Who Won The Second Debate [2016]?


Seems a funny place to start a blog supposedly contributing to a discussion about ‘Where next for the Democrat Party?’; but not really.

From the early moments of the Republican Primary, and for about a decade before that, living in the uber-progressive burgh of Carrboro, NC, I had warned my liberal Democrat friends that their isolationist, ivory tower, ‘we know better than you’ approach to anyone who disagreed with them, not least ordinary white working folk, was going to lose them (us) an increasing number of elections at state and national level.

I saw Trump’s victory coming. And I pleaded with my Democrat friends not to underestimate him. Which they did anyway. So, one of my last pre-Election evaluations is not all that silly a place to start this blog.

One quick caveat. I write as I think. The progression may not be all that orderly. But it will faithfully follow the development of my thinking process. Which is, essentially, that I do not believe the immediate successful future of the Democrat Party lies either in more Clinton or more Sanders, but in something a little different. Not all that original. Since it borrows from the past. But different to what is on offer currently. And that is, some form of Democratic Populism.

Right, that first post (all of these posts are taken from my Facebook (to which I link at the end of this post):

“One of the less biased observations of the second US Presidential Debate. Not surprisingly, the source is BBC News. I add some comments of mine from another thread:

‘Who are ‘the Republicans’? Clearly not the three dozen Republican legislators who abandoned Trump over the weekend. They have done all in their power in the last 18 months not to have Trump.

The folks who ‘chose’ Trump are millions of Republican voters, who, for whatever reason, find something in him that they like. And that they’re prepared to stick with.

After the revelations this past Friday about Trump’s behavior a decade ago, a poll was taken of some 1,500 respondents.

70% of the Democrats polled said Trump should withdraw. 12% of Republican men polled agreed. And 13% of Republican women.

Take a good, long look. 13% of Republican women. More to the point, 30% of Democrats polled did NOT think Trump should withdraw. Why in the name of all things holy not?

There is a force at work in this election. A frightened, ugly, lowest common denominator force. And they have chosen a man who represents that. A foul-mouthed, reckless, vain, frightening, ugly, lowest common denominator candidate.

We don’t deal with these folk sensibly by calling them names. By calling them stupid. Or a joke. We deal with them by trying to understand them.’


‘I remember reading some comments by one of Trump’s then aides a couple of months ago.

He said that folks would not understand the Trump campaign in terms of conventional wisdom. CW is that, having got through the bruising primaries, General Election campaigns of both parties then swing to the center, to pick up swing voters and independents.

Not so the Trump campaign, this aide said. He stated that they had done their homework. In all the important states, in the primaries, Trump outvoted Clinton.

Add in a bunch of nose-holding Republicans, from other Republican candidates, plus a dose of left-behinds, who normally didn’t vote. Plus, a chunk of folks he said they had targeted, and they had the numbers to win. They didn’t need swing voters and independents.

One group he mentioned in particular were millennial white-collar college graduates. Which I find surprising. Until he said that their groundwork suggested that, although reluctant to admit it, many in this group were fed up with the bipartisan establishment which had lumbered them with expensive wars, high taxes and unbearable student loan debt, with next to no job prospects. It wasn’t that they thought Trump could do better. They were just angry.

Net result of all of this was that this guy said, don’t expect to see a typical Republican General Election campaign. This guy said it would all be about anger.

Now I add my take from last night. In my opinion, Clinton had to land a killing punch to win. She went into the debate the acknowledged better performer, with Machado, taxes and lewd comments in her arsenal. All she had to do was keep tossing them at Trump, and he’d collapse.

What Trump had to do was ignore his own establishment. Which establishment made it easy for him to do by renouncing him in droves over the weekend. And focus on his base support (a base support his campaign are telling him is enough to win).

Come out fighting. Turn it all back on Hillary. Grab her with both arms, and drag her down to his level. Which he did. They are both now in the gutter. Policy questions are long forgotten. And what little shine there was on Hillary has now gone.

Trump didn’t do this to win plaudits with the audience, snap polls, talking heads, the media or the establishment of either party. But to energize his own base.

We won’t know the success of this strategy until we see polls in about ten days. But one immediate point is interesting. The only media outlet to be claiming a Clinton victory is CNN. Who say their instant poll found 57% saying Hillary won. Which is fine. Save for the fact that, lost in the small print, CNN also mention that the same sample said before the debate that 58% of them were going to vote Hillary anyway. The ‘Hillary anyways’ lost 1% during the debate.

One thing about this election, in my opinion, is important above all else. The same thing is true of Brexit. The referendum in Hungary. The rise of the right-wing in Germany. And the growing success of the National Front in France.

A lot of ordinary people around the world are scared. They no longer feel in control of their own destinies. And if we continue to ignore that, then they will continue to find unhealthy ways to express their discontent.’ ”

Commentary on the Facebook post can be found here.


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