Quotulatiousness

April 23, 2016

Politics, your social bubble, and you

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Last week, Megan McArdle looked at the Hindenburg-crashing-into-the-Titanic-during-a-volcanic-eruption how so many people’s assessment of the US general election is so at variance with reality:

Call it “the big sort” or “demographic clusters” or whatever you like, it all comes down to the same thing: Even as Americans talk more and more about diversity, they are increasingly dividing themselves into like-minded bubbles where other people, with other experiences and viewpoints, almost never penetrate. This is the message of books by Charles Murray and Robert Frank, and indeed of our own social media feeds.

All of those articles on “how to talk to your family about politics this Thanksgiving” might as well be called “how to discuss politics on the one day a year when you find yourself in a group that has not been hand-curated to remove dissenting viewpoints.”

I don’t exclude myself from this. I live in one of the most rarefied bubbles on the planet, a community of policy-focused knowledge workers in which I practically qualify as a proletarian because I have spent years in jobs that did not involve writing about what other people have done or ought to do.

Even the socialists here in Washington are often notable for their lack of personal familiarity with their side in the class war. Outside of family circles, I almost never meet anyone who does not have a college degree and a 401(k), unless I’m buying something from them, or giving a talk at a university to people who are on their way to having a college degree and a 401(k).

Social media, of course, makes this problem worse. Even if we are not deliberately blocking people who disagree with us, Facebook curates our feeds so that we get more of the stuff we “like.” What do we “like”? People and posts that agree with us. Given that Facebook seems to be the top news source for millennials, and an increasingly important one even for folks who grew up skimming dead trees for information, that matters quite a lot.

April 19, 2016

QotD: An appropriate epitaph

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When the epitaph for America’s political class is written, it may read something like this:

“Real unemployment was above 10%, barbarians were reintroducing slavery and public beheadings in the Middle East, the national infrastructure was crumbling, the Presidential elections were convulsed by large-scale populist revolts in both parties, and what was the elite cause du jour? Unisex restrooms.”

Eric S. Raymond, posting to Google+, 2016-04-10.

April 5, 2016

Scott Adams on Il Donalduce’s recent mistakes

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Scott Adams has been pushing his “master persuader” theory of the rise of Donald Trump for quite some time now. In recent weeks, Trump has made a series of unforced errors that have clearly stalled his momentum toward the Republican nomination. Adams sums up the biggest ones here:

Donald Trump has made some big mistakes lately. On top of that, his opponents improved their game. As a result, he finds himself in an enormous hole of disapproval, especially with women. If you have been reading my Master Persuader series, you might be interested in why Trump’s persuasion suddenly stopped working.

It’s more interesting than you think.

I’ll ignore politics and policies as usual and focus on Trump’s persuasion game. I think we all agree that Trump says plenty of untrue things about reality. Even his supporters agree on that. (They just don’t care.)

So here are Trump’s big persuasion errors so far:

1. The Nazi salute.

2. The David Duke disavowal that wasn’t fast enough.

3. Saying women who break future abortion laws should be punished.

You might want me to include on his list of errors his unflattering tweet of Cruz’ wife compared to his wife. But that ploy was more of a mixed result than a complete fail. As obnoxious as it was, it was strong persuasion technique to showcase his mating prowess. You don’t want to believe that works, but it does.

Trump’s aggressive – and personal – attack also sent a signal to stay away from his family, which could pay dividends later. And more generally, he showed a willingness to strike back harder than he is struck, as has been his pattern. That gives pause to the enemy. And of course he sucked all the energy out of the room for another two weeks, consistent with his strategy. I bet most of his supporters found the tweet funny, which is a bonding emotion.

The downside to the wife tweet is that it was one more drip in what was starting to look like a rainstorm of sexist behavior. So on that level, it was a bad idea. Viewed in isolation, the wife tweet was more persuasion than mistake. But viewed in the context of Trump’s problem with women voters, it was a net mistake. But not a big one.

Let’s talk about the big ones.

