Politics

Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this.

Summary: Trump has proven himself a clown president, who intends to damage the government and refocus it on the needs of the 1%. But more importantly, he has shown the hollowness of America’s political regime. Powerful people have taken notice, people with a greater appetite for power. If Trump can win the Presidency, then so can they. Expect bigger changes after 2020, the next step towards an American plutocracy.

Leadership as Chess

Trump is a clown. His team consists mostly of far-right plutocrats and their retainers (not a populist among them), many with little or no relevant experience for their job. The lower ranks are filled with people selected for their loyalty and conservative ideology, not their training, experience, and competence (see how they are wrecking the State Dept).

The foolish errors, ethics violations, and disorganization of the first six weeks of the Trump foreshadow what we can expect during the next four years. They intend to hammer America’s governments back into the Gilded Age model: an engine to serve the 1%, boost inequality, and boost corporate profits. Given the Republican Party’s dominance at all levels, they will accomplish much.

Those changes seem large to us. But larger changes are coming. Trump is just the beginning.

The face of Tacitus

“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”

— From The Histories by Cornelius Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).

Trump began with almost nothing in terms of campaign organization, reputation, or funding — especially compared to the front-runners Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. He ignored or mocked the standard campaign procedures. And he won.

Trump’s success, despite his fantastic weaknesses, reveals the hollowness of America’s political regime. I am certain that notice has been taken. Now strong leaders are making plans to gain power. They might be politicians, from Wall Street, corporate America, or the military. But no matter where they are, they are thinking “if a clown like Trump can take the White House so can I.” Some of them will have more appetite for power than Trump.

What has changed in America to make our politics a house of cards?

This is too obvious to need mentioning, but we refuse to see it. We are the weak link. We have grown weak. We have lost confidence in our leaders, in ourselves, and in our political regime. Worse, we lack the willpower — perhaps the willingness — to reform America. Worst of all, perhaps we no longer wish to bear the burden of self-government. We are ready for a Leader. Ready to be followers, and obey.

Gallup’s May 2016 confidence in institutions poll shows a collapse since 1972 for our confidence in the institutions by which we govern ourselves. For the Executive branch, confidence went from 73% to 51%. For Congress it fell from 71% to 34%.

See these graphs from “The Danger of Deconsolidation: The Democratic Disconnect” by Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk in the Journal of Democracy, July 2016.

(1) Citizens’ support for the system.

Foa-Mounk 2016 - Figure 1

Bootstrap 95% confidence intervals are shown in gray.

(2)  Citizens’ support for key institutions of liberal democracy.

Foa-Mounk 2016 - Figure 2

(3)  Citizens’ openness to authoritarian alternatives, such as military rule.

Foa-Mounk 2016 - Figure 4

Update: they are already preparing to take the stage.

“With Trump in White House, Some Executives Ask, Why Not Me?” by James B. Stewart at the NYT, 9 March 2017 — Opening…

“Mr. Trump had no political or military experience, the traditional routes to high political office. Virtually his only qualification was his business career, and a checkered one at that, considering his own brush with personal bankruptcy.

“‘There is this sense that if Trump got it, why shouldn’t they?’ said David Gergen, co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and an adviser to four presidents. ‘They’ve been more successful, they have more experience, and they’ve run a public company, which is more equivalent to what a president does than a private company’ like the Trump Organization.”

Print and post this article. it will explain much of the backroom political action during the next four years. This post will eventually go on top of my list of successful predictions.

Conclusions.

The Left has gone berserk, warning that Trump is a new Hitler, a Nazi, planning to overthrow the government — with concentration camps coming (see here and here)! This is hysteria. But they might be early, not wrong. Trump’s success — probably surprising even Trump — shows the way for a greater leader to take power in Washington. Easily, rapidly, ignoring the political parties that have vetted and guided candidates for two centuries.

