A Post-Trump Landscape — The Buckley Club

CK MacLeod

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56 Responses

  1. Stillwater says:

    Wow. That’s a really poorly written article.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater says:

      Wow, that’s a really judgmental comment, without specifics. I thought it read quite well, actually, though I disagree with one of its major operative assumptions.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod says:

        Sorry. It’s just that the basic point struck me as requiring about two paragraphs, but it went on and on and on…. It also struck me as a multi-level Trump whine, rather than the more focused single issue Trump whine I’ve gotten used to, which made it even harder to bear.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to Stillwater says:

          Not sure what you believe it’s “basic point” was supposed to be, but part of the problem is that the post was not written for you. You’d have to try to do something probably uncomfortable, which is put yourself in the position of a thoughtful conservative (a species whose existence many left-liberal types claim to doubt) trying to determine whether it makes more sense post-Trump to seek to repair the Republican Party or to venture out into the wilds.

          Anyway, I enjoyed the speculative breakdown of voting blocs and sub-blocs, which requires more than a paragraph or two. In fact, the overall tone struck me as very “ordinary” – in a good way, of course.Report

          • gingergene in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            You’d have to try to do something probably uncomfortable, which is put yourself in the position of a thoughtful conservative (a species whose existence many left-liberal types claim to doubt)

            Wow, that’s a really judgmental commentReport

          • pillsy in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            I disagree with Stillwater’s assessment of the article[1], but I doubt the issues are ideological. I have no idea if the author is thoughtful when it comes to matters of policy, despite the fact that they’re thoughtful about politics[2].

            [1] OK, it wasn’t perfectly written, but what is in this debased age of blogs and Tweets and hot takes and, um, Ordinary Times comments.

            [2] The two kinds of thoughtfulness just aren’t remotely the same. One of the most thoughtful folks I’ve met online, when it came to party politics, was a tedious, partisan dullard on policy, and it seems like there are legions of insightful policy wonks who understand precisely dick-all about party politics.[3]

            [3] I, of course, am a shining beacon of brilliance when I discuss politics, policy, or, for that matter, anything else.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            whether it makes more sense post-Trump to seek to repair the Republican Party or to venture out into the wilds.

            Did the Republican party go into the wilderness after 2006? My recollection is that they didn’t. Then 2008 happened.

            From what I understand, they didn’t resign themselves to the wilderness then either.

            I suspect that they still don’t understand why they lost those two elections as badly as they did.

            As such, I’m guessing that they won’t choose the wilderness now either.Report

            • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

              Well, because they won in 2010 and 2014, so the base doesn’t think there’s a problem.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                And they’re likely to win again in 2018.

                But that doesn’t mean that the base doesn’t think that there’s a problem.

                Trump is some *YUUUUGE* evidence that the base thinks there’s a problem.Report

            • North in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’d submit, Jay, that the GOP’s decision not to go into the wilds, and especially their decision to use total opposition and directly harnessing the Tea Party sentiments to get back into power in Congress was probably their final decision which lead directly to the state of affairs the party finds itself in now.

              And it may be that the wilds won’t be a choice for them anymore but simply a default state of affairs.Report

  2. pillsy says:

    This seems a mix of insightful observations and stuff that verges (rather ironically) on conspiracy theory. The latter might be an issue with the writing and presentation, but there seems to be this assumption that members of the Trump coalition want to see Trump fail, and I think that’s a bit hard to swallow. I think a lot of people are behind Trump despite knowing that he’s completely full of shit because the ways he’s full of shit read (to them) like a signal that they can trust him to look out for their interests. I think this is a catastrophically bad way to choose a candidate to support, but, importantly it’s not a delusional or insane way to pick a candidate.

    Also, the nominee could still be Cruz, or it could (somewhat more implausibly) be someone else following a brokered convention. Both, I think, would pose serious problems for the GOP, but they would be different problems.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to pillsy says:

      I didn’t take it that it was thought they wanted Trump to fail, merely that it was accepted and that his failure is preferable to “our” success. It would be, at least, failure on their terms rather than on ours. Blaze of glory stuff.

      I’m not sure I agree with the article, but I enjoyed it immensely and thought it was really quite good.Report

    • trizzlor in reply to pillsy says:

      >> I think this is a catastrophically bad way to choose a candidate to support

      Why? The way I see it is that when people hear Cruz they can tell he’s lying *to* them, and then they hear Trump they can at least imagine that he’ll lie *for* them. Take this exchange from the previous debate about taxes.

