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Reading the Polls
Trump’s Base vs. the Blob

When President Trump arrived in Harrisburg for his 100 days rally this past weekend, he seized on a message that has been central to his populist appeal: that the political and media establishment remains fundamentally out of touch with the concerns of average Americans. “Their priorities are not my priorities and they’re not your priorities,” said Trump. “Their agenda is not your agenda.”

As it happens, recent polling offers a chance to test that claim. Comparing the views of foreign policy elites with the public at large, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs actually found a broad consensus in favor of “establishment” opinions that Trump had questioned on the campaign trail, like support for NATO and an active U.S. role in the world. But there were a few crucial exceptions, where voters differed sharply from the consensus of the Washington foreign policy “blob”:

Opinion leaders were much more convinced than the public of trade’s ability to create jobs and were much less likely than the American public to prioritize protecting American jobs as a foreign policy goal. These differences highlight the potential appeal of candidates who emphasize trade’s detrimental impact on jobs, despite healthy public support for free trade and globalization.

Republican leaders and Republicans among the public starkly disagreed on the threat posed by immigration, with the GOP public far more likely to consider large numbers of immigrants and refugees entering the United States as a critical threat.

In other words, on the few foreign policy issues where there was a stark divide between elites and the public, Trump did appear more in tune with the public’s concerns. Consider, for instance, Trump’s signature issue of immigration. In 2016, 67% of self-identified Republicans considered mass immigration to be critical threat to U.S. security, but only 19% of Republican leaders felt the same way:

Or, to take another example: last year, only 25% of Republican opinion leaders felt that protecting American jobs constituted a “very important” foreign policy goal. By contrast, 78% of Republican voters agreed with that statement: a whopping 56-point disconnect between the GOP’s leadership and base.

In both of these cases, Trump was well-positioned to exploit the gap between elite opinion and popular concerns. That does not make Trump an-all knowing savant, but it does suggest why he may now be returning to the nationalist posturing of his campaign, renewing calls to build a wall and tear up free trade agreements even as he backtracks on other foreign policy heterodoxies (like declaring NATO obsolete) that have little grounding in public opinion. For better or worse, whether symbolically or substantively, Trump is likely to double down on core issues like trade and immigration where he enjoys a competitive advantage over an establishment he can depict as out of touch.

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  • Dale Fayda

    Ah, the polls, the polls, always the polls… No one in the government can take a dump any more without consulting a bunch of polls and the commentariat is positively obsessed with them.

    Screw the polls – do what you think is right.

    • Jim__L

      I’m convinced that on some subjects where public opinion has supposedly changed rapidly, the polls are simply lies, doctored to manipulate opinion (and law) rather than reflect it.

  • Suzy Dixon

    We will certainly see. Trump knows who elected him, and why. Most of it was soft support and they were people who saw him as more of a gamble that could potentially pay dividends vs. Clinton who was a failed Secretary of State and praised her husbands disastrous trade policy and fiscal policy….you can’t tackle the nation’s deficit spending while increasing the trade deficit! It doesn’t take any credentials or super high IQ to see that is bad idea, and it was.

    • FriendlyGoat

      “Soft support” is that you get from people who can be easily distracted. Trump’s group is an aggregation of people who are each individually fixated on one or two pet issues and who blow off the rest with “well, change is good” or, “we need to shake things up” or, “a businessman will somehow stop feathering his own nest and start feathering mine”. Their lunch is being eaten now—–most likely LITERALLY for the rest of their lives. And, they seriously do not know that it is.

      • Suzy Dixon

        Soft supporters, like myself, may well have one or two pet issues. Don’t most people? More importantly, however, is that we were faced with a failed Secretary of State vs. Trump. People seemed to vote Trump because the alternative is stay home or write in a famous dead person.

        • FriendlyGoat

          People can use any excuse they want for kicking and kicking and kicking themselves and their children. After the consequences set in, the excuse is NOT going to matter. They were invited by Republicans to Hate Hillary—–soooo——they did. GOP wins. Wealth and power straight up, right OUT of the hands of the played chumps.

