My hopeless dream that will never come true

As the Democratic Party self destructs before our very eyes (as I predicted in this blog last year), I desperately grasp for straws, despite knowing in my heart that Trump will be President for 5 more years. Here’s my latest pathetic fantasy:

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama go on national TV in a well publicized 1/2 hour TV special. They patiently explain why a self-professed socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union is not likely to be elected president in the world’s most capitalist country in the midst of an economic boom. That shouldn’t be too hard to do.  Especially because when Sanders was younger he said many many things that will allow the GOP to say he’s a communist, not just a socialist.  Do you think the GOP will fail to resurrect those quotes in campaign ads?

In the forlorn hope that Dem voters are not totally brain dead, and still have a lingering affection for those two (successful and semi-successful) former presidents, maybe they listen.

Then the big surprise. They both announce they plan to endorse Al Gore, who will enter the race the next day. They call on all moderate candidates to drop out of the race for the good of the country.

Al Gore has lots of advantages over Sanders. First, he’s younger than Sanders, despite having run for president in 1988. Second he’s already won the majority of votes in a presidential election, against a far tougher candidate than Trump. Most importantly, he appeals to both centrists and the left. He was a centrist while in office, but moved left after leaving office—opposing the Iraq War and becoming a fanatical advocate of fighting climate change.

Sanders is such an awful candidate that I’d support almost any GOP nominee over Sanders, even someone as awful as Jeff Sessions or (gasp) Lindsey Graham. Indeed there’s only one Republican that would make me support Sanders.

PS.  Off topic, I saw this headline in the National Review:

Bloomberg’s China Apologetics Should Disqualify Him from the Presidency

I also hate Bloomberg, and don’t want him anywhere near the White House.  But does the conservative, pro-Republican National Review really want to say that a candidate is disqualified to be president if he praises a foreign dictator?

Just asking.

I expect 2020 will be like one of those Central American elections where voters get to choose between an authoritarian thug who praises military people that torture and murder, and a socialist who likes Cuba.

We’ve truly become a banana republic.



52 Responses to “My hopeless dream that will never come true”

  1. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    23. February 2020 at 11:30

    I take solace in the fact the stakes are relatively low.

    So Trump has already done his worst to the economy and it merely knocked it down maybe .2%? So we could have had 3.1% GDP growth in 2018 and instead we got 2.9%. And now the economy is on autopilot so Trump has incentive to do as little as possible in order to maintain the economic status quo.

    Furthermore I actually agree with Trump’s immigration/border policy although obviously I don’t support an 1800 mile wall. But Central Americans and Cubans were taking advantage of our asylum laws and it is correct to characterize them as “economic refugees” and make it difficult for them to get legal status in America. That said I support DACA because our laws clearly encouraged immigrants to come here and so we should take responsibility the Dreamers being here.

    Finally Trump’s incompetence and rash decisions have led to Americans working for the government overseas dying…but Bush/Obama foreign policy led to more soldiers dying in unnecessary and unwinnable wars. So yes I would prefer a competent commander in chief but it is more important to draw down the Bush wars than to have a competent CoC that would maintain the status quo.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. February 2020 at 11:42

    Aren’t you missing the bigger picture? You are judging Trump like he’s a normal president.

  3. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    23. February 2020 at 11:56

    I agree Trump is a narcissist that engages in reckless behavior because it is more important for him to be in the spotlight than for him to be perceived as doing a competent job. I supported his removal but the reality is once Senator Ron Johnson figured out what Trump was up to he forced him to relent. So Republican senators actually didn’t let him do whatever he wanted.

    Furthermore, I still see the Republican Party that put Liz Cheney in a leadership position in the House as being more dangerous than Trump. In fact just linked on Drudge was how, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush White House was pressuring CIA agents to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein which made it difficult for her to do her job of protecting Americans. So Trump is bad but the Republican Party that let Trump get away with abusing his power is worse.

  4. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    23. February 2020 at 12:42


    You’re panicking too much. It’s unfortunate that Sanders now seems to have broken out and there appears to be no one to stop him. He’s odds on favorite to easily win the nomination, though he may still have to survive some last minute desperate attacks from his rivals. That is, if his rivals have a combination of enough courage and sway at this point for attacks to sting, which seems doubtful.

    I think your idea concerning Gore is ludicrous, with all due respect, for any number of reasons, not least of which is that most Democrats aren’t interested in much of what Bill Clinton has to say and they don’t want to vote for a prior losing candidate, who probably doesn’t want to run anyway. This is clearly an anti-establishment election.