      Here’s Trump’s plan:

      TRUMP: Department of Education. We’re cutting Common Core. We’re getting rid of Common Core. We’re bringing education locally. Department of Environmental Protection. We are going to get rid are of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.

      We have various other things. If you look at the IRS, if you look at every single agency, we can cut it down, and I mean really cut it down and save. The waste, fraud, and abuse is massive.

      Larry Kudlow, great guy, everybody respects him, said my plan for taxes and tax cutting is the best by far of everybody.

      and here’s Cruz’s plan:

      CRUZ: So my simple flat tax I have rolled out in precise detail how it will operate where every American can fill out our taxes on a postcard. And if you want to actually see the postcard, see all the details, you can find them on our Web site. It’s tedcruz.org.

      When he we get rid of all the corporate welfare, all the subsidies, all the carve-outs in the IRS code, it dramatically simplifies it. And under Obama, the IRS has become so corrupt and so politicized we need to abolish it all together.

      Now, at the end of that there will still be an office in the Treasury Department to receive the postcards but it will be dramatically simpler.

      So Trump is pretty open that he doesn’t have the details, that he’s going to cut whatever he can – including stuff like CommonCore that he knows you don’t like – and the he’s got that trustworthy guy you see on TV saying he can do it. Cruz says functionally the same thing, but he claims to have all these details up on his web-site – which is the kind of thing liars say when they have no details – and he trots out the stale “taxes on a post-card” bullshit that Republicans have been holding up as bait for 20 years (missing the point that working class people without complex finances already do this).

      Honestly, if you played me those two clips and held a gun to my head on a candidate I would vote for Trump. He may be pissing on my leg, but at least he’s not telling me it’s raining.Report

      • greginak in reply to trizzlor says:

        That is the weird thing. Trump is lying to you and he telling you its the greatest golden shower ever. But somehow that makes it better for some.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to greginak says:

          I think we’re talking about the difference between a bullshitter and a liar:

          “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”

          ~ “On Bullshit” , Harry G. Frankfurt

          I’ll take the bullshitter, thank you very much.Report

        • Kim in reply to greginak says:

          “It’s raining McCain again…”Report

  3. Kolohe says:

    Ok it did take me two read throughs to follow the train of thought all the way to the last stop on the line.

    The initial assumptions and analysis are fine, bit I can’t help thinking – isn’t this ‘first against the wall’ thing *already* happening, whenever the tea party knocked off an unprepared incumbent?

    The narrative of intra party betrayal has been a near constant thing on most of talk radio since at least 2006.

    Edit – that is, the day after the midterm elections of 2006.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    In a rare burst of generosity, I imagined if I were faced with an analogous situation in the Democratic Party.
    Suppose a large dominant faction of unreconstructed Stalinists seized control, sneering at us as bourgeois lackeys and dominating the party with proposals for FEMA camps , property seizures and the like.

    Maybe I would write something like this.

    But maybe I would also ask where these angry nihilist came from, why they felt at home in my party, who invited them in and what part I played in all of that.

    The author and the rest of the sensible conservatives studiously avoid this, and seem like the preacher who can’t understand why every young man he hires turns out to be gay.

    Bill Buckley confronted these people in 1964, Bill Clinton had his Sista Soulja moment in1996.
    We’re still waiting for an equivalent Republican moment now.Report

  5. North says:

    Hmmm well I read it over. It basically read like a prescription for several cycles of the right being shattered and infighting furiously. It gave me a generally congenial glow. Since we leftists aren’t quite like the author implies it probably won’t be especially problematic for the country.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to North says:

      It could be setting the stage for the next major realignment. One that has me deeply concerned, and not because I’ll be a Democrat in it.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

        Not to diminish your concerns, Will, but I think these sorts of worries are misguided given the long track record of US politics and policy. The governing class NEVER loses complete control over the reigns of power, in whatever manifestations the amelioration takes. In fact, quite the opposite: the governing (read: invenstor class) grants loose rein to the polulace to placate them till the next big Incursion into the established power dynamics.

        If the worried-about realignment signals something portentous, it’s only because the US’s global power has declined to such an extent that the Elites can’t pull the strings. Which is gonna be bad for everyone, but not because of Populism!Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

          I have no doubts the elites interests will be served either way. That part will be taken care of, if for no other reason than that the Trumpians would become elite, whether they admit it or not (and, of course, Trump himself already is). A lot can happen in the underneath, though.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

            I don’t think I get the worry then. Are you suggesting that entrenched economic power is going to align with fascism? Anti-market protectionism? Xenophobia?

