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Phoebe Griffith: Like Hannan, I have lived in Peru. But my take on its recent story is very different.

Phoebe Griffith is Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Policy Research. She writes in a personal capacity.

From Suez to the fall of the Berlin Wall, first political memories leave an indelible mark on political beliefs. The outcome of Daniel Hannan‘s early experience of Leftist military dictatorship in Peru delivered a lifetime commitment to anti-statist, libertarianism. My early experience, also in Peru but a decade later, was very different.

I remember the day when Alberto Fujimori was elected President of Peru in 1990. The outsider in the election, he came from nowhere to defeat one of Peru’s most globally acclaimed novelists, the Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. His strategy was simple – playing up his image of a naive rank outsider by wearing Andean clothes and driving a tractor through dusty slums. It endeared him both to the powerful, who thought he’d be easily manipulated, and to the people, who thought his Asian roots were likely to make him competent and honest.

All were soon disenchanted. In the space of ten years, Fujimori gained a stranglehold over public life in Peru and, in the process, rewrote the populist handbook.

Within his first six months in office, he delivered a brutal economic programme. Bringing on board the neoliberal economists who had originally advised Vargas Llosa, he proceeded to abolish price and currency controls, sold off state-owned industries and utilities to foreign investors, and slashed public spending. National debt and inflation were brought under control but with vicious brutality and at a huge human cost. By 2005, half of Peru’s population lived in poverty (almost double the proportion it had been in 1985).

Alongside, the Fujimori regime set about a project of consolidation of power. Learning the lessons of Latin America’s decades of coups which triggered unhelpful international scrutiny and fanned the flames of opposition, he restrained himself to only one formal (fairly brief) suspension of Parliament (in 1992). His strategy proved smarter and arguably more corrosive in the long term.

Fujimori, or El Chino as Peruvians referred to him, instead opted to retain but weaken all institutions which could hold him to account – from the judiciary to the press. Indeed, the regime launched an extensive fake news operation which pre-dated Facebook, and indeed the internet. I remember picking up a copy of ‘El Chino’ one day, a Government daily sold alongside bus stops at a heavily subsidised rate. No need to clamp down on the free press – just feed people a cheap diet of propaganda shrouded by tabloid fodder.

The dramatic capture of the leader of the Shining Path, a brutal Maoist guerrilla which had taken control of swathes of the Peruvian countryside, added a further element to Fujimori’s strategy: a secret service with unchecked power. Its chief spy, Vladmiro Montesinos, became the power behind the throne, working behind the scenes to exert a vice-like control across all elements of power. Elites were kept onboard through kleptocratic means, with millions of dollars made from foreign aid and the selling off of national assets making their way to bank accounts abroad.  Surveillance films, or ‘Vladivideos’, were made during meetings and used to blackmail targets into submission.

Meanwhile, the powerless were bought off through Fujimori’s brand of capitalist-populism. Fujimori shunned the strategies of political behemoths such as the Mexican PRI and the Argentinian Peronists, the archetypes of 20th Century populism. Rather than consolidate his power through organised labour and party-political allegiance, the Fujimorista brand relied on keeping the burgeoning ranks of informal workers, who made up approximately 70% of the labour force, happy.

Nowhere was this more evident than in Lima’s transport system. Bus routes were left to emerge wherever demand took them. Gaps in the bus system were plugged by a huge taxi fleet, also deregulated and left to grow unchecked (when short of cash, friends of mine sometimes stuck impromptu TAXI stickers on their windshields on their way to the pub to make some cash for the drinks). Informal markets the size of shopping malls sold everything from forged Harvard MBA diplomas to Clavin Klien (sic) pants. They were not just tolerated; they were offered credit and celebrated as hubs of enterprise and innovation. Tax avoidance at this scale was sustainable whilst the country’s infrastructure was being sold off.

As a young researcher, I spent some months interviewing poor women employed in the informal sector. They loved Fujimori and described scenes of him, literally, delivering the handouts by hand (normally out of the back of a lorry). The women admitted to appreciating the food, saucepans and toys for the kids. They were also fully aware that the gifts, and indeed the cheap loans which they needed to keep their food and clothing businesses afloat, would dry up should their support go elsewhere. The notion of paying taxes and then expecting a level of accountability was an entirely foreign concept to that cohort of hard-headed capitalists.

The legacy of the Fujimorista regime has shaped Peru to this day (his movement remains a major political force ) and has been far more pervasive and corrosive than General Velasco’s.

Despite high levels of economic growth since Fujimori’s demise in 2000, fuelled primarily by record high commodity prices, the country has lurched from one political crisis to the next, largely as a consequence of the lack of institutions to hold the powerful to account and by a political culture which has greed and opportunism at its core. Four of its past Presidents, Fujimori included, currently reside in prison for charges of corruption (a fifth, Alan Garcia, shot himself earlier this year, moments before being apprehended by police).

The lasting effects of a toxic combination of deregulated capitalism, contempt for democratic institutions and dirty underhand tactics – is the insight that foreign observers, including my small band of fellow Anglo-Peruvians like Daniel Hannan, should draw from Peru’s recent political history. Perhaps they will find resonance even closer to home?

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CNN: Deep-pocket Dem establishment donors about to rescue Biden

Westlake Legal Group biden-bullets CNN: Deep-pocket Dem establishment donors about to rescue Biden The Blog Super PACs populism Joe Biden Fundraising Democratic establishment

Nothing resonates in a populist era better than [checks notesa bunch of wealthy elites propping up a 47-year veteran of the Beltway. To be fair, Joe Biden has stated publicly that he doesn’t want help from super-PACs to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. However, Biden’s overall fundraising incompetence has Democratic institutional donors worried about whether Biden can make it to the finish line financially, CNN reports:

A coalition of top Democratic strategists and donors are intensifying conversations about setting up an outside group to bolster Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy, people familiar with the matter tell CNN, aiming to create a super PAC designed to fight back against a barrage of well-funded attacks from President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The idea of building an outside organization has been the subject of discussion for weeks by Biden allies, but the conversations intensified in the wake of a cash crunch for the former vice president’s campaign. He reported last week having less than $9 million in the bank, significantly less than his leading rivals.

The optics would look terrible, but Biden’s backers might not have much of a choice. His team has relied on big-ticket donors to the point where many of them can’t kick in any more cash directly to the campaign. In fact, as Politico reports this morning, Biden is the leading candidate for donations of $500 or more, and that’s the problem:

Biden has raised $20.7 million from contributions of at least $500 — $1.5 million more than his nearest competitor, despite entering the race later than all of them — thanks to the former vice president’s strong connections and goodwill among the traditional donors who have long financed the Democratic Party. Biden drew donations from 114 former big money fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the third quarter, the most of any Democrat, according to a POLITICO analysis.

