Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Left Finally Have Their Evangelicals

Not too many years ago, the Republican Party was in utter disarray.  GWB presided over a complete massacre for the Republican brand while McCain and Romney were both beaten senseless by an energized Democratic Party.  Sure because of gerrymandering and the large number of rural counties, Republicans can routinely win the House, but it continued to struggle with the Presidency.  To its credit, after Romney went down in flames, the Republican National Committee did an exhaustive post-mortem and promised to correct its inadequacies in the past elections.  However, no amount of outside consultation could discharge the millstone hanging around the Republican Party's neck--ultra-conservative evangelicals who again and again forced a nominee too socially conservative for most of America.

Until Donald Trump.

Trump disregarded the previous Republican coalition and stopped pandering to Evangelicals.  Unsure if he consciously was aware of it, but Evangelicals are the black voting bloc of the Republican Party.  Just like minorities will vote Democrat regardless of success or failure (Detroit for the past five decades), Southern Evangelicals will vote Republican until the Democrats back off abortion and gun rights (which they have no plans on doing).  Trump's genius, or luck, recognized a rare opportunity to cleave a portion of Democrat's base without giving up any of his.  Usually, it doesn't work that way: you pander to one group, another group hates you for it.  But because Evangelicals are locked in, and neoconservatives are dwindling in power and number (at least by number of votes), Trump could go after the one group most heavily disenfranchised by the Democrats' push for inclusivity: non-urban white males without college degrees who went from working 75k (inflation adjusted) union jobs at GM to smoking meth and dying from heroin overdoses.

The Trump phenomenon has been heavily covered by better writers.  Read Nassim Taleb, David Wong, and David Ernst.  What I want to focus on is the flipside of what this election exposed: the Democrats have a millstone of their own: radical leftists who are incompatible with capitalism and demand superficial equality without understanding the underlying fiscal realities.  Bernie Sanders was the most palatable and presentable (yet the same economically illiterate socialist), but many of his supporters even to the left of him are demanding a larger say in the Democratic platform.

On its surface, this is troubling for Democrats as Nancy Pelosi exclaimed in a townhall to a naive college student asking about socialism: "We are Capitalist..."  However, this same blog could've been written about Republicans 8 years ago and we all knew how that pendulum swung.  What is clear is that the Democrats have essentially become Republican-lite--taking corporate money in big sacks with $ signs on them, drone bombing the Middle East, stirring up unrest near Russia, not prosecuting the big banks, crack down on journalists and whistleblowers, etc.  Its only difference in that it prefers to quiet the proletariat by throwing them more generous government cheese rather than the Republican method of shaming them for being poor.  (Both work equally well, I'm an expert in feeling shame, trust me).

I'm getting off-track here...The Republicans had the Evangelical problem because it tried too hard to be the Conservative party.  It latched on too many social extremists who all of a sudden became the core of the party.  Until Trump accidentally solved it by being a bull in a nursery, the Republicans were on their way to being the permanent Obstructionist party in the House.  The Democrats ran into the same issue by being so attached to equality that it attracted nutjob leftists who read the Wikipedia entry on Karl Marx and decided Capitalism is the root cause for today's economic inequality, racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc.  This is the preface for my next post on inequality.  As a preview: inequality has little to do with the Gini coefficient; it has everything to do with spite.