Friday, February 19, 2016

What if it’s Trump Versus Sanders?

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump
I really can’t get over it. Never in my wildest dreams could have I ever have imagined the possibility that a narcissistic vulgar showman and a dyed in the wool socialist would have the slightest chance of becoming the President of the United States. And yet Donald Trump who is the epitome of the former and Bernie Sanders, the epitome of the latter are both seriously in the running to do just that.

It seems that Trump can do or say no wrong. The more outrageous, bigoted, and insulting his comments become the stronger his support seems to get.  It seems that Sanders socialist ideas about redistributing the wealth of this country does not disturb anyone either. If anything it inspires support. I have to wonder where all this is coming from. Are the American people that stupid? Or is it me? Am I so dense that I can’t see why the support of these two opposites is so appealing? I hope not. At least I don’t think so. Let’s see if we can figure this out.

For the record, I still believe that neither of these two individuals will become President. Common sense has to prevail at some point. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton will be the nominee. On the Republican side, well - it’s too early to tell. (Although the candidate I support, Marco Rubio still has a good chance. It all boils down to where the votes of lesser candidates Bush, Kasich, and Carson  will go after they drop out.)

But still, what is going on here? I think what is being reflected here is a ‘Throw the bums out’ mentality. People are just fed up with politics as usual and are probably unhappy with their lot in life. They see a shrinking middle class and a growing upper and lower class and blame the establishment  politicians. It seems like it almost doesn’t matter what  a candidate says. They are going with anti establishment candidates. As long as they are ‘ballpark’ Democrat or Republican they are going to get their respective support. Democrats leaning left will support anti establishment Bernie. And Republicans leaning right will support anti establishment Donald.

As someone that leans right, given the choice between the two, I would still have a hard time supporting Trump. But supporting a socialist is a non starter for me. Especially someone like Sanders who gets part of his foreign policy advice from J-Street. He would make the current President look like Meir Kahane by comparison. There is not a doubt in my mind that he would do a lot more to pressure Israel into making life threatening decisions.

Trump, on the other hand is an unknown entity. It’s hard to tell what he would do. But based on his rhetoric, his views seem to be a 1000 times more favorable to Israel than Sanders’ views. Not to mention the fact that he seems to be a lot friendlier with Israel’s current prime minister than the current President is.

So how can our politically divided country vote for these two guys? With respect to Trump it must be that most people do not take his rhetoric literally. He is probably a lot more rational  than his big mouth indicates. Once in office, he would hire the best people to advise him on the issues. I believe those people would be very strongly pro Israel and pro business.

Bernie Sanders appeal is his personal charm. You’ve got to like this guy. Even though I obviously do not agree with his politics, he exudes honesty and integrity. He is a true believer in the redistribution of wealth. He wants to ‘even the playing field’ by taking money from the rich in the form of confiscatory taxes – and give it to the poor in the form of a lot of free entitlements.

He constantly compares the United States negatively to European democracies saying they are far more progressive than we are. Europeans provide all of their citizens with free health care, free college, better pensions, longer family leave, and a shorter work week (for the same pay).  

The ‘Robin Hood’ approach that socialism is - is attractive to the hard working middle. Especially the young. They see hard working people barely making enough money to live a middle class lifestyle, while the rich hardly work at all and live like kings, using the ethics of a Bernie Madoff to get them there. It’s time to take some of their money away and give it to ourselves - the hard working middle class.

If I was going to vote charm and integrity; if I was going to vote for the appealing message of sticking it to the rich, thinking that would get me more, I would vote for Bernie. His message is so very seductive. He wants to give away lots of goodies and have the rich pay for it.

But the reality is that aside from what in my view would be a disastrous foreign policy, his domestic policies would turn America’s  prosperity into a European socialist disaster whose economies are barely treading water.

You can’t give away the store. All of Bernie’s goodies have to be paid for.  Which means substantially higher income taxes; higher sales taxes; and a variety of new taxes that don’t even exist yet. Either that or devaluing our currency substantially. Which would eventually cause an inflation that hurts everyone. Including the poor.

We do not want to become another Europe. Instead of spending ever more on social programs, we ought to be reducing the deficit by spending less. Not by giving away the store to the masses. Socialist Greece tried that. They almost went bankrupt.

We ought to instead incentivize business by lowering their taxes and invest in their own growth. Incentivize them to produce more which would mean more jobs and more money to buy the things they produce. And reduce or eliminate a some of the wasteful government programs and some of the ridiculous projects funded by the government (Bill Proxmire, where are you?!) to compensate for the lost revenue in the short term. In the long term government revenue would increase because there would be more jobs, meaning more people paying taxes

What if this worst case scenario actually happens where Trump and Sanders actually win their party’s respective nomination? Who would I vote for? Much as I like Bernie and hate Donald, I would hold my nose and vote for Donald. And hope that his disgusting rhetoric does not reflect his ultimate actions as President. Because if it does, it would be an unmitigated disaster for this country.

But all this is speculation about what I still believe is an unlikely scenario. I still think it’s going to be Clinton and (hopefully) Rubio. In the mean time it will be a fun (if scary) to watch. So I am going to enjoy the show.