But it’s been nowhere near enough to make Biden the leader of the fundraising pack. In fact, his big-dollar dominance, and his reliance on those donors, is more evidence of how quickly small-dollar donations have become the most important component of political fundraising in a sprawling, fractured Democratic race. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are all outraising Biden, and stockpiling cash significantly faster than him, on the back of major support from online donors that Biden has been unable to build.

If Biden raised all that money, why does he have a cash-on-hand problem? His burn rate has been spectacular, according to an ABC News report last week. In the third quarter, Biden spent $2 million more than he raised (which was already $6 million less than he raised in the second quarter) for a burn rate of 112%. That’s a very odd development for a campaign that seems intent on limiting its candidate’s public exposure. Whatever the reason, Biden’s in a tough spot; he only has $9 million on hand for the stretch run to the primaries, while top-tier opponents Elizabeth Warren ($25.7 million) and Bernie Sanders ($33.7 million) have lots more resources — and lots more money coming in.

So Biden has two big problems — income and outflow. A super-PAC could solve those problems by allowing outsiders to manage the money and the message, but it doesn’t solve the problems created by the candidate himself. At least one of these major institutional donors told Politico that he may have thrown good money after bad:

The bundler contributions and connections are helping keep Biden’s campaign afloat, but some of those donors are cringing at the way Biden is running his campaign.

“I don’t think Joe Biden is going to be the nominee,” said one major fundraiser, who said he gave to Biden out of loyalty during the third quarter. “I think there’s a thirst for something down the road taking us towards something bigger and better. That’s not going to be Joe Biden, for whom I have the utmost respect. He is acting his age and showing his age.”

On top of all that, the act of forming the super-PAC all but confirms what two previous presidential campaigns have proven about Biden: he’s not a good candidate. Biden has never been good about raising funds and continually sticks his foot in his mouth. The latter quality has been increasingly on display, along with a growing sense that Biden’s time has long since passed. Add to that the obvious desperation to prop him up by the same establishment that tried to rig Hillary Clinton’s nomination four years ago and you have a monumental populist crisis about to hit the Democratic Party.

We might need a super-PAC just to pay for all the popcorn.

The post CNN: Deep-pocket Dem establishment donors about to rescue Biden appeared first on Hot Air.

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Dems’ progressive poker: Bernie sees Warren’s wealth tax — and raises it

Westlake Legal Group Bernie-Sanders-3 Dems’ progressive poker: Bernie sees Warren’s wealth tax — and raises it wealth tax US Constitution The Blog Taxes populism Elizabeth Warren Bernie Sanders

Damn the constitutional torpedoes, full speed aheadfor class warriors, anyway. Bernie Sanders refused to let Elizabeth Warren outflank him to the left and has revealed his own wealth-tax proposal as an answer to his ridiculously costly social programs. Warren proposed a 2% wealth tax at $50 million in assets and above, but Sanders wants those with $10 million or more in assets to feel a 3% annual Bern — for starters:

Sanders, a presidential candidate and independent senator from Vermont, offered his blueprint after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has surged in the polls, made a wealth tax one of her signature ideas. Her crowds regularly chant “two cents!” at her rallies when she brings up the idea, a reference to how much the wealthy would have to pay on the dollar.

Sanders’s proposed wealth tax is more aggressive than Warren’s and would raise more money. Warren’s plan calls for levying a 2 percent tax on wealth above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent tax on wealth above $1 billion. The relatively high threshold has helped Warren fend off critiques that large farms could be exposed to the tax.

Sanders would hit more people with the tax and would also significantly increase how much it would take from the very wealthiest, following a pattern in which he has sought to stake out the leftward boundary of the Democratic Party when it comes to policy proposals.

Sanders’s plan introduces a new 1 percent wealth tax on those earning over $32 million, and then increases that rate in a series of steps until it reaches 8 percent for those with more than $10 billion.

Sanders needs to raise more money than Warren because he’s proposing to spend more money — lots more. His Medicare for All proposal alone would cost $32 trillion over the first ten years and then escalate from that point. Bernie also wants to spend $2.5 trillion on a program to “end homelessness,” and another $1.7 trillion to cancel all student debt. He also wants to spend $16 trillion over the next ten years to “decarbonize the economy” along with other Green New Deal initiatives, Issues & Insights editors noted a month ago:

One of the four leading Democrats running for president, Bernie Sanders announced this week that, if elected, he’ll spend $16.3 trillion over the next decade to decarbonize the economy. That’s a big number. But it’s only one of Sanders’ “bold” plans that, when added up, would more than double the size of the federal government.

The details of Sanders’ “Green New Deal” aren’t particularly important. Suffice it to say, the plan is stuffed to the brim with pie-in-the-sky assumptions and massive new government programs. The Democratic senator wants to spend $681 billion on a “vehicle trade-in program,” another $407 billion to replace school buses, $216 billion to replace every truck. That’s all on just one page of his Green New Deal plan.

All told, he wants to dump more than $16 trillion over 10 years on these and other boondoggles.

Add in Medicare for All and we’re close to a $50 trillion agenda over the next ten years. That’s in addition to current federal spending on everything else, where we’re already running trillion-dollar annual deficits regardless of which party is in charge. How much will a wealth tax contribute to this? Er ….

Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman at the University of California at Berkeley estimate Sanders’s plan would raise $4.35 trillion over 10 years, although conservatives have said such estimates overstate how much can be raised through a wealth tax.

In other words, it won’t even cover 10% of the costs for Sanders’ agenda, in a friendly estimate. Given the nature of static tax analysis used for most of these types of estimates, we can bet that the actual revenue will come in much lower when the wealthy adjust to the new incentives this tax presents. As we can also expect the costs for all these government bureaucracies to be a lot more expensive than the Sanders campaign projects, too.

That’s if the taxes ever get applied at all. It’s not at all clear that Congress has authority to impose a tax on already-taxed wealth, and any attempt would run into a massive legal challenge on constitutionality. The closest one comes to a constitutional precedent is the inheritance tax, but that was upheld on the basis of being transactional, ie, involving a transfer of wealth from one person to another. Others have argued that a wealth tax is constitutional, but it’s safe to say that there’s not a slam-dunk case either way. It might require a constitutional amendment to grant the federal government that authority, and the prospects of having 38 states grant the right to pull wealth out of their state and into the federal government’s hands are bleak at best.

The intent here is clearly punitive more than it is fiscal soundness. Sanders and Warren both want to burnish their class-warrior bona fides by threatening to raid the coffers of the rich. It’s a time-honored populist trope while remaining mathematically and practically impossible to accomplish. But you’d better believe it will sell in the primaries, anyway.

