Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big in New York’s Presidential primary on Tuesday. Both overwhelmed their opponents with vote pluralities. So what are the messages voters sent?
Trump’s victory seems a reflection of those who have seen the American dream disappear right before their eyes. Teachers, police and firemen, shop keepers, laborers, and those once employed making things have become disenchanted with intransigence of Congress, the seeming ineffectiveness of Government, and the message veracity of the standard politician.
Trump cuts through the verbal manure promising a fix. (Interestingly there are never any details on how.) For New Yorkers, who as a group don’t care much about social issues (or at least place them way down the list compared to economic ones), there is a feeling “this might be the Messiah.
New Yorker GOP members simply are not like those in much of the rest of the country. Outside the greater North East area, the GOP is a cobbled up group of narrow interests which share the similarity of not being Democrats.
There are evangelicals and fundamentalists who relish the opportunity to discriminate against gays, deny women a right to reproductive health, and see xenophobia as an asset. The GOP also is also home to 2nd Amendment enthusiasts and wish to see guns in every home and on every person, the more the merrier.
The “gold standard” crowd also finds the GOP as their home. They seek not just a balanced budget but a budget leading to zero debt without regard to the consequences. Then there is the “end entitlements” group operating from the GOP reservation.
And one can not forget the GOP’s dangerous affair with neoconservatives (remember the Iraq War) who haven’t seen a foreign involvement they did not like.
An important point about these desperate factions is that each has little or nothing in common with the other group.
Donald Trump has recognized the Republican Party for what it is and that its leadership is incapable of offering an exciting candidate, and will proposed a “sure loose” platform (their usually litany of anti-women, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant pledges. The GOP leadership will trade the White House for reelection of “down ticket” candidates (control of Congress).
Trump, however, sees himself as someone who doesn’t need to pander to the religious right, can walk back from his anti-immigrant positions, and bore in on his ideas about rejuvenating the economy with one hand while throwing slime at Hillary with the other.
New York also spoke about Democrats too. While the Democrats are less complicated, Bernie Sanders does represent much more liberal elements with a honed attack line aimed at campaign financing, big banks, and income inequality.
If Bernie were to upset the Clinton campaign on the basis of issues, New York was the place. It did not happen. While there could be events in the next few months which could change the outcome, Clinton looks like the Democrat winner. Oh, and by the way, there are no similar subdivisions of Democrats like one can see in the GOP.
So what has New York said?
My guess is that it is as follows. If any candidate understands the frustration of so many Americans who do not see a chance at the American dream, then there is a ready audience who could care less about social issues or foreign policy. This audience wants someone who will tell them they have a plan to make life better.
Should there ever be a President Trump, he will be judged carefully on whether he actually tries to help and whether he is successful. A President Trump will not be given a free pass for just talking, he will need to succeed. Why?
The easy answer is that regardless of a President Trumps intentions, those in his administration will be stuffing their pockets with perks and free-byes which come with the job. In short, after four years a President Trump could look like those before him (save President Obama), just another establishment guy.
For voters, however, a likely Hillary Presidency could be a disappointment too. Her campaign will be expensive and she will owe much to supporters. Escaping this appearance of in-proprietary will be nearly impossible… unless… under President Clinton there is a substantial improvement in voters perception of achieving the American dream.