The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 12, 2020

It was supposed to be all over by Easter. But this weekend, the time that we were supposed to get back to work, brings us 2000 COVID-19 deaths on a single day, and a mass grave on NYC’s Hart Island. One thing we’ve learned is that Trump isn’t a clairvoyant:

When you leave late, you get there late:

It takes a team:

Wearing a red hat doesn’t make America great. What DOES make our country great is the dedication and drive to serve that’s demonstrated by so many of us. The American spirit doesn’t require fondling the flag, or bloviating in front of the media. Our first responders and our service workers make us proud to be Americans.

Vote by mail should be the answer:

In Washington State when you vote by mail, you retain a paper copy. The state can call the voter and ask them what their vote was, if necessary. You get a few weeks to decide on the issues and which candidate you prefer.

It’s not socialism if it helps you. If your check was passed by Republicans, it’s a STIMULUS:

Real life has become a scary movie:


Monday Wake Up Call – December 10, 2018

The Daily Escape:

The twin peaks of Ushba, Caucasus Mountains, Georgia – photo by Pflunt

Last week, Bernie Sanders was with Paul Jay on the Real News Network. The discussion was about how growing income inequality isn’t simply unfair. Bernie said:

Concentration of wealth in America causes concentration of political power.

Sanders had spoken at (his wife Jane’s) Sanders Institute in Vermont on Wednesday. In his subsequent interview, Bernie said:

But it is not just that the one tenth of 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90%. They don’t put their wealth underneath their mattresses….They use that wealth to perpetrate, perpetuate their power. And they do that politically. So you have the Koch brothers and a handful of billionaires who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into elections, because the Supreme Court gutted the campaign finance laws…and now allow billionaires quite openly to buy elections.

We all know that wealth equals political power. Sanders gave a great example:

Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, came to Congress a few years ago…after the taxpayers of this country bailed them out because of their greed and their illegal behavior…..These guys, after getting bailed out, they come to Congress. They say, you know what we think Congress should do is…cut Social Security, and Medicare, and Medicaid. And by the way, lower corporate tax rates and give more tax breaks to the wealthy. That’s power. That’s chutzpah. We have it all, we can do whatever we want to do.

He closes with this:

My vision is that we have got to have the guts to take on Wall Street, take on the pharmaceutical industry, take on the insurance industry, take on the 1 percent, and create an economy that works for all.

….We’re seeing great young candidates who didn’t wait on line for 20 years to get permission to run, but kind of jumped in and beat some long-term incumbents. They’re saying, hey, I come from the community. I know what’s going on in this community, and I’m going to fight for working people, and I’m not afraid to take on big money…..So a two-part approach…..we need to fight for our agenda. We need to elect candidates from the grassroots who…are going to implement that agenda.

Bernie is the best messenger about our urgent need to reform capitalism.

In a similar vein, Seth Godin wrote last week about what he calls “Linchpin Jobs”. These are jobs that few can do, and which contribute greatly to society. That’s an interesting concept, but Wrongo focused on his apt description of “Cog Jobs”, which anyone can do, and which can be done with little effort, or skills: (emphasis by Wrongo)

Industry offered a deal to the worker:

Here’s a job. We’ll pay you as little as we can get away with while still being able to fill the job. We’ll make sure it’s easy to find people for this job, because we don’t want you to have much in the way of power or influence….In return, you’ll work as little as you can get away with. That’s the only sane way to respond to the role of being a cog.

This is the dilemma that faces low-skilled workers today: They can find work, but they can’t live on what they make at only one job. Clearly, cog-like work doesn’t create nearly as much value as intelligent work, but not everyone can find a linchpin job, they’re rare.

Can the paradigm that concentration of wealth equals concentration of power be shifted? Is Bernie Sanders the next FDR? While Wrongo thinks we need a younger leader to reform capitalism, Bernie is the right messenger for reform. His effectiveness as a messenger is clear when we see that 70% of the American people now support Medicare for All, just two years after his 2016 campaign.

And the message is clear. Without reform, we’ll have to look our grandchildren in the eye, and say we’ve wrecked their future.

