Trumpism in Australia

by John Quiggin on February 3, 2017

I’ve had this post in draft for a while, not entirely satisfied with it, but on the rare occasion of Australia making the front pages of US papers I thought I should post it ready or not.

After the cataclysm of Trump’s election, quite a few US-based friends asked me about moving to Australia. I had, as they say, good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Over the last few years, Australia has had no less than four Trumpist political parties, two of which currently form the government. We may yet get a fifth. The goods news is that, in most respects, they have been surprisingly ineffectual. That’s, partly because of constraints in our political system and partly because of the inherent limits of Trumpist politics.

First, the parties

The Palmer United Party (PUP) was created as a personal vehicle by Clive Palmer, a billionaire (at least on paper) who had fallen out with the mainstream conservative parties of which he had been a big financial supporter. Palmer’s personal appeal was very much that of Trump, the idea that someone doing well for themselves through dodgy looking deals had what takes to drain the swamp of politics, PUP did well in the 2013 election, propelling Palmer into Parliament and electing several members to the Senate (you can get more details in Wikipedia). The party fell apart rapidly. Palmer lost his seat in 2016, and his business empire fell apart at the same time.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party. Another personal vehicle, again led by a renegade conservative. Hanson was an endorsed candidate for the (conservative) Liberal Party (see below) in 1996 when she got thrown out for making racist comments attacking Aborigines and Asian migrants. She was elected anyway and formed One Nation, which had an upsurge of success, particularly in my home state of Queensland. One Nation support was biggest in depressed semi-rural areas. In ideological terms, One Nation was Trumpist long before Trump, hostile to trade and migration, anti-intellectual, suspicious of banks and big business, but incapable of doing anything much abotu them. The mainstream conservatives, still confident in the inevitable success of neoliberalism, eventually managed to crush the party, an effort led by future Trumpist PM, Tony Abbott. One Nation re-emerged in 2016, electing four Senators including Hanson. By this time, the mainstream conservatives were themselves dominated by Trumpism and had little hesitation in engaging with Hanson as a partner in political bargains.

The National Party (originally the Country Party) is the rural/regional branch of the mainstream conservatives. It operates in a permanent coalition with the Liberal Party. It represents the same voters as Hanson, and shares many of the same predilections. However, its status as a junior partner in the Coalition means that it has, until now, focused primarily on extracting pork-barrel concessions for its constituents, rather than mounting a serious challenge to hard neoliberalism.

Fourth, there is the Liberal Party, the dominant party in the current governing coalition, which broadly resembles the US Republican Party, though with a time lag of a couple of decades. Historically, it was a coalition between relatively moderate soft liberals, hard neoliberals and proto-Trumpists, with the hard neoliberals in the ascendancy. The soft liberals have been driven to extinction over the last couple of decades. The last Coalition government, in office from 1996 to 2007, represented the classic patter of the neoliberal ascendancy, relying on dog whistle appeals to Trumpist voters, but pursuing the standard free-market agenda. Over time, however, Trumpists have become increasingly dominant.

The 2013 election brought the Liberals to power under the leadership of Tony Abbott. However, he proved so unpopular that he was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, a wealthy businessman smooth neoliberal who was widely seen as reviving of the soft liberalism of the past on social questions. As it has turned out, however, Turnbull has acted as a puppet for the Trumpists who dominate the party, abandoning everything he was supposed to stand for in a desperate attempt to cling to power. Under Turnbull’s leadership, the Coalition scraped back into office in 2016, with a majority of a single seat in the House of Representatives, and a minority in the Senate. Individual Trumpists have used this precarious position to bully Turnbull into even more supine compliance, threatening to bring the government down if he does not.

And this brings us to the possible fifth party. Turnbull’s near complete capitulation, one Trumpist, South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has been sufficiently dissatisfied to set up (though not to launch) yet another party, to be named the Australian Conservatives Party.

The good news is that the Trumpists haven’t achieved very much. They’ve adopted a brutal policy of refugee detention, but it’s been a running sore for them, which is why Turnbull was so keen to make the deal that got him into trouble with Trump. They’ve stopped action on climate change, but coal-fired power stations have kept on closing. The idea of subsidising new ones, recently floated by Turnbull was dumped on by just about everybody. They’ve used parliamentary manoeuvres to avoid a vote on equal marriage, but it’s obviously going to happen before long. And their attempts to use a spurious budget crisis to promote savage cuts in public spending (and, contradictorily, big cuts in company tax) have gone nowhere.

What’s more, after scraping back in, Turnbull has been consistently behind in the polls. Given the precedent he set in deposing Abbott, his survival as PM rests on the absence of any obvious replacement. The next election is nearly three years away, but it’s hard to see this government getting back in.

  • I’m not going to attempt a complete definition, but the core elements are white/Christianist identity politics, a pro-rich but not pro-market economic policy agenda and “big man” authoritarianism. Although these elements predate Trump’s rise to power, explicit support for Trump is now part of the package.

