Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tracking the Presidential Election Part IV

I've been so busy that I didn't even realize that there were primaries yesterday, only learning that this morning. 

Here's the current tally:

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,239 (523 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,469 (39 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  1,136 (of which 49 are unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  565   Cruz has suspended his campaign. (of which 19 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  168.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  153.  Kasich has suspended his campaign
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


In yesterday's primary, Trump, the only candidate now, took all the delegates.  He did in West Virginia as well. But Sanders won West Virginia in the Democratic contest.  However, as Democratic contests re not winner take all, Clinton still took eleven delegates.  She now has 100 to go, counting of course the Superdelegates, which Sanders is indicating he'll contest at the primary, which perhaps he should.

On the GOP side, things have not been quiet.  There seems to have been a common belief in the Trump house, and amongst pundits, that the Republicans would quietly fall in line, but they aren't.  A massive debate has broken out in the GOP about whether Republicans basically must vote for Trump.  So far, a lot of them aren't seeing things that way.

That is so much the case that Cruz actually hinted he'd rejoin the race if he won Nebraska, which must have been based on the hope that a lot of Republicans in the west would be too unhappy with Trump and vote for him anyhow. That didn't happen.  However, he did take a little over 18%  of the vote even though he technically wasn't running, which may mean  his hopes were not as fanciful as might be suggested. Kasich took 11% of the Nebraska vote and even Rubio and Carson pulled in some of the vote, leaving Trump with 61% of the vote in a race in which he's not even contested.

That shows, I think, the extent to which he's really disliked, just as Sanders unlikely ongoing march shows the extent to which she's really disliked.

On the GOP side, an outright battle is now taking place on the immediate future of the party.  I've noted that this was getting rolling, but I'm surprised by the extent to which its coming now rather than after the November election.  And I think the Trump supporters are caught off guard by that as well.

Trump backers genuinely believe that he may be the savior of the nation, and are almost stunned by the degree to which a very large number of Republicans do not feel that way at all.  They still can't quite bring themselves to believe that, surely, everyone loves Trump and he's going to send Clinton into stunning defeat and maybe even into prison.  This won't be the case, and indeed Trump can't win the general election, and many Republicans are struggling with the more realistic inevitability.

Of those who do not support Trump, there are quite a few who are taking a "hold their nose and vote" position, figuring that Clinton is much worse and maybe he'll pull it off, and they'll worry about the consequences then, but at least they'd done what they could.  However, at the same time, there are quite a few who are not openly indicating that they will not vote for Trump.

This is leading to the declaration that "not voting for Trump is voting for Hillary", which misses the point that voting for Trump was voting for Hillary.  Of those not casting their votes for Trump there has come to be an acceptance of defeat and a time to clean house view.  Knowing  they can't win, the non vote for Trump is a vote of another type.

On why there's already a part IV, after we just put up Part III, that long missive is already too big.  And given as we're working on entries on the future of both the GOP and the Democratic parties, in this year in which a large percentage of the rank and file of both parties has been in revolt, and now the GOP is in civil war, that's probably going to soon be the case on this entry as well.

Commentary followup

I warned above I'd do this, and as its ready, I'm just throwing this into this post.  The item above set the scene for it anyhow.

The GOP, right now, but more particular, needs to remember this roadside scene.

Leave the canolis.

And act on it.

I know, and indeed I'm certain, that I'm irritating Republicans who are already down, or in some cases jubilant and mystified.  Republicans right now are even lost and licking their wounds, mostly, or the Trumpites are thinking "we're going to beat Hillary!".  Their disappointment will come in November, when the GOP goes down in a historic level of defeat this fall.

Now, again, I don't mean to be harsh but I'm in a business where you have to tell people bad news all the time, and I've learned from that that there's little point in sugar coating it. I've had conversations like this:
Them:  So how do you think we're going to do in the trial!

Me:  You'll be killed.

Them:  Huh!?  What?  You don't like me?

Me:  Like you, yes I do, that's why I'm telling you to prepare for defeat.

Them:  Oh no, I can't lose, people love me.
Not so much that they give victory ever time.  The conversation you don't want to have is:
Them:  Why didn't you tell me I'd lose?

So, there's no time for sugar coating and its time to face the music.  GOP, you're going to lose big.  And what's more, you already know that.

Indeed, that's why some well placed Republicans have distanced themselves from the race at this point.  They've decided that not only are they not going down with the Titanic, they aren't even getting on it.  That's probably a very smart move.

So, time to start considering what to do.  And why, you ask?

Well, to start with, this country needs a conservative party.

It truly does. 

Liberals like to say that history is "progressive" (and they're "progressive") but some of the absolute worst disasters ever foisted on man have been done in the name of being "progressive".  Indeed, the history of progressiveism is advancement held back by social stupidity, all in the name of "progress".  For that reason alone, if no other, we'd need a conservative party. But conservatism is a virtue in its own right. And in many ways, over time, conservatism proves to be more progressive than progressiveism.  Progressiveisam always runs towards statism, which always runs towards dependency, which always runs towards disaster.  Always.  Indeed, there's a post on the work which address this topic based on some recent news, but I haven't had a chance to finish it yet.

