Category Archive 'Populist Revolt'

20 Sep 2019

The Irrepressible Conflict

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John Steuart Curry, Tragic Prelude, 1937-1942, Kansas State Capitol.

Richard Fernandez gloomily forsees the fight between the Establishment Left and the Populist Right as an inevitably escalating conflict that will be fought to the finish.

The last time that happened, 1861-1865, it cost the lives of 2 1/2% of the entire population of the United States.

If anyone thought the status quo would fold up after the hammer blows of the 2016 populist revolt they were wrong. Ben Rhodes noted the effects of unremitting resistance with approval. “Bibi backsliding. Boris flailing. … Fight back. It will work.” Victor Davis Hanson conceded the crushing weight of the establishment riposte. “After nearly four years of ceaseless attacks by Democrats and the press, the strange thing is not that Trump can be occasionally wearisome, but that he is even still breathing.”

The tone of the fight was set by Greta Thunberg’s declaration to a crowd of environmental supporters, “we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change.” It was a ringing call to victory over the Deplorables, victory by any means necessary. It was as if the old legalisms themselves had become too restrictive to allow the truly good guys to win. As Hillary Clinton told an audience at George Washington University: “You can run the best campaign and have the best plans and get the nomination and win the popular vote and you can lose the Electoral College and therefore the election.”

    “This is one of those moments we stand at a crossroads of our own a crisis in democracy. Racists and white supremacist views are lifted up in the media and the White House. Hard fought for civil rights are stripped back. Rule of law is being undermined, our norms and institutions … are under assault, and that includes the single most important fight of our times…the fight to protect the right to vote.”

She deserved to win but the rules betrayed her. If you can’t win the old way, change the rules. To avoid another setback to history Elizabeth Warren proposes to abolish the Electoral College. “Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Ms. Warren said. If that doesn’t work keep getting rid of stuff until it does.

The sentiment is not confined to America. David Cameron told CNN that some people “will never forgive me for holding a referendum.” Rules which let Brexit to advance have also stirred the outrage of the British ruling class. “Remainers were alarmed to realize that no-deal Brexit … would automatically become reality on March 29, 2019, unless something could be done to stop it. It was surprising how much could be done to stop it.”

    They had an infinity of tools, and they were no longer scared of the voters. No one wanted to be so contemptuous as to repeal Brexit, but Parliament could put a “no-deal Brexit” on hold, which it did. … Some of the most extraordinary moments of these winter debates involved the interventions of the Speaker of the House, John Bercow. Elected as a Conservative, he had, in David Souter-esque fashion, discovered once in power that he actually opposed Conservative policies on most things, very much including Brexit. … Anti-Brexiteers used their control of debate to pass the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019, which ordered Theresa May to seek an extension of Brexit from the European Union. And that began the process that led to postponing the Brexit deadline until October 31.

Oct 31 and they may delay it yet again. Boris Johnson “says Britain must leave the EU at the end of next month with or without a divorce deal. But many UK lawmakers believe a no-deal Brexit would be economically devastating and socially destabilizing, and are determined to thwart him. Lawyer David Pannick, who represents one of the campaigners challenging the government, told 11 Supreme Court judges that Johnson had improperly suspended the legislature ‘to silence Parliament'”.

Such extraordinary measures are justified on grounds that the danger of populism is too great to be held back by mere punctilio. “We just can’t sit on our asses and leave the political process to neanderthals who don’t want to believe in the future,” former US secretary of state John Kerry told an audience in Melbourne. The future must be saved and in that quest nothing must be allowed to stand in its way. …

nothing is off limits. But the downside of this militance is it engenders its mirror image. As Megan McArdle pointed out, in a zero sum game there are no points for second place. “Democrats who think court packing is justified by Garland forget that [Whispers] Garland was justified by Bork. In this game, you don’t move last.” When one side attacks the other must counterattack. The first side to falter loses. That fear, as Victor Davis Hanson notes, is what keeps the weary populists together. They will stand fast because for them the alternative to Trump is the abyss.

