20 August 2015


Anyone who has known Donald Trump in New York will recall that a draft Trump movement would regularly appear  floated entirely by Trump himself. In the previous four attempts  it was as an Independent of some sort, which quickly fizzled. But this time, in his current incarnation as a Republican, he has managed to gain a good amount of traction, due in no small measure to overreaction by spineless corporations to remarks he made that were not all that egregious. 

He has now firmly established himself as someone who “says what he thinks” in the minds of many people, and has garnered the mantle of the anti-politician at a time when the public has little faith in the political class. The real problem is whether he truly believes what he says, or whether he is simply saying what he thinks people want to hear and parodying conservative concerns. Since he has been all over the map politically not much of this can be taken seriously, so he ironically is attracting the most ideologically inclined supporters while in truth remaining the least ideologically committed of all the candidates. As President he might even perform as a bold decision-maker, but without much underlying rationale, and if he did get the nomination it is very likely that there would be a loud clatter  of skeletons popping out of closets everywhere. 

It is truly unfortunate that he has been able to dominate the selection process for the moment, because the current Republican candidates represent by far, the finest field I have ever seen in my life. They are a talented, diverse, youthful group, and look even better alongside of the geriatric retro-left Democratic candidates, who, unlike the Republicans, lack even a rudimentary bench of potential candidates. The Republican field can produce any number of appealing tickets, i.e. Rubio-Walker, or Walker-Rubio, or any of the others, most of whom would fill out an excellent cabinet. I believe the next President will likely be a Republican, unless they get trumped, by among other possibilities, an independent third-party run by a man whose “Republican” credentials are tenuous enough to permit that. 

But as I have written many times before, it is just ridiculous to be focused on an election more than two years before it actually will occur. This is a truly awful situation that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The result is the we have all politics all the time, there is little room for anything else that might actually constitute real “news,” and an obliviousness to anything happening elsewhere in the world. It has resulted in sharper ideological divisions as candidates must appeal to the “base” of their party, who usually are its most extreme elements.  It gives us candidates who are good at running for office, but not necessarily at governing. Huge financial resources must be raised, and a whole industry of campaign consultants, media people, advertisers, news people, political junkies, etc. etc. are invested in the system. 

But for everyone else it is simply one long headache. Ideally we could fix this to a considerable extent by the logical step of allowing elected officials to nominate the candidates of their party, and/or limiting the length of time over which a campaign can take place, as they do in Britain.  That would limit the noise level to some extent, and I don’t know who is better suited to nominate candidates than public officials themselves. The primary system is a very recent phenomenon, taking root only around 1960 and this whole system attracts people who are so full of themselves that they believe they should be president, with or without the good judgement and respect of others. There is no greater group of presidents than the first five, none of whom ran for office and would have considered it to be undignified. They were called upon by respect and admiration of their peers, based upon their accomplishments and character. If we can’t go all the way back to that at least let us reform the electoral system to produce better candidates, shorter campaigns, a less politically charged atmosphere, and an end to the long, tortuous, never-ending political cacaphony.  

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