Michael Wolraich's picture

    The New Normal

    Everyone wants someone to blame for the election of 2016. It's the media's fault that Donald Trump is running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. No, it's Hillary's secretiveness and her Wall Street connections. No, it's the bankers. No, it's the economy, stupid. No, it's sexism, racism, reality television. And so on.

    Many of these factors do affect the race, but none of them really explains the Trump phenomenon. Sure, Hillary would be further ahead if she were more charismatic or if the press were easier on her, but the real mystery is how a man like Donald Trump is in the race at all.

    According to the old rules of American politics, his campaign should have been a non-starter. No matter how weak his opponents or how besotted the press, Trump should have been nothing more than a marginal figure in the Republican primary, let alone the general election.

    The fact that he has come so far means that the rules themselves have changed. Trump is the beneficiary of a momentous political realignment that the media and the political establishment have yet to acknowledge, let alone adapt to. The ground is shifting.

    For the past 100 years, the Republican and Democratic parties have battled over socio-economic interests. Republicans represented capital. Democrats represented labor. This fight is obsolete now; we just don't realize it yet. The 21st century will feature a new divide between global-minded modernists and provincial traditionalists. If I were Tom Friedman, I'd come up with snappy nicknames, like glo-mos and retros.

    The educated, upwardly mobile, multicultural glomos live in coastal metropolitan areas, including states like Georgia and Arizona that are currently Republican. They prefer technocratic politicians who support immigration, diplomacy, trade, and government institutions. They are pro-corporate but accept modest regulation (think Google, not Walmart).

    The primarily white, religious, economically stagnant retros live in the rural heartland, including midwestern states that have been traditionally Democratic. They prefer jingoistic populists who support border controls, protectionism, Christian values, and isolationism. They oppose all large global institutions, from the U.N. to multinational corporations.

    Until recently, the retros were mostly impotent. Republican leaders paid them lip service and courted them in election years but did little to represent their interests. But the retros have been growing, coalescing, seizing power. John McCain felt obliged to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate to appease them. They tossed out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and hounded Speaker John Boehner from office. They have largely taken over the GOP in states like Kansas and Oklahoma.

    And now they have a presidential candidate. Donald Trump. The reason he has come with spitting distance of the White House is not because Hillary is unlikeable or the media is spineless or the economy is struggling. He is here because he represents a vast coalition of American voters, a coalition that represents the future of global politics, or rather one side of the future.

    Hillary Clinton represents the other side--modernists, globalists, technocrats. The Wall Street Republicans holding their noses while they vote for her don't realize it yet, but they are future Democrats. Not the old the Democratic Party of workers but the new Democratic Party of institutions.

    Clinton will probably win this election, but win or lose, this battle is just beginning. There will be more Clintons and more Trumps. With each election, the realignment will become starker, and the old familiar fights between capital and labor will drift into the haze of memory. The next Trump-like presidential candidate will not be shocking or baffling. He or she will be the new normal.




    The GOP voters who selected Trump are bigots and science deniers. Trump got less than half of all Republican votes in the Primaries. The GOP leadership remained silent in the face of racism.The GOP has lost every ethnic minority. Good luck to the GOP Presidential candidates in the future.

    I was viewing some Congressional Hearing yesterday and Cruz was doing the cross-examination of some Governmental Official.

    All I could do was shake my head.

    Cruz would be worse than Trump because the Cuban/Canadian knows what he is doing.

    Cruz and Santorum and Huckleberry and all the other repubs who ran this election cycle would:

    Cut food stamp programs; even those created for poorer students.

    Cut taxes for the richer individuals and richer corporations.

    Further destroy our system of public schooling.

    Cut Medicaid and Medicare.

    Cut SS benefits. Although folks making over a hundred grand a year should be taken off the rolls.

    Deregulate all facets related to our economy.

    And so forth.

    I think that Trump backers exhibit the Samson syndrome.

    Tear this motherfucker down and start all over.

    But that will never happen.


    Nice phrase, "Sansom syndrome." No, they won't tear it all down, but they might knock down a few columns.

    Oh Mike, I just came across this critique to two books concerning the Tea Partiers (or at least a segment of these folks) at the New Republic:



    Thanks, DD. Hillbilly Elegy has been getting a ton of buzz. I haven't read it but just bought a copy for a friend.

    Tear this motherfucker down and start all over.

    We tried that for 8 long disastrous years with W. The GOP Base ran away from it, put on funny hats, and called themselves the Tea Party.

    Doing it again with The Great Compeller may be one too many. There are no Obama 2.0s in sight to clean it up if it would be even possible. 2010-16 may be recalled with nostalgia and as the best of times.

    As usual, you're facing the facts head-on.  Slate also has a good piece about why Trump's legal scandals don't bother his supporters. The argument is that people who like Trump like that he cuts corners, buys politicians, stiffs contractors and then fights them in court.  They like, most of all, that he seems unconstrained by cultural norms and even laws. So, why do people like that so much? It may be that they feel constrained themselves. May be the old love of rebels. May be that things get so distorted in our national conversation that a guy who inherited a real estate fortune and then made a bigger one in the clubbiest industry in the world is somehow an outsider... I don't know.

