Thursday, November 10, 2016

A small smorgasbord on the Trump mystery

We're still hashing over Ronald Reagan's 1980 Presidential win. So we'll be talking about what happened on Tuesday for a long time.

DiEM25 is the leftist activist association of which former Greek Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis is a prominent leader. It's pro-EU but anti-austerity and pro-Keynesianism. This is an official statement from DiEM25 on the US Presidential election which has the written-by-committe flavor typical of such pronouncements these things typically, but its perspective is notable, Trump’s Triumph: DiEM25 on how progressives must react 11/06/2016:

Donald Trump’s victory marks the end of an era when a self-confident Establishment preached the end of history, the end of passion and the supremacy of a technocracy working on behalf of the 1%. But the era it ushers in is not new. It is a new variant of the 1930s, featuring deflationary economics, xenophobia and divide-and-rule politics. ...

The Establishment’s folly is causing its demise. Unable to come to terms with the economic crisis they created, they crushed the Greek Spring because they could. They pushed the majority of British families into austerity-induced hopelessness. They committed millions of Germans to mini-jobs. They conspired to keep Bernie Sanders at bay. And when Golden Dawn, Brexit, the Alternative für Deutschland and Donald Trump were the result, they responded with a mixture of condescension, denial and panic.

Politics is undergoing a shake up that the world has not seen since the 1930s. A Great Deflation is now gripping both sides of the Atlantic, re-kindling political forces that had been dormant since the 1930s. President Trump’s use of Mussolini-like tactics and narratives is a mere symptom of the rendition of that bleak era.
I'm not sure that Great Deflation quite applies right now, at least in the US. But that's been the condition in the eurozone "periphery" countries for years.

Michelle Goldberg gives her take on the Trump vote in a post whose title suggests a less nuanced view than she's taking, Donald Trump’s Victory Proves That America Hates Women Slate 11/09/2016. It includes this memorable observation:

As those of us opposed to Trump and Trumpism absorb the trauma of what happened in America last night, there are going to be vicious recriminations on the left. I don’t begrudge any Bernie Sanders supporters the consolation of thinking that their man could have saved us from this calamity. All of us are grieving, trying to make sense of the worst thing to happen to our country in modern history. All I can say is that I’ve been to Trump rallies in the midwest, south, and northeast, and I never saw a single sign or T-shirt about free trade. I never heard chants about NAFTA or TPP. What I heard was Trump That Bitch and Build That Wall. When Clinton delivered her heart-shredding concession speech, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange reportedly booed and chanted 'Lock her up!' They know Trump’s victory was no rebellion against Wall Street.
Madame Beloved looks at several variants of Trump supporters in A Typology of Trump Voters 11/09/2016

Thomas Frank shares his early take in Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there Guardian 11/09/2016. Frank is always worth reading. But in this one his annoyance at general Democratic Party hackery seems to be leading him to minimize the extent to which the mainstream media's anti-Clinton habits came strongly into play. They did hype the e-mails story and let rightwing Republican partisan FBI Director James Comey yank their chains in a pitiful way.

But here he describes an important aspect of the Trump-Clinton contest:

... she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine.

She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. Had winning been the party’s number one concern, several more suitable candidates were ready to go. There was Joe Biden, with his powerful plainspoken style, and there was Bernie Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. Each of them would probably have beaten Trump, but neither of them would really have served the interests of the party insiders.

And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest.

Also from the Guardian, Paul Mason looks at the Trump puzzle in Globalisation is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed, arguing, "this is not some two-dimensional revolt against poverty and wage stagnation. It is a three-dimensional revolt against the impacts of neoliberalism – both positive and negative."

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