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Never Trump

Written By: - Date published: 8:06 am, November 23rd, 2019 - 46 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, elections, Politics, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

In the world of United States Democrat Presidential candidate polling, Joe Biden is the standout and has been through 2019. So far we can trust the people on who they think most confidently gets rid of Trump.

While the impeachment Congress hearings and then probable Senate vote process continue, it is Joe Biden who will continue to suck the profile-oxygen out of the room from the other contenders of Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg (we don’t need to worry about anyone else). It is already dragging Warren’s tracking. This Trump-Ukraine debate effect will continue for months. Maybe if we didn’t have these impeachment hearings I wouldn’t have to argue as I do below, but that’s political fate.

There is tremendous momentum within the Democratic Party right now. In recent weeks they’ve flipped the governor’s seats for Kentucky and Louisiana, and won control of the Virginia state legislature. This builds on their 2018 gains. I’m not predicting that means Senate sets will necessarily flip as well, but the Dems they got the momentum.

They can still blow it.

Every Democrat wants Donald Trump out. Liberal or moderate, they know that’s the goal.

But none of the Democrats who made those massive wins this year embraced pie-in-the-sky ideas. Like “medicare-for-all” which is Bernie’s core pledge that he hammered down in the Democratic debate yesterday. Or Buttigieg’s political wonkery of abolishing the electoral college. Or even enacting the Green New Deal. Or calling for an abrupt end to fossil fuels.

The successful Democrats didn’t mention “Medicare for all”; they explained how they would control drug costs and keep protections for existing conditions. They didn’t offer free university (sorry, “college”), they were more generally on about fairness across the education spectrum. They went for suburban slogans like “fix the damn roads”.

What this approach stops is suck-you-down questions about how the big stuff will be done, how big stuff will be paid and taxed for, and whether such big stuff is ‘fair’ or not. No need for it.

Win first do big stuff second.

I have no problem with U.S. Presidents going big on policy ideas. Obama did great in tone and rule, but he went for just a couple of big policy ideas – one or two a term – and the rest well honestly the economy pretty much ran itself.

Democrats in the last year won otherwise unlikely districts and battleground states going for pretty everyday issues that honestly weren’t in the least bit radical.

If they want to win the Presidency it makes sense that they follow the pattern of how the Democrats have been winning, and do more of it.

Voters of almost all stripes want to vote against Trump. He’s remarkably unpopular, particularly with average unemployment at 3.7%. He divides the United States more than Nixon.

But he was divisive when he started and still won the presidency on a handful of states, and can still win again in the same route. Neither Trump nor the Democrats have enough core voters to get the win. So it’s going to come down to battleground states just like it did last time.

Warren and Sanders have the most to lose going for high-concept policy goals when the mainstream media really start to rinse them in the debates after the rest have dropped out as they will in the New Year. There’s no need for such vulnerability to lose to Trump again.

Plenty of Democrat pundits will advise to go more and more radical, and they populate most of the mainstream media. 

It’s true that the most consequential history is usually not driven by the centre. And the most popular and successful Democratic President in recent U.S. history – Bill Clinton – would quote the Bible and refer to himself as a “repairer of the breach”. That old rogue.

The candidate who will appeal the most this time is the one who can genuinely show they can repair the breach to the state of Trump, in all its forms. Whereas going radical on policy will appear remarkably similar to the radical disruption of Trump: unattractive.

A Democrat winner will spend their first term repairing the breach, and will only come up for air with big policy hits late in the first or early in the second of their terms – and only if they have crossover Republicans in the Senate as well.

Win, then after that propose their own radical stuff. That is pretty much the Obama and Bill recipe for success, worked for the Democrats for the last year; do more of that.

46 comments on “Never Trump ”

  1. KJT 1

    In other words, a repeat of don't scare the establishment, Chardonnay socialist non-policy that lost to Trump, last time!

