Expert answers questions regarding the present US political race

Interview conducted by Jaime Ortega.

 

Jack A. Goldstone.

(PhD. Harvard) is Hazel Professor of Public Policy and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.  He is also Director of the International Research Laboratory on Political Demography at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow. 

 

1)  Today’s generation seems a lot less conservative than other past generations. It looks like liberal dogmas over the years have replaced several conservative values sacred to the pillar of true republicanism.  Has the Republican Party significantly weakened over these past 8 years? Are republicans today closer to the left than they are to the right?

By no means!  Rather, fiscal conservatism – small government, less spending on social issues, lower taxes – has become stronger, even though some elements of social conservatism – opposition to gay marriage and abortion – have become weaker.  Yet opposition to gun control is, if anything, stronger than ever.

Republicans have drawn on all of this to win more governorships, more state legislatures, and more representatives to Congress and the Senate.  In these contests, Republicans are doing better than ever.  The only reasons Republicans have had trouble winning the presidency is that they have nominated extremists as Vice-President (Palin, Ryan) and older or distant candidates for President (McCain, Romney) who lost the youth and female vote.  If Republicans nominate a younger, more dynamic presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate who has credibility as a possible president, they could win the only prize that has eluded them.

2)     Homosexuals, minorities and immigrants loath the Republican Party viewing it as religiously intolerant comprised of elites that sponsor foreign wars to spread capitalism globally.  Many inside these groups would vote for Republicans if they were more accepting in terms of civil rights and immigration. Has the Republican Party done a good job trying to become more accepting to homosexuals, minorities and immigrants? If not, would it be a good idea that the Republican candidates win the hearts and minds of these groups without giving away conservative values? Is that even remotely possible?

The latest Republican debate shows the divisions within the party on these issues.  Republican candidates generally can NOT embrace homosexuals, minorities, and immigrants because in primaries and local elections, where candidates are only running for Republican votes against other Republicans, there is no advantage to seeking minority support (as minority voters are very heavily Democratic).  Moreover, these groups generally do not vote in large numbers EXCEPT in presidential elections.  That is why democratic candidates have done better running for President than in local and state elections.  That said, certain Republican candidates this year – Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio – do have minority background or family members. So perhaps if one of these gains the nomination, and mainly has to worry about attracting potential democratic voters, they will try to embrace minorities in the general election campaign.

3)     Traditionally Latinos are conservative. Why do they swing to Democrats?

Latinos are socially conservative.  But on fiscal issues – government support for the poor, gun control, progressive taxation, spending on health care and education, government regulation to curb discrimination – they tend to support Democratic positions.

4)     Considering Donald Trump’s past… Is Donald Trump a true Republican or an opportunist?

More of an opportunist, it would seem.  Though he will strive to be a true Republican if that will help him politically.

5)     Donald Trump thus far has had a large impact in the GOP primaries beating almost all of his fellow competitors. But despite his sudden rise, skeptics, analyst and politicians hold deep concerns worried about his candidacy.  Looking at his foreign and national policy, it is not clear how exactly he plans to implement most of his reforms. He said that “Mexico will pay for the wall he plans to construct in the border”. He also said “Putin would get along with him to solve the Syrian crisis.”  Is Donald Trump the man for the job in DC?  Would he really outsmart Mexico, China, and Putin?

Much of Trump’s campaign rests on aggressive promises and bluster.  I doubt if he could implement many of his promised policies if elected.  But that may not matter; people like what Trump is saying and America has a long history of candidates who promise everything, including things they often cannot deliver.  Look at Obama’s promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay prison – which is still there 8 years later.

6)     Dr. Ben Carson has also done fairly well in the GOP, now leading key states like Iowa and Arkansas. Could he beat Donald Trump? Could he take on Hillary and win?

Carson is very likable and an outsider, both of which help in the primaries.  But he has no political experience, and has never been in a long political campaign.  I think it very unlikely he could be the Republican party candidate.  If he becomes the candidate, however, he might do well against Hilary.

7) Before the primaries everyone thought Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were going to be the present frontrunners of the GOP. What has happened to the political class in the GOP and DC?  Why the sudden demise? Are people tire of politicians?

Republican voters are clearly unhappy with Republican politicians, who have been unable to take the White House or stop Obama from implementing Democratic policies. So they are looking for a “savior” from outside the ranks of party politicians who could achieve these goals.  Yet over the course of the debates, the greater experience and political skill of Rubio and Cruz has let them start to gain on Trump and Carson.  Over the course of a long primary campaign,  Bush, Rubio and Cruz may still emerge as the leading contenders for the Republican nomination.

