Will John Kasich Challenge Trump in 2020?

I was scrolling through some morning shows on Sunday and stopped when I saw a familiar face I had forgotten about. There was John Kasich live on CNN from the Munich Security Summit.

Election 2020 was still on my brain from a discussion I had earlier in the week about Mark Cuban. An idea crossed my mind. So I reached out to my left-leaning political expert in Phoenix to get his thoughts. We were in lockstep agreement. And then I turned to a right-leaning friend in Seattle. And he agreed with me as well.  Once is an occurrence, two times coincidence, three times a trend.

Here’s what we were thinking. John Kasich will run against Trump for the 2020 Republican Nomination. This is why it’ll happen and why he’ll win.

  1. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of in years when the sitting president seems vulnerable in the General Election. In 1976 Reagan ran against Ford in the Republican primaries. In 1980 Ted Kennedy ran against Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries. In 1992 Pat Buchanan challenged H.W. Bush. Each sitting President survived his primary but lost the election to a challenger from another party.
  2. It’s unlikely any GOP Senators and Representatives will challenge a sitting President of their own party. Running as an outsider is one thing. Dividing your own Congress – when you already have a majority – is not a smart political move. Kasich is a Governor. He has nothing to lose by challenging for the nomination.
  3. His liabilities in a 12 person race are minimized in a 2 person race. For all his strengths, charisma is not one of them. And while Cruz and Trump were trying to out-nasty each other, Kasich became an afterthought. He could not get enough attention in a wild and crazy circus. He was like the smart guy at a party where people were doing kegstands and jump off roofs into pools. No one notices the smart guy. But in a race against Trump, the narrative changes. It’s now Good vs Evil and he’s the super hero wearing the cape. He gets to own the “anti-Trump” side of the Republican Party just for being able to breathe. Then he has a puncher’s chance at going after Trump voters because…
  4. The people in the states where won Trump the Presidency will either be richer or poorer than when they voted before. If they’re poorer, they’ll switch in a heartbeat. They will have no allegiance if their situation is no better than it was previously.
  5. He can lob subtle grenades from the sideline. Again, while people like Cruz, McConnell and Ryan have to somewhat toe the line with support for the President, Kasich does not. He can spend the next three years setting up his policy attacks with a media that might like to have a friendlier person to work with.

Thoughts? Objections? Agreements? Email me.

Mark Cuban 2020?

Mark Cuban set about to troll President Trump, in what was surely the only newsworthy event from the NBA’s Celebrity All-Star game.

Source: USA Today

But wait a minute, does a Mark Cuban presidency make sense? Have the times changed so greatly, that this something we should consider? Let’s speculate a little for fun.

  1. He’s not beholden to a single ideology. Cuban has self-identified as a Republican. Living in Dallas, that makes perfect sense. But he also has called himself fiercely independent and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. So while so many want to force people into binary positions of Democrat or Republican, it’s fair to say that Cuban has pro-business values while also respecting the social causes and rights of all Americans. That’s a pretty good set of qualities for a leader of the free world.
  2. He identifies with everybody. He’s a Billionaire who really did scrap and claw from a middle class upbringing. He became a reasonably successful millionaire, then managed to see the future, leveraging some simple technology deals into a $6 billion payday for his company. He is the guy the middle class high school student can look to and say, “I can do that too.”
  3. He’d be able to assemble an incredible cabinet and set of advisors. Cuban runs in entrepreneurial circles, regularly engaging with the best and brightest minds around. But he’s also part of the business establishment, being part of venture capital groups and working with the key influencers in many industries. And most importantly, he seems to value the input and opinions of others to help him make his decisions. That’s someone who could recruit a top-notch team.

So, could he win?

Well, that would probably be up to the Democrats in power today. Will the DNC have the same pollsters and strategists who mishandled the Clinton campaign running their 2020 program? So for the sake of argument, let’s say the DNC didn’t get in the way of a populist Mark Cuban campaign in the primaries and just let it play out.

