Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Democratic Demolition Derby

Live footage of the 2020 Democratic Convention

There have been a flurry of articles online stating why Trump will win in a landslide, and why he will lose badly in 2020.   Probably both are wrong.   There are also articles that state that McDonald's sales of "donut sticks" and bacon are "through the roof!!" which made me realize that the articles on CNN are just paid advertisements at this point.   All media articles are.   Act shocked.

The next time you read a news story, before you go believing it, remember this story on CNN about donut sticks.   Don't believe everything you read in the paper!

The reality is, of course, that Trump, like any incumbent President, has a better than 50/50 shot at being re-elected.   In my lifetime, only two Presidents (not assassinated in office) have failed to win re-election.   Both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush failed to be re-elected because the economy had crashed, and both seemed ineffectual and ill-equipped to deal with it.  But in every other scenario, the incumbent was re-elected, often in cases where they were largely unpopular with a large segment of the population.

Those Presidents who did get re-elected often faced an opposing party that was fractured and self-destructive, had no compelling message, and often put forward a weak or flawed candidate - but only after a bruising primary season.  The opposing party thought that the incumbent was so unpopular that all they had to do is run against him as the anti-candidate.  "Anybody But Clinton!" they cried, but Bill got re-elected.  So in a fit of rage, they tried to impeach him.

Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.  So you see where we are going.

Democrats are trying to buy the election by promising millennials as much free shit as possible.  Problem is, millennials are often the same snarky people online who are trolling for Trump, and they don't vote with regularity.  Old people do.

The problem with the Democratic Party is that it no longer stands for anything.  Yes, granted, the Republicans don't seem to anymore, either.   The old balance-the-budget and cut-spending platforms seem to have been abandoned.  The only spending cuts Republicans can agree on are trivial things like Public Broadcasting or Foreign Aid.  They talk a big game about cutting Social Security, but they know that won't play when they go to campaign down in The Villages.

So long as the economy continues to prosper - never mind that it is propped up by one-time boosts from tax cuts and artificially low interest rates - Trump stands a good chance of re-election.  If it all falls apart the day after his re-inauguration, he frankly doesn't care.  The Democrats will win in 2024, and be blamed for "the bad economy" much as Obama was blamed for the economy which crashed under Bush and grew steadily over the eight years Obama was in office (and for which Trump now takes credit, in spite of his best efforts to sabotage it).

The platforms the Democrats are running on are sheer nonsense.  Open borders, sympathy for criminals, free money for people who choose not to work in an era of record low unemployment - this isn't going to carry the day.   We are told, time and time again, how awful things are in the United States and how put-upon we are, which is why we all need $1000 a month in "guaranteed income" or whatever.   Things are so bad, that refugees from other countries are fleeing from our borders.   Oh, wait, that's not quite right.

We are told that things are so bad that only a complete makeover of our nation will solve them.   But what exactly is so bad, is not clearly articulated.  People signed up for onerous student loans at sketchy colleges majoring in advanced nonsense, and we need to bail them out.  People bought houses that were clearly overpriced, on terms that would make a loan shark blush, and we need to bail them out.  People run up credit card debt eating fast food and develop type-II diabetes, and we need to bail them out and provide free health care. The list goes on and on, with the common denominator being that the government needs to bail people out from their own poor life choices.

It is a message that resonates with some folks that make poor life choices, but is an anathema to those who don't.  And believe it or not, the latter dominates our society.   Even people who have run up massive debts doing dumb things (Raise your hands!  Me too!) realize that their own bad choices don't merit a bailout courtesy of their fellow citizens.  The ideas that the Democrats are pushing just won't carry the day in the bulk of America.

Oh, right.  America.  We travel all across this country in our RV.   Once you get outside of the coastal regions of New York and San Francisco, a funny thing happens - people's values change.   The ideas that are common currency in the cities don't hold water in the country.   Trump realized this and won the Midwest States.   The Democrats still don't get it.   Oh, sure, "Uncle Joe" (a moniker bestowed not by Trump, but fellow Democrats) panders to the ever-shrinking trade unions - and he might get their endorsement and money, but the votes are not guaranteed.   These sort of working-class folks are not going to vote for a Beto or a Mayor Pete or a Pocahontas.   It just isn't going to happen.

The Democrats can only hope for a complete and utter economic meltdown on a level not seen since 1929, and that has to happen before August of 2020.  And it could, too.  While earnings are up and every day it seems I make $1000 more than I spend, there are some warning signs it could all come apart in short order.   Excessive consumer debt.  Overheated housing markets.  Deficit spending and an expanding national debt.  Inflation.  Economic and political uncertainty.   Rising oil prices.  All it would take is one sunken tanker in the Persian Gulf to set off a shitstorm.

But that is the sad thing about it. The Democrats have to wish for Armageddon to make Bernie Sanders seem like a rational candidate.  Remember what happened the last time we tried that.  Jimmy Carter is a nice guy and all, but he was never cut out for the hard choices that had to be made in the Oval Office.

Joe Biden seems like an OK guy and part of the "old school" of Democratic candidates - liberal, but not anti-business, socialist, or communist.  He is for the working man, not the slackers on welfare - or at least that is the image he tries to project.   And while he is the front-runner right now, the rest of the field is doing their darn best to tear him down.   Trump need not lift a finger or come up with some clever nickname for Creepy Uncle Joe - the Democrats have done the devil's work for him.

