Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When Anger Clouds Judgment

Republican voters are angry. They are really, really, very, very angry. They are so angry that they are flocking to a reality show star, real estate developer named Trump. They want him to be their champion. They believe that he can be elected and that he is totally competent to do the job of POTUS.

For the last two presidential elections Republicans nominated candidates who were supposed to be electable. Now they seem drawn, like moths to a flame, to candidates who are decidedly not electable. Apparently they believe that since the electable candidates did not get elected the unelectable Trump is just the trick.

Thus does anger cloud one’s judgment. Keep in mind, that there are many different ways to express anger. Some people—I won’t name names—believe that the best way to express anger and to convince people of the depth and intensity of their rage—they imagine that the more intense it is the more true it is—is to burn down their neighborhood.

Surely, this convinces people that you are angry. It does not, however, accomplish anything positive.

One might say that the surest sign of electability is having been elected. On that score, neither Trump nor Ben Carson nor Carly Fiorina, darlings of many Republicans, has any claim to electability.

Of course, Republican pollster Karen Soltis Anderson suggests that Republicans have now concluded that Trump is electable. And they also believe that he is perfectly capable of doing the job.

Again, the question is: based on what record? Some will float the example of Ronald Reagan, but Reagan walked into the White House after having had eight years of experiences as governor of California. Donald Trump, no government experience at all. The same applies to Carson and Fiorina.

We have heard the argument, coming from Trump, that all politicians are stupid, incompetent idiots. One recalls that, back in the day, politicians in New York were having trouble finishing off a skating rink in Central Park. A young Donald Trump took over the project from the band of incompetents and got the job done.

If you think that being president of the United States is like building a skating rink, then Trump is your man.

In the first place, Trump’s dismissal of governors who have good track records is glib and simple-minded. Some governors have made government work in their states, even in blue and purple states. About that, Trump has nothing to say.

Try a thought experiment. Let’s say that your community got together and chose a few Scrabble players to represent you in a tournament. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that said Scrabble players kept losing. Now, disillusioned by your choices, you decide to replace them… with someone who has never played Scrabble but who is a master of Monopoly.

What kind of sense does that make?

John Cassidy, no friend of Republicans, wrote these wise words in The New Yorker:

When asked which candidate in their party could best deal with the threat of Islamist terror, a plurality of Republicans overlooked four sitting senators, three sitting governors, and seven other candidates who in the past have held elected office, in order to opt for a blabbermouth from New York whose foreign-policy and national-security experience consists of hosting golf events in Scotland (where he presumably avoids handshakes so as not to contact germs).

And yet, it’s the wager that many Republican voters are putting down… as we speak.

You know that the conservative media and pundits are horrified by it all. From National Review to the Wall Street Journal, good conservatives believe that Trump will destroy the Republican Party and will lead it to ignominious defeat.

They accept that immigration is an important problem, but they do not agree that deporting all immigrants is the solution. They certainly do not believe that the Republican Party should become the Deportation Party.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has impeccable conservative credentials. This is how it responded to Trump’s immigration proposal:

Are his police going to search from door to door to arrest 11 million people? How else will they be rounded up?

Mr. Trump says he would keep families together, which would at least spare the scenes of tearful mothers hauled away from their crying children. But Republicans may want to think twice before becoming the party responsible for piling onto buses entire families who are stitched into the fabric of communities. This is not a good political look.

As for forcing the Mexican government to pay for a wall, the Journal understands that the idea is based more on bluster than on rational policy analysis:

Mr. Trump insists that Mexico will “pay for” the wall he wants to build on the southern U.S. border, but even he seems to realize no sovereign state would do this.

So his fallback is to levy higher fines and fees on individual Mexicans, and he also wants to “impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages” sent to Mexico from the U.S. That was an estimated $22 billion in 2013, but how is Mr. Trump going to find out which remittances were from illegals? In any case remittances almost certainly reduce the flow of illegal immigration because they reduce poverty in Central America. Migration from Mexico slowed after Mexicans became richer thanks in part to Nafta and remittances.

