|Today I’ll be speaking at an event at The Cato Institute on the question of What Happened to the Tea Party – I hope you can attend or stream it here. http://vlt.tc/2aqo
THE RULING CLASS IS KING GEORGE III:
The unanticipated showstopper midway through the first act in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is Jonathan Groff as King George III. The actor – better known for his stints on Glee and voicing Kristoff in Frozen – emerges on stage in a massive white fur-fringed red cape topped with a golden crown before launching into a Brit-pop number that is, essentially, a breakup song. “You say / The price of my love’s not a price that you’re willing to pay / You cry / In your tea which you hurl in the sea when you see me go by / Why so sad? / Remember we made an arrangement when you went away / Now you’re making me mad / Remember, despite our estrangement, I’m your man / You’ll be back, soon you’ll see / You’ll remember you belong to me / You’ll be back, time will tell / You’ll remember that I served you well / Oceans rise, empires fall / We have seen each other through it all / And when push comes to shove / I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.”
Replace battalion with Super PAC, and you have the message of America’s political elite to the nation. The 2016 cycle has seen an utter collapse of the established order of things. The assumptions of consultants, of political scientists of elected officials, of endorsers and endorsees, of organizations and candidates and parties have all been cast aside. The general tenor of conversation among the elites today is not “what should we do,” but “how did this happen.” They realized too late that the rebellion on the right was a real thing, not a celebrity fling. And on the left, they are waking up to the fact that their favored candidate is weaker than they ever could’ve imagined.
2016 ought to bring about a reshuffling of the deck for America’s ruling class. The expert analysts are not that expert or that good at their jobs. They are in their positions, it turns out, not due to merit, but because of the right positioning, the right agent, the right promotional strategy. There has basically been one well-run campaign this cycle – Ted Cruz’s – which uses advanced voter analytics to do traditional GOTV. Everyone else seems to have spent a great deal of money to no good effect.
Politics is a business often insulated from the ramifications of failure. Like an ESPN commentator who is always wrong, the commentariat and the consultant class are not penalized for making mistakes with the frequency of people who pick stocks or games in Vegas. But the mistakes made this cycle are going to resonate because they reveal how distant the ruling class was from the people – that they might as well be separated by an ocean. If you are someone who lives in and among the elite, ask yourself if you know anyone legitimately supporting the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination – people who think Donald Trump is a good leader, or that Ted Cruz is a good man. If the answer is no, re-examine whether the knowledge you bring to this race is accurate, or skewed by the bubble that surrounds you, which kept suggesting all the way to the end that Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio could happen. Because they are not going to happen.
Later on in the musical, the post-war king re-emerges to mock the ability of the newly liberated colonies to govern themselves. “What comes next? / You’ve been freed / Do you know how hard it is to lead? / You’re on your own / Awesome. Wow / Do you have a clue what happens now?” Our country doesn’t know, but most of our elites don’t know, either. That makes for an uncertain future, one with the potential for chaotic upheaval. That’s what freedom looks like sometimes.
WHY IT’S TIME FOR MARCO RUBIO TO FOLD:
Even Jen Rubin agrees. http://vlt.tc/2b6z Dan McLaughlin. http://vlt.tc/2b6t “My argument here is not that Rubio should just slink away, but that he should use the leverage he has right now to cut a deal to be Ted Cruz’s running mate. Why should Rubio want to do this?
“First, a VP deal keeps him on the trail and in the public eye in a way that an endorsement or quietly dropping out would not – while most of the other dropped-out candidates have vanished from sight, Rubio’s status as VP-nominee-in-waiting would ensure him more press coverage (especially for a role as attack dog against Trump) than the usual campaign surrogate. If Cruz is the nominee, it keeps Rubio on the national stage for the rest of 2016. That alone not only keeps him visible, but keeps him plugged in to a national network of donors, and allows him to build ties to Cruz’s superior campaign organization – all assets he could use in a future campaign even if 2016 ends badly. Sure, losing VP candidates have had a rough go in the past (aside from people like Mondale who had actually been VP, since 1900 only FDR became president after being the VP on a losing national ticket, although Bob Dole would come back to become Senate Majority Leader and a presidential nominee and Paul Ryan would become Speaker of the House), but Rubio is young and gifted and likely to avoid some of the differing pitfalls that did in figures as diverse as Sarah Palin, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman.
