Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A sportswriter who covers the game of politics

All the ShrinkRap space I've been filling with politics lately may only be of interest to politico junkies, like me.   As we go forward with almost 15 months still to go before the election, I'll try to keep a balance and write about other issues as well.   Certainly the world doesn't stand still for two years while we choose a new president.   For tomorrow, I'm working on a piece about Jewish support for the Iran nuclear deal.

Still, politics is what consistently excites me these days.   I have zero interest in holding public office myself (even if I were younger).  But I've come to realize that my fascination with the strategy and trivia of political campaigning is most like a sportswriter who watches not only the games but how it all happens -- the strategies of the plays, the skills and characteristics of the players, the trivia of the game.    I've become a sort of sportswriter who covers the game of politics.

Now that the excitement of the first debate is over, and now that the Trump Show is getting tiresome in its narcissistic excess, it's time to take a serious look at what the electorate is trying to tell us.

This message goes across political ideology, across party lines.   They're trying to tell us -- loud and clear -- that they are fed up with politics as usual.   Fed up with the status quo and the establishment -- and this message is coming from both the right and the left.

On the right, this disgust and resentment fuels the anti-government attacks voiced by Donald Trump.   On the left, it is behind the excitement that's bringing out record-breaking crowds to hear Bernie Sanders.

Their ideas about the role of government and about what needs to be done could hardly be more different, just as the two men could hardly be more different.  But the message that something radically different is needed is the same.  And each man has a sort of "outsider" status in the party he's running in.    Trump admits he has no great party loyalty.   Sanders identifies himself in Congress as a Democratic Socialist.

People seem to care less about the exact policies.  So far, it's not hurting Trump in the polls that he was once a Democrat and favored single-payer health insurance.   And Sanders is drawing m0re than 20,000 people in his rallies in Oregon and Los Angeles.  What is appealing is that each is demonstrating that he is not beholden to wealthy donors, he is not just another politician going about it the same old way.  And each speaks with a candor that is refreshing -- even though what comes out of Trump's mouth is often outrageous, insulting, and reprehensible.

They both are convincing that what they say is what they really mean -- Trump because he has no filter and Sanders because he is genuinely sincere and authenticWhether this enthusiasm will carry through for the next 15 months remains to be seen.   

Definitely, we should care about their policies, along with their refusal to kowtow to the way things are done.  In the long run, people are going to see that Trump has no plans, that his bluster and dictatorial manner may work in business but not in government.   Sanders' problem is different:   he has plenty of plans;  the question is whether he can he be elected.   And, if he should win, would he be able to govern effectively -- given how far to the left he is from congress.

Now, having said all that about how they are tapping into the same message, I think Trump and Sanders are worlds apart -- and there's no question which I would choose.    But I am also fascinated by the process we're going through, and I want to try to see clearly what's happening . . . as it happens.

So ShrinkRap is going to have a lot of politics -- along with a lot of other stuff too.


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