This is a collaborative post by The Ambulance Chaser and me. It started from an email exchange and then we decided write a post that will appear on both blogs. I’m not sure exactly how this will work out, but it’s worth a try.
I will say that I’m not sure how much Presidential election blogging I will do this time around. Neither of the “presumptive” candidates are ideal by any definition of the word. One is a brash entrepreneur and reality TV show host with no political experience. The other is the epitome of the political insider. Who also happens to have little in the way of achievement that isn’t tied to her former President husband. Trump is (or was) hated by the GOP establishment, while Clinton is the darling of the Donkey set.
Those are my preliminary thoughts outside of the collaborative portion of the post. The parts in regular fonts are from the original email from The Ambulance Chaser. My comments are in red interspersed.
So, since we're among friends and for the most part, relatively like-minded ones at that, I figure I'll share my insights as to how we've ended up with Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee. Let me first say that, in the words of Marc Antony, I come to bury Trump, not praise him. I cast my vote for Cruz not out of support of him, but at least knowing who he is and what he stands for. Like some of us here, I too share the disgust at the Republican Party's current fascination with bedroom and bathroom habits. It's unseemly, narrow-minded, and especially hypocritical coming from a party that supposedly is the champion of limited government. Which is the common perception, but the Democrats seem far more interested of late in peoples' sex lives and bathroom habits. After all, it's they that are proposing "affirmative consent" laws on campuses and trying to change the public bathroom habits of the American public. Trump has for the most part totally ignored those issues and the pressure to discuss them. Wise move. My major complaint with the Republican Party, which I share with you, is that they aren't acting like conservatives. This despite the fact that most Americans are politically center-right, not left. So, how'd we get to Trump? Well, for one thing, I do think that social conservatism has a limited appeal. There's only so many voters out there for whom homosexuality, abortion, and school prayer are their core, fundamental issues. Bluntly, if it was me, I wouldn't even make an effort to appeal to them. And by and large, Trump really hasn't. See? We agree. What has Trump done? He's appealed to blue collar Reagan Democrats. The comments about foreign trade and "making America great again" appeal to blue collar, Rust Belt voters. For all of the talk about the Republicans being "politically incorrect," the Republicans really aren't all that willing to offend or speak painful truths. Trump has said what many people are afraid to say in "polite company" about immigration and Islamic terrorism. And in that "everyman" appeal, he scores more points with voters. While I don't have the statistical analysis, I'd hazard a guess that Trump is doing especially well with independent and previously unengaged voters. This is one point on which we disagree.
Trump is drawing support from broad segments of the population. For the most part it's people who are fed up with the establishments of both parties. That was part of the appeal of Ted Cruz and is a large part of the appeal of Bernie Sanders. My sister, who is at least on the surface a liberal Democrat, is a self described "Bernie Girl". I'm not sure what his appeal to her is, because chances are she'll be negatively impacted by his communist financial policies. My son has a MBA and is a Trump supporter. Trump is hugely popular in the southern state in which he lives. My daughter in law says that if it comes down to Trump vs Hillary, she'll stay home. Which is okay, because that's in effect a vote for Trump. She is pretty conservative. No college, but she's a sharp young women. Mrs. EMS Artifact didn't like Cruz, but likes Trump. If anything, she is far more conservative than people think I am. She can't stand Hillary or Bernie, especially Hillary. My friend Peg, a former Canadian and former left leaning Democrat, hates Obama, Hillary, and Bernie. She likes Trump, but not Cruz. Women not liking Cruz seems to be a trend, at least in my not very scientific polling. I have several friends who are life long Republicans who like Trump. They're tired of the GOP establishment bending over for the Democrats. They want conservative fiscal policies, don't care about social issues either way, do care about immigration. I could go on and on in this vein, but I think the point is clear.
In all fairness, Trump is remarkably naive on foreign and defense affairs. His comments about making NATO, South Korea, and Japan pay for more of their defense are short-sighted and, if enacted, could well lead to the USA losing leverage there and those nations asserting a more independent foreign policy that might not align with US interests. As for his domestic policies, he makes vague promises that make for great soundbites. For those that mock and dismiss him, I'll note that Obama got elected on vague promises of "hope and change." That worked for enough voters. It might just well for Trump.