    Being an "outsider" doesn't mean that you're actually outside of anything. It just means that the "insiders" don't like you. Trump made himself a hero of the masses by becoming insufferable to the elites.

    Ah, yes. His secret shame that no matter how wealthy he becomes, other wealthy people will continue to look down on him.  Exact same dynamic at work with his buddy Vince McMahon.

    Pretty unbelievable definition. Many insiders are insufferable loathed jackasses, but still vacation at the Cape, lunch at The Palm, can get an audience with the Pope or the House Speaker or a personal op-ed in WaPo or NY Times. And it's pretty hard to be hated by *every* part of the hoi polloi - every dick finds his audience. In the current case, Trump may be somehow largely hated, but many are creaming themselves to show how much they've come around to him. Typically outsiders are shunned and have trouble with access - not so The Donald, eh? Fuck, he had a long-running successful reality show, tons of rich people show up at his latest wedding...

    The only thing "outside" about him is he shames reality by repeating a word that simply doesn't apply, yet people go along with his definition. You shouldn't.

    PP, perhaps you missed my scare quotes. Of course, Trump isn't actually an "outsider." But he has successfully positioned himself as one because a) he has never served in office, and b) he says things that offend the political establishment--Reince Priebus and other GOP hacks notwithstanding. That makes him an outsider in the eyes of his constituents, regardless of how you or I define the term.

    Ok, I saw the scare quotes, but there was a double layer of logic, so wasn't clear whether you believed the theory you were espousing. Yes, to his believers he's an outsider, a patriot, the last honest man, etc. All these memes they coopt without them meaning a thing in practice.

    And in turn he became insufferable to more than half the country.  There is more to his popularity than a snotty nose-thumbing at the establishment. Years of Hannity/Limbaugh/Levin/Coulter/Beck/O'Reilly/Tea Party/Koch Brothers/Fox News/BushCheney/McConnell, etc., with no attempt at tempering those views with logical reasoning have now inured millions of people to the real causes for their misery.

    They're ripe for blaming and desperate for solutions, and Trump gives them relief by promising that he'll save them.  They don't care about or want to know the details; they just want to be saved.

    The Republicans have done a lousy job of protecting jobs, of working toward better health care, of raising citizens up instead of bringing them down, and the Dems have done a lousy job of fighting against them.  The rise of both Sanders and Trump was probably inevitable, given the dissatisfaction and feelings of  hopelessness on both sides, but there is no logical answer for the continuing popularity of Donald Trump. 

    As long as we have a government we'll have an elite establishment.  The question is, which elite establishment will work better for us?  To most of us the answer seems obvious, but we're less than two months away from the election and it's still not clear who will win.  Hillary and the Dems have their work cut out for them.  From now on their only chance is in convincing voters they're better at governing than either Trump or the Republicans.

    They'd better get to convincing and not just defending.  They're all that stands between us and Donald Trump. We can't do this alone.


    Manufactured dissent, Ramona it's easier to get people to complain than agree. Where I live they swapped out the two main parties for 2 new parties that do the same - the people feel they got some change, the insiders keep their embezzlement and sweetheart deals. In the US Fox transferred its meme to internet blogs - let a 1000 flowers bloom. Same with the left. Where do we go from here?

    There are many trying to make sense of this election. I have never been more disappointed in the American people nor more confused. Here's just one example. In poll after poll more than 60% of the people say Clinton is qualified to be president. More than 60% say Trump is not. Given how close the race is there must be people who say Clinton is qualified and Trump is not but plan to vote for Trump anyway.

    No matter how low my opinion of the American people gets they always seem to find a way to convince me that I've overestimated them.

    Not necessarily. Some people who intend to vote Trump may answer that both or neither are qualified.

    And remember, Trump's average support has been just over 40 percent, so depending on the sample size, it would only require a few people to answer this way to get these results.

    Not necessarily. Some people who intend to vote Trump may answer that both or neither are qualified.

    That is because it is an anti establishment election. They see him as not part of the current government insiders. It is an election defined by the haves and have nots.  The right and the left or red and blue lines are now very blurred. Labor has had very little representation for the last 40 years. The question is how is labor going to vote in the coming few cycles?  

    That's a good question. For too many years now the Dems have either ignored or dismissed labor, as if Big Labor hadn't worked tirelessly over the years to put them where they are today.  I don't hear Obama or Hillary talking about labor's troubles at all.  Big mistake, I think.  They need to convince workers who see no hope up the road that they've got their backs.  If they don't, Trump will fill in the gaps--saying what labor wants to hear with no intention of doing anything for them once he no longer needs them.

    This is Hillary's chance to become the populist millions of disillusioned Americans are looking for.  If she doesn't move toward the economy and the problems of the poor and disappearing middle class she'll lose to someone who would be a disaster for the people struggling to move up.  If she doesn't understand the importance of this, I hope someone in her camp finally sees the light and can convince her.

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