Tag Archives: Voters

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Donald Trump Can Easily Win in November

After an election season in which nothing they predicted came true — their confidence that Donald Trump would never be the Republican nominee comes to mind — you’d think our losing-streak corporate pundits would be reluctant to underestimate Trump’s chance of winning the presidency in November.

Alas, there is no limit to the willfully oblivious hubris of the barking dogs of the political class. Despite last week’s cataclysm the airwaves and opinion pages are still dominated by the smug meme that It Can’t Happen Here.

Never mind that half of that It, Trump’s capture of the nomination, has Happened. But this is where Trump’s juggernaut stops, say the center-right prognosticators. Polls show him losing to Hillary Clinton by 14% — er, now it’s 2%. But still.

Trump’s disapproval ratings are as big as his ego. Women hate the guy. So do Latinos; Republicans can’t win without them. Trump, they assure, has a ceiling: 45%. No way no how will more than 45% of Americans vote for him. (Remember when the same folks told us his ceiling was 30% — of Republicans?) He’s a guaranteed loosah.

If Hillary Clinton prevails over Bernie Sanders and the Department of Justice to become the Democratic standard-bearer, she’ll be welcomed as a liberator against Trump, Democratic leaders say. Most GOP insiders say/fear the same thing: she’ll win by a landslide.

I wouldn’t be so sure.

There are plenty of good reasons to believe that Trump will defeat the former secretary of state.

Before we list them, please bear in mind something no one talks about: what an amazing candidate Trump has proven to be. Not only does Trump have no political experience, this is his first run for president, or for any elected office. For a novice to win a major party nomination on his first time out, spending hardly any of his own money, is a triumph, a trifecta without historical precedent. (True, there was Eisenhower. But Ike was the supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II, and president of Columbia University. Those were essentially political positions.) With Trump, we are in uncharted territory. The man is a beast.

Now for the factors that run counter to the widely accepted Hillary-is-a-shoo-in narrative.

First, Hillary is a weak candidate.

Her negatives are nearly as high as Trump’s. A recent poll shows her even or losing against Trump in key battleground states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. The liberal base of the Democratic Party, which mostly supports Bernie Sanders, is not at all Ready for Hillary. If the Bernie or Bust movement convinces even a few percentage points worth of Dems to stay home, write in Bernie’s name or vote for Jill Stein, that shortfall of support could be enough to throw the race The Donald’s way. If anything, Hillary is the one with a ceiling: she’s been in public life so long that it’s hard to believe that anyone who doesn’t like her now will find a reason to do so in the next six months. Politically, we’re just getting to know Trump.

Also, Americans’ hardwired historical amnesia is tailor-made for Trump.

His insane pronouncements would sink a conventional candidate. But when his racist or idiotic statements stir controversy, he doesn’t apologize: he denies that he ever said them. Then he doubles down. He constantly contradicts himself, sometimes in the same speech. This drives the media crazy. But it doesn’t touch Teflon Don. Thanks to Ronald Reagan and his ideological progeny, we’re living at a time when we choose our own facts along with our opinions — and no one is held accountable for their broken promises, hypocrisies or flip-flops. The past? Even when it isn’t past, even in real time, the past so doesn’t matter. As a conventional politician, Hillary will be forced to defend herself and her long record in public service from Trump’s attacks. Because he has no such record, and the record he does have is something he’ll just lie about — and voters will be perfectly fine with it — she can’t go after him the same way.

Because GOP campaigning is so much more effective, Democratic presidential candidates need to be at least 10% ahead of Republicans in August in order to win in November. Trump and Clinton are single digits apart, and it’s only May. Just wait until the zillions of GOP attack ads do their thing.

Trump’s Republican Party may not be as unified as they would like. But it will be unified enough to beat Hillary. Because she’s unwilling to make the policy and personnel concessions necessary to bring Sanders’ supporters into her fold — $15/hour minimum wage, offer Sanders veep — she’ll never be able to recover from the bruising primaries. Her party will be the more fractured one.

Trump is also in the unique position of being positioned to attack her from both the left and the right. He’ll go after her as a warmonger and a free trader and fiscally irresponsible and corrupt. As we’ve seen in the primaries, he has an uncanny ability to hone in on his rivals’ Achilles’ heels. Then he kicks them until they fall.

