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GOPocalypse, Part 4: The Longshot

This is the fourth article in a five-part series on the 2016 GOP nomination.

John Kasich has largely escaped public opprobrium for his role in propping up Trump. But Kasich rivals Jeb Bush in terms of the opportunities he had to stop Trump. If Jeb had one big thing, Kasich had a bunch of smaller ones.

First was Kasich’s full-throated adoption of what we could call “Weaverism,” which is the approach of veteran Republican strategist John Weaver. Weaver seems to be a perfectly-decent guy, but he has hit upon a campaign strategy that essentially requires the candidate to mock the Republican base. This seems to work very well for getting positive media coverage, but it does not do much in terms of building a coalition to win the Republican nomination. Weaverism gets you less than 20 percent in New Hampshire; it didn’t work for Jon Huntsman, and it didn’t work for John Kasich. It is a dead-end, and it proved to be that, again. (That candidates have not yet seen that this is a futile strategy is staggering. A variety of it worked for John McCain, but McCain, a war hero, is essentially sui generis in American politics. And Kasich is no war hero.)

Kasich’s national poll showings were horrendous throughout the fall; his best poll showing prior to votes being cast, according to Real Clear Politics, was 6 percent, in a Wall Street Journal poll in September 2015. Said showings were so awful that Kasich was nearly booted from the main stage to the “kids’ table” debate, if not for a last minute New Hampshire poll to save him. He could have dropped out in deference to the enormous field, as did Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry, three qualified Republican governors who bowed to the realities of their situations. He didn’t.

Kasich spent more time in New Hampshire in 2015 than almost anyone who isn’t a resident. For all of that, he pulled in less than 16 percent of the vote, less, even, than Huntsman’s share four years prior. Kasich could have dropped out at this point; after all, he’d spent months in the state and finished, at best, an incredibly weak second. Instead, he soldiered on, fighting through an abysmal showing in South Carolina to move to Ohio and Michigan.

Second, once voting started in additional states, it was quite clear that Kasich and Rubio were pulling from the same voters. The best example here, of course, is Virginia, but demographically, Kasich and Rubio had similar coalitions. Indeed, Marco Rubio came very close to knocking off Trump in the high-profile state, where a potential victory might have scrambled the race. Kasich, though, grabbed over 41,000 votes in Rubio’s northern Virginia stronghold (Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, and Arlington Counties, and Alexandria). Rubio lost the state by fewer than 30,000 votes.

(Indeed, the fundamental dynamic of the race was the establishment failure to coalesce. Combined, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie had the votes to win all of the first three states, with the concomitant positive coverage that such a sweep would have brought. The long-term prognosis for the GOP–with two-thirds of its primary voters opting for people like Cruz and Trump–was troubling, but the establishment had the votes. It just refused to consolidate.)

Third, Kasich served as a backstop for Trump in the later debates. After South Carolina, Rubio and Cruz finally (finally!) decided to take the fight to Trump. And… Trump bled at these debates. He was embarrassed at times, often on his heels. But instead of joining in the fray, every time Kasich spoke, he gave Trump a chance to catch his breath, to recompose himself, to move away from a potential complete meltdown. A good example is below, starting at about 55 minutes in:


This was one of the situations where Trump took on the heaviest fire of the campaign: Rubio was mocking him brutally, and Trump was rattled. The smaller field allowed for candidates to employ more detailed critiques, rather than serving as a chaotic scramble for oxygen. But instead of taking the opportunity to pile on, Kasich backed down, reverting into campaign boilerplate. This is the standard operating procedure for a normal campaign. But it should have been clear by South Carolina that this was no longer a normal campaign. A wolf was at the door. Cruz and Rubio had gotten the message. Kasich could have joined the fray for the sake of his party and his country. He refused. (Note: this might not have been enough to stop the train after South Carolina. He could’ve tried.)

Next: after Florida, Trump decided that he was dropping out of all future debates. Cruz and Kasich could have taken the opportunity to debate one another on FOX News, spending two hours hitting Trump’s cowardice to a national TV audience. Kasich, again, refused. Indeed, following Ohio, there was a plausible path forward: Kasich and Cruz–the two remaining candidates who had won their home states–could have agreed to a “strange bedfellows” ticket against the historic danger of Trump. Having competed in many more primaries and caucuses than Kasich, Cruz obviously deserved the top of the ticket. Kasich did not make any such deal.