March 27, 2016

QotD: Down with Godwin

Filed under: Europe, History, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

If I could eliminate one thing about the Internet, it would be Godwin’s law. Why? It’s made it next to impossible to make actual comparisons about what is probably the best documented instance of the rise of a populist dictator. The instant the magic words come out, any semblance of rational discussion gets defenestrated and the next thing you know people are shouting past each other and the whole thing dies.

Consider: a nation whose people were known for hard work, for pride in their achievements, who — not without justification — saw themselves as having been betrayed by wealthy elites. Their savings were wiped out by what appeared to them to be a combination of malice on the part of the same wealthy elites who claimed they were shameful warmongers and financial mismanagement. Despite what they were being told, they could see themselves losing ground and becoming less well-off than their parents and grandparents had been.

Simply put, these people were immensely vulnerable to a charismatic populist willing to tell them that they had every right to feel betrayed; that they had been betrayed; and that he was going to change all this and make them a great people and a great nation again.

Sound familiar? It should: there are two populist demagogues spinning their separate flavors of this particular scenario through the USA right now. One of them has deployed rioters against the other, although it’s not impossible that the whole thing was staged the way the early NSDAP supporters would pretend to be opponents of the party to set off violence that made the NSDAP look like the victim. It made for good copy, and gave their leader some really good material for those crowd-pleasing speeches he became famous for… before he became a synonym for evil.

Kate Paulk, “Down with Godwin”, According to Hoyt, 2016-03-16.

March 22, 2016

Il Donalduce and the empty Republican suits

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

L. Neil Smith on the Republican race:

Consider the Republicans whom we’ve watched and listened to over the past six months (it hasn’t seemed like a moment less than six years). They are, as demagogues of various stripes and flavors loudly declaim, almost uniformly White and male, reflecting nothing more than the politics associated with the demographics in America at the moment. (There aren’t very many black libertarians, either, nor black members of the John Birch Society or the Foundation for Economic Education.) That’s certainly not the fault of anyone at all except the missing candidates, with perhaps an assist from the public education system that teaches neither rational economics nor ideologically untainted history.

That being the case, all the Republicans seem to have rented the same crappy blue suit and boring tie. They are a tone-deaf, faceless gaggle without a shred of personality among them. I probably couldn’t pick Mitt Romney or John Kasich out of a Vice-Squad lineup. The only recognizable quality Marco Rubio possesses is that he’s short. Ted Cruz looks like Dorothy’s Scarecrow pal, impaled above the cornfield on his stick. I’m a political junkie, but policywise, I can’t tell these stiffs apart. It’s difficult to express how disappointed I was with Rand Paul’s campaign. I kind of liked Ben Carson, but he turned out to be an idiot. I liked Carly Fiorina, and I’m sorry she dropped out.

All in all, Republicans are a posse of indistinguishable store dummies, soldier-clones shoulder to shoulder for the collectivist state.

[…]

Donald Trump stands as the exception to all of this. Neither a libertarian nor a conservative, I don’t think ideas mean very much to the Donald. He is, first-and-foremost, a salesman, a wheeler-dealer, a mercantilist who makes the vile Romneys and the evil Bushes (I wonder what ever happened to the Cabots and Lodges) look like amateurish pikers. There is nothing he wouldn’t build — a giant red brick Statue of Liberty with tassles on her golden pasties — if somebody gave him enough money. I do believe he’d dress up in a Bozo the Clown suit and walk a slack wire to get whatever he wants. Make of that whatever you will; it’s certainly no worse than those running against him for President.

Whatever happens next, America is in for another wild and woolly roller-coaster ride. It’s hardly for the first time. For those with long enough memories, it has survived vastly worse. Remember that the first President known to use the IRS as a political weapon wasn’t Barack Hussein Obama, but Lyndon Baines Johnson. In any given election year, none of us ever gets what we really want. That’s in the basic nature of democracy; we all get what the worst of those among us deserves.

