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Entries in MassPoliticsProfs by Jerold Duquette

This election will be the first one in which candidate-centric rhetoric will be much more than just calculated distraction from substantive policy debate because Donald Trump broke the GOP presidential nominating system. An angry, ignorant demagogue without a clue about the job he seeks successfully hijacked the GOP nomination.  The simple truth is that nobody can predict what Donald Trump would do as president. No one can count on him to champion any coherent policy agenda. His rhetoric is literally insane. His promises and boasts are indistinguishable from what one would expect from a mental patient.

Clinton and Trump will make all manner of claims about their personal positions and policy preferences, but the truth is that neither of them would be able to lead in the manner they claim. We live in a hyper-polarized political age that makes presidents party leaders first and foremost. Campaign claims about rising above party or bringing the warring sides together or the classic promise to “work across the isle” for the best interests of the American people are utter nonsense. Presidents today cannot be “uniters” on policy and voters who think the quality or content of our politics depends in any significant way on the identity of the President are living in an alternate reality.

Donald Trump is the most unqualified person ever to run for president. He is also the most transparently flawed candidate ever to run for president. His lack of intelligence and integrity are on full display every day. Over the next six months, the most unqualified, morally and intellectually bankrupt candidate in history will be spewing ignorant and hateful attacks at the most qualified candidate for president in modern times.

Stay tuned for six months of “swift boating” Trump-style.

NRA Sponsors "Stealth" mobilization in WMass

The citizen petitioner is Longmeadow Selectman Alex Grant, who said he’s “looking forward to a nice debate on these issues” and that “[a]s long as we’re respectful, it’s going to be valuable for our democracy.” Local gun owners, however, appear to be anything but pleased about the opportunity for such a debate at the spring Town Meeting. Opponents of gun control in town wasted no time organizing and mobilizing against these measures. The N.R.A.’s “Institute for Legislative Action” targeted Longmeadow’s proposed gun control bylaws. Within weeks, signs started showing up on lawns in Longmeadow asking residents to “Vote No on Articles 20-30-31.” These signs include a link to a recently created web site, LongForLiberty.org. What they do not include is any mention of what articles 29, 30, and 31 are about.

Obviously, Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination would be a terrible turn of events for the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement. The Republicans are serious under dogs in the presidential election this year regardless of who they nominate.  The electoral math, turnout in presidential years, the state of the economy and foreign affairs, all favor the Democratic nominee, though these advantages only tell part of the 2016 story and can be over-valued. The real ace-in-the-hole for the Democratic nominee is the clarity of the institutional partisan stakes in 2016, and the persistent power of “party identity,” which remains the principle driver of voters’ political and electoral calculations.

It seems to me that the folks attacking the party nomination processes in both parties have shown themselves to be “fair weather” democratic purists at best. Political decision making processes designed to produce democratically accountable and substantively appropriate results are particularly appropriate in our hyper-competitive and polarized political environment; an environment that clearly incentivizes a flexible relationship, to say the least, between one’s principals and interests.

Move over Jeff Jacoby, Eric Fehrnstrom’s appears to be gunning for your beat over at the Globe. A couple weeks back I gently debunked Fehrnstrom’s transparently weak argument that Trump could beat Clinton. This week, he has published an even more transparently weak attack on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy that I will herein debunk a bit less gently. Frankly, Mr. Fehrnstrom writes like a graduating senior taking a course pass-fail, though I’m not sure he deserves credit for giving it “the old college try.”

Eric Fehrnstrom thinks that Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton. Barring the unforeseeable, he’s wrong, and more importantly for my purposes here, including the unforeseeable in ostensibly serious political analysis kind of negates the point of offering serious political analysis. 

For Trump, political interests and principles are just variables in a market analysis.  He jumped into presidential politics this year because he saw very friendly market conditions. He recognized the timing was good for responding to the pent up political demands of a certain type of voter, and that in 2016 at least he is more well positioned to exploit that demand in the short run than are the professional pols on the national stage.

More than anything else, this presidential campaign season has shown that the commercial media’s “bias” is about the “Benjamins,” not about pushing an ideological or partisan political agenda. For the GOP, it will serve as an invaluable lesson about what can happen when you fall for your own B.S.
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