    Best Obama can do at this point is try to put his thumb on South Carolina and campaign heavily there for a better choice. But who? Biden’s never run a good national campaign in his life. Buttigieg can’t connect with minority voters, despite his many apparent gifts. Steyer doesn’t poll well in any other state and has no shot. Klobuchar has been toast for weeks, at least.

    The only attacks I can imagine working at this point are against Bernie’s health and the fact that choosing him could mean Democrats lack an incumbent, even if he wins, in 4 years. Obama and his rivals should beat him up over his unreleased tax returns and medical records. They should repeatedly ask him what he’s hiding and why voters don’t have the right to know. That attacks at the heart of his perceived authenticity.

    Democratic rivals will be less likely to attack him however, the more inevitable his victory seems. They don’t want to too weaken the eventual nominee and face the combination of the wrath of Bernie’s base and lack of future career opportunities for their trouble. Perhaps that means that Obama, Bloomberg, and Steyer are the only hope in this regard. They should try to knee cap Bernie in South Carolina and see how that goes.

    All that said, it probably is too late to stop Bernie from winning the nomination.

    Half of me thinks you’re right about Bernie’s chances in a general election and half thinks you’re wrong. I think there’s a good chance Bernie will be the populist flavor of the month and win over enough voters who want a different change agent. I suspect enough Trump voters may be unhappy enough with Trump’s chaos, and still angry enough at the establishment, to send someone else to the White House that Washington truly hates. The idea that the swing voters who matter in the next election will vote ideologically strikes me as absurd. Medicare for All will hurt Bernie among some of those union voters, but don’t be surprised if the damage is less than expected. Even some of those union voters don’t think the Cadillac plans will last forever and even some of them would like healthcare security that doesn’t depend on working for a specific employer. Much will depend on how well the Sanders campaign sells Medicare for All. If can be very popular if sold correctly, or disastrous if mishandled.

    Trump clearly wants to run against Sanders, but he’s a fool and should be careful what he wishes for. I think there’s a 50% chance that Bernie pulls of a Jimmy Carter type victory, which likely wouldn’t be repeated in the following cycle, even if Bernie ran again.

  5. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    23. February 2020 at 13:10

    Great Post, but Scott doesn’t care about any of those things. He is a utilitarian, and hates Trump because the guy wants to have America’s wealth only for Americans.

    Trump could make the economy grow 4%, and solve our poverty problems in one stroke, but if he puts tariffs on China or refuses to let a refugee from China or the Middle East into America, then he must be stopped.

    Let’s put it this way. If Scott could push a button that would double the income of the Chinese people, and would reduce by half the income of the American people, he would press it with no hesitation. His interests are not the same as America’s interests, ergo he hates Trump, who for selfish reasons is extremely pro-American.

    It makes sense honestly, if you accept Scott’s framework, and he should be commended for his kindness, but I personally disagree with it. I think it is ok for America to say no to immigrants/refugees and to put tariffs on China for IP reasons.

    Ironically, minorities are Sanders’ strongest supporters. The changes in America that Scott has promoted will make his views worthless in the long run. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person to win in today’s changed America. Even if Barack Obama and Bill Clinton go on air to challenge Sanders, the non-Whites would just ignore and go for free give-me stuff. After all, that is what happens all the time in Latin America…

  6. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    23. February 2020 at 13:26

    Here is a very nice primer on Utilitarian Views by Scott

    It really is nice, and on a moral basis I agree with him. But when it comes to having confidence in who would make America rich, whoever Scott picks, I wouldn’t bet on.

    Over the last 40 years, China has made the strongest strides of any nation on earth. This is for mostly demographic reasons, but the single most important factor is the fact that Chinese elites are selfish- they want to live in a rich country. Therefore, they do everything in their power to make China rich.

    China takes virtually no immigrants/refugees, especially those of a non-Han origin.
    China has more billionaries than it does refugees!
    China’s elites are patriotic/nationalistic, and are focused on raising China’s GDP-per-capita.
    They steal other people’s intellectual property while protecting their own. Scott, meanwhile, talks about how unfair America’s patent system is, and how the Chinese should get away with theft.

    America’s leaders and pundits are worried about what will happen to those “more-deserving” than their own citizens, which is why they have been miserable failures as of late. Scott is in those catagories. That is why Trump is president, and Bernie Sanders is winning. People want a government focused on making them rich, not others.

  7. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    23. February 2020 at 14:02

    John Arthur,

    I’m very much utilitarian, and I’m 100% in favor of free trade and open borders. Even Scott opposes open borders for practical political reasons.

    I agree with Scott that a wealthier China is better for the rest of the world, including the US. Their illiberal approaches to some issues hurt them as much as any other country. I would only favor restricting trade with China to try to slow or halt aggression against other countries.