March 17, 2016

Trump’s possible tactics against Clinton

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The November general election is looking more and more like it will be Mussotrumpi against Hitllary. Scott Adams thinks he has an idea how Il Donalduce will attack Adolfillary:

The last time Trump and Clinton mixed it up hard, Clinton called Trump sexist and Trump responded that she was an enabler for her husband’s womanizing. In summary:

  • Clinton accused Trump of being anti-woman
  • Trump accused Clinton of being anti-woman

I wonder if we have seen all of the permutations of gender politics. I doubt we will see Clinton accuse Trump of being anti-male. That wouldn’t stick.

But we haven’t seen Trump accuse Clinton of being anti-male. And that would stick like tar. He might be saving that one for later.

Remember that Linguistic Kill Shots such as low-energy, little Marco, and robotic generally have two characteristics that make them work:

1. The label must be a fresh one you have not seen in politics.

2. Voters must be reminded of the label every time they see or hear the subject.

I’ve never heard a politician call another one anti-male. So this approach qualifies on the freshness dimension. And any time you hear Clinton talk about making the world better for women – which is obviously a legitimate goal – it would remind you she cares less about men, even if that isn’t true. (We don’t know what is in her head.)

Trump could frame Clinton as anti-male without ever saying “anti-male.” The exact words matter less than the concept. But the words do need to be catchy in some way, so everyone wants to repeat them.

My gut feeling is that men will abandon Clinton every day from now until November unless Trump murders a baby on live television. Otherwise, I think Trump wins easily with men.

QotD: Trump’s populism

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

It is too late to challenge Trump when he talks about the wall. It does not matter how stupid the idea, taken literally, may be. American politicians spoke Parseltongue to the working class, the people who contend with and live beside immigrant labour, for too long. They are ready to vote for the only guy who will think about a wall.

Of course a bad collective conscience is the key to any populist movement like Trump’s. He really is like Hitler in this: he sells absolution to those too inarticulate to explain or defend their prejudices. It is universally acknowledged that less-skilled American workers are in a bad state. Millions are on federal or other disability schemes and food stamps, millions are at least half-zombified on prescription drugs and the overlap between these groups is obviously great. Mortality statistics among the middle-aged show the results. What they don’t show is the shame that dropouts from honest labour and bourgeois aspiration must suffer — how unlike their fathers and mothers they feel. If I were a worse writer I’d drop the word “alienation” here.

[…]

And so Trump materializes with a garbled, but not totally unfounded, account of what went wrong: globalization destroyed traditional jobs, illegal immigration took more, Mexican heroin salesmen swooped in. Idealistic America has been hornswoggled by tricky foreigners who know their own interests. Trump won’t stop saying how “smart” they are. This isn’t white supremacism: it’s American inferiorism.

If Trump is a charlatan who saw the conditions for populist agitation and crafted an opportunistic message, all I can say is: well played. What I ask of Americans who deplore him is, what did you do about these conditions when something might have been done? Did you not think your civilization was particularly vulnerable to hucksters and loudmouths?

America is the land of, and I’ll put these in alphabetical order, Frank Abagnale, Jim Bakker, P.T. Barnum, Scott Boras, Dale Carnegie, Bill Clinton, Enron, Chris Kyle, Bernie Madoff, Charles Manson, Billy Mays, Dr. Phil McGraw, Joe McCarthy, Norman Vincent Peale, Charles Ponzi, Al Sharpton, Charlie Sheen and Orson Welles. It is the dynamo of cultivated marketing crazes: flagpole sitting, Cabbage Patch Kids, hula hoops, the Lambada. It is mother and nurse of kooky sci-fi religions: Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, chiropractic, Scientology, Erhard seminars. The glories and powers of America are inseparable from this trait, and it has never been a secret to outsiders, not since Tocqueville.

So how can any self-aware American look at Donald Trump — who, again, even before his candidacy, might have been the first person a Chinese peasant thought of when someone said “name an American” — and imagine him as novel and unfamiliar? You don’t think his architectural sensibility is characteristically American? You don’t think his habit of overstating his fortune is American? You don’t think his hair and his tan are American? Where on Earth, dear friends, do you think you live? Do you never look in the mirror?

Colby Cosh, “Dear America: We need to talk about Donald”, National Post, 2016-03-03.

March 12, 2016

Would anything good come of a Trump presidency?