Primaries:

I don’t know enough to know who the leading Democratic challengers will be. I assume Elizabeth Warren will be a front runner. So let’s focus the conversation on Cuban vs Warren and a bunch of wild cards.

  1. Cuban has his own financial resources and doesn’t need to rely on donations from fringe groups. He can buy a talented team and build a ground game. I don’t know if Warren could raise the same amount of money.
  2. He’ll win Texas, and probably all the midwest and rust belt states that Obama and Trump won. That’s a good starting point.
  3. Can he take Warren in New York, California and Florida? I don’t know.
  4. I don’t think he has an issue with women voters. He seems to have mainstream appeal across all genders.

General Election:

  1. There will never be an election in which more Democrats come out to support whoever is running against Trump. So he’ll have that going for him.
  2. After 4 years of being beaten up by Trump, every media outlet in the world would be giving Cuban free air time.
  3. He can be a unicorn – a Democrat who wins Texas. Assuming Democrats also win New York and California, he’s almost halfway home at that point.
  4. Then he wins the middle of the country, the people who didn’t get what they were promised by the current President.

It’s a far out scenario, but reasonable at the same time. The question is if it’s a job he’d actually want.

How Much Should We Blame the News Media for Donald Trump?

There have been a lot of articles about how the media, needing a way to breathe life into this election 12 months ago, hooked itself up to the Trump Train and rode it through every area of chaos it went, cashing their checks whenever it came into the station to refuel. It really wasn’t until they realized that a Trump Presidency was becoming ACTUALLY POSSIBLE, that the media jumped off and then started blowing up the tracks ahead in hopes of derailing it.

But that’s not the question I’m asking now. What I’m curious about is how much we should blame the collective news media for dumbing-down the news so much over the last 10-20 years? Was it only a matter of time before someone like Trump was able to attract the hearts and the simplified minds of “Soundbite America?”

Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe it’s ours for only being able to absorb 8-10 minutes before needing a commercial break. Maybe we need to be mesmerized with four talking heads each bringing their best two to three minutes of content to a discussion. In this format, no one ever has time to discuss a “How.” It’s only about the “Why” and you usually have a full screen of people with polar opposite opinions fighting to get in the best dig.

But then, I could argue that IS the media’s fault for forcing that format down our eyeballs and earholes. What is the total cost of losing a few viewers to make sure that the people who keep watching get something more thorough than clever quips and cut downs?

I don’t know the answer to that. Broadcasters are owned by public companies so they need as much money as they can get to survive this new media economy that forced them to lose their near oligopoly status. Yes, it is much harder to compete in a bifurcated market than to be one of a handful of outlets covering news. So I understand the need to dumb down the news to make it appeal to more people. But I’m not sure I’m happy with the results.

American Politics are Dead, and I Blame Social Media

I hear the gasps now. “But Andy, your mortgage gets paid because of social media. How can ANYTHING be social media’s fault?”

In the beginning, we all promised that social would lead to the democratization of media. Finally, one person with a great point could be heard by the masses, without the media getting in the way and distorting the message. That was the goal, the dream, the vision.

But what do we have instead?

Everyone in my Facebook feed who posts something political, made their decision who to support months if not years ago. I have yet to see a single post where someone says, “Here is a really well thought out article that discusses two sides of a complex issue. Please read it so we can discuss as mature adults in a reasonable fashion.”

No, every political post is along the lines of, “Another example of how Trump sucks.” Or, “Here’s why Hillary is going to jail.” Or, “Look, GOP is imploding. LOL HAHAHA #DemsRule.”

And really, this is our fault. We took a channel that we could own, and turned it into a circus. People complain about how biased FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC are. But they need to look at their own Facebook and Twitter feeds. Individuals pander to their friends and followers worse than the media does. No Democrat reads an article about John Kasich and posts, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about this before. He seems to make sense.” No, everyone moves on to the next article in their Flipboard hoping the headline says something like, “Donald Trump declares he likes to eat puppies.”

