2016 revealed the true nature of America’s left & right. It’s bad news.

Summary: America entered a new era in 2016. The facades crumbled, revealing the true nature of America’s Left and Right. Their lies, the war against us (the big middle), and their madness. What comes next, how we react to this news, will reveal our nature.

Stop Extremism

Years ago, Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired) told me that America’s hopes for reform rested with an alliance of the middle majority against predictors on the Left the Right. I following the lead of political scientists, disagreed — since much of US public is has centrist views only by averaging their extreme left and right beliefs (see WaPo articles here and here).

Time has proven Chet right and me wrong. Powerful elements on the left and right are moving against the rest of us. Worse, both have gone bonkers. This has put America on the fast track to disaster, although we cannot foresee details of the end. We trapped between them, like children with no team to choose — bewildered by the increasingly odd events around us.

We’re immersed in fake news, fake facts.

Our opponents on the Left and Right have seen our gullibility, and quote logically exploit it. The Right has done so more effectively. They have ensnared their followers in webs of fake history, fake economics, fake quotes, and fake news. Trump’s serial lies are the apotheosis of decades of the Right successfully building an audience that prefers pleasing lies to harsh truths.

The Left got into the game late, but has moved quickly to catch up. Their five decades of exaggerating (or ignoring) scientists’ work to create nightmares of doom for humanity — or the world — including a decade or so of exaggerating or misrepresenting the IPCC’s work about climate change. Their denial of climate scientists’ work on what they call the “pause”.

The election of Trump has pushed much of the Left into a delusional state (examples herehere and here).  The scale of exaggerated claims are difficult for me to imagine, let alone take seriously. Trump has a perverted attraction to his daughter. Trump is Hitler. The Republicans are Nazis. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is the American Gestapo, per Erik Loomis (assistant professor of history at U RI). My favorite is “The American Gestapo and Its Slave Labor Force.” The exaggerated, even fake, stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ contacts with Russians (details here), Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee (details here), and the entire complex of Trump-Putin conspiracy theories (see this devastating deconstruction in the liberal NY Review of Books).

Medieval castle under attack

The Left and Right attack the middle.

The Left under Obama (and, if elected, Hillary Clinton) have run a long campaign to change American culture. Their Social Justice Warriors have grown increasingly bold in their attacks, confident they know what is best for us (examples here).

Their other tool to change America was massive immigration — almost an open door policy (see these posts), now at the levels which produced broad opposition in the 1920s, and laws closing the door until it reopened in the 1960s. That is a bipartisan policy, both Left and Right united against us. As are the massive increase in domestic surveillance, the war against whistleblowers, the expansion of the security services (and erosion of our domestic liberties), and perpetual foreign wars.

Now the Right has gained power at all levels of US government, and has begun to move boldly to roll back the New Deal and restore the Gilded Age. Stripping health care from tens of millions of Americans. Weakening vital regulations protecting us from Wall Street Banks, gun manufacturers, and polluters. Soon will come the next waves of tax cuts for the rich (financed by debt and cuts to services to the rest of us).

GOP vs Democrat

Conflict in the Trump era.

Madness to the Left. Madness to the Right. How to choose? The Republicans are waging outright attacks on us. The Left is staging often violent protests in the name of identity politics, open borders, and abortion — now featuring masked rioters.

Our passivity, apathy, and gullibility got us into this hole. More of the same will allow Left and Right to fight over us, with the winner ruling America. The smart bet looks to be on the GOP. A few more victories at the State and they can reshape the Constitution (control of one more State gives them the ability to call a Convention; five more lets them pass amendments).

This all goes back to our core problem: our unwillingness to bear the burden of self-government. The politically active people are those on the extremes. While the rest of us sleep, America is falling like the Roman Republic. The clock is running; time is not our friend.