  2. Dukeofurl 2

    Louisiana Governor wasnt a flip, he just was re-elected. As the office is limited to 2 terms it commonly alternates between Republican and democrat in the last decades. (or the Governor swapped parties ). Unlike other deep south states it has what is called 'jungle primary' for the first election with multiple democrats and republicans competing. then a runoff of 2 highest candidates occurs if the highest vote isnt 50% (that system has some elections for congress democrats (or republicans) are the only ones competing in highly gerrymandered boundaries.

    Example of 2nd district

    For your other point: "Warren and Sanders have the most to lose going for high-concept policy goals when the mainstream media really start to rinse them in the debates "

    The trouble with that view is from NZ , that commonly the MSM is the telescope you are looking through to see distant events and having a rose coloured filter of 'electability' as well will not provide a clear view.

    For a non MSM and diverse views of a 'community of democrats' try https://www.dailykos.com

  3. Booker 3

    " Or Buttigieg’s political wonkery of abolishing the electoral college "

    To be fair, that system is a complete mess and even John Oliver did a whole segment on how undemocratic it is, and that the democrats absolutely needed to abolish it before the next election came around (which hasn't happened). Or even in Stephen Colbert's interview with Jacinda he pulled out "Do you have an electoral college?" followed by "do you want ours?". It's the butt of jokes and a bad look for the party that tries to portray itself as the sane and rational choice.

    • Sanctuary 3.1

      "…" Or Buttigieg’s political wonkery of abolishing the electoral college "

      To be fair, that system is a complete mess and even John Oliver did a whole segment on how undemocratic it is…"

      Another excellent example of the sort of fantasy politics centrist establishment candidates like to parade in order to appear left(ish), when we all know who the real radicals are in this race.

    • McFlock 3.2

      The electoral college is constitutional.

      Which means 2/3 of both houses have to separately agree to change it. That's theoretically conceivable, at the extreme edge.

      Then 38 states have to agree, most of whom will be voting against their electoral interests. There are "theoretical possibilities", but I have no idea how to describe that particular proposal.

      • Dukeofurl 3.2.1

        I agree with you on unlikelyhood of it happening , even made more difficult by the non entity proposing it.

        The 27th amendment took 202 years to ratify while the 26th took 100 days

  4. soddenleaf 4

    So you think that Senators will vote to keep the corrupt practice of asking for favors against rivals by leveraging national security procurement contracts? As, like, they have always wanted to do to Democrat challengers, where would it stop? Sitting Democratic Senators… ..they don't want to pay for the witchhunt of a political foes, so put it on the foreign national to do. Yeah, and these foreigners invited to interfere in the U.S, not illegal now…

    I think the Senate will need to impeach him, but will decide to just stop him running for a second term, this ticks all the boxes and stresses how Trump is not owed a second term, not by the voters, or his party, or even the law. It's not a dictatorship.

    • Dukeofurl 4.1

      Senate cant stop Trump , or indeed anyone else for running for President (for a second term). Even if removed by the Senate , I dont see him even being stopped from running for President again.

      • soddenleaf 4.1.1

        Criminals can run for President, surely! Impeached is a crime, no?

        • Dukeofurl 4.1.1.1

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcee_Hastings

          He was impeached and removed from office as a federal judge ( they most common category) then ran for Congress and won where he still is .

          There doesnt seem to be bar to someone who is convicted of any crime from running for President

          But it seems this is what you are looking for and confirms your view

          Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, upon conviction in impeachment cases, the Senate has the option of disqualifying convicted individuals from holding federal office, including that of president

  5. Adrian Thornton 5

    Aahh Advantage, spoken like a died in the wool, full noise centrist liberal, reads almost like a text book on how to lose to Trump again…but then as has become obvious to anyone with half an interest in politics, the Neoliberal Freemarket center 'left' have shown again and again that they would rather lose to the Right than see any real progressive Left wing transformative project win.

    So in other words the third way centrists are so dogmatically tied to their own laissez-faire freemarket ideology, that they would rather watch the Right destroy the entire planet than lose their own path to power..and too think not long ago we were being told that centrist (Neoliberalism) was post ideology.. turns out these guys are dangerous extremist fundamentalists.

  6. Stuart Munro. 6

    Mealy-mouthed centrism sheds and discourages voters.

