Sunday, 23 February 2020

Trump's shoulders keep the sky suspended

Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat nominee for US President and will lose. 

The Nevada caucus has given him a momentum that I imagine cannot be stopped. 

He is the candidate whom Trump is praying will oppose him, if he does pray, which I somewhat doubt.

It would be a disaster were Bernie to win. For everyone. He’d fail and later someone more left wing might win. 

But I cannot imagine him winning, unless the Chinese virus creates a second financial crisis like the one in 2008. Even then I don't see Americans trusting him to solve the crisis.

Why do I follow American elections? Because they matter to the world and because they are rivetting thanks to the primaries

The first one I followed, when I still went to school in short trousers, was in 1972 but the memory is very faint. I remember the Democrat vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton admitting he had undergone electric shock therapy and having to stand down

1976 I remember pretty clearly. I recall Mo Udall, like Mitt Romney a Mormon, George Wallace, who was no longer a segregationist but had no chance, and Edward Kennedy, who could have won but sulked in his tent. And Gerald Ford, so stupid that he couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time (this is the bowdlerised version of the quip).

Getting back to 2020, Mike Bloomberg made a big mess of his first debate. He is no more a Democrat than is Bernie. Is President Trump a Republican? Well, he has turned out to be much more of one than I expected, that is a Republican of circa 1920, but he is not a Republican of the 1952-2012 era. 

Joe Biden is a safe, folksy Democrat party hack - and old enough to remember when the Democrats were the party of the working class - which are reasons for Democrats to like him. He never had a vision and was always unfocussed but his lack of focus nowadays might be incipient senility. 

He doesn't have Trump's energy. He is not yuge. He is not going to win and by standing got in the way of other, better moderates.

By contrast Donald Trump is widely loved - by maybe a quarter of Americans, which is a lot. 

Why do evangelicals vote for the Donald? The answer is obvious. He is appointing judges who construe the law as it is written. He is not going to introduce laws they hate. He turned out, despite having looked like a Democrat, to be a Republican after all. He is a barricade thrown up against the march of progress. After him, who will protect Christian civilisation?

As Andrew Walker says,

‘The constant criticism of religious conservatives’ voting en masse for Donald Trump never comes with a suggestion of better alternatives.’
The alternative is much worse. Reagan called universities islands of totalitarianism in a sea of freedom but now totalitarianism is flooding into every workplace. American conservatives are advised never to discuss politics at work and not to go on social media. One American conservative blogger I read yesterday advised conservative men to work for themselves.

A friend sent me last night a very worrying article by Rod Dreher about a book he is writing on lack of freedom of speech in American universities.
'It should tell us something that not a single academic from a former communist country that I interviewed for this book was willing to speak using their own name — this, in the Land of the Free. Why not? Because they were afraid of facing professional consequences for speaking out against identity politics and the “social justice” regime.'

One of the anonymous people to whom he spoke told him 
that she is researching into the ways in which multinational corporations undermine the nation-state. 

'She said that wokeness in corporate America is a weapon used by white-collar professionals to weed out competitors for increasingly scarce jobs. She said, “People find ideological purity tests useful to weed out people who compete for jobs you cover. Progressive forces are completely allied with globalist capitalism.” 
'She also said that people have no idea how vulnerable they are to this mindset, because of social media. “You will not be able to predict what will be held against you tomorrow. You have no idea what completely normal thing you do today, or say today, will be used against you to destroy you. This is what people in the Soviet Union saw. We know how this works. This is why people like me are so upset today. I’m so glad you’re writing this book. Thank you for calling me and letting me vent.”
'.....She also said that she can’t stand Trump, but has come to see him as the only obstacle between herself and total progressive madness.'
That remark reminds me of A.E. Housman's one great poem, Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries.
'Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay...'
Her fear of revealing her opinions is no surprise to me. Unlike immigration, homosexual marriage, feminism or very many other things, you'd suppose Brexit would be a matter on which you could take either side without losing friends or even, in very extreme cases, your job (millions of left-wingers voted Leave, after all), but it is not.

Three British friends of mine who are university lecturers kept it a tight secret that they voted Leave in the Brexit referendum.  In institutions dedicated to the free discussion of ideas they knew they would lose friends and possibly preferment. 

