Friday, November 27, 2015

Josh Marshall on Trump

Josh Marshall offers excellent analysis of the Trump campaign on Talking Points Memo.

It's not too much to say that there's nothing Trump has said in recent weeks that you couldn't hear any given Monday on the Rush Limbaugh Show, from various backbench House conservatives or a million other places in conservative media. If you pay attention to any of these three fronts, you know this. These are the same themes, enemies, and swear lines that have run right at the water line of conservative politics for years. What Trump has done - I suspect more intuitively than with a conscious strategy or plan - is to package them all together and strip away the window dressing which has allowed this menu of resentment to both stoke base conservative anger and appeal to more respectable conservative elites without creating channel conflict between the two. This is no more than the monster which Republican elites created and used to marvelous effect. Only now it appears to be in the process of slipping its leash and devouring its creators rather than uneasily or crankily serving it.

And yet, for all the poetic justice, this doesn't quite capture what's happening. Parties and politics inflect and harness trends in the broader society. They don't create them. There's nothing new under the sun about Trumpism. It's just a turbo-charged, more media savvy version of the resentment politics the GOP has been tapping for fuel and riding for decades. The familiarity of the Trump message comes across clearly in that aforementioned Washington Post article where those pushing a Stop Trump movement don't focus on the racism or xenophobia but on Trump's past support for universal health care or the Clintons. In other words, there's apparently no stopping Trump on the right. Or as Romney guru and former top aide Eric Fehrnstrom told The Boston Globe: “These Republican candidates haven’t figured out a successful way to disqualify Trump. Attacking him from the left is a losing strategy in our primary.” The only viable attack is that he's actually too liberal or is merely a cynical manipulator pretending to embrace hard right politics for his own gain.

Trump is no more alien to base Republican politics than Bernie Sanders is to Democratic base politics when Sanders states openly what many liberals have always believed, which is that taxes on the wealthy should be dramatically higher and that Obamacare is merely a half-measure in lieu of real reform, which is a single payer national health insurance. In case this strikes you as some blithe false equivalency, quite the contrary. The distinction speaks for itself. Trump proposes a mass deportation which if actually carried out as he describes it might actually qualify as a war crime while Sanders proposes adopting a national health insurance program similar to what the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada and numerous other countries have enjoyed for going on three generations.

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