Finally, Kasich’s operation was an issue. Kasich claimed to be running a serious campaign, but serious campaigns do not have ballot-access issues and understand delegate allocation rules. Kasich’s campaign frequently erred on these. For example, Kasich could have been ousted from the Pennsylvania ballot and the Illinois ballot. These stories were underdiscussed, but striking:

Kasich’s campaign, according to numbers obtained by POLITICO, has deficits in six congressional districts: the 1st, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th. Specifically, in the 1st district he submitted 203 valid signatures, though the minimum is 337, leaving a deficit of 134. In the 12th district, he submitted 710 valid signatures, but the minimum is 756, leaving a gap of 46 signatures. In the 13th district, he submitted 396 valid signatures, meaning he has a deficit of 343.

In the 14th district, the minimum number of valid signatures required is 861, but Kasich’s campaign submitted just 82, leaving a deficit of 779. In the 15th district Kasich, submitted 833 where 987 are required, so he’s 154 short. And in the 16th congressional district, the campaign submitted 234 — 570 signatures short of the required 804.

For a professional operation, these thresholds should not have been difficult. But Kasich essentially bet the farm on New Hampshire and Ohio, and ignored–quite literally–the entire rest of the country. Why?

In fact, once New Hampshire and Ohio finished, where did Kasich go? To Utah, of course! But this reflected an inaccurate understanding of delegate allocation rules; Kasich’s role in going to Utah served to risk a potential 50% winner-take-all threshold for Cruz, and thereby granting Trump additional delegates.

Again, good campaigns understand and focus on the nuts and bolts of delegate allocation. That Kasich’s operation was so flawed should have been a signal that he didn’t have What It Takes, and should have encouraged him to drop out much sooner. Because of the campaign’s issues, Kasich could only serve as a spoiler, not as a contender. And yet he was the last man standing against Trump.

And then, in the end, after Cruz had dropped out, did Kasich stay in and run as the only moral alternative to Trump, counting on Trump to implode and for prominent Republican officials to want some sort of other option?

Nope. His “heart [wasn’t] in it.”

Let’s summarize. In short, Kasich:

  • adopted a strategy of antagonizing the Republican base;
  • ran an error-prone operation that made many mistakes;
  • had no viable plan after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire;
  • refused to attack Donald Trump in debates when it could have made a difference;
  • refused to participate in an anti-Trump debate in Trump’s absence;
  • refused to join a unity ticket as vice president;
  • refused to stay in the race long enough to run as a true, lone Trump alternative once Cruz dropped out.

To his credit, Kasich has held firm in avoiding an endorsement of Trump. He deserves plaudits for that, and there is a certain logic to Kasich-as-the-nominee: sometimes, you want a down-to-Earth Midwesterner to follow tumultuous times. But Kasich could have played a much larger role in stopping this. He didn’t.

Image by aj.hanson1 GOPocalypse, Part 4: The Longshot

Staff Writer

Dan Scotto lives and works in Oregon. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

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49 thoughts on “GOPocalypse, Part 4: The Longshot

  1. I don’t think this piece is particularly fair to Kasich. Your main argument seems to be that Kasich failed to sacrifice himself and his political aspirations for the sake of the party and the country. A sacrifice that you don’t seem to require from Rubio or Cruz (particularly the former, whose career, i assume, it’s important).

    My pet theory is that Kasich was never running for the nomination, but for the very important (for Republicans) position of first runner-up, given than historically, the runner-up is deemed the next in line.

    In a field of about ten establishment candidates and one Christianist candidate (Cruz), absent Trump, the electoral GOP math would give you Candidate Cruz. Cruz had the support of all of his leg, while the other two legs had to be shared by Jeb!, Rubio, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina, Walker, Perry, and perhaps some other. Winner takes all (and even proportional representation) meant that the unified Cruz third of the party would always beat the disunited Establish two thirds. So, smart money said Cruz had the better chance to win the nomination, but also -this is a Ted Cruz we are talking about- that he was a very long shot to win the Presidency.