    Even if, like Obama, they won't do what they promise, people vote for Yes we can, and hope that some of it will happen. Be grateful for our non-performance doesn't have the same pull.

    I believe the argument is fallacious – it presented no difficulty for Labour to sell out its supporters and stampede to the Right chasing the strange elusive butterfly of freemarket monetarism – and there is no concrete evidence to suggest the converse is not equally possible.

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      You have clearly never read a Labour party manifesto before the last or any election. Where the sellout of its manifesto ?

      Its tiresome to hear the miniscule far left with tiny support complain about some 'lost revolution' or other irrelevant jargon…

      Isnt the Green party the great hope of the Socialist left, until they split them

      • Stuart Munro. 6.1.1

        Spare me – I am not nor was I ever far left.

        Point to the line in the manifesto that licensed Roger Douglas to do all that he did.

        I was a deepsea fisherman – more at sea than onshore – and my modest expectation of government was that they not steal everything while I was at work. Didn't work out that way. Never heard an apology for it though.

        • Dukeofurl 6.1.1.1

          30 years ago. Oh dear , half the population under 5 wasnt even born then.

          • Stuart Munro. 6.1.1.1.1

            A body long-buried still indicates a crime – don't expect to be congratulated for your moral flexibility.

            The fact remains that a pendulum that swings so rapidly to the right is not structurally constrained from swinging with equal speed to the left.

            One must find another ground on which to argue the necessity of centrism.

            • McFlock 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The fact remains that a pendulum that swings so rapidly to the right is not structurally constrained from swinging with equal speed to the left.

              Well, the defining mechanical impulse of a pendulum is actually towards the centre, so your analogy is flawed.

              But you're also comparing policies implemented via elected dictatorships and outright deception across the two major parties. The bulk of rogernomics was from 87, being followed up by the nats in 90. In 93 they were as bad as each other and the only real vote at that time was the switch to MMP.

              So now any government can lose its majority and the people who cross the floor lose almost nothing – they still have party structures at electorate and national level, they still have their party leader bonus, they don't lose funding, they basically just lose a minister's salary boost if they had it in the first place.

              It's a better system, but and because it means government policies need broader support than a few people plotting over fish and chips.

              • Stuart Munro.

                Well, the defining mechanical impulse of a pendulum is actually towards the centre, so your analogy is flawed.

                No, it's downward. Pendulums decay toward the centre only as they lose energy through friction.

                All I am pointing out is that claims of an inability to move left are palpably false. There are clearly other reasons that centrism is preferred, but for some reason these are not up for discussion.

                By all means let us see genuine arguments for 'centrism', but remember, the masses who have been impoverished or unhomed by it may not find them particularly convincing.

                • McFlock

                  Discussions about where a pendulum inevitably rests aside, you missed the bit where I pointed out that in 1993 we elected to have a system that essentially rules out a 1980s-level of change for most governments likely to form.

                  And it works. It moderates lab6 (via NZ1 conservatism), but it also moderated Shipley's government.

                  • Stuart Munro.

                    And it works.

                    That is a positional perception.

                    Those of us impoverished by illegal policies like the slave ships might differ.

                    • McFlock

                      It is an assumption (that people voted for MMP to remove the ability of individual governments to impose revolutionary change that was unsupported by the electorate) followed by an assessment of how well the objective in that assumption is being met by MMP.

                      Slave ships are no doubt an interesting discussion, but one separate to the debate as to whether revolutionary change of the scale of Lab4 is even possible for an MMP government.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      You're wriggling like Gosman.

                      You assert that swinging NZ's electoral pendulum well to the right, and pinning it there, without a public mandate, can be interpreted as something that "works", when the changes have resulted in the fastest growth in inequality in the OECD, and a precipitous decline in that core measure of societal wealth, home ownership.

                      Slave ships are interesting as a representative immorality, a kind of corruption characteristic of the self-styled "centrist" left. They will break the laws of NZ, and shit on the worst paid and hardest working New Zealanders, and expect to be praised for being progressive.