Conservatives, real conservatives accept something that liberals do not.  Man is flawed.  Conservatives do not hope to build a perfect world, they hope to conserve what is good and they accept that nothing int this world is perfect.  Progressivism, or shall we say liberalism, tends to truly believe that we can in fact build a perfect world, and that around man, as man is now flawed.  There is some virtue in that, but some real dangers as well, the principle one tending to be that a perfect world can't be perfect for imperfect people, so we must, at the end of the day, pretend everyone is perfect, which is to abhor nature and hold it in contempt.

And nature not only abhors a vacuum. It abhors being ignored and gets even.

Nature.  It doesn't want a belly rub.  It wants to kill you.  From Holscher's Hub.

So, the GOP needs to reform and get back to being what it was.  Alternatively, it needs to die a quick death so a rational effective conservative party can be formed, but that will take a long time and be a disaster in the meantime. So the GOP needs to reform.

And by reform, I mean slaughter, wash out the blood, leave the heads on the poles, and start over.

Yes, a real housecleaning. . . Roman style.  Or perhaps more accurately Godfather style, recalling the fate of Saly.

That's right, like the last day set in the film, all the family business should be conducted. .  .

Okay, well enough with the violent images (for right now), what does that really mean.  And why am I suggesting this.

Well, elections have consequences, as we've already stated, and that's true for the winners and the losers.  The GOP, by November, will have lost 2016.  It lost 2012.  It lost 2008.  By 2020 it will have been out of Presidential power for sixteen years in spite of managing to take the Senate, and retain the House, in 2010.  Where it is right now, it will be really lucky to retain the Senate for 2016 and if it does Clinton campaigning against a Senate set against her, which it will have to be, will mean that chances of retaining the Senate in 2018 are iffy.

Republicans should be mad at this buffoonery.  And they will be.  They ought to be right now, and they need to realize that repeat failure means you are a failure.  The GOP needs to get its act together.  And here's how.

1.  Take the advice of the Spartan women.

Spartan women, when their men went off to war, told them "come back carrying your sword or on it".  The GOP should now be telling that to the voters who boosted Trump, and Cruz, to the front of their tickets.

Now, what do I mean by that.


Win or die trying.

And there will be no win.

I've already dealt with the creation of the conditions that lead to the rise of both Trump and Cruz, more than once.  The GOP threw red meat in recent years to hungry elements of their party but they continually refused to feed it.  That created dissident elements within the party on at least three occasions, with the last one being the rise of the Tea Party.  Some GOP insiders will declare that the Trump forces aren't Tea Partiers, but they're heavily influenced at a bare minimum by the atmosphere that they created.  The Tea Party came up in the GOP garden and the GOP fed it, but wouldn't actually listen to its fears.  Now, it's mad, and with it are all the many people who felt that they were being ignored on one thing or another, and that's a lot of people.  It's all gotten mixed in together.  People who worried about their towns being overrun with crime in the Southwest aren't necessarily Tea Party folks in any sense, but they are really made and they do feel really ignored, because they were really ignored..

Trump and Cruz are the triumph of the Tea Party/Party Anger in the GOP, although even now the GOP refuses to see it that way.  Cruz really was a Tea Party ideologue.  Trump is a Tea Party opportunist.  Conservatives and Republicans are crying right now that Trump isn't a real conservative and isn't a real Republican, but if that's true, what he is, is a mighty good salesman who identified the raw nerves in the Tea Party supporters, and the bitter disappointments of the ignored rank and file, and appealed to them, choking out all the air in the room for anyone else.  Those who complain that he isn't "real" should not be allowed to be comforted by that claim, as his statements, whether or not he believes them, were really pitched to the Tea Party and disaffected ignored elements and that's real enough to have secured him the election.

Now, before anyone says "oh no, that's not true", it is. Trump took key issues right out of the Tea Party/Ignored playbook and has promised that they'd be very easy to enact.  "The Wall" has been the most prominent example.  There are lots of problems with the American immigration system, a prime one that nobody wants to talk about being that a nation of 350,000,000 people probably needs to contemplate quit taking in people for demographic reasons, but the GOP failed to act until this became extreme.  Trump merely appealed to the same extremism that was already at play in the GOP on this issue.  Trade, Islamic Terrorism, and other issues that Trump has been successful on area ll things that he didn't invent.  And none of them were things that weren't already in play.  He merely took them as far as they could go, as there was an element of the GOP that had already been repeatedly promised that the GOP would go as far as they thought it should.  He's different only in that he's more believable.  

If that seems to be because he's unprincipled, that in fact makes him more believable.  It's easier, quite frankly, to believe that Trump will act in an extreme manner because he may lack principals than it is to believe that a decent guy like Kasich or Rubio, faced with the same problems, would.  Their basic humanity might get in the way.

So, anyhow, we have a situation where the Tea Party/Base Ignored has gotten the GOP into this situation.  And that includes not only those who have organized it and pushed it at the state level, but it's cheerleaders as well, such as people like Anne Coulter.  Coulter has been writing columns for months which are frankly racists.  She's portrayed Trump as the only possible savior of the nation, by which she openly means a white Protestant nation.  She may be the most extreme, but others out there exist like here, including those who are now running away from Trump, such as Glenn Beck.  Now, Beck supported Ted Cruz, who was much more popular with Western Mormons than Trump and he actually went so far as to tie Cruz to a Mormon myth, not officially accepted by that religion, that Cruz was a prophesied "white horse" that would save the nation, but that's emblematic of how extreme the talk in this quarter has gotten in the past several years.  When a prominent pundit personality is seriously arguing that a politicians arrival has been predicted on and states, at a rally for his candidate that the candidate's arrival was Divinely predicted, things have gotten very peculiar.  If a person believes that about a candidate its one thing, and its another if its discussed in circles within a group of believers of like mind, but its quite another when its publicly pitched.  But public pitching of extreme positions has become routine in GOP circles and nobody has done anything about it.

