by Marion Marks
It’s not really about right or left, Democrat or Republican, voters vote their pocketbooks. The quote that originated from Alexis de Tocqueville, “A democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury,” becomes a rally for political handlers who warn candidates of the power of purse strings politics. Bill Clinton and his speechwriters had to be constantly be reminded by James Carville’s sheet on the wall, “It’s the economy, Stupid!” Focusing on economic issues continues in 2016 as it always has because so many people are still hurting, angry and need a boogie man in government to blame. “They are getting more than I am!”
Trumplings and the Sandernistas* are not angry because the government did not “properly stuff their Christmas stocking. They have many good, and quite a few far from good, reasons to be very angry. They are the people who lost their homes, a good part of their life savings, and jobs during the recent Great Recession. Those who got new jobs are paid much less and receive fewer benefits. And for each one who was directly screwed by the system, there are a dozen family members and friends who did a bit better but empathize with those who did not. Offering them a few goodies will not do. What must be done is to redirect their anger to the proper address.” Amitai Etzioni Professor of international relations, George Washington University
Harnessing the anger and fear on the right is master salesman Donald Trump, whose Trumplings accept many of his edicts and jabs at opponents with almost blind devotion. And the Democrats have almost accepted as their champion Hillary Clinton, reborn and repackaged after the 2008 thrashing Obama inflicted on the Teflon Bill Clinton legacy.now the polarization and gyrations of the parties and their marketing teams in the tug-of-war for the ten percent of eligible voters who seem mailable to join one camp or the other.
The real issue for the democracy the rest of the free world looks up to then becomes motivating the formerly immovable 30% of eligible citizens who are not presidential primary or general election voters. The threshold of seventy percent has been the ceiling for turnout in America, and the expectation that other thirty percent would vote seems to be a mirage. Yet in 2008, the Obama machine lit the match that mobilized a set of young and formerly untested citizens to work the political machine and elect a first-term senator who captured their imagination.
The Trump model is still evolving, and Donald’s jab and parry style of engaging his opponents never lacks for commitment and enthusiasm. Each time he floats a trial balloon in addressing a weak or plainly poorly prepared Republican opponent that doesn’t get strong support or applause, he reworks the message with skill and barely misses a beat. We clearly know that Trump, right or wrong, is never in doubt. And, he should never be underestimated, because even in bleak economic positions, even filing bankruptcy, he convinces the public that he is a winner.
The ability of Trump or Clinton to label their opponents as unelectable or weak seems to bring fear into their party loyalists, to this point, so that they rally around the apparent standard bearers of move forward toward November. Each seems to be solidifying their position, even with Republican PACs keeping their powder dry, and gearing toward a strong party face off. Each also realizes that there are many undecided voters who must be won over to assure a November victory. Each also has operatives working for October Surprises and the hope that the other will fall prey to some screw up or operative miscue that will negatively impact the other’s campaign. Each of the major parties approach the primaries carefully, for fear of offending the undecided.
If Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush or any other Republican hopefuls expect to unseat frontrunner Trump, they better sharpen their wits, put on heavier armor and learn to play by the new rules because political anger takes no prisoners, and the front runners have demonstrated they understand the skills to harness this anger.
I’m going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Though true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender
–Jackson Browne, The Pretender