Saturday, October 24, 2015

Quickies: Thoughts On Trump, Carson, and Fiorina

     I limit my exposure to the ongoing campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, mainly out of my propensity for boredom-induced narcolepsy. (Can’t afford to fall asleep in front of the computer any more; the resulting “QWERTY face” can last for days. However, the surprising longevity of the three “outsider campaigns” of Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina strikes me as an indication of an important pop-political trend.

     I use the term “pop-politics” to distinguish what I have in mind from “standard” or “Establishment” politics. It’s determined entirely by the opinions of private citizens not directly employed by the GOP. And as we have seen these past few months, it’s highly favorable to the “outsiders.” Needless to say, every pundit in America has his preferred explanation for the phenomenon. Yet the great majority of them are baffled by the outsiders’ “endurance.”

     I suggest that the “outsiders” are gaining great benefits from the behavior of the “insiders:” the governors and Senators who seek the Republican nod. In particular, the “outsiders” are made more attractive by the “insiders’” relentless PolSpeak: that curious combination of rhetorical techniques by which a seasoned politician avoids taking a position so clearly, or answering a question so definitely, that he can’t somehow weasel away from his statements at a later date.

     By comparison, Trump, Carson, and Fiorina tend to speak plainly. Each has some demerit, of course:

  • Trump is on record as having been enthusiastic in support of some strongly leftist positions and policies;
  • Carson is so soft-spoken that it’s hard to imagine him prevailing in Washington political hardball;
  • Fiorina’s record as a corporate executive has been used to attack her capabilities and allegiances.

     All the same, they contrast sharply with the “insiders,” who represent a lifeform Americans have come to despise above all others: career government functionaries and professional politicians.

     Candidate Mike Huckabee, formerly the governor of Arkansas, has implored audiences not to treat the presidency as “an entry-level position.” There is something to what he says. However, granted that we’re enduring the consequences of a poor choice as we speak, Barack Hussein Obama is a career politician with no record of having ever succeeded at anything other than gaining political office. That’s not the case with Trump, Carson, or Fiorina, all of whom have occupied a “hot seat,” where the responsibility for failure could not be averted. If they’ve never held elective office, at least they know what it means to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. And given their successes in the private sector, which the “insiders” can’t match, the electorate remains willing to listen to them.

     Only one of the “insider” candidates, Senator Ted Cruz, shows any contrast with his fellows. Cruz talks more plainly than the other “insiders.” His positions are not at all ambiguous, including the ones for which he’s drawn some conservatives’ ire. That marks him as the Heir Apparent to the “outsiders,” should their glamor wane and the electorate turn from them. We shall see.

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