The Donald isn’t Teflon- we’re just doing it wrong

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Stillwater
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    The problem is that Trump takes this unique insight into the middle class and exploits it for his own gain.

    {{I don’t think this guy understands how politics works….}}Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    In my heart I know many Republicans and Libertarians who believe that their “hands-off” economic management slant is best for the country, and really does help blue collar workers. I can have an honest respectful disagreement with them.

    However, in my snark, I read “The problem is that Trump takes this unique insight into the middle class and exploits it for his own gain.” and I think “But that’s what half this field is doing! How could they possibly attack him for that?” Seriously, the hucksters have taken over.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    The insight that I saw the other day is that all of the candidates are saying “I understand why the American People are angry” except for two: Trump and Bernie.

    Those two are the only two saying “I AM ANGRY!”Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      There is something to that but only goes halfway. The anger many people feel has been carefully cultivated and nurtured. The anger on the two sides is not all the same. The world is on fire and we are weak and humiliated and on the precipice of doom narrative is strong on the right. That is anger donny t is feeding and feeding off as has most of the Consecutive press.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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        I thought it went without saying that Democrats were Good and Republicans were Evil.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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          No jay, you are dealing the truth and we are just hear to learn from you.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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            Well, let’s get back to the points about how Liberals are mostly justified in feeling the things they feel and how Conservatives are mostly unjustified in feeling the things they feel.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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              See my reply to Will. I’m fine with sticking with both sides have anger based on political differences and also the C media has been pushing anger for quite some time. Two things each are present. Sanders and Trumpy speak about anger but they are often not speaking to the same issues.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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                Is Hillary doing a good job speaking to the issues that Liberals are justified in feeling anger about?

                Because none of the other Republican candidates are doing a good job about that. (Even Rand Paul, the closest to a candidate I could see forgetting to vote against, isn’t doing a great job on that. His moment yelling “GET A WARRANT!” at the debate was awesome, though.)

                There is a disconnect between the establishment players and the rubes.

                I mean, I thought that Hillary would be doing better at this point. I thought that Hillary would have been crushing it. As it is now, there are serious questions about “well… what if…” following Iowa/New Hampshire for her when, seriously, I thought that she would have been functionally unopposed at this point (with Bernie being at the same level as O’Malley).

                The Prime Time Players are choking.

                And the two candidates that speak differently about anger are the ones throwing the spanner in the works.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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                I believe this is true, but utterly beside the point. There is something sociologically significant that the Golden Dawn and Syriza both elevated at about the same time in Greece. Likewise, there is something significant in Bernie and Trump both doing unexpectedly well.

                To see this, and say it, does not state or imply that they are identical in every way, or most ways.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
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                Oh there may be some underlying factors that relate to both doing well. However nationalist parties have been around and doing a bit better for a while in Europe. The recent imagination crisis has certainly helped them but they are not new nor is the feelings that lead to them. Also lots of parts of Europe are suffering from the shocks of the financial crisis, like Greece, which obviously, and correctly, shook peoples faith in the established parties.

                Two outsiders doing well certainly has somethign to do with the very early money was on a Bush v Clinton election.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to greginak
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                imagination crisis

                This is clearly the Democrats strength, with their position on the need to raise Artaxes.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Kolohe
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                I can’t imagine what you mean.
                Artaxes?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to greginak
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                Not Artaxes, Yurtaxes.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                U-B-UR-Taxes.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to greginak
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                It’s a very long story.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Kolohe
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                A guy bragging about length….yeah sure.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to greginak
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        I like it when the press comes one after the other instead of at the same time.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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        I think this is at least half-wrong. It may seem convenient to say that this anger wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for those Republicans or those talk show hosts or whatever, but that’s really not true. The dynamics in the US may or may not be peculiar, but what we’re seeing with Trump isn’t. The talk show hosts may be a part of the feedback loop, but there is almost no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be bubbling up in some other way without it, because it’s bubbling up all over Europe.