{ 45 comments }

1

Graham 02.03.17 at 7:34 am

Not sure if I would call all of those parties trump like

None of them have the cult of personality whereas only Hanson has the democratic parts of the domestic agenda (though Abbot and Bernandi come close) in being racist, protectionist and pro-rich. I don’t think any of them have been anti-democratic though
Clive Palmer in particular doesn’t fit.

The domestic agenda is awful, don’t get me wrong. But its the authoritarian anti-democratic elements and the cult of personality has people worried that this will spiral out of control

2

christian_h 02.03.17 at 9:59 am

What particularly worries me as a recent arrival is that certain Trumpist tendencies exist within the Labour Party and parts of the labour movement as well.

3

John Quiggin 02.03.17 at 10:06 am

It seems odd to deny that the “Palmer United Party” and “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation” (the official names of these parties) involve a cult of personality.

4

Graham 02.03.17 at 10:30 am

Palmer maybe
but surely Hansons appeal isn’t her personality but that she is the only politician willing to be as racist as she is

5

Alex SL 02.03.17 at 10:30 am

As a non-Australian living in Australia I see parallels to Palmer and One Nation, but not so much to the Coalition, I must admit. To me they come across as rather neoliberal rather than protectionist.

6

oldster 02.03.17 at 11:36 am

two questions:

1) what kinds of opposition do they face, and how strong (cohesive, organized, popular, etc.) is it?
2) do you think Australia’s policy of compulsory voting makes a difference to the prospects for authoritarian take-over?

7

nastywoman 02.03.17 at 1:46 pm

– all of that sounds so… dare I say… ‘reasonable’ -(compared to a complete F…face)

Or in other words: Never forget that US is always Nr.1 -(in words: ONE)
Even if it is in a…holery.
And for sure NO Australian can match it.

8

Manta 02.03.17 at 1:52 pm

The syntax of the following sentence seems wrong

“Turnbull’s near complete capitulation, one Trumpist, South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has been sufficiently dissatisfied to set up (though not to launch) yet another party, to be named the Australian Conservatives Party.”

9

otpup 02.03.17 at 2:11 pm

@2. That’s world-class branding of which only a true Master of the Universe would be capable. ;->

10

anon 02.03.17 at 4:47 pm

Why didn’t you include the Nick Xenophon Team? Seems to be as parochial and populist as the others.

11

TheSophist 02.03.17 at 5:31 pm

Is Hanson the woman who was described by Bill Bryson (in Sunburned Country) as “the Oxley moron”? (Oxley being the town whence she came.)

12

Colin 02.04.17 at 2:37 am

@anon: Xenophon may be a populist in terms of presentation, but his political views are generally fairly liberal/centrist by Australian standards; the appeal is to voters who think the main parties are too dogmatic or have too much historical baggage. Interestingly a Xenophon-like figure (Emmanuel Macron) currently has a decent shot at becoming President of France.

13

Howard Frant 02.04.17 at 3:00 am

“That’s, partly because of constraints in our political system and partly because of the inherent limits of Trumpist politics.”

Could you say more about both of these, please?

14

Smith 02.04.17 at 5:58 am

TheSophist @11

Yes, that’s her (though Oxley was the name of the district she represented in the federal parliament briefly in the 1990s).

I think it is wrong to describe the Liberal Party as Trumpist as such, though it certainly has influential Trumpist elements, just as the British Tories have Trumpist elements. The leadership of the Liberal Party supported Hillary.

15

nick s 02.04.17 at 6:32 am

anon hits on something worth a bit of thought: does NXT and “no pokies!” (the prohibition of something considered socially corrosive) operate on the same plane as One Nation and PUP and their channelling of nativist populism?

16

Chris Grealy 02.04.17 at 8:53 am

Let’s not forget the sixth conservative party, which is Labor. They are only a whisker to the left of the Liberal Party and always ready to move right for short term political gain. It was Labor who set up the Manus Island concentration camp, which puts their insistence that the government should “fix” it among the rankest hypocrisy there is.

17

Alex SL 02.04.17 at 1:28 pm

There are two main ways a populist* outsider can capture the political system: either take over one of the two parties in a two-party, majority representation system (Trump), or grow a new party in a multi-party, proportional representation system (Wilders, Le Pen, et al.).

So the thing is, the USA are actually particularly vulnerable because the parties are rather fuzzy and open, and the primary system allows a newcomer to take over one of them if they just have deep pockets and good media presence. Australia also has a two-party system but, as far as I can tell, rather closed parties in which the parliamentary groups have a lot of power. It would be very hard to capture one of them, but it is also hard in a two-party system to butt in from the side with a new party. The most promising approach would be to build up a regional party, perhaps based on secessionism.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a system like Australia’s was particularly resistant to anti-establishment populism*, even as I prefer proportional representation myself.

