I am not sure what kind of ground game Trump has. But it is impossible to go anywhere and not see people and billboards supporting him under the moniker of "Take America Back".
I am also not sure Trump can deliver anything he is promising. But let's put ourselves in his supporter's shoes.
It is too easy (and I am as wrong as any smarter pundit) to say that Trump represents only racists, misogynists, men, blue collar workers and non-educated voters. I have talked to a broad representation that supports Trump that doesn't fit that label. Let's call them the "unrecognized" Trump supporter. They are additive to the "recognized" Trump supporter.
Trump's unrecognized supporters have four things in common. They have been negatively impacted by globalization/computerization, immigration, federal regulation and/or don't understand economics.
Globalization/computerization/immigration/federal regulation has weakened the wages of many white collar workers and professionals.
May 22, 2016
I don't know if Trump will be elected president. I don't think any expert can either.
But if he wins, I can tell you why such a candidate won in 2016. And what will happen.
There are three major issues too many Americans have on their mind: wealth inequality, blaming the government for their social/economic disenfranchisement, and racism. All fall under cognitive dissonance. More on that later.
While no one can deny that the economy has recovered remarkably since 2008, it simply hasn't improved the majority of Americans economic way of life. This wealth disparity has been incubating since the 1980s. Ironically, this issue has now been brought to fore, because the economy was saved and people went back to work. But when they went back to work, median wages didn't increase. When the stock market returned to pre-2008 levels, IRA values didn't increase. It's analogous to having a heart attack, having the doctor save you, and resenting that your old life didn't change.
Washington is hated. But that opinion is hardly new. It's not like the majority of Americans track legislative bills and track nothing getting done. They may hear of gridlock. But ask most Americans who their legislative leaders are and most can't tell you; like some kind of Jay Leno street sketch. What they are really saying is "I am economically depressed and Washington must be part of the problem". Or "they earn a lot more than me and they don't have to accomplish anything like me".
And then there is good old racism. Racism never goes away. It might hide out during good times, but that train is always on time when things go bad. The first aspect of racism started with a reactionary element of Obama being elected twice. I have heard too many white people - who's lots in life are disappointing - expressing rage by the juxtaposition of an African American "making it" and they "have not". Then there is racism against American Muslims. Forget that 99.9% love being American, identify themselves as American, have the best assimilation of the world; since 9/11 there have been a handful of terrorism attacks and now people want them to be registered and tracked like the Jews under Hitler. Finally Mexican Americans. Forget that they pay more in taxes than benefits received, or that they do jobs that others are unwilling to do; they are to blame for taking your job or reducing your pay.
All three of these issues can be explained by the psychology of cognitive dissonance. This aspect of psychology refers to people trying to make sense of reality when they are uncomfortable. Cognitive dissonance leads to dissonance reductionism. A classic example of cognitive dissonance/reductionism is trying to lose weight. "I used to be skinny and now I am fat". One cognitive reduction is to changing behavior - eating habits. Another reduction is justifying behavior - I am allowed to cheat. The worst cognitive reduction is ignoring/denying behavior - it's not me, it's all the "stuff added by the man" to food today that's is the problem.
Although everyone has been told how and why the economy is changing, people are unwilling to change behavior (train for 21st century jobs); rather they engage in the worst cognitive reductionism - ignoring/denying behavior. "It's not my fault that I am not being paid as much as I want. It's due to other forces. Eliminate those forces and maybe I have a chance".
Today's cognitive dissonance maybe as great as it was in 1930's Germany and the US. It's not just about being poor, it's about why others are not. And how wide the disparity is. Both countries faced growing pressure that its elites ignored. After it was too late, no "expert" could see there were only two options and they were askew to status quo: socialism (US) or fascism (Germany).
Which brings me to the election of 2016 and why we all got it wrong and why we are still getting it wrong. The middle isn't holding. Status quo - established politicians regardless of their clear competencies - isn't what people with pitchforks want. The pitchforks want either an incompetent Sanders or an incompetent/authoritarian Trump. A Trump/Clinton battle will ultimately be decided by how many people are carrying pitchforks and those that are not.
Now let's look at how Trump has masterfully played this out. They called Hitler a buffoon too. Trump/Hitler? Racism card? Check. Misogynistic? Check. Smirking when supporters get out of control? Check. Blaming non-white people? Check. The world doesn't respect us? Check. Shock and awe vs. respectful dialog? Check.
With Sanders eventually taking his socialism hay away; all that's left is Trump/Fascism hay for all the pitchforks.
While I don't know how much Trump fascism is political vs. how much will be real; I can tell you from his politics what will happen quickly. And it's the order that matters, starting with #1 -
And when all the people who tried to solve their cognitive dissonance with cognitive reductionism of the worst kind, see the errors of their ways, it will be too late.