        On the immigration in particular, the role that the GOP has played in this has been at least as much in its pro-immigration actions as its anti-immigration postures. Really, it’s the disconnect between the two that’s causing its havoc. But even if they’d been resolute in trying to be immigration-friendly (for example), this wouldn’t have gone away. Arguably, the course-correction after 2012 plays as big a role here as anything. The initial top three candidates (Jeb, Rubio, and Walker) all three had made CIR noises after the election, and the anti-immigration people noticed. And it goes back further to the last Republican president, who actively sought CIR.

        Other aspects of the party, as well as activists, as well as media personalities, of course, have taken a stronger and more consistent stand against immigration. So maybe they are to blame. Except… well, as much as I would like to blame most of them, I think they’re mostly tapping into an existing sentiment and a substantial disconnect between the priorities of elites (in both parties) and a large chunk of the population.

        It seems to me that this is less a matter of their being goaded by (mostly) the wrong people and as much or more a matter of them having largely been dismissed and ignored by everyone else. Ignoring them and deriding them are a source of cultural pride for one side, and a perceived necessity to the other. It turns out, they can’t be ignored into oblivion. Somebody will fill that niche. Immigration is a focal point here, but it’s a big component of globalism in general.

        In Europe, it’s right-wing parties in systems that are more conducive to three or more parties. In the US, it’s Trump. It’s happened in countries where the conservative party mostly does and says all the right things, it’s happening in countries with robust social safety nets, and it’s happening here. It’s nothing about our allegedly uniquely right-wing conservative party. It’s a reaction to events and policy decisions that, it turns out, have actual consequences.

        It’s policy decisions I am more likely to support than not. Which is, to be honest, really quite depressing.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
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          So a half or a half is a quarter. I think there is a quarter off here. I don’t’ think all the R anger is due to the lies of the C press. That is some of it. There is a reason conservatives keep saying how terrible everything is, that unemployment is terrible and we are weak. Seriously, Luntz did some focus group and he said all the C’s in the group mocking laughed when O said we are the strongest country in the world. But of course that is not the entire reason of the anger people feel. Some of that is always due to the enduring political difference we have. If you listen to Trumpy long enough, you will hear how absolutely horrible everything is; that we are pushed around, helpless, weak and falling apart. I’d some of that is pure fiction and some typical differences of opinion. The kind of differences you point out, which are certainly part of it.

          Part of the point of my comment ( about an 1/8 i think) is that people point out how Sander and Trump both talk about anger or appeal to same frustrations people have. Well maybe to some degree. But there is some serious differences. I doubt Bernie is going to win over the Trumpets who think we need a far more aggressive foreign policy so we aren’t so weak and want to tear up the Iran treaty. Yeah there is some anger they both speak to, but it isnt’ all the same feeling.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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            The thing is… Trump’s support isn’t really coming from the conservative wing of the party. That’s the thing we keep getting wrong. Cruz’s is, but Trump’s isn’t especially. It’s not even clear that it’s coming from The Base, as such.

            What really appears to be happening is that he is creating a new base. One that doesn’t care that Trump thinks socialized medicine is okay, for instance. One that isn’t particularly ideological or worldviewy in the way we tend to think of it. He’s found something that is there with or without him. Chris Christie may be really kicking himself that he didn’t find it first. He might well be on his road to being the next president if he had.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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              The “he’s not as Conservative as you guys want! He’s a RINO!” attacks on Trump feel fundamentally different than, say, the same attacks that Romney got.

              For one thing, one Social Conservative issues, I’m pretty sure that Trump doesn’t give a crap. I mean, on abortion? Does anyone honestly think that Trump opposes abortion? Gay marriage? He may not *SUPPORT* such things, but an attack from the left on how Trump will close abortion clinics seems hollow in a way that those things didn’t feel hollow against Romney.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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              I agree about Trump; disagree about Christie. (Bridgegate!!)

