Sunday, August 30, 2015

Doing Something

A recent news story has a presidential candidate flirting with the idea of building a wall along the U.S. border—the northern border. His explanation:
Walker has long said that securing U.S. borders, especially the southern border with Mexico, is not only a deterrent to illegal immigration but also a way to ensure that terrorists and international criminals do not enter the country. 
The U.S. hosts about 75 million tourists each year, coming from a wide variety of countries. Does anyone seriously believe that we can filter out from that flood one, or ten, or a thousand bad guys? All a competent terrorist needs is a passport in a name that isn't on a list of people to keep out. I do not know what country in the world is currently the least expensive source of bogus passports, but I would be surprised if the price was high enough to discourage someone supported by ISIS or al Qaeda or ...  .

As in too many other cases, the underlying logic is:

Something must be done.

This is something.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

It Could Be an Interesting Election

A recent story claims that Bernie Sanders is planning to drop out of the Democratic race and run as an independent; he has denied it.  Donald Trump has said both that he would and would not consider running as an independent. If one runs and the other does not, that might well throw the election to the other side. The more interesting question is what happens if both run.

Sanders appeals to the left wing of the Democratic party, so the question is how many will vote their ideology at the risk of putting a Republican in the White House.  Trump is a more complicated case, with positions on the  right on some issues,  the center, even the left on others. His appeal, so far as I can tell, is not ideological but personal—he is a more competent demagogue than the other candidates, a point persuasively argued by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. I would expect him to pull a significant number of votes from the Democrats although more from the Republicans.

If both run, how will the major parties respond? A Sanders campaign would pull Hilary left—arguably already has. A Trump campaign might give the Republican  an incentive to try to match his demagoguery, as some  are doing on the anchor babies issue. Or it might persuade the candidate that Trump's voters are a lost cause—and at least not voting Democratic. That could, to be unreasonably optimistic, improve the chances of Rand Paul or someone similar. And a Republican candidate Democrats only mildly dislike would reduce the incentive for Sanders supporters to vote for Hilary.

Commenters with better worked out ideas of the implications are invited to offer them.