    In these circumstances, runner-up is the best prize of all. Cruz is candidate, Hillary wins, though she’s deeply unpopular (just less unpopular, and less scary than Cruz), and in 2020 the Republicans have the best chance ever to capture the White House. Today’s runner-up is in pole position to capture this valuable nomination.

    That’s also why he refused to give up. The same rationale is valid with a Trump candidacy. The runner-up today will be in the best position to topple Clinton 45 in 2020. Cruz, of course is the runner-up. But Cruz commands one third of the party and is deeply hated by the other two thirds (as well as half the country). So, the runner-up to the runner-up has a very good chance of getting the Establishment to coalesce early around him (sort of how they did around Jeb!, but Jeb! was a failed candidate) and run over Cruz for the nomination.

    On paper, it’s a very good plan. All it was required was to stay until the end, and become the runner-up. Which Kasich did.

    I believe that come 2020 there will be a lot of Establishment’s early support around Kasich, putting pressure on other candidates to bow out, so as to consolidate a unity candidate against both Cruz and Trump 2.0. (whoever that person is).

    As Jaybird’s says, this is a falsiable theory.


    • I think your point about the value of being runner-up is generally sound, but was Kasich really the runner-up? It seems like the higher vote shares and greater number of victories of Cruz, Rubio, et al. will matter more in the future than Kasich’s “last to quit” status. Your hypothesis forms a credible rationale for why he may have stayed in the race, but as a rationale, it seems emblematic of the sort of clouded campaign organization that Dan describes in his post. I predict many Republicans will hold a grudge against Kasich on exactly the emotional grounds that Dan evokes (to wit that his was a vanity candidacy). As you say, time will tell.


      • My argument is based in two additional things:

        From the point of view of the Establishment, Cruz is as bad, if not worse, than Trump. The Establishment will never pick him up as the presumptive nominee, even if he is the technical runner-up. So now being runner-up to the runner-up is suddenly a valuable asset.

        I don’t buy and never bought on the Rubio love. Without going back to a ptevios discussion, I think he is too green, too empty of a clear political message (more below), and he jumped out too soon, to be the next pick of the Establishment.

        (Of course, Rubio had a political message: immigration reform, before he claimed to have seen the light and dumped all of it. Immigration opponents will not forgive him his Gang of Eight leadership moment. Immigration reformers will not forgive him being a turncoat. Latinos in general will not forgive him being a CUBAN turncoat (the difference between a Cuban and a Not Cuban Hispanic might be lost to non Hispanics, but it’s a chasm bigger than that of WASPs and Jews))


    • Anyone with the ego and rhinoceros hide necessary to run seriously for President is unlikely to be swayed by the argument that it’s his turn to take one for the team, in order to solve the collective action problem.

      This is doubly true in an age where individual donor financing allows a campaigner to stay in the field longer, and where the resulting loss of power of party officials means that their promises about the next cycle are meaningless.


  2. The Illinois ballot was not that much of an issue because Republicans have a gentlemen’s agreement not to challenge each other’s signatures on statewide ballots. The requirement to get on the ballot in each Congressional district is considered too difficult for a Republican. There were rumors that this year is different and the various campaigns were camped out at the board of elections at the deadline with competing challenges ready to be filed if they were targeted. None filed. If the field had been vetted, we don’t know which Republicans would have been hurt or helped the most.

    The most interesting part to me was that the Bush team appeared to be ready to challenge the field, but the Illinois Republican establishment reached out to him to dissuade him. Bush probably had the most to gain from challenges, but was apparently unwilling to upset the establishment.


    • PD Shaw: The Illinois ballot was not that much of an issue because Republicans have a gentlemen’s agreement not to challenge each other’s signatures on statewide ballots.

      That wasn’t universally true in 2012. The Virginia GOP Prez primary was only between Romney and RON PAUL! because Gingrich’s petitions to get on the ballot were successfully challenged. (And thus RON PAUL! wound up getting one of his highest percentage totals of any primary in either 08 or 12)

      If anything, and I think Dan might have already addressed this, the 2016 contenders were way insufficiently cutthroat and system working compared to what they had been in the recent past.


