Friday, September 29, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Changing The Rules

Much has yet to happen before the formats and players of
the 2020 national elections, including its presidential election,
are clearly visible, but already there are some fascinating
signals of gestating possibilities.

It is likely, though not yet certain, that President Donald
Trump will be running for re-election.

What is not clear, however, is what will be the composition
of his party, the Republican Party, three years from now.
Nor do we yet know what will be the composition of the
opposition party, the Democratic Party, at that time.

There are clear signals that both parties are regrouping,
especially in the face of new demands from voters.

A number of contrasting predicted scenarios are now
appearing. One of the most contrarian, and to some the
most shocking, has Mr. Trump running as an independent or
under a new party name. No sitting president has ever done
this, although there were some rare cases of a former
president (Martin Van Buren (1848), Millard Fillmore (1856)
and Theodore Roosevelt (1912)) doing this. None of these
succeeded, although Teddy Roosevelt came in second, and
caused his successor, William Taft, to lose his otherwise
almost certain re-election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

As intriguing as the possibility of President Trump leaving
his party in 2020 is on paper, it is not only unlikely, but
perhaps also unnecessary, for him to jump his party’s ship
to accomplish his goals.

We need more evidence than only the 2016 results, recent
special congressional elections, and the just-voted victory
of Roy Moore in the Alabama GOP run-off of the 2017
special senate election to see more fully what’s going on.

In order to realign the Republican Party in the image of
the Trump voter base, Mr. Moore has to win in December,
and a number of competitive house and senate races in
2018 have to remove or convert several establishment
GOP figures --- and result in populist-nationalist
conservatives in their seats. Senate races in Arizona,
Nevada, Missouri and Montana come immediately to
mind, as do the seats of moderate Democrats in North
Dakota and West Virginia, but as retirements and local
conditions occur, there might even be a number of other
senate seats in this category.

The circumstances in the U.S. house are more local, and
conventional wisdom suggests that the conservative party
might well lose a notable number of seats in 2018, but
that does not preclude a major internal realignment in the
GOP house caucus even if that does happen.

With a few notable exceptions, GOP incumbents and
challengers do not appear likely to do well if they publicly
oppose or criticize the president on major issues.

If it appears that the national populist conservatives are
succeeding in 2018, it might be certain establishment
GOP candidates who bolt and try to form a third party
of their own, including running their own nominee for
president. (With a whole different set of ideologies and
issues, this is what happened in 1860, 1912 and 1948.)

But it is not just the Republicans who face historic
realignment. The 2016 election revealed a fundamental
division in the liberal party --- between radical leftist
Bernie Sanders and liberal Hillary Clinton. That split is
continuing to fester going into 2018 and beyond. The
liberal establishment is clearly on the defensive as the
Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Maxine Waters wing has some
momentum taking the party to the left. The Hillary-Biden
wing has few young leaders who can make a compelling
case for their views (although the other wing’s leaders
are themselves in their mid-to-late 70s).

Democrats have proven, in the recent past, to be much
more self-disciplined about party loyalty than the
Republicans have, so a sudden party split on the ballot is
not likely, but some interesting ideological fireworks are
almost certain ahead on the liberal party side.

In recent years, political commentators were considered
astute when they confidently pooh-poohed suggestions
of radical or dramatic electoral change. With some
variances, elections followed predictable patterns. After
2016 and Donald Trump, this is no longer a wise or safe
course of political analysis.

The December Alabama special senate election and the
November Virginia governor’s race, both this year, will
give us more clues about how fast the current political
realignments are taking place, as will the identities of
those incumbents in both parties announcing their
retirements before New Year’s Day.

The American political rules are changing right now.
The names will change soon, too.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Corruption Of Sports

I have previously noted and complained about the economic
corruption of professional sports. My complaint is not that
athletes should not be paid well, but like any excesses, lack
of self-restraint leads to diminishment.

The use of drugs, frequent other run-ins with the law, and
other controversies involving highly-paid professional athletes
are well-known. In a free society, perhaps, they are mostly
unavoidable consequences when young men and women are
given such excesses of money and celebrity without the
preparation to live with them.

It is not just the athletes, but the whole contemporary structure
of U.S. professional sports, including owners, managers,
coaches ad team staff, which are always at risk.

