Over the past seven years we have seen the media and the progressive movement move further to the left, while the conservative movement has moved further to the right. Why is that?
We saw the Democratic Party regain control of the House, Senate and Presidency in 2008. Unfortunately for both them and us, the citizens, they were giddy with success, and refused to learn from the Republican mistakes regarding governing versus partisan politics. They set about to reshape America in the visions of their elite, where the state took care of the needs of the people, regardless the cost, regardless the social impact. In those first two years they focused on reshaping the healthcare system into something that will make the insurance companies richer while extending care for those who could not previously get it. Were there alternative ways to accomplish this? Probably, but we will never know for they chose a unilateral course of action rather than fight the Republicans and find a compromise.
In 2010 they had a wake-up call when the American voter’s returned control of the House to the Republicans. But rather than alter their path they believed it more important to continue their fight for the progressive utopia that was surely just around the corner. To use a football metaphor, the Senate became the offensive line, blocking for its President as he attempted end sweeps, long bombs, and occasional quarterback dives. The House Republicans were on the defensive, and the game of politics became the focus rather than a vehicle. Along the way, just as in football, the pressure to win became overwhelming and the taunting on both sides increased.
In 2012 there was a mixed bag in the elections. The Republicans reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate, held the House, but failed to win the Presidency. We can speculate about why this was, but I think we can clearly see the power of the media in shaping the dialogue towards one side or another as well as the strong minority turn out for the President. It is somewhat interesting that white (non-Hispanic) Democratic support for the President went down from 2008 and made his race closer than it should have been.
Coming to 2014 we see the Republicans hold the house and regain a small minority in the Senate. At each step along the way we see both parties remain intractable in their positions, with the Democrats doubling down on the path to utopia, while the Republicans talk about the economy and the war on terror. So what are the issues the average American cares about? It appears neither party really gives a great deal of thought about that. They focus on putting a positive spin on their agenda, and a negative spin on the opposition. The welfare of the average American be damned.
Of course at every step along the way we have a President who has never really embraced the idea of leading versus campaigning. We see a man who when given a choice between holding out an olive branch to the opposition and calling in a drone strike to kill them, has picked up the hot line to drone control every time. We see a President who believes he knows better than everyone else what everyone else should do and is not afraid to tell them how to think and act. A man who will on one day say that the choice of words does matter and on the next day say it doesn’t, especially if they are words he doesn’t want to use. I wonder sometimes, the President seemed to come out of nowhere to defeat Ms. Clinton in the 2008 primaries, who were the “King-makers” and what strings are they still pulling?
So we come to 2016 and the Republican establishment is shaken to its core by the blustery-braggart Mr. Trump. A man rich from a multitude of development schemes, a man who likes to see his name on everything he owns (or at least has a majority share in), and a man who is intimately familiar to our reality TV watching public. In the course of the primary campaign he got to say to “You’re Fired” to 16 other candidates for the job. These were all professional politicians who thought this campaign would be like every other campaign and the candidate with the most money and the support of the party powerful would win. They were wrong.
As I’ve previously noted, the Democrats went through a kind of shadow primary season where the illusion of change was offered in the form of Senator Sanders, and we can speculate on the possibilities he could have won, but there was nothing in Ms. Clinton’s approach that suggested she or her advisors ever really thought that was likely. As records now show the DNC worked tirelessly to undermine his campaign at every step, so their chosen could carry them into the fall campaign. What Senator Sanders did accomplish was to bring the Democratic positions on free stuff for people a little further than it had been, and increase the promise of entitlements to a broader group than before. What remains unaddressed is how all these entitlements will be paid for by the ever shrinking work force, working for shrinking wages, as the divide between rich and poor increases because of government regulation and laws.
Over the next month or so both parties will have their official coronation ceremonies (or conventions) where the focus will be on party unity and vilification of the opponents. The question for Mr. Trump is how committed will the party machine be for him, and how much money will they actually raise to support a candidate they find distasteful? We already know from the primaries the base of his support doesn’t really care about all the things the media says is wrong with him and why he shouldn’t be elected.
On the other hand, the question Ms. Clinton should be concerned with (and I’m not sure it is even possible for her and the party elite to understand) is how to address the dissatisfaction with our current economy and economic policies? I believe they will fail to understand the wrath of the middle American voters who make up the normal majority of people who actually show up at the voting booth. If she and the party continue to seek the extremes for their support she will lose because she won’t get the minority turn out that carried President Obama into office.
Finally, the question for the media is, when do you realize your dogmatic support of one political philosophy is why no one bothers to pay for your product anymore? Until you get the government to shut down the internet, profits will continue to decline.