Today after what we saw Marco Rubiodo last night, he was out there attacking Trump on twitter and Trump was like, got one for you, BOOM! Now the guy who defined Marco a few weeks ago is back in the game. He’s engaged, and he’s working with Trump. BOOM!
And New Gingrich tweeted:
This Chris Christie endorsement of Trump is real signal to GOP establishment that they had better begin thinking about Trump as the future
Just a little while later, Maine’s governor endorsed Trump. And John Kasich predicted a Trump sweep on Super Tuesday, saying “nobody’s gonna win but Trump,” before admitting he doesn’t know about Texas.
There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.
The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created.Again, they make public policy and have for some time.
In his terrific book, Private Truths, Public Lies:The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification, Timur Kuran writes about the phenomenon he calls “preference falsification”: People tend to hide unpopular views to avoid ostracism or punishment; they stop hiding them when they feel safe.
This can produce rapid change: In totalitarian societies like the old Soviet Union, the police and propaganda organizations do their best to enforce preference falsification. Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it — but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.
This works until something breaks the spell and the discontented realize that their feelings are widely shared, at which point the collapse of the regime may seem very sudden to outside observers — or even to the citizens themselves. Kuran calls this sudden change a “preference cascade,” and I wonder if that’s not what’s happening here.
Sarah Palin made it okay for Tea Partiers to support Trump. With Christie’s endorsement, it’s now okay for mainstream Republicans to admit they hate the elites.
Reading two excellent articles by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight (here and here), I remembered a thought that passed through my mind last Friday.
After reading some of National Review’s “Against Trump” issue, I wrote blog post. To me the NR issue showed the magazine is out of touch with voters. I’m not talking about traditional, reliable, motivated, and informed primary voters. I’m talking about the broader pool of voters who vote in general elections every four, eight, or twelve years and occasionally in local elections. (Yes, there are people like that.)
The bits I’ve read since then reinforce my perception that conservative pundits (count me in) often (always) forget that most Americans are not conservative pundits. Then there’s this gem from Rod Dreher on American Conservative, Trump & the Conservative Intelligentsia.
Moving back to Louisiana to live really did reveal to me the gap between the conservative punditocracy and those for whom they — for whom we — presume to speak. Ideas and reason matter far less to most people than they do to people like us (this is true of the left as well), not because most people are stupid, but because their mode of experiencing life is not nearly as abstract as ours.
People who hang around with conservative activists have trouble seeing the world from any other perspective. And there are, at best, a few thousand conservative activists, pundits, writers, and radio/TV hosts in America. And 320 million “others.” You get the point.
So the easy answer to NR’s Trump issue is affinity bubbles. Now, what’s the not-so-easy answer.
Maybe Republican elites (and you have to include Ted Cruz’s campaign in that mix) know something they’re not saying. Maybe National Review just wanted to be able to claim victory when Trump loses Iowa badly.
It’s possible that Trump is polling in Iowa and somehow keeping it very quiet. Businesses are really, really good at stealth polling. But a lot of newspapers claim he is not polling at all. He’s flying blind.
The other campaigns and PACs are polling like their lives depend on it. Polling is one of the consultant class’s biggest money makers. Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Jeb!, Carly, and Christie have numbers that you and I do not see.
We also hear that Trump has almost no ground organization in Iowa. And public polls show that a lot of Trump’s support (up to 30 percent) comes from non-traditional caucusers. (But reports of no ground game could be hogwash, too.)
If you put it all together, it’s very possible that the Republican elites believe Trump will get trounced in Iowa.
That would explain why the GOP establishment has made Cruz, not Trump, their Party Enemy Number One. They could reason that Trump’s rise owes to his perceived invulnerability. If he stumbles in Iowa, the mask will slip and his supporters will scramble for another candidate.
The Establishment does not want Trump-defectors to find a home with Cruz, so they’re building the case that Cruz is worse than Trump. With Cruz struggling in New Hampshire, the winner of New Hampshire could quickly gain a lot of energy going into South Carolina.
In other words, the GOP Establishment could be killing two insurgents with one Iowa surge.