Indeed, just this past week one of the organizer in the Tea Party community, who remains in it, came out and publicly apologized for being a fellow traveler with extremist and publishing them.  His excuse, now regretted, is that he thought they had to be tolerated to push  the cause, and that surely nobody believed the more extreme statements. Well, people did, and now we're living with the consequences of that in that one of our two main parties has a completely un-electable candidate, and the second in position was just as un-electable.

So, again, what do I mean?

Well, those people have now been given their shields.  They're off to combat in the fall.  They'll be defeated.  Retreats back within the lines shouldn't be tolerated.  Having chosen this path, they should go down with it.  No retreat, no prisoners, no returns (. . . well. . . maybe, see below).

This is the lesson of the 1912 election I've written about before.  In 1912 Republican Progressives split the party with Republican moderates.  The Progressives killed the party that year.  They were eventually let back in, but on the moderates terms.  That nearly fell apart in 1920, by which time Theodore Roosevelt, a remaining popular Progressive, came back into the party  as a potential candidate, but the fire was out of Roosevelt even by the 1916 election and he didn't really wish to.  In any event, he died that year, and with him died his variant of Republicanism.  So, when the GOP recaptured the White House in 1920, it did so with Warren G. Harding.  The GOP retained control of the White House from that date through 1932 when the Great Depression proved fatal to a second term for Herbert Hoover.

The point, however, is that the GOP, following the disaster of 1912, didn't spend the next four years in internal fighting and trying to reconcile.  The Progressives went. They did come back, but when they did, they did not come back as a real force, save for Roosevelt who no longer wanted to be one but whom was stuck in that position by his retained popularity. The GOP has nobody like Theodore Roosevelt right now. For that matter, neither do the Democrats (and a post like this on the Democrats is coming up).

So, when the defeat comes in November, the people responsible for it directly should go down in defeat with it, officers first.  In January there should be no calls for counsel with Tea Party elements.  Ted Cruz should not be on anyone's speed dial list, nor even in consideration for anything significant in the Senate.  Indeed, whatever committees he's on, he ought to now be off.  Pundits like Beck and Coulter ought not be welcome at Republican events, and when they say things extreme, the party should be flat out frank that their views are not welcome or needed.  They ought to be off the reading list.

Most of all, the party organizers, no matter how we define them (elites, establishment, hacks, or whatever) should go.  The heads of the party who sat by and watched this develop should go, but not only them, but those who were high in the party over the past decade, with some exception.  The party hasn't been acting on principal for a long time now, and all of those who were in charge, ought to go, Navy style.  People in command of a vessel, should it founder, are gone.  It doesn't matter if they were at fault or not, they were there. Goodbye.

Now, that's pretty harsh, but political failure is harsh. Less harsh, however, is taking another page out of the 1912 playbook, taking the Progressives back in, on the terms of the party.

2. The "Good German"

People hate this analogy.  That doesn't stop it from being true.

At the end of World War Two, when the Allies started rebuilding Germany, they had to use a lot of Germans who had associations with the Nazis, or who had been Nazis.  In recent years, as those individuals have grown old and died, later generations have feigned disgust at this, as its always easy to be highly moralistic about things you don't have to endure yourself.  Everyone imagines themselves saying "No!", but most people say "yes" in reality.

Anyhow, after the war that was done as it had to be done.  It wasn't possible to run a country of millions when millions had been in the culpable group.  It just had to be accepted.  And in accepting it, it had to be accepted that a lot of people were in the "went along to get along" class.  It isn't admirable, but it's true.  And, even less comfortable for those who have to ponder the morality of it, some of the guilty were indispensable.

After the fall, that's going to be the case with "the fall".  A lot  of people who pushed Trump and deeply believed in him or Ted Cruz, in spite of the fact that they could simply not be elected, are going to be shocked, amazed, stunned and depressed.  Quite a few of them can be taken back in, and should be, on conditions.

And what are those conditions.  Well, being party of the party.

But what is the party? That's part of the problem right now.

3. Defining a conservative Republican Party.

The GOP isn't as old as the Democratic Party, which is the oldest political party in the world.  But it's pretty old for a modern political party.  Be that as it may, as a conservative party its history is less clear.  That's been addressed above a bit.

When the party started off it really wasn't a conservative party.  It probably actually became one in for the first time in the 1865 to 1870 time frame.  In that time frame, however, it was the party that had won the Civil War.  Following the Civil War it was split between "radical" elements and everyone else, but you have to ask to what extent the "radicals" were the real Republicans, and everyone else was a wartime johnny come lately.  At any rate, the everyone else s outnumbered the radicals and the party became a conservative party, mostly.

It had its insurgent progressive elements and those briefly seized control of the party in the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, but that was brief.  After the struggle in the 1912 election those elements were basically put down, permanently.

As a conservative party, however it's waxed and wanted and the clarity of its message has varied from sharp to muddled.  In the 1920s it was about business.  In the 1930s it was about isolationism and opposition to FDR's big government efforts.  In the late 40s it was against Communism, and in the 50s and 60s it was that, and pro business.

