Trump’s Wild Card

Ever since Donald Trump entered the race last month, the Republican battle has been upended in a way no one would have predicted.  Although he is derided as a clown and a bozo in both the main stream media and in conservative media and Republican Party circles, his speech announcing his entry into the Presidential race I found strangely compelling, as did the rest of the world.Trump

But we apparently heard different things.  If you are a member of the mainstream media, or an establishment Republican, what you heard was this:

“I’m Donald Trump, I’m super rich, and I hate Mexicans.”

That’s not what I heard.  What I heard was a not very coherent, but rarely heard appeal to the working classes of both parties:

-The country is in serious trouble.

-We’ve gotten the short end of trade deals, particularly NAFTA but also with Japan and China.

-The US is being taken advantage of.

-Illegal immigration is hurting us, not helping us. It’s bringing in crime, drugs, and illegals are stealing jobs.

-GDP and Employment is dropping, and the labor participation rate is skyrocketing.

-We need to bring jobs back to this country.

-The whole world is laughing at us, and I’m going to change that.

If you hadn’t heard his official announcement, it’s understandable if you think his oversized media attention is due mostly as a result of his celebrity status and his entertaining take downs of other Republican candidates.  I’d urge you to listen to it.  Yes, being a celebrity is part of it, but what everyone is trying to obscure is that if you take his mish mash of statements and boil it down, it comes down to a very clear policy direction.

Economic Nationalism.

Economic Nationalism used to be a fairly common populist trend in US politics, but in a certain sense, both parties have abandoned working class issues in favor of establishment concerns.  The Democrats started to abandon the working class after the New Left take over that begin during the 1968 Democratic Convention.  They support Labor Unions, but not labor.  The Republicans picked up the language and culture of the working class beginning with Reagan, but never went beyond the cultural concerns.  At this point, neither the Democrats nor Republicans provide more than lip service to real working class issues.

So multibillionaire real estate heir Donald Trump sounds like a breath of working class fresh air compared to the platforms of all of the other candidates. Illegal immigration cuts directly into wage rates for the unskilled and semi skilled working classes of this country, yet both parties to various degrees continue to support the idea; Democrats because they are courting future voters, and Republicans because they are courting a current low wage workforce with no employment or legal rights.

Opening trade with China and the expansion of NAFTA has resulted in losses on the order of one million to 3.7 million US jobs. Combined with the real threat that automation poses to both low end and high end jobs, the future isn’t very bright for the average worker, and even less bright for those on the left hand side of the Bell Curve.

So with 16 Republican candidates and 4 Democratic ones, only Trump is highlighting, and addressing these working class anxieties.

Try as I might, I just can’t take Trump seriously as a Presidential Candidate.  He’s too much of narcissistic celebrity blowhard.  But he’s a blowhard that has shown the Republicans a path to winning in 2016.  A clever Republican candidate could cherry pick and refine some of Trump’s economic nationalism agenda into a ticket that would be attractive to working class voters in swing states.

Will that happen?  I think it’s not too likely.  Everything that Trump is for, the establishment Republican Party and its donor base opposes.  Otherwise there would be multiple legitimate Republican candidates running on this platform instead of just Trump.  For the Republicans, Santorum and Walker are just dancing on the edges of working class populism.  For the Democrats: just Jim Webb. Bernie Sanders, as an old time class warfare leftist, started out that way, but has been shaped and molded by the identity politics left that now runs the Democrats out of that mold.

So the future for Trump candidacy?  He’s not getting the Republican nomination.  I think ultimately it’s too much work for a job that pays too little.  But his influence could be positive on the Republican Party if they manage to learn from his success and see what worked and borrow from it.  More likely though, the Republicans would rather form a circular firing squad and go after any candidate who shows any signs of “Trumpism” in order to please the donor class, with the end result that the Republican donor class will have helped to elect a Democratic candidate in 2016.

Jeb Bush is Certifiable

Jeb Bush was in Iowa last week sticking his toe in the water to see if he really could win the general by losing the primary.  I have to give him credit; he’s willing to stick to unpopular positions, even if they are politically toxic.  He reiterated his support for Common Core, which is unpopular with some conservative activists, and opposed renewal fuel standards, which although they are not popular with Republicans in general, are popular in Iowa. So he’s not afraid to run against the grain. But I just can’t, in this or any other parallel universe, imagine Jeb Bush winning the Republican nomination.     Jeb Bush

David Frum wrote a piece in The Atlantic last month describing Bush as a Republican version of Obama in that they have created artificial identities to hide behind.  In Bush’s case, he is from a northeastern WASP family via Texas and now regards himself as an adopted Hispanic, speaking Spanish in the home, converting to Roman Catholicism, and moving to the Capital of Latin America, Miami.   He may be the Republican Obama, but that’s not really his problem.

I don’t think Jeb will be the nominee because:

Last name Bush. Dynasties don’t wear as well with Republicans as they do with Democrats. If Carolyn Kennedy threw her pill box shaped hat in the race, she would have a decent shot because…last name Kennedy. And this is even though she’s an incompetent who blew her chance to be appointed senator by being unable to talk in interviews. Hillary is the Democratic “front runner” now only because of dynasty.

His family is messed up.  His wife isn’t comfortable in English (probably because of the practice of speaking Spanish at home), She also has a shopping problem. All of his kids have been arrested at least once and his daughter was a drug addict.  Not exactly a picture perfect first family.