Now we have a new dimension to the excess --- the politicizing
of athletes and sports teams in the current national partisan
carnival emanating from Washington, DC.

Professional sports are very big business. Not only game
tickets, but stadium sales, retail merchandising, and, of course,
the game-changing broadcast revenues. We are speaking here
of billions of dollars.

Whether or not you like President Trump, his policies or even
his tweets, the playing field should not be an ideological arena.
No one questions the civil rights of players, but the national
anthem is not a venue for acceptable protest.

A political party leadership that chooses such an inherently
non-partisan, non-controversial institution as a springboard
to organize its otherwise legitimate right to express protest
not only risks its own goals and aspirations unwisely, it
also risks, in this case, the well-being of professional sports
itself --- with which it has no legitimate business.

Sports fans cross all political and ideological lines. Intrude on
that, and watch how fast very large numbers of fans will
express their “vote” by staying home and turning off.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Is It Time To Close Down The United Nations?

President Trump recently visited the United Nations in New
York City, and spoke to its general assembly of member states.
It was a candid and tough talk. One establishment U.S. media
venue headlined it as “No U.S. President Ever Talked To the
U.N. Like That.” The negative article that followed, of course,
got it all wrong, but the headline was correct. If anything, Mr.
Trump wasn’t tough enough.

The United Nations was conceived in the dark throes of World
War II as a post-war organization that would promote security,
international cooperation, and human rights. It was intended
to succeed where its predecessor, the League of Nations had
failed, that is, to promote peace, security and humanitarianism
among  global sovereign nations.

Its stated goals were idealistic and well-meaning, just as were
those of a smaller group that emerged a short time later, the 
Common Market that evolved into today’s European Union (EU).
In fact  in its early years, the U.N. appeared to be fulfilling its
promise, including creating numerous laudable humanitarian
food, health and economic aid programs to war-torn regions and
undeveloped nations facing famine, disease, violence from within
and without their borders, and lack of capital. It even provided
mostly effective multinational military force in global trouble

The post-war world soon enough also faced a Cold War
competition and confrontation between the developed capitalist
nations of North America, Europe and Asia, and with the
totalitarian communist nations led by the Soviet Union. The
U.N. itself grew from a relatively few initial members to 193
member nations as more and more colonial territories became
independent countries. (Some these nations are smaller in size
than a U.S county and/or smaller in population than a small U.S.

From its genesis, the U.N. conducted its most important business,
especially on issues of international security through its Security
Council with five permanent members, each of which had veto
power over any U.N. action. At the same time in its New York City
headquarters, a growing elite bureaucracy came to dominate the
organization, even as the number of regional conflicts, natural
disasters, and human rights violations increased.

The U.N General Assembly, which includes all member nations,
is now predictably controlled by the large majority of smaller
and mostly undeveloped nations. One nation, one vote ---
regardless of population, area or economic size. Most of the
funding of the United Nations is provided by those democratic
nations whose interests and values are ignored or rejected by
the majority of UN members who control the organization. The
inherent structures of the General Assembly and the Security
Council have made the United Nations a feckless organization
unable to respond usefully to almost any major crisis. Its
bureaucrats, many of whom live in New York in sheltered luxury
at living standards far above what they might enjoy in their home
countries, share ideological world views most Americans would
find alien or cruel or arrogant. As UN workers, they are above
U.S. law, and too often abuse their privileges as our guests.

One of the most egregious failures of the UN today is in human
rights, a vital global cause. Instead of calling out and working
against obvious human rights abuses, it allows nations which
performs some of the worst abuses to sit on its human rights
commission and evade censure.

In fact, the dysfunction of the United Nations is so great that it
is difficult to think of ANY compelling reason to keep it going,
or for the United States to be part of it, pay for so much of it,
and host it in our largest city.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Guess Who's The Boss?

We live in an American era in which “the boss” is rarely
popular. It’s a time when some focus on the economic
“inequalities” they perceive, though they almost always
ignore other inequalities which don’t fit into their political

For example, selectively using statistics, they point out the
income differences between many corporate executives
and their employees at various levels, but they conveniently
ignore equally great inequalities between most Americans
and, say, professional sports personalities and so many
entertainment industry personalities. The CEOs and the
entrepreneurs are villains, but the baseball player who
makes eight figures a year, the rock music star who makes
even more, or the overpaid film celebrity who parrots their
political bias --- well, those economic revenue imbalances
are either o.k. or not for public discussion.

