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Why Bernie Sanders [and Donald Trump] Matter

why bernie sanders matters book coverWASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Bernie Sanders’ appeal to young, often first time voters, is not a mystery to Harry Jaffe, whose recent book “Why Bernie Sanders Matters” was the subject of a Focus Washington interview with Chuck Conconi. Jaffe said the youthful voters are “attracted to” the VermontSenator’s authenticity.

In that, Jaffe explained, Sanders has “a commonality with (Donald) Trump” in that neither are part of the establishment. The comparison between the two maverick candidates, however, Jaffe points out is that Sanders is a “Populist Socialist,” while Trump is “Populist Fascist.”

In a comparison with the campaign style of Hillary Clinton, with whom he is vying for the Democratic Party nomination to run for president, Jaffe said Sanders says what he thinks and if you don’t agree with it, don’t vote for him. Clinton, on the other hand, he continues, first factors what her handlers think, then what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, thinks and then what she thinks before making a statement. Jaffe said younger voters can detect that difference.

Jaffe also said that the black vote is not monolithic and that southern African Americans — largely rural, more religious and conservative — are quite different from their northern counterparts, who are urban and prioritize good jobs and making a living. The contention is that while Clinton runs exceptionally well with African Americans in the southern states, she might not do as well among northern blacks in the upcoming Ohio and Illinois primaries.

A Washington Magazine editor at large, Jaffe, who has worked on books by educator Michele Rhee and former congresswoman Gabby Gifford, said that pollsters and much of the media were surprised by Sanders upset victory in the Michigan primary. Jaffe said he wasn’t surprised and doesn’t think Sanders was surprised either. He contends that Sanders will also do well in the upcoming Ohio and Illinois primaries because Sanders, who consistently votes against international trade agreements, has always been a spokesman for the working class who see their jobs outsourced overseas, and that they are not getting paid as well as they once were. They like his opposition to trade agreements, a factor that political pundits said was a major part of his Michigan victory.

Harry Jaffe provides interesting insights on democratic voters, upcoming primaries and even some surprises about the candidate himself as a college student during the 1960s. Bernie Sanders champions voters who feel like they don’t matter in Washington; and because he lets them know that they do matter, Bernie Sanders’Presidential bid matters.

See the full interview: http://www.focuswashington.com/2016/03/11/why-bernie-sanders-matters/

To learn more about the author, see his website at: http://www.harryjaffe.com/

About MSLGROUP

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Publicis Groupe [Euronext Paris FR0000130577, CAC 40] is a global leader in marketing, communication, and business transformation. In a world marked by increased convergence and consumer empowerment, Publicis Groupe offers a full range of services and skills: digital, technology & consulting with Publicis.Sapient (SapientNitro, Sapient Global Markets, Sapient Government Services, Razorfish Global, DigitasLBi, Rosetta) – the world’s largest most forward-thinking digitally centered platform focused exclusively on digital transformation in an always-on world – as well as creative networks such as BBH, Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, public affairs, corporate communications and events with MSLGROUP, ad tech solutions with VivaKi, media strategy, planning and buying through Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia, healthcare communications, with Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG), and finally, brand asset production with Prodigious. Present in 108 countries, the Groupe employs more than 76,000 professionals.

Trump and Clinton Likely Winners in Florida Primary Races

SAINT LEO, Fla. /PRNewswire/ — In Florida, Donald Trump is maintaining his lead among GOP presidential candidates, getting the support of 41.4 percent of likely Republican primary voters surveyed this week by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Florida’s own Marco Rubio trailed behind, attracting just 22.8 percent of the 500 Republicans surveyed in the online poll. As for other GOP candidates, 12.4 percent favored U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and 10.8 percent will vote for former Ohio Governor John Kasich. Another 12.6 percent said they are undecided.

The poll also surveyed 500 likely Democratic Florida primary voters and found U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly in the lead, with 59.4 percent selecting her over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders supporters amounted to 27 percent of those polled, meaning he was more than 32 points behind Clinton. The proportion of undecided Democrats was 13.6 percent.

Political science instructor Frank Orlando said that Marco Rubio is under intense pressure in his home state. “If he loses Tuesday, he’s effectively done,” said Orlando. “Even if he wins, the road is still very difficult, but one could see him gaining some momentum back and surviving the process. He needs to use Thursday night’s debate performance and all the ground game he can manage to change the tide in a hurry.”