              Adding: I don’t think Christie woulda been able to capture the Trumpistas, actually, cuz he’s far too panderstablishment for their tastes. But that’s just a hunch.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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                I don’t think a Trump coalition would be especially disturbed about that. And I think once he got out of the nomination, it would be old news and his critics would be focusing on other matters. Where it sunk Christie was that he wasn’t able to weather the storm. Trumpism would have helped with that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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                If you think Trump’s folks would be OK with watered down establishment centrism, then Christie would be their man. I have a hard time believing that *that’s* what Trump’s supporters see in him. But like I said, that’s just a hunch. Well, more than a hunch, actually. I don’t think Christie has it in him to go that far outside the box.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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                If you think Trump’s folks would be OK with watered down establishment centrism,

                That misses the entire point of the scenario I was sketching out, which is that he discovers the Trump coalition and runs entirely in that direction, instead of running in the direction that he has.

                You can say “But they wouldn’t buy it!”… which may be true, but I’m not sure. In 2012, Trump was calling Romney’s immigration plan inhumane. They forgave him that because he courted their vote so furiously. I could very much see Christie having done the same thing, if he’d seen it and was willing to do it.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman
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              Will Truman: What really appears to be happening is that he is creating a new base

              You could say that. Or that he is just stroking a different chord, loudly, with intensity, that The Base has always enjoyed, but the mainstream candidates largely play softly.

              The primary theme of every successful GOP candidate has been that America is in decline, and would be great again, if only Those People weren’t allowed to run amok, and if the Leader were to stand tall in the saddle and make everyone in the world afraid of our awesome power.

              Trump isn’t saying anything different than his predecessors, just louder and with more brass.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chip Daniels
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                Cutting against your theory is that it’s Trump who wants to make sure that non-Republicans to be able to vote in the primary, and it’s the establishment that was trying to limit the vote to Republicans.

                Also, the polling that suggests that Trump voters are on not on average as conservative as non-Trump voters.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman
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                It doesn’t have anything to do with any coherent version of “conservatism”.

                Nativism and ethnic resentment aren’t political philosophies. If they were, black folks and immigrants could join.

                Like I said, the establishment wants the nativists in the band, just playing softly in the background, not soloing in the spotlight.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chip Daniels
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                That was only part of my comment, and the lesser part at that. If Trump’s base were the GOP base, Trump would be wanting to restrict rather than broaden primary participation. He wants it broader, though, because he knows that a lot of his support is coming from people that aren’t presently Republicans and the odds of him winning decrease if fewer of them are allowed to participate. His whole model depends in part on getting people who don’t usually vote in GOP primaries (or any primary, or at all) to do so. That’s not somebody whose base is the party’s. Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Chip Daniels
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                That may be, but he IS talking about immigration, and by talking about it, saying what a lot of people want to hear: that border control sucks and that we’ve let in too many folks from south of the border. NO one is talking about reigning in border crossings but him. No republican talked about it during the last race. On the one debate I watched 8 years ago or so, it wasn’t even a topic. Talking about some compromise of more border control with amnesty or some “path to citizenship” IS NOT talking about the specific issue that our borders are thin and easily crossed and that illegal’s are essentially allowed to live here with few consequences. That’s why when Trump makes “outrageous” statements, the people who are concerned about what I wrote above, listen and support him.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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              Yes.

              I would say he’s found a vein of conservatives (many of whom were once liberals, and they haven’t migrated to conservatism in a a full-policy-spectrum way, but in the way of base impulses – reactions my is probably the better term) – that neither the conservative base/movement nor the conservative establishment has been able to reach, or that it lost. Neither does the liberal establishment nor the liberal base.

              I would say that similar basic economic insecurity drives this, as does a percentage of Sanders’s support (but percentages of his support also come from the fact that the left always seeks an alternative to the liberal standard-bearer(s), and the fact that Hillary worked so hard to pare her Dem opposition down so far that she essentially united essentially all of it behind one guy from the get-go.