Actually, bosses historically have not been very often
popular figures. They have always been an obvious target.
Some bosses, of course, deserve the criticism. The
economic question aside, some persons do not manage
others well or fairly. And some CEOs of publicly-held
companies are grossly overpaid. Lots of persons, as well,
are not paid what they are worth. It is an evolving but
timeless contest.

But in spite of my discussion so far, the headline above
is neither an economic nor a management question.
Understandably, we naturally focus on the human
dimension in our daily lives.

The answer to my question, as we have once again been
reminded, is not about men and women.

The real boss has no human form. We usually call it
“Nature.” It has immensely more force than any device of
ours, even usually much larger than our super bombs.

It takes the form of earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes
and cyclones, volcanoes, extreme cold or hot weather,
storms, floods, droughts and epidemics. While we debate
our human impact on climate, it rebuts all our theories and
our presumptions of controlling it.

Our planet is very old in human terms, but rather young in
galactic terms. Our planet is a moving, internally and
externally dynamic body hurtling through the vast space
we only barely perceive.

The daily organic and natural life of our planet is the real
boss. Our petty disputes --- between persons, groups and
nations --- are dwarfed by this real boss who apparently
views any inequality as the very nature of things.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 18, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Annus Mirabilis Or Annus Horribilis?

Numerologists and kabbalists will no doubt make something
of the fact that the digits in 2017 add up to ten. I wouldn’t be
surprised if his followers come up with a prediction from
Nostradamus for this year. Inevitably, someone will see a 2017
prophecy cloaked in a verse of the Old Testament, or the
New one.

I don’t know if anyone, recently or long ago, thought that the
current year would be very remarkable, but we are now
past the half-way mark, and it is becoming apparent that this
calendar unit of 365 days is going to be quite memorable.

Our cast of characters is not without a certain controversial
and even occasional flamboyant pizzazz: Donald Trump.
Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Emmanual Macron, Kim 
Jong-un, Binyamin Netanyahu, Bashar al-Assad, Pope Francis,
and Nicolas Maduro --- to name only some of the notables.

Nature has not been shy. Four (and now five) very big
hurricanes in less than a month. A major earthquake in
Mexico at the same time.

The dark side of hitherto amazing internet and social
media technology erupted into planetary consciousness with
realizations of massive hacking, pervasive snooping, and
extreme consumer vulnerability.

A century of growing audiences and gigantic profits for
Hollywood celebrities and the global film industry has
turned unexpectedly sour. Most are explaining this as
Hollywood offering a poor selection of movies --- which is, in
part, no doubt true. But I would add that the intrusive
interjection of so many show business personalities into the
partisan national political conversation has exacerbated
public negative attitudes to Hollywood and Broadway. It’s a
free country, of course, and celebrities have a right to express
themselves, but when they do, they have to be willing to
accept public backlash to their often ignorant, ill-informed
and thoughtless views. Just as the electorate expresses itself
at the polls, filmgoers express themselves at the box office.
The just-held Emmy Award show not only had low ratings,
it was a profound embarrassment to the television industry.

Nature, the folly of men and women, history’s timeless
ability to surprise --- all these have already made this a notable
and probably memorable year. There have also been positive
events, too, including discoveries in technology and medicine,
advances in the character of life for many (as well as,
unfortunately, declines for others).

More than a quarter of the year remains. On balance, will it be
mirabilis or horribilis?

Next year promises to be no slouch either.

Life day-to-day is the greatest spectacle.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casslman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Bipartisan Shock Therapy

President Donald Trump has “shocked” many conservative
Republicans by negotiating with congressional Democrats
over some key legislation. From their reactions you might
think the Republican chief executive has abandoned his own
party after only eight months in office.

In reality, it’s the other way around.

To be fair, most Republicans in the U.S. house and senate are
supporting the administration’s agenda, but a sufficient
number of them are blocking passage of legislation promised
by their party and its candidates in the 2016 election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has tried to unify his GOP
members, but about 30 who also belong to the so-called
Freedom Caucus have prolonged the congressional stalemate
inherited from the Obama administration terms. Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been burdened by
archaic senate rules and procedures, and could not even pass
a modified Obamacare repeal bill. Tax reform in both houses
of Congress has also been reportedly blocked by dissension
in the GOP caucus. As if that were not enough, a few
“anti-Trump” incumbent GOP senators have been openly
attacking the president.

