Last week Boulder, Colorado hosted the third Republican presidential primary debate. With eleven candidates participating in this debate, it would suggest the public are looking for something different, perhaps authenticity. This said and as John Cassidy of the New Yorker made clear this week,
“making tough policy choices and trying to be substantive doesn’t necessarily pay off”,
in conjuring that air of authenticity.
During the debate, all candidates, as is inherent in their nature as Republicans, promised lower taxes and higher growth. The Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz offers a flat tax plan of 10 percent on all US incomes, which according to the Tax Foundation, a think tank Ted himself loves to cite, is the most regressive plan yet put forward by any of the candidates. There was no mention from Ted of what specific mechanism he would offer to increase growth and fill his self-imposed budgetary gap. There is one reason for this, because as his beloved Tax Foundation points out, the top 1 percent under Ted’s plan will rake it in and admitting this is electoral suicide.
I refer back to the John Cassidy Quote; If Ted were to explain to the public that he was ‘substantive’ in terms of his policy, he would have to admit that he believed in the old idea of trickle-down economics. He would have to say, and I am sure he believes this, ‘You know what guys, the oligarchs, the bankers, the oil barons and the markets are who you should thank for you becoming wealthier, not poorer’. No American would buy that. And so, poor old Ted Cruz plays to the crowd. He says,
“the top one percent, the millionaires and billionaires the president loves to demagogue, one or two of whom are here with us tonight,”
are the ones doing well off the back of the poor. He receives rapturous applause but it is all hot air, and Ted knows it. They are probably there to support his campaign.
I use Ted Cruz to highlight a point, but every candidate in the race suffers from the same paradox. If the candidates detail their real plans, they risk undermining any strategy to appear authentic and for the people. Each candidate is trailing Donald Trump in the polls and by some margin.
Trump, a suggested racist whose various bouts of misogynistic communication seem to have caused him no ill favour, soars because the average American has such little faith in politics that he or she is drawn to someone that says what they believe, someone that is authentic; however off colour he is.
All eleven candidates standing in front of the CNBC cameras last week showed one thing, if nothing else. They are aware of the power of personality politics and that even if each of their policy platforms is contrary to the interests of the American working or middle classes, they must all sing and dance a ‘middle America’ friendly song, even if, secretly, their economics serves to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few.