TBT: Populists and Elites

One of the blessings of the Trump administration was that Trump reminded us how fun regular people are.  Sure, I love the symphony and all that stuff, but a representative government should be basically populist—it should care about the people it governs, and look out for their interests.  Leaders should reflect the people, not set themselves against the people.  At most, our officials should strive to set examples for how a good life can be lived.

The thrust of this piece—written one year ago today—is that elitism is shockingly ignorant:  it presumes that anything that does not interest the elitist is somehow barbaric and simplistic.  That our own elites embrace the vulgar and raise up vice as a virtue suggests their elitism is supremely misguided—or lacking entirely.

Few remember now Michael Bloomberg’s disastrous run for the Democratic primary last year—it was so long ago!—but it was the political embodiment of clueless elitism against Trumpian populism.  Bloomberg had the resources and the softly center-Left stance to buy himself into the White House, or at least the Democratic nomination, but he bungled it so badly, even his supporters were in awe of his ineptitude.

Well, now we have a senile, fraudulent feebster leading a puppet regime, so it seems gross incompetence is no longer a barrier to entry to the highest office in the land.  Perhaps a healthy dose of elitism is needed after all.

Regardless, here is 18 February 2021’s “Populists and Elites“:

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Super Tuesday Results

Whoa!  The Super Tuesday results are (mostly) in, and it looks like my prediction was right:  Biden gobbled up the South, including Virginia, while Sanders held strong on the Left Coast, including Colorado (and, most significantly, California).  Politico has a nifty rundown of the results.

Biden is being propped up by the establishment wing of the Democratic Party.  Amy “The Teacher’s Pet” Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both suspended their campaigns after Biden’s big win in South Carolina.  Based on his performance in South Carolina, I figured that black voters were behind him thanks to his role as Obama’s VP.  Sanders has struggled with black voters (who, in addition to not liking homosexuals, also don’t seem to care for elderly Jewish socialists).

Now Bloomberg has dropped out, too, and thrown his support to Biden.  I called this one right as well:  he was a red herring all along.  Elizabeth Warren, who seems to reevaluating her pledge to “take it to the convention,” effectively destroyed him in the Nevada debates.  It also puts to bed the notion that the presidency can be bought (at least at this point).  Maybe if Biden had stumbled in SC (and Bloomberg had stayed out of the Nevada debate), Bloomy could have filled the vacuum of the Democratic “center,” but I doubt it.

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Biden Blowout in South Carolina

A note to SubscribeStar subscribers:  I will post an account of my recent trip to Universal Studios tomorrow, to make up for Saturday’s missed post.  I will try to have Sunday Doodles posted for $5 subscribers later today, probably this evening.  Thank you for your patience, and your support.  —TPP

The Democratic primaries continue to get more interesting.  First, Buttigieg surprised analysts with a near-victory in Iowa (in fact, I’m still unclear who actually “won” the caucuses there).  Elizabeth Warren took down Bloomberg on the eve of the Nevada caucuses, herself going down in flames in South Carolina.

There’s an echo there of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking down a robotic Marco Rubio in the debate just before the 2016 New Hampshire primaries.  Christie had no chance of winning after New Hampshire, but he took Rubio down with him, exposing the would-be poster boy of the Republican Party as an overly-polished puppet.  Similarly, Warren’s aggressive attacks on Bloomberg was the screeching harpies way of clawing Bloomberg down with her.

Of course, unlike Rubio, Bloomberg has billions of dollars at his disposal, and has pledged to keep spending big.  That adds an interesting wrinkle, but I’ve held that Bloomberg is a very flashy red herring, and I’m not convinced he can buy primary victories.  Super Tuesday will tell us a great deal, but I think the only winner from Bloomberg’s campaign will be television networks and social media outlets making a bundle from ad sales.  I would love to get the commission on a Bloomberg ad buy.

Now, former Vice President Joe Biden has come back with a yuge win in South Carolina.  Like every armchair commentator with even a passing knowledge of the South and black people, I knew that Buttigieg would struggle here.  Black voters dominate the Democratic primaries in Southern States, and black people do not like gays.  But I didn’t expect that ButtiBoy would drop out after SC.

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Populists and Elites

This past weekend gave Americans two studies in contrasts, between President Trump and Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg.  Contrasting these two men and their attitudes highlights the wide divide between populists and elites.

