Beware Democratic Party Optimism

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I’ve seen it said again and again that the Trump nomination will be a debacle for the Republicans. The Republican party will fall apart, become small, become insignificant. Clinton will easily crush trump. We’re done. Ding dong.

But this is all wrong.

The Republican Party is in power in more state houses than ever, and in most cases, are solid in those state houses.

There are more Republican governors than Democratic governors, and this is a recent phenomenon never seen before. Most are pretty solid. Even the much maligned Walker of Wisconsin could not be gotten rid of when he messed with the most power parts of the Democratic establishment there.

The Republicans control both the House and the Senate. I think the Democrats may take the Senate back this year, but these days the Senate goes back and forth pretty regularly. The fact that the Democrats may take a lead by one or two Senators this year does not mean that the Republican Party is done.

The Republicans will likely control the House after this year. Then, they are likely to strengthen their lead in two years, if Clinton is elected president, because that is what always happens.

And, Republicans hate Hillary, and will eventually congeal in their support of Trump, who may be busy right now reshaping his message to help make that happen. A Trump loss is not inevitable.

Notice the date on the tombstone at the top of this post. The Death of the Republican Party has been celebrated before. But always prematurely.

Complacency is the hobgoblin of defeat. Or defeat is the hobgoblin of complacency. Whatever. Don’t be complacent, don’t be defeated.

Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid understand this, of course:

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23 thoughts on “Beware Democratic Party Optimism

  1. They say there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal…

    And now the G0P is seriously both.

  2. I predict that there now will commence a rewriting of Trump’s history and an apologetics campaign for every vile thing that he has ever said or done.
    The GOP will circle the wagons and declare that he was never so bad as even they said, and certainly not as bad as Hillary.
    I further predict that the GOP voters (even those who have previously hated him) will buy this coming fiction of a kinder, gentler, smarter, better read, more presidential Donald Trump, because they have shown for years that they have an infinite capacity to be manipulated by their ideological masters.

  3. Democrats should be confident, but not overly confident – not exactly a revelation of insight.

    One might ask whether this isn’t a journalistic ploy to make the election more suspenseful (rather than odd and entertaining) than it is.
    Every indication is that the Democrats are not being complacent. They are carefully, assiduously studying Trump’s success in the Republican primaries, mapping out how he could attack Clinton, and how Clinton should respond. Trump has given the Democrats an abundance of material to work with, and, as evidenced by the videos we’ve already seen, the Democrats are prepared to use it. Trump will not be able to attack without facing a swift, hard counterattack. And, as it concerns his legacy, I would be very wrong if President Obama didn’t engage actively on Clinton’s behalf, securing the participation of the (winning) Obama coalition. In short, the fear of complacency is unwarranted nonsense.

    The election will be a debacle for Republicans, but it will not mean the demise of the party, and Republicans are positioned to do well in 2018.
    It will mean that the Republicans can no longer be complacent about the loyalty of their base.

  4. Greg,

    I wish you would stop using the language that the Republicans want you to use.

    “Republicans hate Hillary”

    Republicans fear Hillary, and they have since she came on the scene. As they feared Bill, and Barack Obama. They did not fear Al Gore or John Kerry anywhere near the same way. But this is a rational fear.

    Language matters. We see comments all the time that are intended to plant little subliminal seeds, and unfortunately they have been working. Associating negative words with the individual is an old ploy.

    Are some of these people actual racists or misogynists? Sure. But mostly they see their status being eroded because the population is accepting “others” in the role they thought was a sure monopoly.

    They hate the idea of Hillary, as they hated the idea of Bill and the idea of Barack. From what I’ve read, she got along just fine on a personal level with people in the Senate.

    When you see stuff about her favorability being low, it correlates with election cycles, when the propaganda machine is revved up– the rest of the time she does quite well.

  5. #5

    I’ve read the David Roberts post, and I think he’s wrong in measuring this particular race with the same yardstick as previous ones. This one is unprecedented, and I don’t believe that the press will try, or will be able to normalize it by postulating equivalence. The articles I’ve seen thus far – I don’t watch American TV, and am not qualified to say if its coverage is different – have overwhelmingly focused on Trump’s lack of support, and the problems his nomination is causing the Republican Party. They are based on facts. Very, very few articles focus on the threat Trump poses to the Democrats, and these are based on strained conjecture. Trump’s campaign is already being defined as a fiasco, and it won’t be easy for him to recover. It won’t be easy for the press to redefine him and turn him into a serious candidate.