Time to wake up America! This is the signal issue of our time. The reform of Capitalism must be at the top of our agenda.

Whomever the Democrats nominate for president in 2020 has to be a person that can start America down the road toward reducing the concentration of both money and power in America.

The choice in 2020 will either be more Trump, or a Democrat.

We shouldn’t select another tepid corporate Democrat. They probably won’t win. If by some chance one wins, we’d have to watch as our society becomes even more unequal for the rest of our lifetimes.


Send Establishment Democrats to the Bench

The Daily Escape:

City Hall Subway Station, NYC – via @themindcircle

We live in disorienting times. Disorienting in that our society, and our values, are in motion. We are no longer anchored by social mores, beliefs, or any shared vision of the future. Our politics are evolving as well. We can’t simply blame Trump, or those who elected him for taking us to this scary place. The bipartisan consensus that’s ruled this country since the 1940s — neoliberal domestic policy, and neoconservative foreign policy ─ no longer produces the same results for our citizens that it has produced since the Eisenhower era.

Establishment Democrats bear some of the blame. And looking forward to the mid-terms and beyond, they have failed to do the simplest work — forming a worldview, then persuading others about their vision, and the steps to achieve it.

We can also blame establishment Republicans, but they have collapsed. The new right is much farther right, more authoritarian, and whiter. And who would have thought they would be the pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-DOJ, and (maybe not a complete surprise), the pro-police state party?

History shows that when society turns like this, the establishment parties can disappear, as did the Federalists and the Whig parties. And when one party changes, the other must as well. After Lincoln, neither the Republicans, nor the Democrats, were the same parties.

Perhaps it’s time to take these words in the Constitution to heart:

…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…

Therefore, if the Dems are to win back the hearts and minds of the people, regardless of what the banks and corporations want to do, Government must be the advocate for the People.

That requires that our political parties confront the banks, corporations, military contractors, and the other oversized creatures that feed at the government trough.

Is that something that the establishment Democrats (Wrongo likes calling them the “Caviar Dems”) are willing to do? They used to champion social and economic justice, but not so much today. Today, they follow the same neo-liberal economic policies that Republicans champion.

And with few exceptions, they are as neo-conservative on foreign policy as any Republican.

Republicans have undergone a different mutation. They celebrate the globalized economy, and support the domestic gig economy as a means of growing corporate profits. They still celebrate Christian values, so controlling Supreme Court appointments is their great achievement, along with ruinous tax cuts.

America’s corporate tax revenues are going down, while social and infrastructure costs keep rising. So far, under both parties, government has continued to spend money it doesn’t have. It borrows, and pretends that everything is under control.

Now, after 10 years of economic expansion, we continue to pile up deficits. What’s going to happen in the next recession? The truth is, we are poorer, and weaker, as a country than we think. But few politicians are willing to help us face reality.

We see both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic nominee for Congress in NY, describe themselves as socialists. But, in fact, that’s not what they are. Merriam-Webster defines socialism as:

Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective, or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Obviously, they hope to take over the corporate-friendly establishment Democratic Party, but if you call yourself a socialist, then, at a minimum, you need to advocate for government ownership of the means of production, i.e., industry. You’re only a socialist to the extent that you advocate that.

Will Bernie or Alexandria nationalize General Motors, Apple, or ExxonMobil? No.

Even advocating for “Medicare for all,” isn’t socialism. Neither Medicare, nor other single-payer programs like Medicaid, are really socialized medicine. No one is advocating for an actual government takeover of hospitals, or turning doctors into government employees. If they really wanted socialized medicine, their cry would be “VA for all,” not “Medicare for all.”

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are social democrats. In a social democracy, individuals and corporations continue to own the capital and the means of production. Wealth remains produced privately.

But taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much more muscular under social democracy than is the case under today’s neo-liberal economic system.

Joel Pett has a great illustration of the difference between Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez and Republicans:

It’s time for the Dems to change direction. Carry the “Medicare for all” banner proudly. Work to end income inequality. Work to add jobs for the middle class.

Send the establishment Democrats to the bench.