The post Dems’ progressive poker: Bernie sees Warren’s wealth tax — and raises it appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump campaign manager: This family is a dynasty that will last for decades

Westlake Legal Group p-1 Trump campaign manager: This family is a dynasty that will last for decades Trump The Blog populism ivanka dynasty don jr Brad Parscale

Via RCP, this isn’t true but nothing could be more natural than a Trump courtier flattering the president’s monarchical ambitions by insisting that the family’s reign will continue indefinitely.

Brad Parscale said this, coincidentally, a few days before the Atlantic rolled out a splashy new piece about the rivalry developing between Ivanka and Don Jr as Trump’s chief political heir. Ivanka has always been the president’s favorite and superficially she has the most potential. She’s smart, beautiful, perfectly comfortable on camera, and has a reputation as a moderate that might attract voters scared away by dad’s rough edges. The problem is that she has no constituency. Democrats will loathe her forever for participating in her father’s administration; some Trump administration veterans might be able to claw back respect from the opposition (Mattis, for one) but Ivanka and Jared definitely won’t. Meanwhile, she and Kushner are viewed suspiciously by the populist right as Democrats in Republican clothing, obstacles to the nationalist agenda that true believers like Steve Bannon tried to implement. Trumpers like the president’s rough edges, his willingness to be politically incorrect. Ivanka has none of that. She belongs at Davos, not at a MAGA rally with the working class.

If there’s a Trump child with a constituency on the right it’s Junior, who has embraced his father’s populist base while Ivanka’s kept her distance. It’s Don who likes to mix it up on Twitter and talk trash about opponents occasionally on Fox News. And it’s Don, not Ivanka, who’s been outspoken in support of the Trump agenda, especially on the trail. If there’s a political heir here, writes McKay Coppins, it’ll be him, not her.

Don discovered that he had a knack for campaigning. Bounding into county fairs and hunting expos in boots and blue jeans, he dazzled crowds with his knowledge of duck blinds and fly-fishing—sounding more like a Trump voter than a Trump. He thrived in the shouty, testosterone-soaked realm of #MAGA Twitter, where his provocations routinely went viral. Don’s habit of amplifying memes from the right-wing fever swamps generated controversy. (One infamous tweet compared Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles; another featured the alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog.) But it also helped turn him into a kind of Breitbartian folk hero…

To the surprise of many in elite GOP circles, he also excelled at schmoozing wealthy donors, raising millions of dollars for conservatives in closed-door fundraisers. “He’s as good in a room of six people as he is in a room of 6,000,” says Tommy Hicks Jr., a co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a friend of Don’s…

By November 2018, Don had appeared at more than 70 campaign events across 17 states—and powerful Republicans were abuzz. “I could very easily see him entering politics,” Senator Kevin Cramer told me. “I think his future is bright,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Newsmax’s CEO, Chris Ruddy, told me he’d personally encouraged Don to run for office; Sean Hannity called him “a born natural leader.” Senator Rand Paul went so far as to say that Don was one of the best Republican campaigners in the country. “If you can’t get the president,” Paul told me, “he’s a close second.”

While Don Jr was getting press like that, notes Coppins, Ivanka was getting press like this.

Supposedly Junior has already had discussions about relocating to a sparsely populated western red state like Montana, establishing residence, and running for governor or Senate on the basis of his pedigree as a hunter, a MAGA bro, and, of course, a Trump. What comparable option does Ivanka have? The only way she’d be viable in a Republican primary is if dad personally campaigned for her. And I’m not sure he’d have the same sway as an ex-president, to whom Republicans no longer feel they owe loyalty, as he would as an incumbent. Remember, he couldn’t even get Luther Strange past Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate primary runoff a few years ago. Imagine him trying to get his glamorous centrist NYC-born-and-bred daughter elected in Wyoming or whatever.

I think Don Jr could get elected to a statewide seat somewhere, but president? Listen: If a Trump apologist as hardcore as Lou Dobbs is reacting this way to “dynasty” talk, God only knows how mortified rank-and-file Republicans are at the idea.

Populism and dynasty aren’t as incompatible as they should be. The French went from revolution to the Bonaparte clan ruling much of Europe within 25 years. A cynic might even define populism as a movement among average people to secure for themselves the same pernicious privileges the elites enjoy, up to and including hereditary political power. Dobbs is kidding himself if he thinks MAGA Nation would reject a dynasty on principle.

The reason there won’t be a Trump dynasty in practice is that Republicans will simply be too tired after Trump is gone to do this again. Not all of them: There’ll always be voters who crave “chaos incitement” to soothe their feeling of disempowerment, but most GOPers just won’t have the stomach for another four-year run of government Trump-style. The tweets; the endless personnel churn; the weird erratic “let’s invite the Taliban to Camp David” nonsense; the impetuous policy shifts, like a trade war with China, that seem to follow no master plan — it’s just too much. Righties will stick with Trump in 2020 because they’re completely invested in him as the incumbent but they’re not doing this again anytime soon with Don Jr, who, notwithstanding his stump skills, lacks dad’s mystique as a celebrity and as some sort of master businessman. Who’s to say that Don will even be the Trumpiest figure on the Republican landscape 10 years from now? You don’t think Tucker Carlson could out-Trump him if he wanted to?

Don’s best shot as a national figure would be to MAGA his way into state office somewhere and then tone his Trumpiness way down. If he governed effectively in a relatively low-key way, he’d have appeal to both the MAGA and potentially the non-MAGA wings of the party. (“He’s like his dad, but coherent!”) The problem there, though, is that dad’s likely to be around for awhile sniping at people from the sidelines even if he doesn’t get a second term. And if he doesn’t, if he ends up losing his reelection bid after having lost the popular vote to Hillary three years ago, how valuable will the “Trump” political brand really be? George H.W. Bush won his term in a landslide and left office as a respected statesman. Trump will be reviled by the opposition forever when he goes and even many supporters on the right will have long since reached the point of fatigue from his antics. How do you build a dynasty on that?

The post Trump campaign manager: This family is a dynasty that will last for decades appeared first on Hot Air.

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NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid

Westlake Legal Group biden-vegas NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid The Blog populism NBC/WSJ poll Joe Biden impeachment establishment donald trump anger

We Americans may not agree on much, but according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, we largely agree on one thing. That one thing might end up trumping all other concerns in the next election, too — pun very much intended:

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that — despite Americans’ overall satisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and their own personal finances — a majority say they are angry at the nation’s political and financial establishment, anxious about its economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation.

“Four years ago, we uncovered a deep and boiling anger across the country engulfing our political system,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, which conducted this survey in partnership with the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies. “Four years later, with a very different political leader in place, that anger remains at the same level.”

The poll finds that 70 percent of Americans say they feel angry “because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington.” Forty-three percent say that statement describes them “very well.”