RTWT

24 Oct 2017

Kurt Schlichter Nukes George W. Bush and the Anti-Trump GOP Establishment

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George W. Bush attacks Trump for promoting “bigotry and falsehoods.”

Kurt Schlichter responds to the GWB speech of four days ago, in which the former president broke his long political silence… to attack a Republican Administration.

All human institutions are essentially a reboot of high school, and within the political scene the Never Trumpers are convinced that they are the cool kids despite being the chess club of American politics. No, they aren’t the cool kids. They’re geeks, they haven’t won a tournament in years and, more importantly, they’re the freaking chess club.

In contrast, we normals are just that, the members of the student body who have lives and after-school jobs and girlfriends and who don’t care about the dorks padding their resume with student body presidencies or, in this case, jobs at the Eagle Liberty Council for Freedom. Except now we normals have been forced to pay attention because the would-be in-crowd has so totally screwed things up that there’s no real choice but get involved in campus activities and burn down the whole damn schoolhouse. …

What have these guys achieved? The clowns they support in Congress can’t even repeal Obamacare. …

We normals are sick of being looked down upon and exploited by a bunch of people who, if this was a movie, would be played by James Spader – except trainwreck 2017 James Spader, not louche/suave 1986 James Spader. I guess that makes Bill Kristol the Nepo-Con Duckie, if Duckie was a less-cool, backstabbing deep-state-loving weasel trying to sell Molly Ringwald a cabin on one of his crappy cruises.

In place of trying to earn respect by demonstrating competence, they’ve chosen to try to diss us into submission. George W. Bush decided to go all Mean Girls in a speech that insulted his (former) supporters while delighting the left, and therefore the Never Trumpers. Now, if you read W’s speech on paper, every word of it about bigotry being bad is true. But you give speeches in context, and here the context is decades of leftists and their media poodles falsely accusing the normals of racism and bigotry. So when W adopted that language, he also knowingly or negligently adopted that narrative; the former newspaper and current brochure known as the L.A. Times crowed: “In stunning attack, George W. Bush rebukes Trump, suggesting he promotes falsehoods and prejudice.”

And so, of course, the supporters of this Trump guy are therefore…. Well, you get the picture. That is, if you’re not being willfully obtuse, like the Fredocons, who were delighted that Bush decided to break his 16 years of super-principled silence in the face of liberal attacks to slander the very people who had voted for him and defended him. If being “principled” means letting liberals use you like a slit trench then trashing the people who had your back to please the people using you like a slit trench, you can keep your damned principles.

RTWT

Scathing, but deserved.

02 Aug 2017

“Killing the Gods of the City”

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Vanderleun likes the Trump Revolution.

The Trump effect is a good thing. He is doing exactly what he said he would do and exactly what people elected him to do. Newsflash to the Beltway establishment: Americans who elected Trump do not worship the current gods of the city. They know you’re responsible for killing the old ones and they wish to return the favor now. We want your gods dead. That is sort of what “drain the swamp” means. And, as Trump points out repeatedly: in America (at least in the middle part) we don’t worship government; we worship God. As in the one true God.

Think of the glory of it all. This is the fight we have been waiting for. This is the turmoil we need.

RTWT

04 Oct 2016

What Prompted the Peasant Revolt in Presidential Politics?

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scaliaquote

Why did low-information, not-particularly-ideological Republican voters go loco this year, reject all the qualified and genuinely principled candidates in favor of a Reality TV clown and populist demagogue?

They were fed up and simply wanted to express their animosity toward, and contempt for, the holier-than-thou, we-know-better community of fashion elite that controls the national establishment and which, under Obama, has end run the democratic process and simply imposed its will on the larger majority it contemptuously ignores again and again.

Matthew Continetti explains that the nomination of Trump is the steam explosion that occurs when all the democratic pressure release valves on the engine of government have been sealed shut by its careless operators.

This is a moment of dissociation—of unbundling, fracture, disaggregation, dispersal. But the disconnectedness is not merely social. It is also political—a separation of the citizenry from the governments founded in their name. They are meant to have representation, to be heard, to exercise control. What they have found instead is that ostensibly democratic governments sometimes treat their populations not as citizens but as irritants.

The sole election that has had any bearing on the fate of Obamacare, for example, was the one that put Barack Obama in the White House. The special election of Scott Brown to the Senate did not stop Democratic majorities from passing the law over public disapproval. Nor did the 2010, 2012, or 2014 elections prevent or slow down the various agencies of the federal government from reorganizing the health care sector according to the latest technocratic fashions.

The last big immigration law was passed under President Clinton in an attempt to reduce illegal entry. Since then the bureaucracy has been on autopilot, admitting huge numbers to the United States and unable (and sometimes unwilling) to cope with the surge in illegal immigration at the turn of the century. In 2006, 2007, and 2013, public opinion stopped major liberalizations of immigration law. Then the president used executive power to protect certain types of illegal immigrant from deportation anyway.

Coal miners have no voice in deliberations over their futures. Only the courts stand in the way of the Clean Power Plan that will end the coal industry and devastate the Appalachian economy. Congress is unable to help. The president went over the heads of the Senate by calling his carbon deal with China an “agreement” and not a treaty.

There has been no accountability for an IRS that abused its powers to target conservative nonprofits, for Hillary Clinton who disregarded national security in the operation of her private email server, for the FBI that treated Clinton with kid gloves while not following up on individuals who became terrorists. The most recent disclosures in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., show the terrorist Omar Mateen was clearly motivated by devotion to radical Islam and to ISIS. We are only finding this out now because of a lawsuit filed by a news organization. What is the FBI afraid of?

Progressives disregard constitutional objections as outmoded artifacts of a benighted era. Who cares how Obamacare was passed or implemented, the uninsured rate is down. Why should Obama submit a treaty to the Senate when he knows it won’t be ratified; the fate of the planet is at stake. The absence of comprehensive immigration reform isn’t evidence that progressives failed to marshal a constitutional majority for passage. It’s reason for the president to test the limit of his powers. Nor does government failure result from overextension and ineptitude. It is caused by a lack of resources.

Is it really surprising that our democracy has become more tenuous as the distance between citizen and government has increased? A large portion of the electorate, it would seem, is no longer willing to tolerate a bipartisan establishment that seems more concerned with the so-called “globalist” issues of trade, migration, climate, defense of a rickety world order, and transgender rights than with the experiences of joblessness, addiction, crime, worry for one’s children, and not-so-distant memories of a better, stronger, more respected America.

These concerns are often written off as racism, or resentment, or status anxiety—as reaction, backlash, atavism, obstacles to universal progress. The same was said of McCarthy in the 1950s, the New Right in the 1970s, the Tea Party eight years ago. But in every case, including this one, the populist upsurge signified a genuine and not entirely irrational objection of a part of the electorate to its dissociation from the life of the polity.

[F]rom ..“Donald Trump and the American Crisis” by John Marini:

    Those most likely to be receptive of Trump are those who believe America is in the midst of a great crisis in terms of its economy, its chaotic civil society, its political corruption, and the inability to defend any kind of tradition—or way of life derived from that tradition—because of the transformation of its culture by the intellectual elites. This sweeping cultural transformation occurred almost completely outside the political process of mobilizing public opinion and political majorities. The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality.

Marini refers to institutions such as the family, church, and school, institutions charged with forming the character of a citizen, of instructing him in codes of morality and service, in the traditions and history of his country, in the case of the church directing him spiritually and providing him a definitive account of the cause and purpose of life. These are precisely the institutions that have been brought under the sway of bureaucracies and courts heavily insulated from elections, from public opinion, from majority rule. And as the public has lost authority over decision-making in the private sphere, as the culture has become more alien, more bewildering, more hostile to “the old morality,” as President Clinton keeps saying rather fatuously that the fates of Kenya and Kentucky are linked, is it any wonder voters have sought out a vehicle for their disgust and opposition?


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