Losing the Wedge

Oh Ted! I hate to break it to you, but tapping a female culture warrior as your VP–even one who manages to be nearly as repulsive as you– isn’t going to get you the nomination.

Not even close.

There have been a number of signs during this unending primary season that the GOP’s “old reliable” tactic of focusing on social issues is no longer the sure-fire bet it was when George W. Bush won his second term with the help of fear of/hate for “the gays.” Part of the reason is demographic: fear of LGBT folks, hatred of immigrants, belief that women should stay in the kitchen (barefoot and most definitely pregnant), even racism are all attitudes more plentiful among older, whiter Americans–and they’re dying out.

Partly, of course, the lack of focus on social issues this time around is the flip side of the 24/7 focus on the strange orange candidate. Donald Trump doesn’t fixate on social issues. Or any issues, actually–he mostly focuses on himself, and his YUGE business ability. And large “hands.”

Actually, Trump is preferable to Cruz, in much the same way that a merciful death is preferable to an agonizing one….At any rate, according to the Boston Globe, Cruz is counting on a re-invigorated appeal to social conservatives in Indiana and elsewhere:

Over the past month, as the primary wove through Wisconsin, New York, and the socially moderate states that voted on Tuesday, the GOP candidates focused on issues like trade, jobs, and the economy. But the next contests on the calendar are in Indiana, West Virginia, and Nebraska, where evangelical voters make up more of the Republican electorate. That trend might even continue in California, which awards most of its large number of delegates by congressional district, some of which are very conservative.

It’s the first time social issues — such as abortion, gay marriage, and transgender rights — could take center stage in the primary since early March, when a swath of Southern states voted in the primary. That’s mostly good news for Cruz, who has already touted his social conservative credentials on the stump in Indiana, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

I may be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!), but I think it’s too late for “fear of God” wedge issues. America has had same-sex marriage for a year now, and the apocalypse hasn’t occurred. Young people are more irate about their student loans than about who’s peeing in the next stall. The population keeps moving into cities, where there tend to be gay people and black people and brown people, and women in executive positions, and Americans have gotten used to the idea that the diversity is sort of nice.

Cruz isn’t going to win Indianapolis, for sure (and if he thinks Carly on the ticket is a great idea, he’s even nuttier than I previously thought), but he may win Indiana. In our more rural precincts, culture war wedge issues can still be pretty salient. And he is running against the Donald.

If Cruz does win the state, however, I really, really, REALLY need to move.


  1. I’m not so sure about Cruz winning Indiana in the rural precincts; his choice of a running mate notwithstanding. His reference to Indiana’s “basketball rings” caught more attention than his VP choice in this basketball lovin’ state. We all remember the true story of the movie “Hoosiers”, the rural town of Milan, IN, and Bobby Plump’s last second winning shot to take the finals. With Bobby Knight, our most famous – or infamous – basketball figure, attracting attention to Trump before Cruz’s “basketball ring” comment; even those rural areas took notice.

    By the way; thank you for the much appreciated Happy Birthday wishes yesterday.

  2. Let’s face it. It’s over. Donald will be the last GOP as we know it Presidential candidate, and Hillary this election’s Democratic candidate. It’s sort of fitting in a way, a news filler of epic proportions. Donald an empty suit caricature created by media, getting flushed in a media storm.

    Time to move on. Hillary needs to start preparing to actually be President from 20 years of talking about (and working on) it.

    The next big question which unfortunately we have to wait for an answer to is will her first term be accompanied by a Congress and Supreme Court?

    It seems that Republicans hope to squeeze out their death legacy by a couple of SCOTUS decisions only possible by an even number of Justices who can’t break ties. I think that President Obama will risk that in return for a Hillary no compromise appointment. He out maneuvered America’s enemies again.

    Congress is the big issue and prognostications there are harder to come by. What makes that more complex is that media opinion dealers will feel obligated to publish just as many Republican scenarios as Democrat so we are without their help picking out the more or less qualified analyses.

    Of course part of Hillary’s political strategy now is to invest the political capital she’s been given by such a silly GOP campaign in helping bring about a functional Congress to work with her. That she will do.

    Given that her first priority in office will be climate change and energy policy because they are the biggest threat/opportunity facing us (and the rest of the world) and it’s been almost 20 years since Al Gore told us they would be, her first program will be figuring out the optimum role of government based and private business in solutions to climate change mitigation and dealing with the enormous cost of changed climate adaptation. How’s that for a Presidential newbie?

    I personally look forward to the return of functional American government tacking real issues head on.

  3. If the elections is Hillary vs. The Donald; it will be a campaign of “my money beats your money” situation. Who is the Realtor in this “White House for sale, good neighborhood, well maintained, goes to the highest bidder”?

  4. Pete, I hope you’re right, but it’s going to take turnout and voting down-ballot as well as for President. Bernie will need to get his supporters to rally around, not just Hillary, but also the concept of a Democratic House and Senate. So far, he doesn’t seem inclined to do that.

  5. Pete, I hope you’re right, but it’s going to take turnout and voting down-ballot as well as for President. Bernie will need to get his supporters to rally around, not just Hillary, but also the concept of a Democratic House and Senate. So far, he doesn’t seem inclined to do that.

  6. I agree Peggy. They have to be defeated from Pres to Dog Catcher. That is the only way we can move on from this mess. Lets get busy. And as always, Thanks Pete. Amazing.

  7. JoAnn, unfortunately the giving of campaign money in hopes of buying influence has been going on for a long, long time now. What brought it about was the irrefutable demonstration of how susceptible we are to advertising. There’s simply no question that our votes can be bought by advertising and what business would not look at that as an opportunity to make more money regardless of the impact on others by backing a winner who sees things their way?

