"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bernie And The Donald vs. The Stale Middle–Wow, What A Campaign!

Bernie Sanders said, “I am not a fringe candidate.”  Of course you are, Bernie, farther left than George McGovern ever was, all for punitive redistribution of wealth; labeling the political and economic divides in America as nothing less than Marxist class warfare; calling out men for the perpetual enslavement of women; and  branding all capitalists as hungry predators stealing from the poor and living lives of luxury as isolated from the real people as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette ever were.

Bernie Sanders


Sanders, according to the liberal press is having a tough time getting his head around ‘Black Lives Matter’. There is something not quite right about the hysterical anti-white racism of the movement; but this is quite natural for a child of the Sixties whose memories of civil rights struggles center around Northern whites and Southern blacks walking arm-in-arm across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and singing We Shall Overcome. Race doesn’t seem to matter to him so much as class; but once again The Guardian and The Nation, are too shortsighted to understand that according to Marx all civil struggles stem from structural inequalities, concentration of the means of production, and manipulation of the working class.  Race is a red herring, say committed Marxists; and only by destroying the capitalist foundations of America can there be any hope for justice and equality.

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None of this matter to the Left-leaning American voter who is as uninterested and unschooled about doctrinal issues of political philosophy as he is about Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, or Augustine. Faith in the grace of Jesus Christ is all that matters, and Bernie’s broad-brush tarring of the capitalist establishment is right on.

Finally the Democrats have a candidate who can keep it simple.  Ronald Reagan never got into the weeds about foreign policy, the disequilibrium between public and private enterprise, or the Pauline basis for morality. ‘Small government, a strong military, patriotism, and the righteousness of the American family’ was all he needed to say.  Although lampooned for his ‘Morning in America’ and ‘Shining City on a Hill’ speeches, Reagan understood the the American public wants more than anything else to believe.  While Reagan was standing up to the Soviets, liberals were shaking in their boots about the consequences of resoluteness. When he unabashedly spoke of love of country, voters, remembering poor Jimmy Carter who will always be remembered for his weak-kneed worry about the ‘malaise in America’ and for his moralistic insistence on wearing a cardigan sweater instead of turning up the heat.

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Bernie gets it.  Not just the progressive Left but the whole left side of the political spectrum is angry at the concentration of wealth, outrageous CEO salaries, insider Washington privilege, and the cabal of lobbyists, Congressmen, and their deep-pocket donors.  These aggravated voters don’t care about the relationship between percentages of GDP, the creation of wealth and jobs, the factors influencing economic mobility, and the role of the private vs. the public sectors in stimulating the economy.  They care about big cars, flashy lots, summers on Martha’s Vineyard, exclusive clubs, vast inheritances, and hereditary privilege.  Bernie has come out swinging on all fronts.  Tens of thousands of Americans are flocking to hear him.

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Donald Trump gets it. His campaign slogan is ‘Make America Great Again’, and he has tapped into the outrage that many Americans feel about illegal immigration.  He, like Reagan and Sanders, doesn’t bother to parse the details.  He doesn’t need, to provide balance sheet statistics about net economic gains or losses because of immigration. No one needs to know any more except that America is a country of laws, and those who enter illegally are breaking them; that America is a country of fair play where all have equal opportunity but none should get a free ride.  He has sensed the conservative zeitgeist. America, many conservatives feel, is turning into a foreign country, sliding into European socialism and nihilism.

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Trump is appalled by the pusillanimous foreign policy of the Obama Administration, caving in to Iran, a terrorist state, turning its back on Israel, our only friend and stalwart ally in the Middle East, and backing away from total victory against Islamic militancy because of misguided philosophies of cultural inclusivity and political correctness.

Neither side – whether the liberal Left or conservative Right – cares whether or not their candidate speaks in hyperbole, manipulates the facts, exaggerates the truth, or obfuscates or ignores the unpleasant facts.  They want only to hear opinions stated with passion and conviction about central emotional issues.

