Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Trump Ruminations

Frank Moraes has a good post up about the direction that progressives might take in light of the minority rejection of "liberalism" last Tuesday and, specifically, the problem that is being widely discussed about how - outside of the open racism, xenophobia, and misogyny what are, let's not kid ourselves, a big part of Il Douche's appeal to a basketful of deplorable white people - to fire up the Democratic base.

His first point, on the Electoral College, is indisputable. The damn thing is nothing but a ridiculous vestige of the slavery era. But, since it was designed specifically to over-represent the slaveowning South (and, thus, white landowners in particular) but has morphed into overrepresenting rural whites, for the Republicans that’s a feature for them not a bug.

Frank seems to think that they'd be good with 86ing it. I'm not so sure. For all that they make mouth-noises about how much they haaaaaate it it’s worth noting that it’s 40% failure rate was a felix culpa for the Party of Personal Responsibility. If the GOP was being honest I think they’d admit that they don’t reeeeally want to chance relying on the popular vote in presidential elections...


Here’s the thing on the “Democratic base”, and the same problem I have with all the morning-after analyses that blame the Democratic Party for not being more responsive to the “economic anxiety” of the white working class.

If the Democratic Party doesn't want to become the straightforward "non-white party" there has to be some appeal for non-racist, non-xenophobic (basically, "non-asshole") whites. One problematic element for Clinton was her close ties to things like globalization and "free trade" agreements lile the TPP and NAFTA. The single strongest arguments that Bernie Sanders' supporters are using for this loss is that Clinton did nothing, or even attempt, to deploy Bernie's populist, anti-globalization/offshoring, anti-inequality platform.

The idea is that if the Democrats provide ideas to help with "economic anxiety" that they could have peeled off the non-asshole white voters from Drumpf.

The problem of non-intellectual/semiskilled living-wage jobs isn’t going away. The “problem” isn’t so much that those jobs are being stolen by Mexican rapists (tho the willingness of undocumented immigrants from the southern tier of the Americas to take piss-poor-nonliving-wage-jobs DOES have a lot to do, IMO, with the continuation of those jobs as piss-poor-nonliving-wage-jobs) but that
1) barring tariff protections, restrictive trade legislation, and a massive forceful reduction in capital mobility those jobs are going, or gone, and won’t be coming back, and
2) many of those that ARE here are being rapidly automated.

A Democratic party that stood for an end to that would have real problems. The press, neither knowning nor caring to know the technological and fiscal issues, would hammer it as the Party of Luddites and the Party of Protectionism. The People of Wal-Mart would shriek like gelded hogs as the price of cheap plastic crap soared. Manufacturers would whine and squeal about being forced to employ buggy-whip manufacturers...

Don’t get me wrong; I think that the Democratic Party needs to think hard, and come up with SOME kind of better solution to issues like global trade, trade agreements, deindustrialization and offshoring than they have.

But I think the problem is that, very much like climate change, this is an insanely tough challenge, a very, very complex issue and one that would require a massively complex, interlocking system of legal, economic, social, and political changes to solve...if, indeed, it IS solveable.

And you also have to factor in that our political system is ridiculously poorly designed to solve problems like that. Our public is ridiculously poorly prepared to inform itself, think through, and vote intelligently on problems like that. Climate change is, IMO, the canary in that coal mine and We the People have done horrendously on that issue.

So...while I agree that the Democrats need to do “something” about this whole “economic anxiety” problem I’m not sure that they can arrive at a solution that will carve off enough of the white nationalists who want to hear Trump tell them that he’s gonna build that big, beautiful wall and bring all those jobs back in a shopping cart also filled with rainbows and cuddly puppies.


This goes for Bernie and the "Revolution" movement, too, by the way. I think his message on trade agreements and economic inequality was and is a good one. I think the Democratic Party needs to embrace it, and become more openly...perhaps not "counter-globalization" but more intelligent on globalization. Right now the DLC/Clintonist message is "Globalization! It's What's For Dinner!". That's fine for the sort of Democrat that books a suite at Davos, but the rest of us? We're not getting much out of that, and the lack of enthusiasm showed bigger than hell this past Tuesday.

But. Even if Bernie closed the trade loopholes, kiboshed the TPP and NAFTA, and got a top tax bracket back in the 90's...the problems of deindustrialization and automation wouldn't go away, and I'm not sure whether Bernie and the Sanders Movement has thought about what happens the day after the TPP is burned down to ash, either.

I'm saying that I think the the Democratic Party needs to move Bernie-wards on trade and globalization. I'm ALSO saying that I'm not sure that solves the problems that make this issue such a perfect one for a demagogue like Trump.


Ael said...

Well there are some easy steps the Democrats can take (but they won't).

The fundamental problem is that the Democrats are awash in billionaire's money.

If the democratic party is ever to reclaim the working class, they need to hang out with shop stewards rather than the economic elite.

Of course, it is *easy* to fund a campaign with rich men's money. Alas, since the rich men are rightfully despised by the working class, it also poisons your ability to make believable promises to working folk.

The Donald got about the same number of votes as Romney n 2012. However HRC got 6 million less votes that Obama in 2012. She lost because she could not convince her "base" to get off their asses and vote. I guess they were not her base after all.

So, the recipe for success is stop taking rich man's money and to actually spend time with the people from whom you want their votes.

Leon said...

The problem (as I understand it) is that the middle class as we knew is dead and will never return. Its appearance was due to the US being physically unaffected by WWII while Europe and Asia were rebuilding themselves from the wreckage. This gave American industry an enormous advantage and the jobs and income to create that middle class.