In the end, Hillary’s biggest liability may be overconfidence. She clearly doesn’t think much of Trump’s intellect, his political acumen or his campaign chops. Big mistake. This guy is many things, some of them very bad. But he is not stupid. Donald Trump is one of the most formidable politicians of our lifetimes. He can win.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography Trump, comes out July 19th.)

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Like Voting for Goebbels

The two-party trap: Voters are asked to choose between two candidates. Both are unpalatable. Neither represents their interests. But they’re convinced to participate in the system with the argument that, if they don’t vote for the slight-least-awful option, the slight-worst one will win and make things worse.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Like Voting for Goebbels

The two-party trap: Voters are asked to choose between two candidates. Both are unpalatable. Neither represents their interests. But they’re convinced to participate in the system with the argument that, if they don’t vote for the slight-least-awful option, the slight-worst one will win and make things worse.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Evil of Two Lessers

Two-Party System Is Not Democracy

We get the government we deserve.

Don’t get mad at the politicians! It’s your/our fault. You/we elected them.

Most Americans accept these aphorisms. Yet they are lies—lies that distract us from the fact that our political system is a farce. Really, we should get rid of this phony two-party “democracy.” And we will. In the meantime, we ought to ignore it.

The two-party system made simple:

Two worthless scoundrels are on the ballot.

If you vote for one of them, a worthless scoundrel will win.

If you don’t vote, a worthless scoundrel will win.

It’s a pretty unappealing sales pitch. How did it last 200 years?

The two-party system, a political mutation unanticipated by the Constitution and dreaded by the Founding Fathers, mainly relies on the “lesser of two evils” argument.

Next year, for example, many liberals will hold their noses and vote for Obama even though he has not delivered for them. They will do this to try to avoid winding up with someone “even worse”: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, etc.

Conservatives will do the same thing. They will vote for Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney or whomever—even though they know full well they won’t come through with smaller government or a balanced budget—because Obama is “even worse.”

The two-party system is a sick game. Many citizens, realizing this, opt out by not voting. Others resort to negative voting.

In 2008 one out of three Republican voters told pollsters they were voting against Obama, not for McCain. Out in five Democrats voted against McCain, not for Obama.

A quarter of all votes cast in 2008 were “negative votes.” Thirty-eight percent of voters in the 2010 midterm elections crossed party lines from D to R “to send a message.”

To “get the government they deserve,” as master curmudgeon H.L. Mencken asserted, we would have to have a wide choice of options on the ballot. Two is pathetic.

Two parties isn’t even a facsimile of democracy.

Would you shop at a store that only offered two books? Two kinds of cereal? Two models of computers? Two brands of computer?

What about third parties? The Dems and Reps conspire to block the Greens, Libertarians, etc. with insurmountable obstacles. Minor parties can’t get campaign financing, ballot access, media coverage, or seats at presidential debates. So they rarely win.

“With a single elected president if you’re going to have a chance to win the states, which are all awarded on a winner-take-all basis, again you don’t have a chance,” John Bibby, University of Wisconsin professor and co-author of the book, “Two Parties—Or More? The American Party System” told PBS in 2004. “The incentive is to form broad-based parties that have a chance to win in the Electoral College.”

The argument that we, the people, are somehow to blame for the failings of “our politicians” is absurd. Even partisans of the two major parties are substantially dissatisfied with the nominees who emerge from the primary system.

Politics is not what happens on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Real politics is the process of arguing about how we want to live. In America that happens over dinner with our families, over drinks with our friends, over the water cooler at work (if you still have a job).

What happens on Election Day is a circus, a farcical distraction meant to siphon away the vitality of real politics.

Real politics is dangerous. Real politics, as we saw in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, can actually change things.

The two-party system is a twisted con based on fear. If you don’t vote for Party A then Party B, which is slightly more evil, will win. If “your” Party A wins, all you get is the dubious, incremental pseudo-victory of somewhat less suckiness. But Party A gets something infinitely more valuable: political legitimacy and the right to claim a mandate for policies that you mostly dislike.

“Hey, you elected them.”