      • Isaiah601

        Yes, people are too stupid to know when somebody is helping or hurting them. They need people like FriendlyGoat to tell them what is and isn’t so. Otherwise, they might believe their lying eyes.
        The arrogance of believing something like this is unbelievable. I’m impressed!!!

      • Unelected Leader

        The lunch was eaten by Billy Boy Clinton. Suzy said it: he tried to turn the national budget into a surplus while causing the trade deficit to grow. That is a recipe for disaster. 70,000 factories gone. 20,000,000 jobs lost. No thanks to bubba bill and NAFTA and cheerleading the Chinese Communist Party into the WTO.

        • FriendlyGoat

          None of that is changing. What is changing is destruction of the tax code at the top, deregulation of business practices at the top and installation of corporate courts at the top——ALL as fast as possible and as permanent as possible (before those who are asleep wake up.)

          • Not Republicans, it was Democrats that hate Hillary. Pretty much anyone opposed to regime change hates her. Especially Democrats in the states that her husband, Bush, Obama devastated with 24 years of bad economics.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yeah, yeah, yeah. Give it a rest. NOTHING on this day or on any future day is about Hillary Clinton.

          • Isaiah601

            Hillary is talking a lot about how she won popular vote. She seems to disagree with your assessment,

          • Well I don’t know you, so you might actually be Rip van Winkle. You would certainly have to be his cousin if you can sleep for the last six months and be totally unaware of the red baiting and lies spun to excuse Hillarys loss.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You think it is important to continue having an argument about Hillary Clinton. It isn’t. Find someone who is interested in this line of discussion, okay? I am not him. The future is marching on.

          • Oh okay. Then give me CNN and MSN and ABC and NBCs numbers. They think it’s important. Especially with Obama and Clintons boy tom perez running the party

          • FriendlyGoat

            If you’re the leader of China, you’ve already got the phone numbers. Call ’em up.

          • Jim__L

            … Nothing is about Hillary except the fact that Trump won because he ran against her.

          • Unelected Leader

            “We came. We saw. He died.” ~ Failed Secretary Clinton on the disastrous Libyan regime change operation. That has a great deal to do with her unpopularity and now being a twice failed candidate.
            And if Trump doesn’t deliver on trade and tax cuts then he will suffer for it. But that has not happened yet, where as we know Obama, Bush, Bubba bill all were disasters.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Delivering on trade and delivering on tax cuts are not the same as delivering on living-wage jobs for Americans—–which is what people want. You will find that out. Everyone will.

          • Isaiah601

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Now we are post blocking stage and onto the “You will see. EVERYONE WILL SEE!!!” part of the program. Comrade FriendlyGoat became a Saturday morning cartoon super-villain. If you have kids under the age of 16, you have all seen them,

          • Unelected Leader

            Taxes need to be cut, and that lower tax rate needs to be the effective tax rate. That’s key. And reducing the trade deficit means that the government can deficit spend less. It’s not an accident that the amount of deficit spending is close to the amount lost in the trade deficit.

            Deficit spending is sadly necessary in this perverse situation we have with an absurd trade deficit. Deficit dollars are worthless dollars that the government literally spends into existence. They are the reason why the dollar has lost 65% of its buying power since 1980.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You apparently are another person suffering the misconception that high-end tax cuts create living-wage jobs. THEY DO NOT. Stay tuned. This will be unfolding for us all to see over the next several years.

          • Unelected Leader

            You’re not even understanding what I’m saying. Read it again – slowly. It is factually correct, and accurate. The things I’ve discussed must be accomplished before a conversation about wages even makes sense!

          • FriendlyGoat

            If cutting high-end taxes was widely understood (as it should be) as being completely against the best interests of most American workers and families, WHY would it be so necessary to do it BEFORE other conversations would make any sense?