*) Many political terms seem to have aberrant definitions in the USA, with populism apparently considered to be exclusively leftist. I am using it in the European meaning I was brought up with, as anti-establishment animus that can come from any part of the spectrum.

18

Val 02.05.17 at 4:10 am

My thanks to you JQ and to Henry for writing these thoughtful posts on Trump and “Trumpism”. There are a few typos in this OP, it would be good if they were fixed (fourth para, should be full stop before PUP; fifth para, would be better if it started with a sentence; eighth para ‘and smooth neoliberal’; ninth para, second sentence ‘In spite of …’; and the note at the end seems a bit disconnected, though not actually difficult to work out what it relates to)

My first thought on this was that a Trump type figure, as such, was not likely to be successful in Australia for cultural reasons. I’ve known a couple of people who worked at fairly senior levels in large Australian corporations which have at different times brought in senior executives from North America, who had a Trump like approach of not being polite to underlings (which no doubt is how Trump sees Turnbull), and it has not gone too well until the execs learnt to tone it down a bit and at least try to fit with the Oz style of cultural egalitarianism.

Minor parties on the right clearly have trouble here with insubordination and people quitting the party because they feel the leader is too autocratic, perhaps one reason why they haven’t been so successful. However, you are talking about ‘Trumpism’ or Trump-like parties, and I agree that there are Trump-like qualities in our right wing parties, even though the full on ‘big boss’ approach isn’t tolerated.

There is a polarisation going on, I think – the rightward shift is more obvious in some ways because they are more organised, but I think there is also a leftward shift which is not so coherent. Unfortunately I think the left response is a bit incoherent because a strong left response should involve women and people of colour not just being equal, but taking a leadership role, and I don’t think all white men on the left are ready for this yet. Ideally I think men like Sanders and Corbyn should step aside and make way for women and people of colour, but they don’t seem ready to. They could have a strong support role but they should take a step back. Senior white men on the left in general should do that, I think – not become totally silent, but support women and people of colour to take leadership. It’s time.

Interestingly the right doesn’t seem to have such a problem – as long as their parties remain male dominated (which I think they inevitably will) they seem to find it easier to tolerate (non-feminist) women as leadership figures (Hanson, Le Pen, Palin, even Thatcher and I guess May, though I think she fits more into the ‘get a woman to clean up the mess’ gender pattern that we’ve seen often at state level in Australia). However those women are carrying out a hierarchical, patriarchal agenda, nonetheless.

19

derrida derider 02.05.17 at 4:19 am

Take it as read that all Australian political parties with the exception of the Greens are well to the right of Crookedarians, as indeed “mainstream” parties are in most countries.

The centre (as in the median voter major parties’ powerbrokers aspire to) in Australia would be considered centre (center?) left or even just left in US politics, but probably centre-right in most European countries. And Labour, who are favourites at present to be the next government, pretty consciously aims for that dead (pun intended) Australian centre.

John is correct that there has been some recent resurgence of the hard right in Oz with Trumpist characteristics. But like Trumpism or indeed fascism generally, populism in Oz has some startingly leftish bits embedded in it. Certainly Nick Xenophon’s NXT party often looks much more like an old-fashioned puritan social-engineering left than a racist right party.

20

derrida derider 02.05.17 at 4:30 am

Oh, its also important to realise that Oz has a much higher immigrant share of the population than the US. More than a quarter of the population was born overseas. As elsewhere, xenophobia is strongest in the areas – in Australia’s case rural areas – with the LOWEST proportion of immigrants, not the highest.

21

bob mcmanus 02.05.17 at 10:53 am

Senior white men on the left in general should do that, I think – not become totally silent, but support women and people of colour to take leadership. It’s time.

The US just tried a woman, and women in support, in positions of leadership, and they failed.

Having said that, I mostly agree, but would desire a great deal more intersectionality, factors like youth*, class, and geography being added to gender and race. Women indeed, but no more old rich white women, like Pelosi and Clinton, or even older WoC, like Neera Tanden and Donna Brazile. So for instance supporting Kamala Harris over Gillibrand, and certainly Ellison over Perez.

*Of course the candidates will not be in their twenties, but I would prefer 20-30 somethings have much greater influence, and listened to first. Then if the young, less rich, and minority choose a Sanders or Corbyn, it is not for me to insist on a Clinton. Tragically, the young were overruled in 2016.

22

Sebastian_H 02.05.17 at 9:48 pm

“Ideally I think men like Sanders and Corbyn should step aside and make way for women and people of colour, but they don’t seem ready to. They could have a strong support role but they should take a step back. Senior white men on the left in general should do that, I think – not become totally silent, but support women and people of colour to take leadership.”

Ugh, this is precisely the type of thinking that got us Clinton as the nominee. By all means find world class politicians of all genders, colors and creeds, but judge them on political ability, not gender/color/creed. The number of times you will have three or four world class politicians to choose from seems small.