So the Democrats - all 500 of them running for office, most based on credentials like being a woman, being a mayor, or having a passing resemblance to JFK - will spend the next year tearing down poor old Uncle Joe.  He's too old.  He's too white.  He's too conservative.  He likes women.  These are all things that are seen as positives in the "heartland" of America, but are deemed to be offensive in the big cities in this era of #metoo, #blacklivesmatter and #transgenderrights.

I still find it hard to believe.  The Democrats are going to run on a platform of letting all the criminals out of jail and then giving them the right to vote.  Those whose crimes are so atrocious they cannot be set free should be given the right to vote from jail.   Think about it, Charles Manson has the right to vote?  Is this the demographic that the Democratic Party is seeking to woo?  (Of course, Charles Manson is dead, but that never stopped people from voting before, particularly in Chicago).

The rest of their demographic is people who want free things - like free college, free healthcare, and free money.  The problem with college, as I noted before, isn't that there isn't enough free money, but that there is too much funny money these days.  When people can sign their life away with student loans and live in "luxury student housing" for four years, they will.   And unscrupulous people (such as our President) will set up "for-profit" colleges to score some of this money being thrown around.  When it all goes horribly wrong?  The students default and Uncle Sam picks up the bill.  You could argue "why not cut to the chase and make college free?" but that would be like throwing gasoline on the fire.  What we need are not more people in college getting useless degrees, but less. In an era of low unemployment, where tech jobs are going unfilled, we don't need another guy with a Sociology degree.

Healthcare is another case in point. Once you are on Medicare, everything is "free" and not surprisingly, doctors recommend more tests and procedures.  Since I am on a high-deductible plan (again - Obamacare has ratcheted up over time) I have to think hard about whether I need a $5000 "sleep study" or indeed, a $5000 "heart cath" which proved to be as worthless.   Since Obamacare is "free" if I am unemployed but staggeringly expensive ($20 grand a year) if I worked, I made the logical decision to become unemployed.   Many others are making the same or similar choices.

Is this where we want our country to go?   Free money is just more of the same problem.   Once you offer people $1000 a month in free money just for existing, many will chose to merely exist, and not better themselves.  Of course, it is an idea that is just nonsense and would bankrupt the country, unless we cut our military budget by 90%, and you know that isn't about to happen.  And by the way, good luck getting such a plan through Congress.   Why run on nonsense platforms that have no hope of every passing?  Oh, right, it's OK to make political promises when they have no chance of ever seeing the light of day.  Is this what the electorate wants?  Apparently.

I suppose I shouldn't care, and part of me doesn't.   Free college?  Sure, I'll go back and take more classes, particularly if they pay my dorm fees and pay for my cafeteria plan - beats the rest home!  "Guaranteed annual income?"  Sure, I'll take that, too, provided it doesn't interfere with my Social Security!   Run up the deficit, crash the economy, who cares?   By the time it all comes undone, I'll be safely in the grave and the next generation can figure it out.

The problem for the Democratic Party is that we don't need the Anti-Trump, we need real policy decisions.   Rather than play "Mr. Opposite" and just oppose everything Trump says or does, even on the rare occasion he makes sense, the Democrats need to articulate a platform of their own.

And on occasion Trump makes sense.   The border wall is probably a stupid idea.  But "open borders" is even a dumber one.   There is a worldwide refugee crises going on, and every Western country is seeing masses of the great unwashed trying to break into their country.   We are not just seeing this from Latin America, but also from Africa and Middle-Eastern countries.   Smugglers are bringing refugees from Africa to Mexico to make the journey to the USA.  And no, I didn't hear this on Fox News, I read it in the Washington Post, you know, the place where democracy cries in the darkness.

So Trump says that "bad guys" from the Middle East or Africa, many of them Muslims, are trying to enter the United States through Mexico, and this is shouted down by the Washington Post as nonsense - that is, until the Washington Post reports it as news (in a sympathy weep-fest piece, of course).

Or take aid to Puerto Rico.  We are told Trump is a heartless bastard for cutting aid to that territory.  But what isn't said is the history of corruption on the island, where the government is packed with political appointees who rake in lavish salaries and do no real work - yes, including the hat-wearing Mayor of San Juan, whose only job it seems, is to exchange insults with Trump.  We can spend millions and billions of dollars on Puerto Rico, and we can be sure that most of it will never reach the people it was designed to help.   The entire place is rife with corruption - sending money there is like throwing gasoline on the fire.

There are ways to solve these problems.  Sadly, neither side seems to be interested in them.  And the reason why is simple - these politicians are playing to their audience in the bleacher seats.  You don't get re-elected by saying, "Gee, we have real problems, let's work together to solve them!" but rather to say, "All of our problems are the fault of the other guy, and if we get rid of him and put me in charge, everything will solve itself!"

But the truth is, neither the Democrats or the Republicans caused the worldwide refugee crises.  Neither party is responsible for the corruption and incompetence in Puerto Rico.  Both are responsible for our deficit and our national debt, the so-called crises in Social Security and Medicare, and the inaction on reforming Obamacare.  And both are responsible for blaming the other for the woes of the nation, rather than presenting plans to overcome them.   During the eight years of Obama and now three years of Trump, the GOP has yet to come up with a plan to replace Obamacare, even though they keep telling us they have one - must be a State secret!

I am not sure where I am going with this, other than it looks like four more years of Trump, unless the economy crashes before November 2020.   And maybe that might not be so bad, if they would just delete his Twitter account!