Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Populism theater

Bobby Jindal is standing up for the little guy against the Kochs.  Primarily he is doing this because they won't give him money.
CNN's John King, on Sunday, reported on "Inside Politics" that meetings and conferences being held by groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners aren't inviting Jindal to speak but are inviting other presidential candidates. Both groups receive support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who are executives at Koch Industries and well known for wielding influence in the Republican party through their considerable finances.

"The Kochs haven't settled on one GOP prospect -- at least not yet," King reported. "But it is clear they view some candidates more favorably than others. Top aides for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are now complaining to friends their candidate is being excluded from these Koch-sponsored gatherings."

King goes on to comment that GOP candidates have taken to calling the competition for the Koch Brothers' attention as "the Koch primary." And, King reported Jindal's aides as complaining that the rules for that shadow primary "just aren't fair."
Conveniently enough, though, this is probably just what Bobby wants. In 2016, many GOP candidates are going to try and sell themselves as populist advocates for free enterprise which, in the conservative narrative, has been corrupted and suppressed by a Wall Street many voters (quite rightly) associate with President Obama and Hillary Clinton as much as they do with.. say.. Jeb Bush.

Here is Jindal trying out this pitch on the Sean Hannity show last week.

JINDAL: A couple of things. We're the only ones offering a detailed plan.  Every Republican has a one-liner on ObamaCare. We've got detailed plans on energy independence, on school choice, on health care, on foreign policy.  They all hire somebody to write their plans. They can borrow mine. We've actually got ideas. Plus, we've got a proven track record. Again, enough with the slick talkers. Let's elect somebody that's done something.

And, finally, we're willing to stand up to leaders in both parties. The Republican Party is not supposed to be the party of big government. Sean, we're not supposed to be the party of big business, either. On Common Core, on amnesty, on religious liberty, we've seen too many Republicans fold the tent, not fight for conservatives.

HANNITY: Facebook post from a viewer, Gus Peterson. "Are you a conservative? And will you look us in the eye and promise to remain a conservative?" I guess he wants you to look into that camera.

JINDAL: I'm a constitutional conservative. Sean, I've heard you describe yourself as a Reagan constitutional conservative. I can think of no three better words to describe my political philosophy. I'm a Reagan constitutional conservative. I will remain a Reagan constitutional conservative. It doesn't matter to what the elites D.C. think in the Republican or the Democratic Party.
Among those Jindal has seen "fold the tent and not fight for conservatives" as Jindal defines them.. David Koch
David Koch, the big money political donor and liberal boogeyman, has agreed to sign onto to an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The brief he will reportedly sign in DeBoer v. Snyder, a case that could afford same-sex couples a constitutional right to marry, will host a number of other prominent conservative signatories, including retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former Reagan White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman. News of the brief was first reported Tuesday by The Washington Post.
Earlier in the year, Bobby's New York Times manifesto against gay marriage relied on this specter of big corporate bullying as a foil against which to demonstrate Bobby's moral constancy.
Some corporations have already contacted me and asked me to oppose this law. I am certain that other companies, under pressure from radical liberals, will do the same. They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me. As a nation we would not compel a priest, minister or rabbi to violate his conscience and perform a same-sex wedding ceremony. But a great many Americans who are not members of the clergy feel just as called to live their faith through their businesses. That’s why we should ensure that musicians, caterers, photographers and others should be immune from government coercion on deeply held religious convictions.
Jindal also added the term "corporate welfare" to his repertoire this spring while rationalizing the contortions he put the state budgetary process through in order to maintain  Norquist-approved ideological purity. Jindal is positioning himself as the real conservative which he defines as something opposed to what "big business" and their (possibly) radical liberal allies are selling and probably corrupting you with.

We can pick apart the hypocrisies of all of this later. But that would be beside the point. Presidential campaigns are mostly theater, anyway.  The 2016 campaign is going to be a populist kind of theater, though. The candidates may be insincere but voters, on the right and on the left, are angry.

To move those votes, candidates will be looking for ways to tap into that impulse; to identify with the large number of Americans who feel left behind or ostracized in some way by the system.   If you're looking for a way to maximize your populist appeal in the GOP primary, you could do a lot worse than a "team of experts who specialize in leveraging Christian outrage" and a candidate who is publicly on the outs with the Kochs.

Bobby Jindal is not doing so bad for himself right now.

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