Obama was a world class politician and the Democrats were wise to nominate him. The fact that he was a black man should neither have dissuaded them nor caused them to overlook another world class choice. Clinton was not a world class politician and Democrats were foolish to weight the womanness of her candidacy and overlook her well known faults as a politician. I would love to see a gay world leader (who doesn’t get murdered), but I think it would be foolish to pass up a world class candidate because I weight it toward gayness.

23

engels 02.05.17 at 11:05 pm

When fascism comes to Australia it will riding a surf board and listening to classic rock

24

engels 02.06.17 at 1:24 am

factors like youth

Not really on board with this (prefer Corbyn to Blair eg) but it makes me wonder: is US’s political culture more gerontacratic than other liberal democracies and if so why?

25

Val 02.06.17 at 1:52 am

26

Val 02.06.17 at 1:57 am

@ 23
“When fascism comes to Australia it will riding a surf board and listening to classic rock”
Not sure that Corey’s your guy! He was a rower apparently. Sounds like ‘working class boy made good’ – son of an Italian immigrant, maternal grandfather a trade unionist, but went to a private school https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Bernardi

27

J-D 02.06.17 at 3:15 am

engels

… it makes me wonder: is US’s political culture more gerontacratic than other liberal democracies and if so why?

Some data points:
USA: Trump 70, Obama 47, Bush 54, Clinton 46
UK: May 59, Cameron 43, Brown 56, Blair 43
Spain: Rajoy 56, Rodriguez Zapatero 43, Aznar 43, Gonzalez 40
Poland: Szydlo 52, Kopacz 57, Tusk 57, Kaczynski 53
Japan: Abe 58, Noda 54, Kan 63, Hatoyama 62
Italy: Gentiloni 62, Renzi 39, Letta 46, Monti 68
India: Modi 63, Singh 71, Vajpayee 71, Gujral 77
Germany: Merkel 51, Schroeder 54, Kohl 52, Schmidt 55
France: Hollande 57, Sarkozy 52, Chirac 62, Mitterrand 64
Canada: Trudeau 43, Harper 46, Martin 65, Chretien 59
(In each case: four most recent leaders, age at first taking office)

28

Helen 02.06.17 at 3:39 am

The US just tried a woman, and women in support, in positions of leadership, and they failed.

No, they didn’t. Did you notice Trump is in the white house? They haven’t tried a female leader.

Clinton was not a world class politician and Democrats were foolish to weight the womanness of her candidacy

Ah, but what is the measure of Clinton not being a “world class” politician? Your opinion? Fox News? 24-year-old Berniebros? How’s the politician you now have in office working out for you? “World class”… something, at any rate.

29

ZM 02.06.17 at 4:09 am

engels,

“When fascism comes to Australia it will riding a surf board and listening to classic rock”

I think one thing that Australia has that makes fascism sort of unlikely is the importance of the idea of “mateship” here — it’s pretty much universal among all political groups in Australia and this means fascism doesn’t have that much to offer rhetorically, if you want people to stick together and help each other out it is “mateship” not fascism.

I can’t see fascism offering a lot practically in Australia either, since we already have universal health care, universal education, the economy has been going ok for 20 years after “the recession we had to have”, there is a national disability insurance policy being rolled out currently, etc.

The groups John Quiggin identifies aren’t really offering any practical fascist policies, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is xenophobic but that isn’t restricted to fascist politics in Australia — we had the White Australia policy for decades when there wasn’t a fascist government in power, I think if I recall correctly the Clive Palmer Party expressly spoke against racism and xenophobia, the National Party is conservative but can hardly be classified as fascist.

I can’t imagine a Conservative Party led by Corey Bernardi (as per the article Val links to) taking off, the right is already very splintered in Australia, but i guess time will tell.

The Age has a story today on research by Fairfax Media and the ANU’s Social Research Centre and digital information analysts Kieskompas which identifies 7 Political Tribes in Australia:

ACTIVIST EGALITARIAN 18.2% of the population

PROGRESSIVE COSMOPOLITAN 18.3% of the population

AMBITIOUS SAVER 9.9% of the population

PRUDENT TRADITIONALIST 29.9% of the population

LAVISH MOD-CON 5.5% of the population

ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT FIREBRAND 6% of the population

DISILLUSIONED PESSIMIST 12.2% of the population

http://www.theage.com.au/national/what-type-of-aussie-are-you-meet-the-7-new-political-tribes-20170203-gu57b2.html

There is a test you can take embedded in the article.

I scored slightly higher as a Progressive Cosmopolitan then the next highest was Activist Egalitarian. I think the difference was mostly from favouring some policies due to university education, although for some questions I just had to choose the answer nearest to my actual view.

30

GrueBleen 02.06.17 at 5:32 am

The US just tried a woman, and women in support, in positions of leadership, and they failed.

