Summary: A question from a reader prompts this summary of our situation, fodder for thought before we vote on November 8. Perhaps it will spark action some readers on November 9, so that we have better choices in 2020.
A question from a long-time reader of the FM website.
“Both candidates are deeply flawed and evoke emotionalism and division between parties, within each party, and among the American people. Can either candidate serve effectively as President? What would a Trump White House look like (perhaps like “Mad Max: Fury Road“?) What about a Clinton White House. Both candidates seem likely to dive into Alice’s rabbit hole, a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. It seems that either way we are screwed, blued, and tattooed!”
A great question, to which we can only guess at the answer. Here is my speculation.
Consequences of our poor judgement on November 8
As usual, our situation was generally foreseen by the Founders. After all, Britain had been governed by incompetent — sometimes mad — Kings (they had better luck with Queens). So they radically decentralized power in the Republic. The President is in many ways best classified as a weak executive (the bogus “bully pulpit” is an example of the Green Lantern theory of governing). For details see articles by Ezra Klein and Jonathan Bernstein. Only in the right circumstances with the right person does the White House become powerful.
There are profound differences between the two candidates, so it is a real if unpleasant choice. “Bad” and “worse” is a choice that must be made. More broadly, America has survived corrupt and incompetent presidents. We can do so again. There will be damage, of course. There is always a price to be paid by our folly.
About political polarization
The political polarization is among us, not our rulers. Our leaders encourage our fragmentation and polarization (details here). This keeps us divided and weak, foolish and bickering. Our rulers have a strong bipartisan consensus on most key policy measures (e.g., the strong bipartisan support for our mad wars). Obama’s administration made this unmistakably clear. Only our amnesia and blindness prevent recognition of this. Some examples…
(b) Obama’s tax and bank regulation policies were only a mild change from Bush’s. Expect more of this from Clinton. Her Wall Street owners do (Goldman is the ultimate talent scout for the 1%; they are almost never wrong).
(c) Obamacare passed because big corporations were being swamped by health care costs (it has not helped them much) and the health care industries finally realized it was a gold mine (correctly, as we now know). Obama probably will push for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the election, a massive expansion of corporate power (disguised as a trade treaty). These monuments to corporate power would be his major accomplishments.
“So more ‘Unification of the Ruling Elites’ and nothing changes!”
That is the key to understanding the Clinton coalition: if she wins America will pass into new hands with the unification of American elites to a degree seldom seen in our history. Billionaires, the Left, neocons, academia, the press, Wall Street — almost all our institutions and power centers support Clinton.
Would things run differently under President Trump? With his minimal support from Republicans and America’s institutions, how much change could he effect? Especially if Democrats take control of the Senate.
In effect both candidates are fronts for the Deep State. They are exciting images on TV that we cheer and boo, while the great and powerful run things in the back rooms. That’s not a new pattern in American history, but like so many things it is a reversion from the post-WWII patterns — the brief and unique period that we mistakenly thought was America.
We will remain peons so long as we enjoy ourselves with moronic two-minute hates at the TV screen and equally moronic cheers to cardboard cutouts pretending to be our Leaders. Step one to regaining citizenship is looking at “the man in the mirror” to see the weak link in America. Then we can take bolder and more difficult steps.
Election 2016 was an opportunity to change the political game so that we have better choices on the ballot — so that there is a possibility that we can win. We will have another in 2020. Let’s begin preparing on November 9. Here are ideas, things you can do to start the reform of America.
We can bicker and fume about politics, staying weak and divided. That doesn’t mean our rulers share our folly. They’re smart and will use this window of opportunity to increase their control. Late at night I worry that this is our future, and that we no longer wish to carry the burden of self-government. If so perhaps it is best that the 1% rule us (in their interest, of course). There are worse possibilities.
- Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed.
- How do our leaders see us? Don the shoes of the 1%. Look down on the 99%. Describe the view.
- Will we be better off ruled by the 1%?
For More Information
- Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America.
- Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.