One-Dimensional News

Right now political news stories are all pretty much about the awfulness of Donald Trump. And I’m bored with that. Yeah, he’s awful. There’s no end of how awful he is.

For the sake of defeating the Great Awfulness I’ve been holding back on criticizing Clinton, but there’s not much else to talk about.

Thomas Frank writes that with a Clinton victory a near certainty, you can forget about Clinton leading a progressive administration:

And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything. …

Just a short while ago the American national newspapers were running page-one stories telling readers it was time to take seriously Trump’s followers, if not Trump himself. And on 3 August, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman actually typed the following: “It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust [Hillary] Clinton and are so worried about the future – jobs, globalization and terrorism” that they might actually vote for Trump.

Yes, it scared Friedman that the American people didn’t like their masters any longer. As it has no doubt scared many of his rich friends to learn over the past few years that the people formerly known as middle class are angry about losing their standard of living to the same forces that are making those rich people ever more comfortable.

Well, Friedman need be frightened no longer. Today it looks as though his elites are taking matters well in hand. “Jobs” don’t really matter now in this election, nor does the debacle of “globalization”, nor does anything else, really. Thanks to this imbecile Trump, all such issues have been momentarily swept off the table while Americans come together around Clinton, the wife of the man who envisaged the Davos dream in the first place.

Frank thinks that once Clinton gets her landslide victory she will once again throw progressivism under the bus, and I suspect he’s right.

My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.

She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street. In her big speech in Michigan on Thursday she cast herself as the candidate who could bring bickering groups together and win policy victories through really comprehensive convenings.

Things will change between now and November, of course. But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. She will have won her great victory, not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all, as the leader of a stately campaign of sanity and national unity. The populist challenge of the past eight years, whether led by Trump or by Sanders, will have been beaten back resoundingly. Centrism will reign triumphant over the Democratic party for years to come. This will be her great accomplishment. The bells will ring all over Washington DC.

I disagree that this will be the end of the great populist uprising, but certainly Clinton’s victory — made possible by The Great Awfulness — has slowed it down a lot.

In the New York Times Thomas Edsall wrote,

If current trends continue, not only will there be a class inversion among the white supporters of the Democratic Party, but the party will become increasingly dependent on a white upper middle class that has isolated itself from the rest of American society.

Instead of serving as the political arm of working and middle class voters seeking to move up the ladder, the Democratic Party faces the prospect of becoming the party of the winners, in collaboration with many of those in the top 20 percent who are determined to protect and secure their economic and social status.

It’s been that for quite a while, seems to me. It’s just been in denial about it.

Neither Edsall nor Frank have much to say about the Sanders insurgency within the Democratic Party. I don’t know whether it will be a factor going forward or not; that remains to be seen. If progressives follow their usual pattern of crawling into holes until the next presidential election, probably not. If they follow through (as many vow to do) by electing progressives to Congress in the next several election cycles, then there’s hope.

11 thoughts on “One-Dimensional News

  1. I’ve thought about the fact that, although Reagan gets blamed for deregulation e.g. by Krugman, both Carter and Bill Clinton signed destructive deregulation bills, but then I believe that they both had strong bipartisan support in congress (I should double check to make absolutely sure, but, um, maybe later), in which case I think it would be pretty unusual for a President to go against the consensus of both parties.

    We’re really limited with what can be do about this sort of thing through voting because of the poor design of the U.S. system, but, yeah, voting in off-year elections is obviously important.

  2. FSM, I’m already sick to fucking death of this election!

    Hillary will govern like Obama. As a sightly left-of center Democrat.
    Unlike “”Comb-over Caligula.”

    Look, she’s not going to be Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt.
    But she ain’t gonna be Jimmy Carte either!.
    He tried to bring his Georgia cronies to DC, and pissed-off the DC Villagers even more than Bill Clinton!

    They may despise her, but she’s a part of that DC Village – for better or worse.
    And I’m optimistic that she’ll surprise us.

    I’m, as you know, usually a glass half-glass empty is negative sort of person.
    But this time, with the GOP in an internal Civil War, I’m optimistic!
    Maybe, color me naive, but…

  3. The word “populist” has no fixed meaning in a world that no longer has a shared culture. What does a FOX Newsie know about life in actual cities– not rural or rusting backwaters?

