Writings and observations


Ron Faucheux from RealClearPolitics says there is not one big populist voter revolt, but three.

The first revolt has been percolating for nearly a decade. It is an insurgency targeted against moral compromise and it is being waged within –– and, in some ways, against –– the Republican Party. Powered at the grass roots by the Tea Party and on Capitol Hill by the Freedom Caucus, this movement has pulled the Republican Party well to the right of where it was just a few years ago . . .

The second revolt is aimed at wealth inequality and corporate corruption. This revolt operates mostly within the Democratic Party, although many disaffected independents — especially younger voters –– find the cause appealing. . . .

The third revolt is one directed at the political system itself. . .

While both the left and right share a growing contempt for politics as usual, the impetus for this popular uprising comes mostly from center-right voters upset by government paralysis and incompetence. It is a movement built upon cynicism –– and anger at dodgy politicians, broken institutions and increasing demands for political correctness. No longer content to just tweak the system, they want to knock it down.

I believe he misses the mark on what he describes as the third revolt. First, he errs when he believes there is a two dimensional measure in politics. While our two party election system does force voters to select between the leftward coalition – called the Democrats, and the rightward coalition, called the Republicans, individual voters think in more dimensions. What he calls a third revolt is not a revolt, but an independent voter movement by less partisan voters who are angry over our failing Democracy. Crony capitalism, money buying politics, anti democratic election laws are the enemy, and the current Republican and Democratic party operatives, insiders, electeds and donor bases are the perceived culprits. From both parties.

It may seem like a right of center movement to Mr. Faucheux because nationally Trump is the only candidate who speaks to the movement for voters who are on “the right”. But On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders also speaks to the independent movement as well as Mr. Faucheux’s second revolt. (Which is why Sanders will do better than the professionals expect among independent movement voters).

However, Oregon’s version of the independent movement could express itself not by a Democratic or Republican outsider such as Trump or Sanders, but by candidates who can actually run as an Indpendent Party (IPO) member. Since the IPO now has major party status, it will be acting as a platform for community leaders running for office, representing this broad based movement. The best will be able to express the independent movement’s extreme displeasure with how the Democratic and Republican operatives, electeds and donor bases have failed to care for our Democracy, and our common good.

If one or more IPO candidates are able to break through the Democratic/Republican hegemony over politics, it would put Oregon on the map as the spear tip of the independent movement.

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First Take

The upcoming contests in the next few days – South Carolina for Republicans, Nevada for Democrats – may do a lot to shape the contest to come.

How close will be the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders contest? Nevada may tell us.

And, how difficult will it be to block Donald Trump from the Republican Presidential nomination? South Carolina, where polling has varied but mostly has given Trump a big lead, may tell us.

Public Policy Polling released a South Carolina poll yesterday showing Trump at “35% to 18% each for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 10% for John Kasich, and 7% each for Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.”

So who are these deciders in South Carolina?

Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:

-70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump’s the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.

-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else’s voters think is a good idea. There’s also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else’s voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.

There’s your deciders.

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First Take

The first question asked of the two Democratic presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, was one they probably haven’t heard much, and didn’t handle well. They ought to think about it and deliver a more meaningful answer later on. Doing that could serve not only themselves but both parties a useful service.

And the same ought to go to Republicans at their next debate.

That first question on Thursday night, asked by the moderators from PBS, was about a subject Republicans often discuss: How big should government be? Is it too big? If it is, what steps should be taken to reduce its size?

That’s not a top-level question for all Americans, but it long has been central for a large number, including many Republicans. The idea that government is way too big, to the point of crisis levels, has been an article of faith among many Republicans for decades; listen to any of the Republican presidential debates and you won’t wait long to hear it referenced in some manner. But there’s a disconnect here. Democrats aren’t arguing that government should be bigger; they simply don’t address the subject at all. Which leaves them open and politically vulnerable on a subject they could readily address.

How might they do so? If I were Clinton or Sanders, I might say something to the effect: Government is very big, yes, and where we can find waste or efficiencies we should eliminate unneeded spending. (Sanders did say that much, and Clinton alluded to it.) But they also could say that the central question, one Republicans dislike addressing, is: What should government do? Government should be big enough to do what we want it to do, and no larger, and no smaller, either. The debate ought to be over what government should, or should not, do.

The effect of that would be to join the argument of the two parties. Republicans would have a response to that sort of response, and that’s fine. At least then the two parties would be talking with, not past, each other. We’d be having the same conversation. – rs

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First Take