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Don Boudreaux thinks there might be a slight advantage to the republic if Trump beats Clinton in the election:

The November election will almost surely feature an unprecedentedly bad choice: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. A calculating, power-mad machine politician with a history of duplicity and rule-breaking versus an economically ignorant and boorish rabble-rousing American version of Mussolini and Peron. This “choice” is akin to one between being killed by garroting or by being burned at the stake.

The only “benefit” of a Clinton victory is that it means a Trump defeat. Ditto for a Trump victory.

At this moment — my assessment might change tomorrow — I have a slight preference for a Trump victory. The reason is that the same mainstream media that would fawn idiotically over a Clinton administration would be appropriately merciless on a Trump administration. President Trump would not receive, because he does not deserve, any benefit of the doubt. President Clinton would receive, even though she does not deserve, every benefit of the doubt. This almost-certain difference in press treatment would tightly check the policies of President Trump while they would fuel those of President Clinton.

Also, President Trump might inadvertently scrub off of the presidency the aura of faux majesty that now encrusts it. The president is a human being — a naked and imperfect ape, like the rest of us. Yet he’s treated, because of his high office, as if he is uniquely wonderful and valuable to Americans. He’s not. Finally, unlike Trump, Clinton has a political track record. It’s ugly. Of course, like the typical politician, Clinton changes her stated opinions to win votes, so we know that she’s unprincipled. But to the extent that we can infer from her record any of her “beliefs,” it’s clear that she has no understanding of economics. And her instincts are those of a central planner — a harsh nanny, a pitiless schoolmarm, an officious elite with no trust in ordinary people to live their lives as they choose rather than as she and her fellow intellectual elites suppose ordinary people should live their lives.

March 3, 2016

QotD: The American presidency

Filed under: Government, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun, 1920-07-26.

February 23, 2016

QotD: How Bernie will pay for his campaign trail promises

Filed under: Economics, Government, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Over on his campaign website Bernie Sanders has a page telling us all how his delightful bribes to the voters will get paid for. The usual populist politician’s trick of just shouting that it will be someone else, not you, no absolutely not you the special little voting snowflake, who will pay for all that you, that special little voting snowflake, are being promised. In Bernie’s case it will be “the rich” who pay for everything. And that’s what means that his taxation plans don’t add up. Simply because there’s not all that many rich people and collectively they don’t have all that much money.

Sure, it’s possible to get a bit more money from them. But at some point in the face of ever rising marginal tax rates, peoples’ behavior will change. There really is some tax rate at which point higher rates don’t produce more revenue, they produce less. And sadly Bernie’s sums don’t take account of this fact. Thus under the current taxation plans all these goodies will not be paid for at all. And this brings us to the essential truth that the European states have all worked out. If you want to bring Big Government to the middle classes then you’ve got to tax the middle classes to pay for Big Government. There just is no other way of raising that sort of amount of revenue.

Tim Worstall, “How Bernie Sanders Won’t Pay For His Proposals”, Forbes, 2016-02-12.

February 10, 2016

“It is as if the world had suddenly, mysteriously, begun to clamour for Dumbledores and Gandalfs”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Colby Cosh suspects we’ve just hit “Peak Bernie”:

You are reading this on what is the probable date of Peak Bernie. Although you never know. The 74-year-old Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has become the unlikely sex symbol of American politics, fighting Hillary Clinton to a draw in last week’s Iowa Democratic caucus voting. Sanders has been in Congress for a quarter-century as an independent socialist who voted with the Democrats and participated in their seniority structure for the purpose of taking committee assignments.

[…]

What is the secret of Sanders’ success? It’s a combination, I think, of closely related phenomena that are hard to distinguish, and that are related to his advanced age. First, there’s what I like to call John Waters’ Law, after the movie director from Baltimore: if you do the same thing over and over again for long enough, people will reach the irresistible conclusion that you are a genius. Especially if you stay put in the same place.

But there is a form of this general principle specific to politics, which is, broadly, that what goes around comes around. It is close enough to the truth that there are no new ideas in politics — that we are just reiterating debates that were already stale in old Sumer. So if some idea seems temporarily discredited by experience — like democratic socialism! — you can just wait long enough, if you have the nerve and the time, for a bunch of people to be born who have not had that experience.

