Commentary on Republicans, Libertarians & Politics

Month: November 2015

What is Trump’s Appeal?

Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom. Most people expected him to crash and burn by now. But many small business people like him because they are fed up with government regulations. There are many small businesses out there that make up a base for him. Each town has many small businesses, such as in Bel Air, MD there is Alcore Corp, Arena Club,, Broadcreek Memorial Camp, Comer Construction,, Harford Systems, Leidos Engineering, and many more. This is just one small town. Multiply it by all the small towns across America and it starts to make sense why he is doing well.

Trump as Bully, Comedian or Both?

For a while, Ben Carson seemed to be catching and passing him, but in the most recent polls, Carson has dropped back to fourth place and Trump seems to have regained his lead. So what do the pundits have to say? Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote a book, “Queen Bees and Wannabees” that Mean Girls was based on thinks Trump is simply a bully and is misbehaving worse than the teenagers she deals with. Others agree that he is a bully but some comedians are struck at Trump’s timing and phrasing.

Pundits Insights

Mark McKinnon, President George W. Bush’s chief media advisor gave his insights in an interview with Robert Siegel of NPR. He said that people are fed up with politics and what is going on in Washington DC and they like a guy who has the guts to metaphorically flip the bird at the political establishment.

Good Timing

Siegel pointed out that Trump fits in with many Republicans by being very anti-illegal immigrant and also being a wealthy businessmen in a party that honors businessmen. (This year though a lot of the tea party members don’t seem to support big business.) McKinnon agreed and said that politics is always about timing and the right message and so far Trump’s timing has been good and the message seems to be on point.

Trump as Republican Nominee?

When asked if McKinnon thought Trump could capture the Republican nomination, he gave a typical political answer. He gave three possible scenarios. First is that the Super PACs would unload on him along with Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush and Trump would sink in the polls. He thought if it was going to happen, it probably would have by now. The second scenario is that Trump stays as one of the front runners and creates havoc at the convention. The third possibility is a long shot that he gathers enough delegates to look like he could win the convention. The Replubican Party establishment finds this anathema and sets up an independent candidacy as a kind of new Republican Party and the new candidate is well funded. So, his feeling seems to be that Trump will create havoc at the convention but not win the nomination. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Strategy of Republican Also Rans

With so many Republicans running for President, the ones at the back of the field are struggling to figure out new strategies to get more visibility and traction. With Trump and Carson sucking the energy from everyone else, what to do? The New York Times had an interesting article about this, summarized  below.

Will the Leaders Falter?

O’Malley, the long shot on the Democratic side has said that the front runners at the beginning usually aren’t the ones who are ahead at the end. The Democrats would probably love it if Donald Trump or Ben Carson ended up breaking that rule and being the Republican Presidential candidate. They may appeal to Republicans, but the chances of them taking enough independents to win seems doubtful.

Is New Hampshire the Promised Land?

Jeb Bush , who has not done well in the debates to a lot of people’s surprise. He is trying to set a fire break in New Hampshire. He is giving up Iowa figuring that his chances with the religious conservatives there are slim, so he is concentrating all his effort in New Hampshire. He figures if he can do well there, that can propel him forward in the states that follow.

Chris Christie spent some time with students at Dartmouth and Governor John Kasich was in Portsmouth at a driving range and then talking with Rotary Club members. Some topics were climate change and amazingly, the Republicans are still flogging the horse of voting fraud and whether dead people were voting in different states. People in New Hampshire take their role seriously and Gov. Kasich feels that running ads alone won’t cut it in New Hampshire. You need to be there, on the ground, talking to people.

Is New Hampshire Losing its Cachet?

But times are changing and many people wonder whether New Hampshire can be a game changer any more. The problems include the large number of candidates running and the number of nationally televised debates. Then there is the increasing influence of social media.

Republican leaders in New Hampshire feel that the nationally televised debates is not the right way of going about picking a candidate. They feel that the more personal method that takes place in New Hampshire is better. The people there are very diligent and take their role very seriously.

Christie and Bush’s Thoughts on New Hampshire, Debates and Digital Campaigns

Chris Christie is putting a lot of emphasis on New Hampshire and has been to 41 events since August. He feels that the debates only have temporary impacts. That may be because he is not polling well enough to make the top tier of debates. He used Carly Fiorina as an example saying that she got a pop from the second debate but has fallen back since.

Mr. Bush who is low key hasn’t done as well in the debates which have rewarded people who are more confrontational.  But as Bush has pointed out that digital campaigning doesn’t allow for nuance and irony that is more a strength of Bush.

McCain and Romney got a boost in New Hampshire that they rode all the way to the Republican Presidential candidacy. Can that still be done? We will find out.

Economic Importance

If New Hampshire becomes less important it will have a big economic impact on New Hampshire. The state gets a lot of income because of all the candidates spending every four years. Without that, they would be in a more precarious financial position. So New Hampshire definitely hopes that the TV debates and online coverage doesn’t decrease their importance.

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Freedom Caucus Effects

In 2011, there were 87 new Republicans elected to the House. Many were elected in the wave of Tea Party sentiment that wanted to shake things up in Washington. Many wondered whether they would temper their views over time in Washington or whether they would move Washington more to their point of view.

Bending Washington to Their Will

They don’t seem to have changed their views at all, if anything have hardened their opinions and are less willing to compromise if they ever were. The Republican majority has been helped by the increasing influence of conservative media as well as gerrymandered districts. (Although gerrymandering has helped Democrats in other states. It is unfortunate because it makes states redder or bluer and less purple which might cause people to move to the middle instead of going to the edges of the spectrum.)

Their original target was discretionary government spending but they have had a number of major impacts:

  1. Discretionary spending has dropped to 6.5% from 9.1% of the economy in just 5 years, 2010 to 2015.
  2. Social issue fights have been resurrected and are in full swing
  3. Gridlock – It is much harder to get things done.
  4. The government shutdown in 2013
  5. They almost closed Homeland Security
  6. They forced John Boehner to resign

Out of the group, there are about 40 who are part of the Freedom Caucus. They originally found common cause in reducing the size of the federal government. Now they are targeting all sorts of Obama policies. They have really honed in on funding for Planned Parenthood.


More than these other things though, they seem to want power. They don’t seem to realize or care that they are a distinct minority within the Republican Party much less the United States. They want a greater say in how the House of Representatives is run and in how legislation is written and the process that it makes its way through the House. They figure that by changing the rules by which the House operates that they can get more power and influence.

They are being supported by their constituents at home. At least they think they are. Of course, the constituents who really like what they are doing are giving them positive feedback. Even though these people are a minority just as these Congressmen are in the minority. But it creates an echo chamber of self reinforcement and congratulations.

They tend to come from rural areas in the south and the west.

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