If the second scenario is the way it is, Rich Lowry and crew are busy planning their victory lap right now, and I should be writing my mea culpa. (Unless his blog counts.)
You know how reckless and tone-deaf Obama is about Army deserters? Missouri’s House and Senate Republican leaders are just as clueless and irresponsible about money.
Yes, I said it: the Missouri Republican legislature is about as conservative and principled as Susan Rice on a Sunday talk show.
By going on a votes-for-cash spending spree on the last day of the General Assembly, the House and Senate handed Jay “Idiot” Nixon a PR prize worth its weight in pork.
I’d itemize the garbage that our Republican legislators crammed into the budget, but Jay Nixon already did it for me, as quoted in The Missouri Times:
“While this Friday free-for-all will benefit a select few special interests, its far-reaching fiscal impact has thrown the budget dangerously out of balance,” Nixon said. “From special breaks for fast food restaurants to power companies, the only thing these giveaways have in common is that they were not accounted for in either the state budget or in the budgets of the cities, counties, and fire districts they would affect. By going on a $776 million special interest spending spree, members of the legislature have broken their own budget, and I’m prepared to fix it.”
Jay Nixon will veto those outrageous giveaways, and I support that veto.
This Is How Majorities Are Lost
Think no one cares about the Missouri budget? Think again.
“What the hell are those guys doing in Jefferson City?” he said. “It’s like a bunch of Tom Delays.”
BOOM! The idiotic spending and special favors that helped bring down the GOP majority in Congress in 2006 has infected Missouri Republicans now. And people know it.
Corruption Knows No Party
Missouri has about three fiscal conservatives in the Senate. Maybe a handful in the House. The free market folks in the Senate have some power to enforce principled fiscal responsibility. They’re outgunned and under-appreciated, but they do what they can. They’re likely to block a veto override on their own party’s folly.
The House is a different story. Because of House rules, members can either sell their votes to the highest bidders, as House leaders often demand, or they can sit out their sentences in feeble obscurity. In the Republican House, money talks and principle walks.
A friend of mine told me a story about his conversation with a former Republican State Representative. The Rep listed all the great pork projects and special tax breaks he’d managed to shove through for friends and donors. My friend was appalled.
“How is that different,” my friend asked, “than the Democrats doling out welfare for votes? How is what you’ve done not transferring wealth from one citizen to another?”
The Rep looked perplexed, as if my friend had asked, “since when is two plus two four?”
The Rep took a breath and said, “The difference is, we spread the money around to the right people.”
That’s the arrogance of power among Jefferson City Republican “leaders.”
They’re In It For The Wrong Reasons
Last year at a lobbyists’ reception for the Missouri House GOP contingent, a former Republican staffer (turned lobbyist) told a story.
He referred back to a time a decade or more earlier, when the GOP was struggling to take and hold the Legislature. A new class of Republican freshmen gathered in Jefferson City for orientation. Someone asked the group what their goals were in politics.
“One said he hopes to be Speaker,” the lobbyist said. “Another said Governor.” Some laughs. “One even said ‘President.'”
The speaker paused for effect. “Then someone said, ‘a hundred and nine elephants.'”
Pop the champagne! The crowd goes wild! The Republicans assembled went ridin’ into the bar, a-whoopin’ and a-stompin’. “A hundred and nine elephants! That’s a good one.”
Does it bother you that not a single member of that freshmen class of Republicans in the Missouri House expressed an ambition or vision that bigger than himself?
Wouldn’t you expect at least one member of every Republican class would say “make Missouri great?” Or “freedom?” Or “fairest tax state in the country?” Or “help my district?” Or “keep Washington off our backs?”
Nope. Not a one. Apparently, the Missouri Republican House members have no room for duty, responsibility, or altruism. Only for cynical self-interest. Their motto should be, “What’s in it for me?”
Reagan Never Left the Democrat Party
Before you bring up the 11th Commandment, consider this:
When Ronald Reagan made his famous speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Gipper was still a Democrat. Endorsing the conservative Republican Goldwater over his own party’s sitting President was the ultimate act of betrayal.
But Reagan never saw it that way. “I didn’t leave that other party,” Reagan would say. “They left me.”