President Trump ignores the conventions that guide the dancers in Washington (e.g., how to run press conferences). Our future Leader will be bolder, ignoring the complex web of precedents and rules that guide and limit the exercise of power in Washington. Perhaps that is for the best. Perhaps the US government is like a decayed garden overgrown with weeds, with fire the only solution.

We can only guess at the nature of our future Leader and his (or her) policies. But we know those policies will benefit others, not us. We might look back at the Trump years as the “good old days”, the last days of the Republic.

Donald Trump

Thou know’st ’tis common;
all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

— Queen Gertrude to Hamlet
in Act I, scene 2.

For More Information.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about politics in America, Trump, Campaign 2016, and the new populism, reforming America: steps to new politics, and especially these…

  1. Important: Forecast: Death of the American Constitution.
  2. Gallup warns us to prepare for fascism!
  3. Advice from a sage about America and its future. Listen to this man. — Alexis de Tocqueville.
  4. Americans trust the military most. 29% are ready for a coup. Ready for fascism?
  5. America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.
  6. New research reveals the people guilty of wrecking America!

Recommended books about the weakness of the Republic.

Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Wolfgang Streeck.

Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred by John Lukacs.

 

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5 replies »

  1. Queen Gertrude got it right. How do we know? The Graphs and charts here tell us so.
    It’s not news that America is in an existential crisis, a moral quandary amongst its ruling classes and more than a few of the citizenry and a spiritual angst is barely concealed in daily discourse. Things fall apart and this version is maybe 50 + years in birthing.
    Where are the Jesters? Are we left with Milo Y.?

    Not all is woe. Take heart.

    Breton

    Like

  2. This is another important post, FM. Not quite up there with the Destruction of the Constitution post, but way up there. The most important part of this post is the quote from Tacitus (which I nearly posted in response to a comment a couple of weeks ago) about the Emperor not being created just at Rome. The empire was less stable after ambitious people made that discovery.

    I will be delighted if we have fewer than 10 candidates from each party running for President in 2020 and I expect fewer of them will have experience leading government organizations (which are far different from business organizations).

    Wasting a few minutes to calibrate our recent leaders to the original Caesar family leaders (which is probably not going to be very accurate and highly unfair to both sides)
    Reagan/Bush = Julius/Augustus (Reagan was the first Republican to use the Solid South strategy to gain power and that deal has done much damage to the Republic but he was very conventional in all other senses and selected talented and experienced people to help him rule. Nancy Reagan was also less poisonous than Julia)
    Clinton = Tiberius (good match-up, both did a respectable job of leading (although Clinton was luckier) but neither were not generally well-liked as people for different but good reasons)
    Bush Jr. = Caligula (Bush is a far better human being than Caligula ever was but Bush’s rule was badly tarnished by the police state established by Dick Cheney in response to 9/11. At least Bush wasn’t murdered by the Secret Service)
    Obama = Claudius (Obama’s early years were marred by his attempts to co-operate with the obstinate Republican Congress. His later years were marred by his acceptance and expansion of the police state, which enhanced his effectiveness but lowered his legitimacy. Claudius did a generally okay job of ruling but he was politically vulnerable for most of his rule and forced to make some unfortunate decisions to keep his enemies at bay)
    Trump = Nero (so far this comparison appears to the most apt of all, I hope Washington doesn’t burn down)

    Like

    • Pluto,

      “This is another important post, FM.”

      All these important osts get few pageviews. This is, imo, evidence about our problem. the big successful websites feed their followers simple tales of good and evil, black hats (them) and white hats (us). We, the American people, are innocents — victims of the bad guys. Our only hope is to think as we are told to think, value what we are told to value, and do what we are told to do.

      Posts saying that as citizens we have responsibility for America — whether we want it or not, whether we act or not — are greeted as Vampires greet the dawn.

      Re: Tacitus’ quote about Nero

      I first used that a year ago, on 220 Jan 2016. How long until I put it on the successful predictions pag? perhaps tentatively so in 2018, based on an election(s) for the House, Senate, or Governorship. Probably 2020, perhaps later.

      Like

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