Joined at the Hip

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Dr. Malcolm Cross

Bernie Sanders is projected to win a runaway victory in Saturday’s Nevada Democratic caucuses.  With 50% of the vote in, as of this writing, he’s won 24,122 of the 57,218 popular votes cast, and 3,563 of the 7,640 county convention delegates who’ll help select delegates to the state convention which will select delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer.  Moreover, Sanders won well over twice the number of votes and delegates as Joe Biden, the first runner up in a five-person race.  Which is all another way for saying that Donald Trump won the Nevada Democratic caucuses himself.

The pattern that’s emerged to date is that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, however odd a couple they appear to be, are actually American politics’s Siamese twins, joined at the hip.  Sander’s probable path to victory in the Democratic presidential nomination contest will mirror Trump’s path to the Republican victory in 2016. Moreover, as Sanders’s fortune’s rise, so, too, will Trump’s.  

Bernie’s greatest strengths, insofar as winning his party’s presidential election are concerned, are his authenticity and his actual ideas.  He’s a self-proclaimed, unapologetic, rough-around-the-edges “democratic socialist.”  His followers love him for his transparent honesty, which even sometimes wins the grudging admiration of some of his critics.  Not for him or his followers are the smooth ambiguities or the rapid reversal of views which characterize too many Democratic (and Republican as well) politicians. 

And Sanders’s policy proposals are enthusiastically shared by a hard core of Democratic activists all too willing to see Michael Bloomberg as a closet Republican (after all, he was elected as a Republican to be Mayor of New York City), and most of the other Democrats still in the race as too moderate (or squishy) to be trusted. Being united in their support of Sanders, Democratic leftists are enabling him to pile up primary and caucus victories while more moderate Democrats are splitting their vote among Sanders’s rivals.  In short, Sanders and his supporters are pursuing a successful divide-and-conquer strategy—a strategy right out of Donald Trump’s playbook of 2016.

It’s probably been forgotten that Trump was not the choice of the majority of voters in the 2016 Republican primaries.  His policy proposals did not reflect the GOP mainstream at the time.  His trade protectionism and his hostility toward immigration put him out of step with most Republicans, who had once supported the free trade and more tolerant immigration policies of Ronald Reagan and the Bushes.  But with sixteen more conservative rivals for the GOP nomination splitting the mainstream GOP vote among themselves, Trump was able to win the nomination with his own enthusiastic band of followers.

But at the risk of being too repetitious, I must note that what makes Sanders’s strongest among Democrats is what will make him weakest in a general election.  The Democratic activists who dominate their party’s primaries and caucuses are not representative of the sort of voters most likely to go to the polls in November.  The latter are typically more moderate, preferring a left-of-center moderate or a right-of-center moderate to an extremist of either the left or the right.  Republicans can easily tag Bernie an extreme leftist for his policy proposals, but the Democrats can less easily convince the voters that Trump, for all his excesses and eccentricities, is a right-wing radical.  After all, Trump’s policies on abortion and judges are well within the conservative mainstream.  Despite his tough talk on immigration, his actual policies do not differ significantly from those once advocated by either Obama or the Clintons.  And his refusal to try to reform spending on Social Security or Medicare has kept him off the third rail of American politics, which all too often electrocutes those politicians who seek to change America’s most popular (if expensive) programs.  The bottom line here is that Sanders can be portrayed as a policy radical, while Trump cannot.  Advantage:  Trump.

So, as long as Bernie Sanders keeps winning the Democratic primaries and caucuses and, ultimately, the Democratic presidential nomination, Donald Trump will keep winning too.  Sanders’s victories in 2020’s winter, spring, and summer will lead to Trump’s victory in the fall.  But whether America will thereby win too is not a question on whose answer the public can agree.


Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

6 Comments

  1. THE APOCRYPHAL TWAIN: “WHEN THE RICH ROB THE POOR, IT’S CALLED BUSINESS.”
    Posted on December 28, 2016 by Matt Seybold
    There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track down the original source, as well as attempt to trace how their words came to be imagined in Twain’s mouth.