Say, says NBC News, this sure looks … familiar:

That’s almost exactly the percentage that agreed with the same statement in October 2015, when the presidential election was being upended by the anti-establishment message of then-candidate Donald Trump.

What’s most interesting about these results is where that anger is manifested. According to NBC, that anger has gone down ten points among Republicans since that 2015 poll, which is understandable. Their anger has been vented — somewhat — by the election of Donald Trump and all the winning that has transpired since (arguably, of course). Among Democrats, anger at the establishment has gone up ten points in the same period and now hits a majority 54%.

If that’s the case, though, why is Joe Biden dominating in Democratic primary polling? Other than the Clintons, no one represents the Democratic/Beltway establishment better than Joe Biden. He’s been in DC for 46 years and some change, served for decades in the Senate, and then did eight years as Barack Obama’s VP. In fact, Biden has more or less predicated his run on the idea of a restoration of the Obama-era establishment, against which the populists in both parties revolted in 2015-16. Biden might not be riding quite as high in polling as he did in the spring, but his RCP average puts him twelve points above his nearest competitors, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Furthermore, this dynamic points up another risk. Right now, Beltway Democrats are trying to find some way to eject Trump from office, even with another election around the corner. What could possibly look more swampy, more Establishmentarian, than the evolving rationalizations offered for the impeachment push by Democrats who have been in DC for decades?

Democrats are running full tilt into a populist buzzsaw, as I warned a few weeks ago:

Biden’s candidacy does present unusual circumstances that could give Trump some advantages for going on the attack. First off, Biden’s campaign is also employing a curious campaign strategy. Both the Washington Post and CNN noted in the past week that Biden isn’t exactly embracing a rigorous appearance schedule. Biden didn’t bother to schedule any events over the holiday weekend, and the Post noted that this has become a familiar refrain from Team Biden since his launch a month earlier. CNN also informed readers that even when Biden does hold events, he rarely takes questions from the crowd as other Democrats have done.

The strategy, progressive strategist Rebecca Katz told CNN, is to have voters “see him less and remember him more.” It’s better for Biden to keep the focus on his past with Obama rather than on the present, Katz concludes. Trump’s provocations could force Biden to abandon that strategy and spend more time in the public eye — although it also provides Biden a good platform for making himself the eminence grise of the 2020 hopefuls and enhancing his credibility as Trump’s chief opponent.

However, that context still benefits Trump in another way. This is because Biden represents the status quo ante that Trump campaigned against so effectively in 2016. He is literally the reset option for Democrats and other voters unnerved by Trump’s chaos-agent campaign, a comfort food menu choice in the Democratic primary that would endorse the old order over Trump’s swamp-draining paradigm. Making Biden his central foe plays into that narrative again for Trump, even before Democrats choose Barack Obama’s former vice president as the nominee.

If Trump sees Biden as his most effective potential opponent, then the time to attack is now — he could effectively pre-define the general election race regardless of what strategy Democrats try to use to challenge his incumbency — as long as he’s convinced that voters don’t want a return to a safe status quo ante.

The NBC/WSJ poll certainly makes it look as though most voters don’t want to return to the status quo ante — not even Democrats. Biden might be the most “electable” candidate on stage in a normal cycle, but if 2020 gets dominated by populism again, Biden might turn into a very easy target for Team Trump. And an impeachment attempt could turn into a disaster even before then.

The post NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid appeared first on Hot Air.

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NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid

Westlake Legal Group biden-vegas NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid The Blog populism NBC/WSJ poll Joe Biden impeachment establishment donald trump anger

We Americans may not agree on much, but according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, we largely agree on one thing. That one thing might end up trumping all other concerns in the next election, too — pun very much intended:

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that — despite Americans’ overall satisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and their own personal finances — a majority say they are angry at the nation’s political and financial establishment, anxious about its economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation.

“Four years ago, we uncovered a deep and boiling anger across the country engulfing our political system,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, which conducted this survey in partnership with the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies. “Four years later, with a very different political leader in place, that anger remains at the same level.”

The poll finds that 70 percent of Americans say they feel angry “because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington.” Forty-three percent say that statement describes them “very well.”

Say, says NBC News, this sure looks … familiar:

That’s almost exactly the percentage that agreed with the same statement in October 2015, when the presidential election was being upended by the anti-establishment message of then-candidate Donald Trump.

What’s most interesting about these results is where that anger is manifested. According to NBC, that anger has gone down ten points among Republicans since that 2015 poll, which is understandable. Their anger has been vented — somewhat — by the election of Donald Trump and all the winning that has transpired since (arguably, of course). Among Democrats, anger at the establishment has gone up ten points in the same period and now hits a majority 54%.

If that’s the case, though, why is Joe Biden dominating in Democratic primary polling? Other than the Clintons, no one represents the Democratic/Beltway establishment better than Joe Biden. He’s been in DC for 46 years and some change, served for decades in the Senate, and then did eight years as Barack Obama’s VP. In fact, Biden has more or less predicated his run on the idea of a restoration of the Obama-era establishment, against which the populists in both parties revolted in 2015-16. Biden might not be riding quite as high in polling as he did in the spring, but his RCP average puts him twelve points above his nearest competitors, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Furthermore, this dynamic points up another risk. Right now, Beltway Democrats are trying to find some way to eject Trump from office, even with another election around the corner. What could possibly look more swampy, more Establishmentarian, than the evolving rationalizations offered for the impeachment push by Democrats who have been in DC for decades?

Democrats are running full tilt into a populist buzzsaw, as I warned a few weeks ago:

Biden’s candidacy does present unusual circumstances that could give Trump some advantages for going on the attack. First off, Biden’s campaign is also employing a curious campaign strategy. Both the Washington Post and CNN noted in the past week that Biden isn’t exactly embracing a rigorous appearance schedule. Biden didn’t bother to schedule any events over the holiday weekend, and the Post noted that this has become a familiar refrain from Team Biden since his launch a month earlier. CNN also informed readers that even when Biden does hold events, he rarely takes questions from the crowd as other Democrats have done.

The strategy, progressive strategist Rebecca Katz told CNN, is to have voters “see him less and remember him more.” It’s better for Biden to keep the focus on his past with Obama rather than on the present, Katz concludes. Trump’s provocations could force Biden to abandon that strategy and spend more time in the public eye — although it also provides Biden a good platform for making himself the eminence grise of the 2020 hopefuls and enhancing his credibility as Trump’s chief opponent.

However, that context still benefits Trump in another way. This is because Biden represents the status quo ante that Trump campaigned against so effectively in 2016. He is literally the reset option for Democrats and other voters unnerved by Trump’s chaos-agent campaign, a comfort food menu choice in the Democratic primary that would endorse the old order over Trump’s swamp-draining paradigm. Making Biden his central foe plays into that narrative again for Trump, even before Democrats choose Barack Obama’s former vice president as the nominee.

