Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Elites in Both Parties Created Trump's Triumph

Here are three articles from Salon.com that make interesting observations:

We can’t vote for either one: On world stage, Clinton and Trump present different, but serious, dangers
It is pathetically impossible to determine which one would be worse, the only metric we have left. It's OK to pass
[...] The best that can be said of this political season is that the fixed framework of American politics appears to be fracturing. This will be a fine thing if it proves to be so, and I view this development as especially important in its medium-term potential on the foreign policy side. The question is whether things will truly fall apart, or at least begin to do so. Two policies hang in the balance above all others—the relationship with Israel and our fomented confrontation with Russia—and I will return to them.

For now we must accept that the process of coming apart, while desirable, could never be other than messy. And neither could we rightly expect to define its form. Political irruptions of the kind we witness are almost always uncontrollable during certain stages. Nobody knows where the water will go when the river overflows its banks. In this case, we have an egregious candidate who stands outside the political superstructure, apparently prompting paroxysms within the policy cliques and what we call the deep state, and an egregious candidate whose priority in all spheres is to reinforce both. I leave readers to assess the implications here as they might, but there is no denying it is a hard call.

[...]

Clinton, we have to conclude without qualification, holds out zero promise of an altered direction in American foreign policy. So far as I can make out, she has never once in her decades of public service evinced any modicum of imagination or original thought on a foreign policy question. This applies to means as well as ends. Clinton is shoulder-to-shoulder with Defense Secretary Carter on every question wherein their views have intersected and aired: NATO’s eastward thrust, the power transformation in the western Pacific, Syria, Iraq, the Middle East altogether. She could comfortably reappoint Carter as President Obama reappointed the hawkish Robert M. Gates (to the astonishment and dismay of many). There has been talk she could name Vicky Nuland secretary of state—more feminist progress, we would be advised in such an eventuality.

Clinton famously declared a “reset” in Russian relations during her early years as Obama’s secretary of state—amateurishly sending Sergei Lavrov some cutie-pie button so marked. (The Russian foreign minister must have looked at the ceiling half in despair.) We understood—or the Russians did, anyway—what this meant quickly enough: Let’s get back to the Yeltsin-era subservience. Vladimir Putin’s sin lies solely in his refusal; the rest is Washington’s expertise in crowd control—we being the crowd—and the Pentagon’s desire to keep defense contractors in double-digit profits.

[...]

My starting point with Trump is his position on American exceptionalism. It is implicit but discernible. He plainly considers America the greatest of great nations, fine, but he runs on the premise that it is great no longer. As the TomDispatch web site pointed out Thursday, “The Donald is the first American presidential candidate to openly campaign on a platform of American decline, while Hillary is still stuck in a world of too-many-superlatives for the waning American century.”

[...]

Here he is last Wednesday on the O’Reilly Factor, the Fox News program, when asked about the Pentagon’s recent allegations that Russian jets flew imprudently close to American ships in the Baltic. I would have said American ships sail imprudently close to Russian waters, but never mind:

“If it were me, I will tell you, I would call him [Putin] and say, ‘Don’t do it. Just stop it. Don’t do it.’ … Let’s go. Come on. We’re going to have a good relationship. Don’t do it.’”

“Don’t do it,” as an Irish journalist named Danielle Ryan has since pointed out, “is not some revolutionary position on Russia.” Of course not, and one would never select The Don to quarterback any genuine reset in Washington’s relations with Moscow. But it is impossible, simply impossible, to ignore the core thoughts: Trump takes us back to the pre-Bush II era, that time long ago when American presidents and State Department secretaries did not refuse contact with adversaries or those with alternative views. Trump would talk, not bomb, shell, sanction or subvert. He is not phobic with regard to the Russians. He does not demonize others with other perspectives. This is a positive value out of anyone’s mouth. Excellent he has introduced it into the conversation.

[...]

Hillary Clinton derives from a tradition from which American policy must break. Donald Trump by definition derives from no tradition. One cannot vote for the former, but it does not follow one therefore votes for the latter. Sanders supporters and various stripes of Hillary-haters who now contemplate voting for Trump—and one hears of many—should take note. Too many problems attaching to Trump.

To call Trump’s foreign policy thinking inchoate is too indulgent, given it implies he is doing his thinking and is not yet finished. I do not see that he has or is. In my read he still draws from the raw instinct that has propelled him in business, wherever that may be. He is a seat-of-the-pants man as yet. So we do not truly know what he would do in any given case.

He does not grasp the reality of complexity, let’s say. As noted in a previous column, there is some likelihood that the policy cliques will shove him into a crash course on the orthodoxy and the deep state’s protocol now that he is unambiguously the Republican candidate. But we do not know this yet, either.

