Keep the economy going,
and tear it apart.
Both the Democratic and the Republican candidate would need some of both to have a majority and win the presidency. To get that majority they avoid key issues because they would lose voles with their revealed thinking.
The current political economy has divided us into two groups that re orthogonal to the parties.
First are the people who, based on hopes or interest, want the economy to continue more or less as it is and look to economics to reinforced the existing patterns and concerns with minor reforms of no great significance. These are more or less the 1% and tend to include the supporting cast of the professions.
The second group, identifying with or part of the, let’s say, 90% have been losing out and are angry and have decided it is essential to take the system apart based on the idea that the existing elites will not allow for significant change and will use political and police power, even homeland security, to prevent it, since it would lead to a reassessment of the values of all existing assets. Interesting that many progressives and the radical right agree with this position, as Trumps has been saying.
Since we are stuck with this dichotomy, there is little real talk of the serious issues of climate, migrations, automation, inequality, and militarization. (Race, gender urban poverty and age are clearly implied in these). There is a sense that these issues add up to a quasi system that is bigger than human organization can cope with, and the widespread fear is that any serious solution will be extremely authoritarian.
Economists are drawn to the critique of elite dominance but within economics it is hard to have a discussion that breaks out of the system of normal economic concepts. Watching Larry Summers and even Krugman struggle with trying to be more humanly realistic but staying within economic parameters shows the difficulty.
A good example is the recently posted video interview with Anwar Shaikh’s. His analysis is that reality is conflict and an economist’s commitment to equilibrium and calm avoids issues of class struggle. Those who transgressed were isolated in the profession. He ends up supporting the existence of large firms and dances around the monopolization question.
For any particular economist there is no clear way to break out of the cocoon and keep a foot in both worlds, so different are the frameworks and vocabulary.