Good Pieces, Bad Pieces

With Donald J Trump in a commanding position on the eve of Super Tuesday, everyone is trying to explain to everyone else how the hell this could be happening. FiveThirtyEight dropped a small admission in their discussion of whether the Republican party is realigning:

Presidential elections already suffer from the problem of small sample sizes — one reason a lot of people, certainly including us, shouldn’t have been so dismissive of Trump’s chances early on.

But small sample size hardly covers the widespread dismissal of Trump by nearly everyone but cartoonist/blogger Scott Adams. Newt Gingrich recently blamed the media for rabidly covering and energizing Trump’s campaign – which is certainly part of it. At Barbarikon, Ali Minai discusses, What Donald Trump is doing to the Republican Party …. and may yet do to the Democrats, and lays the Trump phenomenon at the feet of the party itself:

For more than three decades, the Republican Party has been turning a large part of their electorate into a population of zombies who respond reliably to specific dog whistles, conspiracy theories and false memes come every election season. These triggers play on religious zeal, nationalism, suspicion of government power, fear of anarchy, economic insecurity, social anxieties, xenophobia, residual racism, and a host of other powerful emotions that exist in all societies. The so-called Republican elites have learned to exploit these emotions with finesse to win elections while, in fact, serving the interests of their paymasters in lofty mansions and corporate boardrooms. This project, implemented through so-called conservative “think” tanks, talk radio and Fox News with financial support from a few choice billionaires, has been wildly successful. It has allowed the Republican Party to hold the White House for most of the last thirty six years, and to claw their way back to power in Congress after a long exile.

The rabid nature of the Republicans is also certainly part of it, but given that there is a parallel outsider movement among liberals, one would have to look for some effect they share in common. That would be the flailing, disappearing middle class that the media has been loath to mention. Yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Greta van Susteren, she of the rigid face, thought that ordinary folk of both parties were so fed up with establishment politics that they were going for Hail Mary candidates.

Leave it to David Brooks, though, who in The Governing Cancer of Our Time tries to explain away the outsiders as inexperienced, narcissistic voters that want everything but don’t want to work for it:

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

I have stopped reading Brooks, but one of my Facebook theatre friends, a local politician herself, posted this article as a great explanation – whereupon my head exploded. Young people aren’t against politics, they are against corporate ownership of politicians. Right-wingers aren’t against politics, they are against politics that sends their jobs overseas and brings in guest workers that will work for food. Once again Brooks has pandered to the wealthy and comfortable – at the expense of their children and employees.


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