Saturday, August 13, 2016

Citizens Untied, Part 2: The New Model

So the rolling Drumpfster Fire has begun pulling in respectable dollars since its hokey start in May. And yet no ad time has been bought or reserved so far, and most of the billing seems to have been funneled back into Drumpf's pockets, simply by holding "events" at his own hotels and supplying his own branded water, wine, steaks, etc. And Drumpf's business history of fucking over contractors and/or waiting them out in court with specious lawsuits indicates that whatever campaign funds do not get spent probably will not be recouped without a fight.

This a much more scaled-up, but only slightly more sophisticated, version of the late great Fred (I say) Fred Thompson's primary run in 2008. Thompson lulled a lot of fokes with his Alabama drawl, but he was both an actor and a lawyer, had actually done and known a few things worth doing and knowing in his day, and was adept at using his physical size and speaking cadence to convince and motivate listeners. But he was also smart enough to know that he had no chance of becoming president, and seemed to run his campaign accordingly, a cynical cash-grab on the way out the door to retirement.

This is what Drumpf seems to be doing, after all the guessing games and psychological profiles. Drumpf does appear to fit the textbook definitions of a narcissistic sociopath, in that he craves adulation and is utterly indifferent to the consequences. After a year of riling up the rubes with his apocalyptic rhetoric of Obama's flaming hellscape, which only He, Drumpf, can save us pitiful wretches from, he now avers that if he loses, oh well, he'll go on a "very, very nice, long vacation."

That has to be my favorite thing I've heard in the last month, maybe all year. Seriously. Put yourself in the mind of one of his adoring halfwit cult mutants. They've bought into his nonsense 100%, that this is existential, that the barbarians are literally at the gate, and that only Their Hero can save them from the impending doom that Preznit Chocolate Thunder hath deliberately wrought. How must it feel for them when he says he can just walk away from it? How does one walk away from an impending apocalypse? If you take this stuff as literally as they seem to, this has to be an unacceptable level of cognitive dissonance -- either their heads explode, or the realization sinks in that they've been had, AGAIN. That's gotta suck.

When you're that fucking stupid, there are just two possible outcomes -- you continue to derp your way through life until the law of averages catch up with you and you die, bitter, alone, probably not even old enough to cash in on the Social Security you paid into at all those crap jobs your entire adult life, still wondering why Happy Days isn't on the air anymore; or you suddenly gain a passing glimmer of self-awareness, and realize that YOU'VE BEEN HAD by a transparent con-man, a fat old never-nude bastard who made his bones fleecing retards just like yourself.

Hopefully the folks in that latter category can find the strength to move on, learn from their mistakes. History and common sense show us that such a thing is highly unlikely. Scam victims usually have to get burned multiple times before they learn that stoves are hot.

Look on the bright side:  he probably won't survive HFC's first term.
Whatever. As mentioned in the last post, there are two roads to follow when we think about the Drumpf Money Drain. The first path is recognizing a grifter when one shows itself, especially one with such a lengthy documented history of being a clownish scam-artist. The second road is recognizing the campaign model Drumpf is building, and understanding how it can be utilized in more organized, capable hands.

One of the things the HFC is counting on is the strength of their traditional campaign structure, the so-called ground game:  canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, face-to-face contact, flyers, bus rides for elderly and (let's say) transportation-challenged voters. This is all well and good, and ultimately is probably what should turn a mere victory into a genuine blowout.

But obviously nothing is guaranteed in this here circus, and the reason is because of how effectively Drumpf has captivated his followers. Anyone on the Drumpf side of the fence at this point is not just voting for him, they are ALL IN. There are no half-measures with these folks. There just isn't that level of passion with the HFC crowd, for a variety of reasons.

It is probably a good thing for the Democrats that Drumpf is bad with numbers (again, a basic competence for anyone thinking of going into business). Drumpf has about 6 million twittards following his account, and as he routinely boasts, he garnered a record 14 million votes during the primaries. Rafael Edward Cruz finished a distant second with about 7.8m votes. There was a grand total of just over 31m votes cast in the GOP primaries. (Roughly the same amount of voters took part in the Dem primaries, and in fact HFC finished with close to 17m votes, obviously with just a single serious competitor.)

So, even if you give Drumpf every statistical benefit of the doubt, and stipulate that all of Drumpf's twittards did not vote at all in the GOP primary, but will vote for him in the general election, and that every single person who did vote in the primaries will vote for Drumpf, that still brings you to a grand total of about 37 million people.

And again, that is literally the most optimistic possible math, far beyond anything remotely realistic. It is entirely possible that the 14 million he got is everything he's gonna get; anyone following him on Twitter almost certainly voted for him if they could, and many of the people who voted for Cruz and Kasich and Rubio made a point of stating they could never vote for Drumpf. Twenty million or so of the primary voters carrying over into the general election is probably a realistic estimate.

