Thursday, March 31, 2016

a troika of trios on Trump: 3 historical precedents; 3 on his supporters; and 3 on his style, incl. famous people who talk/act like him

Three Historical Precedents:

In City Journal, David Marcus compares Trump to Perot-- a comparison I've drawn many times. Marcus sees Trump as the next wave of the Reform Party, with another billionaire businessman who would "get things done". Both Trump and Perot had a few firm ideas, a lot of gibberish, and projected a sense of competence and leadership. 

In Reason, Jesse Walker compares Trump to "Pappy" O'Daniel-- a comparison I've never heard. It's an interesting read on a now-historically-obscure "character" in the popular and political realms form the middle of the 20th century. 

In The Hedgehog Review, Johann Deem goes back further in time to compare this movement to the Know-Nothing party/movement of the mid-19th century. The "attraction" to Trump seems to "have little to do with a detailed program or platform, and far more with Trump’s successfully projected image as a fearless man of action...Trump’s promise to do something makes him stand apart from a political establishment, right and left, that seems clueless and adrift." 

Deem's conclusion: "To the extent that Trump’s supporters represent a new Know-Nothing movement, the lesson is clear. Globalization has resulted in significant cultural and economic changes that many Americans feel have been hurtful not only to themselves but also to the nation as a whole. Those same voters feel betrayed by a political elite that seems, in their view, more committed to cosmopolitanism and the international order than to national self-interest. The loss of jobs and even of whole industries, drug use, violent crime, the spread of terrorism, and the challenges of an increasingly diverse society—all of these can be connected with some of the disruptive and dislocating effects of globalization. Trump’s brand of nativism shifts all of the blame for these and other problems to people and nations beyond our borders. But it would be wrong to see his supporters’ attraction to such nativism as simple xenophobia, though of course it can easily become that. Above all, Trump’s supporters want someone who will do something, almost anything, about problems they think are growing worse."

Who's Voting for Trump? 
In this syndicated piece, Ramesh Ponnuru tries to move casual observers off of simplistic and self-serving explanations for the Trump phenomena. Two data points: Trump has less support from the most conservative than one would think and more support from the college-educated than one would think (apparently doing better than Perot on that metric).

His conclusion: "There are several streams that feed Trump’s river. Some of his voters are working-class whites who feel Republicans aren’t looking out for them; some of them want to deport all illegal immigrants; some of them want to overthrow a hated Republican establishment; some of them admire Trump as a successful businessman and think he would run the government well too. And, of course, some small number of them, all too amply represented on Twitter, are David Duke and his friends. An oversimplified view of Trump’s coalition can lead us to mistaken conclusions. If we think that all of his supporters are bigots, for example, we will have an unfair and alarming view of a large share of our fellow citizens. If we think that they are all dead-set against Republican politicians, we will assume that anti-Trump statements by those politicians are futile efforts, or assume that all of them will be furious if a divided convention nominates someone other than Trump."

In the WSJ, Aaron Zitner reports on exit poll data from the 20 states that have voted through March 21-- and how Trump has done vs. the other candidates. He's doing better with 10 of the categories listed: "some college" or less,  < $50K income, males, rural, 45 and older, "somewhat conservative", immigration as most important issue, and illegal immigrants should be deported. And he's doing worse in the other 19 (generally smaller) categories. Perot-like, although Perot had more appeal further along the income/education spectrum.

In this First Things essay, R.R. Reno notes the rebelliousness of voters, exhibited most notably in both support for Sanders and Trump. In particular, Reno focuses on the willingness of various factions in the GOP to stand apart from the GOP establishment given their disappointments with the promises and actions. (One can only hope that more in both parties will not have such low standards!) 

On Trump's Style and how it apes a lot of popular people who remain largely unscathed...
Again in First Things, R.R. Reno compares Trump to Pope Francis, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Rush Limbaugh, Nicholas Kristof and Bill Clinton-- a nice, diverse set of folks! I hadn't seen this (or looked for it-- I don't pay much attention to pop political culture), but it sounds correct to me. Reno also notes that this is, in a sense, the culmination of the 1960s anti-establishment movement. 

A really cool piece in Reason by Nick Gillespie on Trump as a Troll-bot, including an interview with Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert).

A good piece by Chris Cillizza on the brilliance of Trump's slogan.


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