    “When the rich rob the poor, it’s called business. When the poor fight back, it’s called violence.” – The Apocryphal Twain

  2. Dr. you spend focused on things you observe and hear about democrats and very little effort examining the U.S. current administration. This third century of the United States we are working on is not the people at the bottoms fault. It is an insult to education in my eyes that you are fortunate enough to be educated and would use that blessed talent in continuing to hold a boot on the throats of those at the bottom. In your Bible it reads there will always be poor people.It doesn’t read we should work at keeping them poor. And I know about the tax deduction to the church and the United Way for supporting the under payed in our community. I know about the Monday morning pick up as its dropped of food in the bank parking lot of the bank. It;s near the Care-Flight Landing and Take Off spot. That is the proof of the removal of dignity from families simply wanting to get along.

    Examine your Party some.

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/bill-barrs-former-classmates-ag-has-long-been-motivated-by-ruthless-ambition-and-fascist-instincts/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3795

    Bill Barr’s former classmates: AG has long been motivated by ruthless ambition and ‘fascist’ instincts

    Written by Alex Henderson February 24, 2020

    Attorney General William Barr recently expressed frustration over President Donald Trump’s interference in the criminal case of veteran GOP operative Roger Stone, who on February 20, was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison on charges ranging from jury tampering to lying to Congress. But journalist Adrian Feinberg, in an article for the Independent, expresses great skepticism over the possibility that any real tension is developing between Trump and Barr — whose authoritarian leanings, according to Feinberg, make him make him a perfect attorney general for the president.

    “Despite the public break with Trump and the recent reports of extant resignation plans,” Feinberg reports, “sources who’ve known Barr over the years aren’t convinced that he’s going anywhere anytime soon. Barr, they say, has exactly what he wants in Trump, namely a president whose lack of firm convictions — except for a sense that his allies should never face criminal convictions — has allowed his third attorney general to have free rein.”

    For his article, Feinberg interviewed some people who have known the 69-year-old Barr for decades — and they described him as someone who is motivated by a ruthless type of ambition and authoritarian instincts. One of the interviewees, Jonathan Smith, who knew Barr when they were students at Horace Mann High School in New York City, described the attorney general as someone who has long been “radically right wing.”

    “I don’t even know if Trump has an ideology,” Smith told The Independent, “but I think Barr does. I don’t think he’s uncomfortable with the idea of a certain kind of authoritarianism being wielded towards those ends, and he sees Trump as someone who isn’t going to be circumspect about it.”

    In the early 1990s, Barr served as U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush — and criminal defense attorney Jimmy Lohman was highly critical of Barr even back then. Lohman, who also knew Barr from Horace Mann, noted that Barr picketed an event at Horace Mann High School because it was serving as a fundraiser for the NAACP. According to Lohman, Barr believes in “some weird ass version of Catholicism” and “almost unlimited executive power” — and Barr’s “fascist” views made Trump appealing to him.

    “There are people out there who are fascist; William Barr, in my view, is one,” Lohman told the Independent. “And I evidently picked up on that a long, long time ago.”

  3. Protecting American’s and children?

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/republican-response-to-potential-pandemic-aims-at-protecting-trump-with-cowardice-hypocrisy-and-outright-lies/?utm_source=push_notifications,

    Written by Sophia Tesfaye / Salon February 27, 2020
    The last time a deadly virus spread quickly across continents, Republicans in Congress ramped up xenophobic rhetoric to fear-monger ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Echoing Donald Trump, who at the time hosted a weekly “Fox & Friends,” Republicans called for a travel ban and spread misinformation. “[President] Obama should apologize to the American people & resign!” Trump tweeted in October of 2014. Public polls right before the midterm elections showed that nearly 80% of Republicans thought the U.S. government should quarantine people who had recently been in a West African country with a major Ebola outbreak and nearly 50% worried they would be exposed to the Ebola virus. It was a catastrophic election for Democrats, with Republicans winning nine Senate seats and 13 House seats.

