Q&A: ‘Hardcore History’s’ Dan Carlin on the 2016 election

IMGP1981-768x1024Dan Carlin – unquestionably Eugene’s most prolific podcaster – is the host of Hardcore History, a contemplative analysis of events throughout world history, and Common Sense, which has Carlin waxing on U.S. politics. Both are in the top 10 most-downloaded podcasts in their respective genres on iTunes.

In last Friday’s episode of the Common Sense podcast, Dan Carlin, articulate and judicious, comments on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the customer letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook. This show is the only non-NPR program of the 10 most-downloaded current events podcasts on iTunes right now.

Carlin will visit the Knight Library’s browsing room this Wednesday, March 2 at 3:30 p.m. to host Uncommon Sense: Thoughts on the 2016 Election. He spoke with the Emerald earlier this week.

Emerald: What do you have planned for this Wednesday?

Dan Carlin: It’ll be about the 2016 election and some of its unique elements. I have a unique way of looking at things; I’m not really a left or a right wing guy. I call it a Martian perspective because it doesn’t come with any hot-button overtones. I’d like to find out what’s interesting to people. I assume it’s a mostly college-aged group, and I can’t say I’m totally in tuned with what they’d like to hear and what level of conversation they’re up for.

What’s the most troubling element of this campaign from a Martian point of view? The kind of candidates we have. I know that the college crowd is really excited about Bernie Sanders, and I like outsider candidates myself, but I can imagine much, much, much stronger outside candidates than Sanders. I think you take what you get in a political system. We’re lucky to have any outside candidates at all.

Is the Trump nomination inevitable? No. I think it’s likely, but weird stuff happens all the time. There’s still more time than people think for weird stuff to happen.

Does the Republican National Committee really want him? I don’t think anybody thinks they do. The most interesting part of that whole thing is that seemingly they hate Ted Cruz so much they’d rather have Trump.

It seems that almost all of his policies are stuff he’s thinking about in that moment. I, along with everybody else out there, thought he’d put his foot in his mouth and be gone by now because of something he’d said. He didn’t disappoint any of us. And he’s put his foot in his mouth several times since I said that. He said all Mexicans are rapists; the establishment thinks that’ll sink his campaign, and his campaign numbers go up. What does that say about his supporters?

And Hillary’s platform includes a bullet point on “revitalizing the coal communities.” When you talk about an establishment candidate like Hillary, you’re talking about people who make a lot of promises to important districts all across the country – promises that often conflict with one another. Like the candidate who says they’re going to do something about climate change, but stands with the coal towns of West Virginia. That’s just how the game is played. If Hillary Clinton wins, just be prepared for the scandals. Not just ones that are warranted, but one Benghazi after another Travelgate. If Trump wins, I don’t even know what’s going to happen. I have many years of looking at this political system and I can’t possibly tell you what it’s going to be like.

What about Bernie? Bernie’s not going to get it, dude. I’m sorry.

Do you think his campaign is too ahead of its time? It’s two words: democratic socialism. I don’t want to say anything to kill his idealism, but the best thing Bernie has going for him is that Clinton is Nixonian in her turn-off factor. Nixon’s qualifications looked awesome on paper; he just rubbed people the wrong way. Hillary’s got that. Her dis-favorability ratings are huge. The only reason Trump stands a chance is because Hillary has that Nixon thing working against her.

Anything else you’d like to add? I’m an old reporter myself. I don’t want you to make it look like I dislike any of these candidates. For me, it’s just a general disappointment with the crop. I just think the two parties are killing us; they have a stranglehold on this system. They’re able to avoid getting better by telling us: ‘What are you going to do, vote for the other party? You’re not going to let that happen.’ It’s not a monopoly. It’s a duopoly. George Carlin had a great line: “One more party than Soviet Russia.”

This story was originally published for The Daily Emerald on February 29, 2016 at http://www.dailyemerald.com/2016/02/29/qa-dan-carlin-on-the-2016-election/

More stories I’ve written for the Emerald can be found here.


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