    It’s a typical arms race where once begun it’s an endless competition of raising more than the competition. The differential is the only consideration. It’s not a race with a finish line.

    It is what it is and will be until the government reigns it in with significant strong campaign finance reform.

    The risk is not candidates who accept the money but those who are influenced by it.

  8. Pete; I doubt that never before in history have two candidates had money totally in the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS! This is a new world; and not necessarily a “Brave New World”…I find it frightening and disheartening.

    Peggy; why do you often post your comments twice?

  9. If the Republican Party self-destructs, it won’t be like the whorehouse down the street burned down and they take their business to another state. All those folk–moderates, Tea Party and all–need to go somewhere and somehow coalesce into something else. Will the hard right true believers take the next organization? Will those zillions of moderates we haven’t seen suddenly come out of the woodwork? Will we end with three parties? It’s not that they’re going, but how they come back that counts.

  10. It’s the nature of an arms race that it only grows. Every race is not to win and end the race but to outdo every year. It can be argued that doing the same as the competition nets you zero, their dollars are just as effective as yours. Only by out doing them is any advantage gained.

    It’s craziness for all concerned but it’s too risky to get off the merry-go-round. It doesn’t create winners but disengaging from the race would certainly create losers.

    Nobody is in control of it. Only effective legislation can end it for everyone.

  11. Getting the vote out may sound like great strategy until you look at the voter guide in the IndyStar this morning. In Morgan, Hendricks, Johnson, Hancock, and Hamilton counties, there are only Republican candidates from which to choose. Many of these people have indicated in their statements of purpose the same rhetoric that has characterized the national candidates’ agendas.

    Changing the course we have set by our own disengagement, indifference or ignorance may be wishful thinking when the moneyed oligarchy has taken full control of the apparatus of elections and governance.

    Indiana is almost always at the bottom of lists of desirable outcomes regarding equal protections for all citizens, public education, health, living wages, clean air, clean water and infrastructure maintenance. To change that we would need to have diverse options discussed, ethical standards applied, compromises made to better the well-being of ALL of us, without regard to religious, racial or financial status. None of these things appear to be on the near horizon.

    IMO, we are living the decline of our political experiment, hastened by the greed and power of a wholly self-interested oligarchy. The Citizens United decision gave them carte blanche and they have taken full advantage of it. We see outrage on the far right and left with no clear, rational and feasible solutions at hand. How did we get here is not the most pressing question, but how to we keep moving forward instead of back to the Golden Age of corruption and greed. The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind.

  12. If Trump somehow wins the Nov election, I’m never coming back to the states except for family visits. Never!

  13. I’ve been saying for years that the root of this problem isn’t the public’s dissatisfaction with congress (although they are very unhappy), or that there’s too much money in politics (I have yet to meet someone that would argue that there is too little money in politics). The dysfunctional system we have for creating districts and redistricting really serves as the foundation for many of our current political ills. The current system allows for the gerrymandering of districts to such an extent that party officials are able to scrape together enough votes to get candidates elected that normally wouldn’t stand a chance. These candidates don’t negotiate, they don’t have the majority’s interests in mind, and they appear to misunderstand the role of government, civil society, and the constitution. Until this political wound heals, we’ll continue to see symptoms of this illness.

  14. The only clear winners of the campaign advertising arms race are the media, the advertising “professionals” and some would claim incompetent politicians who can only be sold to voters that way. Even the oligarchs are losing. Look at how little influence the Kochs will have to show for the $1/2B invested this year.

    That avenue of influence buying will price itself out of business soon then nobody will prevent good pols from fixing the broken system.

    What I hope is that then the whole advertising industry will be shown to be as hollow as it is.

    We simply don’t need nor can afford more bigger stuff.

    More is the absolute least of our problems.

  15. Most of Connecticut is very nice, it’s not the paved-over parking lot many people assume it is. And there’s practically a college on every streetcorner, so you could keep your hand in.

    But if I remember correctly, the last time you mentioned moving it was in regards to Portland OR, and I’m afraid we can’t compete with Portlandia!

  16. I have already voted for Bernie via Absentee Ballot and will hold my Bernie for President Sign at my voting site this Tuesday.

    Campaign contributions are far much more than marketing or advertising. As a former Republican and Democrat now Socialist campaign contributions determine in every way who can be a candidate. The campaign contributors are like gardeners they decide which “flowers” (candidates) will be planted, if there are challengers they are treated as weeds and pruned or sprayed to kill them off. As an example George Soros has given $6,000,000 to Hillary’s Priorities USA Action PAC , gardener Soros wants the the Hillary Flower to grow by whatever means possible. Another big contributor (gardener) to the PAC is James Simons with two donations totaling $7,000,000. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cmte=C00495861&cycle=2016

    The selected or slated candidate by the party can drown out the opposition through TV, Radio or direct mailers. The party apparatus on election day will mobilize to hand out flyers to make sure you the voter knows who to vote for.

    You see many polls in politics. I have never read about or seen a poll that breaks down political contributions by ethnic group, annual income or net worth or age. Many of these big contributors to either the campaign or a PAC can donate more money than most of us earn a lifetime. Just to give you perspective if you earned in take home pay $60,000 per year over 35 years you would have taken home $2,100,000.

  17. “There have been a number of signs during this unending primary season that the GOP’s “old reliable” tactic of focusing on social issues is no longer the sure-fire bet…” Sheila Kennedy

    And, I agree totally and believe that John Boehner, speaking before a forum at Stanford University yesterday, put the icing on that cake when he was questioned about the 2016 election and Cruz, “Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner said about Cruz. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

  18. Pete, the word is spelled ‘rein’, as in “…until the government reins it in.” Queen Elizabeth ‘reigns’ over her subjects. Jus’ sayin’.

    Happy Birthday, JoAnn! Sorry the wishes are late in coming.

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