The Presidential Primary Debates have arrived, and have escalated the ‘silly season’ originally commenced by Donald Trump’s entry into the Republican race. Since the last post on the Trump phenomenon, a “crazy like a fox” aspect to his machinations has emerged that shows what the secret of his appeal is, despite lacking any nuance, tact, or shame over his self-absorbed blusterings. Ron Paul has commented on his thoughts about the first debate of August 6:
From a principled standpoint, and in terms of the tactical issue as to whether anything is being accomplished by the one mainstream liberty candidate, Rand Paul, what I saw at the FOX News hosted debate was Trump taking the brunt of the hostile questioning, and Paul holding solid for the time he was given. The others repeated shopworn cant on foreign policy to get cheap pops from the hawk-entranced audience. There were too many rat-a-tat-tat answers in general flying off the lips of too many politicians to produce an overall impact, pro or con, for any candidate. Rand surprisingly got a good audience response to his comment on de-funding Israel, and closed strong. There was no discussion of decidedly non-GOP talking points or issues of the last year like income inequality, police brutality or misconduct, or civil rights (though the upcoming Democratic debates in turn will probably not touch non-Democratic issue memes such as those horrid Planned Parenthood videos, protecting gun rights and religious liberty, etc).
But it was Trump’s magnetic egomania, and politics-shattering put-downs of the FOX attack panel of “journalists” that rocked the evening. Why has he won over so many people in so short a time, despite having a political history that is all over the map? It all comes down to a confession on MSNBC last week by former RNC Chair Michael Steele: “If you look at the whole Republican Party, from libertarians to evangelicals to the Tea Party,” says Steele, “you have a group of people who’ve been lied to for 35 years. Republican [presidential candidates] have said, ‘Elect us and we’ll do these things.’ Well, they haven’t. And that frustration is manifesting itself in Trump.”
A true quote, though it doesn’t change that Trump is a fatally flawed vehicle for voicing the rank and file’s frustration. The comment also explains why Trump’s decidedly non-liberty and non-conservative views on most issues have been given a pass by many on the right and the grassroots—since the GOP has failed to deliver on conservative promises for decades, they believe, why does it matter for Trump to express them?
Trump is running an attitudinally correct campaign that rejects the smooth professionalism, tact and polish that the lying phony pols have given voters for a generation. If Trump isn’t right intellectually, and is low on having background facts, he’s dead-on in matching the mood of the electorate. At this point they want somebody who feels real, somebody with backbone, and somebody who prioritizes cultural issues like immigration. The public doesn’t want somebody who will only mouth focus group perfected lines that offend no one, or addresses only the surface of the issue, but somebody who hits the subject square on the head, and doesn’t back down. They want a confrontation on these matters, and Trump is clearly eager to deliver the train wreck.
Has the Stalking Horse Gone Rogue?
Or is he? Is the train wreck really just the mark of a phony campaign, that is not truly disrupting the establishment at all? Some have speculated that Trump’s ascendancy is actually all an establishment ‘controlled opposition’ plan, with his candidacy serving as a false flag to protect the elite’s chosen frontrunners. While I certainly believe things started that way, events of the last few weeks suggests their operation has gone sideways. The original elite plan (I believe) is for Hillary to face Bush next year, or failing Jeb, Scott Walker. Trump is interfering with that plan by seeking to be the nominee instead, and yes, that is disrupting the plan. Trump is now leading in all four of the early critical states (IA, NH, SC, FL). That can’t be part of the plan, so yes, that is disruptive.
I think something changed from when Trump first announced, as in all the pounding his business ventures took due to his immigration stance—Trump may have took that as the establishment breaking its word about not going after him for speaking his mind, so his ego took over (“Well, I’m in the race after putting it off for decades, and I am better than these other losers, so I might as well go for it.”).
The FOX attack questioning at the first debate was, first to last, about controlling his wild card status or marginalizing Trump if he didn’t comply, yet he resisted it all. That outcome was not the FOX panel’s intention at all—thus, Trump is being disruptive. The establishment wants to be assured Jeb gets nominated, yet has no assurance of that, with Trump leading in all demographic categories in the polls. That total dominance could not have been part of their plan, hence, Trump is disrupting their plan.
For a real example of a phony campaign serving as a stalking horse, see Sen. Thompson’s run in 2008. He got in the primary race late, yet to much MSM manufactured hype and fanfare, campaigned half-heartedly, and never led in any national poll or in any state. He quit the race promptly after SC, where he helped divide the evangelical vote so moderate McCain could win that ‘firewall’ state. Once his friend Mac had secured his “prospective nominee” status, Thompson realized his job was done, which is why he got out.
I believe Rick Perry was set up to serve the same vote-splitting purpose in 2012, to benefit Mitt, but his candidacy was so inept he drew no voter support, thus did not split the social right vote in SC, which is why Gingrich won the primary (thus delaying Romney’s media coronation by months). At any rate, that is how the establishment actually uses a controlled opposition candidate—their appeal is only supposed to be partial, and subordinate to building up the elite’s chosen one. Whereas Trump has been utterly destroying Bush’s credibility, momentum, media attention and poll numbers, while hogging all those factors for himself.
Standing Up to Poodles
In addition to standing his ground on immigration and trade, Trump made two major strides to amp up the train wreck at the debate, the most spectacular of which was his refusal to adopt a “loyalty pledge” to accept whomever the GOP nominee ends up being, and promise not run on a third party line if losing the nomination battle. His refusal to do so, even at such a high profile venue as the debate, has sent shock waves through both the media and GOP.