President Trump is not only an anti-establishment
“disrupter,” he, as a lifelong businessman, is not used to the
compulsive inaction of Congress. There are those who
sincerely disagree with his agenda for change (and that
includes most Democrats), but he was elected on several
policy promises to voters who expect him, his administration
and the Congress his party controls, to deliver on those

Speaker Ryan finally did pass an Obamacare repeal and
replacement bill, and has also passed other legislation that
has not yet been passed or, in many cases, not yet even been
brought up for debate in the senate. Majority Leader McConnell
has been reluctant to bypass old (and past their due date) rules.
His majority is very small, and when 2 or 3 GOP senators fail to
vote with him, he cannot pass legislation.

An arcane and thoroughly indefensible rule also permits a single
senator to block a federal judicial confirmation, as egregiously
illustrated in Minnesota where Trump appeals court nominee
David Stras is prevented from taking office because two liberal
Minnesota senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, refuse to
return a “blue slip.” Currently a highly respected state supreme
court justice, Mr. Stras has been openly supported by virtually
the entire legal profession in his home state, including most of
his liberal and Democratic colleagues. Mr. Franken opposes
Justice Stras on the grounds he is a principled conservative,
and not for any other stated reason. Senator Klobuchar has
soiled her previous bipartisan reputation by also withholding
her “blue slip” --- although so far without explanation.

The overriding constitutional tradition is that the president
who wins the election gets to appoint federal judges, subject to
a confirmation vote in the U.S. senate. The rule that permits a
single senator to block this can only be described as contrary
to constitutional intent.

President Trump is only one among many conservatives and
independents urging Mr. McConnell to abandon the “blue slip”
rule. So far he has not done so. So far, Justice Stras has not
even had a senate vote.

Faced with stalemate in Congress, and time running out in the
national mid-term elections next year. what can be done?

Apparently, “Dr.” Trump has decided to apply some shock
therapy to his own caucus in the Congress. Not a political
ideologue, and a inherent “deal maker,” he has opened
conversations with the opposition to see what legislation can
be passed. The national interest is pressing us for action, Mr.
Trump is saying, and if you in Congress don’t unify behind
your own leaders, the administration will deal with those who
will act.

All members of the U.S. house and one-third of the U.S.
senate are up for re-election next year. Mr. Trump does not
run again until 2020. Since beginning his conversations with 

Democrats, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers have jumped

Republican legislators are right to be concerned about
President Trump’s bipartisan moves, but they should not turn
their alarm on him. They should simply look in the mirror.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 11, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: George Orwell Returns

[This essay first appeared on the Intellectual Takeout
website --- (see link at right)]

There is something ghostly and ghastly about the
resurrection of British author George Orwell in
contemporary politics, especially in the reaction to
the disruption and transformation of public policy now
taking place.

Orwell was a mid-20th century journalist, essayist and
novelist who was an early anti-fascist of the far left until
the Spanish civil war of 1936-39 in which he fought on the
anti-Franco side. During that period, living side by side
with the defenders of the democratic Spanish republic,
many of whom were radical anarchists and Stalinist
communists, Orwell got to see the brutality of the far
left up close, and so his passionate anti-fascism was
augmented by growing anti-communist views as well.
During and after World War II, Orwell increasingly was
alarmed by totalitarian Marxism, and wrote two iconic
satiric novels depicting the consequences of  Stalinist
totalitarianism, 1984 and Animal Farm. Their themes of
dictatorship and imposed political conformity were
meant to expose Marxism in allegory, although the
international far Left attempted to defuse the satire by
trying to interpret 1984 in particular as a condemnation
merely of modern technology. It was, of course, nothing
of the sort, but by reversing the date of 1948 (when it was
written) to 1984, the author gave his novel a futuristic
flavor. In these books, Orwell introduced some terms
such as “doublespeak,” “Big Brother,” “newspeak,” and
“thought police” which have now become part of the
language we routinely use today.