                      Epiphenomenal governments do not deserve praise – and a remotely adequate response to rising challenges such as AGW will require action very much on the scale of the execrable Douglas government – ineffectual flailing won't cut it.

                    • McFlock

                      Read the last few comments again.

                      MMP had nothing to do with lab4 "swinging the pendulum to the right". That was FPP that enabled a single party to govern with a 10% majority in the House. That's like Labour or National getting 73 seats today.

                      Today, if they're lucky, a governing party might get a majority by itself. Even then they'd be wise to compromise their policies in case someone in their caucus gets ill or something.

                      Which means that the era of a single party being in a position to implement its entire manifesto without compromise is gone, dead. That doesn't keep the pendulum to the right, it slows the swing over multiple elections. Because it might suck that Labour isn't a position to do more, but on the flipside imagine if dunnokeyo had been in a position to do everything he wanted. Half sales of remaining SOEs? Try closing down (or user pays then privatising) the public health system. We both know that's one of the things tories want to happen. Under FPP, the last lot would have been in a position to do it.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      Under FPP, the last lot would have been in a position to do it.

                      It's a negative virtue. Thirty years or more of neoliberalism mean that there is a great deal of work to be done by an active moderate left government.

                      Centrist crocodile tears don't correct the mass of systemic injustice that drives things like our exceptionally high suicide rate.

                      I want and expect more than negative virtues from government.

                      CGT is a good example – if that 'compromise', more properly described as an outright failure, is attributable to NZF, then Labour should have come out and plainly said so. Moreover, stating that a CGT is off the table for any subsequent terms was going too far – the measure has been recommended by every competent economic authority, and should not be off the table while it remains best practice.

                    • McFlock

                      if that 'compromise', more properly described as an outright failure, is attributable to NZF, then Labour should have come out and plainly said so.

                      Well, they left that to Cullen. Labour itself went with the obvious statement that they'd campaigned on a CGT for three elections and the voters didn't go for it.

                      Thirty years or more of neoliberalism mean that there is a great deal of work to be done by an active moderate left government.

                      Indeed. And when the people elect one, rather than a coalition that includes a conservative party, there will be more momentum for that work to be done more quickly.

                      But the point to MMP is that the nats didn't have as much momentum to go the other way, either. So whichever direction NZ goes in, the voters will be able to have input on it a couple of times along the way.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      The idea that the Brownian motion consequent upon the machinations various parties in any way reflects the genuine 'will of the people' is a convenient and no doubt pleasant fiction to MPs striving to avoid public accountability.

                    • McFlock

                      Nevertheless, Cullen said pretty much exactly what you said Labour would say if the CGT "failure" was attributable to NZ1.

                      So maybe the way the voters slice the cake does indeed have something to do with government policy.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      Maybe isn't good enough. The explanation on a matter of significant public interest like this ought to be explicit.

                      Otherwise voters are robbed of their input into policy, and amoral horsetrading is facilitated, to their disadvantage.

                    • McFlock

                      You set the test of significance.

                      Turns out that what you wanted said was said.

                      Now it's not good enough.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      I'm surprised frankly to see you leaping to the defense of fog of war in coalitions dealings.

                      Those decisions need to be made unequivocally visible and accountable to voters – or they will be traded away to covert funders of the kind responsible for the current NZF and Gnat funding scandals.

                    • McFlock

                      First they only had to say they weren't doing a specific policy because NZ1 opposed it. Turns out they did.

                      Now you're asking for some sort of document that details the terms of how the parties will act in the coalition that is possible based on the distribution of votes after the election?

                      Yeah, they did that, too.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      Riiiight. So you're saying the whole Tax Working Group thing was maskirova.

                      Funny, you pull that kind of shit and you lose people's trust forever.

                      You know, I didn't ask for specious excuses – I asked for clear and unequivocal – and that is not what we got.

                      And you wonder why people on the left can't trust Labour.

                    • McFlock

                      Dude, stop playing 4d chess and try basic English.

                      They did the coalition agreement. That's all the policies the parties take as a given.They did the working group. The working group came up with some ideas that were additional to the coalition agreement. NZ1 didn't like one of those ideas, so it didn't happen. And because NZ1 really don't like it, it probably won't happen in the near future. But because it's not in the coalition agreement, the parties can agree to disagree.