          • Unelected Leader

            Because half the country pays no income taxes, and the ultra rich can afford a stable of lawyers and set up shell companies to get out of it. The middle class are the ones paying their taxes and getting gutted by inflation over their 35-40 year work life. The rate should be dropped across the board and it should be the effective rate.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You could always cut taxes in the middle and not at the top. Heard of anyone in the GOP who will go along? If not, do you have any idea why?

          • Unelected Leader

            Why would you do that? Everyone should get a tax cut across the board. Making income tax 20% and corporate tax 15% (effective rates) would be preferable in every way.

          • FriendlyGoat

            This is because you believe that leaving more money in the hands of the wealthiest people helps it come down (respectful version of trickle down) to everyone else in the form of more and better jobs. I happen to believe it ultimately does the exact opposite. When spending is cut because taxes were cut, I believe ordinary people are losers. WHY on earth would we tell people they will “win” from a policy when they didn’t, don’t, can’t and won’t?

          • Unelected Leader

            Nope. Just as much philosophical as it is practical. Philosophically, I don’t believe that Uncle Sam should be taking one cent more than 20% of anyone’s income, and even that makes me feel sick to say. And if you had individuals – effectively – paying 20% and corporations paying 15% then there would be MORE tax revenue.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Then you wouldn’t mind a provision in the tax cuts that they will/would be reversed if any three-month period elapses in which there is not MORE revenue, right?

    • RedWell

      I’m skeptical about this “soft support” idea. Something like 96-98% of his supporters still support him. That looks more like a committed cult of personality.

      He has clearly backtracked on many things, said embarrassing things, taken some real losses. I don’t think that’s not a partisan observation. We would see those approval numbers declining if Trump’s supporters were really thoughtful, contingent voters. After all, he quite literally has some of the lowest approval of any new president. Are these Trump supporters and GOP partisans really going to change their votes based upon an honest assessment of performance and outcomes?

      (And let’s not rush to, “Well, the Dems…!” That’s just a classic distraction tactic, not a substantive argument.)

      • Isaiah601

        Yes, Trump the President encountered obstacles that Trump the Candidate didn’t even know existed. But he has accomplished some things as well, as evidenced by stock market performance, company’s earnings, decline in illegal immigration, increased energy infrastructure development, a real substantive debate on Obamacare, a marked change in foreign policy where we finally stopped being Iran’s b!tch. Now, for me personally, that last bit is enough to make this Presidency a success so far, but you may very well disagree. But to say nothing is being done requires a partisan suspension of reality.

        • RedWell

          Things are being done. Most of them are illusions or fails. I’ll innumerate responses below, but the real point is this: like a lot of liberals who simply identify as such, Trump supporters identify with him, nothing more. They feel he represents them against people who are against them. No reasoning or evidence matters. That’s quite natural politics. But it is also very dangerous for a republic.

          Stock market: it ALWAYS goes up after an election.

          Company’s earnings: if anything, this is tied to the previous president. for at least the first quarter of 2017.

          Illegal immigration: that is indeed down. From policy? Maybe. From perception that the US is dangerous to foreigners? Also very likely. Tourism and education immigration are also down. That costs us money.

          Energy and infrastructure: I’ll grant that, but it has also come with pushing things like coal, which are not exactly the industries of the future.

          “Substantive debate on Obamacare”: Wow. In other words a complete failure. Obamacare is flawed and needs to be changed, but come on. “Substantive debate” is remarkable spin for “failure.”

          Foreign policy: No. Our Iran policy has not changed at all. We see some inflated rhetoric.

          This last point takes me full circle. Trump support is all about signaling and identity: “I am tough. Obama was weak, Trump is tough. I have plain and clear values. Trump talks like he gets those values.”

          In the end, Trump is an empty brand. Which is my original point: Trump supporters want to think they are thinking about their choice. But they are feeling about it and thinking up justifications to support that position.