What then will happen if Trump blocks the flow of seasonal workers?

For a man who has succeeded in business Mr. Trump seems to know little about labor markets. Thousands of U.S. employers depend on the flow of temporary seasonal workers. Mr. Trump seems to think that if those workers aren’t allowed to enter the U.S. employers will simply raise wages. But the Journal reported last week that crops across the West are rotting in the fields for lack of farmhands, despite offers of $17 an hour with benefits for U.S. workers.

A Guatemalan picking strawberries in Washington state doesn’t mean a native-born worker has lost a job. The increasingly integrated North American markets are not zero sum, and the most likely result of the U.S. immigration standstill is moving factories, businesses and farms overseas where labor is cheaper. Or some services will simply vanish in the U.S. as too costly to sustain.

Trump has convinced himself that America’s economic problems stem from a surfeit of immigrants, legal and illegal:

But American wages are not flagging due to immigrants. They are flat because of slow growth and bad economic policies. Immigration is essential to faster growth because it offsets an otherwise aging workforce, brings in new human capital and ideas, and raises the GDP of all workers. Even insular Japan has figured out that it will need guest workers in the future to grow fast enough to finance its aging population.

Surely, illegal immigration is a problem. Without doubt, Barack Obama has single handedly made it much, much worse. And yet, letting anger be your guide will only very rarely put you in the position to solve it. If you cannot get elected,if you cannot know how to govern, and if your policy proposals alienate major segments of the voting population, you have taken a real problem and made it that much more difficult to solve.

 The Journal concludes:

The last time Republicans tried this, in the 1920s, they alienated immigrant groups like the Irish and Italians for decades until Ronald Reagan won them back. If they want to lose in 2016, they’ll follow Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant siren.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"They accept that immigration is an important problem..."

No they don't. And the "four senators, three sitting governors, and seven other candidates who in the past have held elected office" have done nothing about the immigration issue. Nothing. They're only talking about it because Trump is talking about it. And that's why Trump is important.

Our government ignores border security because they don't want to offend the growing Hispanic vote that is largely growing because of illegal immigration. How do I say "largely"? Because of the Immigration and Nationality Act (1965), the vast majority of our country's visas and citizenship awards go to family reunification, and the important point is: children can serve as sponsors. So we have (1) a problem with a law that de facto encourages lawlessness, (2) we have issues with how the 14th Amendment is serving us in 2015, and (3) we have the perennial problem of politicians seeking re-election by any means necessary. So of course the Hispanic vote is important, and it's getting more and more important because we have more and more illegal immigration from that part of the world. It's demographic gerrymandering through lawless Democrat non-enforcement and crazy policy. What is the value of U.S. citizenship today?

I am for immigration. I am not a "nativist." I do not like Trump. But Trump is seizing on a very important issue. We've endured 7 years of bitter recession. Our image is diminished in the world. Freeloading is becoming an admired occupation in America, as lawyers now guide the eager through a subterranean maze to almost certain entitlement benefits awards. Work is for suckers. We have an abominable public education system that promises destitution to inner city youth, and meanwhile we're exporting the kinds of manufacturing jobs these same American citizens could do to... the communist Chinese. I could go on, but suffice to say the CITIZENS of this country are getting screwed royally by their government. And there's nowhere else to go unless you immigrate somewhere else, which doesn't exactly promote family unification.

So yes, Republican voters are angry. Very, very angry. You wanna know what they're angry about? LAWLESSNESS. That's the Obama way: by any means necessary. And until the politicians and leaders of the Republican Party get some testicular fortitude (a la Reagan) and stand up to this abomination of a ruling class, people are going to look elsewhere. Even to a "blabbermouth from New York" whose success is based on real estate and being a TV star. This is "Newsroom" all over again. People are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Especially from spineless Republican leaders who are going to set us up to lose again with Jeb Bush, who has been a lousy candidate thus far. At this point in his candidacy, Jeb Bush looks like everything Republicans have come to despise in their "leaders." Republican voters are watching the transformation of America, and a cowed Republican leadership. Republican base voters have contempt for Boehner, McConnell, et al.

