Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's All About the Base (Not the Middle)!

Both political parties appeal to their "base" to get candidates nominated - then appeal to the middle-of-the-road voter to get elected.  Why is our system so schizophrenic?

The mid-term elections are coming up, and it doesn't look good.   The left-wing press has been printing a drumbeat of Trump-is-bad articles (tell us something we don't know!) to the point where reading the Times and the Post is just a waste of time.  You could read any one Trump-is-bad article and you've read them all.

The narrative is, of course, that Democrats may pick up a few seats in the House and Senate, as is customary for an opposition party during a mid-term election.   However a number of things are conspiring against both parties to make it a little murkier than usual.   A lot of the seats "up for grabs" in the mid-terms in the Senate are in traditional Republican strongholds.  So it may be a mixed bag.

But the real problem is that the candidates the parties are putting up on both sides - extremists of the worst sort.   Republican incumbents are not worried about challenges from Democrats, but challenges from within their own party.   Far-right "alt-right" types are challenging traditional Republicans in primaries on the basis that the incumbents weren't Trumpian enough.

On the left - the same thing.   We have idiotic moronic stupid things like Bradley Manning challenging an incumbent Democrat in Maryland for a Senate seat.   Sure thing - you get arrested for disclosing top secret information, have a sex change and voila!  You are Senate material.   Like the Presidency, no experience necessary.   In fact, to this new wave of voters on the far-left and far-right, no experience is the fundamental qualification they seek.

Of course, this could backfire - and likely will.   Republicans will paint the Democratic party as the out-of-touch tofu-eating (and there is nothing wrong with tofu, particularly smoked!) San Francisco-based Nancy Pelosi wacko party of nonsense and political correctness.   And sadly, that caricature will come very close to actual reality - a party that is more concerned about the rights of illegal immigrants than the rights of citizens.   That is the picture they will paint, and it may be a compelling narrative in a lot of swing states with narrow voting margins.   Remember, this is how Trump got elected.

The needs and opinions of the vast majority of Americans - the far-middle, as I would call it - are often ignored.  These are the conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans (yes, Virginia, they do exist!) who are baffled by the positions of the extremists of their own parties - and by extension, the positions of their parties.   These are compassionate people who don't want to see kids deported, but then again, don't think that random circumstance should determine who gets to immigrate to the US.  These are people who want lower taxes, sure, but want lower spending, too.   They want rational government, not the screeching of the Left and Right as they throw one accusation and counter-accusation against one another.

These are folks for whom the "hot button" issues are not having hot button issues.   These are people who don't think the second amendment is under attack, but support the right to responsibly own firearms.  These are the folks for whom the issue of abortion is hardly a black-and-white matter.  These are just ordinary people trying to get along and make a living, who are not obsessed about politics and "releasing the memos" on a day-to-day basis.  These are folks who are not political junkies.

And sadly, neither party caters to them.  Maybe it is the structure of our primary system that encourages extremists to hijack the parties the way they have.  Maybe it is the lack of voter turnout, particularly in primaries, that is to blame.  Maybe if we allowed "open primaries" it would make a difference.  Or maybe, just maybe, if these middle-of-the-road people would make their voices heard, they would drown out the extremists on the left and right with a deafening roar.

That being said, the mid-term elections could be a referendum on the economy.   And it is funny how things are playing out.   The GOP and Trump have enacted two pieces of legislation that would ordinarily make sense only during an economic recession.   Tax cuts and increased government spending are the classic Keynesian economic theories that are so despised by the very party that just pushed them through.   Republicans ordinarily detest using government policies to affect the economy, but here they are ratcheting up deficit spending and creating the very "stimulus" that was decried when Obama tried to do it.

But again, these are economic theories that are only useful during a recession.   But it appears, a made-to-order recession is on the horizon, as the market "corrects" itself and enters bear territory.   If this is the case, then the tax cut and deficit spending of the GOP will not be seen as the profligate actions of an undisciplined party and President, but a genius move designed to nip the coming recession in the bud.

If only Herbert Hoover had such foresight!

It is an interesting thought.  If the market continues to crash, the tax cut and deficit spending will be seen as good things - minimizing the effects of the recession and accelerating the recovery.

Sometimes it seems that Donald Trump can fall bass-ackwards into a cesspool of shit, and still come out smelling like roses.   Democrats will not be pleased!