As a Republican, Reagan was just as willing to call out and undermine errant members of his own party. The 11th Commandment Brigades conveniently forget that Reagan ran against fellow Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976. Reagan’s remarkable challenge nearly toppled the sitting President at the convention in Kansas City. Reagan’s challenge further damaged Ford’s grip on the White House and undoubtedly contributed to Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in November. (Here’s a link to CSPAN’s great retrospective on the 1976 GOP Convention, beginning with Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada naming California, Texas, Georgia, and MISSOURI as the four states supporting Nevada’s nomination of Reagan in compliance with convention rules.)
For Reagan, principle came before party. While I don’t know this for a fact, I have a strong suspicion that, were Reagan a member of that Missouri House freshmen class, his answer to the question “what do you hope to accomplish” would have been more visionary than “self-aggrandizement.”
Where Do Principled Conservatives Go Now?
Now that our nearly veto-proof Republican majority in Jefferson City has made Jay Nixon look like a statesman by comparison, where do principled conservatives go? Where do libertarians (with a lower-case “L”) go?
Every time Republicans in JC sell out to Prostitutes in Business Suits, free market conservatives rip another GOP bumper sticker off their cars. Every time a Republican Senator schemes into law a benefit for his own family, another libertarian-ish Millennial turns away. Every time the GOP tells us what a great thing China Hub (under whatever name) will be for Missouri, a small business owner loses faith in the American Dream.
Here it is 2014, an election year. Normally, I’d be gearing up to Beat. The. Democrats. But my heart’s not in it this year, if you want to know the truth. Why beat Democrats if Republicans will only borrow and tax to help their donors? Why knock doors and design Twitter GOTV campaigns if Missouri’s Republicans renew the Export-Import Bank of Boeing? Why work for a party that doesn’t even want our help? Or a party that takes us for granted the way the Democrats do African-Americans? Why support cronyism?
After the rush of that first Tea Party, I thought we were building a coalition to focus on the proper role of government–free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutional limits, rule of law. Instead, the Republicans we’ve elected to represent us in Jefferson City and Washington have, by and large, reverted to big government establishment practices that reward their friends at the expense of the people.
America needs an Anti-Establishment Party. The Republican Party moved in that direction from Goldwater through Reagan. But, as Jack Kemp warned, with George H. W. Bush’s election, the Reagan Revolution ended.
The Republican Establishment Rejected the Tea Party
When the GOP lay on its deathbed after the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Tea Party gave the Republican Party a heart transplant. The beast roared back to life, sweeping the 2010 election. Then, as is so common with transplants, the host rejected the new organ.
I am still on a mission to build and support an anti-establishment party. It could still be the GOP, but it’s no longer my job to reform the Republicans. They’re old enough and rich enough to reform themselves.
My job is, as a cell in this viable heart, to find a qualified recipient–a party that will accept the principles on which our republic was founded.
More voters trust the Democratic Party than the Republican Party on budgetary issues, according to the results of a new poll for The Hill — even though a strong majority actually prefer Republican fiscal policies [emphases added].
Now do see how bad things are for the Republicans?
Marketing Can’t Fix Trust
Bad marketing is fairly easy to fix. The world is full of marketing scientists, strategists, and copywriters. It’s just a matter of humility and money.
The Hill poll did not delve into this question, but we know this much: 55 percent of Americans believe that the GOP is lying about the Ryan budget (threat) or incapable of carrying it out (incompetent) or both.
Here Are the Numbers on Budget Preferences
The Hill designed their poll so people wouldn’t know which party proposed which budget solutions. When presented this way, here’s how people responded:
The Ryan Budget beats the Patty Murray Budget by a whopping 55-28. Even among women, Ryan’s budget wins 51-27.
But now look at which party people trust to fix the budget problem:
While 55 percent prefer the Republican budget, only 30 percent trust the GOP on budgetary issues.
The GOP Needs To Learn More About The Trust Issue
Marketing begins with research, and The Hill poll gives the Republicans an immediate challenge: find out if people think they’re insincere, incompetent, or both.