Pant Suit vs. Pant Load, Part III

(Note: this week there will be no Sunday Cartoon Blogging, since Wrongo will be visiting MA and PA through Sunday, returning on Monday.)

Wrongo and long-time blog reader Terry engaged in a short email dialog on how to “fix” the US political system. We were concerned that there is no individual Congressperson accountability. A backbencher can follow an agenda that can imperil our nation (and a few have done just that) without consequence.

But in America, accountability is managed by election district. Your only alternative is to round up enough votes to replace poor representation. So, if you wanted to reform the impact that money has in our politics, or the way the filibuster works in the Senate, you have to reform Congress.

Yet, under our Constitution, only Congress can reform Congress. And today, there are three parties vying for control of it, and since they rarely are willing to work with each other, not much gets done. So you can completely forget about Reform.

And the parties have not been willing to deal with the not-so hidden desperation in America that shows up in statistics like increasing opioid addiction and suicide rates. The political class ignores how lethal the US economy is for the less fortunate: The New York Times reported this week that US death rates have risen for the first time in a decade.

The increase in death rates among less educated whites since 2001 is roughly the size of the AIDS epidemic. One reason is the use of opioids. And, despite Mr. Obama’s speech in Elkhart, IN where he said our economy is doing well, there has been a spike in suicides to levels higher than during the 2008 financial crisis.

The little people know that the economic policies followed by both parties have brought income inequality to Gilded Age levels. They know that all of the post-crisis income gains have accrued to the top 1%. Unlike in China which continues to grow, our economic expansion has brought with it high unemployment and underemployment, particularly among the young.

As a result, people feel powerless. In fact, a RAND survey in January found that 86.5% of GOP voters who strongly identified with the statement “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does” were Trump supporters.

And, since so much of politics is about corralling money into the bank accounts of our politicians, your Congresspersons have no intention of listening to you unless you have given at least $10,000 to their campaign fund, or are the CEO of a major employer in their district or state. In US politics, money=speech. But, there is little meaning to free speech without free access to influence the political process.

Many of us feel nihilistic about our politics and our government. So the Pant Load’s support seems a lot like a form of public political vandalism where The Donald is the can of spray paint.

Most people can see that a large portion of Americans are poorer with each new election cycle. After all, the reason Trump (and Sanders) are doing well is because many, many workers are seeing their job security, income security, and retirement security all go up in smoke. That’s no mystery, just the natural outcome when the government fails to represent the people in favor of the rich who fund their campaigns. It’s no wonder the Pant Load is easily corralling the frustrated.

But can the Pant Suit reverse the Democratic Party’s abandonment of the working class in America?

We know that she needs to focus on drawing more potential working class and young supporters, but so far, Democrats are content to run only in their municipal strongholds, following a strategy of stitching together interest groups, largely in states with big urban populations.

Energizing people around the fact of our corrupt political system is both a way to get higher turnout, and a way to elect members of Congress and state legislatures to fix the corrupt system. That is Bernie’s message, what he calls a “political revolution.” But Sanders is not the person to bring this about. Consider Sanders just the messenger.

Strategically, the Pant Suit needs to figure out how to get folks energized enough to vote for her and against Trump for reasons that don’t so paralyze them with fear that they stay home. If she is successful, it could be the start of re-establishing the New Deal coalition, and a re-installation of the principles of the civil rights movement.

That’s a huge job that will not be completed in one election cycle.

This threat is the GOP’s worst nightmare. They have worked for 40 years to eliminate these ideas, so expect the GOP to unanimously support the Pant Load:

COW Never Hillary

The Bernie Dems will rally behind Hillary for similar reasons.

Trump/Arpaio 2016: Because immigrants are the greatest threat to the nation.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Super Bowl Edition

Today’s Super Bowl marks the end of the football season, but still overshadows the political silly season, that will be with us for what will seem to be a long, long time.

Things to look for in Super Bowl 50:

COW Superbowl 50a
“And, when we score a touchdown, make sure you know your assignments for the end-zone celebration.”

