(Source: Andrew Harnik, AP via E & E News POLITICO)
This year is a presidential election year. While there will be other stressors during the election cycle, the collective stress factor of this past week was the identity of the two main parties’ final candidates. It started with the Iowa caucuses that were held on Monday, January 15th, and will finish with the New Hampshire primary that will be held today. The Democratic primaries haven’t started yet but they seem like, unless something unexpected happens, they will end up choosing President Biden to be the party’s candidate for a second term. On the Republican side, ex-President Trump won an overwhelming majority of the Iowa caucus participants (98 out of 99 Iowa counties, with one county lost by one vote to Nikki Haley). Governor DeSantis and Nikki Haley came in a distance second and third. The general agreement appears to be that if something even approaching that kind of victory takes place in New Hampshire, the election in 2024 between the two major parties’ candidates will be a repeat of the 2020 lineup (not necessarily with the same result). We have plenty of time and data to analyze the prospect of such an election. The focus of this analysis will be not on the candidates but on the voters (is it a no-no in democratic elections to blame the voters??). The only voters that took part in the Iowa caucus were registered Republicans; the one that will take place in New Hampshire will be a mix of Republicans and Independents. Voters in the two elections had/have the “benefit” of knowing well the candidate that they overwhelmingly chose in Iowa: ex-president Trump. All of us are familiar with his politics because, after his 2016 victory, he had the opportunity to put into effect what he preached. At the same time, both before and during his presidency, he accumulated a large number of criminal charges (most of them have yet to come to trial). Below is POLITICO’s summary of the details of these criminal cases, as of last June:
Tracking the Trump criminal cases
A definitive guide to the key players and legal risks in the four criminal probes of Donald Trump.
By POLITICO STAFF | 6/13/2023 4 AM EDT | Updated 12/6/2023 10:25 AM EST
For the first 234 years of the nation’s history, no American president or former president had ever been indicted. That changed this year. Over a five-month span, former President Donald Trump was charged in four criminal cases. In Washington, D.C., he faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In Georgia, he faces 13 felony counts for his election interference in that state. In New York, he faces 34 felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. And in Florida, he faces 40 felony counts for hoarding classified documents after he left office and impeding the government’s efforts to retrieve them.
This is POLITICO’s up-to-the-minute guide to the four Trump criminal cases.
Voters in Iowa were familiar with this background. They were directly asked why they voted for Trump:
About 7 in 10 Iowans who caucused for Trump on Monday night said they have known all along that they would support a man who has remade the Republican Party through his “Make America Great Again” political movement. Trump was carried to victory by the majority of caucusgoers who say they back it, a sign of his growing influence in a state that denied him a victory eight years ago.
About one-third of caucusgoers prioritized the economy. Of those who did, about half support Trump.
So, Trump’s dominance over the Republican party is based on his economic policy and MAGA. Trump’s economic policy is relatively easy to judge; after all, he had 4 years to implement it. As for MAGA, it’s a different story. His plans on the two issues haven’t changed in the three presidential elections that he has taken part in, except for his opportunity to implement his promises during his presidency.
Judgment of Trump’s economic policy is, obviously, a politically polarizing question. The voters in Iowa were all Republicans, so I was looking for the most academically credible right-wing comments on the issue. The Cato Institute seemed to be the right choice. Below, I include their grading of the policies that he implemented during his presidency, as well as their summary. For fuller detail, readers are invited to read the original article:
Fiscal Policy: C
Summing it all up.
These grades would prevent President Trump from graduating from Lincicome University (which has more rigorous standards than the SEC), but certainly require additional context. On the positive side, there’s little doubt that some things—fiscal and regulatory policy, in particular—would have been worse under a President Clinton. On the negative side, however, Clinton almost certainly would have been better on trade and immigration, while overall having a more consistent, predictable, and coherent approach to policymaking in general. This last point really can’t be undersold, given the extensive research (see, e.g., this brand new one) showing how policy uncertainty can undermine economic activity. And there, I think, is where the Trump administration has really failed: for the last four years, formal U.S. economic policy has all too often resulted from frantic, messy attempts by beleaguered government officials to “backfill” disconnected policy trenches dug by presidential tweets. That’s no way to run economic policy, and it shows.
In other words, the right-wing Cato Institute was pretty unimpressed.
The MAGA (Make America Great Again) promise is much more difficult to evaluate. In a sense, it is aspirational: choose an era from American history when America was “great” and repeat it. Well, I tried a Google Search for “MAGA.” For questions like this, Google Search now usually comes up with an AI summary. In this case, it ended with a blank. I went further, going directly to Google’s AI site. Below is our correspondence, with the my questions in bold and AI responses in italics:
“MAGA” can have several meanings, depending on the context:
- “Make America Great Again”: This is the original meaning of MAGA, used as a slogan and political movement popularized by Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. It broadly signifies a desire to restore the United States to a past state of perceived greatness, characterized by economic prosperity, strong national security, and traditional values. However, the specific interpretations and policy goals associated with MAGA vary widely among its supporters.
- The MAGA movement: This refers to the group of people who identify with and support the goals of the MAGA slogan. It typically encompasses individuals who hold conservative or right-wing political beliefs and favor Trump’s policies.
- A symbol: MAGA hats, flags, and other merchandise have become symbols of the movement and are often worn or displayed by supporters.
- A pejorative term: Some critics of the MAGA movement use the term pejoratively to associate it with certain negative connotations, such as racism, xenophobia, or populism.
To understand the meaning of MAGA in any specific context, consider:
- Who is using the term?
- What is the surrounding discussion or situation?
- What are the speaker’s likely beliefs and intentions?
It’s important to be aware of the different meanings and interpretations of MAGA to avoid misunderstandings and engage in productive conversations.
Would you like to know more about the specific aspects of MAGA, its history, or its impact on American politics?
During Mr. Trump presidency how did he do establishing MAGA?
Elections are a complex topic with fast-changing information. To make sure you have the latest and most accurate information, try Google Search.
I did. Google Search didn’t want to touch MAGA
It’s interesting that Google Search seemed hesitant to touch “MAGA.” It’s possible there are several reasons for this:
Sensitive and Politically Charged Term: “MAGA” is a highly charged term associated with former President Donald Trump and his political movement. Search engines want to avoid appearing biased or taking sides in political matters, so they may be cautious about displaying results that could be seen as inflammatory or controversial.
Potential for Spam and Misinformation: Unfortunately, “MAGA” has been associated with online spam and misinformation. Search engines prioritize providing accurate and reliable information, so they may filter out results that seem untrustworthy or promote false narratives.
Broad and Context-Dependent Meaning: “MAGA” can have different meanings depending on the context. It can refer to the specific campaign slogan, the broader political movement, or even just a general sentiment of wanting to improve the United States. This vagueness can make it difficult for search engines to provide relevant results without knowing the user’s intention.
To get a more comprehensive understanding of “MAGA,” you could try:
- Specifying your search query: Instead of just searching for “MAGA,” try adding keywords that clarify your intent. For example, you could search for “history of MAGA movement” or “MAGA economic policies.”
- Using alternative sources: Go beyond Google Search and explore other information sources like news websites, academic databases, or even documentaries.
- Seeking diverse perspectives: Look for information from a variety of sources representing different viewpoints on “MAGA.” This will help you form your own informed opinion.
Remember, critical thinking and evaluating information from various sources is crucial when dealing with any sensitive or controversial topic.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
In the next blog, I will stop analyzing American voters and continue analyzing global problems that need great leadership.