Strategy and Delusion

This political season just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

As Indiana voters prepare to cast ballots in tomorrow’s primary, we are coming to grips with the fact that there is an unreal reality-TV personality leading the GOP field–a lead largely attributable to the repulsiveness of his nearest competitor. (I mean, when have we ever heard a Presidential candidate described by members of his own party as “Lucifer” and ” a miserable son-of-a-bitch”? When have we ever heard a U.S. Senator explain his  endorsement of that candidate as a choice between a gunshot to the head or poison? Because there might be an antidote to poison…)

Every day brings a new “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment. Last week, it was a story from Talking Points Memo, outlining the Trump campaign’s strategy for going after Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

Are you done laughing hysterically?

There are two ways to analyze the Trump plan. The approach most favorable to the Trump campaign begins with the thesis that Americans are irremediably ignorant. (It isn’t that farfetched; after all, the fact that Trump is winning the GOP nomination is pretty compelling evidence that a significant percentage of the population is missing a few synapses.) Sanders is attracting angry voters, Trump is attracting angry voters, ergo, Sanders’ voters will move to Trump.

If, however, as I believe (and devoutly hope!), Americans really aren’t that far gone, the notion that Bernie’s supporters would even consider Trump is ludicrous.

The rap on Bernie is that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his campaign’s goals: greater social equity, more government transparency, fairer treatment for marginalized constituencies, a higher minimum wage, free university, more equality….in short, despite the decibels at which he delivers his message, the message itself is a kinder, fairer, gentler world–an aspirational social justice writ large.

The rap on Trump is that he doesn’t have positions on most of these issues (or, apparently, even know some of them exist), but to the extent he does, his goals are exclusionary and bigoted: deport immigrants, reject Muslims, put women back in the kitchen (unless they’re good-looking, in which case they can work–albeit for less pay than men), piss on America’s allies and assume the role of world bully. Trump’s goals–to the extent he can articulate any– are dangerous, mean-spirited, uninformed and frequently unconstitutional, and his rhetoric consists of playground-level insults.

Some of the people supporting Bernie may not like Hillary Clinton. Some of the more rabid among them may even stay home in November–unthinkable as I find that. (I also doubt that Bernie has Ralph Nader’s monumental ego and willingness to screw the country to service it.) But a strategy based on the notion that people rallying for economic justice and fundamental fairness can be convinced to go to the polls and vote for Donald Trump is just further evidence that Trump’s narcissism has overpowered his already tenuous connection to reality.

If there ever was such a connection.


  1. I have actually heard some Bernie supporters say they are considering voting for Trump. It’s a real thing. And shows me that they are clearly NOT all that concerned about actual policies.

  2. I have this feeling that the GOP will not allow either one of the current clowns to take the nomination even though they are making noise as if they intend to. I predict the convention will erupt in a fracas ( or is it a ruckus?) when the crazy delegates start throwing their tantrums and insist on their guy being the nominee. It wasn’t that long ago that same scenario occurred in the Democrat party and it wasn’t pretty.

    The GOP is dying and they will go out kicking and screaming; and it will all be on every news program and cable channel for us witness.

  3. Sheila,
    I am not so sure of your conclusion. I live in a retirement community so I am surrounded by what most would consider old folks. There are only two signs I have seen: Trump and Sanders.
    Moreover, the Sanders supporters are so sure of the darkness of American politics and their keen insight that they do see Trump as better alternative than Hillary.
    The consistent view from the Left as of late is that any failed experiments of ideology (latest example Chavez in Venezuela) were because of darkness of American politics, obviously not the support from the American Left.
    All I am saying is there is a consistency in ideology in this circle of thinking and I think Trump will gain Sanders voters after Hillary is the nominee.
    It is Trump’s narcissism that strikes a chord.

  4. How often did we hear during Barack Obama’s campaigns that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his campaign goals? Well; those that were not accomplished were primarily due to the Republican Congress. Hopefully…and all we can do is hope…that Democratic and Independent voters learned from those election losses that their votes DO COUNT. Without a major turnover in both House and Senate, neither Democratic nominee stands a chance even if elected.