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 and the new GOP era, reforming America: steps to new politics, and especially these…

  1. A Harvard Professor explains the populist revolt against immigration & globalization.
  2. Four views of America (Left & Right) showing that we’re ripe for realignment.
  3. Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this.
  4. Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.

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.

Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism
Available at Amazon.
Democracy and Populism
Available at Amazon.


39 thoughts on “2016 revealed the true nature of America’s left & right. It’s bad news.”

  1. I’m curious who you would recommend, if anyone, as general news sources – I have been keeping a lot of these issues raised by you, others, and my own perceptions of things in mind, and it has really made me re-assess how I engage with issues and activism. (Leading thus far to less wasted browsing time, even if I have yet to revitalize the machinery of democracy very much. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.) Thus far I’ve mostly stuck with Reuters as a sort of first-pass, “A thing happened,” kind of news – you may know of better.

    Also, is that Wikipedia info bar something someone actually put up? It reminds me of the Emu War summary. Source here, being one version of it.

    EMU War

    1. Dana,

      The US new is returning to a pre-WWII media complex — the one that has existed since the first newspaper — with sources having explicit biases. Which is good, shattering the illusion that there are neutral sources.

      Keeping that in mind, I read the NYT — and the daily major story email of The Times — regularly (when I was active in finance I read the WSH and Financial Times). When looking up news, I preference Reuters and the BBC. For European news, Der Spiegel and “The Local” websites (German and Swedish news in English).

      For more about using the news media:

      1. A guide to sources of geopolitical insight on the Internet.
      2. A time-saving tip when reading the daily news.
      3. Suggestions for your daily info diet. You are what you read!
      4. Economics can help understand events in America and the world. Here’s where to find those answers.
    2. Dana,

      Loved the Emu War summary! I took this out of the post, but it’s funny. We need such perspective on the news.

      A future Wikipedia entry about the engagement on 4 March 2017.
      We can at least enjoy Left & Right jousting with each other.

      The Third Battle of Berkeley

    3. re: news, heard and noted. Good food for thought.

      re: emus, what is a little funny above and beyond the absurdity of the emus “winning” that war is that it seems like it’s actually a good story of public policy. Gov’t is called to assist with a real problem using its unique resources; they do so, persevering long enough to be sure that any problems with their plan are real rather than the equivalent of a flat tire; between a lack of success and a shift in public opinion, the program is wound down and replaced with an earlier policy.

      Obviously, the details can be over-extrapolated, and I am sure the emus would have a different perspective.

  2. I’m in a wait and see mode on the Russia/Trump collusion allegations, however I find it interesting that you point blank call the allegation of Russia collusion with the Trump campaign fake based on someone’s blog which uses Occam’s razor as proof that it’s “all bullshit.”

    1. Aaron,

      “based on someone’s blog which uses Occam’s razor”

      Wow. That’s completely missing the point, which is that there is no substantial evidence given so far supporting those allegations. All we have are leaks by officials of agencies with a long history of lying to us (see the big, but not complete, list of lies by our leaders).

      All I see so far is business as usual in a nation of gullible people — perhaps among the most gullible, ever and anywhere.

    2. Missing the point? Occam’s razor would also indicate that the many indicators of collusion i.e. his business connections in Russia per Trump Jr’s statement (since we don’t have his taxes for some reason), his odd affinity for Putin, his many campaign staffers with ties to Russia, the Steele dossier, the security agencies assessments, etc. are indicative that where’s there’s smoke there’s fire.

      The point I’m making is that that while we don’t have any substantial evidence presented yet, to simply call it point blank fake instead of waiting to see and justifying this assessment based on 1. a blog that uses Occam’s razor as proof *as well as comments from our security agencies that you mentioned lie to us and are not to be trusted* as proof, and 2. the fact that our security agencies have lied to us in the past (therefore this too must be a lie QED) seems rash to say the least.