              Beyond that, the way the economically dispossessed, politically disengaged vote breaks down right now between Trump & Sanders (not that all of it goes to them) is that if being in that situation makes you want to blame and hea people blame immigrants, Trump’s your guy; if it mak s you blame and want to hear people blame banks and rich people, Sanders is your guy. That’s what makes the Trump people not liberals or lefties, and what makes the Sanders people lefties, basically. Despite a good many of both being basically animated by feelings of economic insecurity.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman
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              …I will add, though, that I don’t Christie or any other politician could really have reached this group in the way Trump has. A big part of it is the way he can stand to the side and say, “Look at these losers (the governing class). They’re so pathetic. I didn’t even really want to run. But they were so pathetic, I didn’t have any choice.” And the basis of that is the brand of private-sector domination he’s built up around himself (whether the record is there to substantiate it or not – he just tells you it’s there).

              Christie calls particular people names. He just would never be able to put across the idea of his own superiority to the the whole rest of the field in the way Trump has, largely because I think he doesn’t really believe in his own record as maniacally, but in any case because he hasn’t built a brand up around it like Trump has.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Drew
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                I think that’s possible, but unclear. I’m hoping that is the case. The worst possible scenario is that there is a coalition there that someone else could (or could have) run with. I don’t think Christie would map 1:1 if he tried, but I think he would be less hobbled in some ways that Trump is while (unlike, say, Santorum) being able to incorporate enough of the style to be able to pull it off.

                Ultimately, I think it depends most precisely on why Trump has the support that he does. How essential is his unique persona? How much of this is just the perfect storm, or Trump finding an untapped market? I honestly don’t know.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    Jaybird brings in an interesting point. The other thing I saw was Michelle Goldberg’s observation that NY values are dominant in the campaign.

    I think the reason Donald Trump resounds with the average Joe is because he can’t shed his outer borough nature. Neither can Sanders. Trump might come from a well to do background but he is still from Queens and people will always hold that against him. Even as he dominants business. He pisses off and turns off the genteel.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
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    Let’s get muddy.

    What are the biggest and best mudballs we can throw at Trump? Let’s really start smearing him.

    (An attack that good people like us see as a bad thing but bad people like them see as a good thing would, I hope you agree, not be a particularly good attack. It’s practically a campaign ad for the other side at that point.)

    He cheated on his wives.
    He’s had multiple marriages.

    Those are the big two that might have worked as recently as the 80’s.

    I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to go into why those attacks might not work if Clinton makes them.

    The bankruptcy thing is kind of a decent attack, maybe. His temperament, maybe. He’s a horse’s ass. He’s insufficiently devout and the most religious of the religious right doesn’t trust him. Wait, is that an attack or a reason for the undecideds to vote for him? Hrm. We probably want to avoid those kinds of attacks too.

    What attacks against Trump will work? Will Hillary be able to make them?

    (I think that there are attacks against Trump that Bernie will be able to make that Hillary can’t. That’s another interesting dynamic going on here.)Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      The worst attacks against Trumpy, which he wont’ be able to defend, will be treating him as a joke, as a buffoon, a fool. People have thought that about him for, literately, decades. Once he is out of the somewhat protected range of the R primary and more people are paying attention then there will be many more people simply laughing at him. Not taking him seriously, just a joke. Hills won’t have to do that although if she tried that isn’t in her skill set. But plenty of other people will just laugh at donnie, some as part of Hills campaign and some just because it is fun.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to greginak
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        The worst attacks against Trumpy, which he wont’ be able to defend, will be treating him as a joke, as a buffoon, a fool.

