Archive for the ‘current events’ Category
Tim Gill is a CIPR fellow at Tulane University. His research addresses political sociology and globalization. This guest post addresses the candidacy of Donald Trump.
In May, I taught my final course at the University of Georgia as I finished up my dissertation: a three-week long seminar on political sociology. Before the course, I was certain that Trump would be the most sought after topic of discussion by the students, regardless of what topic we broached. The Great Depression and issues of tariffs? Trump. The civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter? Trump. And, finally, how performances matter within US politics? Well, of course, Trump.
I admit. When I teach political sociology and use books and articles concerning US politics, my head tends to wander back to Venezuela, where I do most of my research. This didn’t happen though nearly as monolithically this summer. Along with the students, my thoughts also redirected themselves towards Trump, his recurrently outlandish policy positions, and bigoted comments. After each new comment, we would think this surely would be the end of the campaign. As we found out, it wasn’t. And it somehow hasn’t been, even as the absurdities have persisted.
Right now, we are going into the nominating conventions, which means that vice presidential picks make the headlines. Perhaps the most interesting question is whether Clinton II will pick Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. I honestly have no idea if that will happen, but it does help to remember a few things about VP picks.
It is very rare for a VP to help a presidential candidate pick up votes. That is why the mantra is “do no harm.” Aside from that, VP picks tend to come in a few flavors:
- Runners up: Just go with another candidate who did well in the primary in order to encourage cooperation within the party. Kerry/Edwards and Reagan/Bush I are good examples of this.
- Ideological balance: Pick people who pull in a part of the party that doesn’t like you. Classic case: Bush I/Quayle. One might argue that McCain/Palin fits this pattern. Perhaps Trump/Pence is another example.
- Loyalists & personal comfort: Pick a person who is a lot like you or from your personal network. The classic case is Clinton I/Gore. Obama/Biden is probably a case of going with people who make you comfortable.
Then, there are wild cards. Probably the best case is Gore, who chose Joe Lieberman, a guy was supposed to help Gore distance himself from Clinton I. The question is which strategy Clinton II will choose. My guess is that, like Clinton I, she will reward loyalists, which makes it hard, but definitely not impossible, for Warren to come out on top.
In Fortune, Brayden discusses the Brexit votes as an issues of regionalism & cosmopolitanism:
Both Brexit “leavers,” whose sheer number and fury were underestimated by pollsters, and Trump supporters are more likely to belong to a social group known as “locals.” With affinities that transcend economics and even politics, locals are best defined as having a societal view focused on their local community. They tend to be less adventurous in their travel and cultural consumption (from ethnic food to music), gain status from their community affiliations, and may be wary of outsiders, especially those who are perceived to change the homogeneity of their local community.
In contrast, “cosmopolitans” tend to have a global perspective, seeing themselves as part of an economy that crosses borders, rather than being contained by them. Their social networks extend outside their local communities. They travel more, have broader consumer tastes, and see diversity in experience and friendships as a core value. While often associated with being more highly educated, cosmopolitans are just as likely to include “starving artists” as ex-patriate executives.
While the distinctions between these groups have been known for decades to social scientists, pundits have ignored the delineation between cosmopolitans and locals when discussing Brexit and the U.S. presidential campaign. By failing to recognize these groups, their motivations, and where they see themselves in the context of the world, political analysts have underestimated the very different emotional reactions that locals and cosmopolitans have toward the Brexit campaign and Trump’s promises to crack down on immigration.
Check it out.
Long time readers know that I am highly skeptical of third party politics. If the goal is to change policy from within the system, then third parties are an incredibly inefficient way to do it. But once in a very long while, third parties have a crucial role to play and we’ve arrived at such a moment.
Right now, the Libertarian Party has nominated two formed Republican governors, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, to be their presidential and vice presidential nominees. Normally, you could ignore this news as LP candidates do really, really badly in elections (<1%).
But this year is different. I don’t think that the LP, or any third party, could reasonably win it all, but the LP has two very important roles to play because both major party candidates have incredibly negative ratings. That means a well run third party ticket can get a few percent of the vote and actually have a serious media presence.
The popular vote count could be crucial in the event that Trump has an unexpected popular vote surge or he tries to win by getting a few swing states like Ohio and Florida. An LP ticket that hits 3-4% of the vote could easily deprive Trump of a win in a few places like New Mexico or Colorado. Losing even just 1 or 2 small states that often go GOP makes it incredibly hard for a GOP candidate to reach 270 electoral votes, even if they get lucky in Ohio. An LP ticket that hits 10% of the vote almost surely dooms the GOP candidate as most LP voters would likely be disaffected Republicans.
This is extremely important as Trump has openly declared war on immigrants, has promised to use the Federal government to hunt enemies, and is under investigation for fraud. I am not an HRC supporter, but I do genuinely think that Trump’s election would be a step toward violent nationalism, racism and cronyism.
Perhaps most importantly, the LP could use its window of visibility promote ideas that are now absent, or highly obscured, in current discourse: consistent opposition to war; immigration liberalization; and a more systematic decriminalization of drugs. Thus, having two professional politicians represent these ideas is of great benefit.
If Johnson and Weld can push these ideas while depriving Trump of a victory, then all I can say is “thank you for service.”