    That said, I’m a realist in foreign policy and think the US should pursue its national interests via management of global balances of power. In this respect, I think we need allies in Asia over time to help balance a burgeoning China, to the degree China will act against our interests.

    So, I favor approaching China with both an open hand and a big stick.

  8. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    23. February 2020 at 14:38

    Also, I should say that the US and the rest of the world cannot stop the rise of China or even slow it down much. China is a nuclear power that increasingly relies on internal consumption anyway, so no trade restrictions will even slow China down much in the long run. It is more powerful almost every day.

    Attempting to go beyond trade restrictions and blocking their access to vital resources would likely lead to war, which is why we should reserve such action solely for circumstances in which China threatens the sovereignty of other countries.

    Also, the business environment for US firms in China is improving dramatically, and it is the height of foolishness to treat China as an enemy as their markets become increasingly important in world commerce. The future opportunities in Chinese markets are many times more important than the future opportunities in US markets, so to try to ruin the trade relationship with China is incredibly stupid.

    Ask Tesla or JP Morgan how the business environment is changing for US firms.

  9. Gravatar of DeservingPorcupine DeservingPorcupine
    23. February 2020 at 16:18

    Hard to see a case for Sanders over Trump.

  10. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    23. February 2020 at 16:21

    John, China has taken over 300,000 refugees; that is less than many countries but it’s certainly not “virtually no”:

    And it’s totally legitimate for a poorer person or group to act more selfishly than a rich one. We expect and even admire the kid from the ghetto who is ambitious and even a bit ruthless in improving his own disadvantages circumstances. But that same selfish ambition is rightly seen as uncouth and even detestable in a kid born into the heights of privilege, or even in that same poor kid once he’s already made his fortune. Similarly, developing countries are admirable when they single-mindedly pursue development and lifting their citizens out of poverty; developed countries are not admirable when they single-mindedly pursue making their citizens already the richest in the world even richer at the expense of poorer people.

  11. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. February 2020 at 16:24

    I don’t see what’s so bad about Bernie Sanders. He’s a socialist and says he’s a socialist. Other Democratic candidates are mostly crony-capitalist socialist-militarists (Hillary Clinton).

    The globalists have Detroitified the Heartland and Hong-Kongified the coasts. Bananafication is the result.

    A one-bedroom apartment along the West Coast costs $2,350 a month, while health care for a family of four costs $30,000 a year. The average American drives a 12-year old car, and young men today make less in adjusted real weekly wages than in the 1960s.

    What is sad is that even Bernie Sanders will be unable to deconstruct the hyper-mobilized global guard service for multinationals that is our US military. And Sanders, who only a few short years ago worried about the influx of illegal immigration upon domestic wages, has had to kowtow to the open-border extremists within the Democratic Party.

    Maybe Scott Sumner is right. The Banana States of America, here we come!

  12. Gravatar of Keenan Keenan
    23. February 2020 at 16:31

    benjamin cole, you said: “i don’t see what’s so bad about bernie sanders” – we are not surprised

  13. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    23. February 2020 at 16:46

    @Keegan – right on, Ben Cole = commie. He even lives in socialist sharing Thailand.

    @John Arthur – ironically, in many ways you’re right, since free trade has been shown to lower the wage increases of US industrial workers at the expense of raising world output in tradeables. Since most US workers are in the ‘service sector’, not manufacturing, they don’t feel the pinch caused by free trade in tradeables (manufactured goods), hence, they can’t relate to “Roger Moore” (film maker). Wall Street Yuppies like their cheap French wine and German cars; Ordinary Joes like their Walmart cheap junk. Further, free trade has benefited China and lifted people out of poverty, so that’s arguably a “noble gesture” that should be celebrated. As for China stealing US IP, it happens but I suspect much less than US firms poaching employees from other US firms (and stealing their trade secrets along the way). It’s standard business practice from my dealings with IP in my professional capacity.

    Scott Sumner’s column is right on. Trump will trounce Sanders, the worst possible pick of all Democrats.

  14. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    23. February 2020 at 17:13

    We may be getting very off topic now but I had 2 questions for you: 1) Could you elaborate on why you feel that way about Bloomberg? He still seems the most rational candidate policy wise for those of us who are moderates and just want things run reasonably well. 2) You may simple have different preferences here but when it comes to preferring a Republican to Sanders the risk of conservatives completely dominating the supreme court (and the influence of that on women’s rights and potentially other minority rights) seems very problematic. Do you view it as outweighed by other factors?

  15. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    23. February 2020 at 17:36

    People are freaking out about Bernie too much, in general. He doesn’t think the government should own the means of production, and even a Democratic congress would put limits on him. They even put limits on Obama.