8) They are concerns with new strands of liberalism creeping inside the Democratic Party coming from nonreligious groups.  Many young radical reformers view Capitol Hill as corrupted, and not only have started to adopt principles of anarchy, but also of communism, Marxism and minarchism into the system to end capitalism. Christianity is under fire more than ever before under the scientific based state influenced by these groups.  Are many new liberals not really democrats, but instead Neo-Liberal that adopt far- more radical leftist dogmas leeching moderate liberal progressives to establish a scientific state free of religion, military, capitalism and conservatism?

This is far too extreme a description.  Many younger (and older) democrats worry about growing inequality and lack of opportunity under an economic system that seems to give most of the rewards from economic growth to a very few very rich individuals.  So they have been turning to a more European-style democratic socialism, as represented by Bernie Sanders.  But I do not see anarchists or communists or anti-religious groups becoming strong within the Democratic Party.

9) A lot of people, especially in social media believe that the high rise of ignorance and crime in the African-American community is the failed social experiment of liberals. They believe liberal activist support groups like “Black Lives Matter” that instigate violence victimizing race over crime, but ignore incidents of African Americans murdering African-Americans, Caucasians and police enforcement. Is this view farfetched?  Are the struggles of the African American community the byproduct of the social experiments from the left?

The complexities and history of racism in American are so great that I cannot answer this question in a few sentences.  I will say that in many communities, police actions and violence have disproportionately affected minorities, and where this situation involved a largely white police force acting to control minority populations, then violence almost always comes forth.   This has very little to do with left or right politics, and much more with issues of police training and actions and community grievances about police practices.

10) Does the liberal establishment control most of the Media compared to Conservatives? Would you name a few television networks they control?

This has always been an odd claim – conservatives love to complain about the “lamestream” media.  But it is hard to tell who they mean.  Rupert Murdoch appears to be the most powerful media mogul and his empire is conservative.  Conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh are more popular than any liberal counterparts.  The Wall Street Journal, which is highly conservative, seems more influential than the New York Time, which is supposed to be “liberal.”  So I can’t justify the claim of “liberal establishment control of most of the Media.”

11) The Benghazi scandal temporarily hit Hillary’s campaign with ardor from the right, ravaged by republican interest groups trying to demonize her image to discourage her nomination, but despite all the negativity Hillary seems to have survived the storm. Should she be blamed for Benghazi? Why hasn’t the scandal hurt her campaign?

We won’t know whether or not it hurts her campaign until the general election.  It is too early to tell.  Right now, it is mostly Republicans who are angry about Benghazi, and Hillary is not yet running in contests where Republicans vote.

12) On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has revolutionized the DOP.  He promised to bring down the elites, and transform the US with socialism. Does Bernie appeal to people more than Hillary? Is Bernie better equipped to run the nation than Hillary? Would socialism work?

Socialism has never had broad appeal in the United States, if by that is meant government control of large sections of the economy.  On the other hand, if what you mean is government regulation to ensure fairness and stability in the private economy, and progressive taxation, all US administrations have practiced this to a greater or less degree, even that of Ronald Reagan.   Bernie Sanders advocates these policies more strongly than most others today.  But even he is not advocating socialism.  In the U.S. “socialism” is a scare word that Republicans use to insult Democrats.  Thus the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is labeled as “socialist” by Republicans.  But in fact the Affordable Care Act is designed to strengthen private medical insurance, and was designed by a conservative think-tank and first implemented by a Republican governor.  There is nothing socialist about Obamacare.  So there is no real likelihood of any socialism in the U.S.

13) A lot of people claim that the nation is greatly divided thanks to liberals. It seems like the notion of Nationalism presented during the Reagan Administration hardly remains the same today. With decline in nationalism, many youths no longer believe in patriotism and demonize the military. Could it be said that many of the youths have lost the sense of national pride? If so, Is that good for the country?

The nation is divided, but you can hardly blame that on liberals.  Republicans have done more than anyone else to identify “enemies” among opposition politicians.  I do not think patriotism has declined at all.  What is true is that since military service has become a profession and a choice, rather than a national obligation, few people really understand what military action means.  Still, you will find respect and support for military veterans and active soldiers much, MUCH higher today than at any time since the Vietnam war.  If Americans are demoralized, it is because after spending trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East seems even more dangerous and unsettled, and terrorist threats greater than ever.

14) Would the rise of a third political party eventually save nation from greater schisms or should we always rely on bipartisanship? 

These are two separate questions.  A third political party cannot “save” the nation unless people come together to support it.  So whether we have two or three or more parties, we must rely on bipartisanship to get things done. That is what the structures in the American Constitution require.

15) Will Donald Trump take the GOP? Which out of the Republicans has a real chance against Hillary and why?

I am a scholar of social change, not a political campaign specialist.  But even the latter could not tell you the answer to these questions.  That is why we have a long primary season, stretching to next summer.  If we could answer these questions now, based on information a full year before the election, then Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Barak Obama would never have become President.

16) Who wins the 2016 elections?  Are any of the candidates good for the US?

I prefer not to answer this question so early; I will stick by my answer to question 15.

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