Quips, Dragons, Polls and Voters

“Your base” means “the people who are with you when you are wrong” according to CNN Senior Political Analyst, William Schneider, who also serves as Senior Fellow and Resident Scholar at Third Way, a Washington think tank. He describes his real job as telling people when crises become real.

I heard him speak at a lunch four scandals ago when the hot button issue du jour was the defeat of relatively mild gun control legislation. Remember back in the political dark ages when 90% of Americans supported background checks but the bill did not pass? According to Schneider it is not “how many people care,” it is “how much they care.” His advice to those who oppose groups like the NRA and AARP: “form your own group to oppose them.”

Watch for potentially the same result for the same reason on immigration and don’t expect polls to predict it because they do a poor job of measuring intensity. The Tea Party anti-amnesty zealots could splinter the Republican Party.

William Schneider gives good quip and here are some of the best ones he shared with us.

According to Bill Clinton, “If you think the 60s did more good than harm, you are a Democrat. If you think the 60s did more harm than good, you are a Republican.” [Presumably, if you are too young to care a fig about the 60s, you are also a Democrat and, if you are too bored by the 60s and baby boomers generally, you are an independent.] (The brackets are mine.)

If an immigrant was ever exposed to a communist, he is a Republican but only about twice. Then he gets over it and makes a choice based on either his values or his interests. It is always one or the other for everyone else too.

The cold war is over. Americans are fed up with the military. The McGovern coalition is coming to power… 40 years after it would have done any good for McGovern.

The Constitution was written by people who did not like government. In most countries the constitution requires the government to govern but in this one gridlock is Constitutional. The Senate is one of the few governing bodies in which the majority does not rule. The United States is the most populist country in the world.

Issues like debt and deficits or climate change are important to elites, but less so to ordinary voters. Our government does not do problems, it does crises (at which we excel) and these have not yet risen to that level.

Steve Jobs did more to change the world than any politician because he democratized information. [Sorry, Bill Gates you were left out of the quote.] Unfortunately, the good of democratized information is somewhat offset by the loss of news judgment – the experienced decision about what to put on the front page. The Economist recently echoed this theme. An early result of the creation of newspapers in London was a sharp decrease in the number of nearby dragon sightings.

A “New America” is coming to electoral power: African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, gays, educated professionals (NPR Democrats), working women, single mothers, young voters (who react the same way to gay rights as boomers reacted to civil rights) and the “un-churched.” With 20% of voters in the “un-churched” category, social conservatives are becoming increasingly isolated.

If Schneider were offering investment advice, it sounds like he would be short Republicans and long dragons. He cornered the market on quips.

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