            IF so, I’m not seeing why, since the goals of established economic power require trade deals (NAFTA, TPP, etc), the illusion of democratic pluralism, and access to cheap labor to be realized. In other words, the only reason elites would move towards policies inconsistent with those goals is if they prioritized other concerns above economic ones. And there is very little evidence in US history for such a state of affairs ever arising. (It’d place nationalism (or whatever) above monetary gain, which would subvert the dominant ideology embraced by US elites, economic or otherwise.)Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

              I think when the water rises, the elites will cut the deals that need to be cut. They might prefer Buddy Romer, but they’ll work with Edwin Edwards, and they’ll work with David Duke. Cheap labor need not be realized generally, if it can be realized for them. Trade laws need not be liberal generally, so long as trade laws are favorable to them. They might prefer the former, in a general sense, just as they might prefer a lower minimum wage in a general sense, but they’ll cut the deals that need to be cut and they will be taken care of.Report

              • Should add, and this may be a point of disagreement, my views here go beyond policy and into the area of corrosive atmosphere. A lot of folks believe that things can’t get much worse than the GOP has been for the past six years or so, but I believe that not only can it but that it can get a lot worse. What we’ve seen is a result of the party elites (depending on the year) either trying to strike a balance or at least walk a tight line. What we’re seeing right now is the battle being lost. If the war is lost, there won’t be much of a restraining factor beyond electoral politics.

                Which itself may provide a firewall to an extent, which is why I don’t expect Trump to win. But not indefinitely, I don’t believe. I see a coalition lying in wait for the next economic meltdown, the majority party screwup, or absent that trying to find a way to make sure that it’s only sufficiently demonizing less than 50% of the population and going after that part of the population without restraint.

                And I think “But that’s already how it is” is mistaking the bad for the worst.Report

            • j r in reply to Stillwater says:

              IF so, I’m not seeing why, since the goals of established economic power require trade deals (NAFTA, TPP, etc), the illusion of democratic pluralism, and access to cheap labor to be realized.

              One of the reasons that I am so down on politics is that it incentivizes people to organize around and fight battles over legacy issues instead of thinking about what happens next. The major economic battles of tomorrow won’t be about the need to find cheap labor. Rather, they will be about how to handle dramatic drop in demand for unskilled and then semi-skilled labor.

              You guys are all worried about foreigners when it’s the robots that pose the real threat.Report

      • North in reply to Will Truman says:

        Deeply worried about what though?Report

  6. j r says:

    Instead, you now have 15 million utterly disenfranchised Americans speaking an alien language. It would be nice to just write them off and not re-engage them, sure. I don’t much care for them either.

    But if you don’t want them, someone else will.

    I don’t think this person knows what disenfranchised means. What it doesn’t mean is the guy you wanted to win didn’t win.

    The fundamental flaw of this piece is that it takes politics way too seriously. There are places in the world where being on the losing end of an election has real consequences, places where people take to the streets with bug knives and clubs in support of their party. America used to be one of these places. Thank god we are no longer. And hopefully we don’t return there.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

      Though not the precise definition, it’s close enough for “there are two major parties and neither care about your support.”

      I think it gets to the conceit (on the left and the high right) that if only the GOP would have ignored these people instead of pandered to them they would go away. I don’t think that’s what would happen. I think what would happen might be preferable to the here and now, and would certainly be preferable to where I fear things are actually headed, but it’s not what a lot of people seem to imagine.Report

      • j r in reply to Will Truman says:

        Though not the precise definition, it’s close enough for “there are two major parties and neither care about your support.”

        I guess, but then we’re all disenfranchised. There are no major parties that care enough about my support to meaningfully address the things that I think need addressing. There are parties that pretend to care about various aspects of my demography: my age, my ethnicity, my sex, my SES, where I live, etc. Since, I’m an actual living, breathing person and not an abstract statistical concept, they don’t actually care about me. Somehow I continue to draw breath.

        I’m not trying to split hairs here or be pedantic, but this is not the way that democracy is supposed to work. Democracy works best when people are presented with a set of choices, they make a choice, and then they evaluate the results when making the next set of choices. That’s it. That’s the best it gets. If you (the proverbial you) want someone to listen to your hopes, dreams and problems, go talk to a therapist. If you want someone to make you feel good about yourself, go watch a Frank Capra movie. If you want to root for a team, follow sports. Politics will never deliver what people are coming to expect from it.