      Gullible is being easily persuaded to believe something. I am not persuaded one way or the other yet, but there are certainly enough facts to make me believe it’s a possibility. Why are you persuaded to believe and state point blank that it’s fake before we have all the facts in? IMO it would have been more prudent to leave this bit out to make your point. Time will hopefully tell.

      1. Aaron,

        None of those things even qualify as evidence, except to somebody desperate to believe. Several are meaningless. Two are especially daft. (a) The US security services have a long history of politically motivated lies (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. was a commie agent). (b) The Steele “dossier” is just allegations (including one obviously false claim), without a shred of proof, made by an ex-intel agent paid by Trump’s political foes — from a intel agency with a longer history of political lies and those of the US. As I said, Americans are gullible — a gift to our ruling elites.

        Here are two brief reviews of these claims. Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia. Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.

        “where’s there’s smoke there’s fire.”

        Too dumb to comment on. Try “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Only by examination of stories do we see their truth or falsity.

    3. Which is why I didn’t call them evidence. I called them smoke where it might be indicative that there’s fire. I’m waiting to see if anything comes of this, while you rashly call it fake news. Interesting that in your other blogs that you just linked for me to read you state (* are mine):

      “The best analysis I’ve seen is by the team at Lawfare: “About that Explosive Trump Story: Take a Deep Breath“. Their advice…

      “All of which is to say to everyone: slow down, and take a deep breath. **We shouldn’t assume either that this is simply a “fake news” episode directed at discrediting Trump** or that the dam has now broken and the truth is coming out at last. We don’t know what the reality is here, and the better part of valor is not to get ahead of the facts — a matter on which, incidentally, the press deserves a lot of credit.””

      1. Aaron,

        (1) Yes, that Lawfare quote was good advice on January 10. Saying “where there is smoke, there is fire” is explicit disregard of Lawfare’s advice, as are your repeated comments in effect urging people to take these stories seriously. “Indicators of collusion” is just a fancy way of saying evidence, while pretending otherwise.

        (2) You appear to assume that the 3 authors at Lawfare meant to say “never draw conclusions about the evidence”. In fact they said do so slowly. Much information has surfaced in the 8 weeks since Lawfare published that statement, allowing us to draw some conclusions about the claims made so far.

        (3) Contrary to your claim, I did not make assumptions. The specific material I listed as “evidence” are in fact fake news (i.e., propaganda), not evidence. They are unsourced allegations and foolishness (Trump has connections in Russia!).

        (4) You have given no reason to take any of this seriously. Rather, the weak reasons you give to justify taking these stories seriously only shows their lack of foundation — and probable political intent.

      2. Aaron,

        The most important information we have now that we didn’t on Jan 10: the names of Trump’s senior foreign policy and defense appointees. They are almost all either generals — mostly foaming-at-the-mouth-restart-the-cold-war — or defense contractors (Cold Wars = More Dollars ‘R Us).

        Expecting that team to be gentle on Trump is quite delusional (but then, the Left has gone quite delusional since the election). If Putin did pay Trump, he should ask for a refund. Trump being Trump, he won’t give one.

    4. I was very clear from the start of this thread that I’m in a wait and see mode, but that I take the allegations seriously. It’s not a fancy way of saying anything other than that. I’m not sure why you’re trying to twist my words when I’m simply saying exactly what you recommended not even 8 weeks ago.

      “Much information has surfaced in the 8 weeks since Lawfare published that statement, allowing us to draw some conclusions about the claims made so far.”
      Then why did you post an 8 week old link that is no longer relevant? If there is new information that would help me evaluate this allegation so that I *no longer have to wait and see whether these are credible allegations*, then you should post them instead of just saying that they exist after linking me to an old outdated blog you wrote. I would appreciate the additional information and I wouldn’t have to continue to read your attempts to call me dumb for saying things that I’m clearly not saying while spouting your gullible catch phrase again and again.

    5. I fail to see how withholding judgement but taking the allegations seriously shows political intent. Why you’re trying to assign intent where there is none is an interesting question.

