Posts tagged: democrats

Why Did Bloomberg Bomb?

So, as everyone agrees, Mike Bloomberg bombed in his first debate appearance last night, wholly eviscerated by Elizabeth Warren. The worst moment for him of the night was when Warren asked him to release the women he had non-disclosure agreements with. Bloomberg had no answer at all.

This is a bit odd. Bloomberg seems to genuinely, deeply want Trump out of the White House, and he presumably thinks he’s the best person for the job. He has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to win enough delegates to become the nominee. So why not drop a few million on debate prep? He could hire the best TV prep people in the world, and he could hire all kinds of people to try and anticipate the most obvious attacks from his opponents.

Maybe Bloomberg did a bunch of debate prep, but it doesn’t seem so. So, then, what happened? Here are a few guesses, none of which are mutually exclusive.

(1) Sheer Arrogance: Bloomberg believes he’s just so much better than the other candidates in lots of ways that he didn’t think he needed debate prep. He’d just think on his feet, muddle through, and then keep focusing on Super Tuesday. He underestimated the ferocity of his opponents’ attacks and overestimated his ability to respond perhaps because he simply couldn’t imagine anyone cutting him down to size.

(2) Indifference to Debates: Bloomberg knows he has to debate, but doesn’t think debates matter all that much at this point in the primary process because not that many people are tuning in. Perhaps he has research suggesting that the debates don’t matter, and so he didn’t prepare enough as a result.

(3) Personality Barriers: Bloomberg’s personality is such that debate prep wouldn’t do him much good. He’s not charismatic, he’s brash and arrogant, and he’s mostly set in his ways (he is 78, after all). So he anticipated that debate prep would be a lot of irritating and painstaking work for little benefit.

(4) Not Fully Committed: deep down, Bloomberg really just wants Trump gone and isn’t sure he wants to be president for reasons we don’t know. He’s happy to spend millions attacking Trump, but some part of him would rather just help the Democrats in general. At 78, and with $60 billion in the bank, maybe he doesn’t relish the thought of being the most politically powerful man in the world.

Even given these explanations, I’m still stunned he didn’t try at least a little harder.

Why Democrats Should Try to Restore Political Trust

The final question at the Democratic debate last night concerned the Ellen-W friendship and invited candidates to talk about a surprising friendship they have with someone across the political isle. Many viewers complained about the question, but I thought is it was appropriate and informative. A number of the candidates talked about the importance of restoring lost bipartisan trust. I appreciate that because bipartisan trust is inherently valuable. But I also think it makes political sense for Democrats. The societies that have the most extensive welfare states tend to be the most trusting, and that’s likely because high trust populations are more likely to support extensive redistribution. It is no coincidence that nation-states developed extensive social insurance following two world wars. Wars with other countries tend to unite nations, and create the solidarity necessary to convince richer and more powerful citizens to allow limits on their economic self-interest.

This is why restoring trust and lowering polarization is really important for Democrats’ policy goals, since they want large expansions of the welfare state. When Democrats act to increase polarization and sow distrust, they will often make their social democratic aims less politically feasible.

Unfortunately, Republicans lack the same incentives.

Beto Makes Politics War

Last night, Beto O’Rourke said that religious institutions that refuse to accept same-sex marriage should lose their tax-exempt status. That’s a sure fire way to make politics war: use the federal government to stigmatize half the country. Every conservative mosque, synagogue, and church in the country would be tarred by their own government as bigoted and fined for what they believe. Note that even the most committed judicial leftists would not revoke the tax-exempt status of mosques, synagogues, and churches, just certain non-profits and universities. And even that remains a distinctly minority position.

Comments like this are why many people of faith don’t trust the left to protect their liberties. The worry is that Beto let slip what most politically and socially powerful leftists believe in their hearts. I hope that’s not true, but in a country riven by polarization and mistrust, it is natural to wonder.

And yes, it’s a cliche, but a true one: this is how you get Trump. What are conservative people of faith supposed to do if this is what Democrats would do in office?