Hmm. But until Hillary, every losing side comprised white males – in the lead and in positions of leadership (not counting the likes of an occasional Jill Stein).

So that’d be lots and lots of male losers – who seldom won the popular vote by a huge margin – to one woman loser so far who did win the popular vote by a huge margin.

So, is there some point you were trying to make ?

31

Val 02.06.17 at 7:26 am

Oops I spelled ‘Cory’ wrongly twice.
#sorrydontreallycaremuch

32

J-D 02.06.17 at 8:59 am

ZM
And you don’t think fascists can invoke the rhetoric of mateship? But of course they can! It can work for them just as well as it does for any other political grouping. There’s no barrier to fascism there at all.

As for that research project: the groups they discovered are a result (as their description of their methodology makes plain) of the questions they chose to ask. How did they decide to ask those questions and not others? No answer. They just made them up, and when they did so, in effect, they also made up their results; they just didn’t perceive them immediately.

33

Val 02.06.17 at 11:03 am

@29
I’m an Activist Egalitarian, with quite high Progressive Cosmopolitan, and a tiny bit of Disillusioned Pessimist.

I agree, can’t see Cory (correct spelling) doing much except further split the right. There’s a funny article (from SBS) about how he thinks he will get support from the Silent Majority, even though none of them have said anything :)

34

Ronan(rf) 02.06.17 at 1:10 pm

“xenophobia is strongest in the areas – in Australia’s case rural areas – with the LOWEST proportion of immigrants, not the highest.”

There does seem to be evidence from brexit and trump that places with recent immigration, and so ethnic change from a homogenous base, were more likely to vote brexit/trump. I saw this theory applied to Australia somewhere, but can’t remember where.

“Oh, its also important to realise that Oz has a much higher immigrant share of the population than the US”

It’s quite selective though, isn’t it? Not necessarily ‘re origin country but education/skills etc. This seems to be one of the reasons for Canada’s (and to a lesser extent irelands) failure of nativist politics, the high selectivity of non European immigration.

35

Sebastian H 02.06.17 at 4:18 pm

“xenophobia is strongest in the areas – in Australia’s case rural areas – with the LOWEST proportion of immigrants, not the highest.”

This is one of those statistics that gets played out in the Brexit discussion and the California/New York discussion, but it doesn’t get very well analyzed. Considering the ridiculous run up in housing costs in all of those areas, couldn’t it just as easily be explained economically? Those “kept out of the cities and forced to live in the economically disfunctional regions” end up blaming immigrants for their economic troubles while the people who are doing better don’t bother blaming immigrants because they are being successful and express their cognitive misattributions end up playing out through unearned self-congratulation rather than unfair blaming of immigrants.

Or especially in London: the winners from globalism like to HIRE immigrants for cheap while running up the housing costs to push out the non-immigrants.

36

Sebastian H 02.06.17 at 4:47 pm

“Ah, but what is the measure of Clinton not being a “world class” politician? Your opinion? Fox News? 24-year-old Berniebros? How’s the politician you now have in office working out for you? “World class”… something, at any rate.”

I’m anything but a Trump supporter. I was warning that he could be Clinton when everyone else thought it was a bad joke.

There is all sorts of indication that Clinton was a very good administrative/policy person. There is very little indication that she was a good politician in the sense of understanding what it takes to get elected in a contested election. There is all sorts of indication that she is good at intra-party political strong-arming (see her powerplay into the New York Senate race where she had never lived) but has lost every strongly contested race (see Obama [world class] vs. Sanders [a not-terrible politician who gave her a serious run] vs. NY Senate [where she could win the party nomination through big money strong-arm tactics and know it wouldn’t be a contested race against an actual Republican which is exactly why she chose NY].

A world class politician understands the local rules of her election and uses them to her advantage. Clinton lost to Obama in the primaries precisely because she failed to pay attention to the mechanics of each state. She then lost to Trump for the same reasons. From her loss to Obama she didn’t learn that she needed to learn to target the states she needed differently. She learned the lesson that she needed to control her intra-party mechanisms better, which served her well against Sanders but never taught her anything about elections that involve people who have voted for Republicans at any point in their lives.

A good politician knows how to inspire people to vote for her by weaving the various parts of her policy into a theme about why she is good for the country. Trump did that with “Make America Great Again”. I watched Clinton for a year of campaigning and have no idea what her theme was. Was it “Better Together?”. Obama’s was “Yes, We Can” and I remember without consulting google from almost a decade ago. That is because Obama is a world class politician while Clinton isn’t even a governor-level politician.

A good politician uses the inspiring narrative themes (which Clinton didn’t have) to control the way that the media approaches her. People always spoke with wonder about how Republicans could make everything stick to Clinton, but couldn’t make anything stick to Obama. That of course assumes that Clinton and Obama had equal number of boderline shady things to portray as slimy, which I think isn’t the case. But if you are of the belief that all of the things leveled against Clinton were just as merit-less as those leveled against Obama (which seems to be a common belief here) than you STILL have excellent evidence that Obama was a world class politician (he could play the media so it wouldn’t stick) while Clinton was mediocre at best (everything always stuck).