In the early 60s a conservative movement that had a philosophy behind it developed but it wasn't until Ronald Reagan that it achieved any success. But that success was quite brief, in spite of what people believe.  After Reagan the GOP returned to a mix of its post war pro business platform, mixed in with Reaganism, mixed in with "neo-conservatism".  The conservative movement of Reagan didn't really die, it just went back into remission after him for the most part.

That's a huge part of the problem the GOP faces now.  There are solidly conservative issues out there that have really taken a pounding, even though a large number of people back them. But the GOP has been very ineffectual in dealing with them.  So let's explore that.  And by doing that, let's break it into topics.

a.  Society and nature.


Yes, nature.

At the heart of conservatism is the acknowledgement of nature, far more than in any other political philosophy.

More, even than the Greens you ask?

Oh, yes, much more.

And that's because conservatives accept nature as it is.  And by doing that, conservatives acknowledge the natural law.  That's often misunderstood.

It's not hateful, bigoted, or backward to acknowledge a Natural Law and a  natural order to things.  Most people tend to do that, in fact, instinctively.  Because we live in a fallen world, most who have conduct and inclinations outside of those provided for in ordered nature are uncomfortable with that and have to adjust somehow withe the most effective approach to be to order oneself as close to the natural order as possible.  Quite a few, however, lack the will and the strength to do that, and because of that, they will attempt to mimic it with accommodations, or even insist that the ordered world be conformed to their natures.

A lot of this is advanced in the name of fairness, which is a pretty transitory concept in any event.  There is a basic understanding in humans of what is fair and what is not, but often its highly personal to an individual. At the end of the day, something that liberals and conservatives both understand is that the world is not fair.  What conservatives grasp, but liberals do not, is that the world can't be made fair.  Put another way, nature isn't fair, and it can't be comported to our personal concepts of fairness.  It may be unfair that I wasn't born with the size that would have allowed me to be a professional baseball player, but that's the way it is.  Things like that can't be legislated away.

In this, therefore there are certain principals that should govern how a conservative party approaches such things.  And generally there are certain principles that do.  Basically, err on the side of nature.  Where laws come in, they should conform to nature, and seek to take the edge off our wildest and most destructive behaviors. We can't make everything fair. And we should always err on the side that acknowledges life, and acknowledges that we do not, and will not, ever know everything.

b.  The law.

This may seem to be directly related to the above and indeed it is.

The best law are the fewest.  The last paragraph basically sets out the model for what laws ought to do.  We need law, and have always had it.  Where we have always had some basic law, which should not discard it lightly.  Laws regarding the most basic nature of marriage, for example, are blisteringly ancient, maybe as old as our species itself, which says something about our natures and the nature of that body of law.

On the law, we ought to recognize two fundamental things when looking at it.  Courts are the worst conceivable bodies for making "advancements" in the law.  Courts should try to avoid creating law if at all possible, although they all inevitably do.  No society of any kind is really accepting of law that comes from the bench, least of all a democratic society.  Law should come from deliberative bodies if at all possible.

And that law should be respected as it is written.  Not interpreted to a judge's concept of what a modern law ought to be like.  Judges are rarely in the up and coming demographic anyhow, and their ability to know what the new generational cohort thinks is questionable at best. And that cohort will know better what they think the law should be than any court.  Leave the law as written.

Including the Constitution.

The Constitution is just a big law.  It is now scripture. But it isn't that mysterious as a rule.  It's had odd interpretations chained, welded, bolted and bondoed on for years. That  has the same impact as a million barnacles on a ship.  It slows it down and makes it hard to operate. That ought to, quite frankly, cease.

But, in interpreting the law, conservatives do need to figure out how they approach Natural Law.   Conservatism, which should be a political philosophy grounded in nature, needs to recognize a Natural Law, but in doing that does it follow the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court in The Antelope, or not?  That's a big question upon which conservatives can disagree. Does the Natural Law trump the Constitution, or not?

c.  Economics (including commerce, manufacturing and trade)

A huge problem for the modern GOP is that its become the party of Big Business, with the Democrats frequently actually contesting for that position.

Most Americans have never agreed with Calvin Coolidge that "the business of American is business".  But starting in the 1970s more and more Americans came to believe a variant of that, and now the concept of Corporate Capitalism being a mandatory aspect of our economics is so ingrained that it has seemed, up until just recently, absurd to question it. But it is being questioned now, and so much so that hoary ghost of the economic lunacy, Socialism, is up out of it grave.

Where Republicans went off the rails on this was not in supporting capitalism, nor in arguing that the fewer regulations there were the more productive business would be, but rather in thinking that anything that maximized corporate returns necessary would be a public good, particularly a public good for everyone.  The people who were marginalized by this sort of economic approach, which we've been using now for about 35 years, is that while it increased wealth in society at large, indeed globally, it did leave behind a certain demographic that is ill equipped to deal with it and which used to be significant to our economy.  They're the blue collar element east of the Mississippi.

Irrespective of whether they are Republicans or Democrats, this "hard hat" element is in full scale revolt in both parties right now (and will feature in the upcoming post on the Democrats).  And for good reason.