The reader might think Trump is a joke. I made the same mistake. Germany made the same mistake. Trump isn't a joke. His election is a real and perhaps likely possibility. Afterwards I believe that the narrative I have laid out, will be the one being written after the election. And while I hope I am wrong about its consequences; I am more afraid I am right.
May 16, 2016
The Obama administration has been derided for its response - economic sanctions - as Russia has been forced to promote nationalism due to declining personal economic conditions.
But the Obama administration - again has been derided - by focusing on the Pacific China seas.
Natural fossil fuel distribution isn't an American present danger; but electronic parts and computer manufacturing not flowing through the Pacific Ocean is a present danger.
As the Chinese economy slows, they will have to turn to nationalism. And their war making will not be land-based, but ocean based.
The template is already there. It's what Japan did in the 20th century. Steady accumulation of Pacific islands and a strong navy.
Forget what will seem as a quant Russian Cold War. Prepare for a more muscular and far more dangerous Chinese Pacific Ocean game of dominos.
May 13, 2016
African Americans have served in every war since the American Revolution with the largest per capita enlistment rates of all races.
General Washington, who was outmanned required more manpower than he had. His call-to-arms was the US Constitution, which African Americans believed - that all men are created equal - but afterwards it didn't happen.
They fought in large numbers during the Civil War. All it did was make them sharecroppers on Southern plantations and subject to lynching.
They fought bravely during both World Wars. While they were free in Europe, they returned to Jim Crow laws.
Truman did desegregate the military in Korea. But yet again they came back home to segregation.
LBJ did pass the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Act. But the truth of Vietnam was it allowed African Americans to fight the most, while white students got deferrals. Was LBJ the great emancipator; or did he game out what was needed to fight a long and deadly battle?
MLK was a milestone. But who remembers that he was killed for supporting garbage workers in Memphis; as more and more African Americans increasingly tuned him out.
Certainly the election of Barack Obama was a milestone. But the African American community is at best still economically and socially disenfranchised; and 2,000,000 African Americans are incarcerated.
The truth is that many drugs were once legal. They were and are used by the wealthy. Depressed people turn to drugs. Once they were made illegal, it allowed African Americans to be rounded up and sent to prison.
This is not just a white or black thing. Mexican Americans are rounded up for drugs. Poor white people are rounded up for using crack or crystal methamphetamine.
In the meantime - after all of the milestones - African Americans, Mexican Americans and poor white people are "housed" in the largest prisons in the world. Even if they didn't harm anyone, they still receive so large of sentences that they systemically break down the family structure and generations to come.
America is not only bifurcated by income - the haves and have nots - but by 21st century equivalent of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow laws.
Racism historically starts out by identification - "Blacks", "Wet backs" and "white trash". Step 2 is to make sure they are quarantined outside of places where the privileged don't have to come into contact with them. Step 3 is mass incarceration so there is no chance for the privileged to see them. And step 4 is execution (state planned or with the prison).
I wouldn't recommend FX's "The People Vs OJ Simpson". But Chris Darden - the African American and co-counsel for the prosecution - warned Johnny Cochran at the end, that all people would remember from the trial was his antics and it wouldn't change how African Americans are treated by the police.
Now some 20 years have gone by. And we still need a "blacks-matter movement".
Perhaps change is slower than I am saying. But I don't think so, Promises made from the Revolutionary War to Obama's historic election have NOT translated into the "land of freedom" we are so proud of saying.
You may have an idea that being an American is your proudest accomplishment. But surely the left-behind don't share that same pride.
May 11, 2016
Paul Ryan boldly said he is not ready to support Donald Trump Friday. People may say that Ryan has an agenda. I don't think so. I believe Ryan's only agenda is trying his best to keep the GOP united, sufficiently conservative and capable of proving to Americans they can pass legislation in Congress.
John Boehner fought the good fight. He was ripped apart by the a new dysfunctional radical conservatism movement called the Tea Party. He wisely handled this impossible job off to a younger man. Even today, after being SOTH for about 6 months, Ryan is still trying to figure out how to make a GOP-lead House functional. He is trying.
Paul Ryan is the youngest SOTH since the 19th century. He is the most important leader of the GOP. Because he knows its divisions and he can play the long game.
Today's GOP is a mix of business Republicans, conservatives who have an actual intellectual argument that the country is least served by a large federal government, a Tea Party with no actual intellectual argument other than obstructionism and now Trump-ism - anti-immigration, anything but conservatism (a strong Washington leader that is going to make the US "great again", misogynist and vulgar.