          • Isaiah601

            You interpret everything that Trump and Republicans do from a negative dismissive perspective. That’s fine. you do you. I’m just letting you know that there are people out there with a different point of view. How you choose to interpret that is up to you.
            Also, please spare me the lecture about what I think, what I fell, how I confuse the two and so on….
            I know a lot of things. I can write the same exact thing you did and just substitute Democrats for Trump.
            Oh wait. I got it. Democrats are not an empty brand!! That’s your point!! I got it!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! It’s so funny that you believe it to be true. Like I said, when wearing partisan blinders you perception gets distorted. Don’t join the ranks of poor sufferers of TDS! Fight the disease!

          • RedWell

            I’m not a Democrat. I am just disappointed in the party I used to trust.

      • Suzy Dixon

        Well, the polls are of dubious quality (whether that’s on purpose and/or from poor methodology is irrelevant to me, personally). However, I find it plausible that better than 95% of those who voted for him, like myself, are still supporters. It hasn’t been one year, or even six months. We will have a clearer picture at the end of the summer, and a much clearer picture by next spring.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Let me suggest that the alternative to Trump (HRC) was what drove a great many people (myself included) to vote for him (however reluctantly) in the first place, and the increased drumbeat of unhinged hate that has emerged since the election has convinced most of us that this was the correct choice. If the Dems had turned around after the election and at least considered the possibility that they might have gotten things wrong (typically, that is why you lose elections, after all), they might have won over those who were reluctant Trump supporters. Instead they have sunk into the fever swamps of conspiracy theory and blind rage, which isn’t going to do anything to convince those not already deep in their pockets.

        I know a great many folks who would be willing to embrace a Democratic (or for that matter ANY viable) alternative to Trump, and who are not comfortable with many of Trumps choices. The Democrats have offered nothing but “more of the same”, furiously insisting that they were right all along. Look at the choice of head of the DNC following the debacle that was Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. They picked Tom Perez, a hard left Obama appointee, and even then the alternative was the even more loathsome Keith Ellison. If you honestly believe that the way to win back disaffected voters in the Rust Belt (because those are precisely the voters you need to win back, unless you think that padding useless majorities in NY and CA is a worthwhile enterprise) is with unhinged lefties describing Trump voters as “baskets of deploreables” and staging marches best remembered for “pussy hats” perhaps you might want to rethink your tactics. The latest wave of campus protests openly advocating the end of free speech on campuses (particularly the faces of those advocating this atrocity against democracy) is only going to make the situation worse.

        As long as the Democrats embrace identity politics, unrestrained globalism at the expense of American interests, the most extreme nostrums of the environmentalist left the screaming snowflakes on modern campuses, etc. they aren’t going to give anyone who might want to “defect” from the Trump camp anywhere to go. There is an old saying “You cannot beat somebody with nobody”, and right now….the Democrats have nobody.

        I offer you a challenge…show me who could be embraced by a thoughtful Trump voter who honestly wants an alternative…

        • Isaiah601

          Well said. Plus, I like his taste in chicks.

        • ——————————

          Nice insight f1b…..

          • f1b0nacc1

            Thank you!

        • FriendlyGoat

          There ARE no thoughtful Trump voters who honestly want an alternative. If they were thoughtful. they didn’t vote for him and they didn’t vote for an alignment of the can’t-tell-truth gang. If you are talking about people who merely want the same unhinged GOP bullsh*t 24/7, but would prefer it in a less-embarrassing package, remind them they had 15 other choices and dumped ’em all for Big Daddy.

          • Jim__L

            Well, I can personally vouch for the fact that there were GOP Californians who stayed home because a) we didn’t think our votes would count for much, this being California, and b) we would have vastly preferred an alternative to Trump.

            Oh and c) we thought Hillary was an absolute disaster, unworthy of consideration as an alternative to Trump.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Ah, the spittle-flecked voice of hysteria rings in! Welcome….

