Thursday, December 01, 2016

The sweet irony of Trump as president

Now that Trump is going to be president, the tide has turned in social media. I am seeing conservatives voices speaking louder, clearer in liberal circles. I am seeing them openly challenge liberal discourse where they did not before. I suppose that what I'm seeing is a "give this man a chance" message.

There are conservatives fearful that what happened to Obama will happen to Trump. I think that the odds are higher than even that Democrats in Congress will stonewall Trump just as Republicans in Congress did the same to Barack Obama, but not for the reasons most of us are told to believe. This is about money, not politics.

Bernie Sanders is still on the scene in Congress. He's now seen as a man of far greater influence than before and is schooling the Democrats on why they lost this election. The answer to that question is that the Democrats were fearful of Bernie, fearful of the liberal left and fearful of the loss of money from the relevant funders. According to this interview of Bernie Sanders by Matt Taibbi, Democratic leadership ignored large voter demographics, confident that the liberal left had nowhere else to go. But apparently they did, or Clinton would have won. From the article:
Taibbi: President Obama talked after the election about winning Iowa by going into counties even if the demographics didn't "dictate" success there. This seemed to be a criticism that the party had decided to ignore big parts of the country.
Sanders: I talked about that in the book. That's exactly what we did. We had 101 rallies in that small state. That's grassroots democracy. You speak to three-quarters of the people who end up voting for you. In New Hampshire, we had just a zillion meetings – far more people came out to our meetings. If you had the time to do that around the country, the world becomes different. The assessment has got to be that not only did we lose the White House to the least-popular candidate in perhaps the history of America, certainly in modern history, but we've lost the Senate, we've lost the House, we've lost two-thirds of the governors' chairs in this country. We've lost 900 seats in state legislatures throughout the country in the last eight years. Maybe it might be time to reassess?
Bernie nails it. He shows us exactly why the Democrats are where they are now. They are not paying attention to the rest of us. They sincerely believed that as long as they get their corporate dosh, they can win elections. I watched the election just passed very closely and Trump was everywhere. He went to places where he might not have been popular. So did Bernie. Bernie went to a Christian College to speak to a potentially hostile crowd.

Here's another interesting snippet from that article:
Sanders believes it is a mistake to dismiss the Trump movement as a monolithic expression of racism and xenophobia. Trump's populist appeals, sincere or not, carried the day, and Democrats need to answer them. Trump pledged not to cut Medicare or Social Security, promised to support re-importation of prescription drugs from other countries, and said he'd reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. Sanders insists he and his staff are going to try to hold him to all of these promises. How they'll manage that is only a guess, but as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders could easily force the Republicans into votes on all of these issues by introducing amendments during the budget resolution process, which begins in January. "Were those 100 percent lies that [Trump] was telling people in order to gain support?" he asks. "We'll find out soon enough." (emphasis mine)
I've seen some in social and mainstream media claim that Trump is an idiot. That characterization does not explain how he beat 17 of the most powerful Republicans in the country in the primaries. That doesn't explain how Trump beat organized opposition from Republican establishment power brokers, either. Despite numerous gaffes, outright lies and other other tomfoolery, Trump still managed to win. I suspect that Trump is smarter than he is willing to let on. The only thing we can know reliably about Trump is what he does, I take anything he says with a grain of salt.

Look again at the paragraph quoted above. Trump has pledged to do things that none of the elite Republicans want to do. Conservatives in social media express with a certain amount of glee that Trump will cut Social Security and Medicare, when he has pledged not to. Powerful people in Congress do not want Glass-Steagall reinstated. And anyone receiving dosh from Big Pharma will be loathe to allow reimportation of pharmaceuticals back into this country. Sanders is right to put Trump and the Republicans to the test to see if they believe in benefiting the general welfare of the country by their actions or to continue a persistent attack on the middle class and the poor.

But there is one other issue that Trump has been relatively silent on: the national debt. I've seen conservatives across the board say that now that we have a Republican president on the way, we will finally see someone cut the national debt. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many economists have seen Trump's plans and have consistently said the same thing: we're going to see more debt. In a nutshell, Trump wants to spend more money on infrastructure and cut taxes at the same time. That could only mean more debt.

One thing most people don't understand is that the public debt is a result of public policy that the average American has no control over. To understand how we got here, we need to consider this message from Harvard professor Larry Lessig (20m video, well worth the time to watch). For many years, he's been doing the research to show that the people with the greatest influence over Congress in this country is the top 0.02%, they are the relevant funders. He has shown that in the 2014 election cycle, that tiny fraction of our population provided 50% of the superPAC money.

There something else Lessig has been working hard to raise awareness about: the right of nomination belongs to the elite. Our country has fallen victim to tweedism. I know, it sounds like a disease and it is, but it is a political disease.

Tweedism is a corruption of the democratic process by denying the general population the right of nomination while allowing them to vote for nominees selected by the elite. The term "tweedism" is coined after an American politician, William M. Tweed. Here is how Mr. Tweed thinks:
I don't care who does the electing so long as I get to do the nominating.
Seems mildly familiar, right? Notice who got to choose Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention. That was not by popular appeal. The primary reason Hillary Clinton ran in the primaries was not because she's a popular politician. She was there because the money was there.

So I find it mildly amusing to see conservatives speak so confidently of Trump and what he will do when I consider that Congress has a 97% re-election rate. They get to choose their voters. Their moneyed interests are there to ensure they win again and again. That is the irony of Trump as president.
Post a Comment