Monday, March 28, 2016

They really can keep doing this forever

This is a nice little fantasy by Robert Reich which imagines the rise of a new populist party out of the ashes of the 2016 campaign.  It's hokey. It's written  in the past tense as though Reich is speaking to us from  The Future. But it's worth reading.  At least the what-happened this year analysis is probably correct.
Both Republican and Democratic political establishments breathed palpable sighs of relief, and congratulated themselves on remaining in control of the nation’s politics.

They attributed Trump’s rise to his fanning of bigotry and xenophobia, and Sanders’s popularity to his fueling of left-wing extremism.

They conveniently ignored the deeper anger in both camps about the arbitrariness and unfairness of the economy, and about a political system rigged in favor of the rich and privileged.

And they shut their eyes to the anti-establishment fury that had welled up among independents, young people, poor and middle-class Democrats, and white working-class Republicans.

So they went back to doing what they had been doing before. Establishment Republicans reverted to their old blather about the virtues of the “free market,” and establishment Democrats returned to their perennial call for “incremental reform.”

And Wall Street, big corporations, and a handful of billionaires resumed pulling the strings of both parties to make sure regulatory agencies didn’t have enough staff to enforce rules, and to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Establishment politicians also arranged to reduce taxes on big corporations and simultaneously increase federal subsidies to them, expand tax loopholes for the wealthy, and cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for it all.
Sounds about right.  After all the sturm and drang of this wacky year, we pretty much end up with business as usual.  Reich goes on to imagine this leading to some dramatic great awakening along the lines of Bernie Sanders' "political revolution." But that's not really how things happen.

What we'll get instead will be product re-launches of the two parties for 2020. The data will be analyzed, the brands will be recalibrated, but the substantive agenda will be unchanged.

In the meantime, according to Reich's vision, we will have had 4 more years of standard neoliberal governance.  This can pretty much go on forever.

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