I don't know if Trump is a conservative or not. I think he's more of a populist than anything else. If he wins, I hop he'll make good choices for his cabinet, national security adviser, head of the CIA, etc... The big question with Trump is federal judges, especially SCOTUS. This is my biggest question mark about Trump. What will he do if he wins? Will he govern from the center, the right, or the left? Or a mix? Of course he won't be the first candidate that was elected with the electorate not knowing where he stands on some crucial issues. Of course, I could be wrong about that. He might pick judges that are more liberal than would Hillary. I doubt it, though.
Obama has proposed that our allies pick up more of the funding for NATO and their own defense. Which is one reason we don't have nearly as many allies as we did a few years ago. Japan has increased defense spending, as have other of our allies. They have zero faith in Obama fulfilling any of the US obligations to defend them if it comes to that. Taiwan and South Korea share that, as do allied countries in Europe. Our so called allies in the Middle East are also very concerned about this election. I'm not suggesting that we pay for all of our allies defense forces, but there is value in having a strong military of our own. Helping other nations is part of that, but they are going to have to increase their commitment to defending themselves. Especially Europe, which I expect is once again going to be defending the gates of Vienna from the Islamic hoards. Or maybe London, Paris and Berlin. Both parties are to blame for the Trump phenomenon. The Republicans talk a tough game, especially on immigration, and routinely fail to deliver -- primarily because many of their large business supporters depend on immigration. All the Republicans have delivered during the Obama administration, with congressional majorities for six of eight years, are press releases, showboating, grandstanding, and pandering to a small fringe of evangelical voters who wouldn't vote for the Democrats anyway. The Democrats have delivered more government entitlements, more wealth transfer, a near Communist fascination with class envy, and a naked, brazen attempt to appeal to every identity group out there. Trump is expressing the disgust of people in both parties with the status quo. You'll notice that no one has asked Obama to go out and campaign with or for them. For good reason, President Jug Ears is not particularly popular.
The media? Well, they have some fault too. They bemoan the lack of substance in politics, yet they engage in "gotcha" journalism designed to dig up past mistakes and foibles, thus eliminating anyone except those bland candidates who, since fifth grade, have strove to avoid anything controversial or embarrassing. They've turned politics into a horserace and a reality show. In fact, "Who Wants To Be President" might well turn out a better candidate than the primary process has this year.
The media is in the bag for the Democrats. Very few people in the media identify as Republicans and even a casual perusal of the news will show that the main stream media does all it can to cover for Obama and Hillary. I expect that the attacks on Trump in the MSM will intensify now that he's the presumptive nominee.
The modern left and the modern right are both incredibly out of touch with most Americans. Both parties engage in "crony capitalism" where free enterprise is a myth. Rather, big business plays both parties for subsidies. The Republicans fund "economic development" and grant subsidies to corporate agriculture. Meanwhile the Democrats will fund "green energy" and want to address economic justice by giving money to people with bad credit and build nice things in areas where people are rioting. So, when modern liberalism helps us "feel the Bern" in our "safe spaces" and modern conservatism is worried about the bathroom at Target, yet fails to seriously address terrorism or an economy that works for what the modern left and the Wall Street crowd calls "flyover country," we can look in the mirror and realize that the sad state of American politics and the American media have given us Donald Trump. We've ended up with a self-funded billionaire who, by his sheer wealth, is perceived to not have to pander to any donors and says the first thing on his mind. America, meet your reality show presidential candidate. Thus, we have the rise of a neo populist candidate that has been remarkably non specific about what he actually plans to do to "Make America Great Again". Obama gave rise to Trump's model of campaigning. He too ran as a neo populist who was remarkably non specific about what he would actually do. We've had eight years of fundamental transformation and it appears that much of the voting public is tired of that. I'm not sure if the public knows that they want in the next President, but they have made it very clear what they DON'T want.