A Cambridge undergraduate told me in 2016 that 85% of undergraduates voted Remain and the rest kept very quiet about it. My 17 year old nephew said the same about his classmates except he put the Remain proportion higher.

Donald Trump is insufferable, a preposterous braggart and habitual liar, adulterous, lazy and ignorant, though very clever. He has lowered American standing and respect in the world in a lot of ways, though from governments outside Europe and the Anglophone countries he gets more respect than Obama. He has done a lot of very good things. His tax cuts have made the world economy hum. He almost alone is thinking rationally about defence and illegal and legal migration, he is undermining the EU and trying to do something useful about China. 

Perhaps most important of all, he is buying time (eight years, I expect) for the whole world to think about how to deal with the left-wing authoritarianism that is engulfing it.


  1. Lecturers who like Tony Blair are considered dangerous right-wingers.

  2. The “financialization” of the American economy has led to increasing income and wealth disparity. As much as it pains me to say it, the “system” really is rigged. Whatever the good intentions of the Federal Reserve in particular and the US government in general have been, it has distorted the economic feedback loops that balance a true market-based economic system.

    The fact is we already have “socialism” today. It’s not the socialism we feared in 1974. We have socialized the risks of capitalism, to the benefit of a small portion of the country, while a larger portion struggles.

    That’s why Bernie Sanders may be on your ballot this November, and why he could win if the economy worsens. And there’s a chance it will. I long ago said Japan was a bug in search of a windshield. Maybe I should have said China. In either case, it’s beginning to look like virus COVID-19 could be the windshield against which the global economy meets its maker.

    I am not being gloom-and-doom. I really believe the world is getting better and I see opportunity everywhere. However, if there is a recession, and thus more people in pain… if we haven’t given people better answers, they may choose socialism by default.

    John Mauldin

    1. Bernie would be a terrible disaster. In 2008 the left-wing parties were harmed by the financial crisis and might be next time - here's hoping. A left-wing government is the worst thing that can befall a country, leaving aside plague, invasion etc.

    2. 'Bernie would be a terrible disaster'

      Not with a Republican controlled House and Senate.

    3. Bernie would be a terrible disaster.

      There are plenty of candidates who would be worse. Pete Buttigieg would be worse. Do you really want the LGBT lobby in complete control of the world's most powerful country?

      Bernie might be marginally less likely to start wars than the other candidates.

    4. This clip is astonishing. 'During a campaign rally, a 9-year-old boy asked Pete Buttigieg advice for coming out as gay – so, the candidate invited him up on stage.'

  3. Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat nominee for US President and will lose.

    Why do you think he'll lose?

    If Trump loses the Rust Belt states he won in 2016 he's toast. I'd have thought Sanders would have a good chance of picking up those states. Has Trump really done enough for Rust Belt voters to hold on to their votes?

    It really depends on which way the media jumps. Will they put their support behind Trump, who is Literally Hitler, or behind Bernie, who is Literally Stalin? It depends on just how determined the billionaire class is to make sure that no economically left-wing candidate ever gets elected president.

    Trump demonstrated that extreme media hostility does not necessarily stop a populist candidate. So maybe even fanatical opposition from the media won't stop Sanders. And it is going to be awkward for the media, trying to tell voters they should vote for Literally Hitler.

    Older voters might buy the "Sanders is a communist" line but younger voters won't. But will enough younger voters actually vote?

    I'd say the election result is entirely impossible to predict at this point. The one certainty is that Sanders is the only one with a chance of beating Trump.

  4. I do not imagine the media will back Trump. They will prefer Sanders, but Trump has a file on Sanders that reaches to the ceiling. He took his honeymoon in Russia! I really do not know, living in Romania and never watching television, but Bloomberg would have a better chance of beating DT and might not be finished. He ought to have been the obvious candidate. He is trying to row back on racial profiling when he was Mayor of NYC even though it seems to have helped reduce crime.
    He is in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants and in 2016 wanted “more open borders, not closed borders".
    Amy Klobuchar might have been good - she and MB are injured by Biden standing or as the Americans say 'running'.
    I reluctantly backed Obama in 2008 because I wanted a non white US President, ignoring his disgusting views on partial-birth abortion, which argued a very bad heart. Now, though I do not like Republicans (except the Pat Buchanan type), I am horrified by the views of all the Democratic candidates. Sanders would do most harm though - he would make socialism mainstream in the USA.