And what to look for in your living room:

COW Superbowl 50

But, even at the Super Bowl, the problem of football concussions isn’t going away:


So far, the Democratic race is between an idealist Grandpa and a wonk Grandma:

COW Grandpa Bern
In New Hampshire the political woods are full of free running saps:


Something not so super this week was this dickhead:

COW Shkreli


Will Hillary’s Campaign Strategy Win?

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”Mike Tyson

The primary season clown show has moved on to New Hampshire. Republicans will see more mud wrestling between Cruz and Trump, while Rubio, Kasich and Christie try to elbow their way in to be one of the top two by next Wednesday.

Iowa showed that the Democrats will have a tough time choosing between the candidates, both of whom will struggle to refine the message(s) they need to take to South Carolina and beyond in order to win the nomination. Like that great philosopher Mike Tyson says, now the top two in each party need to present a plan that connects with voters nationally.

Think for a minute about the messages that Hillary and Bernie have been running with:

Bernie is saying we should have (and can get):

• A single-payer health care system
• Universal pre-K and free college tuition at our state universities
• Guaranteed sick leave and vacation for every employee
• A minimum wage of $15/hour
• The big banks broken up, and Glass-Steagall reconstituted
• Our campaign finance system is reformed
• The super-wealthy should pay for it all

Hillary is saying we can’t get all that:

• We must focus on what can be accomplished, not what Sanders is proposing
• Single-payer is a nice idea, but is too politically toxic to be viable
• She agrees with Sanders about sick and maternity leave
• College shouldn’t be free for all, some should pay, mostly because their parents can afford it
• Breaking up the big banks isn’t the best way to address financial market risk
• $15/hour is too high a minimum wage, $12/hour is realistic
• Since Republicans will control at least one house of Congress next year, they’ll never vote for what Sanders proposes

Hillary is in a difficult position. She’s telling people that they can’t have the things they want. Every parent understands this, but Clinton is also saying: “his policies can’t win”, all the while she is thinking: “I can get some of this through Congress.”

That may not be a winning message, particularly if Sanders is still running in a dead heat with Clinton in April. His charm is that he’s not willing to settle for campaigning on a platform that is calibrated to work in our gridlocked politics.

So, will Hillary change if she can’t shake Bernie? And what would her new message be?

She needs to start by finding a way to relate to an electorate that has limited interest in politicians like her who speak for the status quo.

Today’s voters say that the status quo is unacceptable. In fact, that’s the only thing everyone in America seems to agree about right now. And since 60% of the Democratic delegates actually get selected in March, Clinton needs a message better calibrated to meet today’s political realities, or she risks losing the nomination, or winning it only after a fight that weakens her party.

It is true that if elected, either Clinton or Sanders will be in virtually the same place regarding what they can actually achieve. The big difference today is in the vision they are laying out, and whether the voters will buy it. Will they buy a president who articulates unobtainable goals and blames the .01%, or do they want a president who articulates modest, but still unobtainable goals?

Would the electorate buy that her insider status would bring about some (or all) of her goals?

Candidate Clinton is running primarily on her resume. She presents us with a CV of job titles, not accomplishments, and if there is a campaign persona that she is embracing, it is the idea of being a lifelong fighter. But will that be enough? From the 2/2 NYT:

…she still faces an authenticity problem, even among Democrats. Some 47% of likely Democratic primary voters said that they felt Mrs. Clinton said what voters wanted to hear, rather than what she believed. 62% said they believed Mr. Sanders said what he thought…

Clinton’s liabilities as a campaigner could be lessened by treating the campaign more like a struggle between opposing parties instead of one between political celebrities. Overall, she performs well enough as a candidate. She debates well, she interviews well.

Her argument should be: if you want to see the incomes of the middle class grow, if you want to retain Constitutional freedoms that are under attack by a conservative Supreme Court, if you want to keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs like Obamacare, if you want less foreign adventurism, then you have to vote Democratic regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton.

It’s sort of a vision.


Old Candidates, Young Voters

From Stu Rothenberg at Roll Call:

While the decision makers at news organizations…scramble to appeal to younger viewers, [the] Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.

How mature?