If Trump sees Biden as his most effective potential opponent, then the time to attack is now — he could effectively pre-define the general election race regardless of what strategy Democrats try to use to challenge his incumbency — as long as he’s convinced that voters don’t want a return to a safe status quo ante.

The NBC/WSJ poll certainly makes it look as though most voters don’t want to return to the status quo ante — not even Democrats. Biden might be the most “electable” candidate on stage in a normal cycle, but if 2020 gets dominated by populism again, Biden might turn into a very easy target for Team Trump. And an impeachment attempt could turn into a disaster even before then.

The post NBC/WSJ poll points to 2020 risk: It’s the establishment, stupid appeared first on Hot Air.

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Dems wonder: What the hell is Steyer thinking?

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We all know what Tom Steyer thinks — that he can buy the Democratic presidential nomination with a nine-figure investment in the primaries. What’s less clear is why the multibillionaire wants to try it. And now Democrats are becoming more vocal in telling Steyer to butt out, according to Politico, including a reminder of Steyer’s lack of, er, diversity:

“It’s very difficult for me to see the path for Tom Steyer to be a credible candidate,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has endorsed Pete Buttigieg. “So yes, I would rather that he spend his money taking back the Virginia House, the Virginia Senate and supporting people who can win.”

“I wish he wouldn’t do it. Especially at this late date,” added Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “Things are set except for those who are going to drop out.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio observed that Steyer is basically “another white guy in the race,” albeit a wealthy one who is “a major progressive player.” Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was mostly perplexed by the wealthy Californian’s entry when asked about it: “I kind of wonder why?”

The most remarkable aspect of this Politico report are the names that are going on the record. Sherrod Brown telling reporters that Steyer’s too pale for Democrats is chef’s-kiss perfection for this cycle, I suppose. Keep in mind that these are the same people who were figuratively planting their lips on Steyer’s backside until recently, hoping to get him to fund the Democrats’ general-election fight.

One explanation for the pushback is that Steyer is currently using his largesse to attack incumbents — Democratic incumbents. He’s still sore that the House hasn’t advanced impeachment, and he’s taking aim at some big names:

“Do I think he’s wasting his money on [impeachment] ads against me? Yes,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has not endorsed a presidential candidate and declined to comment on his presidential run.

Steyer has already used his multimillion-dollar impeachment campaign to target prominent House Democrats, including Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. And he’s floated the idea of turning his financial firepower on Democratic leadership, including Pelosi.

Steyer issued a blunt statement directed at the speaker last week after Democrats voted to kill an effort to immediately launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. Then he dinged Congress on Monday for “going on vacation for six weeks,” calling on Pelosi to cancel the House’s August recess.

No wonder Steyer plans on spending $100 million on the primaries, assuming he gets very far. He won’t have any other allies to pay some of the bills. At the same time, though, don’t forget that Steyer plans to focus on a campaign message of [checks notes, spit-takes] getting money out of politics:

By running for the Democratic nomination, Steyer is both a “corporation” and a special interest — his own. Nothing says “let’s get the influence of money out of politics” like buying a major-party nomination, I tell ya.

It won’t work, though, because Steyer’s now burning the bridges over impeachment that he painstakingly built with climate change over the last several years. When Steyer realizes this, will he decide to put his money into going the Ross Perot route? If he’s looking to burn down the Democratic Party over his spite about impeachment, he could hardly choose a more effective method.

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“This will most likely be the last time I will speak at length as Prime Minister…” – May on the state of politics

The below is the full text of the speech delivered by Theresa May at Chatham House today.

This will most likely be the last time I will speak at length as Prime Minister and I would like today to share some personal reflections on the state of politics in our country and around the world.

I have lived politics for half a century. From stuffing envelopes for my local party in my school years to serving as a local councillor, fighting a by-election, winning a seat, to serving for 12 years on the opposition front bench, and for nine years in the Cabinet as Home Secretary and Prime Minister.

Throughout that time, in every job I have done, I have been inspired by the enormous potential that working in politics and taking part in public life holds.

The potential to serve your country, to improve peoples’ lives, and – in however big or small a way – to make the world a better place.

Looking at our own country and the world of which we form a part, and there is great deal to feel optimistic about.

Globally, over the last 30 years extreme poverty and child mortality have both been halved.

Hundreds of millions of people are today living longer, happier and healthier lives than their grandparents could even have dreamed of.

As a world, we have never cared more deeply about the ecology of our planet’s environment.

From treating the earth as a collection of resources to be plundered, we have within a generation come to understand its fragile diversity and taken concerted action to conserve it.

The UK is leading the way in that effort with our commitment to net zero emissions.

Social attitudes in our country and many other western countries have transformed in recent decades.

There are more women in senior positions today than at any time in history.

When I was born, it was a crime to be a gay man, legal to discriminate on the basis of sex or race, and casual bigotry was a socially acceptable fact of daily life.

All that has changed – and greatly for the better.

There remains a long, long way to go to achieve what we should rightly seek – an economy, a society and a world that truly works for all of its people.

Where everyone has the security of a safe home and enough to eat; the opportunity to get a good education and a satisfying job to support their family; and the freedom of thought, speech and action to do and be everything their talents and hard work fit them for.

The generation of young people growing up today – in the UK and around the word – have it within their grasp to achieve more in the decades ahead than we today can imagine.

They will have the chance to harness the great drivers of change in the world today – from artificial intelligence and the data economy; cleaner forms of energy and more efficient modes of transport; to the technological and medical advances that will extend and improve our quality of life.

The twenty-first century has the potential to be a pivotal point in human history – when economic, social and technological progress reach a combined apogee with the benefits multiplied and with everyone enjoying a share.

It will not come about without effort.

We will all have to work hard – individually and collectively to reach that better future.

Crucially, the full power and potential of a small, but strong and strategic state must be brought to bear in that effort, establishing and maintaining the legal and economic structures that allow a regulated free market to flourish.

Co-ordinating its own interventions to maximum effect – supporting science and innovation, supplying crucial public services and infrastructure, leading and responding to social progress.

At our best, that has been the story of the democratic century that we celebrated last year when we marked the first votes for women and working men in 1918.

It has been democratic politics, an open market economy and the enduring values of free speech, the rule of law and a system of government founded on the concept of inviolable human rights that has provided the nexus of that progress in the past.

And a healthy body politic will be essential to consolidating and extending that progress in the future.

It is on that score that today we do have grounds for serious concern. Both domestically and internationally, in substance and in tone, I am worried about the state of politics.

That worry stems from a conviction that the values on which all of our successes have been founded cannot be taken for granted.