    My biggest concern about him is on foreign policy, because I see no evidence he knows much about it, in a useful way. I fear he’d let the likes of Putin, Erodogan, and Xi have too much room to work against our interests. I hope I’m wrong.

  16. Gravatar of John Arthur John Arthur
    23. February 2020 at 17:50

    Thank you for your response, I enjoyed reading it. The point I was trying to make is that Trump and Sanders are “selfish” politicans. They want what is best for the US first. Now, Sanders believes that immigration is good for the US, and Trump believes the opposite. But the policies that they support, they do so because they think it is in the US’s best interests.

    On the other hand, Scott’s views are that he really doesn’t care one way or the other if immigration(or China theft!) make America worse, if the net utiltarian gains are positive. This is a workable system, no doubt, but it is not something that I am comfortable with nor are American voters.

    Agree about China, they have 6 times the workforce of America. We really can’t do much than them. It is even amazing that they are only some 29% bigger than us when they could be 500% bigger. The US has some fight left in it, it seems.

    Thanks, but remember, most of those “refugees” are Chinese from other places fleeing persecution. Not comparable to Germany taking Syrian refugees, or America taking Syrian refugees.

    Thanks for your views on IP theft, perhaps the damage is not as bad as I think, but who knows, I have never seen a study trying to acertain the net cost/benefit.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. February 2020 at 18:46

    Everyone, When you see a commenter say “Sumner believes” you can be pretty confident that the person knows nothing about what I believe. Which is pretty sad given that I have 1000s of posts explaining what I believe.

  18. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. February 2020 at 20:05

    Bloomberg is an interesting in one regard: he is a microcosm, and personification, of the corrosive compromise and conflicts of interest we see in the American leadership class towards China.

    Although I presently stand accused of being a communist (as I believe Sanders is the most honest candidate in the race), I actually have serious reservations about the Communist Party of China.

    But Bloomberg has extensive business interests in China—so when Bloomberg makes policy, is he “talking his book,” that is his financial interests, or truly looking out for the best interests of the broad American public? Who knows?

    In this regard, Bloomberg personifies the Apples, and GMs, the Wal-Marts, the BlackRocks and a long roll-call of gigantic enterprises and their PR minions.

    Obviously, it is in the interest of Apple to succor the Communist Party of China, to seek stability in China and between China and the US, to pour money into academia, media, think tanks, foundations, trade associations, lobby groups, and even directly into political campaigns to alter viewpoints and perceptions of the Communist Party of China.

    I am the communist here?

    Bloomberg is better mouthpiece for Beijing than I will ever be.

    In truth, I prefer free markets.

    Bernie Sanders does not take large donations from anybody, ergo it is unlikely he is a Beijing mouthpiece. He was recently accused of being a Russian stooge. Boy, it never stops.

  19. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    23. February 2020 at 22:38


    Out of curiosity, why such strong feelings about Bloomberg and Sanders? I certainly have issues with each of them, but to use words like “hate” for Bloomberg, or to say you’d vote for Sessions or Graham over Sanders strikes me as more than a little extreme.

    My biggest problem with Bloomberg is that he can be officious and would be too much of an imperial President, though he’s a model of restraint compared to Trump. Yes, stop and frisk and surveillance of Muslims were awful, he’s a big proponent of the drug war, and banning super gulp sodas is stupid, but I’d gladly vote for Bloomberg over Trump. At least Bloomberg is sharp and would not betray the country. Granted, that’s a low bar.

    And Sessions or Graham over Sanders? I don’t get it. Sessions is openly racist, loves the war on drugs at least as much as Bloomberg, and is very anti-immigration, and in addition to being a crazy religious fundamentalist, certainly doesn’t mind making life more difficult for Muslims. At least Bloomberg isn’t anti-immigrant.

    Lindsey Graham is a disgusting careerist at best at this point, with no moral core, who is not only betraying our country, but his good former friend Joe Biden. As a former jag lawyer, he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he may be even worse than I describe above. He may literally be compromised by Trump and/or the Russians. I don’t know that he is, but I find his conduct curious, and what ever became if the RNC emails the Russians hacked?

    My impression is that perhaps you’re being overly emotional today, the first day after Sanders now objectively appears unstoppable going forward. I’m certainly disappointed, but I’d gladly vote for Sanders over pro-Trump scum like Sessions or Graham. Mitt Romney or John Kasich would be very different and either might be understandable alternatives, but Bernie’s way better than Sessions or Graham.

