Then What?

In two weeks, Americans will finally go to the polls. The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she’s humming, and unless every reputable pollster in the U.S. is monumentally wrong, Donald Trump will lose by a very substantial margin.

What we don’t yet know is how much damage the Orange Disaster will do to the “down ticket” races. For the sake of the republic, I’d like to see the Democrats take both the Senate (likely) and the House (not so likely), because otherwise, we are likely to continue the partisan gridlock that has prevented the federal government from functioning at anything but a bare minimum.

When the only thing Republicans can agree on is the need to block anything and everything proposed by a Democratic President, it’s no wonder judicial vacancies (at all levels) go unfilled, only stopgap budgets get passed, decaying infrastructure goes unattended and even urgently needed responses to public health crises are months late.

Whatever the contours of the next Congress, however, the GOP will face an immediate quandary. Can the party be stitched back together? Can its three distinct elements–the white nationalists, the Religious Right and the business/”country club”/establishment wing–continue to coexist in the same political organization?

An article by the Brookings organization suggests that the Republicans take a lesson from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who recently laid out what Brookings described as “a bold plan to reform her country—and her party.”

Prime Minister May framed her party’s task as creating what she calls a “Great Meritocracy”—a country “built on the values of fairness and opportunity, where everyone plays by the same rules and where every single person—regardless of their background, or that of their parents—is given the chance to be all they want to be.” It shouldn’t matter, she said, “where you were born, who your parents are, where you went to school, what your accent sounds like, what god you worship, whether you’re a man or a woman, or black or white.” But if we are honest, she concluded, we will admit that this is not the case today.

Back when I was a member of a very different GOP, those sentiments may not have been universally embraced by the party’s rank and file, but the commitment to meritocracy and the rule of law were at least Republican talking points.

Working-class conservatism can be nationalist without being nativist or isolationist, Mrs. May insisted. It can reassert Britain’s control over immigration without endorsing prejudice against immigrations. It can reassert sovereignty over Britain’s laws and regulations without withdrawing from Europe or the world. And it can respect success in the market while insisting that the successful members of society have commensurate responsibilities to their fellow citizens.

I was particularly struck by the following quote from her speech, because it echoed populist themes that tend, in the U.S., to come from the Democrats:

 So if you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra . . . a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing the company pension is about to go bust, I’m putting you on notice: This can’t go on anymore. A change has got to come. And . . . the Conservative Party is going to make that change.

As I’ve noted repeatedly, the United States desperately needs two adult, responsible political parties. We don’t have a parliamentary system; there is very little likelihood of a third party–new or existing–emerging to fill the void that is the current GOP.

That said, I don’t see how the Chamber of Commerce members coexist with the David Dukes and the Roy Moores. I don’t see how a party that sneers at the very enterprise of government and views large (and growing) segments of its fellow citizens with disdain and explicit bigotry can expect to win elections.

I guess we just need to stay tuned…

30 thoughts on “Then What?

  1. “So if you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra . . . a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing the company pension is about to go bust, I’m putting you on notice: This can’t go on anymore. A change has got to come. And . . . the Conservative Party is going to make that change.”

    This is also what the majority of Americans is angry about. The big question is – how do we manage to get money out of elections and government when it has virtually taken control of all levels here?

  2. Nancy,

    “This is also what the majority of Americans is angry about. The big question is – how do we manage to get money out of elections and government when it has virtually taken control of all levels here?”

    You neutralize the money in the same way that you were able to successfully communicate to your friends with the American Indian argument. You target those with the money with the TRUTH. They can’t escape it any better than anyone else. Money is no defense against the truth. The secret is that you have to have CIVIC COURAGE to communicate it. From my own experience, it can be both physically and financially dangerous. But to refrain from taking action, especially in the present political environment, is even more dangerous.