    While I do not watch Trump as he suddenly appears on my TV screen countless times each day; I have noticed a slight change in his demeanor. He now seems to have that condescending, superior expression carried by George W at each public appearance…as if Trump knows something the rest of us are not privy to. Deaf and hearing impaired people notice visual signs often missed by those with the ability to hear. Body language and facial expressions speak loudly to us.

    On my street there are now 4 Trump yard signs (plus the 2 four blocks away); two belong to Catholics; this confuses me deeply because Trump doesn’t have Christian bone in his head. I knew they were Republicans but…this confounds all reason regarding intelligent people I have known more than eleven years. As Alice said, “It is curiouser and curiouser!” But I certainly do not feel I am in Wonderland but rather on the edge of Hell with the ground crumbling under my feet.

    My polling place has changed this election; I hope this doesn’t mean problems when I get there tomorrow morning to vote for Bernie and John Gregg in the middle Republicanville. Wish me good luck!

  5. If you love your child, sometimes when he/she misbehaves, you have to punish him/her. We had a chance to vote for a true progressive who is not bought by big money interests and even marched with Dr. King in the 60s. Instead, we went for the dishonest, pandering, pro-big-business war hawk. A Hillary administration would continue and prolong our nation’s slow decline. A Trump presidency would crash it straight into the ground so we could finally start trying to rebuild. That’s why I am considering voting for Trump.

  6. Anonymoose, What makes you think that if the country crashes straight to the ground that it will not crush you and yours in the process?

  7. In the last several months I have had direct contact with a lot of Sanders supporters and none I have met would think of supporting Trump. We may go Green or write in, but most of us won’t support Clinton or Trump. We have more sense than that.

  8. Tomorrow I will vote for Bernie, not as a vote AGAINST Hillary, but a vote FOR the honesty, ideas and possibilities of Bernie. In the fall, if it is Hillary vs. Trump (or whoever) I will still not FOR Hillary, but vote AGAINST Trump or whoever. Yes, in November Hillary will get my vote, and then I will prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

  9. I have read a lot in the comment sections ( because I am a glutton for punishment) and have spoken to a fair number of what I would classify as moderate Republicans and those folks will vote for Bernie but the hate for the Clintons is so palatable they will not vote for another Clinton. I’m 47 and all I know is divisive politics and hate mongering which really seemed to get its start when Bill Clinton became president.

  10. I have lived thru 20 presidential elections and America 🙂 is still here regardless of the winner.
    and Anonymoos, good choice of a name. Irvin

  11. Well, for all of you who aren’t scared yet of Trump, check out Andrew Sullivan’s latest article in New York Magazine. Trump as soon to be Tyrant, based on a part of Plato’s Republic. It’s long (as Sullivan tends to be), but a very interesting read.

  12. Theresa Bowers you said it best. Why will those stating they will not vote for Hillary or not vote at all if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination understand that their inaction will GIVE THE ELECTION TO TRUMP OR CRUZ…or any other GOP fool hiding in their woodpile. That is how we LOST Congress in 2009, beginning the loss of rights, shutdown of U.S. government and enforced religious beliefs through laws depriving us of civil and human rights as Americans. This country is in worse condition regarding an entirely different set of issues than when we elected President Obama who had to deal with Bush’s leavings of wars and financial ruin. It is imperative to keep the White House and as much of Congress out of the hands of GOP as possible. That cannot be accomplished by sitting at home pouting because they didn’t get their way. WE ARE FIGHTING FOR THE SURVIVAL OF AMERICA AND AMERICAN RIGHTS AT THIS TIME. You cannot pick up your marbles and go home because you don’t get your way – this is when you fight harder. You may have to lose a battle to win the war.

    Would those detractors refuse surgery to remove a terminal cancerous growth because it would leave a scar? Consider the current Republican presidential hopefuls and the current Congress as that terminal cancerous growth because they will cause the death of our value system and make the Bill of Rights, Constitution and Amendments null and void. The answer for those who will not vote for Hillary or not vote at all would refuse life saving surgery and think they have won the war when they have actually declared war on themselves and the rest of the country.