Ari, Chris and I learned this in 2007 when we built MyElectionChoices.com (ironically we lost the url to some Chinese spam company). People were really happy when their results confirmed the beliefs they had entering into the survey. They were very displeased to learn that they had something in common with the opposite party. Sometimes I wish we could try that experiment again. But I bet we’d find the same results.

So instead of a place to learn, social media has become an echo chamber where like minded individuals like each other’s posts, which triggers the algorithm to deliver more of the same types of posts that the same people can like even more. Social media is now built to make sure you don’t see a differing opinion, especially one that requires reading and/or thought. We’ve built a channel where everyone who believes the same thing can put on blinders and believe everyone sees things the way they do.

And that is the exact opposite of what the democratization of media was supposed to be about.

Imagining Presidential Candidates as League Commissioners

I don’t know what made me think about this, but indulge me if you will. If you took the remaining Presidential candidates and put them in charge of the sports leagues, which ones would they run? Here’s my proposal.

1) MLS
Let’s start with the easiest one first. Major League Soccer is by definition a socialist endeavor. The league revenues are split, the labor force has few rights for negotiating wages, and all transactions must go through the league office. This is Bernie Sanders’ league, plain and simple.

2) NFL
The country’s most powerful league is going to need a member of the establishment to carry out its charter. Someone who knows everyone on Wall Street as well as the rest of the Billionaire owners. They must have political clout to wield or they’ll be a lame duck. But also, the NFL needs someone who can deflect controversy, pretend things that are happening aren’t actually happening, and show a strong willingness to tiptoe on the wrong side of the rules. I think the NFL goes to Hillary Clinton.

3) MLB
This league is much harder to determine a proper commissioner for. Its leader must have the clout to appease 30 billionaire owners, manage municipalities to get stadiums built, and negotiate billion dollar TV deals, all while presiding over a sport that is losing its appeal to much of America. In some ways, to some people, MLB has become somewhat a relic of days gone by. A memory of what once was, rather than what will be. And with that in mind, I hand the keys to Jeb Bush.

4) NBA
Another tough decision. We’re looking for someone who can see the international picture while not overlooking the inner cities. Someone who can manage across different cultures. But also someone who can simply step into the shoes of his mentor and merely continue to operate the machine rather than create a new one from scratch. I think this role is given to Marco Rubio.

5) NHL
Here we have a league that not enough people get excited about. It rarely registers on your sports mind, even though the few times you pay attention to it, you find it quite enjoyable. It is the epitome of being John Kasich.

6) NCAA
With this organization, we’re looking for a few key qualities. This leader must be fairly tone deaf to the cries from its labor force who want to be paid. The leader must embrace the idea of the 1% receiving all of the money, and have strong convictions about who should be let into the system. Plus this leader must be stubborn, resistant to the opinion of others, and able to hold true to their beliefs. I believe Ted Cruz is our answer here.

7) WWE
Come on, is this one really that hard? There’s only one Presidential candidate capable of running the circus that is Worldwide Wrestling. The one and only, Donald Trump.

Have I missed a league that needs a Presidential candidate as a commissioner? Let me know.

A Request to the Writers of The Daily Show

Dear Trevor Noah and the rest of The Daily Show writing team,

I have a request for this election season.

Every candidate is busy lining up endorsements from the people they thing will most energize voters. Candidates need endorsements from all the individual politicians, tastemakers and influencers, from President Obama to Jay Inslee to Ed Murray.

But here’s what I would find REALLY interesting. Not who the thought leaders are endorsing. But who the crackpots, weirdos and psychopaths want to see in office. I would learn way more about a candidate by knowing if they are being supported by the craziest of the crazy. After all, candidates can try to hand pick and choreograph the endorsements they get from positive figures. But they’re helpless to defend themselves against endorsements from the “wrong people.”

So Mr. Noah, this is where you come in.

