Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Indiana,The End Of The Beginning
It's pretty much official. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. His victory in the Indiana primary was not just decisive, it was a blowout, by 17 points and counting over Ted Cruz. Even more fascinating is that Trump went into Indiana trailing by 20 points to Senator Cruz who has now ended his campaign.
I'm pretty sure Cruz didn't help his chances much by completely losing it just before the vote and going into a rant on what he saw as Donald Trump's; character failings and telling the voters that anyone who voted for Trump was voting for evil.
I have a feeling this did not inspire confidence, but perhaps Cruz had just seen his internals and went into melt down, which is understandable, Whatever else you want to say about Ted Cruz, he worked fiendishly hard on this campaign.
The information I had was that ending his campaign wasn't exactly Cruz's decision, but his donors. They apparently let him know that if he lost Indiana, they weren't prepared to fund him anymore. In any event, he'd already been eliminated mathematically but was counting on people he'd managed to get appointed as delegates; with the aid of Cruz -friendly party insiders in several states. His hope was that he could hold Donald Trump off and get to a second ballot where he figured he might be able to prevail. In the end, even some of Cruz's delegates he acquired this way started deserting Cruz before Indiana even voted.
We'll return to this point in a a bit, but let's examine something else first, the sheer astonishment and shock of a number of reputedly astute pundits and commentators to Donald Trump's ascendancy and success. They admit that nothing like this has ever happened in American politics before, a novice non-politician in a national campaign breaking all the rules with a small campaign staff, modest expenditures compared to his opponents* and speeches that were mostly off the cuff with a seeming disregard for curbing his tongue in the name of political correctness. But they are at a loss to figure out how Trump ended up knocking out 16 other candidates, surviving riots directed at his rallies, millions of dollars in attack ads directed at him and an organized, well funded movement designed to keep him from the GOP nomination.
One of these puzzled pundits is Victor Davis Hanson, who in a recent article (no link because since it appeared where it did, and there was the usual quota of gratuitous insults for both Donald Trump and his supporters) admitted he couldn't really figure this out except as destruction for its own sake.
What the usually astute Dr. Hanson still doesn't get is that this election is different.It isn't about Republicans or Democrats. Both are ruled by self-serving elites whom no one with the brains G-d gave a goat trusts or depends on any more.
Ad it isn't about 'liberals' or 'conservatives.' Those terms were bastardized years ago, not least with the assistance of so-called conservative elites who lied to us about the GOP's latest products for years in order to get us to vote for what they promised us would happen but never did.
As I've said before, this is a rebellion by what Angelo Cordavilla presciently called the 'country class.' It's an uprising by Americans who see their declining nation being gleefully plundered and despoiled by their self-appointed betters. They see it as a last chance to save the country they love from those who consider them rubes, hillbillys and serfs.
Here's a clue for Dr. Hanson and anyone else who can't understand this - think of Trump as a less bloody, less autocratic Sulla. Tough times sometimes demand tough measures. And tough men.
Trump is winning, including a fair amount of crossover Democrats because finally, there's an unscripted,unpolished non lawyer and non member of the political class willing to be honest about what's going on and pledging to fix it. He is simply vocalizing what his voters have been saying for years, and their astonishment and delight at hearing a candidate for president talk to them like this rather than at them accounts for the huge turnout and high energy of Trump's events.
All elections are an act of faith to some degree. But Trump's millions of supporters believe that he's sincere about saving the country and implementing real change in the entire rotten system just like Sulla did, especially when they see he's spending his own money (yes, when you write a check from your own funds or sell stocks you own and give the proceeds to your campaign, you're spending your own money) and actually risking his personal safety when he could just as easily sit home and live the good life.
So,why didn't they feel that same assurance about Ted Cruz? There were a lot of different reasons.
Cruz, of course, tended to preach at people rather than speaking to them, with an odd, nasal cadence a lot of people found off putting. And aside from times when he relaxed into a Texas drawl, he spoke to them in the tones of exactly what he is, a Harvard-trained lawyer and part of the elite class. His body language and mannerisms sent the same message with a few rare exceptions.
A classic example was his confrontation recently with a blue collar worker in Indiana, a Trump supporter. In it, Senator Cruz actually went into debate mode, talking quickly, using various talking points the worker was ill equipped to respond to and in general treating him like a college debate opponent. It made the news pretty prominently, with a lot of Cruz supporters using it to reinforce their oft voiced opinion that Trump's supporter were simply a bunch of stupid, bigoted redneck slobs.
Ha ha ha, look at that trumpkin idiot, that moron!
Let me tell you what I think that worker thought, what the crowd around him probably thought and how a lot of Hoosiers and other Trump supporters likely saw it. Here's was this out-of-state fancy lawyer, picking out someone to talk down to who didn't speak as well as he did, showing off and trying to embarrass him and shame him. The worker, no matter what rapid fire patter Cruz threw at him simply smiled, shook his head and simply said "Indiana don't want you."
Nope, they sure didn't. And that remark alone qualifies our Hoosier worker for a cushy job somewhere as a political analyst, but I digress.The point is, Donald Trump would never have behaved like that. All you ever had to do was see how he behaved to the people at his rallies , the people he interacted with. Night and day.