  13. I remember how many Republicans crossed over in the 2008 primary to vote for Barack Obama because they hated Hillary Clinton and would do anything to keep her out of office. They were certain that Obama had no chance at all of winning in the general election, so voting for him as a vote against her would be safe. Ha ha! That was so much fun to watch. But prepare for the possibility of seeing some Bernie supporters make the same misstep by voting for Trump in November. Hillary is widely despised, even among progressives.

  14. FYI…I’m a Sanders supporter, have been for a couple of years, but I will vote for Clinton, but then again I am a Democrat…the lesser of the two evils. It is not always voting someone into office as it is keeping someone out.

  15. Greetings RN. Read some history of U.S. politics and you will see that hate mongering in politics and religion is as old as our history. And I would guess as far back in time when we were still in trees. 🙂 irvin

  16. Vote Blue – No matter who.
    Is it true that Denny Hastert is on the short list for Trump VP?

  17. I am a progressive. I’m also a pragmatist. The people who are excited about Bernie now were excited about Barack 8 years ago. That excitement didn’t last through the 2010 election and certainly didn’t carry into the 2014 election. You can’t just care every leap year.

    Those of you who think that HIllary is akin to the devil are mistaken. She is and always was a progressive, but she is aware that sometimes tough choices have to be made to avoid having even worse policies become law.

    If you think you’ll stay home or vote for Trump or an alternative, you will risk having both houses of Congress and the Presidency in the hands of Republicans. Then everything will be on the auction block. National Parks sold. Highways leased. Tax collection (what little there will be of it) privatized, probably to your local loan shark.

  18. I have appreciated Bernie’s honesty and his strong character. He has never swayed from his principles and that is such an admirable quality for an American politician to possess. The main issue I have with his ideals is free college for all. Serious changes need to be made to reduce the cost of a college education, but I don’t believe it should be free.

    As he makes most of his appearances at colleges I can’t help but wonder if his messages to the younger generation are sparking a future demand for change in our politics. They are a kinder and gentler generation and may be so fed up with the bigotry and hatred in our country that they will force us into being a kinder nation. I do hold out hope for that to take place.

    While I am a Bernie supporter at heart, I see him being more obstructed by Congress than even Obama. The older white male politicians would not stand for someone to so openly condemn the power they have enjoyed for the entire life of our country.

    I will be voting today and do not yet know if I will vote for Bernie or Hillary. I believe, as do so many others, that Hillary will be the Democratic party nominee, but I just haven’t decided if I will cast my vote for her in the primary. I do believe she is the most qualified candidate, but wonder if she will really stand up against Wall Street as our president.

  19. Happy to be voting for Clinton, but I will vote for Bernie if I must in November. That doesn’t seem likely, however, so it is my job to campaign against hatred until the general election. I canvassed all weekend, and found that the majority of Democrats in our state will vote Blue in the general. I still have hope.

  20. Amazingly, I have watched, listened and read some of the “pundits” all admit Hillary has been forced to the Left on issues like TPP, Keystone Pipeline and minimum wage because of Bernie Sanders. Once Sanders is defeated she can set course back to the Right. The duplicity of Hillary does not bother them in the least or the Hillary Bots. Hillary is like a WW 2 convoy she needs to reach the port Crony-Capitalism but she she has to zig-zag in route.

    The Clinton Foundation Saudi Arabia has been a particularly generous benefactor to the Clinton Foundation, giving at least $10 million since 2001, according to foundation disclosures. At least $1 million more was donated by Friends of Saudi Arabia, co-founded by a Saudi Prince. Saudi Arabia is hardly the gold standard for human rights.

    What bothers me the most about the Clinton’s is their complete dedication to achieving power and along the way lining their own pockets, i.e., the speaking fees. If need be I will find a Socialist Candidate to vote for in November rather Hillary or Trump.

