To Save Us from Someone Like Trump, Look to Institutions

Lesley Stahl interviews businessman Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence for CBS News in New York, July 17
Lesley Stahl interviews businessman Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence for CBS News in New York, July 17 (CBS/Aaron Tomlinson)

Nothing, perhaps, is less sexy than an institution: a department’s interminable lines, the universal human experience of meandering through a faceless ministry of this or that, trying to accomplish some simple task.

Yet they may be all that protect us from the likes of President Trump. Read more “To Save Us from Someone Like Trump, Look to Institutions”

Conservatives Come to Terms with What They’ve Done

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

The one good thing that may come of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is an awareness on the American right that it has done real damage to the Republican Party and indeed the country.

Not all conservatives are ready to admit that Trump is the end of the line for a movement that has for decades fed off people’s anxieties and undermined their faith in institutions. But for some, Trump is making clear what the politics of grievance and anti-government can lead to.

A spat between two right-wing commentators — Sean Hannity of Fox News and Bret Stephens of the The Wall Street Journal — is a preview of the blood feud we can expect on the right post-November if indeed Trump loses the election.

Hannity has preemptively blamed center-right Republicans, arguing that the likes of House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate leader Mitch McConnell have been harsher on Trump “than they’ve ever been in standing up to Barack Obama and his radical agenda.”

He said on his radio show, “You created Donald Trump, all of you. Because of your ineffectiveness, because of your weakness, your spinelessness, your lack of vision, your inability to fight Obama.” Read more “Conservatives Come to Terms with What They’ve Done”

How Trump Undermines the Public’s Trust in Institutions

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Speaking in Columbus, Ohio on Monday, Donald Trump told Republican voters he fears the election in November may be rigged in favor of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

“I’m afraid the election’s gonna be rigged, I have to be honest,” he said.

Others have explained this away by imagining that Trump knows he is likely to lose and is already creating an excuse.

Trump, after all, proclaims he wins at everything. Losing the presidential election, to a woman no less, would be a humiliation.

I don’t think that’s wrong, but I think what he’s saying is more insidious than that. Read more “How Trump Undermines the Public’s Trust in Institutions”

Half of Leave Voters Believe British Referendum Rigged

View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge
View of Bideford, England from the River Torridge (Shutterstock)

Britons who want their country to leave the European Union are four times more likely to believe that Thursday’s referendum will be rigged than those who plan to vote “remain”.

A YouGov survey found (PDF) that 46 percent of leave voters believe the plebiscite will be rigged. 75 percent of them also suspect that the EU is withholding plans for further integration or enlargement until after the referendum. 28 percent are total nutjobs and believe that MI5 is conspiring with the government to prevent Britain from leaving.

The figures for remain are 11, 25 and 16 percent, respectively. Still a little disconcerting, but there is clearly a stronger correlation between favoring an EU exit and accepting conspiracy theories.

It’s mostly United Kingdom Independence Party voters who entertain such nonsense, although 60 percent of Conservative Party voters also suspect the EU is secretly working on closer integration schemes while 22 percent of Labour’s think there is something to the MI5 plot. Read more “Half of Leave Voters Believe British Referendum Rigged”

Proponents of EU Exit Should Stop Disparaging Institutions

The British flag flies over the Cabinet Office in London, England
The British flag flies over the Cabinet Office in London, England (Shutterstock/Willy Barton)

The Financial Times is spot on when it warns today that Euroskeptics risks doing serious damage to Britain’s political institutions before the referendum campaign is over.

In the last few days alone, the Bank of England, the Treasury and the head of the National Health Service have all been derided for pointing out the dangers of leaving the European Union.

The former have provided detailed analyses of what an exit would mean for Britain’s economy. They are, of course, estimates and sensible people can disagree about what the future would hold. Open Europe, a mildly Euroskeptic think tank, for example, argues that the Treasury may be overstating its case a little.

But that’s no excuse for the vitriol coming from hardened Euroskeptics, like Iain Duncan Smith, the former pensions secretary, who said the institution is “the worst thing we have in Britain.” Read more “Proponents of EU Exit Should Stop Disparaging Institutions”

Ryan Has Long Way to Go to Restore Trust in Politics

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan meets with religious leaders in Washington DC, March 2
Republican House speaker Paul Ryan meets with religious leaders in Washington DC, March 2 (Bread for the World)

Paul Ryan has a long way to go if he wants to restore civility and trust in American politics.

The Republican House leader implicitly criticized many in his own party this week for playing to voters’ fears and undermining their confidence in the institutions of government.

Ryan called for a more confident America, one in which “we question each other’s ideas vigorously, but we don’t question each other’s motives.”

“People with different ideas are not traitors,” he said. “They are not our enemies.”

You wouldn’t know it listening to some of the louder voices on the right. Read more “Ryan Has Long Way to Go to Restore Trust in Politics”

End of the Road for America’s Republicans

The sun rises over the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
The sun rises over the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons/Bgwwlm)

NBC News reports that America’s Republican Party finds itself in two binds.

The first is called Donald Trump. The party can either nominate him and lose the general election. Or it can stop him at the convention, infuriate Trump and his nativist supporters, quite possibly split the Republican coalition — and still lose the general election.

President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court poses a similar dilemma.

Republicans in the Senate can either relent, knowing that continued opposition to the relatively moderate Garland hurts their vulnerable colleagues in swing states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Or they can satisfy the hard right, which doesn’t want to give an inch — even if it means the court could end up with a more liberal judge when Hillary Clinton wins the election in November.

It looks increasingly likely that the party will surrender to its rightmost voters on both fronts. Read more “End of the Road for America’s Republicans”