We do not know much, in short. I confess to liking Trump’s capacity to connect with undercurrents in American society and culture that the elites of both parties have ignored with impunity for decades now. Deprivation and abuse among muddled-thinking people—political, social, economic—is no different from deprivation and abuse among the clear-minded. But this is not the same as elevating ignorance, xenophobia and “America First” nationalism to a position requiring respect.

All this puts him well beyond the pale. No vote for Trump, then.[...]
So don't vote at all? Usually I say, vote for the one who would do the least damage. Is it impossible to tell? Difficult, I concede, but I'm not entirely convinced that not voting is the answer. Though living on the West coast as I do, I have to say that I have lost any confidence that my vote has counted in any presidential election ever. Before the polls even close in the West, the Media is on the air announcing the winner. People East of the Mississippi pick the president, the rest of us... not so much.

I believe Governor's make better Presidential candidates, because they have held elected office and you can see how they chose to govern. But where are they in this election cycle? Gone. Which leaves us with:

Our awful elites gutted America. Now they dare ring alarms about Trump, Sanders — and cast themselves as saviors
Both parties ignored workers, spewed hate, enriched themselves, hollowed out democracy. Now the problem's populism?
[...] Elites on both sides insisted on not addressing the root causes of economic dissatisfaction, hence the long-foreseen rise of Trump. Paul Krugman, a Hillary acolyte, is nothing more than a neoliberal, whose prescriptions always stay strictly within orthodox parameters. Yet he was construed as some sort of a liberal lion during the Bush and Obama years. Not for him any of Bernie’s “radical” measures to ensure economic justice and fairness. Oh no, we have to stay within the orthodoxies of the economics profession. Now he’s all offended about Trump!

The worst offenders of all are the American left’s cultural warriors, who daily wage some new battle over some imagined cultural offense, which has nothing to do with the lives of normal people but only the highly tuned sensibilities of those in the academic, publishing, and media ecospheres.

The Hillary supporters have the authoritarian mentality of small property owners. They are the mirror image of the “realist” Trump supporters, the difference being that the Trump supporters fall below the median income level, and are distressed and insecure, while the Hillary supporters stand above the median income level, and are prosperous but still insecure.

To manipulate them, the Democratic and Republican elites have both played a double game for forty years and have gotten away with it. They have incrementally yet quite comprehensively seized all economic and political power for themselves. They have perverted free media and even such basics of the democratic process as voting and accountability in elections. Elites on both sides have collaborated to engineer a revolution of economic decline for the working person, until the situation has reached unbearable proportions. The stock market may be doing well, and unemployment may theoretically be low, but people can’t afford housing and food, they can’t pay back student loans and other debts, their lives, wherever they live in this transformed country, are full of such misery that there is not a single word that an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush says that makes sense to them.

This time, I truly believe, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them. When they did have a difference to choose from—i.e., the clear progressive choice, Bernie over Hillary, who consistently demonstrates beating Trump by double the margins Hillary does—the elites went for Hillary, even though she poses the greater risk of inaugurating Trump as president. And now you want us to listen to your panic alarms?

The game, for the elites, is over. This is true no matter what happens with the Sanders campaign. The Republican party as we have known it since the Reagan consensus (dating back to 1976) is over. The Democratic party doesn’t know it yet, but Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism (and what followed in his wake with complicity with Bush junior, and the continuation of Bush junior’s imperialist policies with Barack Obama) is also over, or well on its way to being over. The elites are in a cataclysmic state of panic, they don’t know whether to look right or left, they have no idea what to do with Trump, they don’t know what to do with the Bernie diehards, they have no idea how to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

[...]

The election of Trump would end the Republican party as we know it, but more refreshingly it would also end the Democratic party as we know it. The limits of the academic left’s distracting cultural discourse in keeping economic dissatisfaction in check would be fully exposed. Trump threatens the stability of the fearmongering discourse of Sullivan and his like. The threat to their monopoly of discourse is the real reason for the panic.

Oh, and Hillary, good luck fighting Trump with your poll-tested reactions. Your calculated “offenses” against his offensiveness against women or minorities or Muslims are going to be as successful as the sixteen Republicans who’ve already tried it. You won’t be able to take on Trump because you do not speak the truth, you speak only elite mumbo-jumbo. Trump doesn’t speak the truth either, but he’s responding to something in the air that has an element of truth, and you don’t even go that far, you speak to a state of affairs—a meritocratic, democratic, pluralist America—that doesn’t even exist. [...]
The election of Trump ending BOTH parties as we know them? In a way that does sound good... but what would they be replaced with? A Viking Raider, perhaps? Read on:

It’s not about sexism: Camille Paglia on Trump, Hillary’s “restless bitterness” and the end of the elites
We don't know if Trump can morph into a statesman. We do know the media/political class fears his threat to Hillary
[...] In our current campaign, the obvious strategy by Democratic operatives to disrupt Donald Trump’s rallies and link him to brewing fascism (via lurid media images of wild-eyed brawlers) has backfired with a bang. The seething demonstrators who blocked Trump’s motorcade at last week’s state GOP convention in Burlingame, California, forcing him and his retinue to ditch their vehicles and sprint to a rear entrance on foot, managed to alienate mainstream voters, boost Trump’s national momentum, and guarantee his sweeping victory in this week’s Indiana primary. With the withdrawal of Ted Cruz, Trump is now the presumptive GOP nominee. Great job, Dem wizards!