    (On March 30, 2001, Obama was the only Illinois senator who rose to speak against a bill that would have protected babies who survived late term labor-induced abortion. Obama rose to object that if the bill passed, and a nine-month-old fetus survived a late-term labor-induced abortion was deemed to be a person who had a right to live, then the law would "forbid abortions to take place.")

    1. I do not imagine the media will back Trump.

      It will be awkward for them if they're faced with two candidates that they hate and fear.

      It will be fascinating to see if smearing a candidate as a Bolshevik will still work today. Twenty years ago it would have doomed Sanders. I'm inclined to think that most of the voters who won't vote for Bernie because he's a Bolshie are voters who were going to vote for Trump anyway.

      As 2016 conclusively demonstrated it doesn't matter how many votes you win, it's where you win them that matters. Is the Bernie is a Bolshie argument likely to flip any Democrat states to Trump? Will it stop Bernie from making a clean sweep of the Rust Belt?

    2. Can Bernie who praised Castro win Florida with its many Cubans?

    3. The NYT and Washington Post are pretty left-wing these days - I read an article in the NYT praising Mao for his feminism. You are a mixture of very old school right and old school left.


    5. Rep. James Clyburn, House majority whip:
      Sanders Nomination Win Would Jeopardize House Majority

    6. Florida Dems in uproar after Sanders’ Cuba comments

      “Donald Trump wins Florida if Bernie is our nominee,” said one state legislator.

      Florida Democrats insist he‘s the worst-equipped after Sanders’ refusal Sunday night to thoroughly condemn the Cuban revolution. His comments on 60 Minutes sent shock waves through the nation’s biggest battleground state, where Democratic members of Congress, state legislators and party leaders warned that his nomination — and Sanders’ self-described “Democratic socialism” — will cost them the biggest battleground state of them all.

      “Donald Trump wins Florida if Bernie is our nominee,” said state Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democratic candidate in a majority-Hispanic state Senate district.

  5. 'More than nine in 10 Americans say they would vote for a presidential candidate nominated by their party who happened to be black, Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish or a woman. Such willingness drops to eight in 10 for candidates who are evangelical Christians or are gays or lesbians. Between six and seven in 10 would vote for someone who is under 40 years of age, over 70, a Muslim or an atheist. Just one group tested -- socialists -- receives majority opposition. Less than half of Americans, 45%, say they would vote for a socialist for president, while 53% say they would not.'

    1. Well, if you’re the party of free stuff, why shouldn’t the guy who offers the most free stuff win? Bernie is clearly willing to outbid all of his rivals in the free stuff auction. What makes you think anybody can beat him by just bidding less?

      Francis Menton

  6. I find your complacency regarding a Trump victory reassuring. I hope it is shared by many of his supporters.

    1. I hope your enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders portends his winning the nomination.

    2. Former Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris said on 970 AM New York City’s “The Cats Roundtable” that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “will get massacred” in 2020 by President Donald Trump.

      Morris said, “Let me be clear: Bernie will get massacred by Trump. We’re not just talking about a minor defeat here. We’re talking about they lose the House. I think in the Senate, they could lose up to 60 seats. They could have up to 60 seat Republican majority, supermajority. I think that Bernie will get destroyed. I think the worst presidential defeat since McGovern.”

      In the same interview, Morris predicted that twice-failed White House candidate Hillary Clinton can clinch the Democratic nomination at a brokered convention.

    3. The poll said fewer than 7 in 10 would vote for a candidate over 70 - yet most of them are in their 70s.

  7. The conservative states (and perhaps even the conservative parts of liberal states) need to start working on secession. End of.

  8. Two testy loudmouths who never admit they're wrong. Great.

    1. Sanders does not have the brain or political skills for the job. Nor did Hillary. Kerry had a good brain but was weak in so many ways. But I just cannot imagine Trump losing except in a crash caused by this flu against the reptilian but substantial Bloomberg.

  9. "Biden is also someone who in the prime of his life, over 30 years ago, lost to Dukakis. And the Clinton dynasty itself lost to Trump. Is Joe Biden really a better candidate than Hillary Clinton? Nobody thought so in 2008, when she trounced him in the primaries, and even in 2016 his decision not to run was almost certainly based on the correct judgment that he couldn’t beat her."