On the one hand, President Trump made a grand entrance to the Daytona 500, where he served as the iconic race’s grand marshal.  NASCAR is a hugely popular sport among President Trump’s core supporters, so that move was good politics.  But it was also an acknowledgment of the humanity of his supporters, and an endorsement of a key event in their lives.

I’ve never understood the appeal of NASCAR personally (other than the crashes… and then you realize that a real person is inside that hunk of steel, and the thrill quickly vanishes).  But that doesn’t matter.  Millions of Americans love the sport, and my inability or unwillingness to understand or appreciate it doesn’t detract from their enjoyment.  Nor does it mean they’re wrong to enjoy the sport.

That’s the trap most elitists fall into—“if I don’t like something, then it’s the height of philistinism!”  I confess I get this way about rap music, but I can at least articulate an objective case against rap (it lacks melody, its subject matter is often foul and dehumanizing, it is often unsophisticated in its musical structure, etc.).  Nor do I seek to destroy it, even if I believe—sincerely—that it is detrimental to the health of our society.

There’s also a haughty arrogance to most elitists:  they presume that they what they like is nuanced and complex, whereas everything else is simplistic rubbish for rubes.

Such was the case of former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who ostentatiously proclaimed that farming is a job any moron could do, while information technology work is difficult and requires more “gray matter.”  Here is the quotation from the linked Fox News article:

“You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that,” Bloomberg said during a 2016 appearance at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. “At one point, 98 percent of the world worked in agriculture, now it’s 2 percent in the United States,” he continued.

Ask any gardener how easy it is to grow even the simplest of plants.  How many of us have killed a potted plant due to lack of watering, or overwatering?

Now, apply that to hundreds of acres of crops, many of which are complex, genetically-engineered supercrops that depend on a deep understanding of agronomy, horticulture, biology, and chemistry.  There’s a reason people go to school for four years to become farmers.

And farming is hard work.  That’s nothing against all the code monkeys out there slaving over a hot C++ compressor (that reference probably dates me, and illustrates my ignorance of coding).  But both professions require focus, attention to detail, and a degree of erudition.

If anything, coding is probably easier.  Lest I indulge in the same arrogance as Bloomberg, just consider how we’re importing Third Worlders (mostly from India) to write code for us (undercutting the ability of native-born Americans to make a good salary in tech).  Indians are bright, hardworking people, but their ability to code well is more the result of relentless focus and intense family and social pressures.  Anyone willing to apply the effort could figure it out.

And it’s not slaving away in a field, sweating every weather forecast, wondering if it will rain too much this winter, or if the late frost does or does not come.  Will a hurricane hit and wipe out an entire crop?  Will hail destroy my barn?  The code monkey’s biggest worry is when his next shipment of Mountain Dew Code Red is coming in, and if he’ll have it in time to help him meet his next deadline.

Regardless, President Trump is the model of respect for Middle America:  he respects the people that work hard, and he respects their interests and traditions.  Michael Bloomberg is an out-of-touch elitist who disdains everyone who doesn’t have enough money to buy the Democratic nomination.

When NeverTrumpers ring their hands over “decorum” and “character,” they should understand that President Trump has shown his character through his actions:  he cares about his voters, and about Americans generally.  Michael Bloomberg only cares about Michael Bloomberg.

Red Hot Smokin’ New Hampshire Nights

Last week saw the fiasco that was the Iowa caucuses.  Today the Democratic hopefuls head into the New Hampshire primaries, with Iowa’s results still murky.  It looks like Pete Buttigieg is sitting at thirteen delegates and Bernie Sanders at twelve, per Bing! search results.

After the pandemonium last week, I expect the New Hampshire primaries will run a bit more smoothly.  For one, they’re simple primaries, not Iowa’s convoluted caucus system, which requires voters to stand in parts of a room to represent their vote, then a reshuffling for candidates who don’t reach 15% support in the first round.

Indeed, at least one precinct—a very small town in New Hampshire that votes starting at midnight saw three write-in votes for Michael Bloomberg (out of a total of five votes).  I heard on the radio this morning that another small New Hampshire town cut for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

For another, the Democrats have gotsta be scrambling for a good showing after Iowa.  Of course, the Democratic Party has never been known for its sobering self-reflection, so who knows how they might screw up this round.  If the allegations that they’re trying to block Bernie are true, there’s no telling what kind of shenanigans we could see tonight.

New Hampshire’s results should make for some interesting commentary and analysis tomorrow.  It’s looking like there’s a roughly 30% chance (again, per analysis I heard on the radio) of a brokered convention for the DNC (FiveThirtyEight puts it around 24%).

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