USA Politics Sand Box

Be careful where you dig...

I received this communication this morning, it's worth a read IMHO

US Political Conflict: The Odds of Smart Bipartisan Leadership Are Rising

As you know, I am concerned about what is now happening in the context of the Big Cycle trends in 1) debt and the value of money, 2) internal conflict over wealth and values that is manifest in dysfunctional political conflict (particularly in the US), 3) external conflict over who will have what powers in the new world order (particularly as manifest in conflict between the US and China), 4) acts of nature (particularly climate change), and 5) new technologies (particularly AI). I believe that we are at a juncture and that 2024 will be a pivotal year when we will either work well together to deal with these changes in a smart way—or we will go over the brink into a terrible period.

Re: the external US-China conflict issue, two weeks ago, I was pleased to see a small but very significant stepping back from the brink of war by the United States and China. For reasons that I will explain below, I am also seeing movements in US politics that are giving me reason to believe that having smart, bipartisan leadership is an increasing possibility, though it is still the dark horse scenario.


The United States has become terribly split by big gaps in incomes, opportunities, and values that have led to political extremism that is reminiscent of the 1930-45 clashes between fascists and communists. This extremism has led to irreconcilable differences, dysfunctional government, and win-at-all-cost domestic power struggles that could lead to some sort of civil war. At the same time, the United States faces great challenges arising from 1) large and rapidly rising government debt that has led to the decreasing value of money (i.e., inflation), 2) great internal and political conflicts over how to deal with the large income, opportunity, and values gaps, 3) external conflicts over how the new world order should work, 4) costly and damaging climate changes, and 5) revolutionary changes in technologies that can either help or hurt us. All these challenges need to be well managed. For these reasons, I believe that next year's US elections will be the most important in our lifetimes because their results will lead to either a) dysfunctional fighting that will take us over the edge or b) smart bipartisan leadership that will manage these challenges capably.

The Future

As I see it: 

1) There is only one path to successful leadership in the United States and that is for there to be strong, smart, bipartisan leadership that works against the extremists to pull the country together and make major reforms to the system so that it works well for most Americans.  

2) If we don't get that, there is an uncomfortably high chance of some type of civil war with the extremists fighting and the moderates getting caught in the crossfire. 

3) If either Donald Trump or Joe Biden is elected, it will be bad for the country because it will not give us the smart, bipartisan leadership that we need as the majority of Americans don’t want either of them as president. It is also clear from the polling that a majority don't want extremism.  

4) The betting odds now strongly favor one of them being elected, though which of the two is anyone’s guess. In either case, I believe the election of either will sustain the extreme irreconcilable polarity that will lead to dysfunctional leadership and bad outcomes. 

However, it now appears to me that there is an emerging dark horse possibility that my “dream scenario” could come to pass. To be clear, for my dream scenario to come true, there would have to be smart, bipartisan leadership on both sides controlling their parties so that they operate in smart bipartisan ways. So, rather than rooting for any one candidate or any one side, I am rooting for smart bipartisanship on both sides.  

Here is why I think the odds of this are improving. For it to happen, a few elements have to come together:

The Republicans Replacing Trump with a Strong Candidate Who Can Work across Party Lines 

The senior Republicans who quietly pray that Trump won’t be the nominee and the candidates who are running against Trump have agreed that all the primary candidates except the leading one should drop out early — either after Iowa and New Hampshire or, maybe, after South Carolina — so that Super Tuesday and beyond will be a head-on fight. A lot of money is already being gathered to put behind the Trump alternative once he or she emerges. Then, the real primary race will begin.  

While, to be clear, I am not endorsing anyone, I believe that Nikki Haley is the most likely contender and I believe she fits the bill because she is very smart, very practical, has a great moral compass, and can work well across party lines. She also has a practical understanding of world affairs and domestic economic affairs gained by being the US ambassador to the UN and by creating economic development programs as governor of South Carolina. If she defeats Trump for the nomination, Goliath will have fallen, and everything will have changed.  

The Democrats Replacing Biden with a Strong Candidate Who Can Work across Party Lines

This is a rising, but still very unlikely possibility. It is a rising possibility because on the Democratic side there is a growing realization that Biden could easily lose against a non-Trump candidate like Nikki Haley (and, possibly, to Trump, as well) and that he is probably too old to be up to the challenges of another term. It’s also clear that the electorate would rather pick his successor than have Kamala Harris, whose favorability is worse than Biden’s, replace him. Also, his policies related to debt, inflation, and foreign affairs have created dissatisfaction. So, the conversations about replacing Biden, though not advanced, are now happening. It remains a long shot possibility because Biden doesn’t want to step down and it’s late in the game to make such a change, but this very longshot possibility is emerging. Because of that, there are already five contenders who are jockeying for position, one or two who would fit the bill of being reasonably smart, practical, and inclined to work well across party lines. Also, the Democrats have a smart, strong, and bipartisan House minority leader in Hakeem Jeffries who will almost certainly be on the other side of the Republican team in one way or another. For these reasons, the possibility of both Republicans and Democrats fielding smart teams that can work well across party lines and against the extremists doesn’t look so remote. 

The Emergence of Independent or Third-Party Candidates 

There will be independent or third-party candidates that will seek to attract and empower those in the middle. While it’s unlikely that any of them will get elected because of how politics and the electoral system work, they can gain great power by influencing the outcome by gathering a lot of voter support and using it to influence what will happen. For example, they can a) suggest to those who support them that they vote for the more bipartisan of the other candidates, b) support bipartisan candidates in house and senate races, and c) support the development of a voting block of bipartisan moderates in both houses of Congress. This is the perfect time for a political force that supports a strong middle to emerge.

So, in conclusion, while the odds are still in favor of a Trump-Biden rematch, I believe there is now a significant rising possibility that we will get the sort of smart bipartisan leadership that is needed and that most Americans want. I will be watching closely to see if and how my dream, dark horse possibility plays out, most importantly in the primaries. If it goes the way I hope, the new leadership will be able to deal smartly with the debt/money/economy problems and the productivity/income-gap economic problems by making reforms so that the system works well for most Americans. If, additionally, the US-China rivalry continues to go down the peaceful coexistence through competition path rather than the hot war path, then we won’t go over any of these three brinks and the world will be a better place.

I hope that you will join me in rooting for and, perhaps, even working for these dark horse scenarios.  

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