On the eve of Super Tuesday, I thought I’d just lay it on the line and briefly mention how I think things will go. Unlike the first four states for both parties, I don’t expect my track record to continue but here goes nothing.
Late last year I said Hillary would win Iowa (and eventually, the nomination, and become the 45th President of the United States), Bernie would win NH, Cruz would win Iowa on the Republican side, and Trump would rebound with a win in NH.
In discussions with “Agreeing Loudly” contributor Pat Meacham, I was pressed to say if Bernie would win Nevada or not. I struggled with this state a lot, but eventually went with Hillary.
For Bernie supporters out there that may be upset with how pessimistic I am on his chances, I’m sorry. Just being honest here. He needed to win Iowa and Nevada to have a chance on Super Tuesday. He needed true momentum that stretched beyond the most friendly demographic states for him. Three straight wins off the bat would have kept the margins down in South Carolina. If those things happened then we’d have a contest.
Bernie has the correct diagnosis for what ails the body politic, but he is not the right vessel for this message. And certainly not the right vessel to implement it. He is like Barry Goldwater for the Republican Party in 1964, influential and ahead of his time. Sixteen years later the conservative wing of the GOP got their winning candidate, Ronald Reagan. Hopefully it does not take the more egalitarian factions of the Democratic Party sixteen years to find their winning candidate, but I fear it will.
On the Republican side, despite what delusional (once and future President) Marco Rubio might tell you, we do not have a contest anymore. Even members of the GOP establishment and conservative wing of the party are beginning to come around to Trump’s candidacy, making clear their endorsement of some version of white supremacy to anyone who wasn’t convinced of it before.
The GOP establishment hesitation had nothing to do with him saying racist, sexist, and other crazy thing. Rather, their reluctance to embrace him early on had more to do with Trump being too “moderate” on the continued existence of social insurance programs in their present form and other issues such as his criticism of free trade deals. To the extent Trump can be pinned down to a political philosophy or ideology at all, he resembles George Wallace a lot more than George W. Bush.
For Rubio to have any chance he needs to win his home state of Florida and gather momentum heading into the “Winner-Take-All” GOP primaries. This is unlikely to happen. Cruz is likely to win his home state of Texas but for him to have any chance he needs to start winning SEC primary states. He needed to win South Carolina to be viable. On Tuesday, he needs to win Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. I would be surprised if he won more than one of those states.
It’s over. To what extent it is over, and when we can begin to shift the conversation to Clinton vs. Trump and the potential electoral map is a story for the voters in the Super Tuesday states to tell.
Tuesday predictions are broken down into three tiers, a landslide, winning easily, and winning narrowly.
Millennials were the chosen generation. It was said that they would destroy the old social order, not join it. They were to bring equality to the world, not leave it in darkness. This is Part Two of one Millennial’s cynical take of the Leftist potential of his generation.
by Allan Branstiter
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Millennials, as a single generation, are the most diverse generational cohort in American history (20 percent are Non-white Hispanic, 14 percent are African American, and 6 percent are Asian). Almost 40 percent of Millennials are bilingual, and a whopping 71 percent say that they appreciate the influence of other cultures on American life. Observers often note the demographic diversity of our generation when attempting to explain what makes us uniquely liberal as a whole.
As I mentioned in Part One of this series, I question the intrinsic liberality of our generation. Whereas Part One sought to undermine the notion that Millennials are rejecting capitalism as a generation, Part Two seeks to explore the racial dynamics of our generational cohort. In the end, I argue that while Millennials are diverse and culturally aware, these traits do not inevitable lead to racial harmony and justice.
Millennials were the chosen generation. It was said that they would destroy the old social order, not join it. They were to bring equality to the world, not leave it in darkness. This is Part One of one Millennial’s cynical take of the Leftist potential of his generation.
by Allan Branstiter
It’s 2016 and the importance of the Millennial vote in this election cycle has been the subject of many discussion, especially as it relates to the rise of Bernie Sanders. Pundits have pointed to Sanders’s strong support among Millennials to explain how a self-identified democratic socialist from a state of little consequence could emerge as a legitimate threat to Hillary Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic presidential candidate. Prior to last year, most Americans knew Sanders as the crazy socialist who sometimes appeared on the Sunday morning political shows to decry the Democratic party’s failure to take legislation far enough to the left. How could this pinko, they think to themselves, challenge THE MOST POWERFUL POLITICAL MACHINE IN AMERICA for the presidency?