This is why Trump is instructive: until the supposed "electable" candidates start talking straight and talking back to this transformational insanity, they're going to play the MSM and Democrats' game... which means certain Republican defeat. We've watched that movie a few too many times. The Republican Establishment thinks that the most important part of America is Washington, D.C. The rest of us believe it's out here... in America. Where we are citizens of a constitutionally limited federal republic, based on an idea where the people are sovereign. And we're watching that being pissed away through coordinated, calculated lawlessness. Pardon us if we're pissed off as we watch our representatives cower to said lawlessness in such a dignified, respectable, reasonable fashion. It's crazy.

Ares Olympus said...

Minnesota's third-party Governor Ventura was elected in 1998 by voter anger, and the Terminator was elected Governor of California in 2003 after a recall election. So at least for state governors, voter anger can win elections, and some might say both governored in nonpartisan ways. But on the other hand, Governors don't have to deal with foreign relations.

Another third party "legend" for president is Pat Buchanan, and after failing to inspire the Republicans, he did a hostile take over of Perot's Reform party in 2000, lowering Perot's 1992 18.9% and 1996 8.4% a to a pitiful 0.4%, (1/5 of Nader's Green party). (We might expect an independent Trump will get between 0.4 and 18% of the vote depending on the GOP candidate.)

Anyway, I saw Buchanan weighed in on Trump's populist grandstanding on immigration, contrasting our predicament to Europe's attractiveness to African and middle eastern refugees.
For the six-page policy paper, to secure America’s border and send back aliens here illegally, released by Trump last weekend, is the toughest, most comprehensive, stunning immigration proposal of the election cycle.

The issue is joined, the battle lines are drawn, and the GOP will debate and may decide which way America shall go. And the basic issues — how to secure our borders, whether to repatriate the millions here illegally, whether to declare a moratorium on immigration into the USA — are part of a greater question.

Will the West endure, or disappear by the century’s end as another lost civilization? Mass immigration, if it continues, will be more decisive in deciding the fate of the West than Islamist terrorism. For the world is invading the West.

A wild exaggeration? Consider.

Germany, which took in 174,000 asylum seekers last year, is on schedule to take in 500,000 this year. Yet Germany is smaller than Montana. How long can a geographically limited and crowded German nation, already experiencing ugly racial conflict, take in half a million Third World people every year without tearing itself apart, and changing the character of the nation forever?

According to the U.N., Africa had 1.1 billion people by 2013, will double that to 2.4 billion by 2050, and double that to 4.2 billion by 2100.

How many of these billions dream of coming to Europe? How many can Europe absorb without going bankrupt and changing the continent forever?

Is the West still blind to reality, to the inevitable future that awaits if the West does not secure its frontiers and close its borders to mass immigration?

Peoples of European descent, everywhere they live, have birth rates below replacement levels. Yet, most live in the world’s most desirable neighborhoods.

“The principle that America’s immigration laws should serve the interests of its own citizens” is paramount, said Sen. Sessions.

Sessions is right. America is our home. We decide who comes in and who does not, how large the American family becomes, whom we adopt and whence they come. It has become the issue of 2016.

So maybe Trump really is the lightning rod that will help the GOP get its act together, whether he's electable or not. If the GOP wants to win the presidency, they'd better get their act together in congress and find a course of action that can find bipartisan agreement.

Of course the Democrats might see solving this issue only helps the GOP, and refuse to cooperate.