            If you actually believe what you say (and sadly, I think that you do…) then i can only suggest that you and Anthony go into a corner somewhere and enjoy each other’s company, there is little that I can do to help you.

            I can only tell you that there were lots of us here (and you can go back into the archives and read my own comments on this subject from a year ago) who were deeply unhappy with Trump as the nominee, but had to choose between him and HRC, and made that choice. Now you might not like this bit of reality, but there you are.

            Do have fun….

          • Anthony

            Scott, you’ve been told before to leave me out of your commentary; you remind of a white house staffer I knew years ago – kissing up but hitting down. Leave me out of your trite attempt to be relevant – unctuous sucking up to belong is quite sophomoric (and ought to have been left behind after 60 years of life esperience.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Perhaps you didn’t get my original reply to your rather presumptuous command…. If you don’t like my comments, don’t read them, but if you think that I am somehow inclined to obey (or even respect) your rather overheated prose, you are most seriously mistaken.

            Now run off and have fun with the Goat, I am sure you two have MUCH to talk about…

          • Anthony

            Yeah, Scott, Got It (but no command just a declarative statement and your response resembles this one; so here we are 3 years later but now you’re over 60 and still immature antics). If it was never there Scott, it can’t now be invented – life gives very few do overs.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually, I am not over 60 yet…. so I suppose I can still be immature!

          • Anthony

            Then, you either lied then or you’re lying now; personally, it’s your description and I used your own age attribution (plus years added); however as Pait says, online you claim anything who’s to prove differently (but really, for me, who cares).

          • f1b0nacc1

            Why would I lie about something as silly as my age? I will be 58 next month, and even I am not sufficiently vain to try to pretend otherwise.

            As for ‘my description….where precisely are you referring to?

            Well, you can believe what you wish, it only makes it easier to dismiss you…go have fun…

          • Anthony

            You deal with the silliness; it’s something you now want to pull back (not surprising). Move on and leave me out of your commentary.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Silly little man…I will comment as I please and if you and your excitable friend parade your affections here, do not pretend that they can be immune from comment.

          • Anthony

            End this Scott (as this has certainly went beyond the revelation of lying and now into the low-grade disputation where you seem most comfortable) and of course you comment as you please, just disappear from me (as I told you before, I’m not as kind as WigWag and when I know there’s no there “there”, I don’t waste time or pretend). Make yourself a cipher as it relates to me. Something you’ll remember: I’m done here.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Please don’t be sillier than you already are. If you don’t like the comments, don’t read them, you should find it a quite useful practice. In the meantime, if you choose to comment, accept that others will also enjoy the same privilege.

          • Anthony

            You are a self declared man of at least 60 years of age; who now wants to walk that back and make claims of silliness – disappear Scott (as far as you’re concern anything you write is …).

          • FriendlyGoat

            The thing about saying “too much” is that you can never be sure when you have already said TOO much.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Says the winner of this years “Lack of Self Awareness” award….

            You really are the gift that keeps on giving!

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, I recall those posts—–basically delighted with every Republican thing under the sun while trying to polish your image by not quite approving or endorsing all of the ENABLING candidate’s shtick. I’d find you more forthcoming if you celebrated the shtick but occasionally expressed a little appropriate guilt about the policies and consequences.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Your memory is a short one. During the winter of 2015 and the spring of 2016, I condemned Trump repeatedly, and when it appeared that he would actually be the nominee, I wrestled with how I could rationalize support for him. I was initially a Walker supporter, then later a supporter of Cruz, and only when it became absolutely clear that Trump had it locked up, I changed my position to embrace his candidacy. As for embracing every Republican thing under the sun, I have rarely done that (I am a gay marriage supporter, an abortion rights absolutist, and my skepticism of most of the GOPs other social stands is hardly much of a secret), though you probably assume that because I tend to support their economic positions. I didn’t support the Ex-Im bank though, and I tend to be skeptical, if not outright contemptuous of the corporatism of some of the GOPe types, and have had a few interesting contretemps here at TAI on that very subject. I have never pretended to be anything other than partisan, do you expect otherwise?