Their answer? Those dang moon-bat lefty Millennials are embracing socialism as their preferred alternative to the excesses of modern American capitalism. To many, our generation is seen as either refreshing upstarts who are injecting much needed energy into a tired political process, or ungrateful usurpers who do not appreciate the meaning of fortitude and hard work. I’m here to tell you that Millennials are neither the spiritual saviors of the American left, nor are they fully opposed to capitalism or social inequality. As a result, Democrats should not take their support for granted, and Republicans should not discount the appeal of conservatism among Millennials.
Chaos! Agreeing Loudly soldiers on with just one regular, can Pat Meacham carry the show as fill-in host with two guests? And what a terrible time to bring on Carson Starkey and Troy Olson, right after Bernie Sanders has a crushing loss in Nevada.
Together, Pat, Carson, and Troy embark on a savage journey into the heart of the American Dream and in pursuit of peak satire. Two beers later, they begin to prepare the country for the inevitable general election matchup (Clinton vs. Trump) this fall.
Along the way, a Kayne West vs. Taylor Swift debate (because of course), a back and forth on the dismal present and near future of the Democratic Party, distinctions between different cohorts of Millennialism, and how little we all know about modern popular music. You can listen to this episode of “Agreeing Loudly” on Libsyn OR Download the episode On iTunes.
Introduction and Attempts to Get Beer Sponsors: 0:00-3:57
Millennial Musings: A Different Take for the Nevada Youth Vote 3:57-12:00
Sports Round Up: “Whistle Sports” 12:15-24:47
Pop Goes the Culture: T-Swift, Kayne West, and We’re Old 24:47-40:47
Political Parrots: Nevada Caucus, SC Primary, and the Inevitable 40:47-1:16:25
“Agreeing Loudly” & Other Articles to Check Out 1:16:26-1:19:25
Donald Trump won the South Carolina primary today, and Jeb Bush gave up the ghost and suspended his campaign. Few people, including those of us at Agreeing Loudly, thought Trump would be able to defeat Cruz’s organized ground-game. I also thought Bush remain in the race in spite of a series of defeats. How wrong we were.
How quickly the dramatic fall came. Yesterday, Jeb Bush was laughed at because he made embarrassing YouTube videos, and relied on his brother and mom to convince people to play nice with him. Tonight, his detractors listened to his surrender on live TV, turned to Twitter, and crowned him a good man and ideal statesman who found himself in a time that was not his own.
Of course, all of this reminded me to the over-the-top melodrama of professional wrestling. Jeb’s fall and spiritual redemption reminded me of an article I read about the time “Macho Man” Randy Savage was bitten by Damien, Jake the Snake’s attack cobra. Read the following, replacing “Macho Man” with Jeb Bush, and Jake the Snake with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz:
The other main characters, Jem and Scout, are the names of his cats, because he cannot afford to start a family. When Tom Robinson is unfairly and unjustly arrested for jaywalking, being shot once in the shoulder during the arrest, chaos breaks out in the sleepy area of Maycomb County, Alabama.
Infuriated by this injustice, activists around the country organize from Maycomb to Mist County in Minnesota, exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble with the stated goal of getting the attention of policy-makers.
While slowly making his way home late at night to feed his starving, but beloved cats, Jem and Scout, Atticus watches the television and inter-web reports of his local Congressman standing alongside the leader of the counter-protest movement.
One of the most fascinating aspects to the 2016 Presidential campaign thus far is the shakeup in the traditional breakdown of Presidential campaign politics.
Historically, Presidential runs have fallen into three types of campaigns: the “challenger” campaign, the “incumbent” campaign, and the “successor” campaign. The differences are fairly self explanatory.
