The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Look, Trump’s Policies Are Nativist Populism

He supports Social Security.

He wants universal healthcare (something better than Obamacare, which is not universal healthcare).

He believes in a bilateral trade policy rather than “free trade.”

Now Trump wants to increase taxes on the rich, including getting rid of the carried interest exemption, which would hammer hedge fund managers and so on, whom Trump is correct about: They build nothing—in fact, they are a drain on the economy, straight and simple.

This is married to a nasty, anti-immigrant side, of course, and to some equally nasty social positions. However, on economics Trump is proposing some stuff that any progressive should want, and which has been anathema to the Republican party since Reagan. (In 2000, Trump was for some stuff, like eliminating capital gains taxes, a position with which everyone should agree.)

Moreover, he is winning with these proposals, showing that right wing economic populism is still powerful: It was simply not being represented by the Republican party (or the Democratic party, for that matter).

Trump, Sanders, and Corbyn are all showing what is actually possible, if you dare to propose it. Positions which have polled with majorities for decades are not death to politicians. Who knew?

Corbyn and Trump, in particular, have been vilified and ridiculed by the Press, yet both are winning their respective elections.  Ten years ago, such vilification worked. A candidate could propose those policies showing well in the polls, yet still lose the primaries.

Today, this doesn’t work, because people have had it; they know that just because a politician is favored by the press does not mean that politician will help them, and, in fact, will most likely make their lives worse. They know this because the politicians to whom the press and the establishment have granted their approval, for over 40 years, have (with only a few hiccups) have made their lives worse.

Meanwhile, if trend lines continue, Sanders will take the Democratic nomination (though, of course, trend lines may not continue).

This is a realignment moment: People are no longer willing to put up with politics (and economics) as usual. All three men, if they win, will have mandates. They have been running honestly on what the press and establishment consider “radical” policies (the population does not agree, and never has. Americans, in particular, said they were right wing and consistently polled as wanting rich people taxed, along with various other populist policies).

Expect the vilification to continue, and if Sanders continues to make ground, expect the press to turn from largely ignoring him, to attacking him.

Looks like Brits and Americans may finally, after about 30 years, have a chance to vote again for something other than Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

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  1. Both Sides Do It

    Best case scenario is that rhetoric like this (esp. carried interest, whooboy things are starting to get interesting) leads to a Dem congressional win or two in competitive districts due to the Repub runs away from popular policies.

    Because facts is facts: tax code ain’t gettin’ better. Carried interest will be with us awhile longer. Presidents don’t decide this stuff, focused coalitions do.

    But if the presidential race goes down the rabbithole and gets a more progressive Congress than we otherwise would have had, that’s great news.

    Trump himself would be terrible; no amount of good he could do would outweigh replacing at least two S. Court judges and locking in conservative judicial fiat for thirty years.

  2. seltzeraddict

    It doesn’t matter if a Dem or Repub win. Both parties are completely dedicated to an infinite growth model, which is exactly what is wrong with the world, and they’ll defend it to the end, be it Bernie, Hillary, or Donald.

    42% less wildlife than 50 years ago.

    32x more human biomass than 50 years ago.

    10 billion human population by 2050 all reaching for that middle class American living standard.

    This is all unsustainable.

  3. hidflect

    So Trump is to the left of Hillary economically. I often suspect many Democrats champion socially liberal causes (something the non-religious elite don’t give 2 fcks about either way.) as a smoke screen in order to press ahead with the issue that matters: handing off more earnings to the rich.

  4. Uh, title?

    “respective respective”

    “Looks li*k*e…”

    I don’t mean to nitpickulate but the title kind of put me into editor mode…

  5. V. Arnold

    Is it just possible Trump isn’t a liar or a hypocrite?
    Hypocrisy, the norm of politicians for the last 60 years (at least), seems to be MIA with Trump.
    In my quite long life, I’ve known many different people of all stripes; but of those, the thing I could never tolerate were the hypocrites.
    We do live in interesting times; Trump has shocked; he may yet surprise…
    I see nothing else on the horizon; Bernie? He’s in fact powerless (not to mention a Russophobe, and a hawk; Clinton? Corrupt to the core; and a lying sack of manure, not to mention the H word and a major hawk (so much for women being less militaristic).
    The rest are second benchers. Biden is just more of the same.
    Elections pretty much don’t matter, with the possible exception of a real scrapper/fighter somehow gaining office.
    Obama is the classic example of an owned man of no real power; the ultimate public hypocrite, looking forward to wealth and security for his family, but not his country; but he’s black, so that can never be guaranteed in racist America. I’m sorry for his oh so public failure, lies, and betrayals…
    America is at a cross-roads; this may well be its last chance to affect the actual course of the hegemon. Scant few vetted Obama; if they had, the truth would’ve been seen and his charade exposed.
    If one doesn’t know where one is, or has been, then the future can offer no choices for intelligent decisions.
    For most; that is the predicament…

  6. V. Arnold

    Oh splendid! Cheney just endorsed Biden’s potential candidacy. Wow, what an endorsement!
    What more needs be said?

  7. Frank Stain

    ‘So Trump is to the left of Hillary economically.’

    No, I suspect that is incorrect. So far, the only populist economic issue Trump has touched is the carried interest exception on capital gains. But so far as I know, he has not made a specific policy commitment. Otherwise, he talks the usual right-wing nonsense on taxes: lower corporate taxes, flatter, simpler tax code, get rid of all the deductions, etc. I’m going to say: this does not by any means amount to a ‘populist’ economic policy. Perhaps he does want to go after hedge funds. Good for him. But all other rich people are likely to get a huge tax cut.
    Clinton has already committed to a specific policy (although woefully insufficient) to discourage short-term profiteering by elongating the time before investors can claim a lower tax rate.