In the 2012 general election, Barry O collected just under 66m votes, while Willard Moneybags Rmoney had just under 61m. So the median benchmark for victory (not counting new voters in this election cycle) would be about 63.5 million. That means that even in a complete fantasy best case scenario, post-primary Drumpf needed to convince an absolute minimum of 26.5 million people (again, assuming same number and rate of voters) to either jump to his side or get off the couch and vote for him. But the real number is probably a bit over forty million.

And pretty much every single thing he's done since winning the primary has seemed designed to damage his chances. He certainly hasn't convinced anyone who wasn't already doped-up enough to do so.

Still, the primary model he built, run by someone competent, is the wave of the future. The biggest outlier is Drumpf's long-standing name recognition; more than anything else, that and his disdain for the "traditional" processes and mores and decorum are why he cut through so many opponents so quickly. But using the same social media tools Drumpf used, and a modest amount of money, a savvy, lean operation that started right now could build up a sizable following in a couple of years, throw in after the 2018 midterms, and shit-stir and rabble-rouse their way into contention with comparatively little outlay.

Months ago, John Robb characterized Drumpf's disruptive candidacy as an open-source insurgency, and he's right -- again, Drumpf's sheer disdain for the traditional norms of political campaigning, or even basic honesty and accuracy, propelled him quickly ahead of his competitors, who were inherently constrained by archaic ideas of basic decency and behavior.

All politicians are liars and ratfuckers sooner or later, but Drumpf's strategy was to be bigger and badder at those things than his opponents could even dream about. Cruz' dad hung out with Lee Harvey Oswald? Hey, it was in the paper. Many people are saying. Bush is a low-energy pussy, Ben Carson has the personality traits of a pedophile? Just repeating what someone tweeted me.

Now, take someone who we either haven't met yet or just don't know very well at this point -- for example, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. Young, smart, photogenic, studied at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale (and has a Ph.D in history from that last school), Sasse just got into the Senate in 2014, and so like Obama doesn't have a lengthy voting record for opponents to beat on.

Assuming this year's fuckfest continues apace, Drumpf gets blown out, and the GOP implodes and starts looking for traitors to blame, Sasse will come out smelling like a rose, with his early, consistent, and principled opposition to the short-fingered vulgarian. There was even an attempt to draft Sasse into a third-party effort to thwart Drumpf, from which Sasse wisely demurred.

So all Sasse has to do is look at the model Drumpf built to serve his own ego, and tweak it a bit to serve Sasse's political ambitions. A smart, focused ground game in the social media arena would have a far larger ROI than a real-world ground game. Put it this way:  I live in a rural area, so am unlikely to see any door-to-door canvassers, but if an HFC knocker showed up, I'd be rid of them within two minutes, politely but firmly. And I'm voting for her.

The overwhelming precedence and speed of social media have changed the paradigm. I don't think potential voters, especially younger voters, need or want someone knocking on their fucking door to GOTV. Might as well be Jehovah's Witnesses, as far as they're concerned.

But if your effort is followed by one of their friends or follows on Twitter or Facebook, they might check in, they might even respond to one of your "hey, how's it hangin'" tweets. You take a little time and bring them around with a series of short, effective posts over a series of months before you even start running. Then it's "oh yeah, I follow that guy, he's cool."

And make no mistake, under that smart, media-savvy exterior, Ben Sasse is an old-school "fambly valyews" conservative, active in his conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran church, homeschooled children, etc. Once he comes in post-implosion and poses as the voice of predictive reason in a clusterfuck of a campaign, he starts with an advantage. And you can bet he will check all the boxes that make the pro-life, anti-gay obsessives excited. All he needs is a few millennial staffers to populate the feed, spread the word, and the ball is rolling for far less money than it used to take. No Koch-sucking required.

It wasn't all that long ago that the Citizens United decision officially ratified the deep-money game that underpins the American political system. But most of that is contingent on a deeply corrupt permanent-campaign industry, populated by insiders and lubricated by teevee ads, that Drumpf has rightly railed against and avoided. Conventional advertising is strictly for reeling in the olds; the smart campaign of the future will not be predicated on flooding the zone with a bunch of overpriced ads, feeding a voracious horse-race machine that has polarized this nation and fucked up its political system.

And deliberately or not, Drumpf has built and demonstrated a viable model that only requires name recognition and commitment in order to successfully implement. And whether it's Ben Sasse or Cory Booker or whoever, I think the first person to do it without being a completely toxic asshole who magnetizes only the very stupidest people of this ginormous country, will be president in 2024, perhaps even 2020. Because without a full-on ass-kicking landslide blowout that sends the morons (seriously, where do they find these fucking people?) scuttling back to their holes, and wins at least the Senate, HFC will have a single term of nothing but gridlock.

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