Thursday, May 12, 2016

Adding it up

I can do basic math, especially with the help of a calculator. It wasn’t always the case. I almost didn’t make it out of my Junior year in High School because of Geometry – something I still am not sure had any value all these years later and something I’m not sure really relates to math! Joking aside, my point is that I know that the math favors Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 Democratic nomination race. And I see where Senator Sanders supporters are frustrated. This is not a “Feel the Bern” blog – but there is something about the math in these primaries that deserves looking into – for both parties.

If you listen or follow the ‘mainstream’ media (or ‘lame stream’ if you’re a Sarah Palin supporter) – the Democratic nomination for President is all sewn up. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has no way of meeting the number of delegates needed. (The candidates are a few hundred delegates apart from the results from the various state elections but Mrs. Clinton has hundreds more of ‘super delegates’ who are pledged to her.) Sanders supporters point to how many states he has won and note that the pledge of a ‘super delegate’ is just that – a pledge, not a vote. Neither side will convince the other until the convention happens in Philadelphia in July 2016.

Eight years ago Mrs. Clinton did the math herself and reluctantly waved the white flag and folded up her campaign and supported then Senator President Obama. That happened when a significant portion of the ‘super delegates’ at that time told her that they were switching camps. That’s not happening this time, people aren’t switching away from her so why won’t Bernie do the same thing?

Rallies for Senator Sanders are bursting at the seams. In Sacramento this week (5/10/16) “somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people were estimated to have been packed inside the stadium, with more than 10,000 more continuing to wait outside.” Some reports claim these people aren’t voters so it doesn’t matter – but there is something impressive about a candidate who can’t win the nomination drawing over capacity crowds in city after city, state after state.

What’s going on? Has everybody failed math? No. It’s about more than winning the nomination though that is the framework that Senator Sanders is able to deliver his message in.

Sanders passionately speaks about the issues that he cares about – while Clinton, known to the electorate for more than two decades is more circumspect in her presentation of the issues. It’s true that the differences on the Democratic side as it relates to policy are incremental and the Senator and the Secretary have more in common than they do with the GOP candidate.

There’s been much kerfuffle and speculation that Bernie supporters won’t transfer their support automatically over to Hilary when she gets the nomination. Likewise there have been Clinton supporters who have said the same if Sanders somehow gets the nod. A good amount of that communication is posturing and emotional reactions in the heat of a political battle. It’s more than that, though.

It really is about how each candidate is perceived. Bernie has crafted a style of being thought of as your hip grandfather – hair askew, speaking from the hip, telling it like it is and pouring everything of himself into the campaign. Contrast that with Hilary who is part of a huge political machine where every moment is planned, strategically designed and carefully calibrated. The result is that she has an aura of being disingenuous – whether it’s based in truth or is just the culmination of 20+ years of attacks it has stuck. A Washington-Post poll in March 2016 showed only 37% of the public found her to be ‘trustworthy.’ And while there have been independent reports that show she’s honest, what has stuck with the public is that she’s not.

There’s been a number of comparisons of Sanders to Donald J. Trump. Crowds, being ‘anti-establishment’ and speaking directly are the top-line similarities. The two couldn’t be more different because the fundamental policies and issues that they advocate are nearly polar opposite. They do, however, have a commonality –the American populace believe them when they talk, even if what they say is unpleasant, unconventional or even downright wrong. And even when they contradict themselves moments after saying one thing or another.

Hilary Clinton released a “brutal” Anti-Trump ad in early May 2016. It’s a long series of quotes from GOP establishment figures on how dangerous, out of touch, etc. Donald Trump is.

If this is her strategy, then Trump’s naming Chris Christie as the head of his transition team to get into the Oval Office wasn’t actually premature or presumptuous as I originally thought.

16 GOP candidates tried and failed to topple Donald J. Trump. The Bush dynasty – from Presidents #41 and #43 to former Florida Governor Jeb with more than $100 million in super PAC money couldn’t make a dent when Trump accurately assailed Jeb for having “no energy.” If anything they fueled his rise.

The idea that those traditional attacks on Trump and the pleas for Sanders to get out of the race are based on old modes of thinking – old math if you will. The voters (for good or bad) want somebody they believe – even if that person is full of contradictions and may not have the remotest credentials to do the job. Come November 8, 2016 it may add up to President Trump unless Mrs. Clinton starts using some new fangled equations.

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