  21. Nancy; I totally agree with you about Bernie’s view of free college for all. I do agree with President Obama’s plan to return the higher tax rate on wealthy and closing tax loops on big business to provide free tuition for community colleges. The addition costs being up to them would still make it an expensive education – books alone would do that. Of course we need a new Congressional makeup which would agree to those tax benefits to provide the assistance for community college educations. Somewhere in the distant future – maybe.

  22. I wish I could agree with you, but I have seen too many postings by rabud Bernie supporters that their hatred of Hillary is so strong that they will, indeed, vote for Trump.

  23. I appreciated your thoughtful columns, Ms. Kennedy. I’m sorry to say, I have concluded that those who will vote for Trump or Sanders, or who already have are simply not well educated on our system of government, nor our constitution that created and provides for it. Whether this is the fault of the way we educate our children, our own failure to educate ourselves, or our willingness to be easily influenced by the bright and shiny matters not. Both Trump and Sanders appeal to our anger and prejudice. Thus, both would lead us to the tyranny for which we are evidently begging. To vote GOP anything is unthinkable. I’m sticking with the Obama coalition by voting for Mrs. Clinton, and praying that it holds together. I have lost more “friends” over this decision than I ever knew I had to begin with.

  24. From the campaign signs in Hamilton County, a traditional bastion for the establishment Republican party, my husband and I are thinking the death of the Tea Party is imminent. When our next door neighbors, both PhD chemists employed in research and development, placed a Trump sign on their property, we began to take notice.

    Yesterday while running errands that took us through Westfield, Fishers, and Carmel, we noted an extremely large number of Trump signs and also noted that we saw no Cruz signs, not even one. When Hamilton County does not show visible signs of supporting the current Republican establishment candidate, an evangelical Tea Party type, then something is going on and definitely is weird. But, maybe a good kind of weird that gives hope for the demise of the Tea Party evangelical uber social conservatives.

  25. I attend a group at our Senior Center in a county so red there was no one on the Dem ballot last year. In January those ladies said they dislike Trump and find Cruz scary. They were trying to decide whether to vote for a Drmocrat or not at all in November. The prevailing belief is that you don’t get to gripe if you don’t vote. I may even end up voting Republican in the Primary as there’s a commissioner that needs my vote. I flip flop back and forth between Hillary and Bernie. When I think about voting based on foreign policy experience, I may vote for Her.

  26. What I am reading from among my fellow contributors this pre-primary day is that, variously, they will vote for Trump, Bernie, Hillary, Cruz et al. This is our Democratic primary and Hillary has already won the nomination, so the only real argument still on the table is who we will vote for in the fall. Trump has successfully bullied the RNC and he will be her opponent. This is the guy who trashes our allies, dislikes women, Muslims, or anyone else he may perceive to be adverse to what he has in mind for governing. He has stated he is against a raise in the minimum wage, that wages are generally too high, and never has he said that he will support a living wage, a fact those who support him have ignored. Someone tell me when billionaires were ever anxious to raise wages and thus costs to their corporate friends. Trump is full of self-contradiction, even within the same speech, and as a result no one knows what he will do if given the power. As I often write, the man needs a shrink, not a vote. A withheld vote for Hillary is a vote for Trump, and a vote for Trump is a vote for the dark unknown. He has as yet failed to set out a substantive program for America, and a “trust me – I’ll let you know” promise from a man in need of psychiatric help doesn’t fill the bill – and certainly will not get my vote.

    Yes, Hillary has political warts and moles from her years in public service, but so does every other candidate of both parties at this late stage. However, she is a progressive and I am going to vote for her. I don’t know what Trump is or what he stands for; and apparently neither does he, which may help explain how he begins every speech with how he is slaughtering his opposition, how they should quit, and the rest of the speech peppered with “I, me, our” bragging and various other insults of Democrats, Republicans,the “crooked” system etc. Nowhere do I hear sober discussions of changes to be make in the tax code, corrections of wage inequality, how we will deal with ISIS etc. To reiterate, I don’t know what he stands for, and if he does, he should let the voters know so they can form an opinion on whether to vote for him or Hillary.