“Second, he could actually become the Vice President. That’s its own spot in the history books, and even if Cruz’s youth and clean ethical record mean there would be low odds of taking office mid-term, the VP job is not a bad one for guy with small children and a future. Cruz’s toxic relationships with Capitol Hill Republicans mean that a Cruz Administration would have great need for a good-cop ambassador to build bridges with Congress, a task Rubio is well-suited to, and unlike, say, John Kasich, he’s close enough philosophically to Cruz that he could expect to have a real role in the Administration and not just be the guy who goes to funerals. And Al Gore in 2000, Bush in 1988, Mondale in 1984, and Nixon in 1960 and 1968 all demonstrated the power that a sitting or former VP has in securing the nomination later on.
“Could a Cruz-Rubio ticket win? I have argued throughout this campaign, and continue to believe, that Rubio would be the best general election candidate for the GOP, giving us the best shot to win the White House and defeat Hillary Clinton. As far as polling is concerned, that’s true even in the latest general election polls taken after Super Tuesday. I won’t belabor that point here, as it is no longer relevant to consider Rubio as having a shot at the nomination. But Trump is a truly terrible general election candidate, whereas Cruz at least polls mostly around even with Hillary, is a disciplined, energetic candidate with a good organization, and could keep the party together and have a puncher’s chance. Adding Rubio to the ticket could only help drive home the contrasts between the GOP and Hillary Clinton. Certainly, you couldn’t count them out.
“Third, it’s mostly a no-downside play. The longer Rubio stays in the race, the more likely that Cruz supporters will blame Rubio rather than their own candidate if Trump beats Cruz (Ted Cruz is nothing if not an expert at convincing his supporters that he would have brought them victories if other Republicans had not betrayed him). If Rubio gets out now and Trump still beats Cruz, then after Trump’s inevitable defeat, Rubio would enter 2020 in a position to argue that Cruz had his head-to-head shot and lost due to the narrowness of his appeal. The same is true if Cruz is the presidential nominee – even moreso, because the party would undoubtedly conclude that a more moderate and/or likeable nominee was needed to win the next time, and Rubio could make a convincing case to conservatives that anybody else trying to fit that bill will be to his left. Either way, Trump will be gone, and Cruz would be weakened; Jeb and Kasich aren’t coming back in four years and Chris Christie has ended his career. There’s still a deep bench of other alternatives (Ryan, Haley, Walker, Jindal, Paul, etc.), but Rubio would be able to argue that he played the good soldier for Cruz, which has the double benefit of winning him back to the good graces of his supporters.”
VOTING AGAINST AMERICAN CONSUMERS:
David Harsanyi. http://vlt.tc/2b7i “Trump promises to bring third-world jobs back to an advanced economy, and millions of voters — left and right — find this emotionally satisfying and politically reasonable. Many of these people just want to find work, so it’s understandable. And when the economy is stagnant, you’re not going to allay working-class anxiety by pointing out that capital account surpluses matter more than trade deficits, or that productivity, not foreigners, is realigning the workforce. Even if it’s all true. People just don’t care.
“I do wonder, though, why there hasn’t been more political emphasis on Trump’s promise to make the products average Americans buy every day more expensive. That might matter to voters who are on the fence or haven’t been paying close attention.
“Do you like those affordable electronic goods? You know, those giant TVs, cheap laptops, and super pocket computers you’re walking around with? The prices of tech products and services have fallen over the past decade because of many policies Trump rails against. So while a lot of Americans might like the sound of forcing Apple to assemble phones right here in the United States, how would they feel about paying 100 dollars more (or whatever it is) every time they renewed a cell phone plan?”
HOW GARDENS CULTIVATE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE:
Joy Pullmann. http://vlt.tc/2b7o “In America, people created government to handle common concerns such as national defense and foreign trade specifically to free individuals to pursue their happiness in myriad ways. These men saw politics as a necessary evil, something to clear the way for them and their children to enjoy peaceful private pursuits. Many notable Americans farmed and gardened as a way to pursue the good life, which of course included meeting their bodily needs but also others such as character-building and intellectual development. Indeed, many of the founders thought working with one’s hands was necessary to shape one’s character into the virtue required for American-style self-government.
“Jefferson made no bones about it: “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness,” he said… Besides cultivating happiness and wonder at the natural world, gardening also facilitates other very American traits. These include friendship, a love for the unusual and spectacular, reverence for hard work, a love of exploration, self-reliance and personal responsibility, good-natured competition, generosity, experimentation, openness to new cultures and ideas, optimism, humility about the limits of human potential, and a goodwill between generations.
“Many of these virtues are slipping away from our culture, or transforming into defects, but gardening offers one small, simple way to begin reclaiming them. Let’s examine how.”
“We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera.” ― G.K. Chesterton