It isn't that wealth in society hasn't increased in the past 35 years.  It has, and as addressed earlier on this blog, actually the overwhelming majority of Americans are doing better now than they did twenty years ago.  This is particularly true   I addressed this in my long post:  Lower Class, Middle Class, Upper Class?, which started off as follows:
Last general election season (as hard as it is to believe that I wrote it that long ago) I took a look at the Middle Class and trends over time in our post Lex Anteinternet: Middle Class.  I was looking at this topic again the other day, but for a different reason.

That post went on to note:
Now, as it turns out, a very large percentage of middle income Americans pop up into the upper income bracket from time to time, and often in and out of it.  I guess that's probably not too surprising.  It's more likely, actually, for a person who has an upper middle class occupation, or a bottom upper class occupation, to have a fluctuating income.  Some incomes fluctuate wildly from year to year, but they generally fall into the upper class and upper middle class range. So a person can have an upper middle class income one year, and then the next, if it's a good year, will be in the 1% range of the upper class.  Pretty darned common. What is surprising, however, is that a majority, although only barely that, of white Americans are upper income.  Additionally, since the 1970s, the elderly, married couples, and blacks improved their economic status more than other groups.
That lead me to pose a question that I'm repeating here, and attempt to answer it:

So then, why don't people recognize this?
That is, why are enraged largely white demographics going for Socialist (of some sort) Bernie Sanderes and Populist but super wealthy Donald Trump?  A lot of the cries sound in economics and demographics, but it would appear that those cries are misplaced.

Well, they likely are, quite frankly.  But that doesn't mean that they don't reflect something.  So let's take a look at how this all plays out in terms of perception.

First, oddly enough, as white Americans have evolved from middle class to upper middle class and upper class, they haven't realized that, by and large.  Most white Americans, including the classic family of four, think they're middle class even if they're upper class.  A family of four with a breadwinner bringing in $250,000 a year is wealthy, but that same family is unlikely to think of itself that way.  Why?

Well, there are a bunch of reasons for that.

For one thing, as whites have expanded into the upper class in large numbers, the ethnic and cultural divide that separated the two classes has decreased enormously.

At one time, to be a member of the upper class had a very distinct class distinction. This is still the case the further up the ladder you get, but not nearly to the extent that was once the case. As university education and shear numbers have pushed the numbers up, and specialization in labor has pushed wages up, the boundaries are now not very clear at all. So plenty of Americans who are middle class live near and associate with Americans who are upper class.

Added to this, the fact that people move in and out of the upper class, and some Americans do that nearly annually, further breaks down that distinction.

And breaking it down further, entire groups including geographic groups have moved classes or up within classes, therefore not seeing that they've moved.  I'm certain that a person could find entire classes of kids who went to school in the 1970s and graduate in the 1980s from middle class families that have largely crept into the upper class and upper middle class, more or less together, and therefore don't realize that they've changed classes at all.

And as this has occurred, entire middle class neighborhoods that were at one time in the middle of the middle class are now upper middle class or even mixed upper class, and don't realize it.

Indeed, I saw that emphasized in an analysis trying to prove the opposite, that a lot of the middle class have slipped into the lower middle class or poverty and don't know it. And that may very well be true.  That is, demographics that have slipped down remain in the suburbs and still have barbecues in the summer and whatnot, but now are struggling economically.  I'm sure that's correct, but likewise I'm sure that the opposite is also true. There are a lot of people having barbecues in "middle class" neighborhoods that do that as its the middle class thing.  They would never have evolved socially into upper class, classic, behavior, as they're middle class in culture and don't realize that they're upper class.

Indeed, that emphasizes the cultural aspect of things. Culturally, Americans are middle class.  And we always have been.  That doesn't really change for most people as they move up in class.  And if it does, it takes several generations for that really to take root.  And as large numbers have moved up, the cultural distinctions that once existed have often ceased to exist.  Indeed, this is comparable to such economic class movements amongst immigrant populations which serves as an example. When the Irish in the US, or the Italians, moved from impoverished to Middle Class, they didn't cease being Irish or Italian, at least not right away.

Another aspect of this is, however, that being upper class, unless you are in the very high incomes, isn't what it once was, as odd as it may seem.

If a huge number of people are in the upper class, for one thing, the question then becomes if it is the "upper class"?  Maybe not.  Maybe, and significantly, the middle class simply makes more money than it used to. So perhaps the definition of middle class actually reflects what people feel.  Statisticians may say that they're upper class, but maybe they really aren't.  Maybe the definition needs to be changed.

Indeed, not only have a lot of people moved up out of the middle class into the upper class, but a lot of people in the middle class are no longer near the bottom of it.  Lower middle class as a segment of the population has remained stagnant for decades.  What is likely missed is that at one time an awfully large percentage of the middle class lived darned near the bottom of the demographic and were in danger of slipping into poverty constantly.

But additionally the economic nature of being upper class, unless you are very high in income, has changed a lot.

Current Americans,  including even lower class Americans, have an incredible number of demands on their income.  Some of this, indeed a lot of this, is purely voluntary, but even at that, the phenomenon is real.

Housing, a real basic, is much more expensive now than it was in former times.  A person can witness this simply by driving through nearly any community that has some age to it.  There's nearly always a section of town with small houses, followed by slightly larger houses, all of which are older.  The "slightly" larger houses are middle class houses of their eras, and the small ones are often the houses of the poor.

Now, significant in that is that even a lot of the poor in many areas in the country could still purchase a house.  It wasn't a great house, but it was a house. This is not very much the case any longer.  And middle class homes, as we've explored hear in the past, have grown in size over the years. They've also grown in t he command they put on a person's income.