Perhaps what voters like best about both candidates is that they speak their mind, say what they think, and are not afraid of offending opponents.  While Sanders, always the elderly gentleman, refrains from ad hominem attacks and tiptoes carefully through the linguistic minefield of race, gender, and ethnicity, Trump has no such inhibitions.  Of course Megyn Kelly, the Fox News moderator for the first Republican debate, was ‘on the rag’. Millions of men are glad that finally someone in the limelight has given uppity women their comeuppance, put them in their place after so much liberal mollycoddling.

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Of course Trump said that illegal Mexican immigrants are rapists, brigands, and thieves. Who cares if but a small fraction are, and most are hard at work on our lettuce fields? Nobody. Not only did he know that his statements would earn him hundreds of millions of dollars of free press coverage; he knew that hyperbole and exaggeration which have a grain of truth to them will always win the day.

Why beat around the bush when addressing abortion?  Where is the need not to offend? Abortion doctors are baby butchers and murderers, period.  Gay men can do whatever they want to each other, but not on the taxpayers’ dime, etc. etc.

Trump is a vaudevillian, a carny barker, a huckster, and a son of Las Vegas and Hollywood.  He entered the race because it would be the perfect stage for such a theatrical, overblown egotist with billions of dollars in the bank.  What has surprised even him is the outpouring of support.  No matter what he says, no matter how his words offend the liberal Left, his poll numbers keep rising.  His supporters – a growing number of them – want him to be smarmy, ad hominem, and outrageous.  The Left has no idea of the resentment of conservative Americans concerning the attempted neutering of the police, promotion of the Biblical ‘abominations’, perpetual welfare handouts to black communities, and the destruction of the nuclear family.

So, the only things to watch in this 2016 Presidential campaign are the side shows on the Left and the Right where positions are staked out boldly and unapologetically.  Sanders will be happy only with a Socialist revolution and the dismantling of the foundations of capitalism. He does not simply want the pendulum to swing back from private to public sector investment; but to radically alter the way money is generated and spent.  His is a vision which goes way beyond tinkering, fine tuning, or even structural adjustment.  The institutional pillars of capitalism must come down. 

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He can rant and rave all he wants because America is so profoundly capitalist that after almost forty years of Reagan-esque privatization and private sector investment there is no turning back.  Sanders knows this, but feels that only a full-frontal assault on the foundations of the capitalist system can even the slightest changes be accomplished.

Trump can do what he wants with his billions, and is clearly having a great time.  His campaign is not just a side show, it is a freak show, and he revels in it.  The more he enrages the gullible liberal press, the better.  The more serious journalists take his carnival seriously, the happier he is.

All of this would be fun in and of itself, but when compared with the stale, musty, predictable, careful campaign middle, it is better than the Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Hillary Clinton says nothing because she feels that she is The Anointed One.  “You’ll just have to wait until I am President to find out”, she said to a journalist who was pushing her on the XL Pipeline.  What arrogance! What patronizing dismissal of the American voter.  She goes from one stump to the next saying nothing, promising the store but only on issues where the electorate is at least 50-50.  Her shenanigans at the White House with Bill and in the State Department are worthy of Tricky Dick.  No wonder her disapproval ratings are so high. Few people trust her and even fewer like her.  She manages her image, her personality, and her smile and in so doing disgusts many voters.

Hillary Clinton

The crew of Republican candidates are not much better.  While they all espouse conservative positions, they hedge their bets, calculating what it will take to coalesce a majority around the middle.  They – individually and collectively – have discussed all of the issues Trump has (immigration, abortion, foreign policy); but they have made the mistake of  focusing on details (strategy against ISIS, nuclear deal with Iran, alliances with Israel) rather than broad emotional issues. Only Trump says about Iran what most conservatives feel – ‘Fuck ‘em’.  Trump doesn’t waffle and hedge when it comes to race, gender, and ethnicity. ‘Fuck ‘em’, he says like a stand-up comedian, but helps to express the conservative rage and frustration that has been building up for almost eight years.

I for one am absolutely delighted to watch The Donald and Bernie Show.  Finally, real conservative and progressive opinions have come out of the closet.  Enough graceful, thoughtful, and respectful statements.  Off with the gloves, get bloody and spit into the bucket.  Although Trump and Sanders will never make the Main Event; and will spend most of their energies bashing colleagues from the same Party, it will be an entertaining, informative, and wild ride.  I am loving it, and just hope that they both stay in the race until the end.

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