      • I don’t know anything about Virginia. For decades, Illinois Republicans have agreed not to challenge each other’s signatures, at least not for statewide races.

        That Bush appears to have indicated a willingness to piss on Illinois social norms is an indication that things were more cutthroat than in the past, but ultimately Bush pulled back.


  3. I really dig the first sentence of this part, which seems to be a set-up for “GOPocalypse, Part 5: The Pied-Piper of Rodham” — which might open with “The DNC and Clinton campaigns have largely escaped public opprobrium for their role in propping up Trump.”

    Because that is similar to the wording used in the emails between those parties and John Podesta when discussing who’d be the best opponent for HRC. I believe “elevate” was the terminology chosen, used to describe how to make sure the press would naturally pivot from their encounters with the Clinton campaign by giving Trump more coverage.

    I do wonder if Part 5 will ponder whether or not it is just as accurately a DEMocalypse we’re witnessing, in that any & all territory ceded by the Republican Party is rashly overtaken by the Democratic hierarchy, as they know no rightward slide too slippery to enthusiastically embrace. But then, that would just be a distillation of the problem with a two-party democracy funded by the two-parties and their special interests. I’m pretty sure both will survive in one form or another. They need each other for plausible legitimacy.


    • I actually would like to see some discussion of What The Hell Happened With Walker.

      Because everyone kept complaining about how there didn’t seem to be an “adult in the room”, and he pretty much seemed like that guy. As I said elsewhere, there’s an alternate universe with articles about “WALKIN’ TALL”, “On The Campaign Trail With America’s Chill Dad”, interviews with VP-candidate Carly Fiorina.


    • Eh evidence suggests that the rightward slide done by the Democratic Party during the 1980s and 90s is finished and the base and party are moving to the left.

      There is research that shows Presidential candidates try and fulfill a majority of their campaign promises. Bernie Sanders forced HRC and the Party overall to the left and I think HRC was required to take positions for things that she would have rather ignored and I voted for her in the primary.

      The big issue for the Democratic Party is that even though they are moving to the left, the GOP moved much farther to the right. Liberals are just a strong plurality in the Democratic Party, they are not a majority. But we are seeing the Democratic Party embrace more healthcare, the raise in the minimum wage, marijuana legalization, SSM (which happened very quickly because there was only 10 years between Bush II being able to use it as a wedge issue and it being a necessary stance of the Democratic Party), transgender rights, etc.

      I don’t know what your politics are but the Democratic Party is a center-left to left-liberal party. It is not a socialist party and liberalism is distinct ideology from socialism. I believe in regulation and the welfare state. I don’t believe in the abolishing of all private enterprise and believe that there is an importance to the profit motive.

      Geography also hurts the Democratic Party. NY and CA are both solid blue but CA can definitely go further left with more safety. But what plays in CA is not going to play in North Carolina or North Dakota. Meanwhile, the GOP seems universally right.


      • The big issue for the Democratic Party is that even though they are moving to the left, the GOP moved much farther to the right.

        As I see it, this is the saving grace that has enabled the Democratic Party to remain viable notwithstanding the growing fissures within the Democrats’ membership. There are plenty of people, especially in the Clinton/DLC side of things, who the progressive wing of the party considers not “moderate” but affirmatively “conservative.” These are the leftovers and descendants of the “Reagan Democrats,” coming home to their former party, but not really ready to embrace all of the progressivism.

        These are people who drifted away from the GOP because they are repelled by the GOP’s embrace of regressive social issues as their front-and-center wedge issues; the GOP’s elevation of tactics as a form of policy and conservative media’s use of outrage rather than deliberation to formulate political positions; the GOP’s worship of the security state and fetishization (rather than respectful admiration) of the military at the expense of abdicating actual leadership and acceptance of the Constitution’s promises of civil liberties; and the failure of GOP leaders to adopt any form of economic agenda other than rehashing Reaganomics and the Laffer Curve, given that experience demonstrates that lowered taxes do not actually generated increased government revenue or reduced deficits. Such people are not going to happily vote for Republicans at all until and unless those things change about what it means to be a “mainstream” Republican.