  20. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    23. February 2020 at 23:46

    @ Mike S.:

    Mike you’re really missing the point. The point is not whether Sanders can win or not, it’s that even if he does he’s only marginally better than the current one. It’s a joke election, two clowns.

    It’s supposed to matter that people like this are getting nominated to freaking POTUS.

  21. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    23. February 2020 at 23:50

    John Arthur said: “Ironically, minorities are Sanders’ strongest supporters.”

    What a crock of shit. Are you serious with that? If you’re gonna be a racist at least get the basic facts straight.

  22. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    23. February 2020 at 23:59

    More hits from John Arthur:

    “They want what is best for the US first.”

    I’m not sure about Sanders, but anyone who thinks Trump gives a shit about anyone or anything except himself is laughably naive.

  23. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 00:46


    While I have serious concerns about Sanders, particularly regarding foreign policy, I disagree with you about his merits relative to Trump. Sanders is vastly less dangerous than Trump, given his considerably greater intelligence, much better intentions, and the fact that he’s not a fascist.

    Also, while I think he’s full of big, dumb ideas like the Green New Deal, and sadly seems to favor banana republic MMT-style economic thinking, even a Democratic Congress would better control him than Republicans have controlled Trump. Obama failed to get much of what he wanted from Democratic majorities, as the failure of his carbon cap and trade plan demonstrated.

    People are panicking way too much, and this panic and these shrill attacks against him might just feed him in some ways. This is still a populist moment.

  24. Gravatar of Student Student
    24. February 2020 at 04:18

    Yep. Sad. Hard to believe, yet here we are.

  25. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    24. February 2020 at 06:08

    Or maybe, Sanders is a strong candidate who speaks to the issues of the working class. Maybe, fighting for universal healthcare isn’t radical, maybe it’s the right thing to do. Maybe, it’s immoral to endorse an legal framework that allows a billionaire like Bloomberg to hoard 600,000 times the median household wealth, while Americans remain homeless and while Americans continue to die from preventable diseases. Every billionaire is a policy failure.

    I’m for Warren. But if not her, then Sanders.

  26. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    24. February 2020 at 06:21

    So far we have stuck to our constitution——which was not designed to create heaven on earth, but was designed with consciousness and forethought to try and forestall, as best we can, hell on earth.And that is fact, although perhaps disguised as an opinion. This is the second time you have let your hate of politicians lead you to say we are a “banana republic”

    Since I know you could never feel insulted by me (just a guess—not saying why, not saying the reason is good or bad), I feel free to call you an absolute moron—-and I say that with all good cheer—-even friendship.

    Since I actually do respect your general awareness and intelligence, after reading this fantasy post, I have fully come to believe there is something wrong with all of us when we look at politics in the short run. We favor our illusions over reality.

    For me, it is obvious why many would hate (is hate really the right word?—-it cannot be, can it?) Trump. But I cannot imagine —-I really cannot—-why someone such as you——whose “hate” for Trump I accept——-would still rather have Sanders. Further, that your choice is GORE, who for me is so very bizarre and queer beyond imagination, that you have created an actual change in my understanding of reality.

    When it comes to politics, all we see are phantoms and spooks and Golems and Miracle workers ——-we are all nuts. But the founders, many of them jackasses themselves, at least had a decent plan—-and so far we are still here.

    It’s worthy of study.

    Re: Bloomberg. More “hate” from Scott. As a life time member of NY Metro—-I have met so many people—-had conversations too with so many of them—-even Bloomberg and Trump. I could never have imagined either as President. And opposed in my own little mind all their desires to rule. Bloomberg could not be more stereotypical of those who began their careers on Wall Street in the 70’s. Smart, hardworking, commercial and truly unlikable. But I have little choice but to prefer him over Sanders.

    Unlike you, however, perhaps because of way to many years studying “political philosophy” the individual who has the position of President is far less important to me than we imagine. You have said that before but you forget—all the time—-hence you pick Sanders.

    But we will survive even him—-even Gore—and yes, even Trump

  27. Gravatar of Aladin Aladin
    24. February 2020 at 06:22

    So we will have a replay of the British election, where our Boris Johnson (Trump) faces off against our Jeremy Corbyn (Sanders) and, likely, Trump will win.

    And seeing what is happening in Britian right now following the overwhelming Conservative victory … I mean it is not the worst case scenario. In fact some of the reforms are quite promising.

    Sanders, in the general, will turn off a lot of people (at least from the region I’m from, NJ). I suspect that the college educated whites will move back into the fold of the Republican party, and minorities might shift support as well (again, from people I have spoken to, minorities really really dont like sanders)

    The Republicans turned off by Trump have gotten used to him by now, and Sanders will turn people off, so we’ll see, but yeah, thos will play put just as it did in Britian.