But now the rest of the world has rebuilt and has caught up. American workers simply cannot be competitive on a one-to-one basis against someone in the developing world. That time has come and I don't think America is ready to accept that. Who would want to accept that the vast majority of them are going to be stuck again in the lower class with little chance of climbing the social ladder?

Don Franscisco said...

Agree on the observation about climate change chief. If people can't get their head around that, what hope have they in tackling the effects of globalisation?

You've experienced almost exactly the same thing in the US as we did in the UK this July. Populist xenephobia fueled by right wing media promising "take back control". Polls were miles out, outrage about racist messages during campaign didn't stop people voting for it etc...

All the promises made by the Brexit camp in the campaign have been rolled back on within days of winning, and the govt still don't know what they are doing. Because Brexit was writing cheques it couldn't cash.

Consequently, I'd question how much of what Trump said in the campaign was trash talk, and how much he really intends to do/can do.

Ael said...

Let us play a game. Assume that the Donald doesn't want to be merely the President, rather he wants to be "The Greatest President". Not simply a "Great President" he wants to be "The Greatest President".

The question becomes: "How does he do it?". Build a huuge pyramid? Been done. A wall? The Chinese did that. Conquer the world? Genghis Khan did that years ago, besides, too much chance for something to go wrong. Transcontinental Highway System? Done but rotting in front of our eyes. Fix up the transcontinental highway system? Ok, sure, but too little to be "Greatest".

What does he do to become "Greatest"?

FDChief said...

"The question becomes: "How does he do it?"

The thing to remember about Il Douche is that he doesn't really care about being "The Greatest President" per se. He wants to be the "Greatest President" to his fans.

We saw this in his late-stage campaigning, when he stopped even trying to GOTV in the battleground states and, instead, stuck to his Nuremburg Rallies where his Trumpeters could bay their adoration for The Leader.

He doesn't care about people like me. If he can win the everlasting love of the wingnuts and racists that'll be enough for him.

So...his "legacy" will be tearing out as much of the New Deal and the environmental and social legislation of the past 65 years as he can. Privatize Social Security. Voucherize Medicare. Repeal the ACA and "replace" it with "don't get sick, hobo, and if you do die quickly". (Oh, and he'll do the thing that the GOP has had a hard-on for years; gut all state insurance regulations so the insurance companies can sell across state lines, i.e. do for medical insurance what the credit card business has done for credit cards...)

Deregulate anything and everything in sight. Casino night on Wall Street. Neuter the EPA and return the pollution standards to, if not actual Love Canal levels, at least lax enough to allow for a fairly significant deterioration of water and air quality.

Religious freedom! Your basic theocrat is gonna have a field day dissing everything from homos to Muslims to (who the hell knows) interracial couples...

I have no doubt that his Supreme Court will get a wingnut nuttier than Scalia, and almost immediately get a case ginned up to repeal Lawrence and Obergefell and those will fall. Roe is toast. MY question (tho I hate even to think about it) is whether the Christopaths will go after Griswold, the original "right to privacy" decision. That falls and we'll be back to a legal climate none of us has seen, that the country hasn't seen since the Kennedy administration...

What's frustrating to me is that 1) Trump himself has little or no interest in this. He just wants to sit in the big office and give that mean Obama negro the finger for being sooooo mean to him, and 2) the people who fucking VOTED for Drumpf don't "get" that this is what they're gonna get. Don't get me wrong. When it begins they're gonna love it. But, I think, when the Gilded Age shit begins to really bite...

It's gonna depend on the degree to which the GOP can do what they want to do. But, right now, there's no real legal or structural impediment to them doing all of it. The trong will do what they can and we, the weak, will suffer what we must.

Anonymous said...

I think your hate of Trump is blinding your intellect. Electing Trump wasn't an endorsement of the all the hateful things you spew out, but rather a rejection of the status quo. HRC was simply a bad candidate representing a failed agenda. Open your eyes, the country has been turning red for years. Democrats have been losing elections at the state level and in Congress for years. Are all those losses due to all the "hate"-ism's you crow about? I don't thing so.

FDChief said...

"A rejection of the status quo"?


A "rejection of the status quo" would have been Sanders, and I hammered on that relentlessly in this post, which you seem to have missed somehow. Bernie offered real populism for all Trump's (fake) populism - which, as hopefully you've seen and understood now that he's bringing in all sorts of plutocrats and GOP wreckers to destroy the New Deal and return the nation to the Gilded Age - with less racism and stupidity. This was just a triumph of the will of a bunch of cranky bastards who were tired of the eggheads telling them that being cranky bastards wasn't going to bring back 1953.

And you'll note that "the country" hasn't been turning red. Places where cranky (white) bastards live, the goober ghettos of West Buttfuckistan, Arkansas...yeah, their baskets are full of the goddamn deplorables whining about welfare and gun-grabbing while sucking Medicare through their oxygen tubes and getting a buck-fifty from the feds for every federal tax buck they caught up. The red parts of the country are, you notice, the ones where the fucking cows outnumber (and, typically, out-think) the people. If not for gerrymandering and idiocracy even the cows would have voted against the friggin' oligarchy your red boys wank for.

"The country" rejected your tangerine-hued shitgibbon by three fucking million votes.

"Turning red?" As you so eloquently put it, "I don't thing so".

Think. But you deplorables aren't familiar with the word, so I'm not surprised you didn't get it correct.