                      That's not deception. That's pretty straight-up and open.

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      Of course, your experience of political decisions may be more positive than mine – my professional life was sold down the river by this kind of sleazy horse trading and double dealing.

                      I insist on absolute clarity in this kind of deal. And fyi, I left the Greens over their failure to adopt a CGT. A while back, but still.

                    • McFlock

                      I probably have no more experience than you. But politics is about horse trading: it's compromise. No party is really able to implement their entire manifesto. But nobody knows their relative negotiating strength until after the election, either. And then most parties also have bottom lines that they will not be part of a government that implements/fails to implement those policies.

                      Most parties are pretty clear on where they stand on what principles (though the nats hate nz1 but still play hot and cold as to whether they'll go into coalition with him).

                      I think that over the years coalition agreements are maturing and becoming pretty explicit about what's inside the packet. I was surprised that Ardern ruled out a CGT in her tenure as pm, but I suspect/hope that that will be the result of an exit strategy to get out of the three-term doldrums: when time comes for her to call it quits, the new leader is automatically gifted a keystone policy to say the party has revitalised. But that last bit really is my optimism – I hope they've learned from 2008.

  7. AB 7

    Ignoring Biden's policy (and verbal) incoherence, as well as his terrible track record, and then nominating him, seems like the best way to lose to Trump. Trump is a vulgar criminal, but his rhetorical skills are dangerous. The US is such a deeply unequal place, where real snd prolonged human suffering is unleashed on millions, that to not embrace the Sanders programme seems like a personal moral failure.

  8. McFlock 8

    Policies aren't as important as style – often true, but definitely when it comes to dolt45. Otherwise the winning candidate last time wouldn't have been the one proposing a $25billion dollar wall that can be defeated by a ladder and rope, and had unclear financing allocation.

    Biden is prone to gaffes. That is a massive gift to the current fool, bigger than any policy announcement.

  9. NZJester 9

    The problem with the USA is the ability to legally bribe politicians is entrenched in place and the alternatives to the Republicans the Democrats have a lot of those who hold the power in that party beholden to their rich donors resisting the calls for things like Medicare for all as drug and insurance companies bribe them to ignore those calls. The Democrats have been slowly going to the right following the money and people like AOC who have tried to drag it back to the left are being demonized by the Democratic party leadership.

    At one point in US history, the Republican party was the shining light of America. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican Party member and the Democrats used to be the more racist of the two parties. At some point, the right took over the Republican party and it slowly became the party it is today While those of the left of the Republican Paty moved over to the Democratic Party. This was a very major shift.

    At one point we had a shift in the Labor party here in NZ where the likes of Rodger Douglas took the Labour party far too much to the right and this is what caused a lot of the problems we are dealing with today in New Zealand. A lot of people left Labour to form little parties like those that eventually formed into the Green Party. It is good that MMP gives those voices more sway over Labour party policies again.

    The National Party used to be a bit closer to the right of center but has drifted more to the right over the last few decades to the detriment to this country when they hold the treasury benches. Some of those who would have in the past been on the left-wing of the National Party are now instead joining the right-hand side of the Labour party trying to make it go back to the right again. This is something we need to resist.

  10. Ad 10

    Pretty weird that the Democrats find themselves in the same position as the Republicans did in 2016.

    How many candidates did they go through?

    Started off with Romney, then pretty much everyone with a purse and a pulse got their moment in the spotlight. They couldn't stomach Romney.

    Rick Perry of Texas withdrew before the Primaries, then Ben Carson popped up, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee among others …

    … then the media profile and campaign started on those with some heft: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz …

    Trump monstered them all.

    And here we are four years later with the Democrats having had four years for the party to get their shit together, and the place is just clogged with chance-free also-rans and probably going into Conference with a fully contested show even worse than last time.

    I'm no huge fan of Biden but if they get a late-running Bloomberg as the Dem ticket I wouldn't be surprised. Bloomberg is waiting for the Senate subpoena rejection to bleed Biden worse than Trump. Good chance of that.

