December 4, 2017

Bernie de-converting Obama-Trump voters over GOP BS

The Democrat party may be out of touch, but it is not suicidal, and has spent the year since Trump's upset victory trying to improve their electoral prospects.

They've figured out that the Clintons are dead weight and chucked them overboard, while retaining the Obama camp who are less hated but still about as neoliberal.

They've left the Russia witch hunt mostly to their lackeys in the media, since the voters they need to win over don't believe the hysteria (but the hysteria does draw in the small niche of cable news addicts).

And most importantly, they've made their opposition based mainly on class and economic issues, rather than scream "racist sexist homophobe" all day long. They tried that early on with the pussy hat march, the "not wanting to get blown up by radical Muslims makes you an Islamophobe" campaign during the travel ban -- but it didn't work. They've learned and switched to economic issues.

Those are the issues that Trump defeated them on during the campaign, but which have been hijacked by the typical Republican bullshit once the GOP took over the executive branch, combined with their control of Congress.

Trump ran on delivering the best of both worlds for independent voters -- populist on economics, nationalist on culture, immigration, and foreign policy. The Pentagon junta has purged the nationalists out of the government, beginning with Flynn and ending with Bannon, so there goes that plank of the Trumpist platform for the time being. But of course the Democrats are not about to challenge the Trump administration on not being sufficiently nationalist.

That leaves the populist themes that have been contradicted by the standard GOP playbook of inflating bubbles for the sectors that control their party (military, agriculture, energy), cutting taxes on the rich and corporations, and slashing spending on the social safety net.

Trump ran on preserving the social safety net against the usual Republican attempts to destroy it, pairing tax cuts with tax hikes in the form of big fat tariffs that would penalize companies that have replaced American workers with foreign workers, and drawing down military spending by shrinking our global footprint where it is no longer useful (Germany, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan) and negotiating down the prices from the military-industrial complex. *

That is what won over enough Obama voters in enough states to win the Electoral College. The nationalist, America-first themes won over Republican primary voters tired of globalism, but the general election was mostly about populism.

When these voters see what is going on during the Trump administration, they're going to be less enthusiastic the next time around and may completely ditch the GOP in 2020. Michigan was already a razor-thin win, and Minnesota (Trump + third-party spoiler), Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were not much wider. Forget flipping Maine. Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina look safer, though Florida will still be a toss-up (not that populism will help there -- it is a destination for individualist yuppie transplants).

If Democrats claw back Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, they will win with 278 votes in 2020.

Against that background, they are sending Bernie Sanders out to hold rallies in Rust Belt states to try to win back the Trump voters who voted on class issues, by pointing out how opposite the results have been from what he campaigned on.

And he's not doing a bad job -- too early to tell how many he'll win back, but it's not just mindless boo-ing Trump, slandering Trump voters as bigots like George W. Bush did, or foaming at the mouth about Russia like a liberal media moron.

Here are videos of the same speech in Dayton, OH (jump to 49:00) and Reading, PA (53:00). Trump won both counties. Dayton's county had not voted red since 1988, although Reading's county had voted Obama '08 and Romney '12.

Bernie starts off saying he sympathizes with Trump voters, says their pain is real, they're not racists, and what Trump promised during the campaign were good things -- healthcare for all, no cutting the social safety net, Drain the Swamp, drug companies are ripping us off, trade deals should bring back manufacturing jobs, etc.

He tells the few boo-ers in the audience not to boo Trump voters or the issues that Trump ran on. (His audience at rallies are mostly partisan retards who can only voice approval for universal healthcare if Bernie rather than Trump is promoting it.)

Then he lists the various ways in which the agenda being pursued so far contradicts what Trump ran on, and calls on Trump to promise to veto any bill that betrays his promises from the campaign regarding the social safety net, drug prices, etc.