        And the other problem here is that the pundit class, the professionals, the semi-pros, and the amateurs alike, are all engaged in an ultimately meaningless exercise of trying to reverse engineer their pre-existing beliefs and pet theories. That’s not the way the world works. Legacy pundits are obvious blowhards. Statistical analysis only gets us so far. You can’t Voxsplain the future. If the rise of Trump has taught us anything, it ought to be that the chattering classes don’t know what the heck they are talking about. If they couldn’t predict the rise of Trump as it was happening, why should I accept anything that they say about what comes next?Report

        • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

          Maybe “excluded” is a better word. Or maybe not. But I’ll go with it since it doesn’t have a precise political definition that means something else.

          The system has no problem excluding people. Especially when they are in such a small number as to be irrelevant, and when they are considered so unsympathetic by society it behoves everyone either pretend they don’t exist or to actually be antagonistic towards them. This has been the case for gays in the past, even though they could actually vote. It wasn’t just a matter of “not getting their way” but of exclusion from – animosity from, actually – the system itself.

          The system does have a problem excluding large numbers of people, so long as they are visible. And so long as people can relate to them. Gay folks made a lot of progress in part by becoming more visible, and more relatable. The people we’re talking about here are a degree of both. Let’s say that there are only 15 million of them… there are a lot more people like them and sympathetic to them. The system has a hard time excluding that for any extended period of time. Unless they’re living in the political shadows, they tend to be either catered to (to some extent) by one party or appealed to (to some extent) by both.

          That, I think, is what the author is getting at.Report

          • j r in reply to Will Truman says:

            OK. I am more sympathetic to this, but we need to be more precise about what we mean by “the system.” And we need to have a better model of how that system interacts with party politics and electoral politics in general. That is where my complaint is. Otherwise, we are in the realm of the pundits, spinning endless rationalization yarns that largely serve as entertainment for people who find politics entertaining.

            What does it actually mean to say that people feel excluded by the political process? To some extent, exclusion is the point of a democracy. Democratic government is an aggregate, so as individuals we ought to be excluded in that we all only get an infinitesimally small share of a say in democratic outcomes.

            The problem arises when we start to accept the model of politics as identity. Here’s the thing about all those idiocracy supporting Trumpkins sharing endless inane memes and spreading empirically false factoids, they learned it by watching you. Again, the proverbial you.

            That is, the chattering class made “political journalism” and “data science” into a cover for a specific set of interests. So, the proles fought back by empowering their own pundits and journos and experts. Of course theirs is more crude and less sophisticated. They haven’t had the same training.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

              I was indeed vague about “the system.” I meant “the current two party system” most specifically, or “two-party systems as produced by our form of government” more generally.

              I agree that “as individuals” we are very excludable, which is why I look at the fifteen million (or more) as a group. Excluding one is very easy. Excluding a mass is hard.

              I point to Europe here, where in most Central and Western European countries, both major parties are sympathetic towards immigration for this reason and that. And they got away with it, for a while, but it’s becoming a serious problem. Still manageable, but becoming unmanageable in some places and looking to get worse to whatever extent both parties tell those concerned “Screw you!”

              Things are not so bad here, on the immigration front. And the good thing about our fifteen million is that they don’t quite have a unifying issue like immigration. I fear that might change as we move into more of a majority-minority society. For that matter, in a slightly different context I worry about rips in the fabric by inequality no matter you and I might see the whole relative vs absolute wealth thing. It’s easier to give way on ecomomic issues than cultural ones, though.

              Anyway, point being, as a good High Republican (perhaps soon to be High Democrat), I worry about the conglomeration of these people. At the same time, there’s no reason to surrender to them. But to matter what happens, whether they take over one party, somehow keep things in a three-party limbo for a while, or shake lose and become targets (but not critical constituencies) to both parties… they’re going to be a pain in our arse. I see no way around that.

              I quite agree with your last two paragraphs, though I don’t think we changing our behavior will result in they changing theirs. If we could change our behavior, which we can’t because we’re people and people are dumb. Even smart people, or perhaps especially them, because they have better ways to cope with being dumb.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Will Truman says:


  7. Francis says:

    As to the quality of the writing, I found the article to be just okay. 2nd person singular is hard to do well and for me personally I think that the article missed the mark. I recognize that tastes differ.