Orwell wrote six fine novels and three acclaimed books of
non-fiction, but Animal Farm (1945) made him famous,
and 1984 (1948) established him as one of the iconic writers of
the century. His essays, criticism and letters are still
highly regarded. Unfortunately, he died at age of only 45
from tuberculosis in 1950.

My generation in the English-speaking world, and those
in subsequent generations, read his books as much-touted
classics until soon past their “due” date when the Soviet
Union and its Marxist system collapsed --- and many of us
believed that the dangers it prophesized were past.

It turns out that our optimistic relief was premature, and
while international totalitarian states, Marxist and
otherwise, continue to arise and fail, new forms of 1984
and Animal Farm have arisen domestically from within as
well as outside today’s democratic societies.

These new forms  have overtaken many, if not most, U.S.
college campuses where large numbers in the academic
faculties, particularly in the liberal arts departments, are
teaching and imposing neo-Marxist totalitarian ideas and
myths on a whole generation of college students. Hiding
behind the epithets of “racism,” “anti-feminism,” “economic
exploitation” and ‘imperialism,” these efforts are effectively
choking out genuine free speech, honest scholarship, and an
open discussion of ideas by employing the bullying tools of
"political correctness".

The essential technique these academic and radical forces
employ is, in fact, very much in the tradition of Orwell’s
1984 in which propaganda is insinuated and then imposed
as a pure opposite of what it objectively is --- the
doublespeak that “black” is “white,” “right” is “wrong”and
so on. In today’s doublespeak versions, those accusing others
of “racism” are often the real racists, those alleging
“anti-Semitism” are often the real anti-Semites, and those
asserting their free speech is being curtailed are usually the
ones who want block open discourse.

Orwell wrote many essays, reviews, and novels --- and was
justly popular among pre-World War II English-speaking
(as well as many non-English-speaking) liberal readers,
and then in the Cold War, among many conservative readers.
With both Nazi fascism and Soviet communism defeated,
however, George Orwell came increasingly to be regarded as
a writer of only a certain past, and because his literary
style had not been avant-garde, he was studied as primarily
a sociological figure. He did remain a democratic socialist
and an atheist (who observed Anglican rituals), but his
greatest passion was his opposition to totalitarianism in
any form and pretense, and his writing is always lucid.

Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, it is becoming
apparent that Orwellian literary reach is much greater than
perhaps originally thought by readers and critics. In fact, the
news headlines and TV images of almost every day in our
present time seem to confirm George Orwell as some kind of
uncanny prophet of human behavior --- and, long after his
passing, a palpable if invisible writer-in-residence of our own

Copyright (c) 2017 by Intellectual Takeout and Barry Casselman.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Early U.S. Senate Departures?

At least two U.S. sitting senators, one Democrat and one
Republican, might not be in office by the time the 2018
national mid-term elections take place, and at least two
incumbents, both Republicans, who intend to run for
re-election next year might not be on the 2018 ballot.

These are not big numbers. but because the GOP controls
the senate by only 52-48, and the majority caucus is now
divided on many issues, the political implications could be
very significant.

The Democrat among the two senators in the most
immediate danger is Robert Menendez of New Jersey
who has just gone on trial for an offense, if he is convicted,
that would force him to resign. Of course, he is innocent
until proven guilty, but the charges and evidence appear to
be very serious. Since the governor of New Jersey is
Republican Chris Christie, a conviction would lead to a
GOP appointee should Mr. Menendez have to leave office.
Technically, even if convicted, the senator could refuse to
resign until all his appeals were exhausted, but that would
be exceedingly unpopular in the Garden State since Mr.
Menendez would be occupied with his criminal case and
not likely able fully to fulfill his public duties during an

The Republican incumbent is Luther Strange of Alabama
who faces a run-off race shortly for his party’s nomination
in this year’s election. Mr. Strange was until recently the
state attorney general, but was appointed to the seat when
Jeff Sessions accepted the post of U.S. attorney general under
President Trump. The president has endorsed the incumbent,
but he trails the controversial former state chief justice, Roy
Moore, in the run-off. Mr. Moore is a strong supporter of  Mr.
Trump and a vocal critic of the Senate GOP leadership. If
Mr. Moore does win the run-off, as now expected, the
November race against the Democratic nominee might be
more competitive.

