Are we screwed no matter who wins, Trump or Clinton?

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.

Trump or Clinton?

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…

(a)  Obama’s foreign policy is almost identical to Bush’s (see details here; Stratfor agrees). Expect more of the same from Clinton; her neocon supporters do.

(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.

A glowing crystal ball held in two hands

“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.

"The Nightmare" by John Henry Fuseli (1781)
“The Nightmare” by John Henry Fuseli (1781).

My nightmare

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.

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8 thoughts on “Are we screwed no matter who wins, Trump or Clinton?”

  1. Quote: “We can do so again. There will be damage, of course. There is always a price to be paid by our folly.”

    Considering candidates who are allowed to run in primaries are selected by a small number of party potentates, the phrase “our folly” seems oddly disconnected with the reality of the american political election/selection process. What do the majority of citizens have to do with this obscure back room process?

    1. merrick,

      “What do the majority of citizens have to do with this obscure back room process? ”

      Reform is impossible in America while so many Americans believe their role is to critique the political system, like epicures in a restaurant whining that the food doesn’t match their awesomeness. The system is designed to be worked by citizens. To call it an “obscure back room process” is absurd.

      When we get off our butts and work the system, the system will work for us. Until then we can whine to our hearts content, as peons have always done.

  2. If I were an American I would be angry. I would be angry that out of 350 million people the best that can be done is to put forward a choice between Hillary and Trump.

    1. zander,

      Getting angry is a good first step, as I have often written. But it has to be focused, or is an irrational destructive force.

      If my car runs out of gas while on a vital errand, I can get angry at it. But what does that accomplish? The system the Founders built requires our work to power it. When we get off our butts and do so, it will again function for us.

  3. Running out of gas is a great analogy.
    Anger? Stupid except for the first few moments.
    How is that so many of us are consumed with various emotions now and so unwilling to get out , start hitchhiking, looking for a good soul to go with is to the gas station and remedy this situation. (Calling AAA is probably not available in Politics!) how can this be?
    We are faced with a Maniac or a Monster, aging boomers, examples of the distortions arsing from a quite lazy and privileged Time in American History.
    Of course there are “back room” deals….Super delegates anyone? It’s politics. Never was a Bake Sale after Church. And in the work place is it all fair and reasonable?

    It will take real dissolution to get our Attentions.


  4. I believe economics far outweighs politics. In fact many (most?) of the reliable election prediction models ignore politics and only use economic input variables.

    The problems the US has are accounting/financial/economic problems. These are not glamorous enough for political discussions, so they don’t really get solved “during the election”. This is why we have long term debt cycles, short term business cycles, etc.

    The president matters less than we want to believe. It is set up that way by the US legal system, starting with the Constitution. Also, the economy is much bigger than a particular governmental office, including the president.

    The economy is set up for yet another bubble bursting recession in the next 5 years, probably during the next president’s term- no matter which party. That recession, which can’t be stopped and the response to which will be limited, will define the presidential term; Not dirty words, or sexual innuendo.

    1. wkevinw,

      “The economy is set up for yet another bubble bursting recession in the next 5 years”

      People usually predict that the next cycle will repeat the dynamics of the previous one. It almost never does, largely because the people running our governments and businesses are not stupid. As for current bubbles, there are none large enough to cause a recession. Note that bubble has a specific meaning in economics. Also, there are almost always bubbles in the economy. Their size and number are the key factors.

      “The president matters less than we want to believe.”

      Yes, that is what this post says.

      “and the response to which will be limited”

      That’s technically correct (what would an unlimited response be? A spiritual apocalypse or nuclear war?). I suspect by “limited” you mean “small”. That’s probably not correct. The US government has many powerful tools available to fight the next recession.

      probably during the next president’s term- no matter which party. That recession, which can’t be stopped and the response to which will be limited, will define the presidential term; Not dirty words, or sexual innuendo.”

      “In fact many (most?) of the reliable election prediction models ignore politics and only use economic input variables.”

      Supporting evidence? Most the prediction models rely on polls. A larger number – and more accurate — use multiple inputs (such as PollyVote). A few use only economic data. Can you point to an analysis comparing results of the latter to the first two.

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