He's insightful and pragmatic enough to put most of the blame on Congressional Republicans, who everybody hates and who deserve the blame for where things have gone so far. But he doesn't quite go as far as the truth, to portray Trump as being isolated and held hostage by "his own" party, which would make Trump more sympathetic, and perhaps antagonize Trump voters into a bitter GOP primary campaign rather than just switching over to Bernie-style Democrats.

It would be the most devastating blow he could deliver to the opposition party -- "I understand where you were coming from, but you voted for Trump and wound up with the GOP instead." As it is, he portrays Trump as having lied and deceived voters during the campaign. Not believable, given the immense punishment he took and the sacrifices he made without any guarantee of victory.

A more crippling frame would be that Trump intended to do everything he said during the campaign, but that one man -- and an outsider at that -- was not enough to overcome the machinery of the GOP while in office. Maybe that doesn't win over his voters to Democrats, maybe it just drives the Republicans back into civil war. Either way, that's the way he should be framing it.

In these social media videos that edit together the sound bites from the rallies, the Bernie team even uses Trump's own TV appearances from the campaign to emphasize what he ran on. I think that has the effect of neutering the wrong claims of Trump being a deceiver -- we can tell from his voice and face that he sincerely wants to do what he's saying.

However we have to hold the GOP's feet to the fire, we have to do it. And Trump's feet, to the extent that he has chosen to hitch his wagon to the falling star of Republicanism. Backing away from "let's let Assad stay in power" we can understand -- the Pentagon elites and CIA could have threatened to assassinate his family and have the IRS seize his family's wealth.

But they're not literally holding him hostage over tax cuts for the rich and destroying Medicare. He has more wiggle room there, and should distance himself as far as possible from austerity measures.

It's time for some kind of campaign about "Trump voters against GOP economics". It would be best to partner with the Bernie people, since they are organized and we are not, and since it would emphasize the bipartisan support for the social safety net, protectionist trade deals, and universal healthcare among citizens (if not among the elites).

We should set aside the fact that they are not America-firsters -- because neither is the GOP, and Trump's "own party" has taken extreme measures to railroad the Trumpian nationalists out of the government. If both parties are globalist for the time being, we might as well strategically ally with the one that is more open to populism than corporate elitism, while trying to build a better America-first party to repeal-and-replace the Republican party.

* Remember when, during the transition and pre-Pentagon coup, Trump negotiated down $600 million from the F-35 contract going to Lockheed Martin? He must have gotten a talking to by the military elite, and has not tried to get more bang for the buck on military equipment ever since. Indeed, Congress delivered an even larger defense budget than what Trump had asked for.


  1. Interesting bit of news re: Sanders, thanks. You do a good job of pointing out the confines in which Trump has to deal, but I think his strategy at this point has to be to deliver the traditional GOP trickle-down boom, but focused on the manufacturing and extraction sectors that were beaten down by Obamanomics. Trump won those Rust Belt states partially in the strength of his populism, but also because of an underlying shift in those states towards the GOP based on cultural issues. Trump's going to maintain the cultural allegiance of those voters based on not much more than his Twitter account, and to the extent that he also delivers the first economic good times that the Rust Belt has seen in decades, I don't see "tax and Medicare cuts" costing him Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

  2. There was no shift toward R in Rust Belt presidential votes before Trump.

    Wisconsin -- Bush Jr. lost by less than 1/2 of 1% in both '00 and '04. McCain got wasted by 14%, and Romney by 7%. Clinton won by 10% in '96, by 4% in '92. Dukakis won by 4% in '88 -- one of the first defectors from the Reagan coalition, during the otherwise landslide for Bush Sr.

    Bill Clinton campaigned as somewhat of a populist, and so did Obama. Not as the most liberal Democrat alive, a la Gore and then Kerry, and then Hillary.

    Wisconsin is ripe territory for candidates putting aside culture war BS, and just focusing on populist / progressive class and economic matters. If the Dems don't provide that (Gore, Kerry), then the culture stuff will rise from secondary importance to the only major distinction, and it will be close because the Midwest is conservative (Bush Jr.).

