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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trump looks set........

In 2014 I followed the long debate about Scottish Independence very closely on my blog – taking an agnostic view and offering no hostages to fortune. The 55-45% vote for continued membership of the UK confirmed my assessment about how things were panning out. 
The shorter debate earlier this year on British membership of the European Union which culminated in the stunning 52-48% support for Brexit was a decision I had felt in my bones – although not one I supported. 

I have the same feeling about the Donald Trump campaign……. The guy is clearly one of the world’s greatest bastards – see, for example, this video on the impact one of his golf courses is having on a small Scottish community…..

At the moment, however, he looks set to land in the White House - and the Anywhere but Washington video series gives us a good sense of why......small town america has turned against the power elite....
Few journalists have seemed able to get his measure but this peak-oil blogger is one of the few who has been able to make sense of the interminable American election process of the past 12 months.
Massive giveaways to big corporations and the already affluent, punitive austerity for the poor, malign neglect for the nation’s infrastructure, the destruction of the American working class through federal subsidies for automation and offshoring and tacit acceptance of mass illegal immigration as a means of driving down wages, and a confrontational foreign policy obsessed with the domination of the Middle East by raw military force. ........Those are the policies that George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursued through four presidential terms, and they’re the policies that Hillary Clinton has supported throughout her political career. 
Donald Trump, by contrast, has been arguing against several core elements of that consensus since the beginning of his run for office. Specifically, he’s calling for a reversal of federal policies that support offshoring of jobs, the enforcement of US immigration law, and a less rigidly confrontational stance toward Russia over the war in Syria.
It’s been popular all through the current campaign for Clinton’s supporters to insist that nobody actually cares about these issues, and that Trump’s supporters must by definition be motivated by hateful values instead, but that rhetorical gimmick has been a standard thought-stopper on the left for many years now, and it simply won’t wash. The reason why Trump was able to sweep aside the other GOP candidates, and has a shot at winning next week’s election despite the unanimous opposition of this nation’s political class, is that he’s the first presidential candidate in a generation to admit that the issues just mentioned actually matter. 
That was a ticket to the nomination, in turn, because outside the echo chamber of the affluent, the US economy has been in freefall for years.  I suspect that a great many financially comfortable people in today’s America have no idea just how bad things have gotten here in the flyover states. The recovery of the last eight years has only benefited the upper 20% or so by income of the population; the rest have been left to get by on declining real wages, while simultaneously having to face skyrocketing rents driven by federal policies that prop up the real estate market, and stunning increases in medical costs driven by Obama’s embarrassingly misnamed “Affordable Care Act.” It’s no accident that death rates from suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol poisoning are soaring just now among working class white people. These are my neighbors, the people I talk with in laundromats and lodge meetings, and they’re being driven to the wall. 
Most of the time, affluent liberals who are quick to emote about the sufferings of poor children in conveniently distant corners of the Third World like to brush aside the issues I’ve just raised as irrelevancies. I’ve long since lost track of the number of times I’ve heard people insist that the American working class hasn’t been destroyed, that its destruction doesn’t matter, or that it was the fault of the working classes themselves. (I’ve occasionally heard people attempt to claim all three of these things at once.) On those occasions when the mainstream left deigns to recognize the situation I’ve sketched out, it’s usually in the terms Hillary Clinton used in her infamous “basket of deplorables” speech, in which she admitted that there were people who hadn’t benefited from the recovery and “we need to do something for them.” That the people in question might deserve to have a voice in what’s done for them, or to them, is not part of the vocabulary of the affluent American left.

What's ironic, of course, is that it's an uncouth billionaire who has challenged the conventional wisdom of the power elite.....

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