        That does not mean that these people are anxious to adopt significant new policies without through deliberation and study, governmental entities expanded in power and scope, or governmental spending to increase at a rate much more than something kind of like GDP expansion or inflation. Nor does it mean that they are happy about Democrats who become corrupted, who abuse their power, or who flout cultural institutions: it was that sort of behavior that led them to look at Republicans in the first place.

        I should know. I’m largely describing myself here. In my own case it was a matter of seeing a lot of Democrats from my youth exposed as corrupt and others going beyond criticizing and reforming institutions to seemingly attacking them with a burn-it-down attitude. (“Abolish the CIA” was one thing I’d heard in my youth, which seemed ridiculous even then; as was the portrayal of the military as an institutional perpetrator of atrocities, which ran directly counter to my experience with actual military people.)

        As badly as Democrats have managed negotiating their coalition, they have had the safety net of Republicans pushing for higher and higher degrees of ideological purity amongst themselves, reaching a point that they seemed to be an ugly caricature of Cleek’s Law. Then Trump happened, reaching directly for the ugly underbelly of an otherwise-socialized group of people. So right now it looks like the GOP is all id, with no superego. The rest of us can only hope that they’ll wake up from the bender, get through the hangover, and not immediately take get some of the hair of the dog that bit them.

        If they do, the Democrats will continue to have bruising primaries but always wind up being able to unify — because the Republicans will do as they did this year, and scare the piss out of whichever wing of the Democrats wound up losing their primaries.


        • These are people who drifted away from the GOP because they are repelled by…regressive social issues…elevation of tactics as a form of policy…use of outrage rather than deliberation…worship of the security state….abdicating actual leadership and acceptance of the Constitution’s promises of civil liberties…failure…to adopt any form of economic agenda other than rehashing Reaganomics and the Laffer Curve…

          Such people are not going to happily vote for Republicans at all until and unless those things change about what it means to be a “mainstream” Republican.

          So, in other words, those people are not going to vote for Republicans unless Republicans stop literally everything they have done for two decades and do something entirely different? ;)


          • Yes. Precisely. They don’t like that agenda and particularly the emphases within that agenda that they’ve been presented during campaigns. So they chose to support alternatives like Ross Perot or the Libertarians, or even the not-hugely-liberal Bill Clinton, starting about, oh, twenty years ago, maybe a twenty-four years ago. And until they see something on offer that they do like, they’ll continue not having any Republican candidate be their first choice.

            It’s up to Republicans if they want to change and make a play for these voters, or not.


        • the portrayal of the military as an institutional perpetrator of atrocities, which ran directly counter to my experience with actual military people

          I’m not sure that “institutional perpetrator of atrocities” is necessarily inconsistent with your experience of actual military people. I suspect that your experience is similar to mine. My father was a career Naval Chaplain, which makes me both a Navy brat and a preacher’s kid. In practice the Navy brat side was far more relevant, with the proviso that about half of that was with the Marines, including my teen years, so my lived experience was often more of being a Marine brat.

          So I grew up around sailors and Marines, and often socialized with them. When I look at a Marine I don’t see a monster. I see a jarhead, and I write that affectionately. But I also know that atrocities get perpetrated. In a similar vein, the police officers I have known personally I have generally liked and respected. Yet shootings occur, and the blue wall of silence goes up.

          If an institutional perpetration of atrocities required that the individual members of that institution be monsters, things would be a lot simpler.


      • There is no such evidence. The party platform is no indication of anything other than a bargaining chip during the convention that is abandoned with the construction of the administration, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is built from the same units as was those of the nineties.

        There is no research that can show intent, i.e. “try and fulfill the majority of their campaign promises”.

        “Embrace more healthcare”? The current reform and the coming increase of the mandate penalty (oddly commensurate with insurers’ increased rates that Dems pretend to be outraged about) is proof that they are not interested in bringing the price down — and it is precisely this “signature piece of legislation” that the current president is hanging his hat on (that and extrajudicial execution and ever increasing sign-off on the sale of weapons as growing source of GDP, which I remind you the manufacturers get paid for twice, once for the production by the taxpayer, and once from the kinds of regimes our “intelligence” says fund the terrorism the Pentagon claims to be in a war against).