But the real clincher is that the only national issue Jeb is associated with is amnesty, which is unpopular with the base.  Now of course whoever does end up with the nomination will probably be pro amnesty too since any anti-amnesty candidate won’t be able to get the funds to run. Republican donors are as pro amnesty as Chuck Schumer. But the other candidates will be associated with other issues. Jeb won’t. And on that issue he looks vacillating and contradictory. As I have written about previously, he came out with a book in 2013 about amnesty in which he proposed not offering a path to citizenship. Since he had always supported amnesty with citizenship before, on day 1 of his book tour he was asked why he changed his mind, and he stammered and it turned out he hadn’t changed his mind at all. So the first day of his book tour he disavowed the central premise of the book he was trying to sell. That will come up over and over in 2016.

Of course, what Jeb was hoping for was that by the time 2016 rolled around, amnesty would have been a done deal, and he could have pointed to the book to say, “See? I was opposed to citizenship!” That would place him to the right of the actual policy. I think the odds look poor for that now.

As a governor he wasn’t bad and was pretty tight with the State dollar, however he didn’t have any input in Federal areas like immigration. Frum’s article does make a good case for the similarities between Jeb and Obama, but I think the real take away is that when it comes to immigration, Jeb is certifiable. He seems to have no other passions other than illegal immigrants. And it’s not even a logical obsession.  It’s actually more about preferring Latin Culture and people to the more Anglo variety that Jeb hails from.  How else to explain the illogic of wanting to grant people who illegally cross the border amnesty (who are mostly Hispanic), but deport people who actually entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas (and who are primarily not Hispanic)?   Never has an American politician been so blatant about replacing me and my family with someone else that he likes better. Bush is obviously carrying around some mental issues about his fellow Americans.

The Democrats are far more circumspect than this.

I hate to be one of those, “I’ll never vote for…” types who swear they’ll never vote if McCain/Romney/fill in the blank wins the nomination, but I think Jeb would actually be worse than any conceivable Democrat.  Except maybe Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, and even then, I’m not sure Gutiérrez is as obsessed with illegals as Jeb is.

 

 

Republicans Cannot Be Trusted On Immigration

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Senator Ted Cruz said last week, “I don’t trust Republicans.”

I agree.  Although Cruz was talking about budget negotiations, to me it applies to the issue of immigration more than any other issue.  That’s because so many Republicans are not only prepared to vote for amnesty, they are actively campaigning for it, even though it is not only damaging public policy, but damaging to those same Republican’s political futures.

At least with the Democrats, I perfectly understand their motivations for wanting amnesty, and frankly, from their perspective they seem totally logical to me.  It’s bad public policy for the nation, but its great political policy.  For the Democrats, out of a possible 11 million new voters 10 to 15 years from now, 9 million will vote for Democrats.  That’s enough to turn the rest of the Southwest, including Texas, deep blue.  Without Texas, the Republicans are no longer viable as a national party.

And from a policy perspective, that adds 11 million more citizens in which ¾ of them don’t even have a high school diploma and virtually none of them have the high tech skills required for the 21st century workplace.  That means most of them will live and die below the mean income level, and will be major consumers of social programs.  That’s voting gold for the Democrats.  The Democratic Party was never stronger as when FDR saw “one third of a nation, ill housed, ill clad, ill nourished.”  Importing millions to fill that gap helps create the very conditions of income inequality and widespread poverty that is the fertile ground for Democratic power.

But what do the Republicans get out of it?

That is the real head scratcher.  Of course there are some aspects of big business that do use unskilled and semi skilled labor that really like the downward push on working class wage rates that increased numbers of unskilled workers provide.  Certainly the Wall Street Journal Opinion page is filled with pro illegal immigration editorials.  But for most businesses interested in immigration, the demand isn’t for millions of unskilled workers but for hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, which current immigration law limits to a mere trickle.

Politically, it seems to make even less sense.  There isn’t any evidence that pro illegal immigration positions help Republican candidates.  A recent CIS study showed that Latinos in pro-immigration Republican Districts were no more likely to vote for Republicans than Latinos living in anti-illegal immigration Republican Districts.  Certainly it didn’t help Senator John McCain in his 2008 Presidential bid.  And of course, what is the political advantage of ensuring that your political party remains a minority party for the foreseeable future?

And yet…  Republicans, including conservatives, are falling all over each other to support the Gang of 8 bill.  Fox talker Sean Hannity even hosted a one hour special for Marco Rubio last Friday that did little more than pimp the bill with friendly “questions” and a generally pro bill agenda.  Hard as I try, I can’t see a rational reason to support this.  Bad public policy, bad political strategy… what am I missing?

My suspicion is that I’m not missing much, and that the real problem with Republicans is that they think they can buy Latino votes with the bribery that has proven so successful for the Democratic Party for decades. But the Democrats can’t be outbid.  There is no line that Republicans can draw that Democrats won’t cross to buy more votes.  Republicans were just as delusional in 1986 when they accepted a “one time’ amnesty with the promise that this would be the last one and that Latinos would now love Republicans.

Instead we lost California permanently.  Well, if Republicans regard Texas as an embarrassment they can’t wait to be rid of, they are well on their way.  The Democrats won’t be embarrassed by Texas at all once they own it.

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