More and more signs every day that Donald Trump is spectacularly unsuited to be a major party’s standard bearer. There’s the constant screech of dog whistles, the obnoxious comments flying in all directions, the persistent failure to stay on-message for more than about 15 minutes, and oh, that hair.
But perhaps more important than all of that is… money. Or the lack thereof. Trump’s coffers are nearly empty and his fundraising “machine” practically nonexistent.
This has repercussions far beyond the Trump/Clinton campaign, because a major party candidate usually provides money and organization for candidates up and down the ticket and the state parties. Talking Points Memo:
As the Republican National Committee — which also saw a drop in its May fundraising compared to 2012 — is forced to prop up Trump’s rickety campaign apparatus, it means less money will be passed down to congressional committees and to state parties. It also means less money to finance the party’s crucial but costly get-out-the-vote efforts.
Which is really bad news for the perennially impecunious VTGOP, whose own federal filing shows a piss-poor $11,190 in cash on hand. It can’t afford any significant campaign push, and it shouldn’t expect any help from the national party.
On the same day that Matt Dunne scored a political trifecta — netting the endorsements of two major unions plus seven members of Burlington City Council — fellow gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter launched a bold initiative that strikes me as great policy and sound politics.
Sue Minter, a Democratic candidate for governor, says her initiative, “Vermont Promise,” would give Vermont high school students the opportunity to attend the Community College of Vermont or Vermont Technical College for free for the first two years. After that, students would be able to continue their schooling for half the current cost of tuition.
Minter unveiled the program on Tuesday, California primary day, and suffered the same undercoverage that befell Dunne’s endorsement news.
Vermont Promise strikes at the heart of a fundamental inequity of living in Vermont: the high cost of college. It’s a strong, clear idea, as opposed to the higher-education incrementalism of the Shumlin years. It would provide a huge boost to working-class Vermont students who’ve had trouble reaching the next rung on the ladder — and to employers who’ve been desperate for trained, or trainable, workers.
Minter pointed out that Vermont has one of the nation’s highest rates of high school graduation, but one of the lowest rates in continuing on to post-secondary education. This is a break point in our education system, a roadblock to success for young people, and a damper on our economy.
Here, at last, was something I’d been hoping for but not really expecting: an actual statement from Vermont Republicans on their party’s sorry-ass presidential field. Which is a problem for the VTGOP, because no matter which candidate gets the nomination, he or she will certainly be a drag on the VTGOP’s ticket — while either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders promise to spark high turnout among Democratic voters.
So what wisdom does VTGOP chair David Sunderland offer at this difficult time?
Former Wall Street panjandrum turned bland public policy crusader Bruce Lisman showed up on The Mark Johnson Show Friday morning, and came about as close to declaring his candidacy for Governor as he could without actually making a declaration.
“I’m leaning strongly toward running,” he said, and indicated he was embarking on a weeklong family vacation that would probably produce a final decision. But while he’s pretty sure he’s running, he’s a lot less sure how he will do it: as a Democrat, as a Republican or as an independent. “If I choose to run, I’m running for the people. I’ll figure out how best to do that.”
Aww. For the people, eh? Well, the people appreciate the kind gesture.
He spent the rest of the hour basically proving my contention that he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance of ever being Governor.
His answers were awfully rambly and not terribly engaging. He frequently changed subjects in mid-answer — sometimes in mid-sentence. He rarely ended up anywhere close to where he began.
But that’s not the worst problem.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign is a rousing success. He’s drawing huge — sorry, youuuuuge — crowds, he’s smashed expectations for fundraising, and he’s making noise in select polls.
None of which makes him a serious contender for the Democratic nomination. He still trails badly in national polls. And the dynamics of the primary system have shifted in favor of the frontrunner: an underdog can compete in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, but then the primaries come fast and furious, and you need a strong national organization (and a youuuuuge amount of money) to stay competitive. Even lackluster frontrunners like John Kerry and Mitt Romney can use their “inevitability” to steamroll their opponents. Hillary generates a lot more enthusiasm than either of those legacy admissions.
So no, Bernie’s not winning the nomination. But he has already won a very important victory: he has shown the potential for game-changing enthusiasm on the Left. After Bernie, the Democratic Party will have a harder time taking the Left for granted.
What’s this in my inbox? Why, it’s a heart-rending tale from the desk of Win Smith, co-owner of the Sugarbush ski resort and president of the Vermont Business Roundtable. And former Merrill Lynch executive. And reportedly a member of a secret Wall Street society described as “‘”a sort of one-percenter’s Friars Club’ whose annual dinners are filled with elitist, sexist and homophobic humor.”
(Bruce Lisman’s also a member, but I digress.)
Smith’s business partner in Sugarbush is, of course, State Rep. Adam Greshin, who wrote and lobbied for an amendment that forestalls a significant increase in Sugarbush’s sizable utility bills. And was, dubiously and privately, cleared by the House Ethics Panel.
Smith’s essay is being distributed to Vermont news outlets; I’m sure it will shortly be cluttering up your local paper’s content-hungry Op-Ed page. It’s a pretty amazing piece of work, managing to be both politically and literarily obnoxious. It’s a subtle retelling of stale conservative myths about poverty and government. You know the stuff: welfare mothers with Cadillacs, poor folks lulled into dependency by public-sector largesse, and the myth that “47% of Americans pay no taxes” and therefore have no stake in responsible government.
Smith begins with the sad story of “a childhood friend of mine” whose mother expressed her love by serving “large portions of tasty food.”
Unfortunately, Mom’s generosity had deadly results.