    The “elephant in the room”, if you will pardon the expression, is what to do in a world with more warm bodies than jobs. The obvious solution is massive income distribution, a base livable stipend for everybody. A solution the GOP can’t comprehend and the Left would have no chance of selling to those whose incomes need to be redistributed. Thus, we reach an impasse.

  4. c u n d gulag: I actually think Carter got a bad rap as a failed President, if that’s what you’re alluding to. Mainly he just got effectively screwed over by Volcker and Reagan. But otherwise what I meant was what I wrote.

    As I’ve said before, my main problem with her is in her likely military policy but I’ll hold my nose and vote for her anyway, unless I change my mind at the last minute based on how things are going and decide to cast a protest vote of some kind or another.

  5. And I’m optimistic that she’ll surprise us.

    I share that same optimism. Not to close my eyes and have that optimism serve as a narcotic, but my hope is that Hillary will build a legacy of enduring value.
    ” A good name is more precious than gold”

  6. I agree, Swami. Plus, they have to be cognizant of the fact that maybe, just maybe, our Dems will finally wake up to the fact that we really need to vote in the midterms.Owning the presidency for all time is a good thing, of course, but less valuable without at least one house of Congress.

  7. freetofu,
    I didn’t make myself clear. My bad.

    It’s not that Carter was a bad POTUS. It’s that he came to DC, never been a part of that insular place.
    He came from GA, where he was Gov., and tried to bring up his people who he thought could do the job.
    The town went nuts. Carter was an outsider! How dare he bring in his own people!!!

    And the great GOP and DC undermining of a POTUS began. And it worked so well, they decided to try to “Carter” Bill Clinton – another Southern Democratic Governor.

  8. Don’t know if any of you read John Hogue but he predicts the “revolution” will come in 2020. He is not particularly enamored of either Hillary or Trumpster because of the reasons expressed here. If he is correct and HRC gets elected, maybe that means she will do a terrible job and people are finally fed up. Of course, if Trump gets elected, we will probably never make it to 2020 but be blown off the earth in a nuclear war.
    I’m not feeling optimistic but then lately I have been in a very crabby mood about everything.

  9. A few things come into proximity in this post and comments and the previous post about fighting the return to “normalcy.”

    I think a lot of us can identify with Cund’s sentiments when he says that he is sick of this election. All the establishment politician’s have been in constant campaign mode for what seems like decades. There is a brief hiatus for a couple of weeks after the election, and then the merry game starts all over again. It wears most of us out, and imagine having Patrick McHenry representing your district as I do. This gives the advantage to the side that keeps their base the most ‘ginned up, and we all know who that is. The hard right NEVER gets tired, they are able to sustain a fever pitch hissy fit for years on end, where some of us are just happy to have a bit of peace and quiet. But, that “peace and quiet” never lasts, and it comes at a price. We need to stay engaged, fight every inch of the way and develop a local strategy, along with the national. Unfortunately, I am a pretty good example of exactly the wrong way to be. I guess it’s time for some self improvement.

    I really like what Tom said about”‘populism” having no fixed meaning in a world that no longer has a fixed culture. The major commonality seems to be fear and resentment, and the left and right handle them in very different ways. The irony I hear when people talk about making American great again, is that I think they just want build some walls, drop some bombs get rid of the “dead wood,” (meaning, you know, those pesky less fortunate people.) But, what really makes a country great is its culture, particularly when that culture floats ideas that inspire others. Hey, France got some pretty good mileage out of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,” hell it still sounds pretty good. (Here of course, such notions are part of those “Enlightenment values” that in some quarters are not so highly regarded these days. But, I digress!)

    A few weeks ago, as you know, Switzerland voted on the idea of providing a stipend to all residents. It would be enough to allow a simple, basic life, as Tom mentioned above. Sad to say, it was defeated, but, given some of the changes coming our way, it seems very attractive. In fact, it might be the first step needed to avoid Feudalism V 2.0.

    “Comb over Caligula” — Did you make that up? If so, you better copyright it.

  10. I HOPE Clinton will surprise us. But facts, recent history, the realities of the political system and the role the Clintons and democratic party play tell me not to be optimistic that she will.

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