Trump’s results showed broad appeal, but more so among men, particularly among white males. In the poll, 47.3 percent of males said they would vote for Trump compared to 34.2 percent of females. “If he does end up being the [Republican] nominee, we might witness the greatest gender gap in recorded history,” said Orlando.

On the Democratic side, Orlando sees Clinton’s poll results foreshadowing victory in the Florida primary. “Being down by 32 is quite a mountain to climb,” Orlando said. “Also, Florida has a higher minority population and a larger proportion of older voters. Both of these things help Clinton.”

ABOUT THE SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

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The Trump Love Affair Explained in Terms Even Beltway Pundits Can Understand

Donald Trump’s rise this election season has been historic, amounting to something heretofore unseen in the annals of American politics. Given this, it’s perhaps not surprising that many are still befuddled by the phenomenon. Pundit Charles Krauthammer is bewildered, saying that “for some reason” Trump “is immune to the laws of contradiction.” (In reality, Democrats get away with contradiction continually; the only difference is that the media actually report on Trump’s.) Also in the news recently is that some find his appeal among evangelicals “inexplicable.” Of course, it’s all quite explainable.

In an earlier piece — which I strongly urge you to read — I expanded on certain factors evident in the Trump phenomenon. Trump is:

  • tapping into anger against the Establishment and over immigration and is a plain-spoken breath of fresh air.
  • sounding a nationalistic note in an age where treason is the Establishment norm.
  • not campaigning as conservative but a populist, which, almost by definition, tends to make one popular in an era of mass discontent.
  • a crusader against hated political correctness, which has stifled tongues and killed careers nationwide. And in being the first prominent person to defeat the thought police (at least for now) — and by not cowering and apologizing to them — he has become a hero.

And as I wrote, “[W]hen you have a hero, leading the troops in the heat of battle against a despised oppressor, you don’t worry about his marriages, past ideological indiscretions or salty language. You charge right behind him.” This is largely why Trump’s contradictions don’t matter. Yet more can be said.

I often mention the fault of “mirroring,” which most everyone exhibits and is when you project your own ideals, values, priorities and mindset onto others. It’s particularly amusing when pundits and politicians comment on the electorate and speak as if everyone is a politics wonk who analyzes issues logically within the context of a broad knowledge base (pundits themselves often lack erudition and reason; of course, they’re blissfully unaware of it when thus guilty and nonetheless consider those qualities ideals). But man is not Mr. Spock, and logic and reason play less of a role in people’s decision-making than most of us care to think.

This brings us to what Trump now has. It’s something all successful politicians have to a degree and that every iconic one has in spades: an emotional bond with his supporters.

Trump has been criticized for speaking in vague generalities and not providing specifics on the campaign trail. This misses the point. If advertising a product on TV, do you willingly provide mundane details about its ingredients or describe the intricacies of its manufacturing process? That’s more the stuff of documentaries, and, insofar as the vendor goes, would only be found on an Internet product-information page (tantamount to a politician’s policy-position page) provided for those interested. No, you say “Look 15 years younger!” or “Lose 20 to 30 pounds in 6 weeks!” Or think of the circa 2000 Mazda commercial with the young boy whispering “Zoom, zoom!” It was advertising an expensive, hi-tech machine but was invoking the unbridled joy of childhood, thus endeavoring to pique people’s passions. And that’s the secret: capture your audience on an emotional level and they’re yours.

Or think about affairs of the heart. If you’re truly bonded and in love with your wife, it’s not because you first looked at her and, rendering a logical analysis, thought “Well, she’s vibrant and seems to have good genes, so we’d likely have healthy kids; and she’s a darn good cook, and I relish a fine pot roast.” Rather, a true romantic bond is somewhat inscrutable, an emotional phenomenon, not an intellectual one. And it’s powerful enough to cause a woman to follow a man into a life of faith or a life of crime (Bonnie and Clyde); it explains the enduring good marriages — and the bad ones.