• Donald Trump will turn 70 next year
• Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 75
• Hillary Clinton will turn 69 a couple of weeks before the 2016 elections

There are younger Republican candidates: Ted Cruz is 45, and Marco Rubio is 44. The Democrat former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is 53.

According to a January 18-24 Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic voters, Sanders held a 78% to 21% lead among voters age 18 to 44 over Clinton. The younger O’Malley polls at just 2%.

On the GOP side, Trump and Cruz tied with voters age 18 to 44, each drawing 29%.

So, the networks are trying to attract the young voter demographic, while young voters overwhelmingly like a few of the older candidates. But, will younger voters actually vote? Their recent record isn’t reliable: Young voters turned out in big numbers in 2008 and then stayed home in record numbers in 2014. Did young Dems take a short nap in 2014 or have they turned their backs on democracy?

We don’t know for sure, but there is some bad news: Research by Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk shows growing disillusionment with democracy – not just with politics or campaigns, but with democracy itself: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

This growth is worldwide, but it is especially strong among young Americans. Fewer than 30% of Americans born since 1980 say that living in a democracy is essential. For those born since 1970, more than one in five describe our democratic system as “bad or very bad.” That’s almost twice the rate for people born between 1950 and 1970.

Foa and Mounk wrote in the NYT that political scientists are well aware that poll after poll shows citizens to be more dissatisfied than in the past. Yet they resist the most straightforward conclusion: that people may be less supportive of democracy than they once were. This raises a strange question: Could the political system in our seemingly stable democracy be heading for a fall?

Think about it. People say they like democracy less than they used to. While most Americans still have a deep emotional attachment to the Constitution, respect for the rules of our democracy are also eroding. The rise of politicians who are critical of key aspects of liberal democracy, like freedom of the press, or universal voting, or the rights of minorities, is even more disconcerting.

Citizens are aware of this disconnect. When asked by the World Values Survey to rate how democratically their country is being governed on a 10-point scale, a third of Americans now say: “not at all democratic.”

Let’s hope that this is a transient phenomenon. What explains the down-tick? It’s probably related to:

• Lack of optimism caused by stagnating incomes. This disproportionately effects the young.
• Rising income inequality, which effects all citizens.
• Attempts by the rich to game the political system, often through Super PAC donations.

In fact, the rich are now more likely to be critical of democracy than the poor. According to the World Values Survey, in 1995, less than 20% of wealthy Americans (those in the top income quintile) approved of having a “strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections”. Today, more than 40% support that view.

It’s not clear what young voters think is a better alternative to representative government, but who can blame them for not being enamored with their current political representation?

According to the US Census Bureau analysis of the voting population from 1964-2012 indicates a decrease in voting in all age groups, except for the 65 years and over group, who voted at nearly a 70% rate, while the 18-24 voted at 36% . But in 2008, 18-24 year olds did increase their numbers–the Obama factor.

Bottom line: If you want to make democracy work, you must get not only young people, but all the people who have given up on democracy involved again. But we cannot simply rely on charismatic individuals to help young voters awaken their political selves. We must restore their faith in democratic politics.

This is the very best argument for a Bernie-style political revolution.


Can Democrats Win the White Working Class Vote?

Last week, Robert Reich asked a question: Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

Before we get to his answer, let’s look at a few electoral facts:

• In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 56% of all white voters and won in a 44-state landslide.
• In 2012, Mitt Romney carried 59% of all white voters, yet lost decisively.
• In both 2008 and 2012, Republicans’ best result was with white voters without college degrees. They carried them by 14% in 2008 and 26% in 2012.

Reich offers two answers: First, that the Republicans skillfully played the race card from the 1960s through to today. Reich makes the point that in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party. And later, Ronald Reagan charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ while George HW Bush accused them of being soft on black crime (Willie Horton), and all Republicans say that Democrats use affirmative action to give jobs to less-qualified minorities over more-qualified whites.

Reich’s second point is that Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and in that time they largely abandoned the white working class, doing little to prevent the wealthy and powerful from rigging the economy for the benefit of those at the top. On the other hand, at the time Bill Clinton ran for president, the Democratic Party had lost three straight presidential elections and won only two out of the previous six. That political reality certainly had an effect on policy.