You have the power, the prestige, the connections and the brains to pull together a list of some of the biggest wackos in America AND get them on camera and find out who they are endorsing. You all can dive in and find out why. And as Americans, in some cases we’ll have to reconcile the fact that we support the same candidate as someone we’d never invite over to dinner.

I think the rare combination of ratings winner and public service. Thanks for your consideration.

Your loyal viewer,

Andy

A Dumb Idea for Gun Control Compromise

If there’s one thing I know for sure about the gun control debate, it’s that none of the sides are absolutely right.In a country of 350 million people from hundreds of thousands of different cultural backgrounds, you aren’t going to find a solution that appeases everyone. Rather than discuss this point, I’ll direct you to this very well written piece on the complication of legislating gun control.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take baby steps in one direction or another to at least try to make things a little bit better. I have one such idea for making things just a little bit better.

For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to ignore assault weapons and even hunting rifles. We are going to simply address handguns.

Now, the argument FOR handguns is personal protection. Some people feel a God-given, or 2nd Amendment given, right to bear arms for the purpose of self-preservation. The problem is when people use that purchasing opportunity to go on the attack instead, sneaking into a school or restaurant and rattling off as many shots as they can before using the last one on themselves.

So if the true purpose of a handgun is PROTECTION, what can we do to make it a purely defensive weapon?

The answer, is to make it non-lethal.

A non-lethal handgun could cause immense amounts of pain. It could render an attacker helpless. It might even knock them out. Either way, it would be powerful enough that if you were attacked and got off a couple of shots that hit your assailant, even an MMA fighter would be down long enough that the police could be called, or at least for you to flee to safety.

We could make these guns available anywhere, no background check at all. Shooting someone would be the equivalent of hitting them with a baseball bat and we could treat it as such.

Now sure, you are still mostly defenseless against a group of trained and heavily armored assassins carrying AK-47’s into a French bistro. But you are less likely to get anything ore than a major headache if some guy goes nutso in a movie theater.

We need to get a few minuscule wins if we’re going to get any real compromises underway. Maybe this could be one.

A Theory About Donald Trump

Let’s pretend for a moment, that a man worth several billion dollars, who lords over a global real estate empire and produced a popular TV show for nearly a decade, ISN’T a complete moron. For the sake of argument, let’s also assume this mogul is not certifiably crazy.

With that as context, we have to ask, “Why is Donald Trump saying so many dumb and offensive things in a bid to run for President of the United States?”

Here’s one theory that is probably wrong but fun to think about.

We’re pretty sure the man has no real shot at winning. And we know for a fact that he loves loves loves loves being the center of attention. And he’s never cared what anyone thinks of him.

So suppose he’s creating a new benchmark for the rest of the Republican candidates to be measured against? Trump goes out and makes ridiculous, evil, mean and insulting comments, and both the RNC and group of candidates get to say, “Hey, Trump is way out of bounds. He should really stop saying those mean and insensitive things.”

For as long as I’ve been alive, the Democrats have been positioned as the sweet Uncle and Aunt who want to take care of you, while the Republicans have staked out the ground as your evil older brother trying to trick you out of your allowance.

So maybe the Trump train wreck is a purposeful campaign to change this perception. Republicans get to disagree with Trump and look more sympathetic to a key block of voters, without having to actually change any of policies or agree with Democrats. Trump gets to be on TV every day, and the rest of the Republicans build up positive perception by disagreeing with him. It’s basically a “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” political strategy.

One argument against this idea is that Trump is actually leading the field at 17%, implying the strategy is backfiring. But the other way to look at those stats is that in a crowded field of interchangeable and indiscernible candidates, 83% of people think Trump is to be avoided. In that case, the strategy is working.

Just a thought.

Saving Greece and Soccer at the Same Time

In case anyone wonders, this is a completely facetious comment. I don’t honestly believe this is a good idea… But in a make believe world, here’s how you could save Greece and International Soccer at the same time.

Qatar buys Greece.

