#2 Regime Change, America 2024
Trump's disastrous error. Why it's in AOC's interests to challenge Old Joe. Dynamics of 2024. Elite polarisation, Cicero & fishponds. Professor Sides' book on 2020. A request & offer...
‘If you don't agree with them politically, you can't just agree to disagree — they think you're crazy.’ Cormac McCarthy, America’s greatest living novelist, living with the Left in Santa Fe.
‘Party associations are not based upon any established law nor do they seek the public good, they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest…’ Thucydides Book III.
‘[Trump] may not be good for America but he’s damn good for CBS’. CEO of CBS.
‘It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure… But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis — broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.’ FDR’s 1933 Inaugural Speech telling Congress: get in line or else.
A few weeks ago in September I went to the US and talked to Republicans, Democrats, tech people. Below are some thoughts on:
Trump & DeSantis
Why it’s in AOC’s interests to run and why this could knock Biden out, like LBJ in 1968
DEM errors in 2016/20 and what sort of DEM campaign would help Trump
Some dynamics of 2024 including elite polarisation
Professor Sides’ new book on 2020
Summary and some basic action if you want to avoid Trump again
A post is imminent on ‘rationalism in politics’, part of a series on the rot of conservatives and what could replace them.
In September 2021 I wrote about American political dynamics. The main points were:
‘After the 2020 election, as usual with the political media they swung from one emotional wave (Trump is the end of the world) to another (Biden is brilliant) with little sense of realism... Biden is rubbish relative to the level of Bill Clinton or Obama... And he’s old, mentally frail (putting it kindly), clearly even less up to the job than in the 1980s, and getting older/frailer. Biden will be an even worse candidate in 2024 than he was in 2020.’
‘Mid-terms almost always lead to losses for incumbents. Many structural factors make it hard for the Democrats to keep control. And many structural factors have pulled and will pull Biden towards positions that will alienate millions. For example, those who work in Democrat campaigns are much younger, much more educated and much more left than the median voter. They routinely push Democrat candidates to do things that are objectively irrational from the perspective of winning, such as running ads against Trump that actually help Trump... As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, if Obama gave some of his 2007-8 speeches now he’d be cancelled by his own activists.’
The next US Presidential cycle starts by Christmas 2022 at the latest. ‘Trump has good reasons to run again. Structural factors mean Trump, despite being Trump, will start close. His chances of winning in 2024 are, now, higher than most realise, partly because the media exaggerated the competence of the Biden administration in its zeal to trash Trump…. He has a lot of data, a lot of activists and a lot of people scared/wary of him. The GOP lost the plot and shows no sign of regaining it. While he’s always capable of blowing himself up, he could also, as of now, easily win the nomination again.’
Biden v Trump 2 is a nightmare. Both can only fail. ‘[Trump] demonstrated no interest in actually controlling the government. He didn’t drain even a corner of the swamp, he just annoyed it.’ And he hasn’t shown signs of learning why he failed and lost.
‘The Democratic Party is firmly in the grip of a generation of activists deranged by Ivy League insanity, BLM etc. It will not be able to focus usefully on serious issues until that mad energy has burned itself out…’
‘So, the most important thing for the next [non-Trump] GOP candidate and their team to appreciate is this: if you want to have a serious effect, if you want to have a chance of dealing with serious crises, if you want to bend the arc of culture rather than just have a cool-sounding job, then you should generally not be trying to ‘take over the institutions and run them’, you should not develop a traditional ‘reform’ agenda, instead, like Lincoln and FDR, you need to be the once-every-~70 years sort of a President who actually controls the government… This means appointing people to many parts of DC not to ‘reform’ the department/agency but to close it while someone else runs the startup to replace it (if it needs replacing) operating on completely different legal and management principles and staffed by completely different sorts of people.’
There should be a GOP project to build an alternative to Trump now, DO NOT WAIT for the midterms and Trump’s announcement.
In other blogs this year I’ve made some further points, e.g on abortion:
The facts, yes FACTS, show that one of the reasons Trump won in 2016 is he seemed the most moderate GOP candidate in a long time (don’t believe me, check out David Shor’s data). Yes, the media said he was ‘really extreme’ but the public disagreed, another case of Insiders-really-interested-in-a-campaign fooling themselves over a core fact about public opinion because it did not fit Insider narratives. For example, Trump was, highly unusually for a GOP candidate (but normal for someone famous in NYC), relatively liberal on abortion and closer to the median voter.
Fast forward… The Supreme Court has knocked down Roe. It will be up to the states.
Many DEMs are now pushing for a policy of roughly ‘all abortions are legal right up to immediately before birth’. This is an extreme position not supported by most people.
NB. Biden started the 2020 campaign with a more popular policy on abortion and changed it to a less popular position because of pressure from his staff (a great example of my repeated advice that if you think politicians are *really trying to win elections* you’re usually wrong, they’re usually optimising for more short-term aims than ‘win election’). The DEM activist and donor base will push elite figures to extreme views away from the median voter.
If he runs, Trump may win his nomination easily without having to argue much about abortion.
He could have far more freedom to have a policy for the general election a) much closer to what he has said in the past and b) closer than the DEM candidate to the median voter.
So the 2024 general election might see Trump campaign with a more moderate and popular abortion policy than the Democrats, who may well have a new candidate who has had to fight through the primaries and has adoped a policy optimised to neutralise attacks on the stage during debates.
This would not even rate as surprising after the last five years of politics. Will Trump do it? Nobody knows including Trump. He’s not great at politics and may well prefer the lazy/easy-life approach of roughly articulating the view of his base.
In April, I stressed that many in the DEM-Bubble (i.e Congress, activists, media supporters etc) think Trump is disqualified with GOP voters by ‘the coup’ but GOP voters don’t agree:
I was talking to someone in America doing focus groups with GOP primary voters recently. Their conclusion: media attacks on [Trump] are discounted as lies, the ‘insurrection’ will not be a knockout weapon in the primaries, they think he did a great job on the economy, most think the DEMs tried to cheat the election and may have succeeded, if he runs he wins the nomination. Their biggest criticism? ‘He kept being a dick on Twitter, if he got off his phone he woulda won.’
We are partly reaping what the media sowed — lies about Trump on an industrial scale, e.g their cooperation with ex-CIA over the Hunter Biden laptop and lies about ‘Russian disinformation’. A harvest of this disaster is that now millions are inoculated against the truth on Trump because they assume whatever the media says is ‘more lies’. Meanwhile swing voters think Biden is rubbish, an old man out of his depth.
Re the DeSantis row over teaching kids about sex changes and the DEMs inability to handle such things sensibly:
I don’t know but strongly suspect that the median voter will think something like ‘I don’t want my four-year old kid being talked to about sex, gays, trans, sex change operations at nursery/school, and I REALLY don’t want school normalising the idea of sex change operations for kids’. But what would happen to a DEM candidate who articulates the view of the median voter? A big effort to cancel them. Biden is hardly ‘far left’ yet he clearly feels constrained in resisting the tide.
Bismarck said that, were an Ephialtes to arise in Germany, the liberal middle classes would unite to crush him. Similarly if a 1992-Clinton-style candidate arose in America with an agenda for growth and ruthlessly targeted at the median voter, the liberal activist class and media would probably unite to crush them, install a BLM-supporting fanatic who wants to insist that ‘trans rights’ is an all-important issue (rather than an extremely trivial one), wade into every row about sex in schools, and objectively improve the chances of Trump or Ted Cruz winning.
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