A world class politician doesn’t go to coal country and tell them that their jobs are gone forever UNLESS she has a plan to use that to get more votes she needs somewhere else. Or unless she can work that into an inspiring narrative about how she is going to help the country with that fact. So Thatcher looks like a canny politician compared to Clinton.

Clinton was not a world class politician in the “does the type of thing that it takes to get elected” definition. That would have been true even if she had beaten the weakest candidate that the Republicans have put up for election in more than fifty years. The fact that you are questioning it even after she lost to the weakest candidate the Republicans put up in fifty years suggests that you are over-weighting something in your analysis of what counts as world class politician. Considering the scary way the world is tilting right now, that isn’t a good cognitive bias to be nursing.

37

anon/portly 02.06.17 at 5:44 pm

Ah, but what is the measure of Clinton not being a “world class” politician? Your opinion? Fox News? 24-year-old Berniebros? How’s the politician you now have in office working out for you? “World class”… something, at any rate.

Much higher unfavorable ratings than any other major party candidate for president since the pollsters started measuring them, except for Trump of course. E.g.:

Trump and Clinton are currently among the worst-rated presidential candidates of the last seven decades according to Gallup’s long-term “scalometer” trend. In the race to the bottom, however, Trump’s 42% highly unfavorable score easily outpaces Clinton’s 33%. Prior to now, 1964 Republican nominee Barry Goldwater had the highest negative score, with 26% rating him highly unfavorably in October 1964.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/193376/trump-leads-clinton-historically-bad-image-ratings.aspx

38

derrida derider 02.07.17 at 3:06 am

I often disagree with Sebastian, but he is dead set right on the money @36. The truly amazing thing about Hillary is the contrast with her husband – someone also extremely smart but with far less personal integrity, but who also instinctively understands where real life voters are coming from.

The most glaring fault with Hillary on the hustings was her failure to understand that Americans are incorrigible optimists, sometimes against all reality. To win in the US you have to promise the world – indeed, heaven too like a TV evangelist (Obama anyone?) – because Americans respond to enthusiasm and will believe those promises. Telling hard truths is the road to oblivion.

39

GrueBleen 02.07.17 at 6:55 am

Well after that, Derrida Derider (#38) I’m glad you never advised any political party that I favour (err, you hadn’t ever advised the Democrats, had you ?).

Clinton “lost” – if you can say that that about someone who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million – for a few very clear reasons.

1. She’s female – and though the US already had already had the bro, too many people weren’t ready for the ho. After all the 15th Amendment was in 1870, but the 19th Amendment wasn’t until 1920, so you just can’t rush these things.
2. Believing the polls which clearly showed – even after Comey’s intentional partisan sabotage – that Hillary was winning the key states. As it turned out, she lost them by a total of less than 100,000 votes, largely due to so-called ‘Democrats’ not coming out to vote.

But I have to say that I’m fascinated by your contention that either Bill didn’t help her in any way – he who, you say “also instinctively understands where real life voters are coming from.” – or that he did try to help her and she ignored him. Where did this come from ?

40

Sebastian H 02.07.17 at 4:19 pm

“Clinton “lost” – if you can say that that about someone who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million – for a few very clear reasons.”

Look, the rules of the game are the rules we have. If you want to use that argument to change the rules–great. But do not argue that Clinton operated as a good politician by winning lots of votes that would have gone for ANY Democrat in California and New York while losing the presidency. That is the sign of a horrible politician. A good politician understands the rules and works to win.

“But I have to say that I’m fascinated by your contention that either Bill didn’t help her in any way – he who, you say “also instinctively understands where real life voters are coming from.” – or that he did try to help her and she ignored him.”

It was reported both before and after the election.

Bill Clinton’s Lonely One Man Effort to Win White Working Class Voters

Bill Clinton stood before an audience of blue-collar workers in Lansing, Mich., two days before the presidential election and told them he understood and empathized with the economic frustrations of the working class.

“There’s a lot of road rage out there because after the financial crash, it took a long time before incomes started going up again. There are still some families that if you adjust for inflation, their incomes are about what they were the last day I was president more than 15 years ago and their costs are going up. And that’s really tough,” the former president drawled as he campaigned on behalf of his wife, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

His comments in Michigan marked the last leg of a lonely, one-man war he launched earlier in the election to appeal to working-class and white rural voters, whom senior Clinton staffers reportedly told him were not worth the time or effort.

Further, there was a major difference between how Bill Clinton and the rest of his wife’s team approached discussing the economy. As Hillary Clinton, Obama and others campaigned on the message that economic fortunes have improved greatly since 2008, and that they’ll only get better with another Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton was telling voters things have been extremely difficult for working Americans, and that those people need extra encouragement and help.

