Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why January 2017 matters: Be afraid, America, of the 2020 version of Trump

I've got to thank Linda Laird for stimulating conversations about the current state of the nation and Democratic politics in particular. We agreed that the underlying conditions that enabled Trump to become the presumptive nominee of the [once legitimate] Republican party will not go away after November 8. So no matter what the outcome of the election, the Bernie "revolution" must carry on.

(Disclosure: Scriber thinks the Republican party was at one time legitimate. Don't blame Linda for that one.)

The American working class has lost their sense of political and economic home. That is why they find affinity with the loud-mouthed braggart who has sucked up money from the working class and promises that which he can never, never deliver.

But Bernie beware. Warren be wary.

Hillary, with support of we Democrats (and I hope the Bernie busters) should be able to beat Trump. However, those "underlying conditions" will remain. In a single graph: productivity has grown linearly but the returns to the American worker have remained flat. No commensurate increase with productivity. And all of this while the top 1% rakes in gobs of money and wallows in opulence.

We are faced with a revolution. One kind will be political and economic - one that corrects the obscene economic inequalities in this country. The other ...

John Feffer at The Nation considers the consequences of a Trump defeat: "The real danger is the smarter, more capable neo-fascist politician who will inevitably rise in his wake."

What ... sets Trump apart is his commitment to making “America great again.” His opponents have tried to argue that America is already great, has been great, and will always be great. But the truth is, for many Americans, things have not been so great for at least the last two decades.

This line, more than Trump’s intemperate rants and off-the-cuff insults, is what ultimately distinguishes America A from America B. At a time when the American economy is growing at a respectable pace and the unemployment rate is below 5 percent for the first time since 2008, America B has not benefitted from the prosperity. It has suffered, not profited, from the great transformation the country has gone through since 1989 (and was particularly hard hit by the near economic meltdown of 2007–08).

America B has a fondness for Donald Trump and his almost childlike audacity. (Gosh, kids say the darndest things!) Right now, his fans are attached to an individual, rather than a platform or a party. Many of his supporters don’t even care whether Trump means what he says. If he loses, he will fade away and leave nothing behind, politically speaking.

The real change will come when a more sophisticated politician, with an authentic political machine, sets out to woo America B. Perhaps the Democratic Party will decide to return to its more populist, mid-century roots. Perhaps the Republican Party will abandon its commitment to entitlement programs for the 1 percent.

More likely, a much more ominous political force will emerge from the shadows. If and when that new, neo-fascist party fields its charismatic presidential candidate, that will be the most important election of our lives.

As long as America B is left in the lurch by what passes for modernity, it will inevitably try to pull the entire country back to some imagined golden age of the past before all those “others” hijacked the red, white, and blue. Donald Trump has hitched his presidential wagon to America B. The real nightmare, however, is likely to emerge in 2020 or thereafter, if a far more capable politician who embraces similar retrograde positions rides America B into Washington.

Then it will matter little how much both liberals and conservatives rail against “stupid” and “crazy” voters. Nor will they have Donald Trump to kick around any more. In the end, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

The challenge of the next president is to make sure that that nasty vision of America 2020 is not realized.

Feffer lays out in much more detail the economic history and political reality of America B. Remember those pitchforks; they are pointed at you.

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