    If Warren recovers to near-2nd in January I'll do a post on why she should make it rather than Biden or Bloomberg. Maybe she ends up as Vice-President ticket to Bloomberg (the brains behind Pa).

    • Dukeofurl 10.1

      Still have no idea how US politics works do you ?

      'Democrats having had four years for the party to get their shit together"

      Having the time before the primary season starts in earnest in Jan, with party sanctioned debates leading to an open process for the registered party members to see the contenders and vote IS how it works. Anyone can run for President is the american away, dont even have to 'belong' to the democratic party like Sanders was initially.

      Do you really think the DNC acts like the NZ national party and uses a 'blackball' to whittle down the candidates to the nomeklatura approved few ?

      • Ad 10.1.1

        And you can quit the patronizing crap right there.

        There are plenty of seasons in which either of the main parties in the US have boiled their choices down to two or three well before the main party gathering.

        In the 1984 Dem Convention it was down to three – and it was clear from the beginning that Mondale was going to get it.

        In 1988 Dukakis v Jackson was also pretty easy. No drama.

        The 1992 Convention was a total gimme for Clinton, and the Convention gave him a huge bounce.

        And the 1996 Convention was a foregone conclusion. Easy, and he was riding high.

        Same for 2000, with a unanimous vote for Gore.

        It was also overwhelming for Kerry in 2004 once Howard Dean made a couple of slip-ups in speeches.

        2016 was a mess, and there was no need for it.

        But 2019 is worse than that.

        The President is at the worst place in his presidency and there's still no unified candidate attack on him to shift the debate to the Dems' view of the political order.

        That is to say, in this season, even though the Dems have had a single overwhelming force to rally against, they really haven't. They are wasting months and months propping up minor egos with minor money and far too few have dropped out.

        They didn't need to be here like this.

        • Phil 10.1.1.1

          The 1992 Convention was a total gimme for Clinton, and the Convention gave him a huge bounce.

          Your factual grasp of this history is dubious, at best. In '92 Bill Clinton didn't win any of the first four states in the Democratic Primary, then managed only one win out of seven in the first 'super tuesday' of the season on March 3rd. It wasn't until a bunch of southern states voted a week later that Clinton's 'Comeback Kid' meme really cemented itself into the mind of the party. Even so, his final delegate count wildly understates that his campaign was teetering on the brink of collapse early on.

  11. Dukeofurl 11

    I dont mind doing your fact checking for you , but readers will draw there own conclusions about your claims.

    "2016 was a mess and no need ? "

    Heres an abbreviated list

    She who cant be named

    Bernie Sanders

    Martin O'Malley

    Lincoln Chafee

    Lawrence Lessig

    Jim Webb

    Plus these names which were on the ballots in at least 6 states

    Rocky De la Fuente

    Willie Wilson

    Keith Judd

    Michael Steinberg

    John Wolfe

    The facts say 11 candidates on that list plus droves of others on the ballot in a single state.

    Just also looking looking at 2004.
    Was it really overwhelming for Kerry with a bit part for Howard Dean ?
    There also was John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, Al Sharpton, Wesley Clarke, Carol Moseley Braun and Bob Graham with drew before the primaries.
    Check it out
    Wikipedia is your friend
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries#Candidates

    The primaries are of course a month or so away, but we are at similar stage with as they say ‘ a large cast’

    • Ad 11.1

      The problem with your ability to google or wiki is that it is a poor substitute for your inability to analyze.

      2016 Convention and immediate lead up was a mess for multiple reasons, which have been debated at length here and elsewhere.

      And as for 2004, there are fulsome analyses on how Dean fell when he got close in places and Kerry rose. No one else got close. And yes, if you look beyond google into the historical analysis, you'll find it was a two-horse race for a long time beforehand (NYT, NBC, Gallup and The Atlantic are all good places for you to peak beyond wikipedia into 2003-2004).

      The difference between a list and and an order is thinking.

      Thinking is your friend.

  12. Ad 12

    Omg Bloomberg is in.

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