Thus the attempt by the FOX “media attack poodles” (as Lew Rockwell has delightfully called them) to use the debate to deactivate the tycoon as a threat to Bush or Walker has backfired disastrously. Yes, Trump is an establishment creation, but apparently their Frankenstein is loose, and no longer obeying his master (kind of like the story of the US and its Mideast fostered monster, ISIS). Instead of neutralizing the threat of an independent run, he’s openly embracing it as his leverage to arm-twist the party into taking him seriously.
Trump has showed the power of that particular card by playing it flat out preemptively, saying “TREAT ME FAIRLY, or I may go independent.” Because he’s using this leverage, rank and file GOP voters aren’t falling for the normal “let’s go with the establishment front runners because they’re ‘electable,’ and let’s ignore all the others” routine. It also serves to threaten to properly punish the party for rigging the game as usual, and thus put a stop to such practices. Pain has a way of deterring people.
The Trump wild card is allowing voters to see through the Emperor’s new clothes, right NOW during primary season, instead of the day after the election, when it will be too late. Without the aura of inevitability, or the perception that Bush is the only candidate with deep pockets, Jeb is just a bland, totally uninspiring guy who gaffes a lot. Without that same “electable” aura, Walker is just another boring midwestern politician. By potentially making all the candidates unelectable, Trump has leveled the playing field.
So Trump’s presence in the race, and his threat to go third party, is buying time for Rand to get more traction, and to be heard out on the merits by voters who would have otherwise ignored or discounted him. Rand could have done this himself by threatening an indy or fusion candidacy, but by having the Donald do it, he’s the one who is taking most of the flack instead. You could say Trump is thereby running resistance for Rand, and every other candidate who wants to get a fair shake in the race. Will voters choose based on the merits, instead of the GOP leadership’s “electability” sleeping spell? We’ll see.
Looking past Rand (in case his candidacy fails) we may have to see which remaining person, in a field of non-liberty major party candidates, can succeed in a way that furthers the cause in making progress of some kind. In this Plan B scenario, Trump fits the bill because he is seemingly disrupting or breaking the establishment’s control over the primary process. He is, de facto, taking most of the heavy fire that might otherwise all be concentrated on Rand. Thus for now, Trump is inadvertently buying time for Rand to build his campaign.
The Democratic War to Win Back Women
Trump’s other breakthough came in the form of resisting being sucked into placating contentious PC factions such as the feminists, over the wrong and “right names” to call women. FOX attack poodle no.1, Megyn Kelly, tried to humiliate Trump on exactly this basis, but Trump returned the volley with some of the strongest comebacks of the debate. Who’s side of the culture war is FOX fighting for, anyway? Through such questions, Megyn is practically handing the “war on women” issue to Hillary to beat her opponents with. What promoters of this meme don’t ever mention is that it is really a Democratic war to win back women, or enough women to do well in the Presidential election.
Their dirty little secret is, Republicans won the women’s vote 49%-48% in the 2010 midterms, only barely lost it (47%) in the 2014 midterms, and the GOP won the white women’s vote outright 56%-43% in 2014. That’s why they’ve rolled out the war on women rhetoric each time we go into a Presidential cycle. Trump is teaching the milquetoast moderates to not buckle and cower when that meme is pushed on them again in 2016.
The war on women hucksters will have more rhetorical problems, moving forward, in pushing the “women’s health” meme in light of the Planned Parenthood videos that have (brilliantly) been released in a staggered fashion by a pro-life group, showing fetal body parts are callously traded for cash at PP clinics. Until now, the public has been in the dark about this ugly disposal process, in part due to the way the word magic of “women’s health” has served to cover the brute fact that abortion usually involves burning or chopping up unborn children. That’s why propaganda and emotion ‘trump’ arguments (okay, couldn’t resist). The imagery and verbal spin create a framework that is hard to rationally overcome, unless one
Supporters of legal abortion have succeeded in perpetuating a dialogue on the issue built on abstractions and bloodless euphemisms like “reproductive health” or “choice,” that keeps the substance of what abortion actually involves (burning, dismembering, and trading dead unborn children) out of the picture. The PP videos bring us back to the concrete lethal reality that abortion involves killing, then disposing of real body parts—which with time, and more staggered video releases, will change the rhetoric and emotion on the issue (including black audiences, who have been disproportionately subject to abortion). This will in turn make it harder to cover-up the bloody truth from women, for the purposes of attracting them to the pro-legal abortion side.
The Liberty Approach to Women
This discussion of the info-war and women brings up the question that keeps dogging libertarian circles–how do we attract more women to the movement? I’ve always suggested you engage people about liberty from the exact point of their own concerns, as in:
If you are among people concerned about education, you talk about the liberty approach to education.
If you are among people concerned about the lack of jobs, you talk about the liberty approach to job creation.
Etc, etc. This way you are not ignoring people’s issues, since you are engaging them at the very point of their concern, while not fudging on your own principles. Soooo, when it comes to women…
If you are among people concerned about security, you talk about the liberty approach to improving their security. This may involve talking up the reasons why more women should buy firearms, and support the concealed carrying of same. You might make the case for increasing the ability to provide a safety net by eliminating government subsidy programs. Or point out violent criminal and mass murdering shooters were captured or killed through traditional good police work, not intrusive bulk surveillance or watch lists. And so on.
This may require us to research our positions in more detail to better dialogue, but it would lead to truly reaching other groups, including women. Otherwise, I suggest approaching women politically as a man often does personally, that is, from a position of not needing them. Convey that ‘you know what you want, you know where you are going,’ and they can either get on board or get out of your way. This translates to ‘confidence’ with women, be it for dating purposes or for political engagement, and thus more women becoming attracted.