They may look to us as old as the hills, we might think that they will always be there, but establishing the superiority of those values over the alternatives was the hard work of centuries of sacrifice.

And to ensure that liberal inheritance can endure for generations to come, we today have a responsibility to be active in conserving it.

If we do not, we will all pay the price – rich and poor, strong and weak, powerful and powerless.

As a politician, my decisions and actions have always been guided by that conviction.

It used to be asked of applicants at Conservative candidate selection meetings, ‘are you a conviction politician or are you a pragmatist’?

I have never accepted the distinction.

Politics is the business of turning your convictions into reality to improve the lives of the people you serve.

As a Conservative, I have never had any doubt about what I believe in – security, freedom and opportunity. Decency, moderation, patriotism. Conserving what is of value, but never shying away from change. Indeed, recognising that often change is the way to conserve. Believing in business but holding businesses to account if they break the rules. Backing ambition, aspiration and hard work. Protecting our Union of nations – and being prepared to act in its interest even if that means steering a difficult political course.

And remaining always firmly rooted in the common ground of politics – where all great political parties should be.

I didn’t write about those convictions in pamphlets or make many theoretical speeches about them.

I have sought to put them into action.

And actually getting things done rather than simply getting them said requires some qualities that have become unfashionable of late.

One of them is a willingness to compromise. That does not mean compromising your values.

It does not mean accepting the lowest common denominator or clinging to outmoded ideas out of apathy or fear.

It means being driven by, and when necessary standing up for, your values and convictions.

But doing so in the real world – in the arena of public life – where others are making their own case, pursuing their own interests.

And where persuasion, teamwork and a willingness to make mutual concessions are needed to achieve an optimal outcome.

That is politics at its best.

The alternative is a politics of winners and losers, of absolutes and of perpetual strife – and that threatens us all.

Today an inability to combine principles with pragmatism and make a compromise when required seems to have driven our whole political discourse down the wrong path.

It has led to what is in effect a form of “absolutism” – one which believes that if you simply assert your view loud enough and long enough you will get your way in the end. Or that mobilising your own faction is more important than bringing others with you.

This is coarsening our public debate. Some are losing the ability to disagree without demeaning the views of others.

Online, technology allows people to express their anger and anxiety without filter or accountability. Aggressive assertions are made without regard to the facts or the complexities of an issue, in an environment where the most extreme views tend to be the most noticed.

This descent of our debate into rancour and tribal bitterness – and in some cases even vile abuse at a criminal level – is corrosive for the democratic values which we should all be seeking to uphold. It risks closing down the space for reasoned debate and subverting the principle of freedom of speech.

And this does not just create an unpleasant environment. Words have consequences – and ill words that go unchallenged are the first step on a continuum towards ill deeds – towards a much darker place where hatred and prejudice drive not only what people say but also what they do.

This absolutism is not confined to British politics. It festers in politics all across the world. We see it in the rise of political parties on the far left and far right in Europe and beyond. And we see it in the increasingly adversarial nature of international relations, which some view as a zero sum game where one country can only gain if others lose. And where power, unconstrained by rules, is the only currency of value.

This absolutism at home and abroad is the opposite of politics at its best. It refuses to accept that other points of view are reasonable. It ascribes bad motives to those taking those different views.

And it views anything less than 100 per cent of what you want all the time as evidence of failure, when success in fact means achieving the optimum outcome in any given circumstance.

The sustainability of modern politics derives not from an uncompromising absolutism but rather through the painstaking marking out of a common ground.

That doesn’t mean abandoning our principles – far from it. It means delivering on them with the consent of people on all sides of the debate, so they can ultimately accept the legitimacy of what is being done, even if it may not be the outcome they would initially have preferred.

That is how social progress and international agreement was forged in the years after the Second World War – both at home with the establishment of an enduring National Health Service and, internationally, with the creation of an international order based on agreed rules and multilateral institutions.

Consider, for example, the story of the NHS. The Beveridge Report was commissioned by a Coalition Government.

The Health Minister who published the first White Paper outlining the principles of a comprehensive and free health service was a Conservative.

A Labour Government then created the NHS – engaging in fierce controversy both with the doctors who would work for the NHS, and with a Conservative opposition in the House of Commons which supported the principles of an NHS, but disagreed with the methods.

But the story does not end there. Just three years after the NHS was founded, Churchill’s newly elected Conservative Government was faced with a choice, a choice between going back over old arguments or accepting the legitimacy of what had been done and building on it.

They chose to build on what had been established.

Today, because people were willing to compromise, we have an NHS to be proud of – an institution which unites our country.

Similarly, on the international stage, many of the agreements that underpinned the establishment of the rules-based international order in the aftermath of the Second World War were reached by pragmatism and compromise.

The San Francisco Conference, which adopted the United Nations Charter – the cornerstone of international law – almost broke down over Soviet insistence that the Security Council veto should apply not just to Council resolutions and decisions, but even to whether the Council should discuss a matter.

It was only a personal mission to Stalin in Moscow from US President Truman’s envoy Harry Hopkins that persuaded the Soviets to back down.

Many States who were not Permanent Members of the Security Council did not want the veto to exist at all. But they compromised and signed the Charter because of the bigger prize it represented – a global system which enfranchised the people of the world with new rights, until then only recognisable to citizens in countries like ours.

It’s easy now to assume that these landmark agreements which helped created the international order will always hold – that they are as permanent as the hills.

But turning ideals into practical agreements was hard fought. And we cannot be complacent about ensuring that they endure.

Indeed, the current failure to combine principles with pragmatism and compromise inevitably risks undermining them.

We are living through a period of profound change and insecurity. The forces of globalisation and the pursuit of free markets have brought unprecedented levels of wealth and opportunity for the country and for the world at large. But not everyone is reaping the benefits.

The march of technology is expanding the possibilities for humanity in ways that once could never have been conceived. But it is changing the nature of the workplace and the types of jobs that people will do. More and more working people are feeling anxious over whether they and their children and grandchildren will have the skills and the opportunities to get on.

And although the problems were building before the financial crisis, that event brought years of hardship from which we are only now emerging.

Populist movements have seized the opportunity to capitalise on that vacuum. They have embraced the politics of division; identifying the enemies to blame for our problems and offering apparently easy answers.

In doing so, they promote a polarised politics which views the world through the prism of “us” and “them” – a prism of winners and losers, which views compromise and cooperation through international institutions as signs of weakness not strength.

President Putin expressed this sentiment clearly on the eve of the G20 summit in Japan, when he said that the “liberal idea has become obsolete”…because it has “come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

This is a cynical falsehood. No one comparing the quality of life or economic success of liberal democracies like the UK, France and Germany to that of the Russian Federation would conclude that our system is obsolete. But the fact that he feels emboldened to utter it today indicates the challenge we face as we seek to defend our values.

