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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

2016 Election: More times I was wrong

I hesitate to make any comment on the 2016 presidential election, because I have been pretty much wrong so far.

1. Like nearly all pundits, I didn't expect Trump to have much staying power, and I figured he would be a distant, comic memory by summer of 2016. 



And there I am posting in April, that I was wrong.  I find it useful to look back and see where I have been wrong. It's good for the humility, and also helps you listen to others -- they might be right!

But we can go further.
2. I didn't expect Hillary Clinton to run. I figured she would explore the situation, but figure it wasn't worth the hassle.  She'd have to endure a likely FBI inspection of her emails. She'd have to listen to Benghazi endlessly. Republicans have had that store of attack information from 2008 safely stored away, and have added to it.  Her record as secretary of state? Not much to run on. There's still much terrorism, the Arab Spring has only made the unrest in the Arab world worse. It's not that these things are necessarily her fault, but then there's not much to brag about either.  There's the sleaziness of the Clinton Foundation donations from foreign governments.  

Who needs to listen to these things when you could have a nice, well-earned retirement? But like Gollum and the ring of power, she just can't give it up.

3. I was wrong when I thought Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush would be the worst matchup for the country because of its dynastic aspects. Now poor Jeb is showing up in a humor sketch at the 2016 Emmy show:

It started with the opening sketch, in which Mr. Kimmel hitched a ride to the ceremony with several celebrities. Among them was Jeb Bush, one of several Republicans defenestrated by Mr. Trump, who said that he was now driving for Uber. “If you run a positive campaign, voters will ultimately make the right choice,” Mr. Bush said, adding, “That was a joke.”

4. I was wrong in thinking dear Bernie Sanders would make a serious run at Hillary. I supported Bernie, but was pleased / surprised that so many others did.

But the fact that Bernie had such a strong campaign does point out that Hillary Clinton isn't much of a campaigner. If she was, she would have wiped out Bernie quickly -- and, in fact, would have been both nominated and elected in 2008.  And she would easily be much ahead of Trump now.  If she loses to Trump, she will clearly be in the running for the worst campaigner ever, although it's not clear exactly how one would measure that.  

But that's not what I came here to say.

So, what do I want to say? Let's start with some bullet points.

1. The RNC (Republican National Convention) was a dark, negative view of America.  The DNC was much more optimistic. You could even view them as polar opposites, as this editorial cartoon does:

2. Over the last decades, nearly all the increase in wealth has gone to the 1%, and a lot of the rest to those just under the 1% as the upper middle class expands

3. As to the rest of Americans, they aren't getting richer. The good union manufacturing jobs are shrinking. The decline of fixed benefit pensions make the future unsure. Their children aren't going to be better off than they are, and many of them are less well off than their parents. 

4. Hillary and the Democrats really don't offer much here. The bipartisan support for trade legislation over the last generation (NAFTA, etc.) is now a whipping boy. Obamacare was a noble effort, but is likely to collapse due to poor design as premiums take large hikes next year.

5. Trump channels these disaffected (largely white male) people. It's not that Trump has helped them in the past (preferring immigrants for his hotels and bullying suppliers) or that he has a plan for the future (other than "I can fix it" bluster). Might as well believe in the tooth fairy.  It's easy to scapegoat Mexicans, Muslims, women, and the whole spectrum of Trump insultees, but that really doesn't get us anywhere.  

6. So, if you are one of those many Americans who feel squeezed, you're being pandered to by a bullying, clueless narcissist on the one hand, and a party whose convention features all those groups you blame on the other. 

    That's a real bleakness of this election for many.

     And it's not going away soon. Anyone who believes either bullying billionaire Trump or Hillary, darling of Wall Street will do anything meaningful about income redistribution is a dreamer.

     One of the things people feel most squeezed about is emergency medical bills and/or large health insurance premiums.  Both these could be solved by a single payer system such as Canada, Britain, France, etc. have (albeit with higher tax rates). We should be talking about how to transition to such a plan -- a very tricky endeavor from where we are now.  But instead we see mostly carping about Obamacare (not trying to fix it) with some alternative proposals,but none that are very specific.

That's pretty predictable given the strong vested interests among drug companies, insurance companies, hospital companies and other corporate entities dependent on the dysfunctional status quo.