    So Wisconsin is absolutely lose-able for R's if the Dems run someone as populist as Bill Clinton or Obama -- not hard -- and if he doesn't preen about being an uber-liberal on social/cultural issues like Gore and Kerry did.

  3. There's not much energy extraction in the Rust Belt economy, other than western PA -- but that's been Republican for awhile now. Trump won PA due to the big cities outside of mine-heavy Appalachia -- Erie, Wilkes-Barre, and others in northeastern PA.

    There's fracking in eastern OH -- but again, that's been Republican for awhile. Trump won by flipping big cities outside of Appalachia -- Dayton, Canton, etc.

    So deregulating energy extraction won't be felt by workers in the parts of the Rust Belt that flipped red for the first time in awhile.

    What they need is a return of manufacturing plants, which were wiped out by NAFTA, China joining the WTO, KORUS, CAFTA, etc.

    So far, the NAFTA re-negotiations have not focused on bringing manufacturing plants back to America. They are about getting Wall Street banks into the Mexican financial sector, Silicon Valley into their tech sector, US media giants into their media sector, wiping out even more of Mexican agriculture with US agribusiness, and exporting more military equipment from American manufacturers.

    None of that brings back plants that have already left to Mexico, mainly automotive and apparel, but also electronics.

    If the American trade reps do not radically change the tone toward re-industrialization of the American economy, there will be nothing for Rust Belt voters to see and feel at the end of four years of Trump re-negotiating NAFTA.

    Maybe voters would still give him another four years without anything to show after the first four, if the Dem candidate is another elitist liberal prick like Kerry or Hillary. But I wouldn't want that to be Plan A for keeping the Rust Belt.

    At this rate, the D's could probably take back MI and WI just with a Sherrod Brown type who can point to a long track record of protectionism on trade, who's from the Rust Belt, and who could frame the failure to bring back factories on Trump not being able to break free of his GOP captors, vs. Democrats who are not so controlled by the Natl Assoc of Manufacturers or the Chamber of Commerce.

    Wall Street, Silicon Valley, media -- yes, but not the labor-intensive manufacturing sector. And the unions -- they'd benefit big-league from more manufacturing plants coming back. They can point to D's in Congress being better on every major trade deal. Hard to argue against that, and Rust Belt voters know that better than others.

    Especially if they brought out someone like Bernie to give "I feel your pain and understand your Trump vote" speeches, before pointing to the actual results for re-industrialization under a GOP administration.

    The Trump team had better start forgetting about STOCK MARKET RECORD HIGHS, which only elite stockholders benefit from, and looking at how many full-time good-paying manufacturing jobs are coming back from other countries into the Rust Belt.

    The Forgotten Man and the Forgotten Woman don't own any stock.

  4. Trying to revive the putrid corpse of trickle-down, followed by gutting the social safety net programs -- that will absolutely alienate former blue Trump voters.

    If Rust Belt voters had wanted any of that stuff, they would've been voting Republican for decades now. The sales pitch is not exactly new. In reality, they were the first to defect from the Reagan coalition in '88 (MN, WI, IA), and never looked back.

    And this is just going to be the first year or two -- it will only get worse from there, if the course is allowed to continue.

    It needs to shift right now back to populism. Trump should threaten to veto the tax bill if it doesn't include big fat tariffs on goods and services coming from American companies that have off-shored their production. A tariff is a kind of tax, isn't it?

    "Fellas, we need to cut the corporate rate, but we also need to punish companies that leave our country. Let's see those big fat beautiful tariffs, then I will totally sign onto income tax cuts for the rich!"

    Then from there to infrastructure and other public works spending.

    Then onto other populist programs.

    So far the agenda has been moving steadily in the wrong direction, and Trump needs to make a sharp U-turn.

  5. To get meta, we shouldn't blithely dismiss the effects that GOP BS is going to have on the delicate inchoate Trump coalition of Rust Belt voters. They're culturally conservative like the old red staters -- but they want populist economics, and if that doesn't happen, then bye-bye, back to voting Democrat while holding their nose on flaming liberal culture war crap.