        A record number of deportations of immigrants and a record number of prosecutions of whistleblowers cannot be undone by your assertion that the Dems are moving leftward. Tell me the truth. Were you joking?


        • Part of the difficulty of these sorts of discussions is that “left” and “right” have very flexible definitions on different issues.

          The liberal camp in American politics is a lot more heterodox and diverse than the conservative one, containing everyone from Bernie Sanders to John Tester.

          Although there is a lot of sentiment on the left for more relaxed immigration and more tolerance of whistleblowers, the liberals who actually manage to get elected on a national stage aren’t among them.

          But they still get to wear the badge marked “liberal”.


          • Good point. To be clear, however, from the perspective of those not prone to party loyalty, “left” and “liberal” are mutually exclusive, save for when the latter feigns lefty cred on selective issues, particularly during campaign season. As a matter of fact, I would say that liberal and neoliberal are practically the same thing, only distinguishable by their position on our timeline. The trend is the identical.

            Edited to add: the difference between the voter and the politician should be taken into consideration, with the former not unlikely to use the “no true liberal” argument when convenient to conscience.


            • I’m having deja vu from my time in Occupy, having this same discussion with my leftist friends, who had more hostility for middling liberals than for the reactionary conservatives.

              I take a pragmatic approach of not firing at the near enemy, saving my powder for the far enemy.
              A Senate of 50 Joe Manchins does less damage to the Republic than 10 Ted Cruzes.

              But YMMV.


              • The Far Left and Far Right always had more venom for the Center Left, or liberals, and the Center Right, or conservatives than for each other. You expect perfidy and opposition from your opponents. What you don’t expect it is from people who are supposed to be at least nominally on your side.


              • It’s not deja vu. It’s probably akin to the sneaking feeling of tediousness when you realize that the person you’re communicating with and you are quite simply at odds. I suspect that what you view as hostility for middling liberals is a recognition that middling liberals are always more willing to compromise with the “far enemy”, which is indistinguishable from firing their powder at the near one.


          • Around national security issues, I think a big part of the problem has less to do with “left” and “right”, and more to do with the fact that the Executive Branch is going to be a really bad check on the Executive Branch’s power. Congress has been consistently craven about doing anything to get the national security state under control following September 11 (and they were not great shakes before that), so we’re really left with the courts to protect our civil liberties from federal overreach.

            It’s not an ideal situation, and it would be nice (seriously) if more Congressional Republicans were more hypocritical about Obama’s use of executive power for national security and foreign policy purposes, but if we’re relying on the courts to protect us here, we’re probably better off with Democratic appointees even if it weren’t for all the other reasons we’d probably prefer Democratic appointees.


            • National security is one where I heap a lot of blame on the American people themselves, for being so credulous and susceptible to fear and hysteria.

              We aren’t going to see a truly dovish President of either party for a long while yet, even without a new 9-11.


              • Its not like the generally more credulous European public, and I think even that is stretching it because Americans really don’t know what the average European thinks about these issues, hasn’t been that successful in stopping European governments from going into security theater. Based on the reaction to the Syrian refugees, I’d say that the average European citizen wants European governments to take security issues much more seriously than they do now.


        • oddly commensurate with insurers’ increased rates that Dems pretend to be outraged about

          Democrats would love to continue tweaking and improving Obamacare (and I suspect the vast majority would vote for a public option). Too bad the GOP refuses to do anything other than take symbolic votes about ending the whole thing.


          • We can assume that at least a few selective members of Congress are honest when claiming the desire for expansion. However, the way the law was written and the fact that the Administration didn’t even make an attempt at a public option — except to float the idea around long enough to get the party interested in the process before betraying them with nada — we can be sure that the proverbial Heritage Foundation O’RomneyCare was indeed written of, by, and for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The refusal to accept that this was a sell-out is the reason the party can get away with it. Blame Republicans all you want, but they wrote the bill, which means they’re also called Democrats.


            • I’m trying to read just you just wrote in away that it doesn’t mean: “well, Obamacare was not what we wanted, we wanted the NHS. Absent that, I’m not interested in incremental improvement. Let Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz blow it to smitherins. Creative destruction, baby”.

