Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Is There Much Difference, Policy-Wise, Between Cruz, Rubio, Herr Trumpf And Ryan?


Trumpf isn't all that motivated by policy. Like 19th Century American showman, businessman, huckster and poilitician P.T. Barnun-- one of Herr's role-models and heroes-- his primary motivation was always and in all things to "put money in my own coffers." Policy-wise, Trumpf is... incoherent and, if you want to be kind, "flexible." He has no guiding principles other than self-aggrandizement. I suppose Rubio comes closest to that kind of attitude-- although on a more junior level than a seasoned cynic like Herr-- but Cruz and Ryan are the true believers in the rotgut, anti-humanity conservatism at the heart of the Republican Party. Not that any of the four them would be likely to push an agenda different from any of the rest of them: redistribution of wealth upward so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer... forever the bedrock on conservatism.

Over the weekend there was a stir about why some evangelicals in Iowa are backing practiced pious phony Ted Cruz while others are backing the vulgar profane and irreligious Trumpf. When Trumpf first ticked down in the Iowa polls he suggested that perhaps Iowans had been exposed to too much toxic Monsanto fertilizer and it had warped their brains. We'll let that stand. Towards the end of last month, Greg Sargent posed an interesting question at the Washington Post: "Why are evangelicals, who historically have supported immigration reform and a path to citizenship for deeply felt religious and moral reasons, gravitating towards the two candidates who are most hostile to policy changes that would accommodate and integrate undocumented immigrants into American life?"
Trump (who favors mass deportations) and Cruz (who flatly opposes legalization and would end President Obama’s executive actions shielding DREAMers from deportation on Day One) are more at odds with that posture than the other GOP candidates.

...The evangelical support for Trump and Cruz is a bit surprising, given that evangelical Christians have long pushed for immigration reform that legalizes the undocumented on the grounds that we should welcome the “biblical stranger” among us who is merely trying to find a better life, as evangelical writer Jim Wallis has put it. Wallis is a liberal, but religion writer Sarah Posner has pointed out that many evangelical leaders have advocated for reform on the basis of “biblical imperatives” that require us to “seek justice for immigrants.”

PRRI’s Robert Jones, however, tells me that other nuances in evangelical opinion may be overtaking those sentiments.

“Trump is painting a bigger picture-- a kind of appeal to nostalgia and to a mythical golden age that he wants to bring back in America that is very appealing to evangelicals,” Jones says. He notes that one recent PRRI poll found that 72 percent of white evangelical Protestants think the American culture and way of life has “mostly changed for the worse” since the 1950s.

“Evangelicals strongly believe American culture has changed for the worse,” Jones says. “If you listen to evangelical rhetoric, there are so many throwback words-- retake, restore, revive, repent.”

Meanwhile, Jones notes that another recent PRRI poll found that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestants thinks that “the growing number of newcomers from other countries” is a threat to “traditional American culture and values.”

Trump, of course, has explicitly linked his call for mass deportations and his overall Fortress America approach to the quest to “make America great again.” But this broad set of evangelical sentiments may be helping Cruz, too. That’s because the Texas Senator, more than any other non-Trump candidate, has cast himself as the scourge of Washington elites who don’t have the spine to stand up to the ongoing transformation of the country-- into something no longer recognizably American-- that the Obama era is supposedly bringing about.

...“There are very high concerns about Islam among evangelicals,” Jones says. “Before Trump, in the evangelical world we had Franklin Graham, who had for years been out with scores of negative comments about Islam and Muslims. When Trump and Cruz come along, this is a familiar trope-- one evangelicals are predisposed to hearing.”
Monday Byron York took up the same topic, emphasizing that "the evangelical vote is not monolithic... Cruz's campaign appeal was suffused with references to God and Jesus and faith. Trump's not so much-- not even at all." Friday Cruz's campaign rally was like a holy roller sermon. "Biblical references flew-- Genesis 12:3, Deuteronomy 6-- and Vander Plaats exhorted the crowd to 'stand in the gap'-- from Ezekiel-- for life, for marriage, for religious liberty, for Israel. 'Ted Cruz, I believe, God has placed for such a time as this,' Vander Plaats said. The next day, at the Surf Ballroom, the Trump rally could not have been more different when it came to the topic of open expression of religious feeling. There wasn't any."
Is any of that important? Ask people in the Trump camp about the absence of religion in Trump's public speeches in such a religious state, and there will be two answers. The first: Evangelicals want jobs, too. They want to secure the border. They want to get rid of the Islamic State, especially after Paris and San Bernardino. All of that means a lot more to evangelical voters than a candidate who can quote 2 Chronicles 7:14.

In addition, they say, evangelical voters are tired of voting for candidates who appeal to their faith and then don't have the strength to win the Republican nomination or the White House. Better a strong candidate who addresses many of their concerns than a weaker one who addresses them all.
Paul Ryan is waiting in the wings. He's not a candidate; he's the choice of the establishment if they can force a deadlocked, brokered convention. He doesn't concern himself with religion. His idol, Ayn Rand, denounced it. "Faith, as such," she told adolescent adherents like Ryan, "is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason." Ryan is who the establishment hopes will save their party-- or their racket-- from the salivating jaws of Trumpf or Cruz or, worst of all worlds, Trumpf-Cruz. The Beltway media seems to have missed the set-up and choreography but Amber Phillips, in yesterday's Washington Post, did write about how Ryan is positioning himself-- and the party is positioning him-- as the not-Trumpf. He's "trying to steer the ship of his party into much calmer waters," away from all the ugly, ugly presidential primary chaos. Ryan, she insists, "continues to pretty clearly offer a competing vision for his party that is diametrically opposed to Trump's." Ryan says he now regrets dividing up people into "the makers" and "the takers." He had a summit in South Carolina over the weekend to prove Republicans care about the poor folk. What the GOP keeps pushing on a credulous press-- which laps it up-- is that Ryan says "we have to offer an alternative way forward." Phillips:
The new House speaker seems to be taking every opportunity to do just that. The question we'll spend the next 10 months trying to answer is: Is anybody listening to him? Or are GOP voters just fine with what they see on the campaign trail and not inclined to buy what Paul is selling?

It's truly, at this point, very much a choice for the GOP between the likes of Ryan and the likes of Trump.
For Americans, though, if either of them-- or Cruz or Rubio-- gets into the White House, we are in deep, deep trouble. Time to redouble our efforts for the one candidate who can make a difference that means something for all of us.

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At 2:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

"Trumpf isn't all that motivated by policy" beyond the insult level, while Bernie is all about policy. Since almost all of our mainstream "journalists" would rather stick hot pins in their eyes than discuss anything about policy that isn't poll-related, naturally they love Trump (while pretending to abhor him) and can't stand Bernie. Bernie makes them work.


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