  28. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 06:25


    Strength of candidacy is relative. I don’t think Sanders would stand a chance in most election cycles, but this isn’t most cycles. His opponent is also a populist and is very unpopular. And, we’re still in the populist moment, so I don’t think one can dismiss Sanders yet.

    On the other hand, Sanders is the riskiest candidate the Democrats could run. He might collapse under the weight of the blistering attacks that will come his way, from most directions. Trump and his band of fascist hostages will try to flood the zone with all manner of truths, half-truths, and outright lies and crazy conspiracies. Most won’t stick, but some may, and in the minds of most dumb voters, they will get a general impression that something is wrong with Sanders, even if based on lies. It doesn’t help that many of Bernie’s own words from the past make him sound like he thought Stalin went too far, but Trotsky may have had the right balance.

    It’ll be interesting. LOL

    Bernie may ultimately win, just because he’s a populist and people still want a populist and are tired of Trump.

  29. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    24. February 2020 at 07:02


    It will be interesting. But I disagree with the implicit argument that other candidates are less risky. The narrative across the media is that Biden is the “safe bet”. But that was what they said about Gore, Kerry, Romney, and H Clinton. “Electable” nominees seem to be very bad at actually getting elected.

    In that vein, the GOP is going to blow multiple gaskets no matter who the nominee is. In 2008 they turned moderate Obama into a Kenyan communist. In 2016, they turned a very bland Dem into an ultra-liberal extremist. Trump and Co. have already resorted to fabricating quotes, images, and deep-fake videos to attack Pelosi and other Dems. The key to breaking through the propaganda is to give a clear, positive vision of your candidacy, which Obama did and Clinton failed to do. Trump can say whatever he wants, but I think when voters hear 2 minutes of unfiltered Warren or Sanders during the debates, they’re going to know that is someone who is going to fight for them. Unlike Trump, who makes a fool of himself pretty much any time he opens his mouth.

    If we’re going to face down the full force of the GOP’s $100 billion attack machine, we might as well do it fighting for ideals worth fighting for.

  30. Gravatar of Jens Jens
    24. February 2020 at 07:09

    Impressive consistency Scott Sumner – as usual. A lesser evil is a lesser evil is a lesser evil. No more, no less. I have good faith that the US won’t become a fruit republic, like some in central and south america. Too much spirit, good faith and quality. But times are turbulent. Greetings from Europe.

  31. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 07:32


    I’m not Sanders fan, to say the least, but I’ll gladly not only vote for him here in Florida, but will donate and volunteer as well. For me, this isn’t an election about the Democrat anyway, but about rolling back fascism.

  32. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. February 2020 at 08:04

    Mike, I devoted my entire life to fighting socialism. And the fact that I’m willing to support an avowed socialist (and apologist for communists) is not good enough for you? I have to do it enthusiastically?

    If you don’t see the difference between Sessions and Trump then I can’t help you.

    msgkings, I agree. You just have to laugh at the Trump supporters who think he cares about “the people”. They think the kind of guy who screws porn stars when his wife’s home with the baby also cares deeply about coal miners in West Virginia.

    Michael Rulle, I don’t think you even understand what’s going on. You have no idea that we have a president who lavishly praises war criminals in our military who murder and torture civilians. We have a president who lavishly praises the governance style of brutal authoritarian leaders. It’s one thing to be polite and diplomatic, it’s quite another to make clear that you prefer people like Modi and Putin and Bolsonaro and Duterte to the leaders of our democratic allies. Feel free to stick your head in the sand, but don’t tell me that I’m the “moron”.

    Five years ago I recall Indian students telling me that Modi’s bigotry didn’t matter, because he was going to fix the Indian economy. How’d that turn out?

    Bob, You said:

    “they’re going to know that is someone who is going to fight for them.”

    You mean to fight to double the amount of taxes they pay? That’s what it would take to finance Sanders’s programs.

    Jens, Yes, we will likely bounce back, as we did after Nixon. But right now we are trending banana republic.

  33. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    24. February 2020 at 08:28


    It’s disappointing to see an independently-minded economist playing the same rhetorically nonsense that the GOP has been leaning on for decades. What you pay in taxes, you receive in benefits. Roads, police departments, fire departments, consumer protections, pollution reduction, legal protections, public education, etc. Sanders’ plan returns the money to you in healthcare, instead of that money lining insurance companies’ pockets.

    It’s disgraceful that we let cancers metastasize, preventable diseases fester, and sick people suffer, just because they have less money.