              As I said, I’m trying not to read this in what you wrote. But it’s hard, man.


            • The ACA was not The Heritage Foundation plan. The only complete similarity is a mandate.

              OTOH, the Heritage Foundation gutted Medicaid as opposed to expanding it massively, turned Medicare into voucher system as opposed to preserving, changed the tax system to eliminate employer provided insurance as opposed to preserving the employer provided insurance system for good or ill, eliminated further regulation on insurers as opposed to expanding regulation, and had minimal catastrophic coverage after huge expense compared to actual coverage of routine medical care

              Here it is in chart form – http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/ACA2.png


              • What I don’t get about people on the further left like is how they insist that Obama could have willed something like the NHS in existence.

                The ACA gave healthcare to around 20 million people and still it is not good enough and all wrong.

                I always think there is a kind of privilege in being a radical like that. You can hold out for moral purity and absolute goods from a position of middle class or above stability and comfort. You can always let the perfect be the enemy of the good with employer based healthcare or whatnot.

                I have been freelancing since 2011 and use Covered CA for affordable health insurance. I think it is a damned miracle.


                • , who said, “I always think there is a kind of privilege in being a radical like that. You can hold out for moral purity and absolute goods from a position of middle class or above stability and comfort.”

                  If you always think that then you’re making false assumptions about a quite large number of people, including myself, who are neither middle class, nor do they insist upon moral purity. I can assume you are one of a large class of people who is projecting his cognitive dissonance on someone else. I can assume this with the aid of demographic studies on the subject but also because of the tropes you use in your argument.

                  To wit: the middle class: studies as recent as the last general election cycle have indicated that a large number of people believe they are middle class when they fall well below that standard. This indicates a couple of things: 1) they do not identify with the lower class and 2) they think when their Democratic representative or candidate for office focusses attention on their belief in the necessity of a strong middle class, that they are the constituency being spoken to. This itself reveals a couple of things.

                  1) Democratic politicians are alone in their vocal insistence of a strong middle class as central to an economy that benefits everyone. In short, Democratic voters believe in trickle-down economics as long as it begins with them, which brings me to 2) those who accuse others of holding to some unrealistically pure political position from a position of privilege are themselves in most cases operating from an even more privileged position. For this reason, they usually absolve themselves of the suffering caused by their identity politics.

                  Now, we can get into a lot of counter-parsing as it relates to the ACA, suffice it to say, not by a longshot are freelancers beneficiaries of affordable insurance or care, making at least two words in ACA misnomers. I’d ask you what your deductable is, or whether or not you are aware of how much the penalty for the next enrollment has increased, but it is not relevent, because you by your own standards consider yourself privileged under the ACA.

                  Yet in an effort to absolve oneself of privilege while accusing others of the same, people are apt to focus on cherry picked data that indicates millions of people they like to assume are less privileged than themselves are now benefitting where before they were not. This is an effort to pretend opposition to the ACA is akin to denying people health insurance, and it’s disingenuous.

                  To take another example, I do not ignore the fact that the ACA includes a requirement that a person cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. But focussing on this aspect denies the quality and expense of the coverage they receive under various circumstances. That the ACA means for a substantial number of people (people who qualify as lower class yet do not qualify for a subsidy) either buying plans with a prohibitive deductable or paying a penalty for not participating is something that has been dismissed as either fiction, or something that will be fixed later.

                  The problem is, later has come, and the penalty increase acts as default cover for the industry that is bilking its customers. Not only did they not back the public option, not only did they pull a bait and switch on their constituencies by not backing a public option when they said they would not back a plan “without a robust public option”, but they dismissed those who predicted the industry’s doing what they are now doing as purists who were “letting perfect be the enemy of the good”.

                  No, I can easily tell from our approach and attitude in this discussion that I am nowhere near as privileged as you are Saul. Neverthelss, I do not deny my privilege. I do not deny my privilege as it relates to my not being a person who has landed on a weekly kill-list, or live in the collateral vicinity of someone who does.