Think about it. It’s win-win-win-win.

Win 1: Qatar gets the recognition it desires.
Qatar has a ton of money that it can’t spend. They want to change their image and have a larger presence in terms of global awareness. By buying Greece and renaming it “North Qatar,” they get all of the history that comes with it. Just like Gary Payton is somehow the leading scorer in Oklahoma City Thunder history, North Qatar would be where the Olympic games originated. Zeus and the rest of the Qatari gods lives on Mt. Olympus in North Qatar. And where would the world be without the contributions of famous Qataris such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle?

Win 2: Greece pays off its debt.
The banks want to get paid. The Greeks don’t want to pay anyone back. Qatar has dump trucks of cash sitting in gold plated garages. Let’s redistribute some of that cash and keep the country – and Europe – from collapsing.

Win 3: We don’t have to play soccer in 120 degree weather.
The 2022 World Cup can stay in Qatar – it’s just going to be played in North Qatar. (Except they’ll make Germany and the U.S. play their games in South Qatar out of spite.) Tourists will now want to attend the games. And Qatar can send all those poor abused migrant workers home.

Win 4: FIFA moves to North Qatar
Nothing significant in the world can happen without it benefitting Sepp Blatter in some way. This works for him. Qatar can revoke any extradition treaties it has with the U.S. and FIFA can build a 200,000 square fit office complex overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Could it happen? Of course not. Should it? Hmm….

Why I Think I Think Jess Spear is Wrong

No, the title isn’t a typo. I think I think this. I need to do more research, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

All over Wallingford, I see political lawn signs for candidate Jess Spear and her tagline of something like, “We Need Rent Control.” I did a little research on her web site to learn more. Other than finding out she’s a socialist who got arrested for protesting the transportation of oil from Seattle to other distribution centers via train, I didn’t see too much detail on her call for Rent Control.

So here’s a business perspective on why I think Rent Control is probably a really bad idea.

1) I don’t see anything in her proposal that says Property Taxes can never be raised again, or that any increase in the appreciation of property value won’t cause building owners to pay more in taxes. You see, if the property owners see an increase in their taxes, but can’t raise revenue, then they won’t have any way to stop themselves from losing money. Since real estate is a long term game, if you make the long term riskier without any chance of increased profit, there’s no incentive to get involved. You’d simply build somewhere else.

2) So, if people don’t have financial incentive to build apartments here, then they won’t. So that will cause a lack of supply. In normal economic theory, this lack of supply would create a rise in prices that normalizes everything. But since we’ll have frozen rents, we won’t be able to correct the curve. Thus, people with these scarce resources (apartments) won’t have incentive to ever give them up. They’ll now inhabit places that they shouldn’t be able to afford.

3) Meanwhile, companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc… who want to hire people who could afford these apartments, will now have a harder time bringing in out-of-staters since they won’t have anyplace to live.

4) Now we’ll have driven away the people who want to build new buildings AND the people who want to move here and take good paying jobs. Companies have obligations to shareholders, not cities. So it’s in their best interest to leave Seattle and move their offices to places where employees can actually live.

5) So this will mean we’ll have fewer good paying jobs, which means a less robust economy. As companies leave, the people who have the good paying jobs will leave with their companies to these new locations.

6) But here’s the bright side. With all the high paid employees leaving town, property values will fall. Demand and supply will come back into equilibrium. Rents will be much lower since the only people still around will be those making lower wages. (However, anyone who had a job supporting one of these companies, such as waiters, baristas, bartenders, janitors, security guards, parking attendants, delivery people or construction workers will have lost their jobs as well. So we’ll still need to figure out how they will be able to afford these new lower rents.) But the rent controls will seem kind of silly since those people with apartments to rent are fighting for the people who are still here.

Anyway, that’s what I think my MBA classes in economics and my exposure to the real world tell me. But maybe I’m missing something. If I am, let me know what it is. Otherwise, I’m curious why Ms. Spear is using this as her main Marketing message.