Friday, January 22, 2016

Political Clone Wars

Oddly enough, this line of thought started with...Chris Christie! A friend of mine and I were trying to analyze Chris Christie's staying power in his 2016 run for he White House. Rhetorically, he had a few flourishes in the last debate, but on substance...not so much. And then it occurred to me, that a lot of what attracted people to Christie is what attracts them to Trump!

Remember what brought Christie to the national forefront? In 2010, in a series of town meetings, he stood up to the teachers' union, making them look greedy for demanding raises and refusing to pay a minimal 1.5% contribution to their healthcare costs, during hard economic times. He also accused the union of making "stupid" statements and told a number of people to sit down and shut up in public meetings if they didn't want to be civil.

It appeared that Governor Christie had a spine, was capable of standing up to the union and teachers who are only in it "for the children"and could speak his mind boldly, without fear of retribution. He  acted in a very atypical way for politicians. Politicians do not tell people to "shut up". Politicians tell people what they want to hear, but they are not rude to them, because there will be another race down the line, and they don't want to be perceived as mean or rude. There's always another race and they have something to lose. That's one of the things people liked about Christie. He'd tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.

That's one of the things you can do if you're fearless and are willing to accept the consequences, or you're term limited out and there are no more offices to run for, or...if you're independently wealthy and are not dependent on political office to maintain your livelihood.

Which got me to thinking, and here, some of our less enlightened brethren might accuse me of succumbing to conspiracy theories, but consider, a lot of the candidates who ran and lost in '08, ran again in '12. A lot of the candidates who ran and lost in '12 are running this year. Pays to keep your options open, don'tcha know? But, what is the downside for a Donald Trump? Trump was the epitome of liberal values and causes not that long ago, before he supposedly became a conservative. But what if he's just telling people what they want to hear? He hasn't spent years toiling in the fields of conservatism after his conversion, like Reagan did. How can anyone know for sure that the conservatism he suddenly professes is genuine and not simply tailor for sound bites?

Trump is very light on specifics other than, he's going to build a wall, make Mexico pay for it and "make America great again". When he's asked questions about foreign policy that he does not know the answer to, he blusters that he will surround himself with people who do know, and that he will know more than anyone come inauguration day. And I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

His political philosophy tends to be pragmatic rather than principled. After all, he's the "art of the deal" guy. Unfortunately, his deals seem to focus on the ends justifying the means. He wastes his time bragging about himself, denigrating his opponents and speaking in the vaguest of cliches.

And there are those, myself included who wonder about how genuine his conservatism is. Like Romney's "severe conservatism", Obama's "corpseman", we add Trump's quote from "Two Corinthians", as someone who may know the words but never heard the music.

Speaking of clones, what would you think of a candidate with very little political history, one who talks a good fight and tells people what they want to hear. A sort of "blank slate" that people could project all of their hope onto. Donald Trump? Or Barack Obama in 2008? (Or both??) It seems that conservatives are doing to Trump what liberals and moderates did to Obama in '08, projecting their ideal candidate onto a candidate promising solutions to all their problems and falling in love with their projection.

So, if Donald Trump, independently wealthy businessman, turns out to be not quite the campaigner in the general election, if he were to subtly throw the debates, turn out to be less than the conservative stalwart he claimed himself to be, what are you going to do to him? Not vote for him in four years? He won't be running for anything. Not watch his TV show or stay in his hotels? Most of us aren't doing that now. And if in January of 2017, developer Donald Trump were to have a new friend in the White House, wouldn't that be the art of making the ultimate deal??

For those of you who have become Trump's true believers: on what basis other than his rhetorical bombast, do you know that you can trust what he says?  And even if he is genuine, he has a record of saying whatever pops into his head, no matter how intemperate.  Is that the quality we look for in a president?

Our country has suffered for the last eight years because a guy who talked a good fight made a lot of promises and either couldn't or wouldn't deliver on them. The country cannot afford another.

See also:
Donald Trump and the Spending Cuts of Doom

Waiting for the Donald

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