. And they’re increasingly vicious as they’re increasingly scared. They’ll never vote for a Democrat because the Democrats are the party of the “others”. To these people Trump is a winner and he’s going to be a winner for them. All the criticism people throw at Trump simply confirms this belief for them.

    It’s going to be interesting how the non-Republican public responds to this in a general election. I would hope that Trump would be crushed. But that’s what people said about his candidacy for the nomination.

  177. @PrivateIron: the idea that “the working class votes Republican” is, as your research shows, a ridiculous oversimplification, and also assumes that “the working class” votes in party lockstep for every candidate. (It also makes the error of assuming that the D/R split on issues is always universally polarized; look at John Dingell, a Democrat who reigned for decades as a socially conservative, pro-gun, pro-labor legislator.)

    While Magda apparently had only enough time to squeeze in one last comment before departing, I’m puzzled at her (or rather, McCarthy’s) conflation of anger among certain working-class and poor groups with a “working-class revolution” – as if a spite vote constitutes a “revolution”. Maybe that’s just my Rust Belt background talking, though. When I hear about a working-class revolution, I think of the mine wars in Appalachia, or the Battle of the Overpass; actual uprisings by working people to genuinely fight for their rights and to rebel against economic oppression. “Imma vote for this dude because he’s an asshole who pisses off The Man, even though he’s not gonna do anything for me” is hardly a revolutionary act.

  178. I’m on lunch. Mythago: McCarthy was dealing only with working class sentiment that went Republican DURING THE REAGAN YEARS. Sorry to YELL but he’s not discussing history any further back than that. And I too am from a rust belt background and a number of my extended family were Reagan Democrats. I find his comments totally believable.

  179. Ah yeah, Peter Beinart. A walking lab specimen supporting the hypothesis that once you get in the Beltway gasbag circle, the only way to fail is UP. Back when he was was cheerleading our glorious Iraq adventure he could have manned up and volunteered for the infantry. But I suppose that would have interfered with his precious career.

    A more interesting view comes from an adult, Bruce Bartlett. He voted for Trump in the VA primary precisely because he views the Casino Man as the lance that will finally burst the Republican Party poison sac. Sounds to me like a satisfying ballot to cast.

  180. Here is an interesting article: quotes from (very unlikely) Trump supporters about why they’re backing the man:

    To say that some of these people are confused is to be very charitable, but the undertone of anger at something in politics is quite real. Trump is the tool that will smash whatever particular something each of them is angry at.

    I said it before but if Trump is smart he’d better hope he loses because he could never come close to filling the expectations of his voters.

  181. If this novel thing (and the game thing and the screen writing thing) ever fails you there could be a very bright future in political commentary. You already write more cogent and entertaining pieces than 99.999% of the people stealing their income by writing political pieces today. But, of course, since there is not a single liberal allowed to write for any major news outlet today you might have to change your conclusions (see Biernart and Strain for examples of profitable positions).

  182. I think that most everyone in the media outlets, talk radio, and even the average “common person” is out of touch with the reasons why Trump is so popular. My opinion (theory, idea, image) is that the “common person” sees the establishment candidates as propped-up marionettes that are only there to do the bidding of the party and its donors. Trump’s messages, speeches, etc., resonate with the “common person”, even Dems and liberals in some cases from the ones I’ve spoken to.

    I have relatives (OK, in-laws) that always vote a straight Democratic ticket who are going to vote for Trump. They all voted for the current President and can’t stand his politics. Sorry, I digress. The reason that they state for liking Trump is all the same – “I (we) feel we finally have a John Wayne, trash-talking, self-funded, straight-shooting candidate that stands for (you can insert “with” for “for”) us.”

    Everyone I talk to locally loves this guy – GOP, Dems, it doesn’t matter. One of the biggest things that is repeated – “Trump will never bow and apologize to someone for our history”, with the second most repeated line I hear is “Trump isn’t going to take any s*** from any other country”. Oookayyy… What flavor Kool-Aid is that, precisely?


    Basically, everyone on both sides is in a “Throw the bum(s) out” attitude regarding Washington. Corruption, favoritsm, and just plain bloody-mindedness is occupying both parties. Most people backing Trump will tell you plainly that they are sick of “establishment Washington”. There are a lot of people in the US angry with the current government (while typing this, the NSA picked up my keystrokes and the black helicopters are already on their way to my location…)

    This is just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. I think that if a round of white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, doesn’t matter, male, female, doesn’t matter, non-establishment candidates would suddenly show up and run for office on solid, common-sense principles, we would probably have an entirely new Congress in six years.

    Having rambled on through this post, here’s the really scary part of Trump’s popularity that nobody seems to be picking up on:

    In or about 1935, another trash-talking agitator rose to power because he was seen as the anti-establishment candidate for his party that had a message that resonated with the “common person”. Not saying that Trump is another Adolf Hitler, just how blind people can be when they are in an angry, anti-establishment frame of mind. Beware…

    BTW, I’m an independent votor who will not be voting for any candidate running.

    John, your books have stirred me to finally begin writing. My wife has been after me for years to do so, and so I am…

  183. In the interest of being pedantic, that’s actually a pretty terrible description of how the National Socialists rose to power. Right wing extremists had been having hot and cold shooting wars with Communists since 1918. Hitler was not a one off personality; he was just the most “gifted” (and “least dead”) politician of a large group of similar people. And they were mostly supported, not vilified, by the traditional conservative types.

  184. Josh Marshall at TPM has a good article: The Great Betrayal. Basically, the Republicans can’t do anything about Trump because he’s basically their existing and past platforms dialed up to 11. They’d have to repudiate their past rhetoric. Summary quote:

    “…some of this is a product of “hate debt” and “nonsense debt” – building up wildly unrealistic expectations by over-promising and trading in an increasingly apocalyptic political rhetoric. But it’s not all that. Something this powerful, as we’ve discussed, isn’t just ginned up by political leaders. It runs much deeper. But again, the overreaching point is important: The narrative of ‘betrayal’ – at this volume and intensity – only makes sense if you are dealing with a chunk of the electorate with expectations that are deeply unrealistic in the context of conventional political action.

    That is a volatile situation when you’re talking about at least a quarter of the national electorate.

    That gets you Trump. It also gets you Ted Cruz. And it may get you worse still.”

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