  34. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 09:33


    I hope you feel better soon. Your comments about Bloomberg and Sanders seem uncharacteristically unmeasured. These are not people I would ordinarily vote for either, but it’s not about who the Democratic candidate is. It’s about rolling back fascism.

    Bernie is 78, and utterly lacks charisma. I doubt he wins two terms, if he can even win a single term. If he wins this year and runs again,I expect Carter-like results.

    When we disagree, you’re nearly always right, but I was right about Trump in 2015, correctly characterizing the Republican Party as a fascist party just waiting for someone like him.

    You have few flaws as an intellectual, but I do think you have a tendency to stay too stuck in the 70s when it comes to monetary policy and socialism.

    We have the opposite anchor problem in monetary policy, and the real threat to America right now is fascism, not socialism. The USSR is long dead, this is not Venezuela, and Sanders is not Chavez.

  35. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    24. February 2020 at 09:48

    I’m wondering why this post doesn’t mention this, from Matt Yglesias:

    Headline: “Mainstream Democrats shouldn’t fear Bernie Sanders.”

    The most interesting bit is at the end, where Yglesias argues that Sanders not only cares about monetary policy but about “pro-worker” monetary policy. Maybe not such a dummy, our Bernie….

    Is Yglesias just drinking the Kool-Aid? Is he prone to that sort of thing? Well, from right before the 2016 election, here is a piece from him, arguing that Nate Silver was overstating Trump’s chances:

  36. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    24. February 2020 at 09:50

    The great thing about Bernie vs. Trump is that, to the extent they have ideas, the ideas they really care about are old ideas. Bernie fulminating about big corporations reminds me so much of people like him back in the 1980’s, same thing with Trump fulminating about trade. You know Bernie wants to talk about IBM and General Motors, like you know Trump wants to talk about Japan.

    Then of course you’ll have the Trumpistas (like the ones who infest this blog) off in one corner, thinking deep thoughts, and the Bernie Bros off in another corner, thinking deep thoughts. And of course they think that they are thinking entirely different deep thoughts, but they’re really thinking the same deep thought. “You know,” they say to themselves, stroking their chins, “the East German model – it really works!” (Okay, they don’t think they are thinking that, I’m translating for them).

  37. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    24. February 2020 at 09:50

    Speaking of old-timey attitudes from 30 or 40 years back….

    “You just have to laugh at the [president X’s] supporters who think he cares about ‘the people’. They think the kind of guy who screws [film] stars when his wife’s home with the baby also cares deeply about coal miners in West Virginia.”

    Don’t you say that about JFK! Don’t you say that! He was a great man!

  38. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    24. February 2020 at 10:09

    “Here’s my latest pathetic fantasy….”

    My pathetic fantasies are better than yours. Here’s my pathetic fantasy:

    I am the moderator at a Trump/Sanders debate, and ask them a long series of leading questions about the benefits and joys of the government management of industry and trade, to which they keep interrupting each other, not to object but to agree. It all culminates in Don and Bern embracing and agreeing to run on a unified ticket.

    Okay, this wasn’t really a fantasy, it was just one more smart-ass blog comment. But still….

  39. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. February 2020 at 10:23

    @Mike S: Trump is not a fascist, he’s a clown. Think Berlusconi, not Mussolini. But more mean-spirited and selfish than either. He’s just a grifter.

    And yes the analogy above is also apt, Trump is Boris and Sanders is Corbyn. And Trump is going to crush Sanders in the EC. He might even win the popular vote. But every swing state is going to vote Trump.

    Remember, incumbents almost always win if the economy is doing well. Sanders’ only hope is a virus-induced recession…and is that worth it?

    Also remember, it’s just politics, just the president. Most of us will see no change in our daily lives no matter who wins.

  40. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    24. February 2020 at 10:27

    Last question: is 2020 going to eclipse 2004 as the greatest “hey, wait a minute – these two guys are really the same guy!” election in US history?

  41. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 11:18


    You night be right about Bernie’s election prospects. I’m on the fence about it.

    That said, Trump is not Johnson, and Bernie is not Corbyn. Trump will have been in office for nearly 4 years by November, and there’s no Brexit issue for Sanders to fumble. Corbyn greatly hurt himself and his party by not being the Remain party.

    Also, Corbyn was pushing some Venezuela/1970s stagflation government ownership of industries ideas that Sanders isn’t pushing.

    So, while both Corbyn and Sanders are out of the mainstream left-wing back benchers with zero charisma and no hope in a non-populist era, Sanders is showing himself to be a better politician and we’re further into the political cycle with the fascists I’m charge.

    Again, you might be right, but we might see the beginning of the end of this world-wide turn to fascism here in the US.