            As for ‘enabling’ Trump, I did nothing of the sort, as I opposed his candidacy until the moment it became impossible to do otherwise without electing HRC, who to my mind was/is far worse. That is called reluctantly supporting a candidate, not enabling one, and I rather doubt that you would find any hint in my comments over the last 18 months that I have done otherwise. I don’t regret a moment of it, and I certainly feel no guilt about it. Trump is certainly not perfect, but he has been far, far better than I anticipated, and for that I am quite grateful.

            ALL policies have winners and losers, and that is why we hold elections to determine whose policies will be adopted. When Obama won in 2008 and again in 2012, I was deeply disappointed and unhappy with the result, and felt that it would not be for the best. With that said, i also pointed out to anyone who would listen, that Obama won fair and square, and that while I certainly backed the efforts of those in Congress to block his policies (and by the way, I would agree that the Dems in Congress have every right to attempt the same with Trump), that any pushback against Obama would occur inside the law, which is what happened. I never bought into the notion that Obama was ‘illegitimate’ (the Birther nonsense was just that, and I argued the point here on at least one occasion), and while I never cared much for Obama as a person, I always felt that was absolutely irrelevant to his value or lack thereof as a chief executive. LBJ was a contemptible oaf by almost any account that I can come across, but he certainly was effective (if not in a way I approved of) for most of presidency.

            But the most important point is that I never suggested that it was impossible to disagree with my points in good faith, or that those who made different choices were by definition acting in bad faith, something you have said repeatedly. I have even bothered to try reasoning with you, not to necessarily alter your views (I never thought that was likely), but to convey the notion that there are indeed good faith disagreements that can occur, and that any useful discussion must include acknowledging that from the start. You persist in assigning only the most negative interpretations to those who may have different views from yours….it would seem that as most on the Left, you endorse any sort of diversity except for diversity of thought.

            My suggestion is that you reconsider your opinion of those who differ from you….the fact that I am attempting to answer your comments (and I am hardly the only one here who has tried) should give you a hint that we don’t want endless war. If you leave no room for principled differences, you are condemning ‘your side’ to a war that it will ultimately lose, and that would be a pity, as there are at least some ideas that you embrace that even if I don’t agree with are at least worth discussing.

            If none of this matters to you, I suggest you and Anthony find a room together…

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) Walker was promoting every Republican thing under the sun, including those you claim to disagree with. Ditto Cruz. Ditto Trump now that he is elected. He, of course lied through his teeth on many, many issues before the election to create the impression he was more balanced than the average Republican.

            2) YOU did not enable Trump. Trump’s shtick was the ENABLING factor causing you not to have an endured a loss with Walker or Cruz, as you probably would have.

            3) If you disapprove of birtherism, you cannot support the main proponent of it. Yet you do.

            4) Obama could not and did not attempt a take-it-all political selfishness ANYWHERE NEAR what you are now seeing. McConnell stoke the Supreme Court—-to your delight. Trump is attempting to steal the tax code on reconciliation—–to your delight. How? By way of the lying shtick which got him elected.

            5) Your last sentence discloses you as the despicable jerk I have always known you are. Be glad you are not near me. That sh*t does not work up close.

          • f1b0nacc1

            1) Walker’s social conservative was not my preferred approach, but since a perfect candidate was not on offer, I took the best I could get. Walker was willing to go after the cancer of public sector unions, had an excellent record as a fiscal conservative, and was clear on the neat to actually fight the Democrats, not play nice with them. As my priorities are fiscal and defense, with social matters a very distant last, this was a reasonable trade off for me. As for the whole ‘lying through his teeth’, he was no worse (and considerably better) than most of the others, so I made my peace with that. Do you honestly intend to suggest that you had no qualms with your choices?