                  I do not deny my privilege of not being someone who revealed the nefarious misdeeds of members of either the US government, intel agencies, or military and landed in prison for doing so. I do not deny the privilege of not being one of the record number of deportees under the current presidential administration. I do not deny the privilege that I can sit here in relative freedom and type about how the US continues to fund oppresive regimes to the tune of multiple billions while those regimes commit war crimes and no one gives a crap because a billionaire slumlord was — to get back to my original comment upthread that went roundly ignored — elevated to the position of GOP nominee with finagling influence by the party organization and candidate he is running against, not to mention what they did to the primary opponent.

                  I am privileged not to be someone who racist cops see as a “super predator” “who needs to be brought to heel.” I am privileged not to live in an area where my land is being taken for environmental destruction. But my, and all of our privilege in these categories will end eventually.

                  If purity means not absolving myself of the massive atrocities committed by the current presidential administration — not only a continuence of the last presidential administration, but an brazen broken promise of its campaign where “a restoration of the rule of law” was the order of the day — whether under the auspices of the war on terror or robber barons who are too big to jail, then I am guilty as charged. I think there are minimal standards involved here.

                  Call it whatever you want, but 20 million more people with substandard insurance is not a reasonalbe trade-off for accepting the military congressional industrial complex to continue into perpetuity. If you think that it is, that is your privilege, not mine.


            • As to didn’t even try, please ask Joe Lieberman how he felt. He held a key vote.

              davidly, I have little doubt that the country would be a far more egalitarian place if your preferred policies were in place. I look forward to Hilary’s challenger in 2020 or Hillary’s replacement in 2024.

              I do worry, however, about still getting the 270 electoral votes with a substantially more liberal candidate.


              • Lieberman pretty much single-handedly killed the possibility of Medicare buy-in for 55+ when he found out the hippies liked it. At least when Ben Nelson was pushing things to the right, he was really representing his constituents.


                • Yup. Ben Nelson was a right leaning moderate, but he wasn’t an asshole.

                  Joe Lieberman was a left leaning moderate, but he was an asshole.

                  Which is why I’m OK with Evan Bayh coming back. He voted the right way on the vast majority of things, especially compared to the tilt of his state.


    • I’ve not read part 5 yet myself, but I’m expecting it to be about Cruz, the obnoxious Tea Party guy who improbably wound up being the last best hope of “mainstream” Republicans.

      And if it’s not about Cruz, then about Romney and why the hell he never followed through with his anti-Trump speech (though I certainly understand why Romney on a personal level would not want a third national-scale beating).


  4. Interestingly I think everything you say about Kaisch might be right here but I also think he was the candidate most likely to give HRC a run for her money or a narrow defeat.

    Rubio is too much of a lightweight. Cruz is loathsome but just in different ways than Trump is and I suspect he would be too easily portrayed as a right-wing culture warrior who wants to turn back time.

    Kaisch is very conservative but he made enough moderate gestures like accepting the Medicare expansion and showing compassion for the sick that he would not turn off on the fence suburban moderates. He did say some sexist things but nothing like Trump’s way of alienating women and he doesn’t go for stunts like Pence’s funerals for miscarriage bills.

    In short, he seemed like a decent enough suburban dad which is what the GOP needed to win in 2016 but it is not what the base wanted.


    • I tried to think of a good reply, but all I could come up with is “you’re wrong”. I think that Dan’s second paragraph and the linked article reveal why Kasich’s campaign seemed designed to make liberals feel like he’d be a decent Republican choice, and make Republicans eager to cast their votes for someone else. I had no problem with Kasich’s record, but that wasn’t the persona he campaigned as.


      • No R ever tries to get liberal votes at least that i’ve seen. What they try for is centrist D’s and middle of the road peeps. That is a big difference. Much like Hillary has made an effort to win over independents and socially lib R’s.


        • It seemed designed to accomplish those results. It clearly wasn’t, but it seemed so. This Weaver had run campaigns that alienated conservatives before, and he was personally alienated from conservatives, and he ran the Kasich campaign such that everyone was saying at the time “this is alienating conservatives”. And it ended up alienating conservatives.

          But that’s not my point. My point is that Saul’s take is likely clouded by the above. (I’m assuming that Saul leans leftward.)


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