    And yes, a coronavirus pandemic would probably help Sanders by weakening the economy, primarily by giving the Fed the opportunity to tighten policy, but I don’t think it is required for Sanders to win. The economy was not great before the outbreak, even with a weak recent uptrend.

    What I’m attacking more than the idea that Bernie won’t win is the certainty with which the opinion is expressed, and the idea that Bernie would be remotely as bad as Trump.

    To be sure, we’d be better off without Sanders in the White House, if the alternative weren’t a fascist.

    And I guess we just define fascism differently.

  42. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 11:30

    Here’s some potential good news. Apparently, Bloomberg is about to unload on Bernie with both barrels:

  43. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. February 2020 at 11:36

    @Mike S:

    We obviously define fascism differently. I think Mussolini, and Trump is nothing like that (just as you say Sanders is not Corbyn, Trump is not Mussolini).

    I much prefer Bloomberg as well, but the lefty/populist Dems hate him, and if the Bernie Bros feel cheated out of another nomination (as they did 4 years ago) they will stay home or even actively attack him. Like you said this is a populist moment, and he’s no populist. Trump will crush Bloomberg too.

  44. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 12:03


    I don’t think Bloomberg has much of a chance to win the nomination, but I could be wrong. Political predictions are even more difficult than usual in this populist era. I think Bloomberg could beat Trump, but he would face the same problem as Sanders or Hillary did, which is there’s lots of material for Trump to try to beat down his image to make it look like a wash in many ways with uninformed swing voters. In reality, of course, Bloomberg is Trump’s superior in every respect, even though he’s obviously a deeply flawed person and candidate in some respects.

    My unrealistic hope, though more realistic than Scott’s, is that Bloomberg knee cap’s Bernie with hundreds of millions of dollars in ads by Super Tuesday, and someone like Buttigieg or Klobuchar rises from the ashes.

  45. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. February 2020 at 12:16

    @Mike S:

    A more likely ‘hail Mary’ scenario is Bloomberg realizes he can’t win the Dem nomination in this particular moment (probably true) and decides to spend his billions backing Buttigieg or Klobuchar.

    Still a longshot.

  46. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    24. February 2020 at 13:13

    Scott——take a look at who Sanders has lavished praise on——as if Presidents (e.g., FDR and Uncle Joe) never do such things—-My point still stands—-we just see what we want to see and disregard the rest—-

  47. Gravatar of Thaomas Thaomas
    24. February 2020 at 13:24

    As long as you are fantasizing, why not look for a more neoliberal candidate than Gore (who is squishy on carbon taxation).

  48. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 13:46

    In his heart of hearts, I think Scott’s an idealist. Why else would he support Gary Johnson for President?

    Which reminds me of the missed opportunity for the Libertarian Party last cycle. Why wasn’t Weld on the top of that ticket? He’s actually credible as a Presidential candidate, by qualifications and gravitas. I could even vote for Weld.

  49. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. February 2020 at 14:44

    Just to lighten things up a bit, here was Gary Johnson’s competition for the Libertarian Party nomination in 2016:

    This is a metaphor for extremist libertarianism in general. Underneath it all, it’s quite ugly.

    And this was during a year in which the Libertarians had their best chance to gain 5% of the vote in the general election. Gary Johnson chose not to prepare himself at all for the foreign policy questions he was asked in national media interviews. He didn’t take the opportunity very seriously.

    Give the Libertarians a break. Their party’s only existed since 1971, and is still in the early developmental phase.

    Once again, in fairness, I think Bill Weld would have been a better President than Hillary Clinton, and he should not have taken a backseat to a relative yokel like Johnson.

  50. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    25. February 2020 at 11:22

    Al Gore cannot win- South Park (the show) destroyed his chances to run on a national ticket ever again 😀

    The REAL fantasy- is to have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson run with Tom Hanks as his running mate. I predict 80% of the popular vote goes to that ticket.

  51. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    26. February 2020 at 03:55

    Scott, your preference would go something like this?

    Trump<Sanders << Warren << Bloomberg<Biden=Buttigieg=Klobuchar < Gore ?? i assume some way to the right there is some libertarian candidate?

    I'm curious why you single Bloomberg out as terrible amongst the 'moderate' democrats. No judgement, but anecdotally many New Yorkers i know thought he was great.

  52. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    26. February 2020 at 04:05

    Another musing, I view Trump as some reasonable component protest vote against your usual politician (no comment on whether that was logical or if he was worse). I also see Sanders as a bit of a protest vote against usual politicians, he would also be a protest vote against what many dislike about Trump. My biggest hope is that the executive and legislative branches are split. I would take Trump over Sanders, perhaps that is a “devil you know” type of analysis.

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