Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Rigging the election guide Part Three: Whither the re-greatening?

Trump is toast.  Didn't we tell you that already? Didn't you know? It's done. It's been done for a long time now. Anyway we like to play the guessing game as much as the next folk so here is the not-at-all-shocking prediction.

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

I don't have much to add personally.  Here is some commentary from the past few days you might find worth a moment or two. Both of these were published by Jacobin. Sorry/notsorry.

This first article is by Patrick Barrett & Deepa Kumar. It is a good summary of the total exasperation with the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party many of us have reached.
In reality, the false equivalence claim is simply a mask for the timeworn “lesser-evil” argument. Often repackaged as “harm reduction” these days, the lesser-evil argument has contributed enormously to the vicious downward spiral that has characterized the US political system over the last forty years. Since at least Carter’s initiation of what later came to be known as Reaganomics in the late 1970s, the Democrats in office have at best represented one step forward and three steps back, while the Republicans have represented three steps back; it is the former that has made the latter possible.

The Democrats have played an indispensable role in perpetuating the long rightward shift of the political system by enabling the Republicans to become more and more extreme. With every rightward move the Republicans make, Democrats argue that we must do whatever it takes to keep them out of office, including following in their footsteps, because the alternative would be so much worse.

This steady rightward shift plays into the hands of the Clinton campaign, which, having realized its dream of facing an opponent like Donald Trump, is then positioned to blackmail the Democratic Party’s voting base into supporting its potent mix of neoliberalism and neoconservatism by raising the specter of the increasingly extreme Republicans. And as the Democrats move further to the right, they enable the Republicans to go even farther down that road, intensifying the downward spiral.

Unfortunately, because of the limitations and long-term dynamic of our two-party system, harm reduction is simply not a viable option on the ballot this year. A Clinton-Kaine administration will generate great harm, and in so doing, will create the conditions for the emergence of even greater future threats emanating from both parties, just as the harm caused by Clinton-Gore and Obama-Biden contributed enormously to the awful political choice we face now.
The downward spiral is about to take another turn.  We're sending Trump away, thankfully. But given the sort of behavior and positioning this election has normalized, what about the next Trump?

This article is by Dan O'Sullivan. It's about Trump but it is also about Trumpism and what it meant this year or will mean in the future.
America is the only country on earth — with the possible exception of Great Britain, that other nation of shopkeepers — in which a reality show based around the terror of being humiliated and fired by a petty tyrant would be watched by anyone. In France — that punching bag, and the country America loves to call cowardly — employees regularly attack their bosses when threatened, a pluckiness entirely alien to the would-be tough guys of the American right. For all their bluster, The Apprentice works because Americans crave the approval and success withheld in normal life, grudgingly given to one contestant. A slice gets cut from the billionaire’s pie.

The losers who believe this fairy tale might happen for them — or, failing that, that Trump might at least even the score — are scary when massed. But even in their numbers, they are already dying, receding. It’s because they had taken to bed to die that Trump gained their affinity to begin with.
They will be dangerous, scared, and paranoid after Trump loses on Tuesday; there may be violence committed by his acolytes. But Trump’s proto-fascist front is right on a sole count: America isn’t that great for a lot of people who live in it. It is the “winners” — that vast panoply of elite crooks and hacks who needn’t concern themselves with the little people — whose arrogance and greed rotted out America from the inside, tilling the soil for the calamities we now face.

Trump should be a wake-up call — a frightening enough harbinger that the American dream is a dead end, leading only to failure, frustration, and thoughts of revenge. It won’t be; the demon will be exorcised. The crisis will continue, and the most pressing needs of an unequal and tortured society will not be addressed. The most basic and sensible of policies, such as those espoused by Bernie Sanders, will be strangled in DC — a market captured town, anyway. Hillary Clinton will be president, and business will carry on as normal.

Let no one say they didn’t know of what we are capable. The fleeting chance of an alternative is the only thing worth struggling for.
So what do we do next?  Matt Taibbi is exhausted. He seems to think we should just tune out. Okay that's not actually what he says here. But it's a pretty despairing take.
This has been a terrible year for our country. American exceptionalism as a non-sarcastic idea is dead. Whatever our argument used to be for being a hegemonic superpower with the authority to meddle in the affairs of every other country, it's no longer valid. We're officially earth's most embarrassing people.

The rest of the world is laughing at us this week, when it's not busy being terrified by our ignorance, racism and incompetence. They see a rich country that is spiritually bankrupt, consumed by neurotic aggression and incapable of forgiveness.

We have a lot of real problems in this country, about which we should of course stay informed and vote sensibly. But maybe our biggest problem is the political process itself. Our version of politics dehumanizes and demeans all of us.

Maybe next time, we should shut it off. Try to think about politics only when it intersects with our real lives. Take walks. Spend time with our kids. Something, anything, but not this. There has to be a better way than this.
Finally, this one isn't much better in the optimism department but it's closer to where I am.  It's a conversation between Freddie DeBoer and Amber A'Lee Frost.  It's not exactly full of hope. But it's also about substantively areas of focus.  Hillary is going to be President. Ok, fine. What can we work on in the meantime? Because getting back up and going to work is all we can do.
AAF: That’s possible but I don’t think the washout is necessarily widespread or permanent. I think what we have going for us is a growing sort of kernel of consciousness and a lot of exciting stuff happening around labor and wage demands. And I think we have to go back to “take shit, break shit” models of organizing. It’s coming back to the workplace. I think it’s going to be strikes and slow-downs and seizing the means of production. People are extremely skeptical of that because they think it’s harder with so few factory floors left in the US, but how much easier is it to seize the means when it’s just data and algorithms?I think stuff like Fight for 15 shows that traditional stuff still works.

FDB: Look I’m a pessimist, I don’t think things are going to get better, but if I was going to create in a lab my ideal movement, it would be Fight for 15, in large measure because it is immune to Clinton campaign style undermining with identity politics. I think even Peter Daou doesn’t have the vocabulary to tell a black mother of three that she shouldn’t be making $15 an hour.

>AAF: I’m still thinking very long game. And I love Fight for 15 but it is still very small, not actually really a national movement, but we do agree the future lies in the workplace. I don’t think it stops at wages. A lot of the big unions are currently dead weight, but take something like National Nurses United and they’ve been tirelessly campaigning for socialized health care. It’s not a nurses for nurses union, they’re a larger political project with big political goals.And I think people are only going to look at another horrifying, shitty Democratic regime and know that we have do something outside of the Democratic Party.

FDB: We’ll see.
Update: Finally something truly hopeful. This is Oyster on the sheer unpredictability of this cycle. 
Trump's success-- clobbering a gang of pols who've spent their lives dreaming and preparing for a presidential run-- demonstrates the potential I've long-suspected in national politics. The craziness and unpredictability of it indicate there is more potential than we commonly presume. It's more fluid and less 'rigged' than previously thought. Trump was an outsider who beat the system with little more than rhetoric and a couple unorthodox insights. Bernie Sanders came surprisingly close to doing the same on the Democratic side. It seems to me that this indicates a political opportunity going forward.  

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