      That’s it? His hiring of generals completely changes your opinion that you were highly recommending just 8 weeks ago? Talk about weak sauce. Surely you have more to completely invalidate your prior opinion and now call it fake news. I truly would appreciate more information on these allegations if you have any.

      1. Aaron,

        You’re ignoring what I’m saying.

        “Why you’re trying to assign intent where there is none is an interesting question.”

        No, because it’s not what I said. The intent (seeking political gain) is in the allegations, which are being made by people with adverse interests to Team Trump.

        “That’s it? His hiring of generals completely changes your opinion that you were highly recommending just 8 weeks ago?”

        Wow. I’ve gone over this in six comments, and you ignore all that to focus on the last one — and grossly misstate what I’ve said. Thanks for the discussion. I’m done.

    6. Aaron Groenewold

      Well, how are those foreign policy picks working out for Trump? Papadopoulos was a costly choice.

      Should have picked more generals. LOL

      1. Aaron,

        George Papadopoulos was a junior staffer on the Trump campaign. He wielded no power. Such people are only lightly vetted. For one thing, vetting is difficult when you don’t have government agents doing it.

        “Papadopoulos was a costly choice.”

        The usual suspects are clutching their pearls while having attacks of the vapors. But all of them already hated Trump. I doubt if anyone else cares about Papadopoulos.

    7. Aaron Paul Groenewold

      It appears that Mueller and Trump’s lawyers care about Papadopoulos.

      It also appears that your claims of fake news concerning Russia were, as I predicted, rash. I believe I stated that while the general thrust of your argument was correct in that the far left and right’s belief in fake news is a problem, that attaching the Russia investigation to the list of fake news was a rash move. I stand by my statement as this is being borne out more and more as time and investigations go on.

      BTW, after re-reading this article I noticed more than a few grammatical errors. Y’all should get an extra editor.

      1. Aaron,

        “It appears that Mueller …care about Papadopoulos.”

        Yes. What’s your point?

        “It also appears that your claims of fake news concerning Russia were, as I predicted, rash”

        (a) Can you provide a quote? That looks quite a bogus statement, of the “making stuff up” kind.

        (b) Muller’s indictments show no connection to Trump or his campaign. Much of it concerns activities before the campaign. So far this looks more like Whitewater than Watergate. There too there were indictments, each of which the Right greeted with “impeachment is next!”

      2. Aaron,

        Reviewing your comments, I see that you have a pattern of misstating — or outright lying — about what I said. It’s troll behavior. You can do better. Try responding to direct quotes, as I do.

      3. Aaron Paul Groenewold

        Papadopoulos is in trouble for lying to the FBI precisely because he tried to state that his meetings with Russians took place before he was part of the campaign. We know that he sent an email about getting dirt on Hillary from the Russians to Lewandowski in May and then Manafort later.

        My point is that while you make odd statements about clutching of pearls and downplay Papadopoulos role as if you’re part of the White House PR team, it’s clear that he does matter and that he along with Manafort, Flynn and potentially more Trump inner circle players (Kushner and Trump Jr. are likely candidates, unless one believes they really care about adoption issues) were working to get dirt from the Russians. Manafort was offering campaign notes to Deripaska for F sake. The only question is how far does this go, and is there proof of quid pro quo on something like the removal of sanctions. Clearly Russia trying to influence our election and conspiring with members of the Trump campaign is not fake news. I don’t need to provide quotes on articles that you have written as well as those linked to in your article, and comment threads that exist on your own site.

        Look, if you wanted to qualify your addition of Russia as fake news with the left being wrong on some portions of it and willing to believe anything, especially before all the facts are in, then correct the above article to mention this. Otherwise, as it stands, you’re going to be adding this one to your list of ones you got wrong.

    8. Aaron Groenewold

      If I’m misstating what you said, surely you can quote where this is occurring.
      Trolling. LOL. My point has been simple from the start and plainly stated. The Russia investigation is far from fake news.