“You got the government you deserve.”

Not at all.

It’s a terrible, lopsided bargain. You get little to nothing. They use your vote to justify their policies:

No jobs.

One war after another.

Wasting your tax dollars.

Corruption.

More pollution.

(Notice: I didn’t specify which party. Compared to the vast spectrum of possible politics from left to right, which encompasses such ideologies as communism, socialism, left libertarianism, right libertarianism, fascism, etc., the Dems and Reps are more similar than different.)

Until there’s a revolution we’re stuck with these jokers. But that doesn’t mean we have to pay attention.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 TED RALL

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Learned Helplessness

In Dire Straits, Americans Whimper Instead

In 1967 animal researchers conducted an interesting experiment. Two sets of dogs were strapped into harnesses and subjected to a series of shocks. The dogs were placed in the same room.

The first set of dogs was allowed to perform a task—pushing a panel with their snouts—in order to avoid the shocks. As soon as one dog mastered the shock-avoidance technique, his comrades followed suit.

The second group, on the other hand, was placed out of reach from the panel. They couldn’t stop the pain. But they watched the actions of the first set.

Then both groups of dogs were subjected to a second experiment. If they jumped over a barrier, the dogs quickly learned, the shocks would stop. The dogs belonging to the first set all did it.

But the second-set dogs were too psychologically scarred to help themselves. “When shocked, many of them ran around in great distress but then lay on the floor and whimpered,” wrote Russell A. Powell, Diane G. Symbaluk and P. Lynne Honey in Introduction to Learning and Behavior. “They made no effort to escape the shock. Even stranger, the few dogs that did by chance jump over the barrier, successfully escaping the shock, seemed unable to learn from this experience and failed to repeat it on the next trial. In summary, the prior exposure to inescapable shock seemed to impair the dogs’ ability to learn to escape shock when escape became possible.”

The decrease in learning ability caused by unavoidable punishment leads to a condition called “learned helplessness.”

Which brings us to the midterm elections.

Battered and bruised, with no apparent way out, the American electorate has plunged into a political state of learned helplessness. They’ve voted Democratic to punish rapacious Republicans. They’ve voted Republican to get rid of do-nothing Democrats. They’ve tried staying home on Election Day. Nothing they do helps their condition. They’re flailing.

The great mass of Americans works longer hours for less pay. Until, inevitably, they get “laid off.” Is there a working- or middle-class American who hasn’t lost his job or been close to someone who got fired during the last few years? Even in 2009, when global capitalism entered its final crisis and millions of Americans were losing their homes to the same banks their taxes were paying to bail out, the world’s richest people—those with disposable wealth over $30 million—saw their assets soar by 21.5 percent.

Go ahead, little leftie: smash the windows at Starbucks in Seattle. It won’t stop transnational corporations from raping the planet and exploiting you. Enjoy your Tea Party, little rightie. It sure is cute, listening to you talk about the wee Constitution. “Your” government and the companies that own “your” leaders have your number. And they’re listening to your phone calls.

The public is now in full-fledged flailing mode. Just two years ago, you will recall, Obama and the Democrats swept into power on a platform of hope and change: hope that things might improve, by changing away from the Bushian Republicanism of the previous eight years.

Now, depending who you listen to, people have either turned against the hope and the change, or against the failure of ObamaCo to deliver it. “The voters, I think, are just looking for change, and that means bad news for incumbents and in particular for the Democrats,” says Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster.

Change from change we can’t believe in. Again.

According to the latest NBC News/Washington Post poll, this is the same electorate that “shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation’s economy and environment.” Because you know the Republicans are all about more regulation of Big Oil. And care so much about the environment.

Does your head hurt yet?

There is some good news: Three major polls find that most Americans don’t believe Obama has a plan to fix the economy. Yes, this is good news; it proves that the public isn’t totally crazy.

Like the poor Set B dogs in that 1967 experiment, Americans are running around aimlessly, veering between two parties that differ only in their degree of harm. Republicans are evil; Democrats enable it.

Next: lying on the ground and whimpering.

The way out is obvious. If a two-party corpocracy beholden to gangster capitalism is ruining your life, get rid of it.

Don’t whimper. Bite.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone