Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Sad State of American Politics

Discussion of policy points puts the audience to sleep.  But they hoot and hollar when the cat-fight starts.

In the recent Republican debate, Donald Trump said something rational.  Yes, I know, it sounds surreal.  But in the debate over Obamacare, Trump made two rational points, and Rubio made one as well.  It was almost an intellectual discussion.

First, Trump pointed out that the "pre-existing condition" part of Obamacare should be preserved.  This makes sense, as no one can "shop their plan" if they have a pre-existing condition.   It is also the humanitarian thing to do.  Wow, this coming from Donald Trump?  Who knew?

Second, he pointed out that there is little competition in many States for health insurance, and as a result, prices in some places (like Georgia) are really high, as people really don't have much of a choice.   Here, we have Blue Cross and Humana and their prices seem to track each other.   He proposed allowing insurers to insure nationwide (why not?) and thus provide more competition and bring down prices.   Makes sense, too.   This is Donald Trump?

He sort of got off the rails bashing the insurance companies, claiming they are making huge profits off of Obamacare.   This seems a little off as if Blue Cross (Anthem) was making so much money, why is their stock price in the toilet?   Also, as I noted in an earlier posting, my agent, who is on the Board of Humana told me they had to seek bailout money as part of Obamacare as well as a 20% rate increase.

Rubio pointed this out, although I doubt I know the audience didn't understood the nuances of this.   If the health care companies were making so much money, why are they asking for bailout money?

So score, Trump: 2 (making two actual policy points) and Rubio: 1 (pointing out a fault in Trump's logic, but failing to advance his own plan).

The audience was snoozing.

Then it happened.   The two started talking over each other and arguing like a reality teevee show which Americans love because they are blithering idiots and then Rubio got in a "zinger!" by saying "Look who's repeating himself now!"

The audience went wild.   Policy Wonkism they don't get.  But fake reality show teevee fights, well they get that.

How fucking sad for America. 

Sad, because a middle-class family of four here in Georgia could expect to be paying close to $20,000 a year for healthcare and not receive a penny in tax credit subsidies.   The issues with Obamacare are real and they do need to be addressed.   And no, throwing out the entire thing is not the answer - fixing it is.   You can call it Trumpcare or Rubiocare or whatever, we don't care.   The point is, we need some new ideas, not name-calling.

The media, which is populated by "journalism" students from the Newhouse School (idiots, basically) called the "fight" for Rubio because he got in the zinger and that's what really matters in politics.

In a way, perhaps this is poetic justice.   Trump made his mark by insulting people and calling them "losers" and generally avoiding concrete policy issues.   He starts articulating actual policy and he gets zinged.   Hoisted by his own petard.  He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

So what does this mean for future debates?   I am sure Trump learned his lesson here.  Don't try to sound smart or articulate.  Don't try to set out policies - they can be attacked with insults.   Just aggressively insult you opponent and don't let up.   Talk over each other and shout and slur like you are on reality television.

And when it comes to reality television, this is what Americans like (because they are idiots) and this is what Trump shines at (because he actually had his own show).   Rubio will get creamed at that level of "discourse" - if you can call it that.  Even his ham-handed attempt at it in the video above came across as amateurish.

But the audience ate it up.

People are idiots.  Is there another planet where people are not so dumb?