We have a credibility problem. The voters don’t vote because they got wise. One politician is as bad as the next, and the one at the top is the worst of all. That’s how it began and that’s how it will end. Every single one promised to solve the problems and not one problem has been solved. What gives?
Except problems have been solved. Many gigantic problems have been solved, usually after a populist wave of voter interest in a question of moral imperative. Historically speaking, the system works. Why then do people forget their power, sleep ambivalent and work resentful, when at any time they could move the mountain?
Education is the foundation of democracy. Without it we are doomed. Perhaps we always were. Radio and television play a significant role. With the introduction of the new media, disinformation exploded. It happened by accident at first, War of the Worlds and such, but soon it became a strategy. Yellow journalism predates radio, but it blossomed under cable news networks.
The good news is that we now have more control of the media than ever. The internet has made possible the most free and open market the world has ever seen. Education has been crowdsourced. To achieve political goals is merely to know the rules and engage. It is possible to mobilize huge numbers of people behind previously unknown political goals in a short time with the right argument.
The bad news is that disinformation has also been crowdsourced. There are huge swaths of the American people that feel angry about the removal of the tacky snowman from the Starbucks Christmas Cup™ and if you ask them why, they can’t explain. For them the debate is about two things only: strength and moral imperative. Compromise shows weakness. Pluralism hogties moral imperative and forces a discussion of moral authority. Both fatal.
This is the climate in which we elect the next president. I’d like to pretend that Citizens United doesn’t matter, or that Hillary’s nest egg will be enough to cover it. It won’t. It cost Obama a billion dollars to remain president in 2012. That was the incumbent price. All that money went into messages, not about policy or discernment, but about a symbol.
Obama’s campaign satisfied the strength and moral imperative test. The voters switched sides in 2008, like Reagan Democrats, because they believed they were on the right side of history. The pendulum swung back. The Republicans ran John McCain on principle, because he was their best argument for strength and moral imperative. It wasn’t enough after the financial crisis.
We are living on that pendulum. We decide which direction it is swinging. On our current leftward trajectory, we should reject Hillary, like we did last time, for someone whose voting record reflects our interests. We should bet that the pendulum will continue to swing left, and we should get behind it financially. If we do that, Sheldon Adelson will be out another hundred million on a bad bet.
It is our responsibility to believe that our candidate will win and to work to make it happen. Enthusiasm is the work force. Without it we are doomed. We are not doomed because the system is strong but because we are weak, because we have forgotten Ben Franklin’s admonition that our government is “a democracy, if you can keep it.”
I have tremendous respect for President George Herbert Walker Bush. I respectfully submit to you that Bush 41 has been cleaning a shotgun for twenty three years, considering the problem of how to beat the Clinton Machine. I submit to you that he solved this problem, that he was prepared for it in 2008, and has only refined his argument since then.
I submit to you one final image. Please do not propagate this image. I mean no disrespect to Senator Clinton. I certainly do not intend to imply that her performance as Secretary of State was less then stellar. However, this is the climate. The debate is about two things, strength and moral imperative. Between Benghazi and ServerGate, she’s basically a sitting duck on both counts.
Neither I nor Bush 41 engineered this set of circumstances, but if I can see it, so can he, and so can the Republicans.They have defined the terms of the debate. In order to win, we must win on their terms, strength and moral imperative. That’s how presidential elections are decided now. Bernie’s politics and policies are correct. That’s why Hillary is replicating them. Only Bernie has the track record to back them up.
President Bill Clinton beat Bush 41 by outflanking him from the left and the right. When Ross Perot dragged Bush so far to the right that he stopped on principle, Clinton stepped in just to the right of center and the trap was sprung. Trump is the new Perot, dragging all the candidates to the right, allowing Hillary to infiltrate the middle ground. Only Hillary has been veering to the left to compete with Bernie. The grassroots uprising has caught her in a rundown.
Jeb has already outflanked Hillary. He’s slightly left of center. That’s why he’s polling so poorly among the disinformed. Bernie is the (practically) third party candidate getting huge poll numbers. She’s already moved too far left. When she tries to tack back center Jeb will be waiting, and she will be trapped.
But what if the Republican party had embraced Perot? What if the pendulum swinging right had been helped, rather than stopped, by the establishment. Where would we be now? Could Clinton have beaten Perot? I’m guessing not, considering he only got 43% of the popular vote. We all know Bernie Sanders has a great voting record, and his campaign satisfies the strength and moral imperative test. His supporters are legion, highly vocal, and internet savvy. He can deliver the independent vote. The question is whether the Democratic party is taking a dive.