The senator’s appeal to working-class voters was drowned out ultimately by the campaign’s much louder focus on attacking Trump and underscoring the former secretary of state’s public record.

For Hillary Clinton’s chief strategists, the unique challenge of reconciling working-class and white rural frustrations with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy proved too difficult a riddle, and they chose in the end to focus their efforts elsewhere, much to Bill Clinton’s reported protestation.

The former president saw early during the Democratic primary that his wife had a real problem connecting with these voters, many of whom overwhelmingly preferred Sanders’ message on jobs and trade.

Bill Clinton reportedly warned the campaign that they needed to address the issue immediately, but “his advice fell on deaf ears,” according to the New York Times.

Hillary Clinton’s 36-year-old campaign manager, Robby Mook, dismissed the advice of the 70-year-old former president as the ravings of an aged athlete desperate to regain his former glory, and insisted instead that young, Latino and black voters were the key to winning 2016.

“Bill Clinton had railed … for months” against the campaign’s disinterest in the working-class, “wondering aloud at meetings why the campaign was not making more of an attempt to even ask that population for its votes,” Politico reported.

“Bill Clinton’s viewpoint of fighting for the working-class white voters was often dismissed with a hand wave by senior members of the team as a personal vendetta to win back the voters who elected him, from a talented but aging politician who simply refused to accept the new Democratic map,” the report added. “At a meeting ahead of the convention at which aides presented to both Clintons the ‘Stronger Together’ framework for the general election, senior strategist Joel Benenson told the former president bluntly that the voters from West Virginia were never coming back to his party.”


By the spring of 2016, Mook’s influence was such that senior staffers sided with him against the Democratic nominee’s husband.

The Clinton team never named a rural council, ignoring both the warnings of the former president and Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaign strategies, and had only one “staffer in Brooklyn” dedicated to rural outreach, Politico noted.

That staffer was not even tapped for that assignment until the final weeks of the election, the report added.

But as the campaign ignored Bill Clinton’s advice on courting working-class and rural whites, Bill Clinton ignored the campaign’s assessment that those voters weren’t worth the effort.

The aging ex-commander in chief decided to go it alone, and launched a personal campaign to win the ignored Americans in small, rural towns and cities across the Rust Belt and the South.

Bill Clinton’s remarks in Lansing two days before the election were no mistake, and, in his mind, it was not an off-script moment. For America’s 42nd president, who spoke at more than 60 campaign rallies, reaching out to these discarded voters became an increasingly crucial issue.

“In the final weeks of the campaign, a despondent Mr. Clinton held a flurry of his own events in Ohio, Iowa, the Florida Panhandle and Wisconsin, talking to the white voters who like him but who view his wife with distrust,” the New York Times reported.

When Bill Clinton spoke on the campaign trail about the voting bloc ignored by Mook and other senior staffers, he argued repeatedly that, as a white Southerner, he felt their pain.

He did this sometimes in unflattering terms, but usually from a place of self-deprecating humor.

“The other guy’s base is what I grew up in,” he said in October during a campaign stop in Fort Myers, Fla. “You know, I’m basically your standard redneck.”

His comments came as part of a larger appeal to his audience to reach out to undecided voters, especially pro-Trump supporters, and tell them the Democratic nominee understands and cares.

“Don’t engage in our version of all this screaming,” Clinton said. “Go out there and look people in the eye who aren’t going to vote for her and tell them we still want them to be part of America. Tell them we need them.”

I didn’t like Bill Clinton in a lot of ways. But on the question of whether or not he was a world class politician, the answer is yes. On the question of whether Hillary was a world class politician, the answer is no. In a calmer era we might have had the privilege to choose non-world-class-politicians because of some other world class feature. But all the technocratic competence in the world doesn’t help if you can’t get elected.

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Frederick 02.08.17 at 4:38 am

Bit late in the day but re who and where are the Trumpists in Australia, the obvious first prize (sic) would have to be Quadrant Magazine where the Chump is considered to be the great-white-hope of Western Civilization.
Followed by the Australian Spectator which largely features the same bloviators.
And of course to complete the triumvirate the IPA.

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derrida derider 02.08.17 at 5:36 am

“[Hillary lost] largely due to so-called ‘Democrats’ not coming out to vote.” – BlueGreen@39.
Exactly – but the ‘Democrats’ not coming out to vote were those she had given no motivation to wait in line at a polling booth for her.

Its different in Australia with its compulsory voting and more rational electoral system. An “I’m the boring sensible choice” approach can actually work well here, so the political imperative is to not piss people off as distinct from to making them love you. Our would-be Trump Senator Bernardi will soon discover this.

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GrueBleen 02.08.17 at 7:21 am

But do not argue that Clinton operated as a good politician by winning lots of votes that would have gone for ANY Democrat in California and New York while losing the presidency.

Would you be so kind as to point out where you believe I did that ? I have reread my post and I just can’t find that argument anywhere.