    It may be natural for winners to take winning for granted -- but that's only supposed to set in after a long string of wins. Dismissive complacency has already set in among Republicans, and it's not even a year into the Trump presidency.

    It's another feature of Republicans being hard-wired *not* to want to win. They should still be thinking that a win in 2020 would be an against-all-odds upset victory, not that they've got the Rust Belt locked in just because Trump gave good populist speeches back in 2015 and '16.

    And the other reason is that conservatives think there's this great big underground reservoir of conservatives who stay home, but who can be called in like the cavalry. That's the "monster vote" idea from Conservative Treehouse -- proven wrong yet again in 2016, and proven wrong as far back as 50-state primaries have been going.

    I pointed these data out in the comments at CT, and got banned for my efforts to help them win. Wrote it up here instead.

    Most of the former Cruz supporters still think Trump voters are primarily turned on by culture war red meat, NFL, etc., rather than let's save the social safety net for both moral and electorally pragmatic reasons, let's go to universal healthcare, let's slam corporations with crushing taxes if they chase higher profits by firing American workers and moving businesses abroad, let's get along with Assad, Russia, etc.

    They think that the Rust Belt voters either just now decided to join the cultural conservative side (have been that way forever), or that they just now decided to show up and vote (have had highest turnout rates forever). They just don't get populism.

    Trump explained it pretty well in simple terms, and for that time, the conservatives seemed to get it. Bannon wanting to raise the top marginal tax rate, run on economic nationalism, and so on.

    But without a constant drum-beat from Trump rallies, they've started slipping back into their corporatist comfort zones, and spend their time screeching about the LIEBURULS.

    Breitbart should have, at the top of their page, a "random Trump rally" video embed, changing each day, and not playing anything after March 2017. Just so the Cruz-leaning side of the GOP remembers what won the election.

  6. the LIEBERULS have been BTFO again by the Based Supreme Court concerning the #MuslimBan, GET REKT goatf.ckers, KEK bless the God Emperor

    social security? COLLECTIVIST F.GGOT detected. liveable wages? LOL enjoy being a WAGECUCK in 2017, just let it all burn

    - Knight of Kekistan

  7. Parody or sincere? Either way shows how marginal the Alt-Right has made itself a year after the election.

  8. "If Rust Belt voters had wanted any of that stuff, they would've been voting Republican for decades now. The sales pitch is not exactly new. In reality, they were the first to defect from the Reagan coalition in '88 (MN, WI, IA), and never looked back."

    Yeah, since the N Central Midwest has (had?) neither

    -"Rockefeller" Republicans (yuppies) who voted heavily for the GOP in the pre-1990's Northeast
    - enough minorities to make GOP dog whistle politics as effective ("welfare queens", "tough on crime") as they were in the Mid-Atlantic, South, and Eastern Midwest

    it stands to reason that they saw thru the Reagan "Revolution" almost immediately (with MN not voting for Reagan even a single time), Perot got some traction in early 90's MN also (I still remember a decent number of people getting excited back then). Ur right that the older parts of the Midwest are the single most unappreciated part of the country. They aren't culturally liberal enough, wealthy enough, or economically conservative enough to have had a place in either party after the mid-80's.

    Both parties are still widely hated across the country, though I suspect that the north central Midwest might be the most disgruntled, with the rest of the Rust-belt just about as cranky. Since Millennials are the most hostile to small gubmint and "centrist" (corporate whore) nonsense, the Dems will likely be able to rebound pretty well given that the GOP's approach only appeals to a few small and aging niches (hard-core cultural warriors and resource lords of the Plains and Mountains, Deep South whites). The best the GOP can hope for, in the absence of an ideological shift among the party elites, is that growing diversity in the Northeast and Midwest makes whites in these areas feel as besieged as Deep South whites; but that's a long ways off from happening if it indeed ever comes to pass.


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