Indeed, people used to commonly buy a house, once they were married, that they often occupied for life, and they didn't change them often.  Now, this tends not to be the case, but what does tend to be the case is that people are willing to go into much greater debt than they  once were for a house.  If a significant percentage of a person's income is tied up in mortgage payments they don't have that much left, and their purchasing power, therefore, probably doesn't feel very upper class.

This is also true of automobiles for many people.  Cars have always been expensive actually, contrary to the myth to the contrary, but people's willingness to buy new cars and lots of cars has changed over the years, although that seems to be changing recently.

Up until relatively recently, say thirty or so years ago, quite a few families had one car.  This changed as women in particular entered the workplace in increasing numbers, thereby requiring separate transportation, but that then meant that families owned two cars.  Teenagers and young adults still in the household often had a care as well, but that car often tended to be "old", in context.  I say in context as cars broke down and became "old" much quicker than they now do, but they accordingly lost their value pretty quickly too.

Now things are much changed.

I still tend to retain vehicles for a really long time myself, as I like what I like and generally don't seek to change things much.  But most people do not seem to operate this way, so most working people tend to buy new vehicles fairly rapidly even though the old ones do not really seem to wear out.  Teenagers now drive, in many instances, nearly new vehicles, which is a huge change from when I was young.  I didn't drive a new vehicle until I was working as a lawyer and I've owned exactly three of them my entire life, even tough I've owned a lot of cars.

And then there's the blizzard of things that people own.  Iphones, electronics, this and that.  A lot of things don't cost much, but added up they cost a lot.

This is quite a bit different from families in the 1970s which had two cars, one phone, and one television, which was quite common.  Indeed, when I was a kid I found families having more than one television to be quite exotic.  Having two televisions, or even more, has gone from being a symbol of wealth to routine, but that means that people have routine expenses once associated with the wealthy, to some degree (it also reflects that the price of some things has declined in real terms).  It can be taken two ways.  On the one hand, wealth has brought all these things into common use, and even the lower class often have some of these items.  On the other, if you live in a world where this is the norm, the expenses associated with it are also the norm, and therefore there is not as much money to go around even with a higher income.

Indeed, in a world where the number of cars in a typical household didn't vary much from the middle class to the upper class, and where the difference in economic status could be readily told by the nature of a house and the type of cars, rather than middle class homes now resembling upper class ones, and upper class resembling the 1% houses of old, and everyone having a plethora of items, the situation is quite different.

Take these examples.  I knew a couple of truly wealthy people when I was young and I am still aware of where their houses are. Today, I couldn't tell you if those houses are occupied by upper class or upper middle class people (upper class, I suspect).  Those same well off people I'm noting interestingly had tended towards buying one, and I do mean one, high end automobile which they then hung on to for the rest of their lives.  In two cases, the cars were Mercedes. In the third, the car was an American luxury car, but I've forgotten what it was.  Something like a Cadillac.

Now a lot of people have high end cars and they don't keep them.  Indeed, I'm really a personal anomaly as my newest vehicle (I'm excluding my wife's vehicle, as she really likes vehicles and has a relatively new (but used when we bought it) vehicle is a 2007 Dodge 3500 diesel truck.  I love it.  But my daily driver is a 1997 Jeep TJ.  I don't intend to replace either of these vehicles ever, although the TJ isn't a good example as Jeepers tend to get a Jeep and customize it, and hang onto it.  The truck is a good example, however, as a decade from now I hope I still have it.  Indeed, I hope it last me the rest of my life.  I don't want another one.

Another reason, I suspect, that this demographic reality is little appreciated is that being "rich", or upper class, is equated in the popular mind with not working, or not working much.  The "idle rich" is a common mental image, even though very few in the upper class are in that demographic.

The idle rich, as a class, did once exist, although they were probably never really the majority of the upper class.  As a class, they existed in force, if in small numbers, in the late 19th and early 20th Century when the culture of being very well off actually precluded a person from working.  This was more so in Europe than in the United States, but even here a really wealthy person, particularly if their wealth was vested rather than earned, tended not to work and culturally was not supposed to, save for a few very limited occupations.  That was the basis of the distinction between the Rich and the Neveau Rich.  The newly rich had tended to earn that money, and were sort of looked down for that as a result.

Now, that's all passed, and indeed it passed long ago.  As more people have moved into the upper class more in the upper class at all levels work, and frankly those in the just upper class, as opposed to the 1% of top incomes, have no choice as a rule. So, upper class often means that a person is in a high paying, but hard working, profession or occupation.  Around here, as odd as it may seem to some, there are a lot of experienced oil field hands who are "upper class" by income, or at least there were until the vast number of recent layoffs.  These people make a good income, but they have to work, and they have to work hard.

Indeed, even with the traditional occupations that people associate with wealth this is really true.  Often that assumption is completely erroneous to start with.  Lots of doctors and lawyers, for example, are solidly middle class and not upper class.  People's assumptions, expectations, and concepts of themselves are often wildly off the mark.
All of which ties into an election year like the current one.  The GOP is seeing sort of a "working class" revolt in its ranks, and the Democrats are as well.  But some of those angered voters are doing better than perhaps they realize, in historical terms.  And the country overall may be as well.  That doesn't mean that economics aren't worth looking at, but when they are looked at, they should be looked at realistically.  Turning the country back to a perceived better age or to
But all that, admittedly, missed one other thing.