Challengers are from the political party that has not held the White House the last four years. Recent examples of this would be Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, or any Republican candidate for President this year.
Incumbents are one-term Presidents running for re-election. Recent examples of this would be Barack Obama in 2012 and George W. Bush in 2004.
Successors are candidates from the same political party as the President exiting the White House (or theoretically, stepping down after one full term for various reasons like LBJ did in 1968) and are running to try and keep their party in the White House. Recent examples of this are Al Gore in 2000, John McCain in 2008, and now Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Each type of Presidential campaign has different challenges and obstacles to overcome. Generally speaking, challenger candidates have the easiest path to the Presidency, incumbents have a tougher path, and successors have the most challenges and obstacles to the Presidency.
I don’t mean to minimize the path to the Presidency for challenger candidates, since every path to the Presidency is a long and arduous one. Any successful campaign requires not only not only solid planning and organizational abilities, but also name ID, a compelling narrative, money, and loyal followers. Any good candidate also needs to be resilient, flexible and—most important of all—needs a campaign that compliments their unique personality and public image. One of the main reasons the heavily-favored Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary was that she ran more like an incumbent rather than the challenger candidate that she truly was (or at least should have positioned herself to be). By running like an incumbent she created unnecessary hurdles for herself.
This brings us to 2016: a successor campaign (the Democrat seeking to succeed Obama in the White House) vs. a challenger campaign (all the Republican candidates).
As mentioned in the “Case for Losing in 2016” article last week, history says it’s unlikely that the same party holds the White House for more than three consecutive terms, and it is actually quite hard to even win it for the third term, let alone a fourth time. That is because “successor” campaigns have the most obstacles and hurdles to clear. While the argument for re-electing a President is “stay the course, don’t change horses in mid-steam, etc.” the successor campaign has to make the case that “while we are changing horses now, let’s have the new horse going in the same direction.” If you have a relatively popular two-term President about to leave office, this would seem like a benefit, but the historical reality is always much more difficult.
In modern Presidential campaigns, sitting and former Vice Presidents have had trouble parlaying their position into the Presidency. Richard Nixon in 1960, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Al Gore in 2000 all struggled to grasp what “type” of campaign they need to be running. Only Bush the Elder was able to capture the Presidency and succeed as a successor candidate.
Members of the same party but outside of the administration (Senate, Governor, or another official) have not fared much better, which I think explains Hillary’s troubles a great deal. Not only is she tied to the faults of the previous Democratic administration (Obama), she also is tied to the faults of Bill Clinton’s administration, while also receiving very little credit for the positive roles played. Historically, the successor candidacy is the toughest campaign to win, even if you have the institutional advantages of being the incumbent Vice President.
Constitutionally VP’s do very little, but throughout the last 70 years they have taken on more and more pet projects and policy responsibilities inside the White House. The degree to which the VP gets to actually do things depends greatly on their relationship with the President, but overall the office has come a long way from 1945 when Harry Truman came into office after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When Truman assumed the office, he had met Roosevelt in person only a few times. The new President had not been briefed at all on the post-War situation or the upcoming Potsdam conference. Perhaps most galling was the fact that he was completely unaware of the Manhattan Project and the looming atomic age. Through no fault of his own, Truman arguably inherited the worst possible situation in American history in terms of how prepared he was to take over the highest office in the land. Thankfully Presidential transitions, whether within the same party or the other major party, have improved a great deal since.
In the 2016 Republican Primary, every candidate can credibly lay claim to the mantle of “challenger” candidate, except perhaps Jeb Bush, who (like Hillary Clinton) has characteristics of both incumbency and successor, which have hampered both of their campaigns from the start. In 2008, Clinton’s status as a former First Lady and a Senator who voted in favor of the Iraq War hindered her ability to position herself as a “challenger” candidate. In a “change” campaign, she looked more and more like a deposed Monarch, seeking to return to the throne. Jeb Bush has fared far worse on the Republican side in 2016. While Hillary has learned from several of her 2008 mistakes, while proving to be quite agile and resilient in 2016, she has not learned from all of them. Her team and organization, while better, still leaves a lot to be desired.