    As to the merits, I think again that the article was a little off. I may be completely wrong on this point, but my general understanding of national elections is that people very rarely change parties. Instead, elections are won and lost on turnout. So the bit in the middle about vote counts didn’t seem on point to me.

    And then as to the meat of the article, I think that the article failed to recognize past history. Ross Perot was going to create a 3rd party, and didn’t. Both Newt’s Revolution and the Tea Party were going to be something radically new, but mostly they just led to intractable opposition. Clinton was supposed to be an irremovable stain on the Democratic Party, then Barack came to town.

    People forget. Life moves on. 4 years is a long time to hold a grudge. [add more boring platitudes.] It’s entirely possible that Trump is sui generis. Who else in the American landscape could repeat his campaign? Who else has 100% name recognition with the voting public and the perfect command of the TV camera?

    As to the merits of Trumpism, yes, most Americans feel vulnerable to job loss in a way that their parents were not (questionable whether that’s actually true, but this is about how people feel). But workable solutions are hard to find. Restrict the flows of capital across national boundaries? Impose global minimum standards on labor and the environment? Who’s going to agree to that, and who would enforce it?

    What’s even more odd is that Trump has even gone so far as to say the minimum wage is too high. This is who working class whites want? Someone who thinks that they make too much?

    (A final point: It’s pretty easy for people like Brad deLong (tenured professor), Jonah Goldberg (conservative columnist deeply connected to the Republican gravy train) and myself (California lawyer) to try to have compassion for working class America. But in reality we all should be facing the guillotine for having the unmitigated gall to dare to speak on these issues; none of us face ANY competition from overseas.)Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Francis says:

      …[N]one of us face ANY competition from overseas.

      Not yet, my brother counselor. Not yet.Report

      • Murali in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Academic positions (especially in flagship research universities) often face immense competition from overseas. Just check out the percentage of faculty who are from overseas. At least in the universities I have been to this has ranged from 33% to more than 70%.Report

        • Francis in reply to Murali says:

          My point was that Brad is tenured (and therefore isn’t facing overseas competition).

          Getting past the California bar is actually relatively difficult and outsourcing research and writing to India (for example) present enormous liability issues (so Bro. Likko and I are, for now, largely immune from overseas competition).

          The LA Times outsourcing Jonah’s columns to a low-cost conservative living overseas would be absolutely hysterical.Report

  8. trizzlor says:

    I’m skeptical of any argument that assumes *this* is the most important election of our time. What specifically about Trump is going to mobilize the disparate fringe? Limbaugh has 14 million weekly listeners, Beck + Levin have 7mil each, Savage (who has been dabbling with white nationalism for years) has 5mil. Those millions have been a “disenfranchised” part of the political landscape for years. Why didn’t they rise up after 2012, when their leaders promised them that the Kenyan Pretender was going run wild in his second term?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to trizzlor says:

      One could say that’s exactly what’s happening now, they did rise up with the Kenyan pretenders 2nd term. They’re just not getting their torches and pitchforks from the vendors that the people stoking the mob thought were going to be supplying. (I think..that metaphor got away from me).

      Anyway, remember how Obama went out of his way to insult Trump at a correspondents dinner a few years ago? Well for thing, it gave Donald street cred as being on the opposite side of whatever the Muslim Marxist Usurper was all about, even if the Donald really doesn’t stand for anything that approaches a unified poltical ideology.

      Savage* has been quite pro Trump all this cycle, Levin has become anti Trump, but only in the past few months. Hannity is still Trump curious, and Limbaugh still spends most of his time with how liberals are like german sausages – they are the wurst.

      *one butterfly effect thing that may have helped Trump’s rise. Hannity is the most Republican team player out of all the big time radio peeps, though he denies it strenuously. About a year ago, maybe a little more, there was big time contract dispute between the syndication company and one of the big radio networks that carry his show. So in a lot a radio markets, just as this cycle was kicking off, the radio network pulled Hannity and replaced him with Savage in a more mass audience friendly time of day. A whole lot more people have now heard a daily dirge about borders, language, and culture in the past year than had heard for the past 15 or so he’s been on the air. And less of Hannity’s generally more party line messages of the day.Report

  9. You know, if I made up a lot of numbers and ascribed groups that I dislike truly evil motives, I could draw some wild-ass conclusions too.Report