The helicopter TV footage of Trump and his Secret Service detail on the move was certainly surreal. All those beefy men in shiny, dark suits rapidly filing through narrow concrete barriers (like cattle chutes at a rodeo) and then scrambling up a grassy knoll! [...] The optics of the aerial photos made Trump look like a late Roman emperor being hustled to safety by the Praetorian Guard, which over time had become a kingmaker, supplanting the authority of the Senate and the old patrician class.

Trump has knocked the stilts out from the GOP establishment and crushed the pretensions of a battalion of political commentators on both the Left and Right. Portraying him as a vile racist, illiterate boob, or the end of civilization as we know it hasn’t worked because his growing supporters are genuinely motivated by rational concerns about border security and bad trade deals. Whether Trump, with his erratic impulses and gratuitous crudities, can morph toward statesmanship remains to be seen.

[...]

The aerial view of Trump at Burlingame gave me a moment of gender vertigo. His odd, brassy blonde hairdo, which I normally think of as a retro Bobby Rydell quiff, looked from behind like a smoothly backcombed 1960’s era woman’s bouffant. Shelley Winters flashed into my mind, and then it hit me: “It’s all about his mother!” I had never seen photos of Mary MacLeod Trump (who died at 88 in 2000) and immediately looked for them. Of course, there it was—the puffy blonde bouffant to which Trump pays daily homage in his impudent straw thatch.

In their focus on Trump’s real-estate tycoon father, the media seem to have missed that the teetotaling Trump’s deepest connection was probably to his strong-willed, religious mother. Born in the stark, wind-swept Hebrides Islands off the western coast of Scotland (the next North Atlantic stop is Iceland), she was one tough cookie. She and her parents were Gaelic speakers, products of a history extending back to the medieval Viking raids. I suddenly realized that that is Trump’s style. He’s not a tribal Highlander, celebrated in Scotland’s long battle for independence from England, but a Viking, slashing, burning, and laughing at the carnage in his wake. (Think Kirk Douglas flashing his steely smile in the 1958 Hollywood epic, The Vikings.) Trump takes savage pleasure in winning for its own sake—an attribute that speaks directly to the moment, when a large part of the electorate feels that the U.S. has become timid and uncertain and made far too many humiliating concessions to authoritarian foreign powers like China, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Despite their show of bravado, most savvy Democratic strategists have surely known for months that Trump was by far the most formidable of Hillary Clinton’s potential opponents—which is why they’ve been playing the race and riot cards against him to the max. Hillary has skimmed along in her bouncing gender bubble, virtually untouched by her too chivalrous Democratic rivals. Far from Hillary (in this election cycle or the last) having a harder time as a woman candidate, she has been habitually shielded by her gender. At the early debates, for example, Martin O’Malley was paralyzed by his deference to her sacred womanhood and hardly dared raise his voice to contest her brazen untruths from three feet away. Meanwhile, in debate after debate, unconstrained by the sycophantic media moderators, Hillary rudely interrupted, talked over both O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, and hogged airtime like it was going out of style. Not until CNN’s April 14 debate in Brooklyn on the eve of the New York primary did moderators forcibly put a lid on Hillary’s obnoxious filibustering.

The most pernicious aspect of this Democratic campaign is the way the field was cleared long in advance for Hillary, a flawed candidate from the get-go, while an entire generation of able Democratic politicians in their 40s was muscled aside, on pain of implied severance from future party support. It is glaringly obvious, given how well Bernie Sanders (my candidate) has done despite a near total media blackout for the past year, that Hillary would never have survived to the nomination had she had younger, more well-known, and centrist challengers. Hillary’s front-runner status has been achieved by DNC machinations and an army of undemocratic super-delegate insiders, whose pet projects will be blessed by the Clinton golden hoard. Hillary has also profited from Sanders’ too-gentlemanly early tactics, when he civilly refrained from pushing back at key moments, such as the questionable Iowa and Nevada caucuses, which he probably would have won had there not been last-minute monkey business by party operatives. [...]
And so it grinds on. I do agree with the one author though, that Trump's success is a direct result of the actions of the political establishment that is attacking him. In a sense, they created his success by the things they have done over the past decades. Are the majority of Americans turning against the political establishment "Elites" in both parties?

Perhaps we shall see in November. Meanwhile, people on both sides can sing "It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To".
     

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