Friday, November 18, 2016

Overturning Myths and Expectations

If nothing else, this election has kicked the complacent in the butt. The complacent have had a number of these kicks lately, but it's not entirely clear the lesson has been learned. This is quite a different country, it seems to me, than conventional wisdom would have us believe, and as all the hue and cry and schadenfreude and what have you over the outcome continue unabated -- no, no, they're redoubling! -- it doesn't appear that many observers or opinion leaders have the least clue to what is really going on. It's all about confirming bias and believing falsehood, in other words being willingly conned. And that goes for pretty much all "sides" in the "national conversation" about what happened and where we go from here. I'm as guilty of that as anyone, though of course I see myself as a font of wisdom and objective reasoning. Of course. Don't we all?

I've been through these kinds of elections many times -- going back to Ronald Reagan's California gubernatorial victory over Pat Brown in 1966. The shock then couldn't have been any greater than the shock is now,  I didn't notice at the time, but I've heard that there was a similar shock nationally when JFK defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. The whole Nixon impeachment/resignation drama was certainly shocking at the time, but previously the shocks of the assassination of President Kennedy, and the undermining of LBJ's administration by anti-war fury among other things, followed by the multiple assassinations of 1968 acted as one shock after another. Nothing has been the same since.

Perhaps the most appalling shock of a presidential (s)elecction was the elevation of G W B thanks to the lawless intervention of the Supreme Court in 2000. Nothing like that had ever happened before. A naked power grab, quite simply, with the open connivance and participation of a faction of the sitting government. It was a coup, right before our eyes, and nothing was done about it.

The popular rebellion that tried to get going several times from the beginning of the Bush2 Regime fizzled out, partly because the media ignored it, being as it was fully in the tank with the usurpers. And the media was in the tank until the whole appalling mess unraveled when the economy collapsed.

The Obama elections and administration haven't been particularly shocking -- except to the white supremacists who never accommodated the notion of Negroes in the White House as anything but doormen and butlers and such -- it's been mostly a pause, a breathing space, before the next set of outrages and shocks, and here they come!

Oh yeah baby. Reversion time it will be. Reversion to America's Greatness, with White Men in charge the way they're supposed to be. You betcha. Hillary wouldn't have been a White Man (damn her all to hell!) and she wouldn't have undone the diversity progress that's been made in the government for a generation, but I have to agree with some observers that her administration, the permanent US government, and US society as a whole would still be dominated by White Men, and that white supremacy, while more or less subdued, would still be the dominant belief of many, perhaps most Americans.

Trump merely makes it explicit. Oh boy, does he.

Assuming he takes office -- and there is still some marginal doubt that will happen -- he will govern as a White Supremacist without a doubt in my mind. However, so would Hillary. And to a great extent, so has Obama.

They pretty much have to because it's baked into America's "Greatness." The US wouldn't be what it is and what it wants to be without White Supremacy.

A reversion to White Supremacy as it was as recently as the 1950s looks to be in the cards, and that's not a good thing in my mind. To many white people, the way White Supremacy operated outside the South in the 1950s was very benign and benevolent, and even in the South, as long as the colored didn't get uppity, it was tol'able.

As long as the colored and other inferiors didn't cause trouble, so the story went, they didn't get trouble.

Of course it wasn't true, but that's the myth of the era.

That's the era that Trump came up in. He's a little older than me, so he got a headstart. Of course he was born into wealth and raised in privilege (white privilege supplemented by the privilege of wealth) and was educated in private boarding schools at a time when the people who went to them were considered the offspring of the cream of the crop. He got in trouble, though, for misbehaving at one school and was then placed in a military boarding school connected with West Point to learn discipline and correct behavior. As far as anyone knows, the lessons didn't take, in part because the New York Military Academy saw his misbehavior -- particularly his bullying and "persuasion" -- as an asset rather than something to be trained out of him, and he was pretty much allowed his head.

I didn't have anything like that background. No. Not much. I was raised by a single working mother in California (who at one point said she wanted to send me to military school to train the rebellion out of me), and until I was ten years old, we always lived in lower or working class mixed race neighborhoods. When I was ten, I encountered middle class and upper middle class and then upper class "all white" society for the first time, and I recoiled -- still do, really.

It was crazy, and the beliefs that insulated white people had of their inferiors (and make no mistake, in all white society, the colored are most definitely considered inferior) were ridiculous and wrong. But since they only knew them as servants and field hands, how were insulated white folks to know that? They couldn't, right? And they didn't. And they had no better beliefs about lower and working class white folks, either. This was in the late 1950s, so I experienced it at its apogee before its fall. Or rather, its retreat. It never fell.