Still we can imagine the GOP might throw an olive branch to the Democrats and stop the fight against family planning, and then the next billion immigrants from third world countries looking for Morning in America will only be 100 million? But if the bible is the Word, and it says "Be fruitful and multiply" perhaps that means we should open our borders and just let everyone in, or at least those who follow Genesis and the old testament's wise advice.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. NUMBERS! This is great.
* Mass deportation: $141.3 billion
* Triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers: $8.4 billion per year
* Walling off the southern border: At least $5.1 billion, plus annual maintenance
* Nationwide E-Verify system: $2.15 billion
* Visa-tracking system: $7 billion
* Mandatory detention: $1.7 billion per year

So clearly the "Mass deportation" is the $141 billion "budget blowout", so maybe we can give up before we start negotiate on a middle ground there? Maybe the Dream Act isn't so bad, at least in exchange for some new border security?

So after that sticker shock, a 1900 mile wall looks pretty cheap. $5-15 billion?

If historic imperial China can build a 13,000 mile long wall, we ought to be able to build a much shorter one. Maybe we can use stimulus money from the 2016 economic crisis jobs-program? And why not add a 5,525 mile border wall with Canada too, although the great lakes will need some special consideration. But for economy of scale we should set the higgest standards. Plus that'll help keep the young Americans here when the next military draft numbers come up.

Remember what Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." Is that a good campaign slogan or what?!

I'm finally excited. The 1930s and 1940s had the Civilian Conservation Corp. The 1960s had FJK's vision and Apollo. The 1980s had Reagan's Morning in America. Now the 2010's can have Trump's "Make America Great Again!"

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Some more sober judgment:

Ares Olympus said...

Indeed, good sober judgment, but it is still summer 2015, and the issues that arise now can be "tabled" when 2016 rolls around, and it'll look like Trump is "compromising for a political solution" when he gives up impossible mass-deportation in exchange for an otherwise impossible expanded border fence/wall AND calls for federal sanctions against sanctuary cities, right? Never forget the Anchoring effect, even for anchor babies!

But for a moment back to "law school bull session" who knows if the 14th amendment won't be on the line for 2020?
The Fourteenth Amendment provides that children born in the United States become American citizens regardless of the citizenship of their parents.[50] At the time of the amendment's passage, three Senators, including Trumbull,[51] the author of the Civil Rights Act, as well as President Andrew Johnson, asserted that both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment would confer citizenship on such children at birth; however, Senator Edgar Cowan of Pennsylvania had a definitively contrary opinion. These congressional remarks applied to non-citizens lawfully present in the United States, as the problem of unauthorized immigration did not exist in 1866, and some scholars dispute whether the Citizenship Clause applies to unauthorized immigrants, although the law of the land continues to be based on the standard interpretation.[50] Congress during the 21st century has occasionally discussed revising the clause to reduce the practice of "birth tourism", in which a pregnant foreign national gives birth in the United States for purposes of the child's citizenship.

Perhaps there's a two-fer compromise to influence public opinion to get some new cases to revision by the supreme court:
1. Reverse the 1898 Supreme court ruling that the 14th amendment protects illegal immigrant childen.
2. Reverse the Citizen United ruling that allows billionaires like Trump to buy access to political leaders.

And maybe we want to add some prolife issues:
1. Reverse Roe vs Wayd to allow states to decide "abortion rights".
2. Outlaw possession of nuclear weapons by the United States.
(Do we have any amendment proposals here?)

Anyway, those two go together, since allowing states to define human rights will eventually lead to the dissolution of the union, and when that happens, you don't want "the other side" to have all the nukes! We can pretend the confederate South is Pakistan and the North is India?

Okay, but that's all 2020-2032 stuff, so back to building up our wall-building technology. We're going to need lots of walls in the future, so a good time to start is now.

Nick said... want a president beholden to the CoC and Wall St.?

Ted Cruz is the only other choice.

"Not a good look for Republicans"

Who gives a damn anymore? I've worked in construction and understand that sometimes to fix a problem you just have to destroy shit. Trump has as much right to run as a guy like Scott Walker who has an impossibly rigid stance on abortion.