  6. The last two Republican presidents and the most recent Republican nominee have disavowed Trump. Obama is doing what he can to delegitimize him, and Bill Clinton will soon be deployed against him:

    “In a biting critique of the presumptive Republican nominee, President Obama said Friday that Donald J. Trump should be subjected to serious scrutiny and not be allowed to treat the presidential campaign like ‘a reality show.’
    …The comments, though restrained in tone, were a preview of what aides say will be a vigorous presence by Mr. Obama in the general election.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/07/us/politics/obama-jobs-economy-donald-trump.html

    What worked in Trump’s favor in the Republican primaries will work against him in the general election. The Democrats are united in their opposition to him, and they’re familiar with and prepared for his style of campaigning. They’ve been gathering ammunition for months, and Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. Unlike the Republicans, they don’t risk compromising themselves or exposing their hidden priorities by opposing his policies. I don’t think the Donald quite appreciates the mess he’s gotten himself and his brand into. But he will.

  7. Re. the post-election GOP:
    My belief, as stated above, is that the GOP will suffer a walloping loss. Both the candidate and the party will then be forced to examine and explain what happened, and what I see are two explanations that will difficult to reconcile. The party establishment will probably attempt to vindicate itself by claiming that Trump lost because he didn’t adhere to the party’s “goals.” Trump, however, won the nomination by rejecting those goals, and his opposition to the Ryan agenda and more personal conflict with Ryan indicate that he’s not readjusting his position. The voters rejected the GOP establishment, and Trump won’t fail to remind the McConnells and Ryans of that.

    Trump’s explanation will be a consequence of his personality. He changes his mind when he finds it opportune, he freely contradicts himself, he lies without inhibition, and he can’t admit to having made a mistake. His analysis of his defeat therefore won’t be so much an analysis, as an exculpatory assignment of blame. This is of course speculation on speculation, but what I see rising from the ashes of Republican defeat is a tale of betrayal: Trump lost because he was stabbed in the back by the establishment. If I’m right, and if this explanation is endorsed by devoted Trump supporters, then the GOP will be in serious trouble.

    (The following article gives a view of why Trump will be an easier target for Democrats than he was for Republicans:
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/the-real-never-trump-campaign?intcid=mod-most-popular )

  8. The press doesn’t have to make Trump into a serious candidate; all they have to do is keep broadcasting images of his Nuremberg rallies. Everyone knows Trump is a bigoted bully, but in an imperial nation in obvious decline, many people will vote for him BECAUSE he is a bigoted bully. They will interpret that as evidence that he is “strong” enough to crush or coerce “our enemies” (meaning, anyone who has resources left that we want to take). You will have seen the increasing degree to which many white Americans’ ethnicoreligious paranoia has been commingled with hostility towards intellectuals. Sound familiar? We are close to the collapse of American civilization.

  9. Jane: Exactly. Pointing out how Trump is a big bad bully is not an argument that he will therefore not have support.

    And that is the problem.

  10. #10
    “The press doesn’t have to make Trump into a serious candidate; all they have to do is keep broadcasting images of his Nuremberg rallies. Everyone knows Trump is a bigoted bully, but in an imperial nation in obvious decline, many people will vote for him BECAUSE he is a bigoted bully.”
    #12
    “Jane: Exactly. Pointing out how Trump is a big bad bully is not an argument that he will therefore not have support.”

    You’re making two different arguments. Jane is saying that “many people will vote for him BECAUSE he is a bigoted bully.” Greg is saying that (some) people will support him despite his bullying. I can’t argue with Greg’s point, but I think that that both of you are overlooking that many are repulsed by the violence at his rallies and by his condoning such violence. Also, there are many other reasons why one can and should find Trump objectionable. Thus far Trump’s popularity has been tested in the Republican primaries, and I would venture to say that they aren’t a representative example of the American electorate.

    To Jane’s first point (the press etc.) I would underline that the press in fact is currently removing whatever aura of seriousness Trump had. The focus has been on disarray within the Republican Party, lack of endorsements, active disavowals, Trump’s lack of organizational preparedness, his flip-flops, anti-Trump videos, his lack of support among donors. His refusal to release his tax returns will be thematized as “what is he hiding?” His business record will be scrutinized, and not all will be pretty. The images of violence from his rallies do not show him to be a serious candidate.

    I have never argued that Trump couldn’t win the Republican nomination, but already now it should be clear to both of you how little that nomination is worth.

  11. MSN today said that recent polls in the three important swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida had Clinton and Trump neck and neck – Clinton ahead by just a point or two in two, Trump with a similarly narrow lead in the other. Clinton had a large lead among women polled, but Trump had a similarly large lead among male voters. Anyone who is not alarmed by that either has his head in the sand or is a Nazi sympathizer. By this point, these voters surely already know that he’s a repulsive dishonest violence-loving greedbag. They will still vote for him.