        Problem is that other GOPers are already so foolish that that attack won’t stick (hasn’t yet!) and if anything encourages his supporters even more. On the other side, they don’t care what liberals would say about him anyway.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater
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          His supporters aren’t really the target, its the people who haven’t decided. The Trumpets are going to vote R if they vote, they aren’t up for grabs. Once it’s H vs T then lots of people start to pay attention. All the other R’s will be forgotten. Each one of Trumpy’s outrageous statements will get more airplay and attention.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
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      I don’t think that’s really how modern politics works. The way you win elections is no longer about issues, it’s about GOTV: mobilizing your voters and demobilizing the opposition. The reason Romney and McCain lost was because Republicans were holding their noise to vote for them while Democrats were happy to tell anyone who would listen that they’re voting for the young black guy; same difference for Kerry.

      Trump would enter the general with most Democrats despising him and most Republicans suspicious if not outright hostile. Clinton’s task would be done before it started. She could then take that foundation and pound Trump from the right – supported abortion, supports Obamacare, buddies with Putin, wants Oprah as VP, misogynist, etc. – to make sure Republicans stay home.Report

    • Avatar gingergene in reply to Jaybird
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      I think the best attack you could make is that he’s just an average business man. He inherited a lot of money, but has lost it all more than once. He lost money in a casino, which makes him the Bugsy Siegel of the current GOP field, only without the good looks.

      I’m waiting for a fundamentalist Christian to ask him about his daughter’s conversion. That crowd thinks she’s going to h-e-double-hockeysticks for that, and although they aren’t a huge part of his support, I think he’ll go absolutely ballistic if someone implies (or outright says) that she’s done something wrong. Whatever his flaws, I think he’s pretty loyal to the people closest to him.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe
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    “The illusion that [x republican] is a friend of the little guy” is an illusion that every x republican tries to achieve. The entirety of the appeal of Bush Jr was that despite being a rich oil baron yalie son of a US President, he was still just a regular dude you could have a (non alcoholic) beer with.

    The party’s entire existence these days rests on that illusion. And you expect them to dispel it, somehow, on just a single individual?Report

  7. Avatar notme
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    Why not use Harry Reid’s tactic and tell everyone that he hasn’t proven that didn’t cheat on his taxes?Report

  8. Avatar Road Scholar
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    If I was a contributor and could post to Off the Cuff this should go there. Instead I’ll leave it here. A political scientist type has discovered that the most statistically significant predictor of being a Trump supporter is authoritarianism. Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Road Scholar
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      Wow. Thanks for sharing that Road. Very interesting. Not just wrt Trumpism, but in general. Eg.,

      But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time.
      Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Stillwater
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        You’re welcome, Stillwater. I believe the main reason folks are scratching their heads over Trump’s success stems from being stuck viewing politics through the lens of conventional, left/right paradigm. I find it particularly curious among this crowd seeing as how many of the participants clearly don’t fit into that uni-dimensional model. If Conservatives can be described as economically liberal (in the dictionary sense) and Liberals as socially liberal, then Libertarians are more conservative than Conservatives and more liberal than Liberals.

        Conversely, I discovered this article in the Facebook feed of an online friend who is an uber-traditional Catholic, who can be described as the polar opposite of a libertarian (and in fact can’t stand them). He advocates a return to the kind of Christian monarchy of pre-enlightenment Europe. He also obviously doesn’t fit on the conventional political spectrum either. Generally, we can speak of these as Communitarians.

        Furthermore, I believe we can usefully distinguish between two different flavors of Liberalism, typified quite nicely by Clinton and Sanders, and two different flavors of Conservatism similarly typified by Romney or JEB! on the one hand and, I’m coming to believe, Trump on the other.

        Anyway, I’ve actually diagrammed this all out in a circular format and… who the heck is going to take me seriously anyway so I’m not sure what to do with it. I can claim precisely zero credentials in social psychology or political science so I guess I’m just a crank with too much time on his hands.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
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    Apparently, Trump actually did make a spectacular mistake recently. In speaking to a group of Christians at Liberty, he apparently referred to “Two Corinthians” (instead of “Second Corinthians).

    I’ve gone out on these limbs before but if I had to pick a moment that would be the equivalent of the Howard Dean Yell, it would be this one.Report

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