    Six years later, President Trump continues to overhype the threat of the Ebola virus — this time in an effort to obscure his bungled response to a global health pandemic under his watch. Republicans in Congress are again spreading misinformation — this time in an overt attempt to defend Trump from criticism over his incompetent response.

    As both Trump and his White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow appeared before cameras on Tuesday to claim that the coronavirus — and COVID-19, the disease it causes — are “well under control” and “contained,” the Dow Jones Industrial tumbled 1,000 points. On Wednesday, it fell almost another 900 points. Trump insisted on Twitter, “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

    On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. for which the origin is unknown — and Trump praised his administration’s handling of the outbreak. “That’s what saved us,” he said of travel restrictions from China at a White House press conference. He made no mention of the latest confirmed case in the U.S.

    Controlling an infectious disease outbreak means acting quickly and decisively at home and abroad. The Obama administration set up a permanent epidemic monitoring and command group inside the White House National Security Council (NSC) and another in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In 2018, Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command. His 2021 budget cut one out of every six dollars in the CDC budget and trimmed funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH) by 7 percent. Trump’s White House finally requested an emergency spending package from Congress for $1.8 billion to combat coronavirus, according to a letter sent Monday by the Office of Management and Budget. By comparison, the Obama administration requested $6 billion in emergency funding during the 2014 Ebola crisis.

    To defend the difference between his reactions to the Ebola outbreak and the spread of coronavirus, Trump effectively downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus just as a top CDC official warned people in the U.S. that “disruption to everyday life might be severe” in an effort to stop its spread. The CDC recently issued its first federal quarantine order in more than 50 years for U.S. citizens returning from anywhere in China. Still, Trump booster Rush Limbaugh claimed on his radio show that “there’s nothing unusual about the coronavirus” and that it was “being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.” Fox News host Laura Ingraham suggested Democrats were only concerned about coronavirus because they are disappointed Trump wasn’t convicted in his impeachment trial.

    The right-wing Washington Times published an article suggesting that the virus “originated in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan linked to China’s covert biological weapons program,” a claim echoed by Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, on Fox News. Some of Trump’s strongest backers have encouraged the president to consider quarantining American citizens in overseas U.S. territories after Republicans pushed back agains plans to relocate returning residents in red states. Using coronavirus to extend U.S. colonialism to cover up for his administration’s incompetence is too on-the-nose, even for Donald Trump.

    “The president just told me in our third phone call yesterday, somebody’s going to get fired over this. But I don’t know who,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., of an aborted plan to house some coronavirus patients in Alabama. Patients have instead been sent to California, Texas and Nebraska.

    As Trump’s allies spread unfounded conspiracy theories to distract the media and public from his failings, the president tried to play clean-up by announcing on Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence will be in charge of an all-male coronavirus task force. Trump said he was picking Pence “because he’s very good at doing what he does,” adding, “Look at the Indiana model, they have been very successful there.” As governor of Indiana, of course, Pence infamously enabled an HIV outbreak because he was morally opposed to safe needle exchange. Now, after giving aid and comfort o anti-vaccine forces during his run for the White House, Trump is now hitching his horse to a rapid mass-vaccination program.

    Trump’s response to the coronavirus threat is not likely to make anyone feel secure. It serves as a reminder that not only have Republicans consistently proposed cuts in funding for health organizations meant to protect us, they stand ready to consistently prioritize politics — even in the face of grave danger.

    Sophia Tesfaye is Salon’s Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

    Stop lying and blaming democrats. You guys got fine homes, cars etc but still have that need to control and manipulate and hold people down. You are acting like those Texans that wouldn’t listen to Governor Sam Houston and he resigned after telling Texans the North will March all over you. And you know no one ever talks about the loss of lives or the human suffering in woman’s and children’s lives. The women and children get shoved aside again.

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