Likewise, playing on emotion is not the sole province of morally bad or good politicians — only of successful ones. Hitler did it and Churchill did it; Huey Long did it and Reagan did it. When a candidate stands on a podium expounding upon policy nerd-like or has little to say beyond touting his “accomplishments” (John Kasich comes to mind), they’re proving they don’t get it. Create an emotional bond with the people, and they’re yours. And they will remain yours in the face of others’ intellectual appeals for their affections, for, to paraphrase Jonathan Swift, “You cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into.” Note that while this relates the futility of trying to shake a person from passionately embraced error, people can also have an emotional attachment to correct beliefs, for the right or wrong reasons and with or without an intellectual understanding (e.g., Plato spoke of inculcating children, who are too young to grasp abstract moral principles, with an “erotic [emotional] attachment” to virtue).

And this is what Trump does so masterfully. When he repeats his slogan “Make America Great Again,” says we’re going to “win” under his administration or speaks of building a border wall and getting “Mexico to pay for it,” it’s silly to wonder why it resonates despite the lack of detail. He’s marketing, not doing R&D; he’s not trying to appeal mainly to the intellect, but the emotions. And you do this with the slogan, not by reciting the list of ingredients. Again, this isn’t a commentary on the validity of his recipe, only on the principles of effective campaigning.

Having said this, if a candidate is the real McCoy, he’ll also have a quality product with a list of ingredients (again, a policy-position webpage) for the discriminating shopper. But if he’s smart he’ll understand that most people are impulse buyers with relatively short memories and recognize the importance of branding himself. Coca-Cola has “Coke is it!” Nike “Just do it!” and Barack Obama had “Yes, we can!” (no, he couldn’t — but it worked). Now, can you think of a GOP candidate other than Trump identifiable by way of a catchy and popular slogan? And it’s no coincidence that “Make America Great Again” was also Reagan’s slogan in 1980.

Of course, stating the obvious, to connect with people emotionally you must capitalize on something appealing to them emotionally. Trump’s bold nationalism does this. What do the others offer? Jeb Bush is associated with saying that illegal migration is “an act of love” and John “Can’t do” Kasich with “Think about the [illegals’] families, c’mon, folks!” which might appeal to illegal migrants if they could speak English. And none of the others will even support suspending Muslim immigration — despite deep and widespread fear of Muslim terrorism — which certainly will appeal to Da’esh (ISIS).

It’s as if Trump is courting Lady America with wine, roses and his alpha-male persona, while the Establishment candidates are lead-tongued nerds promising a tent with NSA surveillance, a bowl of soup and squatters on a burnt-out lawn.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

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Capitalist Theory Is Better Than Socialist Reality by Sandy Ikeda

Tell someone on the left that crony capitalism is not the same as the free market and they’ll often respond that capitalism as it really exists is crony capitalism. They will say that there has never been an instance of capitalism in which government-sponsored or government-abetted cronyism didn’t play a substantial role — either through war, taxation, or slavery — in a market economy. As a result, the failings of crony capitalism — corruption, privilege, oppression, business cycles — are simply the failings of capitalism itself.

One correct response is to show that the less intervention there has been, the less corrupt, privileged, oppressive, and unstable the socioeconomic order also has been. Many would simply reiterate that, historically, laissez-faire capitalism has never existed, nor could it exist, without interventionism. They simply will not or cannot distinguish the free market from state capitalism, corporate capitalism, or other forms of the mixed economy.

Which is perhaps why some on the left have adopted the term “neoliberalism,” a perfectly good word that has come to represent an imbroglio of vaguely market-cum-corporativist views. They can’t imagine how markets could work without some form of state intervention holding it all together. And that’s probably because they reject what economist Peter Boettke calls “mainline economics,” or economics in the tradition of Adam Smith, Frédéric Bastiat, and Carl Menger, among others.

It’s frustrating, but there are two points I’d like to make. The first is that in our libertarian critiques of collectivism, we often make an argument that sounds similar to the one people on the left make. But, second, if libertarians are careful, they may be more justified in doing so.

What Is the Turnabout?

Most socialists today have abandoned their earlier claim that socialism generates greater material prosperity, but many on the left still insist that under a pure collectivist system, greater justice and equality would prevail. Socialism, in other words, is a far more humane socioeconomic order than capitalism.

How do libertarians respond to such a claim?

