A Message of Uplift Won New Hampshire

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He’ll make America great again — it says so on his podium!

W.J. Astore

My wife and I watched the results come in last night on MSNBC and the four speeches by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and John Kasich.  Surprisingly, the best speech of the bunch was by Kasich, but more on that in a moment.

Hillary charged ahead with a concession speech that was basically a recycled stump speech.  It looked like she was using teleprompters.  She offered the obligatory thanks to her supporters, to New Hampshire, and so on, but you could tell she just wanted to move on from her crushing defeat.  She has real difficulty connecting with an audience, and her campaign’s message that she’s the most competent candidate, the one best able to step into the Oval Office on day one, simply isn’t resonating with voters who are fed up with establishment politics.

Bernie went next and also gave a modified version of his stump speech.  He spoke too long, but I’m guessing he was doing his best to exploit his “prime time” moment.  He offered kind words for Clinton but then proceeded to attack the politics as usual that she represents.  What got me most was the genuine excitement in the room for Bernie.  The people cheering behind him were an especially eclectic and vibrant mix (I know the “optics” are usually managed, but still).  There was a young black guy wearing a hat and a Bernie t-shirt who was simply a riot.  (He was standing behind and to Bernie’s left.)  My wife and I looked at each other and said: “He should be Bernie’s Vice President.”

Trump came on the heels of Bernie, and the shift in tone was immediate.  With Bernie, it’s all about the movement.  With Trump, it’s all about Trump.  Flanked by his photogenic family, Trump once again told Americans how he is going to make America “great” again, how America is going to win again — at negotiating treaties, with the economy, with wars — heck, I guess we’re going to win at EVERYTHING with Trump in command.  Again he boasted how he’s going to make the U.S. military so big and so strong that no one will dare attack us.  In a word, he bloviated.  But Trump should never be dismissed lightly, certainly not after his decisive victory in New Hampshire.

Kasich came next after Trump, and again the tone shifted.  Coming in a strong second in NH, Kasich talked about listening to the American people, and how the 100+ “town halls” he had done had changed him as a candidate and as a person.  He told personal stories and connected with the audience; he closed on a note of compassion, asking Americans to decompress, to take time to listen to one another, to find time for reflection.  His speech was the most personal and heartfelt of the four that I heard, and I found myself hoping that Kasich’s message would ultimately triumph over the bellicosity of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and the rest of the Republicans.

Overall, last night was a night of surprises, with two unconventional candidates, Sanders and Trump, winning convincingly.  Their messages, of course, are polar opposites. Bernie wants a better future for all Americans, especially for the disadvantaged, whereas Trump is all about making America big and strong, a “winner.”  Put differently, Sanders sees a lot of ordinary Americans who are losing in today’s “rigged” economy, and he wants to lift them up.  Trump sees America writ large as losing, even some of the wealthiest, vis-a-vis foreign competitors like China, and he says he’ll lift all of America up.

It’s that message of uplift, expressed so differently by Sanders and Trump, that resonated so powerfully in New Hampshire.

 

4 thoughts on “A Message of Uplift Won New Hampshire

  1. Compassionate Kasich?!? Bill, the new slogan is “Courageous Conservatism”! Get with it! Also, why do you label these results a surprise?? They merely confirmed what the opinion polls suggested strongly pre-voting. How will ‘The Donald’ lift all America UP? Why, doubtless with Trickle-DOWN Economics!! That’s what’s all writ large. Just open your eyes!

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    1. The Huffington Post reports that in New Hampshire, the vote counts do not necessarily translate into delegate counts. New Hampshire counts both pledged and unpledged delegates, meaning that so-called “super delegates” can vote for whichever candidate they choose, regardless of what the general voting public wants. Hence, even though Senator Bernie Sanders won 60% of the vote while You-Know-Her got only 38%, You-Know-Her still got 15 delegates, the same as Senator Bernie Sanders. So much for “democracy” in the Democratic Party as presently stacked against any non-establishment candidate. [see also the six-out-of-six “coin toss” wins that somehow resulted in You-Know-Her coming out on top [barely] in the Iowa caucases]. This farce of an “election” already stinks. And, not surprisingly, one finds a Clinton near the source of the foul odor.

      On the Republican side, The Donald won 34% [barely a thifd] of the vote but 10 out of 23 delegates [almost half]. The next four candidates between them got 66% of the vote and 13 delegates. Anyway you slice it, a clear majority of Republican voters wanted someone other than The Donald, but he got more delegates than any of his individual competitors. Not to worry about the Republicans, though, for as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote recently:

      “Partisanship is now more important than any other factor in predicting Americans’ votes, which means there is little possibility of a Goldwater-style landslide against Trump. Republicans could nominate a ham sandwich and still get 45 percent of the vote.”

      In the end, as Senator Bernie Sanders said, it will come down to turnout. The Democrats will win if they get a large, enthusiastic turnout and the Supreme Court doesn’t support disenfranching hordes of them — especially blacks and hispanics. The Republicans will win if their guaranteed 45% partisan ham-sandwich voters come out while dispirited Democrats look at You-Know-Her and stay home because they can’t tell her apart from the Republicans.

      I can’t see any “uplift” in any of this. Senator Bernie Sanders, though, did mention the word “oligarchy” in his speech which truthful characterization of America I haven’t heard from anyone else. Jill Stein of the Green Party has a better and more specific program for working-class Americans — especially for downsizing America’s bloated, ineffective military — but Senator Bernie Sanders comes about as close as one can expect from a “Democrat.”

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      1. Yeah, the fix is already in on the Dems’ side. Congressional Black Caucus just endorsed You-Know-Her. Obviously siding with whom they perceive as having a chance to win, the one who doesn’t speak of “democratic socialism.” Fiorina is finally out and Christie has “suspended his campaign”–crybaby-speak for admitting hopeless state of one’s situation. GOP field is finally getting “almost” manageable in size! Ted Cruz is already counting the eggs of the South Carolina “Evangelicals” as being overwhelmingly in his basket. “A match made in Heaven” if ever there was one, eh?

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  2. Calm down, Greg! I’m not endorsing Kasich or Trump. And yes, pre-primary polling predicted Bernie and The Donald would prevail, but I’m talking about the conventional wisdom of a few months ago, which had Hillary as a shoo-in and Trump as a clown with little support. (He’s still a clown, just with a lot more support.)

    My eyes are definitely open. As I said, The Donald bloviates. It’s BS, but people are buying it. And I think they’re buying it because the message of uplift, no matter how bogus when Trump uses it, is working.

    For me, Sanders is the genuine candidate of uplift. I thought my point was obvious, but perhaps not.

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