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« Right-wing populism in 2 minutes, 24 seconds | Main | My low regard is for those who hold the government in "such low regard" »

November 23, 2015

Comments

Peter G

You have hit incidentally on the major fault in parliamentary systems (that executive power is concentrated in a Prime Minister who may enjoy minority voter support) and your salvation in the American form of divided government. It is beginning to look like Trump is unstoppable. Having watched Trump previously lick multiple third rails in American politics (or things that were thought to be) with impunity and often positive results I did not hesitate to predict his fascist sentiments would likewise have positive results. Which is to say that I too notice when I am being hit over the head with a fact. Repeatedly.

Where my getting hit fails as a metaphor is that it is really more like a pleasant and gentle and never ending scalp massage. It is very much enjoyable. I can't imagine what it must be like for those Republican party stalwarts charged with running the next presidential election. In my imagination their massage features the use of an axe.

Bob

There have actually been 15 minority presidents:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781456.html

We only have 2 parties, but internally they're coalitions similar to those in parliamentary systems, just without specific party identities.

Bob

I'm not quite as optimistic about Duce Trump. "It can't happen here" has a hollow ring. Somewhere around 25-30% of voters are hopeless authoritarian followers. Some percentage of the remainder depend on the stresses society is under. The US is undergoing a transition period from the world's only real industrial force to something else, and many are losing out. "Traditional values" are also fading. You might have a lot more faith in the American character than it deserves.

Peter G

Oh I recognize that the electoral college plays a key roll in presidential elections. But under a basically two party system there is no way anyone can be elected president without broad support across a huge swath of the electorate. It need not be an absolute majority of voters but it will always be someone who comes very close to achieving that majority or more likely gets it. You'll never have an executive elected with thirty or even forty percent of the popular vote. This happens frequently in parliamentary systems like Canada's where Harper had a ten year run as Prime Minister on the strength of vote splitting among the other parties.

Trump has not a hope in hell of achieving that kind of support and the Republican party appears to have a similar level of hope in stopping him from becoming their candidate. Their best case scenario is that he somehow explodes but only like a neutron bomb leaving the infrastructure intact. What a delicious pickle they are in. They want to discourage Trump supporters from voting in the primary but then get them to vote en masse for one of the alternatives they clearly despise come the election. Me? I'd have already laid my King sideways on the board when presented with such a situation.

Bob

You should look at the link. Just in the 20th century Woodrow Wilson won with 41.8 in 1912, Nixon with 43.4 in 1968 and Bill Clinton with 43.0 in 1992.

Peter G

But Bob, his support while significant within the Republican party stops there. Carson is fading. Cruz is rising. But the party establishment wants neither as their candidate. Cruz may be the most despised candidate across the whole political spectrum in this election. I can't see how this can play out for the Republicans. Too many Republicans think the majority of the the Republican deep bench sucks. Which is a very rational perspective. They do.

Peter G

That would be my point. No candidate who tops out with such a low level of support within his party as Trump has a snowflake'a winning chance in hell of becoming a winning presidential candidate. Whoever wins must be broadly acceptable to the entire party's base. Even if they survive the primary process they become a Goldwater. The saving grace of a parliamentary system is that while whichever party gets the most seats secures the executive extremest nuts are unlikely to be selected for that job. Your comment immediately below about optimism is on point. I am quite optimistic that the likely Republican candidates at this point would likely result in a Goldwater reset. About time too.

Bob

That might be oversimplifying things. Supposedly the elite Republicans don't want an extremist because they want a better chance at winning the election. However, it at least seems a large percentage of elite Republicans are extremists themselves; Sheldon Adelson, the Kochs the "Freedom caucus" and several state governors for example. Why would they care if Trump won? How can we predict how frightened the general electorate will be by voting time?

Bob

His ceiling seems to have been rising steadily. The past doesn't always repeat itself. I don't think the American public is necessarily going to go fascist, but it's just not possible at this time to rule out a huge rightward reaction.

Peter G

It well might be an oversimplification but I suspect not. These amateur political ideologists are not exactly doing the Republicans a favor. Mostly they are giving them lots of barely controllable Superpac funds with which to hammer other Republicans. Something quite cool is happening now. The Liz Mair thing being cobbled together to hammer Trump is an LLC. It's not subject to FEC reporting requirements and its sources of funds need not be revealed to anyone. It won't be the last one either. Apparently the game is now serious enough that the tax advantages of meddling in politics can and must now be foregone. An LLC can't write off any of these expenses.

Why would they care whether Trump is the candidate or not? Downticket races put at risk because of a loopy choice for presidential candidate is a reasonable reason to care deeply I think. You could be right about an electoral stampede but I think it's a long shot.

Bob

Again, I'm not so sure. The Adelsons and Kochs don't depend on the general election for their power, they buy at the local level. The "Freedom caucus" is made up of wackos in safe districts. Some governors of purple states might care. In any event it's fun to know the Republicans are desperate at every level.

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