Preposterous. They’re nothing alike. Sanders is an unorthodox Democrat who supports universal health care and trade protectionism but also tighter borders and stronger gun rights than most liberals do. Trump, on the other hand, is … wait a sec. Hmmm.
Where was I going with this again?
We’re in a weird place when Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are both competing to be the second choice of another guy’s base, but that’s the Trump blue-collar coalition for you. Someone should poll his supporters on a straight up “Sanders versus Cruz” hypothetical and see how they shake out. Most of the economic revanchists among them will go for Sanders, I’d bet, while most of the cultural revanchists will go to Cruz, but what the proportions are between those two is anyone’s guess. If you believe that immigration policy is the prime mover behind Trumpmania then Cruz should win in a walk: Although Sanders has flirted with tougher borders to boost wages for American workers, lately he’s tried to get right with the left by promising to legalize virtually all illegals via kingly decree. Cruz is much closer to Trump’s position on the border. What Cruz lacks is the personal charisma that animates Trump’s cult of personality. Sanders doesn’t have the strong man/national savior vibe that Trump is cultivating but he’s got his own thing going with big rallies, “feeling the Bern,” and so on. If you’re a working-class voter who feels empowered by becoming part of a discrete “movement,” Sanders is a more obvious fallback than Cruz.
Pay attention to what he says in the clip below about Trump having once claimed that wages are too high. Trump was outrageously outraged:
This morning he doubled down. Not only aren’t wages too high, they’re too damned low:
Minor problem: He has said, repeatedly, that wages are too high. If American industry’s going to stay competitive with foreign industry, labor costs (and taxes!) will need to be cut. Trump and his supporters will tell you that when he said wages are too high he meant the minimum wage, but I’ve never understood that logic. So Trump, the great blue-collar hope, thinks people who earn the least should take a pay cut while people who make more deserve a raise? If the goal is to make American labor cheaper in the interests of competition, why shouldn’t we all take a pay cut? I think the difference between Trump 1.0 and Trump 2.0 on wages is easily explained: At some point he realized that his base is overwhelmingly working-class and that grumbling about high wages makes him sound like Mitt Romney. Romney was the rich guy who was so tone-deaf to kitchen-table concerns that he aimed the 2012 GOP convention at entrepreneurs rather than wage-earners by making Obama’s “you didn’t build that!” idiocy a central theme. Trump’s supposed to be the rich guy who “gets it,” and step one in getting it is declaring that wages are too low. Problem solved. He’ll be forgiven for his earlier mistake, of course.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a taste of the economic genius that’s driving Berniemania from this past weekend. Anyone want to revisit freshman economics and explain to him why interest rates differ in these two cases?
You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 26, 2015