Many   prominent Republican party members have  made  vicious statements about how unfit -- even dangerous -- Trump would be if re-elected. Then they flip to say they will vote for him!    

         Case in point: Bill Barr, one of the Attorneys General during Trump's presidential term, resigned rather than support Trump's assertions that the 2020 election was stolen. In fact, he has testified under oath that before resigning he had told Trump that his assertion of voter fraud was "bullshit."  More recently, Barr has asserted that Trump is a "consummate narcissist," and that voting for Trump in 2024 is "like playing Russian Roulette;" that Trump would return chaos to the White House; it would be a "horror show." 

         Still, he claims he would vote for the "republican ticket" in 2024. Why? To avoid the "Progressive Agenda."   

The Reigning Flip-flop Champ: Chris Sununu

          But, high atop this year's flip/flop leaderboard  is New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu who chose to flip on national television when he appeared  on the ABC Sunday show This Week, with George Stephanopoulos.  Stephanopoulos summarized  a long list of  past statements that Sununu had made to describe Trump as  unfit for office:  he has been continually lying about the election;  he is incapable of a coherent thought once he looks  away from the teleprompter;  he took classified  government documents and would not return them when ordered to do so; he was convicted of business fraud in the State of New York; played a major role in calling for the insurrection of January 6th, 2021;  and refused to call   off that insurrection when lives of members of Congress were in danger and his own vice president was being threatened with hanging.

           Sununu agreed with Stephanopoulos that he had made this incredibly damning list of statements but nonetheless would vote for Trump.  What would motivate such a prominent individual to hold such contradictory positions?

 Personal Incentives to Flip

          In addition to a strong incentive to maintain opportunities within the party, as well as social connections with colleagues, at clubs, and at dinner-party circuits, there are monetary rewards to flip-flopping.  This is no accident; the plan to discourage strays and to welcome back those who repent is spelled out well in the Powell Memo of 1971, written by Virginia business attorney Lewis Powell (  (Powell was later appointed by President Nixon to the US Supreme Court.)   

         The Powell memo laid out a strategy to maintain the party loyalty of prominent republican office holders long after the end of their terms.  The plan includes a continuance of financial and prestigious rewards, including  paid positions on boards of corporations and think tanks, endowed positions on  university faculties and think tanks, lucrative speaking fees offered by conservative  speakers bureaus and book deals with conservative publishing companies, ghost-co-authored to reduce the burden of writing.  This array of awards awaits the flip-flopper; the alternative is oblivion back in the home district running the aluminum siding company.   The plan was to harness the interests of the donor class; the money they save through lower taxes and less regulation of businesses greatly outweighs the cost to them of financing the Powell plan.  

 How to explain to the public

         Of course, it is best not to state in public the personal rewards of  flipping; better to pretend it’s for the good of the nation!   Accordingly, this preference for the "Republican ticket" and against the "progressive agenda"  exploits the long-held common misconception that the economy performs better when a Republican, rather than a Democrat, holds the White House/administrative branch.  

            As if on cue, a new paper (April 2, 2024) is circulating by Josh Bivens, the chief economist at the Economic Policy Institute.  Bivens has undertaken the huge task of assembling government data on the economic performance, using standard categories of comparison, for each administration going back to 'Give'em Hell Harry.' 

         In the summary of the paper, Economic performance is stronger when Democrats hold the White House (, Bivens states: "The economy performs much better during Democratic presidential administrations than during Republican ones.  

 Since 1949, there has been a Democratic advantage in the average performance of key macroeconomic indicators measuring economic health, including: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth; Job growth; Unemployment rate; Growth in inflation-adjusted wages; Growth of market-based incomes per capita; Inflation; Interest rates. This Democratic advantage is across the board in all variables we measure but strongest in private-sector outcomes—notably, business investment, job growth, and the growth of market-based incomes."

         Bivens anticipates a complaint:   inclusion of data all the way back to Harry Truman's first elected term in 1949 would dilute the data from the purported dynamism of the Reagan Revolution. The Gospel according to Reaganomics is that those policies  produced economic performance superior to both prior Democratic and Republican administrations. Therefore, Bivens provides  a second pair of charts which differs from the first by omitting the years 1949 - 1980, i.e., omitting the data from Republicans Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, as well as Democrats Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter.  (See all four charts in the Appendix below.)

         The incredible result is that for both pairs of charts the economic performance in each category is superior for Democrats as compared to  Republicans.  Household income growth (adjusted for inflation) was faster on average during Democratic administrations, and the Democratic advantage shows up for every income decile.

         These results are not a trade-off where Democrats better serve certain income categories while the Republicans better serve others: Democrats perform better for all income deciles, even after taxes and transfers are accounted for. This applies even to the "one percenters," i.e., the top ten percent of the top decile.  Result:  The second pair of charts show no change in the overall result: in each of the categories income earners still do better when Democrats hold the White House.   














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