On multiple occasions in my life, someone has asked me how I saw a situation. If I found the topic interesting, I generally offered my take on it. The inquirer has often blinked once or twice and retorted, “Well, that’s your opinion.” Well, you asked me what I think, whose opinion do you expect?
With that as a jumping off point, you perhaps didn’t even ask what I thought, but here it is…
The state of the parties
It is not looking good for either the Democrats or the Republicans on an organizational level. Both parties have found it amazingly difficult to orchestrate the 2016 primary season in the way they would have liked to. The difficulties are not completely alike, but in one facet, there is much in common, from the point of view of the party organizations: the electorate is not as docile as it might have been in the past. Both major parties are trying to weather large-scale rebellions on the part of voters, and impose an early, inexpensive, and harmonious end to the primary battles, the better (as is always expected) to unite the rank and file behind the establishment’s choice as its presidential candidate for Campaign 2016. Earth to campaign committees: not happening. Let’s look at each party for a little closer look at the cause or causes.
The amount of ink that was spilled in analysis of the Donald Trump phenomenon, its early success, and the reasons for its “inevitable” crash and burn was impressive. It was also off the mark. Trump continues to poll, if not well, at the very least better than any other of the Republican candidates. In two state contests thus far, he came in with a fairly strong second place finish in the Iowa caucuses, and a very strong (32 per cent, a plurality) finish in a multicandidate field in the first true balloting of the season, in New Hampshire.
Marco Rubio took a “strong” third place in Iowa, but sagged to fifth in New Hampshire, after a lackluster debate. Ted Cruz had a similarly muddled result, winning the Iowa caucus (though many would call that tainted, since they contend that Cruz used trickery to contend Dr. Ben Carson was about to quit). The only other candidate to make a notable splash was Ohio Governor John Kasich, though he did so only in New Hampshire, and was still far behind Trump.
Unless the party apparatus can stop Trump within the next month or so, it is not likely to be able to do so at all. This in spite of the appearance that the leading candidate knows practically nothing about foreign policy, and a lot of blowhard rhetoric about domestic policy. The only possibility of change of trajectory is that several candidates (Fiorina, Christie, Santorum, Huckabee) have thrown in the towel. Bush, Rubio, and Cruz continue to be the non-Trump possibilities, and Cruz is as unpopular with the party as Trump is. He also appears to be the second favorite with the rank and file.
Causing continuing consternation for the Republican elected officials is the fact that Trump has done as well as he has without the Republican party’s aid, both in moral support and in money. He can thus seemingly say whatever he wants to despite his ridiculous statements (deporting 11,000,000 foreigners, closing the borders to all Muslims, and lots of “winning,” whatever that means) with no consequences. What has been happening has been described as a “hostile takeover.”
What a mess. Those who identify as Democrats mostly favor Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, and Sanders is being fueled by millions of small donors while Mrs. Clinton is the darling of the Democratic poo-bahs, who seem to have promised her that if she and Bill Clinton would support Barack Obama in 2008, they would engineer her candidacy in 2016.
Frankly, the Democratic party is looking more and more like a stacked deck designed to arrive at a glorious celebration of Mrs. Clinton, but Senator Sanders didn’t get the memo. Oh! Wait…he’s never really been a Democrat, so no wonder. So Bernie took half of all the support among Iowa Democrats, but the party apparatus failed to reveal the whole canvas figures. Then he went to New Hampshire and finished with a margin of 22% over Hilary, but still gets no more delegates than she does. Sure there are logical explanations. There are explanations for everything–the problem is that many rank and file don’t believe them or have no respect for the explanations offered.
Meanwhile Sanders and Clinton squabble over who would be more effective at “standing up to Wall Street.” What a sterile debate, and probably other politicians would orchestrate a cower before moneyed interests at any rate.
Is it any wonder younger voters feel as if they’re calling futilely for help while the productive, “best years of their lives” burn on the bonfire of jobs exported offshore, and they can’t afford to buy houses, start families, and generally take their place in the American scheme of things and hope to find prosperity? And the political class continues to haggle over who fought more or earlier for civil rights 50 years ago?
And numbers of voters bluster (even mentally) about how “I could never vote for a __________________ (take your pick–non-Christian, woman, socialist, centrist, tool of Wall Street, etc.).”
Something is going to have to give. I have a feeling we are headed for a big surprise–a surprise on the order of Kennedy’s selection of Johnston for VP, or a surprisingly strong third party bid by someone I can’t even imagine at this point. Speaking of which…
For some reason, former New York City mayors have a history of getting the idea that they are naturals to become president. (John Lindsay, Rudy Giuliani, and maybe others.) This is somehow predicated on their idea that New York City is a microcosm of the country, 8,000,000 souls who reflect what 320,000,00 long for in terms of leadership. You follow that one if you want. It may happen, supposedly if Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, and supposedly it would be a third-party bid. One of the titans of Wall Street as the heir of the Roosevelts, Abe Lincoln, et. al. Ugh.