      1. Aaron,

        “If I’m misstating what you said, surely you can quote where this is occurring.”

        Here’s an recent example, in this very thread. from 1951 ESP on 7 March 2017. As usual, you make no attempt to explain or justify your trollish comment, nor correct or apologize for it (typical of trolls, rare with other people).

        “Why you’re trying to assign intent where there is none is an interesting question.”

        No, because it’s not what I said. The intent (seeking political gain) is in the allegations, which are being made by people with adverse interests to Team Trump.

        “That’s it? His hiring of generals completely changes your opinion that you were highly recommending just 8 weeks ago?”

        Wow. I’ve gone over this in six comments, and you ignore all that to focus on the last one — and grossly misstate what I’ve said. Thanks for the discussion. I’m done.

    9. “They are unsourced allegations and foolishness (Trump has connections in Russia!).”

      Your comments have not aged well. How interesting to read them a year and a half later. Your generals didn’t matter. We now know for sure that Trump was in talks with the Kremlin during yhe campaign about Trump Moscow and was receiving funding commitments and assurances. Cohen has been a gold mine. Kushner and Junior will likely be indicted. A bunch of folks who lied to Congress will be indicted. What a fascinating and tragically stupid tale of corruption, greed, and ineptitude this is turning out to be. Wasn’t hard to see it coming for those who had researched Trump’s history.

      The smoke is clearing. Better get ready to add this one to ones you got wrong. You should ponder what made you so myopic that you missed it.

  3. FM, this is a pretty great post by you. Lots of food for thought. but perhaps you are repeating “fake facts” about the reform of the failed Obamacare. Perhaps it would be constructive to look first at the fatally flawed ACA and then credit Republicans with at least some humanity and rational caring. Asserting without proof that the intention is to leave millions uninsured does not seem constructive. As to the delusional nature of this acute, likely astro-turfed new McCarthyism, great take. I see this more of a slow motion counter revolution by the bureaucratic state and their supporters than a democrat vs. republican fight only. Your earlier essays on Trump vs. Clinton as administrative state vs. outsider were thought provoking and as it turns out, near prophetic.

    1. Edward,

      “credit Republicans with at least some humanity and rational caring.”

      Why? History shows that is not a valid assumption about ruling elites. Require evidence before assuming exceptional behavior.

      “Asserting without proof that the intention is to leave millions uninsured does not seem constructive.”

      (1) Since ACA was passed the GOP has made its elimination their top priority. Several GOP-run states prefered to not fully implemnet it, denying better coverage to millions of their people. The GOP’s current proposal will strip millions of coverage, reduce coverage for millions more, and probably fatally weaken the full structure. Health care has been one of the most exhaustively studied public policy questions of the past several decades. The GOP knows full well what they are doing.

      “By their fruit you will recognize them.”
      — Matthew 7:16.

      (2) I am interested in truth, not playing futile games. The GOP has shown zero interest in being “constructive” about health care, merely in denying a level of coverage that every other developed nation provides.

  4. “Summary: America entered a new era in 2016. The facades crumbled, revealing the true nature of America’s Left and Right. Their lies, the war against us (the big middle), and their madness. What comes next, how we react to this news, will reveal our nature.”
    Crumbling facades revealing the true natures of left and right? New era? It’s a little bit bigger than that. “Reveal our true nature”? And why does anyone think there is this separate Category outside of left and right in which the great mass of Middles solemnly rest, immune, gullible and unwitting? Did anyone read the articles from WA PO by the statistician or that sad grad student in Poli Sci? Goodness the reveal their lost ness. Confused writing styles and all. Were you convinced or comforted?