Some people have just been flat out left behind.  And they're upset.

Those left behind are those people who fit into the country's industrial class.  A large number of Americans were in it at one time themselves, although none of them are young, and a larger number live in places where the memories of those employments is everywhere.  Those people know that at one time there were "good jobs" that you could have for life in factories in the Rust Belt and the East Coast.  That sort of employment, in fact, was celebrated in the United States as building the nation, and allowing us to defeat the Axis in World War One and World War Two.  People remember an era when you could get out of high school, go to work in a factory, make a good middle class income, and retire, without ever changing employers.

That era is now dead, and people know it.  Most people have moved on, but a lot of people haven't, and for good reason, they can't.  Not everyone wants to obtain a college education and work in a cubicle.  Indeed, a lot of people don't. And a lot of the class we're speaking of remembers an era when sending a kid to college meant that he'd obtain a "good" job simply with a bachelors degree, and that isn't true any longer either.   These same people have watched something I didn't address in my long post above, which is that at the same time an increasing number of Americans moved up in classes, the super wealthy really took off.  That makes sense, because as income moved up, naturally theirs really did.  But it also has had the impcat of concentrating a very significant percentage of the overall wealth in the hands of very few, a topic that has been explored at threat length recently by a number of writers.

This same class has watched jobs move overseas, watched small businesses close, and watched their jobs disappear. So, for conservatives what is the answer to this? Socialism?  Not hardly, what the answer may be is what we addressed in this quote from G. K. Chesterton: Random Snippets: Too much capitalism
Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.
That may sound weird, but it's true.  Conservatives probably ought to reexamine their believes and see if they are really for freedom in the markets.  If they are, they then should realize that over the years they've slow supported a capitalist version of its antithesis.  It isn't that capitalism is bad, but for a group that's declared to be in opposition to state participation in government, they strangely support it here.

It'd make more sense to support small business, which is actually where the bulk of Americans work. That would be perfectly legally possible, and simply by taking the position that there's no solid reason to support the corporate business form in everything, and that its a state creature by default.  All corporations would be partnership if the traditional, pre corporate, business forms law applied to them.  Corporations allow for shielding from a liability in a fashion that partnerships do not, and that's not really a conservative position.

Now, eliminating corporate business forms for everything would be impossible, weirdly utopian, and wholly unrealistic, but at the retail and local business level, maybe not so much.  Conservatives and the GOP have always maintained that they were for the small businessmen, and positions of this type, while they'd be shocking at first, would be refreshing, address the concerns of those in the lower half of the middle half, and inject some fresh debate in areas where conservatives have really gone stale.

Additionally, there is a bit of a point to the protectionist angles taken by the more radical elements of the GOP and the Democratic party, but they need to be very careful about how to approach that.

There's a lot of lamenting about jobs that went overseas, but there's little real grasp of why that occurred and how to approach that in either party, at least based on their statements (they probably actually understand it).  The reason has to do with laws and wages.

Many jobs went overseas for the simple reason that wages are unconscionably low overseas, by our standards. And the numerous laws that apply to labor standards and the environment do not apply there.  That makes things cheaper, by far, than we can produce them here.

This is one of those areas where, frankly, "progressives" ought to be active, but they generally are not.  Addressing the difference in prices brought about in this fashion isn't so much a function of Adam Smith's laws, as it's a function of demographics and third world economics and laws.  That could be addressed via adjusting for cost differences that are attributable to low wages and laws via taxes, but that's effectively legislating for the whole world based upon our standards. Still, there's probably something here that should be considered. Autarky shouldn't be.

An aspect of this topic also relates to our views on science and education, and this is an area where the GOP has made itself weak.  Because it's so strongly mixed its political views with scientific views, it's come to be regarded as anti science and even anti education.

Now, there's a lot to legitimately criticize about education in various states, which of course varies enormously by state. But education itself is something that should not be criticized, but worked on.  Conservatives have sort of ceded education in many places to liberal interests, and they should take that flat on, not in terms of what can or cannot be taught, but in upholding rigorous standards for educators and education.  And as a group that's strongly in favor of the free marketing of labor, taking on unions that essentially capture jobs for their members irrespective of their performance is something they can and should take on.

What they shouldn't take on is science, and by that I mean real science, not social science.  Science is science and a person can argue for or against any one conclusion, but not on the basis of their politics.  What a person should argue for is solid science.

The decline in all of these areas is, it should be noted, really hurting the nation. The country had a really strong and solid policy of supporting science and engineering starting in the 1930s and running through the mid 1970s. This has really waned and with it, frankly, our position in the world.

d.  Foreign policy and defense

Our position in the world takes us to the next item, which is foreign policy and defense.

It seems forever ago, but from the start of World War Two up until the end of the Vietnam War, and even somewhat beyond, both political parties were more ore less aligned on these issues.  Both realized that isolationism was a failure and both recognized that first the Fascists, and then the Communists, were threats.  Now there seems to be little agreement on exactly what we're doing, other than that we're worried about terrorists even if we're deathly afraid of pointing out what our enemies are fighting for.

As much as we'd like to limit our activities to our own nation, in a world that  is much more tied together in the 2010s than it was in the 1910s, when we entered World War One, we can't. But what we can do is to have a foreign policy that's coherent, and stick to it.