    I am voting for the far more experienced Hillary in the fall. I know her track record.

  27. Gerald E Stinson, I hear what you’re saying, and I’ve entertained similar thoughts. Do we vote for the Devil we know, or do we vote for the Devil we don’t know? Pretty sad when we’re left with choosing among candidates who engender so little trust.

  28. The GOP has been running against Hillary for 20 years mostly by lying about her but as expected in politics some of the mud sticks. Bernie is campaigning not on what’s factual as much as what’s different between he and her which is that nobody really expects him to win so only small time bettors invest. Nobody has even claimed that she’s not fully qualified for the job. IMO she’s the only qualified one running. Bernie is my hero for restoring liberal luster, but it will take a no nonsense hardball politician to get done what needs to be.

  29. BTW, everybody who contributes to a political campaign expects benefits to result. The line between functional and dysfunctional is how personal is the benefit.

  30. Trump is everything negative that has been said about him; however, in addition to negative, Cruz appears evil to me. He seems so desperate for power and conveys that he is willing to do or say anything to achieve it. Trump seems like a megalomaniac with some social skills. Cruz just seems like a maniac with no redeeming qualities.

    He is the incarnation of the republican scorched earth campaign and does it without a hint of conscience. Cruz is much more dangerous than Trump.

    I’m voting democrat.

  31. Irvin…I know there have always been divisiveness in politics. The difference is the creation of the 24 hour news cycle introduced initially by CNN in the 80’s and the media’s need to entertain us with salacious news. It seems to have gotten worse over the past 2 decades. The other exacerbation is the computer and all of the social media sharing…. I often wonder if the first person or organization regrets adding the comment section. The comment section seems to be the place where people can be as hideous as they want.

    Even if you try to tune out some of the nasty it has become so prolific in every aspect of our culture it still comes through. I think that is the difference. People did not hear of JFK’s affairs (if he had them), Bill Clinton’s became its own reality television show. I just think TV in its efforts to fill time for 24 hours a day and social media has exacerbated the divisiveness causing most people to just be pissed most days.

  32. Thanks Nancy; tried to reach the site but only got a message that it could’t be found.

  33. Thanks Nancy; the problems appear to, as always, go to the student loan debt. The facilities are needed in different areas of the state; probably could have used better planning initially but higher education is more necessary now than ever before and easy access would be a plus. And now, more than ever before, it is beyond the financial reach of the majority of those seeking to better their situation.

  34. There is nothing so scandalous about uses of rude, even profane and obscene by presidents themselves, “Lucifer” being quaint in terms of trademark racial slurs of USA proper nouns used since only 1790 on property sites, including published ones daily or frequently on school grounds. Even the most polite registers of “white” voters’ forms have crude “maiden name” or “race” categories from English folk uses. Free paper. And that “Who’s yer” is not absent in court workers preparations. Weird is no more a professional word than folk English, too. And New Yorkers? We used to hear from classmates and family members about how rude is their non-verbal language. A friend from Brooklyn and I were eating together in Bloomington when a waitress lowered the plated food so quickly and roughly that my friend said, What are you majoring in, New York? From movie ratings of the 1960s ads, we have moved into viewing silence as preferable to even NCAA game attendance now. Or GAA-BAA letter credit games. I do not mind as a reading graduate anyway, not a big commercial television watcher except censored by editors. Same as texts and workbooks K-12. A person can simply vote FOR his or her choices for job applicants anytime. I would rather hear something like “Give ’em hell, Harry, for a school board set on primary tickets, than more of the bipolarizing bashing or iconoclasticism.

  35. According to a Washington State Senator, more than 1400 USA sites have been given proper nouns designations 1800 through violent battles and wars as having no effect on voters. Many voters are not even grounded in Indiana’s geography and geology resources. Most are spending a third of their income on education and construction contracts that are not good for a 50-year working career, with only updates required, not more bachelors’ degrees, same places. Laws in force and enforced in the community school populations are not party political budgets.

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