    This is just normal unraveling, it happens, for a time and here it’s been gaining momentum for 50 years or more. Sorry if you did not notice it. All social ideals are abstractions. Concrete reality eventually can no longer be ignored. Duplicity says …Hey, look over here. Confusion and maybe chaos ensues. Either those are managed or they increase. Abstractions then adjust to reality. Not the other way.
    WB yeats spoke poetically about the center failing to hold and innocence being drowned.
    Can you bet against an increase in confusion and chaos?
    I don’t know…..probably best not to.

  5. Streeck’s BUYING TIME, spending time with it and him is worth more than a years subscription to any Daily in the USA. Try to assemble some counterpoints to his reasoned claims. That will take up a few evenings.

  6. Although the term ‘liberal’ and ‘left’ are generally assumed to be synonymous with the democratic party I think that far from accurate. We have two right wing parties and calling the democratic party liberal is an injustice to true liberals and progressives. Personally I find it insulting to be considered a democrat just because I’m a liberal.

    They’ve appropriated the term while continuing to steer a center right course while repeatedly nominating one corporate puppet after another.

    It’s a useful game for both partys and it fools most of the people; by conflating the democrats with liberalism you’re playing right into their game and demonstrating that they’ve fooled you as well.

    1. Chuck,

      Political terms have many meanings, and there is no basis to say one is correct and the other wrong. When people speak of “Left” and “Right” as the two sides of the political spectrum, they are using the terms in their original sense. In the 1789 French Estates General those supporting the revolution sat on the left, those supporting the old regime sat on the right.

      The political doctrine of left and right have changed during the subsequent two centuries, but left and right continue to be useful shorthand terms to describe the political spectrum in two dimensions.

  7. Of course the emus won the emu war. There was no identification of strategic nodes or identification of the emu force structure, not even its commanding officers. Furthermore the emus were willing to sustain losses in ways that the Australians, relying on material superiority were unwilling to match.

  8. Thanks, I won one a few years ago for referencing Aliens. (This one feels better, putting a misspent past to work instead of quoting movies) I’m trying to get back to weekly reading of your blog instead of the every couple months I’d slipped into so I can comment on not completely dead threads. I appreciate the posts but especially that you respond to comments in ways that make me either change my mind or at least rework my thought to be more clear.

    Chuck has a point in the left/liberal/democrat terminology. You’re right in your description but I’ve struggled with people to try to differentiate between neoliberal/democrat positions and leftist/anarchist/socialist positions when people say left and lump all of that in to the get Russia hysteria or free trade consensus. (I wonder if libertarians have this problem with getting lumped in with the right. Then again does the right have the same history of purging fellow travelers as the left?) It is one of the problems with limiting the spectrum to a single axis.

    1. The Murr,

      You and Chuck point to an interesting aspect of modern politics, one I’ve wanted to write about. The two-dimensional political spectrum works in normal times, when both sides sort themselves into two coalitions. Left and Right describe these. The issues debated vary by time and place. In the 19th C the Right advocated for Throne and Alter, causes no longer relevant to many people.

      But in times of change that spectrum shatters. Instead of two teams on a line, politics shatters into something seen through a twelve-dimensional kaleidoscope. These political “memes” will fight amongst themselves. It will sort itself out. A similar shattering was brought about by WWI followed by the Great Depression. By 1945 it had worked itself out. The process was slow and expensive.

      Let’s hope we do better this time.

    1. The Murr,

      Thanks for the pointer. That is a great article. I’ll cite it when this comes up again (as it will).

      There is a deeper problem here, identified by Orwell in “Politics and the English Language” (1946). Political activists twist language to cloud our minds. The process is far advanced in America, where what were descriptive terms — communist, anarchist, fascist, racist — are not meaningless labels, used to declare people as outlaws — so that their views need not be considered or debated.

      This debasing of the language renders us mute, able only to grunt to our allies and screech in rage to foes — unable to communicate. This is wonderful, for our plutocrat rulers. See this conversation with a leftist I greatly respect — who has no interest in clear language.

      About political language

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