While Hillary is positioned well enough to be the first successful “successor” campaign since George H.W. Bush’s 1988 win over “challenger” Michael Dukakis, a more fresh-faced and upstart “challenger” candidate like Marco Rubio or a complete outsider-“challenger” candidate like Donald Trump would be a poor match in the early going. Many members of the Democratic establishment and voting base do not understand how perilous this election cycle is because of it. While Sanders has successfully positioned himself as the “challenger” candidate that he is, nominating him has its own downsides to it.
This is why early last year on the “Agreeing Loudly” podcast, I argued for who I thought was “the safe horse in midstream,” Vice President Joe Biden, who was torn between his private anguish and grief, and his sense of public duty. To me, Biden represented the most sure-fire candidate in 2016 because he had the support and record as VP to earn at least a term as President. A Biden presidency would have allowed the party a four year window to rebuild and create a deeper bench at every level all the way up to potential 2020 Presidential candidates. Instead, Democrats are left with a hotly contested primary and an extremely shallow pool of future candidates.
Understandably, Biden chose not to run in 2016. While I predicted at the end of the year that Hillary Clinton would win narrowly in the fall, I also explained this would weaken the future of the Democratic Party. This is not necessarily an argument to nominate Sanders, who I think would also lose in 2020 even if he managed to win in 2016. For Democrats, what is most important right now is to continue to have a substantive debate on the issues—like the very one Clinton and Sanders are currently having.
I cannot say the same, however, about Clinton and Sanders supporters. Divided generationally more than anything else, Democratic primary voters are throwing increasingly ridiculous accusations at each other.
We are in the beginning of a political age where all of the cynicism toward politics that began in the 1960’s and 1970’s has crescendoed into a rejection of our two-party system from within the two-party system, just as it has typically occurred throughout history. The rise of Sanders on left running on a plank of true egalitarianism, and the rise of Trump’s amateur big government paleo-conservativism on the right, is evidence of this fact.
Whether this leads to a slight shake-up of the sixth party system, or the eventual creation of a seventh party system, it will be sorted out in the next decade and a half. While the art of Presidential campaigning is somewhat in flux, a few things will never change. Presidential elections will often be about, “it’s the economy, stupid.” And Presidential campaign teams need to know who they are to the electorate—challengers, incumbents, or successors—and prepare the campaign’s messaging around that reality.
For Further Reading/Study on This Topic and Related Topics, Check Out:
Plouffe, David. The Audacity To Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.New York: Viking-Penguin, 2009. Print.
Popkin, Samuel L. The Candidate: What It Takes to Win-And Hold-The White House. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
The War Room. Dir. Chris Hegedu and DA Pennebaker. Feat. James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. Universal/Focus Features, 1993. Film.
The Associated Press released a video of America’s favorite idiot hitting the campaign trail on behalf of this under-performing wet noodle of a brother. I know a lot of liberals still really hate Dubya, but I’ve got a special place in my heart for this affable war criminal. I mean, really – watch him work this room in South Carolina:
Don’t you miss this guy? George W. Bush is everything his brother is not: engaging, approachable, self-deprecating (in a good way), and comfortable. Liberals have underestimated this guy’s political savvy to their own detriment for years, but I love the guy and his late-life painting hobby to pieces.
Can Dubs save Jeb(!) from a bloodbath in South Carolina at the hands of Trump and Cruz? This #JebNoFilter video doesn’t give me much hope:
Who’s advising this guy? It’s like someone made a check-list of things they think Millennials are into. Coffee? Check. Minimalist logo? Check. Mark Zuckerburg? Check. Hashtag? Check. Hoodie? Check. Also, how can we trust a guy who can’t figure out a zipper with the presidency?
Yeah, I know my boy G-Dub is so dumb that he was nearly assassinated by a pretzel. But he made it look so bad-ass in the process! And who among us ISN’T being slowly killed by the garbage we’re constantly shoving down our gullets? Don’t you miss the guy?
I know I do. We could all learn a thing or two from George W. Bush. Especially Jeb…