Third Party & Independents Archives

​You Can Bend Trump - But Angry Voters is Another Matter

And now of course everyone loves Mitch McConnell, right? Now that Roy Moore has lost to a deep Blue, progressive Democrat, Doug Jones. In Alabama of all places.

Or maybe not. The anger is still there, especially at McConnell’s heavy handed tactics in sabotaging Mo Brooks’ primary campaign and using the Senate Leadership Fund to throw up to $8 million at Luther Strange in the primaries and discredit Roy Moore. Would Mo Brooks have easily beaten Doug Jones? We have no way of knowing at this point.

While people like Bob Tracinski in The Federalist and Ben Shapiro in National Review can heap scorn at angry populists and their defeat in Alabama, it would be a mistake to believe, as they seem to, that the anger is misplaced and unproductive and should fade away, to be replaced with their preferred brand of quasi-libertarian rational discourse. Because they seem to miss the point - or be more concerned with making their own points about populism - that anger at how entrenched interests in the GOP have neutered Big Bad Donald Trump's populist campaign is the main point of the Roy Moore saga.

That's a point that Tracinski's boss and colleague at The Federalist - publisher Ben Domenech - makes in his newsletter The Transom. The point that Domenech makes is this: the basic platform that Trump ran on has been sidelined by Ryan and McConnell:

Immigration reform? Yes, there have been a few executive orders and control of the border has improved, but legislation to that end? Nope.
Infrastructure? No.
Trade? Sort of ... NAFTA is being re-worked and we'll see what comes out of that process. But Congress is hardly an active participant. Yes, Congress is not the Executive branch and to differ with the White House on trade is their constitutional prerogative, nay duty you could even say. Unless they actually agreed on the necessity of a change to standard trade policy. Which they don't.
Populist health care for all? Ok ... Trump was never big on the details so whether he was duped by Ryan into going all out to repeal and replace or whether that was his intention we'll leave as an open question. But it failed all the same.
The contempt for populism also bursts forth in the latest scandals enveloping the Mueller-led investigations. Lisa Page - senior FBI lawyer - last year texted FBI agent (and apparently amorous interest) Peter Stzrok that she'd have liked to key a car she saw with a Bernie Sanders sticker. How dare they look to alternatives when we're all invested in beltway two-party processes!?

In that sense, Lisa Page and Peter Stzrok are on the same team as the Senate Majority leader from Kentucky who - as Senate Majority leader - knows perfectly who he doesn't want joining his exclusive club. Folks like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul, for example. People from outside the beltway consensus. People who don't give too much of a damn over what K street thinks. At least not when they first arrive in Washington.

So one of the many problems with Roy Moore's candidacy is that his blustering persona is so outrageous it allows the Ben Shapiro's and Robert Tracisnki's - remember these are libertarian-conservative/free market in their outlook and not at all liberal/progressives - to focus on the sound and fury and at least half-ignore the geniune and lasting anger at how both the GOP and the Democratic parties do business. Or warn that the anger will doom conservatives. Why can't they smile? Like Mitch??

But despite the contempt for populism, angry populists on both the left and the right are here to stay and the GOP and the Democratic party may not survive their anger over the coming years. Not in their current shape. Bending Trump to a more standard GOP agenda might be doable over the shorter term. Bending furious voters is another matter.

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