Elections Live Blog: Super Tuesday Edition

super tuesday voting

8:35 pm

Trump is many things — a demagogue, a failed businessman, a “short-fingered vulgarian” — but he is not a fascist. A lot of people for decades now have written about how “fascist” has become a mostly-meaningless epithet for someone whose policies one disagrees with, and I’m inclined to agree with those people. Fascism is best used as a historically specific term for an ideology or kind of politics and strategy. To generalize it to the United States in 2016 strips the term of any meaning. We know who fascists were, what they looked like, and what they did. We also know that, except for the places in Europe where parties with fascist lineages still exist (like the National Front in France), fascism is mostly a thing of the past. Labeling fascism also obscures the many similarities between Trump and the Republican politicians who preceded him, like Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes: none of whom were fascists, though they might have been crooks, free-market zealots, theocrats, and thinly-veiled white supremacists.

What is new and most potentially damaging to the Republican Party’s future is Trump’s embrace of protectionism and vehemently anti-immigrant rhetoric. To be sure, many Republican candidates for office in the South have run on pledges to stop immigration. But the issues of immigration and free trade have been ones on which the Republican Party leadership has consciously attempted to moderate its stance. It’s important to remember that Republicans also claim to be the business-friendly party, and many of the party’s corporate elites have an interested in cheap labor. The kind of agenda Trump pledges to implement is totally unacceptable to people who make their fortunes outsourcing American jobs to sweatshops abroad. On immigration, the fissures in the Republican Party are most visible: a split between aggrieved white working class voters who feel Latino immigrants are taking their jobs and the wealthy country club set who are more than happy to employ recent immigrants willing to work for lower wages.

Is Trump dangerous? Yes, but I think it is too early to predict whether a Trump presidency would be more destructive and dangerous for working-class Americans and people around the world than previous Republican presidencies. After the 2008 financial crisis and the disaster of the Iraq War (of which the current refugee crisis is a direct consequence), and considering climate change’s impending destructive effects, it’s hard to imagine how Trump will be meaningfully worse. Sure, political language might be more vulgar, bellicose, and polarizing than in the past. But I’m inclined to prefer outright political conflict to dog-whistle politics or racism masquerading as southern gentility. To return to the question about fascism, there is a saying about how if there is a Nazi in the room, I want to know who it is. Well, with Trump’s campaign, if there’s a violent bigot in the room, I want to know who it is, and it’s becoming easier to know.
-JL ’17

7:30 pm

Switching tacks a bit – Josh, you just wrote a blog about the historical continuities between Trump and more “establishment” Republican ideologues like Ronald Reagan and William Buckley. Given that today is likely to be big for Trump, it might be worth thinking about how significant his nomination actually would be for the Republican party and American electoral politics more broadly writ.

In particular, there’s been a lot made of the notion that Trump, more than being just a demagogue, fits the mold of a 30s style fascist. The notion has gained a lot of traction, at least in popular conversations about him (and perhaps his tweeting habits), but has been faced with more skepticism from people who study fascism, or lived under fascists. And yet, there does seem to be something about the explicit nature of his appeals to – among other things – white supremacist anxieties, that seems to be discontinuous with the recent history of Republican dog-whistle politics. Is there a sense in which Trump is seizing upon latent insecurities in the Republican electorate, but mobilizing them in a dangerous way? And does that signal a coming party realignment, or has the media just overblown this one? Tynes, I know you’ve been calling Trump a fascist for a while – thoughts?
-DT ’17

4:18 pm

Something interesting but perhaps a bit more marginal is the Democrats Abroad Global Primary that is taking place all over the world. Voting opens up today, but will continue all the way till March 8th (The New Zealand Democrats came out in favor of Sanders). With a total of 21 delegates, they’re considered a minor player in the Super Tuesday stage at best. Interesting sidenote: Though they may have 21 delegates (13 pledged, 8 unpledged), Democrats Abroad will only count as 17 delegates the Convention come June. Each Democrats Abroad unpledged delegate (what most call superdelegates, which started as pejorative term) only count for 1/2 of a typical unpledged delegate.
-KA ’18

It’s Super Tuesday! We expect today to be particularly super for the two candidates leading the primaries: Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

On the Democratic side, Sanders is expected to pull in Colorado, Minnesota, and his home state of Vermont. Clinton faces no serious threats to winning the other eight contests – except for Oklahoma (and maybe Massachuetts?). While they lack a significant minority population that has overwhelmingly backed Clinton in other states, voters in Oklahoma tend to be more conservative which might cause problems for Sanders. Fun fact: the American Samoa will also be conducting a caucus tonight, and in 2008 Clinton carried it against then Senator Obama. A record 285 people voted that year. If Sanders loses any of the states I mentioned in his camp, the punditry will declare his candidacy pretty much over (betting markets already have).

On the Republican side, you can’t stump the Trump. He is expected to sweep every primary except for Senator Cruz’s home state of Texas. Still, Trump has made enough inroads there that Cruz won’t get all of those delegates and the impact of that loss will be limited. I anticipate that Ben Carson will probably drop out tonight, although who knows with these people? With Trump endorsements flowing from a trickle to a stream, some elements of “the establishment” (including a sitting Senator and Governor) are at least entertaining the possibility of the  New York businessman as their candidate. The party decides.

– AT ’17

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