So if we are to stand up for these values that are fundamental to our way of life, we need to rebuild support for them by addressing people’s legitimate concerns through actual solutions that can command public consent, rather than populist promises that in the end are not solutions at all.

In doing so, we need to show that, from the local to the global, a politics of pragmatic conviction that is unafraid of compromise and co-operation is the best way in which politics can sustainably meet the challenges we face.

Take the example of how we address some of the concerns and fears over globalisation.

The Far Left – including the leadership of our once proud British Labour Party – would argue that we should scrap an open market altogether. And we should be in no doubt that if we cannot successfully reform the free market system to create an economy that works for all, then people will increasingly reject it in favour of an alternative, no matter what the wider economic and social consequences.

But we know it is free and competitive markets that drive the innovation, creativity and risk-taking that have enabled so many of the great advances of our time. We know it is business that pioneers the industries of the future, secures the investment on which that future depends, and creates jobs and livelihoods for families up and down our country.

And we know that free enterprise can also play a crucial role in helping to meet some of the greatest social challenges of our time – from contributing to the sustainability of our planet to generating new growth and new hope in areas of our country that have been left behind for too long.

But you do not protect the concept of free market capitalism by failing to respond to the legitimate concerns of those who are not feeling its full benefits. You protect free market capitalism and all the benefits it can bring by reforming it so that it works for everyone.

That is why I have introduced reforms to working practice and workers’ rights to reflect the changes in our economy. It is why I launched the Taylor Review into modern forms of employment like the gig economy – and why we are delivering the biggest improvements in UK workers’ rights for twenty years in response to it.

It is why I have advanced changes in corporate governance – because business must not only be about commercial success but about bringing wider benefits to the whole of our society too.

And it is why we have put in place a Modern Industrial Strategy – a strategic partnership between business and government to make the long-term decisions that will ensure the success of our economy. But crucially, a strategy to ensure that as we develop the industries of the future, so the benefits of the trade and growth they will give rise to will reach working people – not just in some parts of the country, but in every part of our country.

These are steps rooted in my Conservative political convictions. They are not a rejection of free enterprise. But rather they are the very way to restore the popular legitimacy of free enterprise and make it work for everyone.

I believe that taking such an approach is also how we resolve the Brexit impasse.

The only way to do so is to deliver on the outcome of the vote in 2016. And there is no greater regret for me than that I could not do so.

But whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long-term – so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together.

That has to mean some kind of compromise.

Some argue I should have taken the United Kingdom out of the European Union with no deal on 29th March. Some wanted a purer version of Brexit. Others to find a way of stopping it altogether.

But most people across our country had a preference for getting it done with a deal. And I believe the strength of the deal I negotiated was that it delivered on the vote of the referendum to leave the European Union, while also responding to the concerns of those who had voted to remain.

The problem was that when it came time for Parliament to ratify the deal, our politics retreated back into its binary pre-referendum positions – a winner takes all approach to leaving or remaining.

And when opinions have become polarised – and driven by ideology – it becomes incredibly hard for a compromise to become a rallying point.

The spirit of compromise in the common interest is also crucial in meeting some of the greatest global challenges of our time – from responsibly harnessing the huge potential of digital technology to tackling climate change; and from preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons to upholding and strengthening international rules in the face of hostile states.

During my premiership, the UK has led the way both domestically and internationally in seeking a new settlement which ensures the internet remains a driver of growth and opportunity – but also that internet companies respond more comprehensively to reasonable and legitimate demands that they take their wider responsibilities to society more seriously.

That is why we are legislating in the UK to create a legal duty of care on internet companies, backed up by an independent regulator with the power to enforce its decisions.

We are the first country to put forward such a comprehensive approach, but it is not enough to act alone.

Ultimately we need a realistic global approach that achieves the right balance between protecting the individual freedoms of those using the internet – while also keeping them safe from harm.

That also holds the key to further progress in the fight to protect our planet.

Here in the UK we have recently built on the 2008 Climate Change Act by becoming the first major economy to agree a landmark net zero target that will end our contribution to climate change by 2050.

Of course, there were some who wanted us not just to make that net zero commitment but to bring it forward even earlier. And there are others who still question the science of climate change or the economic costs of tackling it.

But we were able to come together to agree a target that is supported across the political spectrum, across business and civil society – and which is both ambitious and also deliverable.

Just as the nations of the world were able to come together and agree the historic Paris Agreement of 2015, a settlement which if unravelled would damage us all and our planet.

And just as we seek to protect the hard fought Paris Climate Agreement, so I also believe we must protect the similarly hard fought JCPOA – the nuclear deal with Iran, whatever its challenges.

Once again it took painstaking pragmatism and compromise to strike that deal.

Of course, there are those who fear a reduction in sanctions on a country that continues to pursue destabilising activity across the region, and we should address that activity head on.

But whether we like it or not a compromise deal remains the best way to get the outcome we all still ultimately seek – to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and to preserve the stability of the region.

Being prepared to compromise also means knowing when not to compromise – and when our values are under threat we must always be willing to stand firm. Just as we did when Russia deployed a deadly nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury, and I led international action across the world to expel more than 100 Russian intelligence officers – the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.

We are here today at St James’ Square – the location from which Dwight Eisenhower led the planning for D-Day. And it was standing on the beaches of Normandy with other world leaders last month – remembering together all that was given in defence of our liberty and our values – that most inspired me to come here today to give this speech.

Eisenhower once wrote: “People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable…Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”

I believe that seeking the common ground and being prepared to make compromises in order to make progress does not entail a rejection of our values and convictions by one iota, rather it is precisely the way to defend them.

Not by making promises you cannot keep, or by just telling people what you think they want to hear. But by addressing the concerns people genuinely hold and showing that co-operation not absolutism is the only way to deliver for everyone.

For the future, if we can recapture the spirit of common purpose – as I believe we must – then we can be optimistic about what together we can achieve.

We can find the common ground that will enable us to forge new, innovative global agreements on the most crucial challenges of our time – from protecting our planet to harnessing the power of technology for good.

We can renew popular support for liberal democratic values and international co-operation.

And in so doing, we can secure our freedom, our prosperity and our ability to live together peacefully now and for generations to come.

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Tucker: The lefties are correct about the corporations, man

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Is an opening speech at a National Conservatism Conference a good venue at which to give credit to … progressives? Give Tucker Carlson credit for chutzpah, at the very least, but also for a clever hook on an important argument for the future of conservatism. The Fox News prime-time host warned allies on the right gathered for this convention that they’d better pay attention to hard-left progressives about the nature of power in this era. Don’t fight bigger government, Carlson warned — fight Big Business instead.