In the past, the party and politicians and pundits would simply argue with people, telling the public it’s wrong. That doesn’t work.
And better messaging won’t either. Not until the Republicans know why people don’t trust them.
How the GOP handles this trust issue will tell a lot, and quickly, about its future. If they choose to fight public opinion before understanding it, the Republican candidate for President in 2016 might not finish in the top two.
For 20 years, the Battleground Poll of States (now the Politico/GW Battleground Poll) showed a freakish consistency about ideology.
2009: 59% Conservative
2012: 57% Conservative
With almost 60% calling themselves somewhat or very conservative, how could Barack Obama get re-elected? How could Republicans fail to gain the Senate in 2010 and 2012? Come to think of it, how do Democrats win at all?
The answer is simple: being conservative doesn’t make you Republican, but being Democrat makes you a liberal.
Look at responses to question d4:
Only 40 percent of respondents called themselves Republican (of some type), while 43 percent identify as Democrats.
Now, look again at ideology. Thirty-seven percent identify as liberal. So Democrats would appear to win over all liberals, all “moderates” and at least half those who don’t know or refused to answer question d3.
Meanwhile, at least 30 percent of self-described conservatives do not identify with the Republican party.
When you look at voter turnout, it seems clear that what Republicans are missing is 30 percent of conservatives. They just don’t vote.
Because the Republican Party isn’t conservative in their eyes. So they stay home or vote third party.
Becoming More Liberal Isn’t The Solution
We hear a lot of Republicans saying the GOP must become more liberal. The Battleground Poll seems to disagree. Instead, the GOP needs to become more consistent in its defense of freedom and its promotion of liberty.
Reducing the size and scope of the federal government
Ending the Republican love affair with crony capitalism
Flattening the tax code until we convert to a simple consumption tax
Eliminating income taxes eventually
Scaling back the war on drugs
Eliminating the Department of Education
Reducing foreign investments
Scaling back the power of the federal reserve
When libertarian and young voters look at Republicans, we see a party that worships government as much as the Democrats. Republicans are just as quick to hold Congressional hearings on issues that belong to the states alone. Republicans crave the power of committees and brag about bringing home pork to their districts and states.
As I demonstrated, young people can smell a scam more readily than older voters, and they smell one when the GOP talks about reducing government. Government grew under Bush and a Republican Congress. It grew under Reagan and a Republican Senate.
The only real rollback of government power came under Clinton and a Republican Congress with welfare reform.
Republicans Will Never Win Over The Middle
With 57 percent of voters calling themselves conservatives, the GOP has no need to win over the middle. Instead, they need to win over all 57 percent of conservatives.
Even you argue that those 57 percent are unequally distributed, you can’t argue that they all voted in 2012. If they had—and if they had all voted Republican—Romney would have captured a popular vote landslide. But he didn’t.
If the Republican Party were authentically pro-liberty, pro-freedom, and pro-people, it would wipe out the Democrats election after election. But its inconsistency has the GOP on the verge of extinction.
I agree with Republican Senator Corker that inflation is a danger in the future. But inflation doesn’t win the hearts and minds of most Americans right now. No one’s worried about it except economists and economics geeks.
The death of the community and regional bank, however, does bother people. As does the printing of money that goes straight into the 5 biggest banks in history . . . and stays there.
The US Government bailed out those 5 “too big to fail” banks in 2008 and it’s been propping them up with our money ever since. That was one of the driving forces behind the birth of the Tea Party movement in February 2009.
Marco Rubio gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address for two reasons.
First, Rubio’s Cuban, and the GOP wants to court Latinos.
Second, Rubio’s relatively young, and the GOP wants to stop the bleeding when it comes to young voters.
But there’s a fundamental problem with the Republican approach, and it stems from the GOP’s least favorite discipline: behavioral science.
Young People Are Naturally Skeptical
You hear about scams that target older folks all the time. If you’re like me, you’re tempted to blame it on media sensationalism. After all, ripping off a retiree on Social Security pisses us off a lot more than stories of scamming a 24-year-old single guy.
But 80 percent of scam victims are over 65. It’s not sensationalism by the media to drive up ratings. And it’s not senility. It’s the human brain and aging.
