Monday, February 01, 2016

Current mood

Torn up


Lots of parades and such this weekend. I'll try to catch up on all the doings later on. Meanwhile, here's Oyster's pre-Iowa post. His point number one is especially interesting to me.
A Trump nomination, which is still unimaginable, yet tantalizingly possible, would mean:

1) The conventional 'rules' of presidential campaign politics are woefully incomplete if not fatally flawed. Outsiders can run and win. Twitter is more important than commercials. Debate performances are more decisive than campaign infrastructure. Scripted campaigns are boring compared to off-the-cuff star power. The donor class doesn't always call the shots. Republican kingmakers like tax jihadist Grover Norquist can be bypassed.

Also, if Trump wins the nom, data pundits and the 'Party Decides' crowd get a rich comeuppance. That's a delicious prospect. I've always felt that the unpredictable and volatile nature of presidential races (ex: Clinton '92, Obama '08...) carried some utility. If there is far less control over the process than one might expect, then perhaps there is more political potential than we assume. Yet, this year— of all cycles!— too many data pundits became convinced, based on a very small set of contested elections, that endorsements are a predictive indicator instead of (at best) a lagging one.
Forget for a minute whatever it is you think of Trump and what he may or may not represent.  In the context of the nominating process, he is an insurgent candidate. He has attracted supporters who feel like the system isn't working for them and they aren't gonna take it anymore.

A similar thing is happening on the Democratic side where Bernie Sanders's insurgent anti-Wall Street campaign fed by small donors has drawn even larger crowds than Trump's. Trump and Sanders have very few things in common. But each does appeal directly to voters who see themselves being marginalized economically and excluded from a political establishment rigged to respond only to elites and insiders.

Say what you will about the "electability" of either candidate or the political practicality of implementing either's policy platform. Neither of these campaigns is really about any of that. Instead they are about breaking American politics out of the malaise imposed by "data pundits and the 'Party Decides' crowd" and the money power all of that is set up to defend. Regardless of who the nominees eventually are, the fact that the early primaries are looking this radically different from what the mainstream punditry might have predicted five months ago, that's a pretty good sign these campaigns are succeeding at their core purpose.

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