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.