In a study, researchers found that older people are far less able to detect a scammer than younger people are. Follow-up investigations using functional MRIs that watch the brain while it’s working revealed that a part of the brain that signals danger declines as we age.
In the study, appearing online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the“untrustworthy” faces were perceived as significantly more trustworthy by the older subjects than by the younger ones. The researchers then performed the same test on a different set of volunteers, this time imaging their brains during the process, to look for differences in brain activity between the age groups. In the younger subjects, when asked to judge whether the faces were trustworthy, the anterior insula became active; the activity increased at the sight of an untrustworthy face. The older people, however, showed little or no activation.
Aging depresses our bullshit detectors. And the Republicans better come to grips, because their message isn’t selling among people with strong BS detectors—people under 30. Like it or not, they are tomorrow’s voter.
Pandering might work with the elderly, but it becomes less effective as you move down the age scale.
Young People Are Cynical Idealists
Instead of pandering with Marco Rubio and amnesty, why not take John Mackey’s advice? That advice is simple: find your purpose.
Mackey is the co-founder of Whole Foods Markets. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian equally uncomfortable with the big brother government as with crony capitalism. His employees are young and cynical, but at the same time visionary and idealistic.
Republicans should focus on that last question: would we be missed if we disappeared? They should ask people under 30 who call themselves fiscal conservatives, “would you miss the GOP if it disappeared tomorrow?”
More and more, the answer in my head is “not really.” (Frankly, I have almost the same response when applying the question to the tea party movement, and we need to fix that, too, or stop existing.)
If the Republican Party doesn’t provide a viable alternative to planned economies and regulated lives, another party will fill the void.
Let’s be honest: America and the ideals of liberty and free market capitalism need a vibrant, purposeful political engine more than they need a network of grassroots activists. And nature abhors a vacuum.
Imitating Reagan Isn’t Enough
Cynical idealists respond to people who demonstrate a clear sense of purpose and a commitment to making life better. Young people flocked to Reagan (as compared to many other Republican candidates), both as governor of California and as President of the United States. They may not have agreed with him, but they recognized a shared worldview: trust, but verified.
Trying to recreate the Reagan Era is as futile and counterproductive as trying to rebuild the Berlin Wall. But we can learn something from Regan’s vision.
Reagan simultaneously cast a jaundiced eye on our institutions and systems while maintaining in his mind’s eye the shining city on the hill. He was a cynical idealist, and it worked. The cynical idealist made the world better – for a time.
Science confirms that saying the right things but doing the politically expedient might endear you to the oldest voters, but it makes the youngest puke.
As long as the GOP believes pandering to the young will cure its problems, more and more people will come to realize we wouldn’t really miss the party if it disappears tomorrow.
Republicans should announce “the sequester won’t be so bad” and shut up, and science tells us why.
Obama, the Dems, liberal pundits, the press, and even John Boehner are running around yelling about how horrible the sequester will be.
In some deep recesses of our minds, we agree. “Oh, my God! We’re all going to do die!”
Fear-mongering only works in the future because, in short, nothing is as bad (or as good) as we think it will be when we think about it.
Meet Affective Forecasting and Your Impact Bias
That’s a shorthand explanation of affective forecasting—or predicting how happy or sad something will make us. Marketers and politicians want us to predict our future feelings about some event and to apply impact bias to that prediction.
Obama uses the science of psychology better than anyone, and the Republicans refuse to even consider it a science. This is one of the reasons why Obama beats the GOP at almost every turn.
The Sequester Won’t Be As Bad As Any Alternative
If the Republicans try to strike a deal with Obama, they will do so under the duress of extreme impact bias. In other words, their imaginations will make monsters of the sequester, and their minds will agree to a deal that mostly benefits Obama.
Obama and his advisers study the science of human behavior. Republicans don’t. In every negotiation, Obama has knowledge that Republicans lack – knowledge he uses to take advantage of the GOP.
The losers in these negotiations are the public in general and the young in particular as the GOP trades their future wealth and choices to the President.
So think about something else and let the sequester happen. It won’t be nearly as bad as you think it will when you think about it.