Monday, May 9, 2016

When You Lie Down With Dogs

Is it time for hysterics and panic yet?

Seems that the elevation of Trump to be the Republican Nominee Presumptive has unleashed a veritable shitstorm of panic and dread on both sides of the political aisle -- because it seems the Party Apparatchiks and Nomenklatura of both the Dems and the Rs fear their chosen one, Mrs. Clinton, will not be able to withstand Trump's withering attacks and his rosy-orange public persona. And he might fucking get elected.

Really? I mean really?

Are they that freaked out by their own creation, or is this all just a game to stampede the masses into voting against their best interests (again) in order to stock the larders of the Highest of the Mighty and stoke the flames of Fear, Panic, and Dread just one more time before the inevitable Collapse?

Somehow, there's an element of unbelievability about all this hoo-hah over Himself, simply because Trump is one of the Oligarchs Who Rule the World, or at least he plays one on TV. He's been around for decades, Asshole of the Western World, repeatedly bankrupted Real Estate Mogul, finagler, deal maker/breaker, bully, freak, yadda yadda. Everybody knows him, everybody. He's like Schwartzenegger only worse.

Electing him to any office, let alone the Emperorship -- er, Presidency -- of the United States of America, (LLP), is absurdity on stilts. Yet here we are, with the distinct possibility of a President Trump in our future... who would have thought????

Of course we've been down this path before, haven't we? Sure we have. Schwartzenegger captured the governorship of California away from Gray Davis in one of the most ill-conceived political actions in my lifetime (and there have been many) when Davis was recalled mere months after an overwhelming electoral victory when he dared -- dared, I tell you! -- to let the vehicle registration fee rise substantially in order to help fund government operations. The nerve!

Schwartzenegger stood for election because he was convinced by some of California's Big Money Boys that he could do better than Davis, and that he was needed in the Capitol to fix what ailed the State of California. Of course that meant looting on behalf of his sponsors, but who cared? He was certainly decorative if not particularly functional.

Who cared that his reign was a failure -- a failure that led to much hardship and suffering, let it be known. Nobody liked Gray Davis, and he made some people's skin crawl, so having Schwartzenegger in the Corner Office was better all around. No?

No. But there are still those who think the presence of a Movie Star in office makes perfect sense.

After all, there was Reagan, wasn't there?

I'm old enough to remember when he was elected governor of California the first time, to the complete shock and dismay of the Establishment at the time. They couldn't believe it, oh no. The impossible had happened, though, and on January 1, 1967, Reagan was inaugurated according to Nancy's astrologer's prescriptions, and the dismantlement of Progressive California began.

Jerry Brown's father, Pat Brown, was stunned. Well, nearly everyone was stunned. Except for those who had voted for Reagan, those for whom the Status Quo had become intolerable.

Which happened to be a majority.

How could it be????

Well, it was easy to fathom, but nobody wanted to fathom it: racism and anti-student-privilege rose to the forefront of public consciousness thanks to progressive efforts at expanding civil rights, urban riots, and widespread student rebellion. Reagan promised to end these problems (once and for all?) and take care of all the other annoyances well-off (and would be well-off) white people in California were complaining about.

So it was.

Perhaps the greatest legacies of the Reagan Era in California were the destruction of public education (through the brilliant tactics of making higher education expensive and administering to death the academics of primary and secondary education) and the termination of public mental health services, leading to untold levels of homelessness and suffering.

That's what happened, and progressive California has not recovered.

It's possible Progressivism will never recover.

But that's another issue for another day.

What we're seeing now is a rerun of sorts, the elevation of a rich, wild, semi-buffoon to the highest office simply because it's possible to do so. Our system has some built in resistance mechanisms against too blatant capture by populists and/or oligarchs, but in the case of popular entertainment figures who sell themselves the way Trump has (a man of the people, no doubt) there is little or no functional systemic resistance. Too often they get elected and there is nothing -- or rather nothing legal -- the Establishment can do about it but yield.

That's what happened in California with both Reagan and Schwartzenegger, and if things turn out the way they've been going, it's what will happen with Trump. Washington has a far more illiberal governing system than California, and yet it yielded to Reagan when he was elected President (pretty much with relief, never having accepted Carter, the peanut farmer) just as it will most likely yield to Trump -- no matter how crazy -- when and if the time comes.

So long as he maintains a rightist populism and keeps the masses tame and entertained, what's the problem, right?

Clinton is in a total bind. She is no populist, and she is unlikely to become one during the remainder of the campaign. She is a rigid, no-nonsense elitist, the definition of the Establishment, and she and her surrogates have been going out of their way to court disaffected Republicans while hurling invective at Bernie Sanders supporters and ignoring or dismissing their interests.

You would think that this would be political malpractice on a massive scale, but apparently those who advise the Clinton campaign insist it's a winning strategy. I don't see it myself, but what do I know?

They've even taken a leaf out of Baroness Thatcher's playbook, touting the notion that "there is no alternative" to electing Clinton in the fall.


But "No you can't" is hardly a slogan I can get behind.

The institutional resistance could not prevent the Bush-Cheney regime from causing havoc. In fact, the institutions of government largely enabled the Bush-Cheney regime. I suspect those institutions would be even less effective against Trump. As long as he kept the masses distracted and entertained...

Much has been made of the apparent collapse of the Republican Party Establishment in the wake of the Trumpist Rebellion. There is a lesson there which apparently cannot be learned by the Establishment or the rebels on the (so-called) Left.

Of course, when the Rs lay down with dogs...

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