    So far, all Trump has is noise, with no commitment to a specific policy.

    That said, I agree with Ian’s point that we are in the midst of a realignment. It may not happen in this election cycle, but the erosion of the institutional power of the major parties means we are now in a new political era of loose cannon demagogues backed by one or a few billionaire investors, duking it out to win control of a moribund party machine. This is the era of politics as spectacle and the strong man. Welcome to the future.

  8. This is really a lot of blarney. You’re reading past quotes as official platform directives, and that’s a mistake with Trump. That’s a huge mistake to make with Trump.

    The only thing he’s come out with is his stance on immigration “reform”. Oh that he supports Tom Brady.

    Don’t make him into some kind of populist hero until his one item platform issues list grows a bit.

    Why is he winning on the right? Because whites are feeling threatened. Because a lot of America is bigoted and racist. Because people want to blame Others for their problems, even if they’re the ones truly responsible.

    He’s popular because he’s never served in office, not even as dog catcher. Of course, we have no idea how he would do when he has to be accountable to people. But hey! He’s not an insider.

  9. dsj

    It won’t matter what the economics are or aren’t with regard to Trump. In the end it looks like this:

    Trump is embracing the populist message but the president doesn’t define the economic course, the congress does (unforced errors notwithstanding). If elected it’s easy to predict that 100% of the nasty social agenda gets enacted but 0% of anything resembling the economic agenda. The message clearly sells but Trump has yet to prove he can actually get the votes (polls aren’t good enough). If he makes it to a nomination he’ll then have to wrangle actual policy from a Republican congress that is not bound by his promises. Trump is driving the party right now but that is not the same as directing it.

    Everything for Trump applies to Sanders only worse with regards to the ability to govern. It isn’t enough for one savior (no matter the personal appeal) to save a party or the nation. We are at this point because of a systemic issue in American government.

    Corbyn is the only one of the 3 that has a chance, and only because if elected holding his party means actually having the ability to govern.

  10. Ken Hoop

    It could be argued also that a liberal immigration policy harms the interests of African Americans just now.
    Trump’s foreign policy accepted at face value is also far from that of the anti-Elitists
    Buchanan and Perot when they attempted to destabilize the system. Trump has Bolton on staff as advisor, even though Trump says anyone who continued supporting the Iraq War after 2004 was a fool. Trump is opposed from a hawk position to the Iran deal, which Buchanan and all the populist rightists at TAC support.

    That said, you grasp at anything which even by accident might lead to positive outcomes by increments.

  11. DMC

    Populism isn’t always a phenomenon of the left. The history of the US Populist party shows how nativism and other reactionary trends can infect populist movements and the history of Fascism shows how movements can be populist AND reactionary from the get go. Ian is NOT saying Trump would be good for the country, merely that Trump is the only one of the Republican candidates that’s really tapping into the Zeitgeist by taking these “Populist” positions. Its like I was saying in the earlier thread, Trump is “the Man on the White Horse”. In the perception of the average rube Fox watching Republican voter, he’s “saying what needs to be said”. Precisely because he’s never held an office he has no record to run away from. He gets to be a blank slate that they fill up themselves. The rest of the “serious” candidates come off as a bunch of insincere stiffs who are more or less uncomfortable in the spotlight while Trump works the crowd like a guy who’s spent half of his life on TV. In some respects it’s a wonder that its taken someone like Trump this long to emerge, basically a Reagan who writes his own scripts.

  12. Hvd

    Wow! A veritable Guthrie or Dylan writing and singing his own music.

  13. Kim Kaufman

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    Will Stories of Mob Ties and Crooked Deals Sink Donald Trump?

  14. Kim Kaufman

    Also, Syriza also won. And then effed up. Wouldn’t it be nice if any of the so-called good guys actually did something positive? Winning is easy… governing is hard.

  15. Good point, Kim. That’s why it’s so important not to trash each other’s candidates (mine is Hillary), and work like the very devil to elect more liberals to congress.

  16. steeleweed

    I believe the situation has deteriorated to the point it cannot be repaired/saved via the political machinery now in place. Every country, culture, People have a Social Narrative which provides a sense of identity and defines their view of the world and their place in it. I think the rise of Sanders and Trump indicates that the wheels are coming off the American Weltanschauung. It’s too late for ‘politics as usual’, even when populism hasn’t been part of Usual since the 1930s.

    As I remarked elsewhere, I will support Bernie Sanders all the way. Not because I think he will win the nomination or the presidency or that his ideas are a solution to our situation, but because his point of view, his mindset, his caring, his identification with and concern for people over money/power needs to become the national mindset, a new American Narrative that can mitigate and humanize the coming darkness.

  17. This is assuming Trump, Sanders and Corbyn aren’t what’s known as “controlled opposition”.

  18. Pelham

    One of the media knocks on Trump is that he’s prone to making strong assertions about what he’d do in office, as if he can just mandate a policy and it will happen.

    True enough, I suppose. But how does that differ from what any other candidate is saying?

    Also, can’t recall where I read it, but it’s said that Trump is guilty of self boasting. Note, however, that his campaign slogan is “Make America great again.” Anodyne though it may be, is it any more boastful than Clinton’s slogan (HILLARY) or Bush’s (Jeb!)?

  19. V. Arnold: “Scant few vetted Obama; if they had, the truth would’ve been seen and his charade exposed.”

    Some of us did try to warn everyone. He was my senator for about a minute, and a damned disappointment. But try as I might to bring out the inconsistencies and the lies, I was not just unsuccessful. I was banned from many a so-called progressive website.

    People wanted to be fooled, and there’s not much you can do about it when they’re enjoying that high. And that goes for both right and left.

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