blueollie

Trump: the end of the modern GOP? Maybe not…

One thing I love about Donald Trump: he sure generates a ton of political discussion.

For one, to the uninformed, he comes across as being informed:

Think of it this way. Say you’re one of those people who is totally ignorant when it comes to cars, and your car is non-functional. I came over looking like the quintessential stereotype of a mechanic from TV – blue coveralls, grease stains, a name across my breast pocket, and wrench in hand. After fiddling with your car for a few minutes – and since you have not one clue about anything car-related, my various taps and fiddles will easily fool you into thinking I know what I’m doing so long as I’m a half-decent actor and I stay in character. I tell you that your car will never run again unless you replace your Pancake Manifold and fill the gas tank with Bensonol. If I’ve succeeded in exploiting your ignorance by portraying myself as a tough, efficient, brilliant mechanic, there’s no reason to doubt me…as long as you don’t know a sparkplug from a muffler.

That’s how Trump’s popularity works. The more he talks, the less anyone with half a brain is willing to support him. But to people for whom the ideas of politics are totally meaningless anyway, every sentence makes them love him more. His ideologically nonsensical ideas aren’t a bug. They’re his best feature.

And yes, his ideas really do not make sense, as Paul Krugman points out.

Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.

Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: he could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.

The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton.

The Trump solution would, among other things, deprive the world economy of its most crucial safe asset, U.S. debt, at a time when safe assets are already in short supply.

Of course, we can be sure that Mr. Trump knows none of this, and nobody in his entourage is likely to tell him. But before we simply ridicule him — or, actually, at the same time that we’re ridiculing him — let’s ask where his bad ideas really come from.

Krugman goes on to point out that Mr. Trump is really channeling some of the other nonsense that comes from “more serious” Republicans, but doing so in a less polished way.

Some conservatives are furious. David Brooks decries the decline of competence and the decline of the very idea that compromise is a requirement for responsible governing.

Charles Krauthammer decries the idea that the head of the GOP ticket doesn’t feel bound by the usual trickle down ideas that the GOP establishment loves.

As to that, it is helpful to remember that “more tax cuts for the wealthiest” and cutting back on Social Security and Medicare were always unpopular ideas, even among the rank and file Republicans. Well, Mr. Trump doesn’t need money from the elites.

Nevertheless, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of GOP “crack-up” downticket, though a Trump loss in the general would be a setback.

So, how will the general election go? Obviously, no one knows, but remember that the “data journalism nerds” missed Trump’s rise due to ignoring the data because what the data predicted didn’t meet their “plausibility test”. Well, now the data is speaking:

How will the news media handle the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? I suspect I know the answer — and it’s going to be deeply frustrating. But maybe, just maybe, flagging some common journalistic sins in advance can limit the damage. So let’s talk about what can and probably will go wrong in coverage — but doesn’t have to.

First, and least harmful, will be the urge to make the election seem closer than it is, if only because a close race makes a better story. You can already see this tendency in suggestions that the startling outcome of the fight for the Republican nomination somehow means that polls and other conventional indicators of electoral strength are meaningless.

The truth, however, is that polls have been pretty good indicators all along. Pundits who dismissed the chances of a Trump nomination did so despite, not because of, the polls, which have been showing a large Trump lead for more than eight months.

Oh, and let’s not make too much of any one poll. When many polls are taken, there are bound to be a few outliers, both because of random sampling error and the biases that can creep into survey design. If the average of recent polls shows a strong lead for one candidate — as it does right now for Mrs. Clinton — any individual poll that disagrees with that average should be taken with large helpings of salt.

Hillary Clinton has a good lead in the general election and candidates in her position usually win. Of course, there is a ton of time between now and the actual election.

May 9, 2016 - Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans | ,

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