Monday, 10 December 2018
How Trump Succeeded
We can start with the Republican Party. With Lyin' Ted and Little Marco and Low Energy Jeb. Say what you will about the Donald, he really wasn't lying in these cases. He stepped into a party that was morally, ideologically and philosophically exhausted and everybody knew it. The same old Reagan era trickle down talking points. The same old neocon obsessions with middle east power projection. The same old evangelical grandstanding serving as a thin mask for untold corruption. It was dead as a national political force. Rightism was reduced to a protest vote against something or other that Obama did and a rag-tag of paleoconservative conspiracism. Not something relevant to most people.
Truth is, they were the ones who killed American democracy. Not Trump. They killed it with deregulation, with outsourcing, with Reaganomics and enabling the largest wealth and income gap in history. They killed it with pseudo libertarianism - a replacement or at least very serious nerfing of institutions of democratic oversight with a quasi religious faith that "free markets" can do anything and everything far better than human agency ever could. F**k, what a farce. How could anybody be so stupid? They killed it with the inauguration of an international economic order that enabled the super rich to dictate policy while holding the club of capital flight and investment strike over the polity's head. They killed it by abolishing the fairness doctrine and allowance of media conglomeration. They killed it through the manufacture of a state of perpetual national emergency and the passage of the Patriot Act.
Then the GOP establishment have the gall to display such shock and awe with the emergence of Trump and Bannon. What the hell did they think was going to happen? When you create a social order based on cut throat competition, don't be surprised if one such as Trump can actually make callousness into a sort of political asset.
As for Hillary and the democrats, they largely dug their own graves in their own ways. For all the crying we heard about Russia, about Wikileaks, about the Bernie Bro's, about deplorables, it was Hillary's own record that doomed her. That and a bad campaign. But it went back farther than that. As far back as Bill Clinton, the thinking was much more how to accommodate themselves to the order that Reagan brought in than to push back against that order, or at least the less savory aspects of it. While too many Trump supporters really did fit the profile of the basket of deplorables, a surprising number of people who rejected Hillary were rejecting her own hypocritical support for mid-east wars, for the Patriot act, for demonizing "super predators" and her husband's repeal of Glass-Steagall, among other things. Most of all, they rejected the democratic party's stab in the back of the one candidate in 2016 who really did understand what was wrong with the country and what was needed to fix it. And they continue to reject the jaw dropping sense of entitlement that many democrats and the so called "resistance" continue to display, acting as if they were simply entitled to the political support of the country as though it were their due.
The left, for its part, made its own Faustian bargains through all of this. Beginning in the colleges and universities, they acceded to the demands of the standpoint theorists in the women's studies and critical race theory departments for total and complete deference. As if possessing one or some "intersecting" combination of intersecting marginalized identities somehow made one morally and intellectually infallible. Especially since these people were not usually that marginalized, having had the privilege of attending elite colleges and all. Thus the most rank nonsense was given free reign so long as it was at the behest of some marginalized or oppressed group or anther. This was first normalized in certain branches of academia, then in areas where liberal/progressive dominance was the norm. So we end up with "progressives" who are perfectly willing to accede to the worst elements of neo-robber baron rule but get all up in arms over cultural appropriation and microaggressions. Imagine their surprise when they found the broader culture wasn't having any of this. Since then, the response has been a whole grab bag of defense mechanisms, projections and rationalizations so as to keep up the illusion of unimpeachable integrity of their particular ideological systems, regardless of how obviously flawed they are.
This is the milieu into which Trump emerged. The mistake is to see Trump as himself being the problem. We just get rid of orange Cheeto-man Hitler and then everything can go back to being all hunky-dory. It's a breathtakingly naive and self congratulatory way of seeing things but one I encounter frequently. Indeed the moral panic they're perpetually engineering over Trump simply adds fuel to the fire. There's an obvious thirst for a populism that cuts to the heart of the problem - that gets Wall Street, the military industrial complex, national security apparatus, academia and media back on a leash and working for the benefit of all again, but the Democrats are having none of it. Could it be because they too are bought and paid for?
Trump couldn't have succeeded in a polity that had not previously compromised itself in so many other ways.
To close, I cite present day France as perhaps a better example of what can be done in the face of establishment complacency and entitlement.
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