  3. I fear the new prime minister’s noble ideas which I hope work in Britain would have a different environment here in which to operate. We are so near if not already and totally within the clutches of the greedy (the rich and corporate class) that the renewal options she suggests are not available to us as a matter of political reality. Any such noble impulses attempted here would be met with even greater truckloads of money from “just say no” Republicans and rich libertarians such as the Koch Brothers with their vague talk of meritocracy and how we deserve our fate. We need structural reform, not just show moves like increasing the minimum wage (important as that may be). In short, we need New Deal thinking and Keynesian economics as our rule and guide for the future in which we invest heavily in people rather than Wall Street profits. Socialism, as those on the right will frame such policies? Not at all, but rather a smart use of our resources for the betterment of all, including an investment class shorn of its current disease of instant gratification by the reports of stock analysts every quarter, of a Wall Street where investors actually invest and not just shoot craps. The British prime minister’s ideas are good ones, but before they or something like them can be adopted here, we need to make structural reforms to our political and economic systems so that such further reforms can be seamlessly adopted into what could then be defined as a liberal democracy, an impossibility in the current political climate but a possibility down the road. Meanwhile, we must vote for those who understand how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it, so let’s all vote.

  4. Sheila:

    “The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she’s humming, and unless every reputable pollster in the U.S. is monumentally wrong, Donald Trump will lose by a very substantial margin.”

    Wasn’t every reputable media source in the U.S. monumentally wrong in predicting the rise of Donald Trump?

  5. Marv – Yes, but you are comparing oranges with apples. The media sources can be just as wrong in under-reporting a Hillary sweep. Margins of error work both ways. I predict a near sweep for Hillary (though, as always, assuming a decent turnout, the ultimate arbiter of success). A sweep rather than a mere win is important because it will send a message to the Republicans never to send us another psychotic candidate who doesn’t have a clue (and isn’t even interested in learning).

  6. Marv; and how many Americans – including all four political parties – laughed when “The Donald” again began spouting he would run for president? Yet here we are.

    My primary concern is for the seven weeks after the November 8th election for all levels of candidates on all ballots in all states. The current Congress can escalate their inaction (yes, that is an oxymoron); there are many active issues before them and President Obama to further their do-nothing or scorched earth policies.

    “…there is very little likelihood of a third party–new or existing–emerging to fill the void that is the current GOP.”

    The repeated cry through the years that a third party will resolve this county’s political stagnation has gone nowhere for decades and it will go nowhere and accomplish nothing this late in the current election on all levels. The Libertarian and Green Party poll numbers aren’t worth including in the election. If a third party was a feasible solution or of any importance we would have seen viable evidence long before today.

    To repeat myself; our primary concerns of “Then What?” lay in the seven weeks after November 8, 2016 until January 1, 2017, if we are to survive as Americans inside our borders and our external connections to all other world leaders who, until now, have looked to us for guidance and always to dig them out of their personal disasters – whether “acts of God” or internal destruction.

  7. Gerald,

    I wasn’t making any prediction. It’s too hard to predict. The point that I was making is that the pollsters could be wrong and so could you. My response was to Sheila’s optimistic statement. Polls mean nothing if the turnout doesn’t respond to the polling numbers. For example, African-Americans don’t vote as anticipated for Hillary Clinton or the last minute drive by churches is more significant for Donald Trump than anticipated in the polling. From my personal observations, both scenarios could easily become a reality.

  8. JoAnn,

    “To repeat myself; our primary concerns of “Then What?” lay in the seven weeks after November 8, 2016 until January 1, 2017, if we are to survive as Americans inside our borders and our external connections to all other world leaders who, until now, have looked to us for guidance and always to dig them out of their personal disasters – whether “acts of God” or internal destruction.”

    You’re much better with words than I am.

  9. Sheila: I think that a third party populated by the Republicans of your and my old GOP does exist. It simply doesn’t have an administrative body. Its called Independents. I have several friends and acquaintances who grew up as Republicans who feel such anger for what has happened that they will vote a straight D ticket just to spite the GOP. I personally do not see a Republican party that can rise from the ashes and still have Trump supporters and Tea Partiers as a base. You and I used to be the base of the GOP.

  10. The time to talk about sweeps will be on November 9th. We can’t afford to be complacent about what we think might happen. We need as many people to vote as possible and we need a resounding win. If people think it’s a done deal and stay home we might not get that or even get the win at all.

    Great Britain is already well ahead of the US in election reform. Their campaign season is 5 weeks long and there is no television advertising. Sounds a bit like heaven, doesn’t it?

