Tuesday, February 23, 2016
The Establishment versus the Crusaders
It's early days yet and many a prognosticator has had to slink away from political predictions made too far from the end of the campaign. But, if Trump does as well on Super Tuesday as it looks like he might and if Hillary does as well as the polls show she probably will, it begins to look like both parties are settling on their eventual nominee. Super Tuesday can deliver so many delegates to each of them that it would be difficult (though not impossible) for any of their competitors to catch up.
The parties have twin problems. They are both faced with insurgencies. Of course, in the Republican race, the establishment is desperately trying to rally behind Marco Rubio to stop Trump, who is a Republican only because he needed a label to run for president. He is really just the head of the Trump party. Whether the leadership can prevail and bring him down remains to be seen.
On the Democrat side, Hillary is the establishment, as Bernie has said, and all the officials and powers-that-be have rallied behind her. So have those of us who are old enough to know not all revolutions have happy endings. The Bernie people are only very loosely aligned with the official party. Sanders himself has only been a Democrat since the start of the campaign. His people are Bernie supporters first. They would follow him under any banner he chose to run under. I guess he thought Independent Democratic Socialist sounded too awkward.
So, each party has an establishment wing and an insurgency wing. Generally, today's voters seem to lean more toward insurgencies than establishments. The fear for Democrats like me is that if Hillary wins, surly and resentful Bernie folks will take their marbles and go home if they don't get their way.
I guess the R's feel the same way about their presumed candidate. Trump has such high negative ratings, will the anti-Trump people be able to swallow hard and get behind him?
Both Trumpians and BernieBots see this election as more of a Crusade than a typical election. I don't trust Crusaders myself. I think they see what is possible through rose-colored glasses and they are destined to be disappointed. (Just as Obama supporters who believed he could bring hope and change to Washington have been disappointed). I consider myself a practical realist. You get what you can get and live to fight another day. If you can't get healthcare, you at least get the Children's Health Program and consider it a success. If you remember, Bill Clinton wanted to allow gays to freely join the military. It wasn't just the other party that opposed him but the old bulls in the Senate of his own party. Anyone remember Sam Nunn? So we ended up with DOMA, which was a tiny, ugly step, but it was still a step. It took a lot longer for full equality.
The Trump people and the Bernie people have no patience with half-a-loafers but in today's climate, half a loaf is probably the best either side can hope for unless one party wins both the presidency and both houses of congress with filibuster-proof majorities - and our track record with undivided government is not that positive. The Republicans under Bush engaged in two wars and piled up massive amount of debt. They can be all snitty about obstructing a president of the opposite party but their own, not so much. (By the way, Obama only had a majority in Congress for 4 months).
So, we will see what happens in an election that is the establishment versus the Crusaders on both sides.