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Trumped?

from Peter Radford

My head hurts this morning. I don’t know why I would be so disoriented by Trump’s continued rise to power, it was, after all very predictable once he entered the race, but it still hurts.

And, yes, it was predictable.

The Republican party has steadily vanished into a haze of obstreperous religious business driven drivel from which only a far right populist could ever emerge with any coherence. One of the great laughs anyone can have in this current peculiar electoral season is to listen to a Republican claim that Trump doesn’t belong in the party of Lincoln.

That’s true. He doesn’t. But the Republicans are not the party of Lincoln. They co-opted the name and perverted it. In most ways they are now the exact opposite. Especially when you take the scarcely veiled racism of their state level activists into account. We only have to look at the many local efforts to limit access to the polls – all in the pure name of being opposed to voter fraud – that disproportionately affect African-American voters. Guess which states those efforts are most advanced. I’ll give you a one word clue: Confederacy.

The rise of Trump and his inchoate  platform should not be a shock to anyone who has paid attention to the American economy: it sucks for most folk. It sucks, in particular, for the older white blue collar male cohort that used to be the backbone of the Democrats. This guys have seen the consequences of thirty years of neoliberalism up close. They don’t like what they saw. They are in a surly mood.

If history is anything to go by, this surly mood will only get worse if it isn’t countered by policies that actually deal with its root cause.

Which brings me to Clinton and the Democrats.

The left, I use the word broadly, in America is just as culpable as the right. For decades now the Democrats have acquiesced to and accommodated swathes of neoliberal economic policies that have summed up into a massive attack on the majority of voters. Unfettered free trade, business deregulation, especially of the banks, endless pro-business initiatives in the name of encouraging job creation, a blind eye to the ravages of outsourcing and offshoring, and decidedly limp-wristed tax policies are not a stellar left-of-center record. They simply reinforced the degradation of middle and lower class America initiated by the intellectual triumph of right wing economics.

Forgive me for repeating myself, but, the failure – our failure – to expunge from economics the single minded focus on market forces as if no others existed, and as if the economy wasn’t riddled with other phenomena of equal if not more importance, has contributed to the societal malaise that enables Trump. Yes, I mean that.

Ideas, as we all know, have awesome consequences. Rotten ideas have rotten consequences. A profession, if that is an appropriate word to describe an academic discipline, that hides itself from the social impact it has cannot deny the consequences of its ideas simply by hiding. We all know the truth. The school[s] thought that unleashed rational choice, general equilibrium, individualism, and the superiority of market forces, whatever they are, is at the center of the plutocracy that currently is being unhinged by Trump’s populist attack.

And, yes, I also mean that.

We read a lot about the Republican ‘establishment’ being up in arms about the rise of Trump. Well, as I see it, Trump is doing us a favor. He is, by channeling the angry voice of his supporters, leading an assault on the plutocracy that led us all astray.

I just wish that assault was coming from the left, but the Clintonian neoliberal machine still owns the Democrats and poor old Bernie Sanders has such an uphill fight to change that.

As I said, my head hurts this morning.

  1. Red
    March 2, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Is a ‘left’ conceivable in the congressional system?

  2. March 3, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Quote Peter Radford, “Forgive me for repeating myself, but, the failure – our failure – to expunge from economics the single minded focus on market forces as if no others existed, and as if the economy wasn’t riddled with other phenomena of equal if not more importance, has contributed to the societal malaise that enables Trump. Yes, I mean that.”
    Quote Frederick Soddy (The Role Of Money-1920’s),
    … every monetary system must at long last conform, if it is to fulfil its proper role
    as the distributive mechanism of society. To allow it to become a source of revenue to private issuers is to create, first, a secret and illicit arm of the government and, last, a rival power strong enough ultimately to overthrow all other forms of government.”
    MAYBE, PERHAPS, the 2016 VOTERS HOPE: “TRUMP CAN CHANGE THE DEAL”

  3. March 3, 2016 at 1:18 am

    “Rotten ideas have rotten consequences.”

    Very good. And, the idea that market forces are divorced from our politics is a rotten idea.

  4. Lord
    March 3, 2016 at 1:45 am

    The Republican establishment to voters, the voters to the Republican establishment: It’s your own fault.

  5. March 3, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Trump is a sign of the times. The four candidates in the 1860 election were Abraham Lincoln, John C. Breckinridge (Southern Democrats), John Bell (Constitutional Union), Stephen A. Douglas (Democratic). Lincoln carried the Northeast and the Midwest to Michigan and Iowa, along with California and Oregon. Breckinridge carried all of what would be the Confederacy. Bell carried what would be the “border” states in the Civil War. And Douglas carried only Missouri. Stark and strong divisions. But most interesting from the perspective of what’s happening with Trump are the statements of the Southern Democrat, Breckinridge.

    In his speech accepting the nomination, Breckinridge, already accused of treason for supporting compromise with the southern states, and later convicted of treason and expelled from the Senate, said:

    I appear before you to-day for the purpose of repelling certain accusations which have been made against me personally, and industriously circulated through other States of the Union; and next to show that the principles upon which I stand, are the principles of both the Constitution and Union of our country — [great applause] — and, surely, if at any time the justification could be found by any man for addressing the people in the position which I occupy, it will be found in my case…. I did not seek or desire to be placed before the people for the office of President by any Convention.
    . . . .
    I took the stump in behalf of the Democracy, and maintained its doctrines to the best of my ability. I was not afraid to do it, because they were the representatives of my principles, and you may judge of my zeal. He who stands upon the Constitution can neither be sectional nor a Disunionist. These principles are taken almost verbatim from the Supreme Court of the United States. They are supported by the precedents and practice of the Government. They are principles upon which we may well live and by which we may well all be willing to die…The Republican Party has taken precisely opposite principles. They say we have no rights in the Territories with our property. They say Congress has a right to exclude it, and that it is its duty to do so.

    The most costly war in US history was about to begin. Yet even in the face of war and death Breckinridge, who had the most to fear and feel anger about still refused to debase the nation that was about to go to war. An example of just how far down Trump has taken the country and politics.

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