A Third Party for the Conservatives?!?

imagesNew Orleans   Every once in a while the arch-conservative editorialists working for Rupert Murdock at The Wall Street Journal have the capacity to surprise. Here we have been cajoling progressives that we need to learn the lessons of the 2016 campaign finally and think seriously about building an alternative political formation that more clearly translates our politics into voice and votes, and darned if the Trump ascension to the Republican throne hasn’t gotten some of their big Whigs talking about a third party for this November. These are not conversations that any of us among the unwashed masses would have known about, but the hue and cry in the conservative ranks must have been loud enough that their sounding board in the Journal felt it was serious enough that they needed to turn the full nozzle up on the hose to try and put out any trace of this fire.

Reading between the lines, there had clearly been a lot of fast and furious talk among the anti-Trump forces that now that he seems almost completely certain to cinch the Republican nomination that they should organize an independent, conservative candidacy and party to appeal to their sort of people. Certainly with the deep pockets that some of these folks have, a run approximating the Ross “Sucking Sound” Perot effort that helped Bill Clinton win or the idiosyncratic race by former Congressman John Anderson, might have been possible.

Their strategy, amazingly enough for conservatives, was to create total chaos. To me that sounds almost Trump-like, but that’s just me. Their notion was that they would pull enough of their kind of votes that there would be no clear winner in the Electoral College, and they would throw the election to the House of Representatives to decide. Since the House is controlled by Republicans their rationale then was that their team in the House would deliver the Presidency to the “true” conservative of their choosing, rather than the faux-conservative, Donald Trump. All of this just takes your breath away, and the fact that The Wall Street Journal took it all seriously enough to try to jump on it with both feet is equally amazing.

But, that’s not all! While some of us are busy trying to learn lessons from these campaigns for the future, there are clearly folks in the conservative ranks who still have not come to grip with the fact that Trump has proven them to be putative emperors with no clothes. Trump has proven these so-called “true” conservatives in think tanks and Wall Street, don’t have a base among voters. Trump has also taken down evangelicals and some of the more extreme gay-bashers and others as well, proving they may have support, but not as many votes as they were claiming either, and if there’s any doubt, call Senator Cruz for clarification on this point.

Some have gotten the message. David Brooks from the Times for example has pledged to get out of his bubble and hit the streets in the coming years to find out what people are really thinking and where they are hurting instead of hanging out in the echo chamber. Warren Buffet on the Democratic side is already drawing lessons from Sanders campaign.

Yesterday is dead and gone. Today is out of control. Time to take notes and do our homework to prepare for the future!

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Revolution of the Low-Information Voter or What?

People-VotingNew Orleans   The Presidential primaries are coming hot and heavy now that we’ve left the frozen tundra of Iowa and New Hampshire and politics are moving west and south. For all of the sound and fury about how neither state is representative of the rest of the country, this is the time when the pols and pundits really get scared about what “real” Americans in the rest of the country think, and even worse, how they might vote. Looking down from their noses, we are now moving into the land of the so-called “low-information voter,” which Wikipedia defines as people who might vote for Bill Clinton because he used to eat at McDonald’s or who think that John Kerry and Barack Obama are elitists because one windsurfs and the other golfs. Some are arguing that the Donald Trump phenomenon is a revolution of the low-information voter and the high-brows will broad brush all of everything from Trump to Sanders as populism, a code word for unbridled demagoguery. A survey recently found that in the South and West we don’t get enough sleep: we’re dangerous and unstable people!

We all have to concede that there is some very rich irony in all of this since we also supposedly live in the “age of information.” Is the problem low-information or drowning in information? For too many, the “trusted advisor” who is weighing the information streaming to the brain is coming through their Facebook portal directly in an echo-chamber of “friends” and supporters that facts don’t pierce.

It’s a vicious circle. I read a scary book recently by Rob Brotherton entitled Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe in Conspiracy Theories. One of the more disturbing points he established is the fact that if someone believes in one conspiracy, they are more inclined to believe in almost all kinds of conspiracies. Once the wall of rationality is breached, then the deluge, and you’re washed up on distant shores, perhaps forever.

Take for example the bizarreness of the Oregon wildlife refuge occupiers, armed and argumentative. No matter how much we love our Western ranchers, and god knows I do, on the face of it we know that they fail the smell test when they argue they just want to make public land their own private plaything and business park. None of us ever believe there’s really a “free lunch” out there. But, whoa, Nellie, there are teeny-tiny armed militias beating this drum and some loose dog politicians circling around the pack. There are people who believe one of the occupiers was murdered even after the police put out the video, which even if inconclusive leaves little doubt it may have been something crazy, but it wasn’t assassination, no matter what their Facebook friends claim.

Still, it’s not the voter who is to blame, but the exploiter. The big whoops who know better, but trim their sails to the fringe in order to pull them into their wake, regardless. The politicians who take the conspiracies and make it their cause. The insiders who manipulate votes, fears, and emotions about outsiders to their own self-interest rather than peoples’ benefit.

Until we all put our foot down and step into the mess to sort it out, we’ll just have more and more of this.

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