Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nature and Politics Abhor Vacuums

Nature and Politics Abhor Vacuums
P. Schultz

            Below is a link to an article in The Guardian that is right on the money regarding the Democrats and our current political situation. It is well worth reading. Here is how I would put it:

            Although you may not [and should not] like (a) that Trump won and (b) his kind of politics which are despicable, nonetheless he filled the political vacuum created by our ruling class as represented by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and B. Obama. Hillary couldn't fill it because she and her kind of politics helped create it. Bernie tried but was defeated by status quo Democrats like Hillary, Pelosi, Bill Clinton, and Democratic Party rules: "Democratic primary rules put in place after the party’s disastrous nomination of South Dakota senator George McGovern in 1972 meant that, unlike Republicans leaders who were incapable of stopping Trump, establishment Democrats could hold off the Sanders surge." By "holding off" Sanders, the status quo Democrats shot themselves in the foot, proving that they are, these days, irrelevant. Nature and politics abhor vacuums.

            You want evidence of the vacuum you say? How about a war that has gone on in Afghanistan and Iraq for almost two decades? Obviously, the ruling class has no way out of the debacle they have created and are forced to continue this war fruitlessly. How about a national security state that doesn’t provide security, either for “we the people” or even for the secrets it wants to keep? How about an economy that can’t support a thriving middle class? How about a political order that can only deal with its black citizens by incarcerating them at exponential rates? How about a war on drugs that the drugs and the drug dealers are winning?

            The current or previously ruling class has created a situation it can no longer control, except by making it worse. When any ruling class reaches such a state, it is no longer relevant and will be replaced. The only real question is: What will the replacement political order be like? So far, Trump is providing an answer for which the status quo Democrats – and Republicans – have no response.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mocking Trump? Not Working, part II

Mocking Trump? Not Working, part II
P. Schultz

            Below is a link to an article in today’s NY Times entitled “Why We Must Make a Mockery of Trump,” by Howard Jacobson. I read it with some disbelief and that disbelief turned to scorn as I thought about Jacobson’s argument. I apologize for the scorn but it cannot be helped. Here’s why.

            Well, if you want to make a mockery of Trump, go right ahead. Only it won’t undermine Trump. Rather, it will only make his stronger.

            Consider what happened when Hillary Clinton labeled a sizeable portion of Trump’s supporters “deplorables.” At best, her charge fell flat and at worst it did more to damage Hillary than it did to damage Trump, except of course for those who already thought of Trump’s supporters as deplorable, thoughtless reactionaries.

            Why didn’t Hillary’s broadside work? Why won’t mocking Trump work? Because both the broadside and the mocking of Trump fail to take account of the fact that both Trump and his supporters, both of whom can be labeled “insurgents,” are responding to a political setting that lends support to their politics because the established political order lacks legitimacy. The established political order has lost its claim to legitimacy by virtue of its all-too-obvious flaws and defects.

Simply “dissing” his supporters or mocking Trump gets you nowhere because they are responding to this setting and their response, however unacceptable to many people, is not unwarranted. Some response is needed to replace the now de-legitimized established political order. And if one is content to mock, without offering an alternative to Trump’s politics, then, weirdly enough, this just strengthens the insurgency. They have a politics and all you have is mockery. Guess who wins?

            To defeat insurgents, it is necessary to either co-opt them – as Hillary tried to do with the “Sandernistas” at the Democratic national convention, with only partial success – or to provide a political alternative to their insurgency. Co-optation with the “Trumpsters” won’t work because for them that is surrender. And like any politically committed people, the “Trumpsters” would prefer defeat to surrender because then they can “live to fight another day,” ala’ the Goldwaterites after their crushing defeat in the presidential election of 1964. Remember Ronald Reagan?

            And, apparently, so far the Democrats have no alternative to Trump’s politics or they are unwilling to embrace the alternatives that are available, such as that represented by Sanders and his “Sandernistas.” I suspect it is the latter more than the former. But in any case, this is really too bad because it means that Trump and his followers will continue to occupy the positions of power and all the “dissing” of his followers and the mocking of Trump himself will not unseat them.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dump on Trump: Not Working

Dump on Trump: Not Working
P. Schultz

            It has become something of a cottage industry to dump on Trump these days. I have even labeled the current mood as “Trump hysteria,” with Trump playing one of the leading roles in our ever-recurring politics of fear. Other players these days are North Korea, Iran, ISIS, Syria, and that old standby and favorite, the Russians.

            On the other hand, Trump’s supporters – or many of them – seem non-pulsed by this dump on Trump. Perhaps this is because these supporters are too stupid to know better, that they are, as Hillary Clinton labeled them, “deplorables.” But such a dismissive attitude to Trump’s supporters, although psychologically satisfying, blinds us to what is actually going on these days.

            Consider the possibility that what Trump and his supporters are about is disrupting the existing political order. This would help make sense of both Trump’s actions – his tweets and his unorthodox or unpresidential style – and the loyalty of his supporters. What seems to many like sheer madness or idiocy isn’t either. Rather, it is part and parcel of what might be labeled “Trumpian politics” and, as such, we shouldn’t expect it to end anytime soon or at all. Nor should we expect it to lose its appeal to Trump’s supporters because these people are committed to disrupting the existing political order and embracing a new one. To label these people “deplorables” is to miss the mark and, hence, fail to wound them.

            Moreover, the commitment to a politics of disruption appealed to Bernie Sanders and his supporters as well. In fact, many of Sanders’ supporters embraced disruption even after Bernie threw his support to Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. It might even be argued that this desire to disrupt was what upended Hillary’s presidential bid. She wanted to be anything but disruptive and even seemed satisfied to be the after thought to Barack Obama’s presidency. Perhaps this helps explain why her attempts to link her politics to the politics of the original feminists seemed forced, even concocted. For those women were, clearly and intentionally, disruptive, whereas Hillary is not.

            Once the appeal of political disruption is given its due in today’s setting, the weaknesses of the Clinton campaign become visible. Hillary – and others – thought her strength was her attachment to policies, well thought out, and empirically grounded policies that would meet the nation’s needs. But in a time of disruption, such a politics – a public policy politics – is a weakness, not a strength. Over and over, Hillary and her speechwriters could not enunciate a “vision” that connected with large sections of the electorate. “Why is Hillary running?” was the question they could not answer satisfactorily. Why? Because they failed or refused to see the appeal of a politics of disruption; they failed to see that they were trying to defend a political order that had lost its legitimacy.

            Hillary and her advisers were left pleading: “You don’t want Trump! He’s unsteady, he’s unpresidential, and he’s disruptive!” Yes, they were and are correct. Trump was and is all those things. But that is why he and not Hillary is president!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

And the Beat - and the Status Quo - Goes On

And The Beat – and The Status Quo - Goes On
P. Schultz

Below is a link to an article from Politico, illustrating that the Republicans not only have done almost nothing since the election but that they are unlikely to do much of anything during this session of the Congress. As readers of these pages should recognize, none of this is surprising. Preserving the status quo, in the face of widespread popular anger and dissatisfaction, is what our ruling political class is all about.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Has anyone noticed thaGt the Republicans not only have "failed" to repeal and replace "Obamacare" - it isn't a "failure" if they never intended to do it - but that they have passed no significant legislation? And Trump's tax "reform" is dead as well. But these are not failures because the Republicans, like the Democrats, are essentially status quo politicians, uninterested in real change because that would undermine their power and threaten their reign. And the Trump circus serves to hide this agenda, including the hysteria over those oh-so-dangerous Russkies!! Gee whiz: The latter bleating by the Democrats and the media sounds just like JFK in the 60s predicting "the apocalypse!"