Sometimes we react with contempt or with disbelief that anyone could be so stupid or so evil or both as to argue such a thing. I hope no reader of theFreeman would react that way, although I’m afraid some do. Sometimes we react with slightly more civility by aiming our dismissive contempt not at the person but at the leftist ideas she holds. I will only say that we should take to heart what John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty about so-called bad ideas and opinions:

Every opinion which embodies somewhat of the portion of truth which the common opinion omits, ought to be considered precious, with whatever amount of error and confusion that truth may be blended.

There are other responses to the claim that socialism is more just and humane than capitalism, but I would like to focus on the one that I’ve often used: socialism in practice has always and everywhere tended to lead, to the degree that it is consistently applied, not to freedom and material well-being, but to tyranny and want. In other words, while socialism in theory may be all good things to all good people, the more government has practiced collectivism and central planning to achieve its goals of justice and equality, the farther it has fallen short of those goals. (And if you think countries such as Sweden are the exception, you might read my March 2013 Freeman article, “The New Swedish Model.”)

How is that different from the left’s position that legal privilege, oppression, and other problems are part and parcel of capitalism in practice? Each side seems to be arguing that the historical failings we’ve witnessed in each system are necessary to that system and not exceptions — features, not bugs.

A Possible Resolution

Clearly, the die-hard socialist and the die-hard libertarian argue from different fundamental principles. While there are many varieties of socialism, all are suspicious to a fairly high degree of private property, prices, and profit as the central ordering forces of society. Libertarians, too, are diverse, but I believe we all share strongly opposite views to those on the left on private property, prices, and profit as necessary (and for some libertarians, mistakenly I believe, sufficient) for a civil and prosperous society.

Socialists and indeed interventionists of all stripes also seem confident that the intentions of government authorities (especially those who have been elected) are virtuous enough and their knowledge reliable and complete enough to succeed in promoting the general welfare. In this, I think, it boils down to the underlying economics.

As a rule, libertarians use mainline economic theory to reach their conclusions about socialism and the perverse dynamics of interventionism. (There are, of course, ethical and philosophical approaches, as well.) And while interventionists and perhaps even some collectivists may believe that mainline economic theory does an okay job of framing some questions and of finding some answers to those questions, they also believe that mainline economics is far too limited to address a significant proportion of economic issues.

But the problem with such a view is that there’s no principled way to say in what circumstances mainline economics has failed. Sure, no theory of the economic system, mainline or otherwise, gets it right in every instance. We then have to look to historical evidence to clarify when, under what circumstances, and to what extent mainline economics holds up. And the historical evidence is indeed on the side of the libertarian interpretation of what collectivism and various degrees of central planning are, and of what laissez-faire capitalism is.

Indeed, the historical evidence overwhelmingly shows that social mobility, innovation, prosperity, per capita income, and per capita wealth are all tightly and positively correlated with economic freedom. And contrariwise, to the extent that economic freedom is lacking, social and economic stagnation, want, and shrinking civil rights have followed. (See, for example, the most recent publication of FreetheWorld.com.)

Someone might retort that correlation is not causation, and they would be right if there wasn’t a causal theory linking economic freedom with all those great things. But libertarians do have such a theory, and it’s called mainline economics.

Those on the left, however, don’t have a coherent theory of the mixed economy. Indeed, no such theory exists. There are several theories of so-called “market failure,” but they do not together constitute a coherent theory. What does exist is a critique of the mixed economy that is based on the realization that the ordering principle of the free market and the ordering principle of collectivist central planning are logically incompatible. One is based on open-ended entrepreneurial competition, the other on some form of constraining central planning. Interventionist approaches that attempt to combine them aren’t really systems at all. They are literally incoherent, and what makes them incoherent is the absence of a consistent ordering principle.

(My contribution to this volume [PDF] delves into this topic more deeply.)

Instead, what you’re left with, given the cognitive limits of the human mind and the spontaneous complexity of real-world systems, is expediency. Each problem is addressed not on the basis of principle, but in ad hoc fashion according to the prevailing interests of the moment. In the case of capitalism, while opportunism and cronyism do constantly pull in the direction of expediency, the force resisting that pull is entrepreneurial competition. That’s because cutting corners opens opportunities for one’s rivals to do a better job.  Moreover, that competition operates more effectively to resist and absorb all forms of intervention, crony or otherwise, the less interventionist the system is.

So while the form of the critiques of the left and of libertarians may sound similar, they are vastly different in substance.


Sandy Ikeda

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.