Although his colleagues on both sides of the aisle are hoping
Senator John McCain of Arizona has a quick and full recovery,
he has recently undergone surgery for a brain tumor that is
usually life threatening and fast-developing. Should his illness
force him to resign, the Republican Arizona governor would
appoint his successor. This replacement would also be a  
Republican, but almost certainly not the maverick Mr. McCain
has been, and this could then alter the chemistry of the GOP
senate caucus.

Several incumbent senators from both parties, although in good
health, are more than 80 years old, including Orrin Hatch (R) of
Utah, Diane Feinstein (D) of California, Charles Grassley (R) of
Iowa, Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama.
Thad Cochran (R) of Mississippi, James Imhofe (R) of Oklahoma,
as well as John McCain. (Almost a quarter of all senators are
more than 70 years old.)

GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has written a book highly
critical of his own party’s president, and faces a Pro-Trump
conservative challenger in next year’s senate primary His main
opponent, Kelli Ward, leads him by a wide margin in early
polls. GOP Senator Dean Heller of Nevada has opposed the
president and most in his own caucus on several key issues.
He trails his 2018 primary opponent Peter Tarkanian who
is a strong supporter of President Trump.

Should Pro-Trump challengers replace or defeat these GOP
incumbents in the next year. it won’t change the numerical
party margin in the senate, but it would likely change the
ideological tone in that body, giving the president, for
example, more support for his programs. It also could
significantly influence the choice of GOP challengers to
vulnerable Democrats (currently about ten members) next
year, and dramatically alter the policy character of the new
2019 senate, perhaps resulting in new senate leadership.

Both major national parties face internal ideological tensions
and pressures. The recent trend of the Democratic Party to
the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren-Maxine Waters populist
wing has upset more moderate liberals in the caucus and
the party --- and risks turning off potential support from
independent voters. On the Republican side, there is growing
tension between traditional conservatives and the new populist
conservative wing which provides the base of support for
President Trump.

In 2020, and even before, it will probably be necessary to scrap
the old political scorecards to tally up who is winning and

Copyrigtht (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 4, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Political Idiopaths

Many in the establishment punditocracy, both on the left and
right, seem intent on an idiopathic critique of the nation’s new
president and his administration, a quest they began before
his election on November 8 last, continued after his election
and before his inauguration, and now ad nauseum to the
present and seemingly beyond.

Unlike my criticism of media organizations’ bias in reporting
"news," I defend any pundit’s or opinion journalist’s right to
say what they please in interpreting that news. In fact, political
criticism is necessary. It’s one of the defining hallmarks of our
old and enduring republic. I not only defend the freedom of
political opinions that I agree with, but also of those I do not
agree with in whole or in part.

Like so much else in our representative democracy, political
criticism occurs in the marketplace of public opinion.
Politicians go to great lengths to measure that opinion, and
it has quite understandably a certain impact on what
politicians say and do. Public opinion, of course, is frequently
transitory. Like “conventional wisdom,” it often is the result
of emotional over- or under-reaction.

I opened this essay with the term “idiopathic critique.” The
adjective is borrowed from medicine which employs the term
to describe conditions which either appear suddenly or without
explanation. Mr. Trump and his political movement certainly
appeared visibly without much warning from the establishment
punditocracy. Some observers, however, did see it coming.,
although few saw Mr. Trump coming as the agent of that

Now there is a myriad of explanations of why and how
“Trumpism” appeared, but it is too soon to tell which of them
is most apt.

While political opinion of all kinds is both a right and to be
encouraged, it is also true that all political opinion will be
judged, especially for its accuracy and usefulness. All pundits
who offer commentary and predictions, be they on the left or
the right (or in the center), must meet tests of accuracy
in both the short term and the long term (a passing grade in
one might not pass in the other). The “wise”and “iconic”
pundits of the past can be quickly forgotten if their arguments
fail to explain or anticipate actual events.

The ablest diagnosticians of our national politics do not
mistake idiopathic conditions to be without understandable
cause. Like medical diagnosticians who look for the body’’s
signals and symptoms to determine cause and treatment, those
who try to explain the political and electoral must approach
the mystery of events, especially those which are unexpected,
with forensic care.

Otherwise, we only have media malpractice.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.