We actually haven't done that bad over the years on this, in spite of what we may believe, but the sounds of isolationism in the current election should cause us concern.  Our foreign policy is based both on our economic interests, global reality, and our societal goals, and it should continue to be.   But we could be clearer about that.

In being clearer about that,  conservatives may wish to give more emphasis to their moral outlook. That doesn't mean intervention in foreign lands, such as the neo conservatives argued for and caused, in the case of the first Iraq war.  Rather, in looking at policy and trade, we can and we sometimes should weigh in our moral values more than we do, which is not to say that we don't already do that.

What that means is starting to apply the Mormon Missionary Test to our foreign policy a bit. That is, in 2016, there really shouldn't be a place anywhere on the globe where its some sort of a crime for young man dressed in a short sleeve white shirt and tie to come to your door.  You don't have to agree with him on anything (and as readers know, I'm not a Mormon), but it shouldn't be illegal or get that guy arrested.

Which makes you wonder why we support a nation like Saudi Arabia in anything.  Yes, it has oil, but it's using its oil to wreck our domestic industry in that field. And it effectively is responsbile for exporting terrorism in one form or another.  Enough is enough.

Which I suppose gets us to the military.  A disturbing trend in our current society is that the Armed Forces are getting so small that the average American now has little connection with them. Or at least that trend is occurring, disturbing or not.

The service should be large enough to support our global missions, and its' getting pretty small now.  It may be too small.  It should be noted, however, in returning to being small its' actually going back to its historic norm.

Part of that historic norm, however, was a National Guard that was part of the community.  That is still there, but in considering the overall size of the military, the role of the Guard, which has done very well in recent years, ought to be considered.  And by that, perhaps the size of the Guard, which is part of the community, and closely tied to it, should be increased.

Something that definitely should be increased is Congress' Constitutional obligations in regards to war.  Amazingly, conservatives, who should be seeking to conserve an accurate reading of the constitution, haven't been able to find its authority over the declaration of wars since World War Two. That really ought to end.  I'm not saying that every war that the US has entered since 1945 has been illegal, but Congress doesn't even really bother to try to determine if they are, or are not.  They should.

3.  Immigration, Race (Ethnicity) and Civil Rights

Immigration is a hot issue this year and is fueling the revolt in the GOP, and I suspect forms part of the underlying current of the revolt in the Democratic Party. Race has been an undercurrent in the GOP race in a way.  These two are connected, but not at all in the way that people seem to realize.

The reality of the world is that not nation can take in immigrants endlessly.  It's an economic and environmental impossibility. That discussion needs to be had, and probably now.  That has nothign to do with race, however.

Where race enters the picture is that new immigrants end up hurting two classes of Americans, blacks and Indians, who for historical reasons are truly economically disadvantaged. American blacks are part of the same ethnicity as the oldest American white demographic, although nobody will acknowledge that, but their incorporation into the culture by force has left a persistent problem of poverty.  Indians are their own ethnicities and have the same problem as they are conquered peoples.  In both cases, new immigrants directly compete for the same jobs at the bottom of the economy that they would, but the new arrivals have social cohesion giving them an advantage.

On equitable principals, we really should consider these classes in regards to immigration no matter what we do in regards to it. This makes the quiet decision of the GOP, which it will not acknowledge, to abandon blacks in particular as a targeted demographic very unwise.  There are many areas where a conservative political party is actually the more natural one for ethnic minorities than a liberal one, particularly given the plight of ethnic minorities and the generally conservative social views nearly every migrant community in the US has, but this seems to be ignored repeatedly by conservatives.

Okay, so that's how I'd reform the GOP along conservative lines.

Democrats, you aren't off the hook. Your turn comes next, in an upcoming post.

Second Commentary followup:

In this elections its been really popular to discuss the "Republican Establishment" while its really been missed that the Democratic Establishment has both sort of fixed the Democratic race in Clinton's favor and that it risks not working.  We'll post more on that later.

An example of that, and example of why people keep stating that the press has a bias towards Clinton, is provided by this introductory stuff from a New York Times article posted today:
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont captured the West Virginia primary on Tuesday, forcing Hillary Clinton to continue a costly and distracting two-front battle: to lock down the Democratic nomination and to take on Donald J. Trump in the general election.
Mrs. Clinton has a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates, which Mr. Sanders’s victory, one week after he won Indiana, did little to narrow. But by staying in the race, as he has vowed to do until the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July, Mr. Sanders continues to tug Mrs. Clinton to the left.
Nearly insurmountable?

Only because of the huge number of Superdelegates, the Democratic establishment delegates that are pledged for Clinton.  Otherwise, Sanders is darned close to Clinton.

Which means that if the trend holds Sanders will have the same argument that Trump has made, that the votes should go to the winners of the states.  If that happened, there's a real question of how the Superdelegates would have to vote.  There's even a chance that Sanders may come into the convention with more elected delegates, although only barely, than Clinton. If that occurs the Democrats are going to have to decide if the Superdelegates will determine who gets the race, and we can be assured that they will pick Clinton.

This means, of course, that Clinton will almost certainly take the Democratic nomination. But why is so little attention paid to this by the press?  And why is it that a candidate who is neck and neck with one who was basically supposed to be handed the nomination treated in this fashion?  If he were a Republican candidate in this position he'd occasionally be treated as somebody who might win in a contested convention.  


Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part II

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part III Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

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