People may forget what you say, but they never forget how you made them feel.
And with that in mind, let's return to a point I made earlier about Cruz's tactics with delegates. You'll recall, Cruz actually boasted about doing that in Colorado, grabbing a whole slate of delegates with the aid of party insiders no one voted for and then ironically bragging that Donald Trump should "stop whining and learn how to win an election."
Remember that one? Just like similar tactics in other states, it worked but at a tremendous cost. Whatever you think of Ted Cruz, there's no denying his campaign had already been involved in some questionable tactics. His delegate grabbing might have been borderline justified according to who was interpreting the rules, but it left a major stench in a lot of people's minds. And even more importantly, it allowed Donald Trump to paint Ted Cruz successfully as just another establishment pol benefiting from a crooked, rigged system. It didn't matter really whether what Cruz was doing was doable according to the rules. It felt unfair to a lot of people, and they reacted.
Cruz only increased that perception by attempting to collude with Governor John Kasich in 'strategic voting' which failed miserably, and ultimately by picking Carly Fiorina as his running mate, a globalist insider to the core who used 'distributors' to illegally trade with Iran and avoid sanctions, has a major soft spot for Islamism and who gleefully engaged in outsourcing and H1B abuse before she was fired by HP after the stock tanked because of her mismanagement.
In view of Ted Cruz's own record which included his role in fast tracking TPP, his vote for the Corker Amendment that allowed Iran to shove through the Iran deal, and his support of increased H1B visa abuse to put Americans out of work a great many people had the impression that perhaps they weren't all that different in many ways, and it was a major error for Cruz to ally himself with these two establishment politicians. It's another big reason why people didn't trust him and he got so few votes in the primaries compared to Trump.
The millions of dollars spent on constant negative ads by the Cruz campaign and his super-PACS failed to work either, for the most part. The voters apparently understood this time out that all those ads cost a lot of money and that Cruz had to be shaking some interesting hands behind closed doors to get it. Compared with Trump's modest ad buys it again created a clear perception of who was connected to the donor class and the establishment and who was the underdog.
In a different election, it might not have made a difference, but it definitely did in this one.
Cruz's biggest mistake was allowing himself to be used by the GOP establishment.The real story, of course, is that after all their other stalking horses failed, the GOP settled on Cruz as an unwitting dupe to stop Trump, get the nomination and then get beaten like a gong in the general, because they're actually more comfortable with Hillary who's no threat to their prerogatives,insider deals and power.
The key to that was not only to demonize Trump. but his supporters, so party elites could split the insurgency. If Ted Cruz had remained competitive but refrained from gleefully embracing the #NeverTrump movement, there might have been the possibility of a deliciously strong Trump/Cruz ticket. And frankly, Trump's responses to some of what occurred weren't helpful either. So it won't happen now.
Both Trump and Cruz made interesting speeches in the aftermath. cruz finally relaxed a little - just a little- and delivered a speech which was an attempt to sound Reagan-esque which actually succeeded in places. It was as though he was secretly glad the ordeal was over. He sai dnoting whatsoever about party unity, the need to defeat Hillary or any semblance of congratulating Donald Trump on his victory. I doubt he will support Trump in the general election.
Trump's speech was another of his plain spoken off the cuff jobs that always sound like he's having a conversation with the audience. His family was all there, and his entrance music was the middle part of Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture' which morphed in Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' as Trump entered, something I could have done without personally.
As always, he stayed on message and repeated his usual points, but there was something else there, a lower key than usual. After his long campaign Trump was like an athlete who had just won a match doing a post game show, and it worked for him. He made a point of calling for party unity and complimenting Ted Cruz for being such a great competitor. I have a feeling that's not going to make much of a difference, but hopefully I'm wrong.
In spite of my reservations, I was always prepared to vote for Ted Cruz if he'd gotten the nomination.So I don't mind telling you that I have no respect for anyone who helps a corrupt snake like Hillary Clinton slither into the Oval Office by indulging in #NeverTrump fantasies of write in campaign for Cruz or kinky third party fantasies that will only throw the election to Hillary Clinton
The Establishment still has some arrows in its quiver, rest assured, and they still prefer Hillary. Trump has spoken a lot lately on the need to unify the Republican Party and beat Hillary Clinton, but I doubt the GOP establishment will actually facilitate that. The reverse in fact.
So really, perhaps, after a brief period of reflection it's up to us.
The choice is really simple. We can continue to allow the GOP establishment to divide,conquer and rule us while the country is led by the Clintons and continues to decline. Or we can choose to unite, take back the country and renew our Republic.
As for the Republican Party it will either be remade totally to be what it should have been years ago or it will shatter just like the Whigs of its own irrelevance.
So perhaps when Dr. Hanson was writing about destruction, that's what he sensed but didn't realize it.
Not all destruction is evil, not by any means. And rebuilding can be exactly what's called for as the old rotten structure is swept away.
Donald Trump's a builder by trade, and a pretty successful one. I say we give him a shot at it.