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Monday, August 28, 2023

The coming election

 I am not going to comment at great length on the Republican candidates' debate, but I found it highly significant.  Whether or not Donald Trump wins the nomination--and it certainly seems mostly likely that he will--he has irrevocably transformed the Republican Party.  On three major issues--climate change, immigration, and the drive to eviscerate the federal government--nearly everyone seemed to be trying to out-Trump Trump.  They competed to find reasons to avoid doing anything about emissions, they agreed on the need to destroy the administrative state, and they want more drastic measures to stop immigration and, in at least one case, to remove immigrants already here.  And the scariest candidate is also the one whose popularity is rising the most quickly, Vivek Ramaswamy.  I urge everyone to read his Wikipedia entry to find out how he made his money--without doing any good for anyone but himself. 

Meanwhile, I am equally concerned about the future of the Democratic Party--whose establishment seems set on a losing strategy.

One poll after another shows that a majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats, think that Joe Biden is too old to run for president again.  Biden's public appearances, such as they are, are doing nothing to dispel that impression.   This weekend a Boston Globe story detailed how a big administration-encouraged industrial project, a nest of chip factories near Columbus, Ohio, isn't winning local voters over to him, partly because he described the site--where some homes have been bulldozed to make room--as "an empty field of dreams."  Kevin McCarthy made it clear over the weekend that the Republicans are quite likely to impeach Biden.  Unlike every really successful president, Biden has failed to design and communicate an effective message to the American people.  And his weakness is not all that we have to worry about.

In 2019-20 Kamala Harris opened her own presidential campaign attacking Biden for is opposition to school busing for integration back in the 1970s.  Her campaign did not catch on and she dropped out before the New Hampshire primary, which Biden also lost.  Biden revived his campaign in South Carolina thanks to Harris's withdrawal and James Clyburn's announcement--and he has foolishly rewarded South Carolina by making it the first Democratic primary state. (The Democrats should not begin the campaign with a primary in a state they cannot possibly win.)  I think we will eventually find that Biden's campaign had promised Harris the vice presidential spot in return for dropping out.

In the Democratic Party, the Vice President immediately becomes the next front-runner for the nomination--see Mondale, Walter; Gore, Al; and Biden, Joe (who initially yielded the spot to Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most establishment candidate of all.)  I am now seriously concerned that Biden actually knows that he cannot run again, but that he is holding off the announcement until it is too late for anyone but Harris to mount a campaign.  As some of you may have seen, Governor Gavin Newsom of California--the most prominent Democratic governor in the country by far now--is negotiating to debate with Ron DeSantis.  NBC news reports that this plan is making some people close to Harris very unhappy, although some Biden advisers welcome Newsom's contributions as a surrogate.  

Kamala Harris has conspicuously failed to connect with the American people either as a presidential candidate or as vice president.  Her demographics appeal to many Democrats but would not be an asset in a general election.  I think there is an excellent chance that she would lose any Republican candidate if she replaces Biden on the ticket--and polls show a real chance that Biden could lose to Trump, too.  And thanks to the Republican debate, we know that a new Republican administration would start just where the last one left off.


Energyflow said...

The worldviews of the parties seem quite juxtaposed to say the least. Tearing down excessive government structure could lead to more flexibility, less costs, sclerosis. Obviously big business will just say tear down those regulating us while the security state controlling citizens and spreading death abroad is let grow. This would lead to more oligarchy on the whole. It is bipartisan easiest to bail out big guys and constituencies like banks, student loans and support say military with new war panics or pharma with new vaccine mandates. Notice several of the four horsemen there or seven plagues, famine, plague, financial, war all government supported, bailed out.

I recall Strauss and Howe's text on immigration. This reversed in crisis times to get time for absorption. This makes sense. Open borders during general economic weakness, social strife is not a vote winner. The poor democrat voter will feel pressured by competition, the conservative voter will kneejerk more hate than he already feels. It takes time to go from racist to nervous neighbour to satisfied father in law to mixed racial groupings.

Greenthink has a basis in reality. Execution is the argument. Decades of overbuilding carcentric society led to exurbs, obesity, bad physical and mental health, dead inner cities, food deserts, minority isolation in inner cities with high crime rates and white flight, wash, rinse, repeat. Also the exurbs are paved over great farmland. Nothing to say of alt energy just adding to the mix getting absorbed into your iphone, a drop in the bucket. I once before compared US racial problems to France. Isolate minorities, reduce access to jobs, criminalize, polarize. City structure goes a long way towards depolarizing politics.Live cheek on jowl , have ethnically mixed neighbourhoods, mixed use, stores on street level, apartments above, walkable neighbourhoods with schools, amenities nearby. USA is built with an empty field with parking lots and big box stores separate from residential life. People travel in cars singly from large, energy inefficiient residences spread out over large areas. In effect the entire structutre of physical life is the great weakness of the USA. People just self isolate, flee. Costs energy wise increase and social, racial divergence increases.

Perhaps if we compare London's white flight and the majority non white population we can see that one cannot force people even in a good mixed use urban atmosphere to just stay where they feel foreign in their own country. And foreigners generally stay in large metros everywhere even if they came from third world villages. The city is their new village.

America combines lots of weak points therefore, high energy use, low social integration. This is then projected as need for war to obtain resources as exurb people need cheap gas, republicans namely and dem voters, inner city residents are persuaded in the name of human rights to support regime change in oil rich land x. People elsewhere due to societal structure miss some of these extremes, reasons for war abroad, strife at home.

Who is candidate is in the broader sense irrelevant in the face of such broad problems. When energy gets scarce the house of cards will collapse. In Europe I can just bike everywhere and my house is energy efficient, population is well mixed and used to each other. Eliminate cars as Saudi, Russian oil is gone, then we will not have total collapse but readjustment. Eliminate cheap asian mass production, then we will just start making shoes, clothes again that are durable.

Bozon said...

Kamala Harris, bless her heart, as everyone knows, identifies fundamentally as a Hindu, rather than as an an African, or an American negro, even though she had a Jamaican father from whom she has justifiably long been estranged.

This came out in a NYT interchange, years ago, with her muck raking nemesis at the NYT Lisa Lerer, fornerly posted to South Africa.

The Democrats can do whatever they want.

Kamala is not fundamentally their girl.

Trust me.

All the best