The Corner

Politics & Policy

Dream Logic 2016

Political logic can be a lot like dream logic. I recently had a dream of what I understand is a very common type: It was close to the end of senior year in high school, and I had just failed to show up for an exam, and failed to write a term paper on Edmund Spenser that was due. This meant I wouldn’t graduate. In most of my dreams, my conscious mind doesn’t intrude on the creations of my subconscious: The dream feels completely real. But in this case, my conscious mind intervened, and said: “But Mike, you already have a high-school diploma. This situation you’re worried about is unreal and absurd.” But in the dream, I coldly rebuffed the intrusion of reason and accepted what I really, honestly believed to be true: It doesn’t matter. I have failed and won’t graduate. That’s the reality.

No sooner had I woken than I realized that this is very similar to what’s going on in politics right now. There’s a Trump streamroller gathering force among self-described conservatives. Some people – the equivalent of the conscious mind in my dream – are intervening and saying: “But listen, conservatives, Trump is less conservative than any nominee the Republicans have ever had, and Cruz is more conservative than any nominee the Republicans have ever had. Cruz is the conservative, not Trump.”

As of this moment, it looks like the same thing is happening as happened in my dream. Many conservatives are saying: It doesn’t matter. Conservatives have failed and won’t graduate. Trump 2016. Let’s make America great again. Or at least prevent down-ballot losses. That’s the reality.

Note that I am not making any judgment here on the relative merits of Trump and Cruz. I’m not saying, Vote for this guy and against that guy. All I’m saying is: If you sincerely believe that, for example, Trump can wave a magic wand of “tough negotiations” and bring back jobs from China and Mexico, then, you might well be mistaken, but Trump is actually your candidate. But if you believe in conservative ideas, and conservative ideas are important to you, he is not your candidate. That’s the reality. 

The difference between 2016 politics and my dream is that in my dream, the conscious mind, once rebuffed, gave up and went away. In politics, there are still forces working hard to reach the pro-Trump conservatives, and it’s not out of the question that they can still end up changing the result.

UPDATE: It looks as if Indiana will be even more important than it seemed a couple of weeks ago. The latest WSJ/NBC poll has Trump beating Cruz by 15 points. If Cruz can’t win even in Indiana, with all the focus he’s put on it . . . it’s almost certainly game over for Cruz. But: If Cruz wins what would now be a major upset in Indiana, by turning around a lot of late deciders (and he’s done this before), it could be a yuuge turning point in the exact opposite direction.

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