Oh, and some of his best friends these days are Jacobins, or something:

On the whole, one has to assume that the message that attendees at the National Conservatism Conference expected to receive is that progressives are “right about a lot.” And even less expected would be to get that message from a Fox News prime-time anchor. Will wonders never cease?

National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis provides a little more context to Tucker’s argument, which isn’t as novel as some observers might think. First, though, let’s pause for Carlson’s shout-out to Elizabeth Warren:

Carlson made these comments in response to an audience question about whether he has hope that the “national conservative” effort will prevail even though people with progressive views control so much of Silicon Valley, academia, Hollywood, and Fortune 500 companies. He praised Elizabeth Warren’s 2003 book The Two-Income Trap and said social conservatives on the right haven’t written anything as useful about how difficult it is for parents to raise children in the modern economic climate.

There’s a method to Carlson’s madness, however, and the payoff is worth it. He’s scolding the conservative movement for a lack of intellectual heft and for ignoring issues that the Left seizes in the vacuum. “We have allowed the single unhappiest people in America to control our social policy,” Carlson argues as a setup for his overall criticism of both the Right and Left:

In the course of his remarks, Carlson made three primary arguments about the current political situation. First, he said that the main threat to individuals living the way they want to live “comes not from the government but from the private sector.” Second, Carlson asserted that the behavior of progressives “is all a kind of Freudian projection.” “Whatever they say you’re doing is precisely what they’re doing,” he added. He said that observing Antifa radicals is what led him to come to this conclusion: “It’s the guys who are literally armed with steel bars and have black masks on calling other people fascist.”

Finally, Carlson said that the Left is “not interested in peaceful coexistence” and that he rejects that. “I want to be really clear,” he added shortly thereafter, “I’m still for living with people I disagree with. I will always be for that. I will always be for pluralism. I will always be for intellectual diversity. . . . That will never change. I will not allow that to change. You become something less than you should be when you allow those impulses to take over.”

Carlson is no newcomer to warning about a threat from corporate America to our liberties. It’s a recurring theme on his show — perhaps not as much as other conservo-populist issues like immigration, but certainly among his repertoire. Here’s Tucker from August of last year, taking it to Amazon and Walmart for their miserly compensation and how taxpayers are taking up the slack with welfare programs. In exchange, the rich get richer, fewer, and more politically powerful. “There’s nothing free about this market,” Carlson warned:

Corporations are “the backbone of the Left,” Carlson argued. Even apart from that point — largely correct — the distortion of politics that comes with consolidation is a problem no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on. Conservatives have fought a losing battle over smaller government while indulging in laissez-faire policies for anti-trust enforcement. That’s what creates these giants, including the Big Tech companies that conservatives loathe.

Four decades of mergers and acquisitions have resulted in marketplaces controlled by far fewer people. That economic consolidation has resulted in the consolidation and amplification of political power. That drives rent-seeking behavior by corporate interests to stifle competition, which in turn requires bigger government to enforce rent-seeking policies. In its wake, we have a workforce and electorate that feel more disconnected and impotent than ever — and now have populist reactions on both the Right and the Left as a result.

If the conservative movement is serious about free markets and small federal government, it has to start dealing with the reality of the necessity of anti-trust enforcement. That’s not just in dealing with Big Tech, but with the entire business world. It is in the solutions to the monopolistic models that conservatives need to distinguish themselves from the “Jacobins,” who yearn for socialism as the means to break the power relationship of crony capitalism. We need to advocate for distributism, a well-regulated capitalist economy that prevents consolidated power in the model which has been developing since the early 1980s.

Carlson’s clever enough to troll the audience he most needs to reach on this point in order to get its attention. Let’s hope he succeeds.

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Nicky Morgan: The danger of Putin and the danger of populism

Nicky Morgan is Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, a former Education Secretary, and MP for Loughborough.

In 2016, Michael Fallon, then Defence Secretary, said to the Defence Select Committee that leaving the EU would be an “extraordinarily irresponsible thing to do at a very dangerous moment”, adding that it would be “absolutely applauded in Moscow”.

It is notable that Vladimir Putin chose the G20 summit to denounce liberalism and trumpet the growth of national populist movements. The challenge for those of us who think that liberal democracy is still the right path to follow is how we push back against the Russian President’s statements.

Whether Brexit is a symptom or the cause of the rise of populism in the UK is a moot point. But the UK is not immune from the growth of populism, which can also be seen in the US and in other EU countries.

And there is no doubt that, for a number of reasons, the political and wider ‘establishment’ has either created or not addressed the conditions in which populism flourishes. The MPs expenses scandal, the financial and banking crisis, the resultant lack of wage growth, the seeming unwillingness to address people’s concerns about immigration have all contributed to a feeling that ‘the people at the top’ just aren’t listening.

Into that mix, it is easy to see how a few strong voices claiming to represent ‘the will of the people’, and denouncing the ‘metropolitian liberal elite’, have stoked the flames of populism.

Already we begin to see the dangers of accepting that liberalism has run its course. On Friday night, David Gauke had to face a no-confidence motion tabled by some in his local Party. Such a motion stems from the notion amongst some new(ish) members of our Party that if you aren’t a full-blooded Brexiteer then there should be no place for you in the Conservative Party of 2019. This is wrong.

A liberal, tolerant and open approach to our politics and to national debate is being repeatedly challenged until those who believe in it are left weary and feeling isolated. The populist approach is always to find an ‘other’, which more and more people to criticise until that ‘other’ is left isolated and lacking in support – witness the fact that being reconciled to Brexit isn’t enough: we are now expected to actively believe in it.

This is not a problem confined merely to the right of British politics. Local Labour parties have been testing the commitment to Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum for a while, and are now preparing to de-select those who don’t pass the test.

We are at a dangerous crossroads in Western politics. Our future Conservative Party leadership needs to address both quickly and effectively the problems which have led to the rise of populism, but they need to do so in a way which doesn’t fan the flames.

So, for example we need an approach which makes it clear that we can both control immigration whilst recognising that our economy needs immigrants, and that we have a proud track record of welcoming many millions of people who have chosen to make the UK their home. We need to work out a way to update our representative parliamentary democracy whilst recognising that it is still the best system of governance (a tip: let’s avoid any further referendums).  We need to work out a way to sustain and enhance wage growth while updating the skills of many workers who left education a long time ago. And we need to work out a way to value multiculturalism whilst being clearer and less apologetic about our own British values.

Conservative Party MPs and members have several choices before them. The key one is not actually who becomes leader: it is about whether we choose to allow Putin to write off our liberal democratic system, or show that we will do what we do best as Conservatives – keep the bits that are working and find a way to update the bits that aren’t, without acceding to the siren voices of populism.

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