            2) I tend to believe that Walker might have won, and feel pretty confident that Cruz would not have. With that said, I would rather have supported either of them (win or lose) than HRC, a thoroughly contemptible individual on any level. If you are suggesting that Trump’s campaigning skills were what led me to support him, you are mistaken. He was the last man standing, and even at that I had a few dark nights of the soul before I concluded that even Trump was preferable to an HRC presidency.

            3) I have never suggested that I liked Trump, and I certainly believe that his birther support made it harder to support him. The problem with your reasoning is that he was facing HRC, and that trumped (forgive the pun) his other repellent characteristics.

            4) Obama, the originator of “I won” and “Elections have consequences”, the man who passed his signature piece of legislation without a single GOP vote after explicitly excluding the GOP from offering any suggestions on it, the originator of “I have a Pen and a Phone”…no, sorry, this is simply laughable even coming from you. Obama was easily as bad as you get, and he laid the groundwork for what is happening now. Regarding the SCOTUS appointment, the Senate acted well within their Constitutional authority, and if their behavior was out of the ordinary, so were the circumstances. The election decided that matter rather conclusively, don’t you think?

            5) Hit a nerve I see… As for the husbands of the Hillary Hags, those crones are, to a woman, rather acrimoniously divorced and their husbands (several of whom I know, and two who have heard me use that phrase) are unlikely to have much of an objection to it. I have little doubt you have used language at least as confrontational to describe those you don’t care for, so please spare me the sanctimonious pearl-clutching.

            To return to the original point of departure.. Madison pointed out that we are not discussing government by angels, nor government over angels, so the idea that I would find a perfect candidate who meets with my approval on all issues is simply nonsense. Trump was many bad things, but he was not Hillary, and that will simply have to do. He has delivered on the SCOTUS (my basic requirement) he is likely to deliver on at least some aspect of immigration, he has delivered (and continues to deliver) on deregulation and unwinding Obama’s worst excesses, and he might even deliver on tax reform (though I have my doubts). If he uses existing rules to achieve these things (and much as you dislike it, reconciliation is in that toolbox…how else would Obamacare have been passed?), then I am fine with the results, despite my concerns about his character. I do not expect perfection, and believe that it could not be better put than it was by Churchill, who when asked how he (a lifelong anti-communist) could support Stalin in the war against Hitler simply said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to His Infernal Majesty in the House of Commons”.

          • FriendlyGoat

            5) You didn’t “hit a nerve”. The point of departure was your suggestion in last sentence of your previous post. Fightin’ words, dude. Watch your anonymity here. It deserves to slip-slide away and it might.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Now now….you should remember that posting threats online could be considered actionable… Especially with literally dozens (more?) of witnesses. You can simply walk away if you choose, and I strongly suggest that you consider it.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Now, now, yourself. When your mouth traffics in personal attacks, slurs and provocations for the purpose of enraging people you don’t know—–for sport—–it’s not a smart thing to be doing.

        • Rocky Mountain

          I heard someone on the radio this PM suggest that Clinton was up for another run at the White House. What I can’t understand is why there aren’t any young, bright democrats on the move to push the old democrat guard out of the way, Instead, all they can come up with is Perez, the really hideous guy from Minnesota, the Muslim guy from Minnesota, and a wannabe communist from an inconsequential state. Tony Blair turned the old Labour party around, although I note that its on its way back in some respects.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Clinton has little choice….right now her place in history has been utterly destroyed, and her family’s influence peddling operation has no influence to peddle. Chelsea is little more than a laughable non-entity who has no chance at being able to go forward with the Clinton name, and Bill has had it and simply wants to retire to his preferred avocation as a dirty old man….

            As for the younger Democrats, in her desire to clear the field for herself, Hillary has systematically destroyed any possible competition, and scared off those she couldn’t destroy.

            Couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving bunch…

  • Jim__L

    Why do we call them “opinion leaders” when they clearly don’t lead?

    They don’t know where people actually want to go, and even if they did, they wouldn’t know how to get there. What kind of leadership is that?