This is not to say that some of the white supremacists I encountered and knew weren't in many ways "good people." They were. some of them. They had no open animosity toward their inferiors -- but they didn't mix with them, either. Some employed Asians, Blacks, or Hispanics as servants, without any sort of conscious prejudice toward them, but many who had servants at the time only employed white people. Again, there was likely no conscious prejudice involved, it was just the way things were. They were following the precedent set by their parents and grandparents and the expectations of their class. That's all.

For the most part, these white-rightist-supremacists were ideological Progressives. I've tried to clarify the nature of Progressivism in other posts, but I don't think I've quite hit the spot. California was, until Reagan's terms as governor, as fully a Progressive state as there has ever been in the United States, and it still echoes some of that past, despite Reagan's successful efforts to dismantle Progressivism as California's governmental operating system.

Progressivism was a Republican innovation to counter the spreading threat of Populism that the Democratic Party was utilizing for political purposes. The basic Progressive theory was "rule by managerial elites" with the "consent" of the ruled. Experts in many fields would be called in, they would study problems and make expert recommendations regarding solutions, the public or their representatives would be given a chance to say yay or nay -- always under the assumption that they would say yay, which is what they usually did when allowed to opine -- and the expert cadres would be set to work. Previously intractable problems were indeed addressed and many were solved to the benefit of all. On the other hand, democratic principles were subverted, the "consent of the governed" part was often skipped in practice, and in operation, Progressivism was deeply intertwined with white supremacism. It was taken for granted without question. "Everyone knew" whites, particularly Anglo-Saxons and so called Nordics, were superior. Not only were they superior to the colored races, they were inherently superior to other whites, and they were meant to rule.

The reason for the withdrawal of consent for the continuation of Progressive Rule in California was simple enough to understand. By 1966, there had been numerous student rebellions in public colleges and universities (there was even a walk out in my high school) and there had been spectacular uprisings of the disincluded in urban environments, just then becoming known as "ghettos." And of course, the hated Hippies were arising.

Pat Brown, who had been a very successful Democratic and Progressive governor for two terms, was unable -- and perhaps unwilling -- to bring various rebellions under control. He was seen as feckless and ineffective against the urban blacks and rebellious white students. Both groups were seen by many Californians as "undeserving" of the privileges and benefits they had been granted by their Progressive overlords.

So the voters rebelled and installed a nonentity in the Corner Office, a nonentity who proceeded to crack down on the rebels as harshly as he and his cohorts felt necessary, to the cheers of many. Meanwhile he was instituting policies and programs to cripple public education, starting at the top and moving downwards, and insofar as possible eliminating the state hospital system for the mentally ill and insane. In the process his administration began the dismantlement of the Progressive operating system of government, substituting an advance on a prior form of government which was typical before the Progressive Revolution (essentially re-opening government to rule by corporate interests for their pecuniary benefit.)

Democrats, to their undying shame, largely went along with it. It was all based on a theory that government existed primarily to punish the lower orders and to reward the rich and powerful.

That set the pattern for what was to come nationally under Reagan when he became president, but under Democrats, too.  And here we are.

Trump in some ways is the natural culmination of that theory of governance.

But Hillary, had she been able to capture the prize, wouldn't have been so much different. She wouldn't have the trappings and the glitter that Trump brings with him, but essentially their politics and policies are very similar, they just have different targets for their "wrath" as it were.

The key difference between them, I think, is that he was always sheltered and showered with the privileges of his wealth and whiteness, and she was not. He started out on third base, as they say, and succeed as a conman and gangster to reach the top of his field -- and then (apparently) become president. She worked her way up from next to nothing -- she wasn't poor, but she was brought up in a very abusive household -- and she made many indelicate compromises along the way.

What I've said about the two of them is that he is a crude and rude representative of his class, and she is the model of those who work for them.


I don't expect him to be any less destructive of the public good than his predecessors, but I wouldn't have expected much good to come from Hillary's reign had she succeeded. As I say, they had different targets, but in the end they both favor the already rich and powerful.

It's a complete myth that she would start WWIII; just as it's a myth that he will prevent it. It's one of the more pernicious myths of the election season, and it's unshakable among believers.

But there are many others. There's been a great deal of projection onto both candidates, most of which has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the unmet needs of the hoi-polloi. Neither candidate would actually meet those needs, however. Both would try to bamboozle their way along.

I believe the plug was pulled on Hillary primarily because she showed she was not much of a bamboozler when it came to the end when she might have turned Comey thing around. She didn't, she blew it.

Trump, on the other hand, showed himself to be 1) a master entertainer; 2) a master conman. Those are two absolute necessities in the Post-modern Presidency. Hillary just didn't come up to snuff.

Well, enough of that. We'll get through this one way or another.

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