It is hardly a coincidence that Sanders is popular with young students, with his improvised nostrums for cheap health care and free education. Those fanbros don’t have a strong sense of how socialism makes the world drab and crummy and creates a civilization of queues, shortages and political pull. They certainly don’t know what a hundred different countries could tell them, if countries could speak, about how giving political authority to a fanciful, ambitious studentariat works out.

February 4, 2016

QotD: How to use your vote correctly

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

I won’t advise you on whether or not to vote. Libertarians are split pretty evenly between “Don’t vote, you are just giving authoritarianism your blessing”, “Vote Libertarian because it is a useful protest and message”, and “Vote for the major party candidate who has a hope of getting elected who is least bad.” I will leave parsing all that to you.

However, if you do vote, I have one bit of advice I always give on propositions: Your default vote for any proposition (as it should be for legislators) should be “no”. If its purpose is unclear, if you are not sure of the full implications, if you don’t know how it is funded, if you haven’t thought about unintended consequences, if you haven’t heard the pitch from both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps — then vote no. Also beware that many Propositions that seem outwardly liberty-enhancing are actually Trojan Horses meant to be the opposite. Vote yes only if you have thought through all this and you are comfortable the new law would have a net positive benefit.

Warren Meyer, “Voting Advice”, Coyote Blog, 2014-11-03.

February 1, 2016

QotD: The usefulness of political polling

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Ten months before an election we have conjecture and nothing more. Pierre Trudeau was a political corpse 10 months before the 1980 election. Remember who won? The electorate has to be whipped, beaten and prodded to give a damn about politics even during the writ period. Had the pollster asked if Daffy Duck or Justin Trudeau should be the next Prime Minister, there’s a fair chance the media would be talking about whether a cartoon with a speech impediment can lead Canada. Oh wait.

Richard Anderson, “I Dream of Coalition Governments”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2014-12-19.

January 31, 2016

The odd role of Iowa in the 2016 election

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Colby Cosh on the notion that the “typical state” of Iowa is being weirded by its unusual prominence every four years in the election cycle:

Iowa’s prominent place in the party primary system is often justified on the grounds that it is a highly typical U.S. state, a perfect measurement sample of middle American values. (No one ever works the word “white” in there when discussing Iowa or its partner, New Hampshire. That part is left implicit, just like the extra political power our Senate gives to the paler Canadian provinces.) But every student of physics knows that the act of measurement influences the experiment, and one can’t help suspecting that Iowa’s position in the American political process may actually be making the state weirder.

If you have watched the Iowa caucuses unfold live on C-Span, you know they reward fervour as much as organizational ability. A few people with fringe beliefs and free time may count for as much as a hundred names on a mailing list. As Santorum and Huckabee remind us, right-wing candidates who shrivel like vampires in the sun of other states often do well in Iowa.

Steve Forbes ran a very strong second there to G.W. Bush in 2000; the downright bizarre Alan Keyes finished third. Pat Robertson took 25 per cent of the votes in ’88. Ron Paul, outsider of outsiders, finished a bare smidgen behind Santorum. That bodes well for Donald Trump (and it offers hope to Ron Paul’s son Rand, who barely qualified for the main Fox News debate but brought the loudest following to the hall).

And on the “Trump as mass hypnotist” theme promulgated by Scott Adams:

It’s a strange election season, all right. Scott Adams, best known as the creator of Dilbert, has carved out a niche on his weblog as the leading expositor of Trumpian strategy. Adams believes Trump is literally hypnotizing the American public, using an arcana of powerful persuasion methods. The cartoonist disavows any claim to support Trump per se, but he has remained bullish even as other commentators predicted disaster after every grandiose halfwittery or scornful bon (?) mot.

Adams’ Trump-as-Master-Persuader schtick is becoming tacitly influential, I think, among chastened journalists who thought Trump would crash months ago. When the revered psephologist Nate Silver did a dramatic U-turn last week and admitted that he had harmed his prophetic bona fides by underestimating Trump, one could not help thinking of it as a surrender — could not help envisioning the sudden cinematic crumbling of a mighty fortification built out of Excel spreadsheets and wishful thinking. Silver almost seemed … relieved.