    • RedWell

      I had a similar thought. Though I would characterize the elites under discussion as “professionals.” In other words, they do foreign policy or research foreign policy for a living. They are not necessarily opinion or political leaders.

      Of course, if we do that, it’s also hard to paint such people as completely delusional elites. Some are, but the populist picture is suddenly less clear.

      • Jim__L

        It’s all too easy for someone to be a professional public servant, and completely out of touch with the public they’re supposed to serve.

        This is especially easy if they’re from the ivory tower, and out of touch to begin with.

        • RedWell

          Indeed. It’s also quite easy to be outside those realms and clueless.

          At the risk of poking this hornet’s nest further, to quote Isaac Asimov, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has
          been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread
          winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the
          false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as
          your knowledge.'”

          • Jim__L

            Like it or not, the people of the United States are sovereign. We set the priorities, leaving only the (heavily-constrained!) implementation to government.

            Perhaps sometimes we ask the impossible of our government, handing it double-bind after double-bind. At that point, the only intellectually honest thing is for a politician to say, “It so difficult to implement the policies you want, in the way that you want, as to be impossible”.

            But instead, all too often, what happens is that professional public servants follow their own lights instead of taking direction from the “benighted” electorate. (The economy is still not working for most Americans, and the chattering class makes trans activism a priority? Seriously?) That’s where we run into problems.

            Hence Trump. Whether his implementation will be any better than anyone else’s, at least he’s focusing on what the majority thinks matters. And that’s exactly how democracy is supposed to work.

          • Makaden

            I say this as someone with a PhD. Those who bemoan a “cult of ignorance” usually belong to the cult of the intelligentsia. Thomas Sowell laid bare this phenomenon in his book “Intellectuals and Society.” For this latter cult, “ignorance” is on display whenever their influence and power is challenged. Name-calling is the attempt to shame the sheep back into the fold. What they call ignorance is usually an attempt by those not under their influence to introduce relevant facts previously excluded because they do not serve the interests of the powerful (uncharitable reading) or because they simply cannot see outside of their own echo chamber (charitable reading).

          • RedWell

            Congrats on the degree. Does mine count, too?

            There is some truth in what Sowell says, but it is curiously relativistic for a conservative to insist that both sides are equally smug and self-interested. Where does truth fit into this equation? Doesn’t real ignorance exist? In any case, it is also a curiously narrow argument focused on the tactic of deflection and generality rather than serious scholarship.

            Clearly intellectuals do suffer from bias and self-interest. But what happens when we throw out the professionals just because they discomfit us? Why aren’t we more reflective? We trust military and business professionals in their realms, even though they lean right. Maybe those darn liberal intellectuals are saying something true that we just don’t want to hear.

          • Makaden

            Sowell’s complaint is that intellectuals do not stick to their sphere of specialty, but insist on leveraging their credentials to legitimate their opinions on areas far beyond their competency. For instance, the English professor at Middlebury who felt inclined to “evaluate” Charles Murray’s work as the product of Nazism and fascism.

            The idea of a “public intellectual” is, itself, part of the issue: would someone be a public intellectual if they stuck to their core competency, or do they tend, instead, to leverage their position to make a name for themselves far beyond what anyone should really be giving them credit for? Combine this with the structural deficiencies inherent in the academy, e.g. the lack of intellectual diversity within the systems where knowledge is produced, and we are left with plenty of evidence to legitimate Sowell’s complaints.

  • Kevin

    Being a party not focused on protecting jobs is how you get more Trump.

  • Rocky Mountain

    There are some things that are poll-worthy and some that are not. Things that are include “Do you think Leah Dunham shows too much skin?” or “Is Megan Kelly more toned than Kelly Ripa!’ Poll results from questions to Americans on foreign policy have as much credibility as would a poll about Nietzsche’s philosophy or interpretations of various Supreme court decisions. Of course, there are some who actually have an informed opinion but not enough to yield policy making or policy breaking numbers.

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