The first three groups are making the GOP fractured by Republican ideological disagreements. While Trump-ism is nothing short of a brand new GOP the other three groups can't accept.
His message to Trump is simple. So is McCain and Graham. "You will not accomplish anything in Washington unless you follow us. You think things didn't get done with Obama ... wait until you try to pass any legislation under Trump-ism".
Paul Ryan is not only the most important leader of the GOP; but he is the only hope for America.
May 7, 2016
May 3, 2016
I thought it was kinda funny. Someone sent me the following end-of-the-world/New York Building Ghostbuster conversation after Trump crushed it on Tuesday.
To his fans and his voters: you wanted him and now you have him.
I have read too many profile pieces on Trump that really haven't landed. But I would highly recommend the following -
There is more in the article. But I at least got a better sense of Trump the man and his history.
Which leaves us to the real question: What happens when the hated but overly known HRC attacks the hated but unknown Trump?
End times indeed.
April 29, 2016
"Trump rejects new adviser’s push to make him ‘presidential’""
Donald Trump is bristling at efforts to implement a more conventional presidential campaign strategy, and has expressed misgivings about the political guru behind them, Paul Manafort, for overstepping his bounds, multiple sources close to the campaign tell POLITICO.
Just a week lasted with Trump being "advised". Flip flopping an advisor with no power than a thug, to a seasoned advisor who now knows he has no power.
Donald Trump understands real estate. An American president can't master all the disciplines required. Little stuff, you know, like our armed forces and economics. That's why presidents build teams, cabinet officers and advisors. It is impossible to NOT imagine a Trump presidency where every day, for the next four years, all of his human resource drama will become mentally exhaustive.
On Monday, as he again mocked the idea of behaving in a more “presidential” manner at two rallies in Pennsylvania, Trump called John Kasich a “slob” after calling attention to his penchant for eating too much on the campaign trail and blasted him and Cruz, whom he called “an ass,” for “colluding” to stop him — every broadside delivered in his trademark vernacular and an implicit rebuke to those handlers looking to rein him in.
Lovely words Donald. Lincoln would be so proud.
Kasich is a slob? When's the last time you looked at your waist in the mirror?
Cruz "an ass". I guess high praise coming from you.
April 26, 2016
The majority of Americans are disgusted by Trump's rhetoric. His racial slurs - even the Koch brothers have denounced them - are deeply offensive. The culture of fear he has perpetuated - leading supporters to threaten delegates lives - is both revolting and unprecedented in the American democracy.
But the biggest reason you should be afraid of Donald Trump is he is unmoored due to his lack of taking advice and making decisions by himself.
The reality of being president is two fold: head of state and head of the executive branch. Being head of state requires someone to understand diplomacy. Being head of the executive branch requires someone who accepts the checks and balances of the US Constitution.
The odds of Trump as head of state causing international crises is 100%. But the odds of him facing impeachment is also 100%. He can "pivot" all he wants. But his narcissism - at 70 years old if elected - will drive him and the country into trouble. He can't help it.
For all Republicans and Democrats that believe he can't be elected think again. HRC has just a little bit less of an un-favorability than Trump. And a potential HRC indictment - be it real or be it used against her with billions of advertising - makes Trump's chance of victory even greater.
Most worrisome is that the GOP is starting to resign itself to the reality of a Trump nomination. All of the anti-Trump movements within the Republican party haven't worked as of yet.
So it is incumbent on the GOP to unite against Trump to save the nation. And it is incumbent on the rest of the state primaries - Democrats and Republicans - to vote for Cruz or Kasich. Please do it for the country.
April 24, 2016
I believe the odds are becoming greater and greater that the GOP will ultimately have to nominate Donald Trump. He may not get to the exact delegate count, but the rest of the primaries - sans Indiana - are in blue states (in NY 868,987 votes were cast in the Republican primary while 1,817,552 were cast in the Democratic primary).
This will leave the GOP with two options: a contested nomination that will expose all of its fissures OR letting Trump run and taking their chances. More and more the latter seems to be a GOP resignation than a GOP endorsement. A Trump presidential nomination - and I don't think anyone has thought about it - would allow all factions of the GOP to do what they want in individual races rather than run under a single GOP platform that no one can agree on.
Europe is worried about a Trump presidency. Reasons cited usually fall under his dangerous rhetoric and/or his isolationism. But I don't think those are the real reasons Europe is worried about Trump.
Rather I believe their fears follow the following logic: If racial and economic disfranchisement can drive the US to vote on nationalism; surely the state of Europe - terrorism and depressive economics - will be driven toward nationalism.
While the US knows of nationalism in the abstract, Europe knows the dangers of nationalism as a realism a generation removed.
April 21, 2016