    If the media finally finds a pair and starts trying to take him down, his followers will just interpret that as “the elites” undercutting someone who says he will look out for the people’s interests rather than the elites. Partly this is because right-wing media have trained their audience to mindlessly reject facts that don’t fit their ideology (I almost wrote idiology – Freudian slip) and partly it is because mainstream media have spent decades condescending to the working class and ignoring their problems, and made themselves appear useless and untrustworthy. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

  12. I am hopeful that once the dust settles after the convention, the insular hatred of Hillary that prevails amongst Bernie fans (I am one, but getting irritated with him and especially with the more extreme of his disciples; he’s not the Messiah) will diminish. Right now they are showing up in droves, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish the genuines from Republican trolls. They promise to stay home, write in, or vote for Jill Stein, and too few of them realize that voting locally and down ticket is vitally important. They’re the ones that, if they are old enough, didn’t bother to show up in 2014, 2010, and during Clinton’s time.

    While I suspect the most of the ones who say they’ll vote for Trump instead of Clinton are trolls, even that is happening.

    Bernie’s stubborn one-note righteousness in a good cause is both his strength and his weakness.

    No matter how much we all know that Republican operatives are good at their jobs, all too many people buy the merchandise.

    One culprit is the internet. It is entirely possible to hang out with fans who encourage each other to dig up dirt on Hillary. There’s just enough truth in their to make the distortion look legitimate. We all know the Clintons didn’t murder Vince Foster, but many of the other memes are sophisticated enough to fit the bias.

    In my rough amateur sampling, the number of these bots is larger than we all want to believe.

  13. Yeah, it’s a good thing there aren’t any Hillbots.

    Gary Johnson was on This Week, last Sunday, and mentioned a website iSideWith.com. I was worried the answer would always be Gary Johnson, but I answered the questions, and I supposedly side 96% with Sanders, 95% Stein, 88% Clinton and 53% Trump.

  14. #14
    Is it possible that Trump could win the election? Yes
    Is it probable? No
    Is it necessary to fight tooth and nail to prevent him from winning? Yes.

    Regarding the polls you refer to, please read this:
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/05/trump-leads-in-one-poll-of-oh-dont-freak-out.html

    Note that “Trump is struggling to raise money,” and to do that he’s undermining his not beholden to special interests credibility by appealing to the Republican establishment and the party’s donors.

  15. Thanks for the link. It makes a couple of good, reassuring points. Among them is that the polled voters were whiter than the 2012 electorates in those states. However, in Denmark you may not be aware that in just the past couple of years a huge fraction of American states have passed and are passing burdensome voter-ID and other vote-suppression measures specifically to make it harder for poor and working-class (disproportionately minority) citizens to vote.

    To keep minority turnout even equal to what it was in the past, there will need to be a serious volunteer effort to inform the public about the entire process of hoop-jumping required to get proof of citizenship and then state IDs. Poorer people will need to be provided with transportation to government offices, and financial support for the fees associated with the paperwork. Otherwise, it won’t happen.

  16. Of course there are Hillbots. I would probably almost exactly match Donal’s answers. All this is pushing her towards more triangulation, since many Republicans are now promising to vote for her. I don’t like her position on fracking, or her hawkishness, but I don’t believe her opinions are Republican lite, nor do I accept the Republican narratives. For example, lately her attitude towards Bill’s womanizing problem is misrepresented; she was genuinely deceived and her attitude reversed once she found him out. It’s all very handy for spin.

    On climate, I could wish she’d get the message from John Podesta’s ABC Primetime special (which pretty much sunk without a trace) shown here:

  17. #18
    I follow American (printed) media closely enough to be aware of voter suppression. My question: how many contested states would it apply to (I can think of Wisconsin and North Carolina), and would that be enough to change what looks like a favorable to Democrats electoral map?

  18. http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/10/politics/primary-results-takeaways/index.html

    [Exit polls on both sides of the race showed an electorate hungry for a shake-up in Washington. Among Democrats in West Virginia, only 27% said they want a candidate who continues Obama’s policies. In both states, more than 90% of Republican voters said they were “angry” or “dissatisfied” with the federal government. And more than 6 in 10 Republicans in Nebraska said they felt “betrayed” by GOP politicians.
    It continues a trend seen in primaries all year — voters are hungry for change. Even if the parties don’t agree on what change they seek, voters have responded strongly to candidates promising to remake Washington, which could pose a challenge to Clinton in a general election as she seeks to build on Obama’s legacy.]

    I see more and more people willing to take a chance on Trump, just to make a change.

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