During the Obama years, Democrats did produce some weak tea for the middle class and the poor – including the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Reich goes on to indict our most recent Democratic presidents:

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well. They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class.

Reich says that partly as a result of NAFTA, union membership sunk from 22% of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12% today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

Finally, Dems turned their backs on campaign finance reform. After 2010’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the floodgates to big money in politics were opened. Reich again indicts Democrats: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the abandonment of campaign finance reform? You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.

Can the Democrats earn back the working class voter? Well, when the dogs won’t eat the dog food, it may be time to think about changing brands. Any competent politician knows that. When 45% of the electorate claim to be independents, something is wrong with both parties. The White Working Class is being ignored by the Democrats and is courted by the Republicans, although with less and less success, unless you happen to think that Donald Trump is a Republican.

What has the wage earning class gained from the Democrats? Social and economic betrayal. From the Republicans? War and economic betrayal. They watch jobs disappear to Asia, and see increased competition from immigrants. Many feel threatened by cultural liberalism, at least the type that sees white Middle Americans as Christian bigots and 2nd Amendment fanatics.

But they are also threatened by Republicans who would take away their Medicare, hand their Social Security earnings to fund-managers in Connecticut, and cut off their unemployment.

These are the reasons why Sanders and Trump are able to compete with the establishment elites of both parties. But nothing in politics is ever final. Democrats could still win back the white working class. They would need to:

• Have a vision that would create economic growth that was not based on trickle-down
• Build a coalition of the working class and poor, of whites, blacks, and Latinos, of everyone who has been or is currently being shafted by the shift in wealth and power to the investor class and the salaried class

Will Democrats stop obsessing over upper-income suburban voters, and end their financial dependence on big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy?

Probably not.


Why 2016 Won’t Be Like Any Other Election

If we add together the polling numbers of Trump, Sanders and Cruz, it’s clear that a majority of the electorate is ready for a president from well outside the political mainstream.

Start with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again“. It’s the first time in Wrongo’s memory that an explicit admission that America isn’t so great has been heard in an American presidential election. In a world where American Exceptionalism is settled dogma, how and why can a Republican say “we ain’t so great”, and be so successful?

Of course, that same dynamic also drives the willingness of voters to support the Democratic Socialist, Sanders. Bernie offers a different solution to the economic woes that the two parties have inflicted on us in the 35 years since we elected Ronald Reagan. Now, a substantial and very motivated part of the electorate on both the right and left, is telling pollsters that something different has to be on the table.

The old electioneering rules won’t work. We are in a time of anger and anxiety. Republicans go for the emotional jugular every day, while establishment Democrats are still trying to make points with a mix of policy, pragmatism and feel-good idealism. Democrats will have to decide whether they see the current political landscape as an opportunity to free themselves of these old terms of debate, or take full ownership of them moving forward.

Regardless of the GOP candidate, emotion will dominate their argument for the White House. John Michael Greer had an insightful piece last week about ways to look at voter motivations in America:

The notion [is] that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology. Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the lines of division in society that Americans like to talk about, whatever their attitudes to the people who fall on one side or another of those lines.

The axiom in politics is that voters in these “divisions” tend to vote as blocs, and campaigns are designed to bring the bloc to the candidate. That’s less true today. Greer takes a deep dive into today’s politics, suggesting the largest differentiator:

It so happens that you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they [earn] most of their income?

He posits that it’s usually from one of four sources: returns from investments, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income in one of those four ways have political interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investor class, a salaried class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

The old divisions, women, gay people, people of color, are found in all four income classes. Finally JMG has a killer thought: The political wave that Trump and Sanders are riding has roots in the answer to another simple question: Over the last half century, how have the four classes fared? The answer is that three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The wage class in particular has been destroyed. And the beneficiaries were the investor and salaried classes. They drove down wages, offshored production, and destroyed our manufacturing base. More from JMG:

I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class—the largest class of American voters…has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendancy of the salary class.