    The Conservative Party in Great Britain does not believe that corporations are people, a notion so obtuse that no truly rational person would think it, but embraced by the Republican establishment and the conservative majority on the Roberts Court. That alone will make it easier for Ms. May to begin reforms in Great Britain. I wish her well in her efforts and, if successful, I wish she would send the blueprint to whoever is our next President.

  11. interesting that when Mr. Trump was nominated he was about 15% ahead of The Hillbillaries.
    When she was nominated, Trump INSTANTLY fell behind 15%. These so-called reliable polls simply poll 15% + – MORE Democrats then republicans to skew the numbers to please their puppeteer’s whims.
    In this election cycle, the nominee that THEY have selected for our next dictator is : The Hillbillary Clintons.
    It is a situation as with Rand Paul. A Republican big wig told him straight up – ” You CAN’T win .” And so it was.
    As Anton Scalia told Brian lamb – WE chose the President , now get over it.

  12. Too late. The GOP is, as you say, the greedy rich + white nationalists + religious right. So it is composed of evil + evil + stupid. I do not think it is possible for such a coalition of the wrong to reform itself. I think it will continue to make small adjustments as necessary to hold as much power as it needs to prevent US democracy, and therefore government, from functioning properly. After all, and we tend to forget this sometimes, the government is the sum power of we the people in action, so an anti-government movement is a direct attempt to take power from the people, and that is after all their reason to exist.

    The only possible disruption I can imagine that would change the course of the GOP would be for a massively wealthy, good intentioned leader to arise to lead the people in a popular uprising against their evil. An Elon Musk or someone like that who would be willing to spend the money to use the various popular media to educate the public to the point that the GOP as it is today would be overwhelmingly electorally useless. An anti-politician, one who seeks no power, but is willing to overcome the natural advantages of the monied interests by talking over them.

  13. An interesting article from the Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/26/iceland-election-could-propel-radical-pirate-party-into-power.

    Iceland’s Pirate Party, hangs a black pirate flag in their parliamentary office. The Party founded by activists and hackers four years ago is on course to either win or finish a close second on Saturday. All too often in Icelandic politics, the party said, electoral pledges were reneged on after elections, with “the parties forming a government … hiding behind compromises in coalition – enabling them to cheat voters again and again”.

    Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the Pirates’ parliamentary leader, has said, “Across Europe, increasingly many people think that the system that is supposed to look after them is not doing it any more.”
    ==================================================================
    One other point about Iceland and how they dealt with the 2008 crash – 29 bankers have now been sentenced to prison for their roles in the crash. By contrast not a single senior banking executive in the US or the UK has been jailed for their role in the financial crisis. Whilst banks – such as the five found to be rigging the Libor rate – have been hit with substantial fines, the individual bankers behind the fraud, market rigging and irresponsible lending that led to the economic meltdown have all avoided time behind bars.
    =====================================================================
    How sad for the USA we are stuck with two entrenched political parties that have as a Core Value the protection of Wall Street- Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail. Oh, yes there were some meaningless hearings up on the Hill. Will any one go to jail for the massive fraud on the part of Wells Fargo, I doubt it.

    Our McMega-Media CNN, MSNBC and FOX have re-branded themselves following the example of Jerry Springer rather than Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace or Edward R. Murrow.

  14. I miss the GOP of old and wonder if my compatriots from those days are as exhausted as I am with the viciousness and fractious nature of what used to be strategy, creativity and good natured competition.

  15. Louie – Excellente! I have blogged on the LIBOR atrocity and how Iceland very wisely nationalized their banks (and they are thriving today) and sent bankers to jail, and your piece is right on. I suppose Wells Fargo people will be paying (if not already) chump change to regulators while their executives walk, in another demonstration of how not to regulate the financial industry. As I have often blogged, expect more of the same until you hear the jingle of handcuffs in the board rooms.

  16. I think that we need to consider how to define “meritocracy”. How does one define what is meritorious in order to reward it, grant it power and benefit from it?

    I think that we can agree that wealth is not it. Ruthlessness certainly isn’t. Education is good but it has to be the right education for the problem to be solved. Mother Theresa compared to Ghandi or MLK; rank them in order of meritoriousness.

    One of the reasons that I’m a huge fan of the Obamas, every one of them as well as they together, is that to me they live as the best example for all of us. The Gates family too.

