The Morning Jolt

It’s Now the Republicans vs. the Socialists in 2016

The Thursday night debate conclusion: America now has an openly socialist party.

This morning, a new poll confirms it: Socialism remains less popular than capitalism in the United States: only 25 percent of adults have a favorable opinion of it, while 48 percent view capitalism positively. Among Democrats, however, the balance is flipped, with 49 percent favorable to socialism compared to 37 percent for capitalism.

Which party is extreme again? Which party is out of touch with the rest of the country?

Oh, and notice that 11 percent of self-identified Republicans have a favorable view of socialism.

Jim Webb: Wait, I Spent a Good Chunk of My Life Fighting Socialists!

The other conclusion from last week was that Jim Webb didn’t belong in the Democratic party of 2015. Apparently he agrees:

Jim Webb, the former senator from Virginia, may be through with the Democratic Party.

The presidential candidate, who complained of not getting enough time to talk at last week’s debate, is considering running as an independent, according to his campaign.

Mr. Webb will hold a 1 p.m. news conference on Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington to “discuss his candidacy, the campaign and his views of the political parties in the current election cycle.”

To paraphrase another old-fashioned New Democrat, I feel his pain. Still, how can Webb seem so surprised by this turn of events? Is he just now recognizing that the Democratic party is functionally pacifist and isolationist? Is he just now realizing that when he discussed the potential threats from China, Democratic audiences check their watch and tune out? Is he just noticing that Democrats will never get past racial grievances, never take much interest in rural America or poor whites, and that the party’s elites are intractably opposed to gun ownership? Did he somehow miss the rise of Elizabeth Warren, “you didn’t build that,” Thomas Piketty, and the torrent of economic envy flowing through the party?

Senator Webb, where have you been?

Would a Jim Webb independent bid hurt the GOP nominee? It’s not that hard to imagine that kind of scenario, although at this point, he’s a nonentity in the polls. Webb’s nascent campaign is so low-profile so far, it was easy to forget he’s running. Is he really going to put together the grassroots volunteer effort to get him on the ballot for enough states to get 270 electoral votes? Is he going to dedicate himself to fundraising to get ads on the air? Is he willing to do the frustrating work of being a presidential candidate, or is he mostly running to make a point?

Jindal: This Debate System Stinks and I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore

Will this hurt Bobby Jindal? If a candidate skips the second-tier debate held in a forest, does he make a sound?

Bobby Jindal might withdraw from the undercard debate next week in Colorado.

The Louisiana governor is lobbying the Republican National Committee and cable television network host CNBC to alter the eligibility criteria for the prime time debate. Jindal wants early state primary polling to count, versus just an average of national surveys. Jindal barely registers with voters nationally but is in the top 10 and rising in Iowa, and he could forgo the GOP’s third televised debate in favor of campaigning there if changes aren’t made.

On the one hand, the RNC, CNBC, and the rest of the field can say, “Look, these are the rules. If you’re not in the top ten nationally, we have the authority to relegate you to the earlier time slot.” Jindal’s standing up for the old style of campaigning, the kind that catapulted Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum into short-lived moments as the frontrunner.

Still, Jindal has a point in asking why this new method of relying on national polls to determine “seriousness” is better. Why adopt a system that punishes retail politicking? These national polls have margins for error of 4.9 percentage points, 4.5 percentage points, in that range. Right now in the RealClearPolitics average, the gap between tenth-place Chris Christie and eleventh-place Rick Santorum is 1.4 percentage points.

Liberals Suddenly Realize They’ve Been Wiped Out at the State Level

I suppose we should give Matt Yglesias credit for writing this at Vox . . .

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot.

. . . what’s revealing is that Yglesias writes about this as if it’s some sort of shocking new discovery. Maybe it’s news to the Vox readership, but I’ll bet a doughnut it’s not news to you. Then again, if partisan allegiance can drive you to avert your eyes from the labor-force participation rate, the spread of ISIS, the failure of the “reset button,” skyrocketing health-insurance premiums, a sudden spike in homicides in inner cities, and the dangers of an unsecure border, it can probably drive you to avert your eyes from bad news for your party.

It’s easy to suspect that Democrats think more about the presidency because (1) it’s simpler than keeping track of oodles and oodles of legislative races and (2) during the Obama era, they’ve fallen in love with the idea of the all-powerful executive branch, to the point where Democratic members of Congress are writing up legislation in the form of executive orders to work around the GOP majorities. If the president can use executive orders to unilaterally rewrite immigration policy, Iran sanctions, the minimum wage,and possibly tax law and gun laws, why worry about state legislatures or Congress?

Separately, if you see American politics as a sort of Joseph Campbell hero’s journey in which your preferred political idol rises and falls in battle against his villainous foes — what Ace called “the MacGuffinization of American politics” — or if you’re in a cult of personality! — you won’t want to bother paying attention to who’s got control of more state houses, and who’s enacting their ideas into policy at the state level.

Each side in American politics likes to think that their rank-and-file prefer their candidates because of their better ideas, while the other side is taken in by superficial factors like charisma. We like our guys because we believe in limited government and individual responsibility; they like their guy because Oprah said he was “the one” and he keeps appearing on daytime and late-night entertainment shows. After the 2004 elections, Democrats told themselves that voters preferred Kerry’s policies but preferred Bush because they would prefer to have a beer with him.

One party will always nominate the “Men’s Vogue” candidates.

ADDENDA: It’s beautiful when a casual liberal experiences a head-on collision with reality:

In an interview on French TV, Will Smith said he strongly supported income redistribution.

“I have no issue with paying taxes and whatever needs to be done for my country to grow,” he said. “I’m a black man who didn’t go to college, yet I get to travel around the world and sell my movies, and I believe very firmly that America is the only place on earth that I could exist. So I will pay anything that I need to pay to keep my country growing.”

Then he was told that France’s top tax rate was, at the time, 75%. His response: “Seventy-five! That’s different. Well, God bless America.”


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