That pushback could become a defining force in American politics. The problem with that viewpoint is that their desired change is anti-business and anti-middle-class. And THAT change is not acceptable to those who control our politics, most of whom are squarely in the investor and salaried classes.

And a Trump candidacy is not the worst form it could take. If Trump is sidelined by another establishment type, a future leader who takes up the cause of the wage class could very well be fond of armbands or, of roadside bombs. Like the Bundy Brigade on steroids.

Once the politics of resentment becomes a viable strategy, anything can happen.

Read Greer’s analysis. Think about how the salaried class attack on Bernie as “socialist” might actually play out for Sanders, assuming he could analyze and communicate what is really going on here.

Think about how Hillary Clinton might stumble over the problems of the wage class, given her fervid support from the investor and salaried classes.

The usual fight for independent voters using conventional wisdom will not succeed in this political cycle.


Millennial Women Back Bernie

Today we continue our focus on the demographics of the 2016 presidential elections. We covered American millennials in December, and return to them again because a new USA Today/Ipsos poll finds that a third say they’re likely to vote in the Republican primaries, while 40% say they’re likely to vote in the Democratic primaries; 60% said they are likely to vote in November.

That means that 70% overall say they will vote in the primaries, but 10% fewer say they will vote in the general election. But that may be good news, since only about 50% voted in 2012, the same as in 2008.

The poll was taken just prior to the SOTU. From USA Today:

The top issue by far for millennials is the economy, including concerns about jobs, the minimum wage and paid leave. On that, millennials have the same pocketbook focus as baby boomers and Gen Xers.

An interesting finding was that voters age 18-35 are most likely to support outsider candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump:

Donald Trump easily leads the field among younger Republicans and independents, at 26%, but that is a lower level of support than the billionaire businessman now holds in the overall electorate. He is backed by 34% of GOP voters in the RealClearPolitics average of recent national surveys.

But among Democrats, there’s something of a surprise: (editing and brackets by the Wrongologist)

On the Democratic side, among the overall electorate in national polls, Clinton now leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by close to 20 percentage points. But Sanders [in our poll]…has captured the allegiance of younger voters. [He]…is leading Clinton, 46%-35%, among millennial Democrats and independents.

Taking a closer look at the Democratic millennial voter preferences, Sanders’s support breaks young: Among the 18 to 25 year-olds, Sanders has a big lead. Among those 26 to 34, Clinton has a small edge.

There are gender gaps. We know from other polls that Clinton leads among baby boomer women. In this poll, men under 35 support Sanders by 4 percentage points. But, millennial women back Sanders by almost 20 points. The possibility of electing the first female president apparently has less persuasive power among younger women than their mothers’ generation.

A big question is whether or not Democratic millennials will show up to vote for the party’s nominee in the general election, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

Other findings:

• By 80%-10%, those surveyed say the US should transition to mostly clean or renewable energy by 2030.
• By 82%-12%, millennials support background checks for all gun purchasers, and there was no partisan divide on the issue: 89% of millennial Democrats and 83% of millennial Republicans support gun background checks.
• By 66%-33%, millennials see police violence against African Americans as a problem, and 75% say the government should require police officers to wear body cameras.
• 47% say the US should commit ground troops to combat ISIS, while 37% disagree. But there is a partisan divide: 69% of Republicans support deploying ground forces; while a plurality of Democrats (45%) oppose the idea.
• 57% say they are optimistic about the future of the US; 34% are pessimistic.

The U.S. Census Bureau says millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest group in the US voting-age population. Millennials do not peak in the US population until 2036, so they are going to be in charge of our politics for the next 25 years, assuming they turn out to vote.

As the Wrongologist noted in December:

In 2012, young voters were decisive in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio…Obama won at least 61% of the youth vote in those four states, and if Romney had achieved a 50-50 split, he could have flipped those states…

And been elected president.

(The survey was conducted online by Ipsos in conjunction with Rock the Vote last Monday through Thursday, of 1,141 adults between the ages 18 through 34. The credibility interval, akin to a margin of error, is plus or minus 3.5 %.)