    Can an effective meritocracy be designed around such an abstraction?

  17. This struck a chord for me when considering a local election for the IPS school board — ” So if you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra . . . a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing the company pension is about to go bust, I’m putting you on notice.”

    From the 10/24/2016 Indianapolis Business Journal, an Indianapolis Public Schools Board member seeking re-election this fall is facing deserved criticism for his role in leading failed for-profit education company ITT Educational Services.

    http://www.ibj.com/articles/60937-ips-board-member-seeking-reelection-faces-criticism-itt-role#.WA51lhRw8SN.facebook

  18. Here in my upscale California neighborhood there are a multitude of Trump signs and nary a Clinton one. It’s not going to be nearly as big a blowout as most think. We are all living in our information silos

  19. The problem we are all facing is the misdiagnosis of the VELOCITY of the movement Donald Trump is leading. A proper diagnosis would have to be similar to that which take place in the treatment of a cancer patient who has undergone multiple MRI’s, where the current diagnosis is made by examining all the MRI’s from the first to the last.

    The following is from “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45” by Milton Mayer, which is composed of a series of interviews with German citizens who had lived under Nazi rule:

    “You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies,and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time.”

    “Those,” I said, “are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.'”

    “Your friend the baker was right, said my colleague. “The dictatorship, and the whole process of its COMING INTO BEING, was above all DIVERTING. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about–we were decent people–and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose we were grateful. Who wants to think?”

    “To live in the process is absolutely not to be able to notice it–please try to believe me–unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness,acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one was detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

    “How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice–‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.”

    The only way would be a string of POLITICAL MRI’S from the beginning of the outbreak to the present. A method very similar to one Professor Albert Einstein used in the calculation of space and time in his Theory of Relativity.

  20. Gail; ELEVEN Trump yard signs in my small low-middle class neighborhood with one way in or out. My next door neighbor and I left our “Bernie For President” yard signs standing and my “Pence Must Go” sign is still up. One Clinton/Kaine yard sign and one Hillary decal on the back window of my friend’s SUV. The polls are meaningless in this situation; I hope people will listen to Hillary herself when she said not to assume anything about this election, our vote is important, out vote counts. She, President Obama and our First Lady have all stressed the down ballot candidates are just as vital as the presidential. We cannot allow a repeat of 2009 and 2011, giving Congress to the Republicans.

  21. Marv,

    Your last post consisting of quotes from a book by Milton Mayer is frighteningly similar to what has and is going on here. I don’t see a way to stop it either. The wealthy have far too much power and have taken control of our government.

  22. Gerald Stinson,

    You have mentioned that you blog about many of these issues – may we know the name of your blog?

  23. Nancy,

    “Your last post consisting of quotes from a book by Milton Mayer is frighteningly similar to what has and is going on here. I don’t see a way to stop it either.”

    I really like you and Joann. I wouldn’t have upset you with the above post if I didn’t see a way to stop it. An examination of the Political MRI’s, starting from the beginning of the movement Donald Trump is leading, will show that it cannot reach its objective of White Supremacy. There is no escape from the diagnosis. All his movement will accomplish is a catastrophe for all Americans.

    And for the Koch Brothers, they need to consider this…..there will be no escape from the retribution that will follow. Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself.

  24. Nancy – Per your request, I will not impose the name of my blog on you fine (mostly Hoosier) participants in Shelia’s daily efforts without her consent since this is her richly deserved set of followers, not mine. With such consent and my sense of ethics sated, I will be happy to make it public to her group.

  25. Nancy – Shelia has emailed me her consent, so here it is: elderblogger.wordpress.com. I bill myself as one who writes at the intersection of economics and government, but as you know, I fall off the wagon during political campaigns and am prone to comment on historical and economic events that are far removed from the intersection of economics and government. My followers to date are virtually all from this country, but range from Australia to Norway. Should Trump be elected, I will expect to see big increase in transplanted followers in Canada, where I may reside as well. I am Hoosier born and bred and educated with degrees in economics and law, and, let’s see, what else? Oh, I’m a WASP, a Keynesian and liberal to the core. With over 1,100 blogs to my credit (or discredit), you will have some serious reading to do. WARNING: Hemingway I am not.

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