A good politician understands the rules and works to win.

So, now Trump is the 45th President of the Post-Rebellion era (there were, I understand, American presidents befoe the people decided to rebell against the divine will of God and basically depose their King). That means, if I’ve got the numbers right, that there has been 44 losing presidential election teams – all of whom were male, BOC. So, 44 losing teams, hardly any of which lost the presidency but won the popular vote by a large margin. In fact, almost none of them … except Hillary.

Therefore, by your reckoning, all 44 losing teams were even worse politicians than Hillary ?

Your account of Bill’s part in the deal is entertaining, but can you tell me where the Washington Examiner got all of that from ? Has it been visibly fact checked or is it just more ‘alternative facts’ feeding some ‘fake news’ ?

I did read most of the Washington Examiner’s article, and all I can say is that given the catalogue of her campaign’s failures, it is the miracle of the ages that Hillary gained 2.8 million more votes that Trump – a total miracle. She must be the very best female politician ever – pity so many Americans just can’t accept ‘powerful’ women. Never mind, maybe in another 20 or 30 years, Americans will be ready to elect a woman.

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Sebastian H 02.08.17 at 8:51 am

Not all of the other politicians who lost, lost against one of the worst candidates in US Presidential history.

“pity so many Americans just can’t accept ‘powerful’ women.”

Even Hillary admits that she isn’t particularly good at the electioneering stuff. I don’t see why you should have so much trouble recognizing what she herself admits. She just isn’t good at some of the crucial skills in getting elected.

“Your account of Bill’s part in the deal is entertaining, but can you tell me where the Washington Examiner got all of that from ?”

That isn’t my account. That is the account of T. Becket Adams, the journalist who wrote the article. You can see other articles here for example where he accuses Breitbart of trying to pass off an NBA parade as supporters for a Trump rally.

The Bill Clinton speeches are all a matter of general public record. He was giving them in the Rust Belt for a reason, right? He wasn’t getting much visible support from anywhere else, right? So at the very least, the publicly checkable facts are in line with the story as reported, right?

Would you be questioning similar sourcing, perfectly in line with publicly checkable facts if it didn’t call into question your narrative? You shouldn’t just call something “fake news” because you don’t like what the facts suggest. That’s playing the Trump game.

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GrueBleen 02.08.17 at 2:08 pm

Not all of the other politicians who lost, lost against one of the worst candidates in US Presidential history.

And your point is ? Not all of those who lost, lost against the best candidates in US Presidential history either. But lose they did, didn’t they. In short almost all of them ended up with fewer popular votes and fewer electoral college votes than the winner. Hillary, of course, because of decades of lying ‘fake news’ attacks by the GOP and the rightist news media, was also a ‘worst candidate’ in many ways – not because of any putative campaign failures, but because of the negative (to put it mildly) views people held of her. But she still ended up with 2.8 million more popular votes than Trump, yes ?

Even Hillary admits that she isn’t particularly good at the electioneering stuff. I don’t see why you should have so much trouble recognizing what she herself admits.

Ok, here we go again: kindly show me where I have denied that Hillary’s campaign was flawed. What I would commend to your thought processes is the concept of “pundit’s fallacy”. Can you clearly show you are not committing it ?

That isn’t my account. That is the account of T. Becket Adams

Ok, so you can’t tell me where the Washington Examiner got all that from, you can only give me the name of someone who brings his own misconceptions, ignorances, biases and pundit’s fallacy to reporting. Ok, that’s pretty much par for the course for journalists, especially in these media deprived days.

The Bill Clinton speeches are all a matter of general public record….So at the very least, the publicly checkable facts are in line with the story as reported, right?

Some facts might be ‘publicly checkable’, but how, exactly would we go about checking Bill’s speeches ? Are they all available on Youtube, for example ? Have certified transcripts been published ? Were the reports of Bill’s speeches all signed off by Bill as valid, accurate reords ? Or are we just relying on a variety of journalists in a range of different journals yet again ?

Would you be questioning similar sourcing, perfectly in line with publicly checkable facts if it didn’t call into question your narrative?

And there you go again: “publicly checkable facts” ? Ok, then, check them for me and the rest of the readers (if any). Show me the proof of your contention that they are ‘publicly checkable’.

But to answer your question: no, I would not be questioning similar sources because I would have already questioned them, and checked them to the best of my capability, as part of the process of forming my narrative. What do you do: make up your “narrative” first and then hope you can find some checkable testimony to support it ?

You shouldn’t just call something “fake news” because you don’t like what the facts suggest. That’s playing the Trump game.

And yet again: please show me clearly where I called them “fake news”. I have reread my comment and all I can find is a perfectly reasonable question – that is when I ask something,, not when I assert something – as to whether the Washington Examiner article has been “visibly checked” or not. And if it has not been visibly checked, then I repeat my question as to whether it is ‘alternative facts’.

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