Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Trump and the Politics of "None of the Above"

Donald Trump is basically the "none of the above" candidate. The status quo is despised and he knows it. "Change you can believe in" has proven itself a fraud, so he's running on "change us back to the way we were" (i.e., "great"), which at least refers to a time period that's real (post WWII) if nothing else. Hillary Clinton is in some ways worse than Trump (she's more likely to get us into war with Russia, for example, which could be terminal), and is a status quo candidate if there ever was one. A President Hillary will send popular cynicism about politics soaring, emboldening more shameless reactionaries to run and perhaps win next time around. If a strong popular left doesn't emerge soon, deeper and more sophisticated than the "Feel the Bern" campaign, things could get very ugly.

Yes, it would have been nice if a New Dealer like Bernie Sanders had been the standard bearer instead of Clinton. But everyone knew the game was rigged against him well beforehand. Doesn't anyone remember the take-down of front-runner Jesse Jackson by his own party in 1988? Do we really think the "New Democrats" (i.e., anti-New Deal) don't really mean to say and do what they constantly say and do? For over 40 years a mild IMF style "structural adjustment" program has been applied to the U.S., deliberately eroding the New Deal, with the conscious support of both the Democratic and Republican parties. So how could we be surprised at what happened to Bernie Sanders in 2016?

Basically, his whole effort boiled down to expanding the Democratic base to benefit Hillary Clinton, a very predictable and disgusting outcome. Now as he goes back to his Senate committee work, he urges the young idealists that worked their hearts out for him to vote for Hillary, who gives six-figure speeches to Wall Street and transformed Libya from a stable country with the highest standard of living in Africa into a terrorist haven where ISIS marauds the beaches beheading people.

Far more important than who wins these quadrennial celebrity contests is establishing a broad democratic culture that won't allow the kind of revolting politics Washington has made itself famous for.

Let's get to work.

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