Circumstantial evidence shows the GOP --- and Donald Trump in particular--- gaining ground in the 2016 presidential campaign by finding an issue that resonates with voters' fears of the "other" since the Paris attacks nine days ago.
Newspapers fill with reports of the ghastly events themselves. Other atrocities occur in farther locales such as the attack on the upscale hotel in Mali. Once an inviting, friendly world, sort of, becomes as ominous and forbidding to Jane and John Whiteysphere as the world circa 9/11/01.
People now wish simply to stay home and perpetuate their fears by spreading paranoia across social media, that garish hell of our own making AKA 'the internets'.
The NSA reclaims the lead in the war to trample our civil rights in the police state which encircles us within techno fascist corporatism.
GOP candidates hit Barack Obama's policy of non-intervention in Syria and hit it hard. They've gained the perfect illustration to bolster their arguments. Hillary Clinton, as ever the calculating reactionary stakes out a position to the right of Obama safely within the confines of the neocon worldview.
Bernie Sanders, lacking a shred of foreign policy experience or any personal interest in same finds himself in a no-win position. The social democrat punted from poor field position, falling in behind Obama's progressive approach of welcoming refugees but allowing NATO, the UN and the Kurds to carry the water on the ground in Syria.
Significantly, the Bern ignored his best public opportunity to begin moulding a foreign policy identity for himself during the opening statements of the last debate. He could've taken with ease the moral high ground since assumed by Obama. Sanders gambles that he will continue to attract the voters he needs, IE those Democrats outside of his immediate white liberal circle who have resisted his message to date, by continuing to hammer on the economic and social policies that drive his campaign to astonishing levels of competitiveness in the early going.
Still, one must issue a caveat: the President of the US is also the commander in chief and the deliverer of diplomacy throughout the putatively free world. This role cannot be ignored or dismissed entirely in the campaign, even when the candidate offers a compelling socioeconomic vision for the country.
A recent spate polls (warning: national and general election polls at this stage are meaningless) offers a glimpse of the difficulty facing the Democratic contenders who will never pretend to match the levels of xenophobia offered up second nature by the GOP clown show. Alarmingly for liberals, the political issue created by ISIS doesn't favour the hawkish Hillary much less peace and love Bernie Sanders.
A significant percentage of independents (a group trending conservative in recent years when otherwise reasonable people can no longer identify as Republicans and retain any sense of dignity and self respect) respond to the so-called threat of ISIS with anger and desire to see this group eradicated (a rather normal human response, I might add). This bloc appears ripe to shift towards the GOP. To the extent terrorism remains atop the headlines this is not a positive development for the left. Yes, maybe these events are transitory and will fade in time, however one can surmise that ISIS timing and consistency of recent attacks owes at least in part to an awareness that they are having an impact on our politics of fear.
Obama created the effect of driving the fearful right to new levels of insanity beyond anything seen since the late Dollar Bill Clinton oral office era to the extent they've now completely abandoned their own party leadership (as well as reality) and are clearly in the market for an out and out fascist leader.
Donald Trump delivers all that and a bag of Mussolini chips. His popularity has only grown since Paris, especially as the other outsider Ben Carson has stumbled. Trump's anti-immigrant nonsense long the centerpiece of his appeal now has found a place in (paranoid) reality to hang its hat. Let's look at the RealClearPolitics trend line from before and after the attack on gay Paree.
On November 9, in a hypothetical match-up with GOP favorites, HRC clocked them all by an average of about 11 points.
By November 19, her lead shrank to 1-2 points, well within the margin of error. She's actually fallen behind Rubio, the so-called GOP foreign policy realist.
Furthermore, the country as a whole does not favour Obama's handling of Syria, whose policies remember are also Sanders' policies.
With terrorism fears near a post-9/11 high in a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, majorities of Americans back increased use of military force, including ground forces, against the Islamic State, and more than half oppose admitting Mideast refugees to the United States.
Seventy-three percent support increased U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State, or ISIS, and 60 percent back more ground forces, double the level of support for ground forces from summer 2014. One reason: Eighty-one percent see a major terrorist attack in the United States in the near future as likely, a level of anxiety that has been higher just once since 9/11.
Recall also the last time an outsider won the White House it was Jimmy Carter, whose re-election chances foundered almost entirely on his inability to look like a commander in chief when Iranians took American hostages and refused to release them until after the 1980 election.
There have been countless stories implicating a conspiracy between the GOP and the Mullahs, "arms for hostages" theory that gained credence after Reagan's administration was caught years later in the middle of the "Iran Contra" affair .
Is there an ISIS/Republican connection this time too?
Now, these and all polls must always be viewed with caution and today's mood may shift quickly in other directions in reaction to other events but terrorism at the forefront of the news cycle clearly plays into the bellicose hands of the conservatives who cannot win based on their tawdry domestic policies which have finally been rejected by a majority of the American people.
And the prime beneficiary of this turn of events appears to be the erstwhile Amerikkkan il duce, the Berlusconi wanna be, Donald Trump.
Now more than ever, leftier than thous need to put on our rhetorical battle gear and go forth to stop the American slide to fascism as the final nail in the coffin of the free world hammered home since 9/11 by the extreme radical islamist nut fringe who are loosing the battles but still winning the war.