The problem with Adams’ analysis is that he never gets too specific about what Trump’s secret techniques actually are. In practice it seems to boil down to “Develop the conviction that you are a winner, whatever the evidence actually suggests, and pour that conviction into every word, gesture, and manoeuvre.”

That certainly accounts for much of Trump’s appeal to the American public. (As George S. Patton said, Americans love a winner.) Trump also infuriates the “right” people, and that will automatically attract a certain following. He has a starry-eyed following among neo-fascists and conspiracy theorists of various flavours, who would never otherwise venerate a billionaire advocate of single-payer medicare and corporate bailouts. They like him for explosively expanding the possibilities for what can be said out loud in politics.

A while back, it was becoming generally acknowledged that Trump had managed the unusual trick of moving the Overton Window well to the right. It’s probably now safe to say that he’s actually blown a huge hole in the wall where that window used to be: like it or hate it, a much wider range of topics are open for discussion than in any election campaign in generations.

January 30, 2016

The vast chasm between Trump supporters and the “conservative establishment”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Politico, Tucker Carlson explains why the conservative establishment so badly misjudged the folks who are now vociferously supporting The Donald:

Consider the conservative nonprofit establishment, which seems to employ most right-of-center adults in Washington. Over the past 40 years, how much donated money have all those think tanks and foundations consumed? Billions, certainly. (Someone better at math and less prone to melancholy should probably figure out the precise number.) Has America become more conservative over that same period? Come on. Most of that cash went to self-perpetuation: Salaries, bonuses, retirement funds, medical, dental, lunches, car services, leases on high-end office space, retreats in Mexico, more fundraising. Unless you were the direct beneficiary of any of that, you’d have to consider it wasted.

Pretty embarrassing. And yet they’re not embarrassed. Many of those same overpaid, underperforming tax-exempt sinecure-holders are now demanding that Trump be stopped. Why? Because, as his critics have noted in a rising chorus of hysteria, Trump represents “an existential threat to conservatism.”

Let that sink in. Conservative voters are being scolded for supporting a candidate they consider conservative because it would be bad for conservatism? And by the way, the people doing the scolding? They’re the ones who’ve been advocating for open borders, and nation-building in countries whose populations hate us, and trade deals that eliminated jobs while enriching their donors, all while implicitly mocking the base for its worries about abortion and gay marriage and the pace of demographic change. Now they’re telling their voters to shut up and obey, and if they don’t, they’re liberal.

It turns out the GOP wasn’t simply out of touch with its voters; the party had no idea who its voters were or what they believed. For decades, party leaders and intellectuals imagined that most Republicans were broadly libertarian on economics and basically neoconservative on foreign policy. That may sound absurd now, after Trump has attacked nearly the entire Republican catechism (he savaged the Iraq War and hedge fund managers in the same debate) and been greatly rewarded for it, but that was the assumption the GOP brain trust operated under. They had no way of knowing otherwise. The only Republicans they talked to read the Wall Street Journal too.

On immigration policy, party elders were caught completely by surprise. Even canny operators like Ted Cruz didn’t appreciate the depth of voter anger on the subject. And why would they? If you live in an affluent ZIP code, it’s hard to see a downside to mass low-wage immigration. Your kids don’t go to public school. You don’t take the bus or use the emergency room for health care. No immigrant is competing for your job. (The day Hondurans start getting hired as green energy lobbyists is the day my neighbors become nativists.) Plus, you get cheap servants, and get to feel welcoming and virtuous while paying them less per hour than your kids make at a summer job on Nantucket. It’s all good.

Apart from his line about Mexican rapists early in the campaign, Trump hasn’t said anything especially shocking about immigration. Control the border, deport lawbreakers, try not to admit violent criminals — these are the ravings of a Nazi? This is the “ghost of George Wallace” that a Politico piece described last August? A lot of Republican leaders think so. No wonder their voters are rebelling.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress