Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Those Whom The Gods Wish To Destroy ...
(Note: this post, and probably several others to follow, are actually about the US dollar and relative currency trends. If you have the patience, at the end it may be worthwhile. Because, when you come down to it, the value of the dollar will be determined by the economy, and right now the economy is determined by politics. Political initiatives are going to determine Real Gross Private Domestic Investment. Which is and has been the problem with this recovery:
The other view - percent change YoY:
The Trump candidacy and presidency will be about trying to fend off the next recession, which pretty much was baked in the US economic cake. )
The amazing thing about Donald Trump's victory is not that it happened - he was a shoo-in, given the failure of the Republican AND Democratic leadership to maintain touch with the voters, a declining economy, and additionally, the Democrats' irresponsibility in nominating a deeply ethically flawed candidate.
Now I can imagine that Democrats don't want to debate out loud whether they could have won this one if they weren't running a crook who had already flouted laws as Secretary of State and appeared to have sold influence as Secretary of State. The natural assumption would be "Yes", but is it true? I don't know the answer. I suspect they wouldn't have, due to the economic issues.
I have been looking for good reporting from a Democratic slant on this election, and this article (from NPR) is about the best. I saw hints in the article that the debate over the bad candidate/bad message question is occurring:
Onyeukwu, like the Democrats in the Mahoning Valley, also thinks the party needs to focus more on the economy. He points out that's how a man named Barack Hussein Obama won Ohio — twice. ...
"Hillary's not the problem," said Samuel, the labor organizer. "The democratic process is the problem. And, making sure people feel included." Samuel said the Democratic Party doesn't seem to understand its audience. And for Onyeukwu, that audience includes many people of color. So he wants a party that also continues to push for more progressive policies on race.I'd recommend reading the article. What more progressive policies on race might be, I don't know. Earlier, the observation that an economic focus is not exclusive of social policy was made:
And yet others insist that economics and race are not mutually exclusive choices, that it is possible to focus on both simultaneously. Figuring out that balance is going to be central to the party's survival, as it currently wanders in the political wilderness.The Dems may be out of political power now, but I think wandering in the wilderness is up to them.
The problem seems to be more that they are wandering in the urban areas, and have forgotten about the vastness of the flyover territory in the US, demonstrated by the 2016 presidential county map:
Overall Trump won approximately 2,600 counties to Clinton’s 500, or about 84% of the geographic United States. However, Clinton won 88 of of the 100 largest counties (including Washington D.C.).Oops. The significance of the geographical distribution is that you might shift a few counties back by concentrating on them, but will you get back the Senate? Can you fight back and win the House? If not, the best the Dems could achieve would be a presidential stymie. Voters have voted for that before!
In 2016, surprisingly, they rejected it - or rather, the voters evaded that problem by electing a Republican candidate who is really an old-fashioned Democrat. The electorate is and has been moderate, and so they put Trump in there to defend their interests. They wanted economic growth and protection for the average citizen against vested interests. They wanted JFK. Trump was as close as they could get.
It seems clear to me that the essential political issue for the Democrats is entirely whether they can recover enough of a geographic base in 2018 to become policy players nationally. I write this because money seems to be very important in Democratic campaigns (it was unimportant in Trump's presidential run - he spent way less and won). But Dems have been playing the demographic-segment for so long that they need a media splash to get people to turn out. And - if Dems aren't able to convince donors that they can deliver, donors are not going to cough up in the same way.
Unless Democrats can shift to a bottom-up policy generation for 2018, they will be losers again - the problem with having such a strong but geographically limited base is that unless the interests of that base are general, your congressional leadership is not going to be helping the party regain ground. It's likely to help the party lose ground. That's why they have to develop a DNC that basically polls locals and asks them what they need and where they want to go.
The above doesn't fit well with special-interest politics centered on groups. The Dems already know that, which is why they are going after women. It did not work in 2016. In 2018, perhaps they can leverage it a bit more.
But for this putative DNC-reboot, trying to build a 2018 base capable of electoral success can't be done in isolation - they have to deal with the other players. In my next post, I'll try to list the major players at the table.
I would appreciate your input!
The major media will stand behind them, but the major media may not be so big a factor going forward.
There's academia, and students, a force not to be discounted. Trump has an opening to weaken their hold, but it will take time.
Trump is going to make a play for the private-sector unions, for what it's worth. The public-sector jobs will still be Democrat, still be rich, and will be in a fight for their lives. A major force.
There's another force out there too. There are a lot of people who have comfortable lives and vote Democrat because they like to think that's what good people do. I'm not sure if Trump can win then over at all, but if he can it will be by improving the job market and health care so much that even they can't help but notice.
I saw it in Massachusetts, in August, on a working trip east. Driving around the eastern part of the state, I saw about two dozen Trump signs in rural areas. I saw exactly one Hillary sign. That was when I realized that he really could win. There was no way he could carry Massachusetts, but still folks were advertising their support.
Since I live in a blue city, I see the disconnect. More and more Minnesota is becoming all-red, except for Hennepin and Ramsey counties, which are Minneapolis and St. Paul. People talk past each other, because they don't share the same reality. Outstate folks look at the strangeness of white politicians competing to see who can denigrate their race more thoroughly, and they think, "fuck that shit."
No one cares, really, where weird people put their naughty bits, so long as the weird leave the kids alone. But people in the cities think it's really wonderful that a man can put on a dress (or not even bother doing that) and follow their daughters into the women's room at Target.
Were it not for the extensive and pervasive voter fraud in Minneapolis, Trump would have carried Minnesota also. I was an election judge, for decades, and I saw it first hand and was powerless to stop it. But the Dems misplayed their hand, screaming vote fraud in PA, MI and WI, and gave Trump the chance to order a big investigation. It will yield results; and since the US attorneys are now Trump's, they will prosecute. Reforms will follow.
Oh, and that 50-year window in which journalism was considered a responsible, respectable profession? That's gone, gone, and it will not return.
Nice to see you writing!
They also failed the Dems by defining their job as one of continually spinning the narrative rather than reporting the facts on the ground. If they had done the latter, the Dems might have seen that their message was way off and that the economy of The Chosen One was in fact a Potemkin village and thus nominated Bernie or Biden or Webb and probably would have won.
It's not surprising the Dems lost touch with the voters. They don't associate with people like that and they don't work in the type jobs where they would have to.
Yeah, no kidding. Newspaper columnists like Mike Royko in Chicago and Nick Coleman in St. Paul had their old trope where they would have an imaginary conversation with a working guy like a barber or a cab driver. Coleman could never quite pull off the concept without sounding a bit patronizing, but that's because he stole it from Royko, who could manage it well.
The working guy would always manage to have a wise view on the current situation, spiced in with salty language and earthy grammar and phrasing. I guess Aaron Sorkin shows like West Wing or The Newsroom are the modern equivalent; imagine a rapid-fire witty conversation where the hero always gets the last, pithy, devastate-his-opponent word.
Now we get bloggers who worry that their plumber, with whom they can barely communicate, might know that the writer is Jewish. I guess the guy thinks the plumber will secretly convert the writer's shower into a gas chamber or something.
This really is the bottom line. The opposite of Domestic Investment is Domestic Capital Controls.
Since LBJ, the country has been slowly piling on domestic capital controls (taxation and regulation) which by definition means Domestic Investment has to shrink. The only way investment can increase while domestic capital controls increase is to encourage capital from the outside. And how screwed up is that where your "leaders" trust foreign investment above their own citizens' investment? We lose productivity to overseas companies, and then we encourage them to build here by offering tax breaks that small domestic producers cannot get and actually have to pay more for. As stupid as tariffs are, they make more sense than subsidizing foreign producers.
People didn't want a new JFK, they wanted a new Ike. And Trump was the closest candidate to that.
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