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Why Trump is good news

  • Published at 08:14 pm March 17th, 2016
Why Trump is good news

For decades now, since Reagan really, Republican presidents have been pursuing economic policies that have increased the gap between the rich and poor. The middle classes in the US are in a squeeze, and the lower middle class, in particular, is reeling.

This is because the economic policies of the US government under Republican presidents have been reckless with the collapse of the economy under Bush Jr, with increasing unemployment, the burst of the housing bubble, and enormous bailouts to what surely must have been incompetent bank managers. And a budget deficit that necessitated government loans of a magnitude never seen before, and entailed complete dependence on Chinese goodwill.

Government spending on schools and health care, disaster prevention, etc were cut. All of this caused clear suffering for ordinary people throughout the US and, in particular, the poor.

What is really strange about all of this is that it happened with popular support. All these Republican presidents and congressmen and senators and governors were voted in with (more or less) a majority vote. So Bush Jr only scraped through, and only with the help of his brother, the governor in Florida, but he still secured close to 50% of the vote.

This is one of the great mysteries of American democracy: The popular support of policies that are detrimental to the majority of the voters.

But there are answers. The republican vote throughout the US has always been about more than the economy. It has been about abortion, gun control, speed limits, immigration, and many other things. Above all, it has been about “government,” which many will utter only with contempt.

Support for the Republicans has come from people who do not like Washington. Who fear that the state will come and interfere in their lives. The ideal American to many is still the independent man who fends for himself, who relies on no one, who keeps his earnings, and creates a home and a life without anyone’s support. The man who makes his own fortune, the self-made man, who decides for himself what an ideal life is, the completely autonomous man, the maker of his own life.

In this version of a good life, the government is far away. In American mythology, self-image, and popular culture, the only legitimate state representative is the sheriff. And the sheriff is locally elected, and answers to locals. There is no other government, except corrupt politicians. When did you last see an American film that featured an honest politician?

Economic policy divides Democrats from Republicans, and so do their attitude to the government. Politicians who favour a strong state tend to belong to the Democrats. Politicians who, with conviction, could say “less state” are Republicans.

Except that that is how you got cheated. The Republican leaders did not work for less state. The state remained the same, more or less, and actually increased substantially in armed forces, for instance, the state paid heftily to the military-industrial complex, as well as built up a hefty foreign debt that had to be serviced.

The only major section of society the state withdrew from was financial control, with the consequences that we have seen. However, once the disaster had set in, the entire financial sector relied on state intervention to save their bacon. A strong state with enough money to bail out the incompetent bank managers had become necessary. The state debts increased and had to be serviced, school budgets were cut, and the bank managers and share holders got away with limited loss.

The reason why Trump is good news is that he represents the section of the Republican vote that received the short end of the stick. These are still people who do not trust the government, who want less government and less state interference in their lives, possibly even at the cost of Obamacare. But they are people who have come to distrust the run-of-the-mill Republican presidential candidate.

The run-of-the-mill republican presidential candidates all look alike, all speak alike, and all hold the same views. They hold views that make most people in the world scared. There is no need for any general health-care they say, there is no man-made climate change they say, there is need to think twice about how to deal with ISIS -- just send the guns in, they say.

The answer to everything is force or private initiative. They all agreed in one of the early debates that climate change may be happening or it may not be, but whatever the case might be, private initiative was the answer. God help us all if any of them become president!

The Republican Party is elite controlled. The leadership is rich, very rich, and closely allied to other men of money. Their detachment and self-service is mind boggling, and their forked tongues come out in how they still advocate less government while accepting the huge bailouts after the economic crises under Bush Jr.

But the forked tongue is invisible. With the help of crafty spin-doctors and communication advisers, as well as a media that plays along with the need to entertain, they manage somehow to portray themselves as ordinary, likeable blokes holding “common-sensical” views. In reality, they are a world apart from the everyday of the middle-class American, who fears loss of jobs to China or Mexico and who struggle to buy petrol and keep their kids in college.

The only exception to the parade of the sleek, neo-conservative presidential wannabes is Trump. The support for him amounts to a revolt within the Republican Party. He holds most of the same views, but he does not speak alike. In fact, he speaks in a way that has upset the rest of the pack as well as the Republican leadership.

And the more the leadership is upset and cringes at the thought of Trump winning the primaries, the more Trump looks good in the eyes of his supporters. They are against government, and so is Trump; they are against the Republican leadership, and so is Trump.

No other candidate, Republican or otherwise, can represent quite that set of values. Money rules in the Republican Party, more so than with the Democrats (although they are certainly no saints), and the rule of the rich has come to rub the ordinary Republican voter the wrong way.

So, I hope Trump wins the primaries. He is no hero, of course not, and he would be pretty bad as president. But if he wins the primaries, he will rub against the noses of the rich and their enormously unfair economic policies.

Trump is good news because support for him indicates that a broad dissatisfaction with Republican leaders is translating into actual protest votes. It is good for the American democracy that Republicans may be forced to reconsider their economic policies and readdress how it affects the voters.

And with Trump as the Republican candidate, the Democrats have an open field. 

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